Why I Switched from Weight Watchers to Medifast

There are three ways to start this story, even if it's not one easy to admit, even as I grapple with the compromises I make. I'm not entirely proud – except that I’ve taken charge of my body weight albeit AGAIN. In these words, I hope, is a story of Choice and Hope and Compromise.
Why I Switched to Medifast from Weight Watchers ♥ KitchenParade.com

INTRO NUMBER ONE: The Dr Phil Effect.

Back before Dr Phil was Somebody, before Oprah, before the Dr Phil Show day-time trash, before the Britney Spears intervention, my sister asked, “Have you heard of this guy, Dr. Phil? When you repeat the same behavior again and again, he’ll ask, ‘How’s that workin’ out for ya?’ It’s absurd to expect different results from the same behavior.”

And the truth is, even though I believe in it, Weight Watchers hasn’t been working for me. But wait, let me put that more carefully, more honestly: despite numerous hopeful starts and re-starts, for the last few years, I haven’t been working Weight Watchers. It’s not the fault of Weight Watchers, it’s mine.

INTRO NUMBER TWO: The Billboard Effect.

“Floss Only the Teeth You Want to Keep” read a campus billboard when I was in college. It was an “aha moment” that changed my morning routine forever.

Fast forward thirty years, when a close contact was diagnosed with out-of-control diabetes and the diabetic counselor quoted a heart-stopping statistic. Here's what she said: “You can reduce diabetes risk by 60% by losing just 5% of your body weight.” The numbers hit me like a billboard. Small loss, big benefit. I felt new resolve.

For the record, the counselor didn’t get it quite right, but still, the statistics are powerful. The CDC says, “Research shows that modest weight loss and regular physical activity can help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by up to 58 percent in people with prediabetes. Modest weight loss means 5% to 7% of body weight, which is 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person. Getting at least 150 minutes each week of physical activity, such as brisk walking, also is important.”

Source: Center for Disease Control

INTRO NUMBER THREE: The Friend Effect.

More research. If your friends are fat, you’re more likely to be fat. If your friends are thin, you’re more likely to be thin.

My book club friends are some of my longest, closest friends. We see each other at least once a month so it’s easy to keep track. Over the years, the tallest three of us got heavier than healthy, not obese-heavy, just carrying way too much excess weight.

Early last year, my friend Ann lost 30 pounds with Weight Watchers, her story was compelling. Remember Weight Watchers, Meet Michael Pollan? Afterward I re-joined WW and lost 10 pounds pretty easily.

Another friend, that’s Denise from Eat Laugh Love dove into Weight Watchers with her husband. Both are looking so good!

Along the way, another friend Georgia, motivated by her daughter’s upcoming wedding, lost 65 pounds. How? After first losing weight on her own, she switched to Medifast. When our book club met in September, I noticed Georg across the pool: she had knees, pointy knees!


  • Weight Watchers wasn’t working for me. I needed a reboot. A brand-new approach. Some new way to think about food and weight.
  • Diabetes prevention was suddenly more important.
  • My friends were all looking so good!


Over about nine months, all this was whirling around me. I kept thinking about Medifast, without really knowing much about it except the processed food – the basis of Medifast’s weight loss program – all that processed food.

One Day of Medifast Replacement Meals ♥ KitchenParade.com (Why I Switched to Medifast from Weight Watchers)

But then my friend Kathy hit me over the head. Now you have to know this about Kathy. She’s another book club friend and more than that, one of those “sensible” people. She and her husband are great real-food cooks, they love to cook for themselves and their families and friends. She’s tiny-small and crazy for hard exercise.

Last year, Kathy was diagnosed with breast cancer (a real shock for all of us, she was the first in our circle) and went through two surgeries and radiation therapy. She’s also a successful lifetime Weight Watcher and the friend who coached me when I first lost 30 pounds with Weight Watchers in 2002.

Kathy too, I learned later, had become unhappy with Weight Watchers, in fact, unbeknownst to me, had become a Medifast health coach.

Here’s what she said, when I was disdainful about Medifast. “Being overweight is so harmful to your health, the importance of losing weight trumps the importance of real food. If losing weight takes processed food, it takes processed food.

Those words stuck with me, even as I made another fresh start with Weight Watchers, especially as I looked at the round face in the mirror and felt horrified at photographs – who was that fat person???

For the record, the words above are mine, paraphrasing Kathy. When I asked her the question again this week, she answered, “Overweight people have bigger fish to fry than worrying about processed food. When you are overweight, you damage your body with toxins and inflammation. The important thing is to get the weight off to rid your body of these toxins and the inflammation – and then worry about real food, organic food, etc. Plus many overweight people are already living on a steady diet of low-nutrient processed food. Medifast replacement meals may be processed food but they are nutritionally sound.”


The week before Thanksgiving, I started Medifast with three goals:

  • To lose 30 – 35 pounds, maybe 40, without screwing up my metabolism.
  • To “think less” about food (that’s hard, as a food writer, long-time cook and someone who l-o-v-e-s to cook for others …)
  • To invest in myself not only for my own health and well-being but for those who love me.


I’m in my eighth week on Medifast and have lost 20 pounds, that’s 2-1/2 pounds a week. I feel strong and energetic and most of all, empowered. I lost the twenty pounds over the holidays and felt few temptations to “cheat”. I think there are three reasons why it’s working.

