My Active Life Optavia Health Journey

Fit Writers: After Optavia: Transitioning Off of 5 + 1 Without Gaining the Weight Back

Can I blame the lack of a post update on “more doing, less talking?” Sort of. This is a blog about my writing life, of which healing my body is only a part of, and there’s been a whole lot of writing going on. It’s time to update the site for a new book coming out. I’ve spent the winter seeing that come to fruition and have a book proposal, as well as several short stories, underway and in the contest circuit. My job with Brave Writer focused all season on launching Julie Bogart’s new book, The Brave Learner, which is going gangbusters. (I looked up “gangbusters” because it’s a frequent sales expression and the literal definition fits well: very successful, especially commercially.) It’s very cool to see a book I had a hand in marketing sitting on the shelf at Barnes and Noble. But beyond that, I like to blog about what’s on my mind and Optavia had become such a lifestyle habit that it wasn’t on my brain anymore. I just did it without thinking and thus, without writing about it anymore.

To recap briefly and create some text for linking to my metabolic journey: about six years ago my health spun out. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and Multiple Sclerosis. I gained fifty rapid pounds. A second opinion settled on Hashimoto’s and Complicated Migraine. The list of symptoms I struggled with included extreme fatigue, stroke-and-seizure-like episodes, multiple day debilitating migraines, and wacked hormones. It took a few years but I did get better. I couldn’t lose weight tho; my metabolism had slowed to a crawl and none of the diet programs worked. Finally, I tried Optavia, rebranded Medifast, and my internal burners were restored. I started the 5 + 1 in June of 2018 and began transitioning off in December, before the holidays. I emphasize the timing because we all know the holidays wrecks eating habits and creates weight gain, right? Isn’t that a crazy time to mess with an eating program that’s working?

I’d lost twenty-five pounds, half my goal. I could see that losing the full amount would take me a reasonable year, so I wasn’t done with the process, just the first part of it. Mentally, I was ready for a change. Eating five small packaged, carefully formulated snack meals a day, plus one “lean and green” home plated meal is a very easy routine. Optavia had done exactly what I bought it for: tell me what to eat, when to eat it, make it easy and tasty, and reset my metabolism. I felt ready for more food, more exercise, more freedom. Optavia changes your whole health lifestyle, one habit at a time. I felt reset.

The recommended transition off of Optavia is called the 3 + 3.  Three of theirs, three of mine. I followed this throughout December and January, stayed on my water and walking and lean choices, and didn’t gain back a single pound over the holidays. I also followed these mantras:

  • Healthy lifestyle changes, one habit at a time.
  • Feast when you feast, fast when you fast.
  • No shame.
  • If you slip, get back up with the next meal. There’s no magic day to start.
  • Portion control, not denial.

I stopped weighing myself every day and used my Optavia fuelings for easy-to-grab snacks in between my meals: bars, shakes, and brownies. But what next?

Accountability and Mentorship

The thing I wasn’t ready to let go of was the accountability and guidance provided by my Optavia Health Coach. Damn, do they ever rock that step! I knew I needed to find a program that had structure, focused on timed eating, used real, clean food, and had a nurturing coach element, like “my” Donna. But, as you can see from a quick look at my journey, I’d already tried and nixed almost every weight loss program out there.

There was this one girl, tho. I’d followed her on Instagram for years, I think since my food bowl craze. She’s a mom and an engineer and real, you know what I mean? Her fitness journey transformed her body but she hadn’t gone all fitness frou-frou to the point where you couldn’t see she had ordinary life demands anymore. She reminded me of when I was training for sprint triathlons and in the best shape of my life, before I got sick. If I hadn’t have gotten sick– what would the last six years be like? Maybe like her. Maybe I could get there again. After all, I’m stronger, healthier, my symptoms are managed, and my metabolism is healed. She’d been sharing lately about fitness coaching so I reached out to find out more.

Mary Catalogna offers one on one fitness coaching to help women reach their specific goals. She’s also a Beach Body coach. Now– this represented a hurdle for me. BB uses containers to measure portions, their shakes have stevia (Satan’s mouthwash, as far as I’m concerned), and their workouts look brutal. I’d really settled into the mindset that the best way to have a Beach Body is to have a body and go to the beach, period. I’m wary of body shaming and while I want the results of those work outs, I don’t want to be around “punisher” kind of language. Mary, tho. She’d done BB for years, still had her rational mind, a life out of the gym, and the thing that really got my attention: she understood that I was under a writing deadline and that my putting off the decision was out of work ethic and priority. A cult follower would have shamed for that, as I know all too well from experience. Instead, she recognized my ability to focus on a goal and accomplish it as a strength that would apply to my fitness journey, when I was truly ready for the next step.

That’s now. The manuscript for Plotting Your Novel with The Plot Clock, a collaborative book on writing craft with Joyce Sweeney, Jamie Morris, and myself is complete. The cover, by Tamara Sharkey, is darling. The book comes out this spring. Because all of my other writing currently has more fluid goal points than actual deadlines, it fits into my “farmer’s hours” writing block well. My schedule has enough flex to carve an honest window for fitness and food prep. The time is right.

The Beach Body plan I’m following is like Opatvia in a lot of ways. Six small meals a day, carefully macro’d out and prepped ahead of time for easy grabbing. While it’s a lot of food to get used to (almost twice as many calories) and I honestly feel daunted by it, I trust that the addition of a major work out habit is going to demand it. Trust the Process is a mantra that’s in every area of my life: Julie at Brave Writer,  my day job– says it about homeschooling. Jamie, my writing coach, says it about my work on craft. And Mary reminds me of it daily. Do the small steps in faith. Trust the process.

Writers sit on their butts all day, if they’re lucky. I am fortunate to have a job in book marketing and home education, a list of passion projects gaining momentum, and recovered health empowering me onward. For the next eighty days, I’ll be working hard on reaching this mind + spirit + body goal. I’ll probably skip Satan’s Stevia Shakes (I like Optavia’s better anyway). And, as ever (but maybe late than never) I’ll update here along the way.

My wellness and weight loss journey with Optavia is linked here.

Feel free to comment or contact me if you have questions. I’m happy to share how I became well.

Getting outside to play is more important to me than tracking miles




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