  • I am highly motivated. I was just ready.
  • I am blessed with loving personal support, I couldn’t ask for more, it’s means the world.
  • Like all the major weight-loss programs, Medifast works when you actually follow the program.

LESSONS – why Medifast is working for me

Medifast Chocolate Shake Meal Replacement ♥ KitchenParade.com (Why I Switched to Medifast from Weight Watchers)

  • Medifast features which I expect to long continue
  • Small, Frequent Meals Medifast calls for eating every 2 to 3 hours. I fixed on a routine where I eat first thing in the morning, then set my phone alarm for 2-1/2 hours later, then repeat throughout the day. (If my day starts early and ends late, I stretch the time between meals to 3 hours.)
  • The 5 & 1 Plan During Medifast's weight-loss phase, you eat five "replacement meals" (each about 100 calories) and one "Lean & Green" meal (about 300 calories) plus an optional daily snack.
  • Five Convenient Meal Replacements During Medifast’s weight-loss phase, eating every 2 to 3 hours works out to five small meals a day. This is the packaged food, what Medifast calls “meal replacements”. Each packet takes just a couple of minutes to fix, no thinking required, no wondering “what to eat” or “what to cook”. For me, treating food as fuel removed the distraction and fascination of food preparation. FYI Medifast says that the Medifast meals contain at least 24 vitamins and minerals and are "nutrient-dense, low-fat, low-calorie, low-glycemic meal replacements that help you lose weight by promoting a mild fat-burning state and limiting your calories" (those are their words, not mine).
  • One Small “Real Food” Meal Medifast calls this its “Lean & Green” meal. I find this meal most satisfying, a large serving of lean protein plus 1-1/2 to 2 cups of vegetables. If you've ever felt hungry for protein on Weight Watchers, this meal will really appeal. I keep my Lean & Green meal really simple, following the prescribed amount of chicken, fish, beef or eggs (the amount varies) plus a cup of lettuce or spinach plus a cup of chopped fresh vegetables with a little olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. For the first few weeks, this “real food” kept me sane, now, later on, I look forward to the real food but don't feel so starved for it, in part, because I am eating only the Medifast meal replacements I like.
  • Meal Before Bed One of the five Medifast “meals” is scheduled shortly before bedtime. I know, I know, this really contradicts what we learn elsewhere, that we shouldn’t eat after 6pm or three hours before sleeping. Medifast sees it differently, that it’s important to maintain consistent calories and glucose levels throughout the day, to make the “fast” before breakfast shorter rather than longer. This really works for me!
  • Optional Daily Snack Medifast also allows an optional snack, three kosher dill pickles (swoon ...) or three pieces of celery or a few almonds. I use these every so often to stretch the time between, say, the 4th Replacement Meal and the Lean & Green meal.
  • Easy Restaurant Choices The Lean & Green meal is easy to eat out, so long as you choose the right restaurant. Just order a piece of fish or a steak (plain chicken works too but is harder to find, out, except weirdly, at bbq joints and fried chicken restaurants, just eat the breast meat, no skin) with a small salad and a vegetable. The Lean & Green meal can be used at breakfast, lunch or dinner but I found that dinner was the easiest. When I did Lean & Green early in the day, I was still "hungry" for dinner at the end of the day and a meal replacement just didn't cut it.
  • Medifast Off-Limit Foods During the weight loss phase, basically everything else is off limits. Dairy. Bread. Sweets. Liquor. Fruit.
  • Liquid, Lots of Liquid Like many weight-loss programs, Medifast calls for a large liquid intake. Plain water comes hard for me, so I returned to this summer’s wonderful coffee replacement, Hibiscus Tea with Ginger & Vanilla, served hot.
  • Meal Replacements I Actually Like Eating-wise, the first weeks on Medifast were the hardest primarily because I was still experimenting with the various meal replacements eaten five times a day. To be totally direct, I hated a LOT of the meal replacements and disliked MANY of the meal replacements. But I actually LIKE the shakes – especially the chocolate shakes – in the mornings made with coffee otherwise with water. At first, I made shakes in the blender with ice cubes, like a chocolate milkshake. Then I started mixing shakes in the blender, then transferred the liquid to a quart jar for warming in the microwave, yum, it’s like hot chocolate. I also like the “bars” – especially the peanut butter bars, the caramel bars and the chocolate crunch bars. These are easy to carry in your purse for when you’re out and about without access to a blender. In the end, I ordered only the chocolate shakes plus a few bars from Medifast, the rest of the Medifast meal replacements are AWFUL. But again, I really like these and do not find the repetition in the least bit boring. I look forward, especially, to the shakes!

LESSONS – why Medifast might not work for others

Medifast's Three Phases ♥ KitchenParade.com (Why I Switched to Medifast from Weight Watchers)

  • The Expense Medifast is expensive. Each meal replacement costs about $2.36, five a day means almost $12 a day, that's the equivalent of about $83 a week or $350 a month. For those who eat out a lot, you might actually save money. (Note: with new-customer discounts, my first two orders averaged $1.93, the equivalent of $68 a week or $291 a month, about 22% less. All website access is included, as are one-on-one consultations with weight-loss counselors. I haven't used these.)
  • Few Healthy Habits Medifast doesn’t teach personal long-term healthy eating habits, at least in the weight-loss phase (maybe those lessons will come in the later phases when the program transitions participants off meal replacements back onto real food, I’m not there yet) plus there’s no collateral “healthy eating” for our families when we begin cooking healthy food.
  • Unrealistic Expectations Medifast teaches us that food comes in paper packets and can/should be prepared in five minutes with little/no skill or clean-up.
  • Points the Wrong Direction Medifast feeds a “sweet tooth” and a “carb tooth” even while dis-allowing sweets and carbs. The meal replacements lean sweet- and carb-ward, heavy on pancakes and puddings and pasta to say nothing of brownies, cheese puffs, breakfast cereals, shakes and candy bars.


  • Hunger Over eight weeks, I've felt “hungry” just once. It happened when I accidentally left the house without a meal replacement and crossed not only the three-hour mark but the five-hour mark. For the rest of that day and the entire next day, I felt hungry, really hungry.
  • Temptation Surprisingly, I felt little to no temptation over the holidays. We even hosted a small dessert party. Out and in, I drank lots of club soda instead of wine. Buffets were easy, I just put a little food on a plate and then didn’t eat it. When friends invited us for dinner, I ate protein and salad and a vegetable. When it would have been awkward, I ate a couple of bites of dessert and then left the rest. Honestly? If anyone noticed, I didn’t notice. Twice, though, sandwiches almost undid me, making turkey sandwiches for others after Thanksgiving, hungering for a ham sandwich with leftover Christmas ham. The weird thing? I rarely eat sandwiches!
  • The Low Point A low moment occurred this past weekend. I felt "safe" with all the holiday madness gone and then hit the twenty-pound mark – I was elated! Then something happened and I fell into a mad-sad-disappointed emotional state and found myself suddenly out of control – a leftover Christmas cookie and a homemade marshmallow were consumed in short order with zero pleasure. Small slips, maybe, but still, I was not in control. How did I stop it? I gave myself the night off and sat down to dinner with friends, enjoying a glass of very good wine and a small, low-calorie dessert with dinner. It was wonderful! But the next morning I got up and threw a Medifast shake into the blender: I want to get OFF Medifast and back to real food.


I can't, of course, know where this story will end. I just know that it’s been eight weeks, I’ve lost twenty pounds and feel great. I’m down at least one size and am digging into back closets for clothes that fit. I’m back to vigorous exercise every day. A new box of Medifast arrived on Saturday. And that fat face in the mirror?

Alanna with Mercy, a friend's black cat on her shoulders ♥ KitchenParade.com


When Weight Watchers works for us, when our other healthy lifestyle choices work for us, wonderful! But when something in our lives isn't working, maybe it's time to consider a new approach. Expecting different results from the same behavior is absurd. So a fresh start is hopeful. It's resourceful. It's not giving up, it's taking charge, even when unexpected and unhappy compromises are required. And that, Kitchen Parade readers, is why I write this story, one I could easily have let happen in the background, no word to the wise.

This go-round, I've been so lucky to get great support day in and day out. But we're not all so lucky. Are you looking for Choice? For Hope? Do you need to tell your story? I'd love to hear it ... write to me, leave it in the comments anonymously or with just your first name. Are you taking account, taking stock? Do you take hope?

~ Alanna

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2013 & 2019

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Brandy1/08/2013

    I went back to Medifast just this week. I have had 2 successful stints, both stopped by pregnancy. Last year I tried DIY Medifast. It worked OK, didn't control my blood sugar ups & downs like Medifast did (and was stopped by a miscarriage, I went off the rails). I tried Weight Watchers, and even at 100+ pounds overweight, it did nothing for me (sticking strictly to the plan). I was hungry and when you are so overweight and blood sugar issues, dieting is next to impossible - you have to eat RIGHT NOW at times. So I said heck with the money, back to Medifast. Right now I'm done with pregnancy so I hope to take it all off and transition right this time! It is the only weight loss program I've ever been successful with, period.

    If I don't lose this weight, I WILL have diabetes. No doubt about it. I think the new trends for WW are great - focus on whole eating, etc. But it just doesn't work for people like me! And it doesn't work fast like Medifast!

  2. Brandy1/08/2013

    p.s. I am a subscriber of Veggie Venture. I was very excited to see this come through my news feed!

  3. So glad this is working for you. I won't be trying Medifast, or any of the plans you have to pay for - I'm going to be trying to do this on my own (which is HAAARRRDDDD). What I have to do is get the blood sugar back in order; loosing the weight would be nice, too. I got home tonight after a dinner with some girlfriends, and just as I as going to tell my husband I needed to change my ways, he told ME the same thing (about himself). So I took the chocolate cake I'd made Sunday across the street to the neighbors. Baby steps.

  4. You look wonderful! I just started Lose It, the app that helps you track calories and exercise, which was a big stumbling block for me on WW. So far, so good! The bar code scanner has been a revelation.

  5. Anonymous1/08/2013

    I am so proud of you for a mulitide of reasons. Your success, your honesty, figuring out what works, and you have the fortitude/smarts for continued, sustained success. You look great!


  6. I am grateful you shared your story. I have lost 20 pounds just counting calories but am frustrated with the other 30 remaining and am ready for it to be gone. I am considering Medi Fast.

  7. Some of us are allergic to soy and Medifast doesn't work very well in that case. Also, I never lost much on Medifast like I did with weight watchers. Also the food is expensive and too many chemicals. I prefer real, fresh food.

  8. Congratulations on your weight loss and even more congratulations on your feeling great! I went to Weight Watchers in 1999, when I finally got that "Aha!" moment and realized I couldn't continue my current eating habits, and not having a clue what was wrong with those habits. I have been a lifetime member since then and found that the monetary incentive (if you are 2 pounds over your goal weight, it will cost you $) has been sufficient to keep me on the straight and narrow. I don't mind spending money, but refuse to spend it on my monthly weigh-ins. Hope things continue to go well with Medifast. I will be interested to find out how you make the transition from packaged food back to "real" food.

  9. How about doing the same thing without "meal replacements"? Just lots of real food - fruits & veggies, lean protein and whole grain carbs - along with daily exercise - in a lifestyle-changing sustainable way? I found your site when I was looking for more veggie ideas for the diet part of the fitness program that I just completed. I don't work for them or anything - just thought it was a really great program! http://thepeakconditionproject.com/

  10. Brandy ~ Oh your experiences are encouraging, thank you!

    Cyndi ~ Yes, that blood sugar. The whole summer thing took me by surprise. It's so important, however you can do it. But then I said that already, didn't I?

    Katyola ~ Thanks for that tip, I'll look into it. I met a woman at a cookie swap i December, she'd lost something like 40 pounds with My Fitness Pal, just tracking calories. For her, the tracking made all the difference.

    Denise ~ Thanks, you are very much part of this story! I haven't forgotten telling you, back in July, that I was thinking about it ... I told you before I'd really even told myself, haha.

    Kathy ~ Ah yes, the soy and the expense. I prefer fresh, real food too. I think of it as my 'reward' - not in the way you get a cookie as a reward but that as long as I can get to a healthy weight and stay there, then my love affair with real food can continue ...

    Judy ~ Thanks! I made the mistake of not continuing to weigh in with WW once I lost the weight more than 10 years ago now. It won't happen again.

    Elissa ~ Your idea of "real food" small meals is exactly where I think I'll end up. I'm just trying to not veer off on my own path quite yet. But in time. Because I've definitely learned some good things from Medifast, things I'll want to continue. Thanks for the referral too, I'll check into it!

  11. I've found the ELF diet works best - "E"at "L"ess "F"ood. I make everything from scratch, so get to make the things I love to eat, but I find as I age I need to eat less to stay in a healthy weight range; consciously moving more helps too. I hope you will find the balance that works for you once you have transitioned back to food. Once you are happy you are in a weight range that suits you, please be kind to yourself and do something immediately to remedy the situation should the scales start upwards or your clothes get tighter, so that you don't have to resort to expensive, processed diet food ever again.

  12. Alanna,
    Good on your for taking charge of your health!
    I told you it looks like you're aging backwards in that photo-weight loss and daily vigorous exercise sure shine almost as much as your smile.

    I am not trying to lose weight, only to get on my Reformer in the basement at least 3 times a week, but when a bunch of friends were trying and told me about myfitnesspal I did that. For me, though, cooking new recipes from scratch all the time, it was more of a pain in the bum to type in each recipe than the reward of seeing the calorie count would have been. So I stopped. I have no suggestions for you in that area.

    Last night Mark and I signed up to walk the USAF half marathon in September. So I will say that having some sort of goal (a wedding, a half marathon) is probably a good motivator. I don't know--still icy on the sidewalks so I'm not going to take the pup out for a 10 mile training walk this morning. Three miles will have to do.

    I'm so proud of you!

  13. Anonymous1/09/2013

    Oh, I tried Medifast, and couldn't STAND the taste. Also, I can't go on something that eventually I have to "go off of". I LOVE LOVE LOVE Weight watchers in that I can eat normally, everything I like. I am learning moderation, portion control, all the things I need to work out in "real life." I have lost 100 pounds on weight watchers in 18 months, and nothing else I have ever tried, and I have tried it all, was any faster. I love to cook, love to try WW recipies, and my family doesn't even know. I am staying right here, and have now kept my weight off for 6 months, even during the holidays.

  14. Alanna you look wonderful! My husband and I went on Medifast a few years ago through a nurse at a hospital who guided us. We had to check in with her every week. We lost a lot of weight, felt and looked great. I agree with many of your observations... Of course, once we got "off" it we managed to regain much of it. That is not the fault of MF, but our bad habits returning. I am now WW'g with a friend... and I am a "real" food advocate, so Ann's story (WW meet Michael Pollan) is right up my alley. Thanks for your honest sharing. You are indeed a blessing.

  15. Anonymous1/09/2013

    Watch the movie FORKS OVER KNIVES, it will change your life, I'll never look back.

  16. I actually started low-carb whole food a few weeks ago and have felt really great. I used to do Weight Watchers, and I did it faithfully, but it just didn't work for me. I felt so... guilty. I mean, it's one of the most highly recommended and highly statistically successful programs. I know people who have lost pounds and inches and sizes. But for me, it wasn't right; my weight and size remained stagnant. It took a bit to realize that I didn't have to fit in with all those statistics. Good on you for branching out and finding a different path to health.

  17. In the past I had lost quite a bit of weight by basically learning about food portions and making sure I didn't overdo any certain type of food. And I worked out. A lot. But once I went off program I gained all that weight back -- and another 100 pounds on top of it. I've tried various things, but Take Shape For Life (TSFL) is the first one to really show me huge results. (TSFL is a division of Medifast that comes with all sorts of free support and education that makes transitioning back to whole foods safe and easy. It helps you retrain your brain so you don't go back to the unhealthy habits you had before. It's more about creating health for life (hence its name) than about losing weight as a short-term goal.)

    I started Oct 2 and as of this posting I've lost 55 pounds. (I think I safely fall into the category of "results not typical".) It's amazing how great I feel -- how much energy I have, how my cravings have gone away, how I've broken my addictions from sugar and carbs, how I'm sleeping better... I LOVE THIS PROGRAM. Ive lost weight before, but nothing like this. Nothing this fast or easy. That's worth a lot to me. Since starting I've become one of their health coaches (free if you use Take Shape For Life) so I can help others.

    A few thoughts on some of the objections:

    1. Pre-packaged, processed foods. Okay, yeah. I wasn't excited about dehydrated food, either. But do you realize how much processed foods most of us use anyway?? Unless you're making your own breads, pastas, yogurts, growing your own veggies and fruits, etc etc, you are definitely eating a lot of processed foods, even if it's "healthy". At least this food is formulated by doctors to be nutritionally balanced and healthy for you.

    2. Cost. Yeah, it's expensive. I heard the price and laughed. But then I sat down and looked at how much I was spending on food: I ate a lot at my work's cafeteria or coffee bar. The portion of our grocery bill that was stuff I wouldn't use while on Medifast was huge. Suddenly the cost looked so much more manageable. Support on this program is free, unlike other weight loss programs so I was saving those fees as well. Plus consider how much you spend on doctor co-pays, medicines, and how much you could spend ultimately in hospital and other medical bills if you don't lose the weight. If you've spent money on failing on other plans in the past, why keep going back? The only way to know if you'll succeed on a different program is to try it. In the case of Medifast, if it's not the program for you, return your uneaten food and get most of your money back.

    3. Long term maintenance: This program does not abandon you once you've reached your goal. It will teach you how to transition back into "real" foods again and then finally teach you how to use those real foods to keep the weight off and be healthy for life. And with TSFL -- the support is free to you for life, even if you're not using the Medifast products anymore. Not a bad deal.

    4. Taste. Okay. Some of it I won't touch again. But a lot of it is really fairly decent and some of it I downright love... that sounds like any food out there, really. And then for those foods you're not so crazy about, there are all sorts of creative people out there on the internet who find ways to prepare foods in completely different ways that do make them enjoyable. (For example, unlike Alanna, I can't stand the chocolate shakes. But they make a pretty decent cupcake!)

    I never thought that a program that provides most of your food for me would ever work. I LOVE fresh foods -- fruit in particular was hard for me to give up. But who cares?? When you see results like this as quickly as this, suddenly it's not quite the sacrifice. And I know when I reach my goal I get to have those foods again. I love this journey and I love helping others reach their health goals as well. There's no better feeling than this!

  18. Good for you for taking control of this, and I say whatever works!

  19. Anonymous1/09/2013

    Great job so far!! I've lost 50+ lbs in 4 months on Medifast and have about another 25 to go! I was really hesitant to try Medifast in the beginning b/c I prefer real (mostly organic) food. However, once I had a little success with Medifast I was motivated to keep going. I'd never really tried any other weight loss program prior to Medifast b/c the task of losing 60-70 lbs was daunting. Since starting my Medifast journey I have started exercising regularly, my foot pain from plantar fasciitis is all but gone (along with all my other aches and pains) and I no longer get migraines regularly. I have also started tracking all my food in MyFitnessPal and I will continue to do that after I get back to eating real food to help maintain my weight loss. Yes - Medifast is not a perfect plan and I would much rather be eating fresh food that I prepare myself, however I needed this to help jump start positive changes in my health. I wish you continued success on Medifast and your journey to better health.

  20. Robyn ~ "Please be kind to yourself" ... what a kind but determined way to think of accountability. I like it, thank you. And "ELF - Eat Less Food" is good too, I really appreciate how we each find our ways by which to live.

    Kir ~ Thank you, dear friend! And you're the second person today to mention a half marathon, good for you and Mark!

    Anonymous ~ I am so-so-so glad that Weight Watchers works for you. It really is a life-saver for so many. Six months is excellent, stay with it!

    Bohanny ~ Thank you, girl! Good luck with doing WW with your friend, here's to both of you!

    Anonymous ~ I haven't seen Forks Over Knives but now it is on the list, thank you. Maybe a St. Louis screening?

    BevvBevv ~ Ack, yes, the guilt. I so get that. I'm so glad you've found something that is working for you now.

    Ananas ~ Thank you for chiming in with thoughtful reactions. We have different ideas on what's processed food and what's not processed food, but I hear you on each of your points. And I'm so glad you brought up the long-term support, that was new to me.

    Kalyn ~ Thank you, thank you. I remember when we first knew one another and talked about the differences between Weight Watchers (my way) and South Beach (yours).

    Anonymous ~ A little success is totally motivating, isn't it? The weight isn't "melting off" me like it does for some on Medifast but still, each day when I get on the scale, each day when I feel bones I haven't felt in some years, I feel grateful.

  21. Seriously?!? I would've expected better of you guys.

  22. Anonymous1/09/2013

    Your reasons for switching from WW to MF could have been written by me last summer. I had lost 113 on WW, but the gained back exactly half of it, all the while attending meetings faithfully and sort of following the program. When my daughter decided to try MF last January, I was supportive of her but skeptical of the meal replacements. She did really well, so I decided I would give it a try. I decided to commit to 2 months and see where I was. Well, 6 months later, I am still here and down 50 lbs. It isn't easy, but it certainly is simple. I love that. Each day I choose 5 things - any 5 things - add a lean & green and that is all the thinking I have to do.

  23. cynthia1/09/2013

    I am a longtime (and, fortunately, a successful -- so far -- WW member), and I read you for inspiration and recipes. I am VERY surprised you have switched to Medifast, but am VERY appreciative of your honesty. I wish you nothing but the best with this and hope you will update us in your "journey." I also hope you won't forget to provide delicious recipes once you're cooking again! Meanwhile, keep on cookin' with Medifast.

  24. cynthia1/09/2013

    Good luck!!!!!!

  25. Anonymous1/09/2013

    You look great! I'm glad you found a plan that works for you at this time. Thank you for your honesty and courage to write about your switch. You are awesome! Keep up your success. Looks like you don't have too much farther to go!

  26. Rebecca1/09/2013

    My story is that 11 years ago I lost 40 pounds in about two months. It was too much too fast, but I was "ready", as you say, to just get rid of the weight. I dieted and exercised the heck out of every day--eating very little. After losing the weight I felt better and ate normal, healthy meals. Over the last five years I have gained about 15 pounds. Reaching 40 was like a stopwatch to my metabolism.

    In November I picked up running to spend more time with fit family and friends. I am doing the "Run Double C25K"--an app to help you run a 5k in 9 weeks. Since I have never ran a step in my life, this is a challenge, but I want to be healthier, fit, and to spend time with other healthy people to stay on track. I haven't lost one pound and use that as motivation to keep moving. Surely all those skinny runners looked just like me when they started!

    Alanna you look great and each of us will succeed using different methods, sometimes even the same methods at different times. Keep preaching it! Can't wait to hear more about your successes.


  27. Anonymous1/09/2013

    Thanks for your honesty and for revealing that different things work for different people at different times of life. A friend at work lost a lot of weight using Medifast and it's transformed her life--she even just went platinum blonde and is still slender after transitioning to mainly real food again--in her early 60s.

    I lost a little over 30 pounds counting calories in my early 40s when I developed hypertension and around 10 of them slipped back on with perimenopause... on the other hand, I'm also really committed to never weighing as much as my maximum or even close, ever again. I've figured out I need more protein now and less carbs. Hard realization for a carb lover, but my body is talking!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  28. Aliza ~ I hear you, I'm disappointed that it's come to this.

    Anonymous ~ Wow, down fifty pounds, good for you, Medifast is really working for you. And you size up the program exactly right, "It isn't easy, but it certainly is simple. I love that. Each day I choose 5 things - any 5 things - add a lean & green and that is all the thinking I have to do."

    Cynthia ~ Thank you so much for your support and good wishes, it means the world. I didn't realize you were a successful WW!!

    Anonymous ~ Your encouragement brought me a big smile today ... well, after I got "something in my eye" there for a minute ... thank you.

    Rebecca ~ How totally brilliant to sign up for the Couch to 5K program, for the direct benefits but also just to be able to hang out with other people who are living healthy lives. BRILLIANT! You've really got me thinking on that one ...

  29. Suzanne1/09/2013

    This column inspired me to take a chance on a new program. I've been considering going back to WW "again", to loose the 20 pounds which crept back over the last 6 months. But I'm a very picky eater, a great cook, and to top it off, help my neice operate her scratch bakery. Not a good weight loss combination. Since I am certain you are particular about food with a discerning palate would you be willing to share your favorite medifast "meals". Have you tried the mac & cheese, I can't even imagine being able to enjoy mac & cheese from a package, but at this point I'm almost willing to try anything.

  30. Hi Suzanne ~ I'm happy to share which meals I liked. It's a short list. : 0

    I like the chocolate shakes and the various bars.

    After that? At first, I could tolerate the chicken noodle soup but I've got three boxes on hand and am having to force myself to eat one a day just to get rid of it. I like the spice pancakes and the chocolate pudding but don't order them because I really don't want to get used to sweet and carb-y things, which I didn't eat before and certainly don't want to get started on.

    I hated the eggs. I hated the sloppy joes. I hated the vegetable soup. I HATED-HATED-HATED the oatmeal. I liked so few things, I sent everything except shakes and bars back (Medifast has a good return policy) and stopped trying any others. I'm not bored with the shakes, they're filling, they help me drink more liquid, I like them hot and cold.

    I know that the Medifast forum is full of people who take the food and turn them into something else (eg some today who doesn't like the chocolate shakes says that they make good brownies) but I do not want to pretend this is "cooking" or "real food". So I ignore those possibilities.

    For the record, I am NOT a picky eater with real food. While there are a few things I don't care for (sweetbreads and Wonder bread) or prefer cooked one way more than another (boiled kale vs sauteed kale), it is rare for me to not like something.

    The one thing I'd say is, do everything you can t take charge now at 20 pounds. Don't let it turn into 30 or 40 or worse. I wish I'd followed my own advice.

  31. Thank you for the article. I at a point where I really need to loose the weight-again-and keep it off this time. My health is affected by the extra weight. I know of other people who have chosen meal replacement programs with great success. My question to you which I can't find in the article is why this program and not Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem?

  32. Some years ago I read that after age 40 we need to decrease our calorie intake by 10% every decade. I was younger than 40 at the time and thought "not me!!" Now that I'm over 60 I know it's true. To be honest, I was in my late 40s when I began to notice this. It wasn't just weight creeping up, it was that I didn't feel well eating like I did when I was younger.

    At about the same time I read about a group of people who maintained their health and had minimal weight gain throughout their lifetimes. It didn't prompt me to eat the way they did, but it did inspire me to find out how people in other countries and cultures ate. There were a lot of similarities and some differences -- mostly in exactly what they ate. I also started thinking back to when I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s -- when it was rare to see someone who was truly overweight.

    I was also in contact with older adults, many of whom weren't significantly overweight and had few health problems. I either observed or asked them about their eating habits. I started noticing some similarities.

    The slim, healthy people in other countries and the slim, relatively healthy older adults I saw had some things in common. Most never ate processed foods. If they did, they were consumed rarely. And contrary to the advice now to snack throughout the day, most never snacked. If they did snack it was only once a day. Among the older adults, those who were slim ate less than they had when they were younger. Not little enough to be malnourished, but definitely less than when they were in their prime.

    I eat three meals daily and rarely snack. About the only time I snack is if a meal is going to be significantly late. I do eat less at meals. Two of my meals, usually breakfast and lunch, tend to be smaller and one is larger. I don't feel deprived because I'm satisfied with how much and what I eat. There's nothing I don't eat, but many things that I don't eat often. If I really want something, I have it. I also have a general plan of what to eat at meals.

    I'm also a fan of Michael Pollan's mantra: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Real food has been very important in my own journey. I've found that I don't need to eat as much real food to be satisfied.

    Another thing I learned is that it's perfectly normal, in fact, somewhat necessary, for a woman to gain 20-25 pounds from the time she's about 20 until her mid-40s. It has to do with reproduction. This has been observed throughout the world and throughout history. It's even observed in art where maidens are slim and matrons are, well, more matronly. Part of the reason it may be hard for those of us "of a certain age" to lose weight is that we're not supposed to weigh the same as when we were younger.

  33. Alanna, I wish you the best of luck on Medi-Fast! A couple of years ago my friend lost 40 pounds on the program, at the same time I was losing 20 lbs on Jenny Craig. Two years later, she's gained 35 lbs back, and I've gained 25. *blush* Of course we can't blame it on the programs, anything works if you work it, but I don't think they truly teach you how to eat properly once you're "done," and I hated the reliance on processed foods. Since I've gone vegan (9 months ago) none of those "packaged" plans will work for me, they all rely on animal protein of some sort. Weight Watchers pushes fresh, healthy, *real* food, lots of veggies & fruits, just makes more sense for me in the long run. However, if you "use" Medifast as a jumping point and maintain from there, awesome! I just couldn't do it, call me a packaged diet failure. ;)

  34. Anonymous1/10/2013

    Alanna, you look wonderful! I really enjoyed your story. I'ts similar to mine. I'm a BIG fan of WW. I lost 80lbs and my husband lost 125lbs on WW about 12 years ago. I am a lifetime member and even worked for WW as a meeting leader for a year (quit because a new job forced me to travel a lot). However, like many of us, I've gained the weight back. I wanted to do Medifast for a while, but I was worried that it really didn't teach about how to cook or eat. It, like many other weight loss programs, just gives you the food to eat to lose weight. I liked learning what a portion is (i.e. not a whole can of tuna for my sandwhich?) and how to cook. However, my sister-in-law pointed out something to me. She said, "You worked for WW, you know how much to eat, how to cook, and what you should do. You're just having a hard time doing it. If you're goal is to lose weight and feel better, Medifast can help you do that. Then implement what you know you should do to keep it off." I took away from that the same thing you realized. I just was having a hard time doing the WW plan; too "open" for me right now. So, on to Medifast. I've lost 38lbs in 3 months and I haven't had one issue following the plan. Thanks so much for your post and inspraition.

  35. Anonymous1/10/2013

    So glad you posted this! As it turned out, I just got back from a trip and started on Medifast yesterday for the first time (the package arrived while I was away).

    Love the tip about making the shake with coffee. I'll definitely try that.

    I don't have a lot of weight to lose (only about 15 pounds), but have just not been able to motivate myself to reduce my food intake enough to get rid of it. I think that putting myself on a diet like this where I have specific food to eat each day is the kind of structure I need to jump-start my weight loss.

    I usually eat well (fresh foods from scratch, with lots of lean protein and veggies, not many sweets), so the idea of the pre-packaged food wasn't all that exciting to me. But I was won over by the "lean and green" meal that I would be able to have each day, and by the structure of the packaged meals - no having to figure out what to eat each day, no counting calories/points/carbs.

    I just bought the 2-week variety pack to try it out. If it works out OK, I'll order more. Since I don't need to lose a lot, I don't expect to be on it for more than a few months. If I find it hard to stick with it for a long stretch of time, perhaps I'll try alternating the Medifast food with home-cooked food on alternate weeks or even alternate days. As long as I'm lowering my overall food intake, I should still lose weight, though more slowly, of course.

    Congratulations on your weight loss, and sticking with it! It's a great inspiration to me.

  36. Hi Alanna--I left a message on your blog but I guess it was after you closed it to comments. I am just wondering why you chose medifast over other meal replacement systems like Nutrisystem or Jenny Craig.
    Congrats on your weight loss--I hope to be down 20 to 30 lbs by this summer.

  37. Tobie ~ Thanks, sorry, I got distracted. In part, that's because I didn't "choose" Medifast, it chose me by virtue of my friends Kathy and Georgia starting it. I did no other research. Why? I honestly didn't even think of it but also know that I am often confounded by too many choices, leading to long periods of indecision. Sorry, not much help as you make your own deliberations!

    Sally ~ I so appreciate your thoughtful (and literal) observations, thank you for taking the time to write. The "snack" ideas do resonate, since one of the things I most appreciate about Medifast is the frequency of the food intake.

    re snacks, perhaps it's a linguistic difference but to me, a "snack" means a "treat" - something like a piece of cake or a cookie or popcorn maybe. A meal implies something else, and for me, at least for now and I hope for later, more small and healthy meals during the course of a day feels right, keeping my sugar levels even over many hours. My idea for these "non meal" meals are a small bowl of vegetable soup or a small salad or a small piece of protein or a small piece of fruit.

    And yes, yes! There IS a difference between a girl's physique and a "matron's". My very thin friends somehow appear gaunt and wiry and tired, those with some healthy weight seem to glow.

    Thank you, thank you, for adding so much to this conversation.

    Vegan Gypsy ~ Yes, I see Medifast as a tool to just get me where I need to be, then to use WW/some Medifast principles to stay on the track. Is "vegan" working as a weight loss vehicle for you? Mark Bittman of course lost many, many pounds with his "vegan until dinner" approach. I know that the first time I gained weight, back in my 30s, was when I stopped eating meat. It's not fair to blame vegetarianism, it's just that I wasn't well-educated and switched to cheese as one protein source.

    Anonymous ~ Congratulations, 38 pounds in three months!! That is terrific, go, go, go. And it really encourages me that I'm not alone in using both WW and Medifast as different tools at different times in our lives. Your sister is a wise woman!

    CabledSheep ~ So many Medifast users have many pounds to lose, it's nice to know that it also appeals to those with fewer to lose. Good luck!

    If you're not used to caffeine, be careful using a full 2 cups of coffee to make the shake, it will, at least it did me, give you a bad-bad case of the shakes!

  38. Congrats! You look great! Really interesting post - I'll be looking forward to hearing about your experiences going forward. Keep up the good work.

  39. Just for clarification, by "snack" I mean anything eaten between the three major meals. I define "treat" as cake, cookies, anything dessert-like. I don't see popcorn as a treat so much, but carmel corn or any of the sweetened popcorns would be a treat.

    So a snack isn't necessarily a treat, but it could be.

  40. Your goal around "thinking about food less" really hit home for me. I am not on a diet, happy with my weight and 90% of the time eat healthy foods, but if I don't have something to keep my mind truely occupied I am constantly thinking about food, or more precisely food I plan to eat! Any tips on how you reached this goal would be appreciated!

  41. I have been a lifetime member of Weight Watchers since 1973, but spent a lot of that time over goal. Two years ago, I got back down to goal and am now working part time for Weight Watchers. I agree that the importance of maintaining a healthy weight trumps other considerations. I believe everyone must do what works best for them. I am so glad that you are losing weight, becoming healthier and feeling better about yourself. Losing weight is difficult, and maintaining a healthy weight is even more difficult. We constantly must start over and try new techniques. Good luck on your healthy living journey. By the way, my husband and I enjoyed Chicken Sybil for lunch today

  42. Alanna, so feel like we could be sisters. Have treasured this blog, along with Veggie Ventures for years. Have been on and off WW for almost 40 years. Still believe WW is best program if you take time to plan and follow program. Four years ago I was at my highest weight ever. Back to WW. Lost 50 pounds 1st year, 25 the 2nd year, and then regained +/-45 pounds over the next two years. My father in law had been on Medifast without telling us. He asked if I really wanted to loose weight. Well, of course.

    I had been skeptical about packaged foods and cost. Yet when you really step back and think about it, it was skilled at buying ingredients with the best of intentions, changing plans, forgetting the recipe and then throwing away the food. Wasted food, larger clothes, and most importantly diminishing health can be even more costly than the MF plan. With thyroid issues, to ease my mind, I also checked with our family physician. He gave his seal of approval.

    Originally I questioned how some of the prepackaged "meals" could keep me full. Surprisingly they did. Like you, it took trial and error to find the meals I preferred. Tastes do change over time. Recommend reconsidering some of the items you did not like earlier.

    I started Medifast in May and am approaching 60 pounds lost. This is my "mindless", stress management diet. I keep a variety of products well stocked so I can change my mind easily for each meal. Looking forward to maintenance, I can see Medifast as a quick option if those pesky 5 or so pound start to creep back on.

    I do believe that everyone is different and will champion any plan that works for someone as long as they are not compromising their health in the process. For me, going truly low carb makes a difference. It irritates me to see all of the high carb options with WW and the many "healthy" frozen entrees by a number of brands. Wish they'd focus more on ramping up veggies and decreasing carbs.

    Enough of my Saturday morning rant. Thanks for being a blessing to so many of your readers.

  43. Anonymous1/16/2013

    Dear Alanna,

    I have only just "met" you having stumbled on your site while looking for a recipe. I am a Weight Watchers Lifer who after several false starts on WW finally lost over 70 lbs 8 years ago and have kept it off.

    What did I do differently my last time on WW?

    I had also heard the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and execting different results.

    When I joined WW my goal was NOT to lose weight as it had been every other time I had gone on a diet. Once I lost the weight it was always "Woo Hoo! I did it!!" and then back to my old habits and eventually my old weight plus some. This time was different. This time my goal was to get onto the WW MAINTENANCE PROGRAM.

    Then when I reached my goal weight 8 years ago I was so excited because I was finally able to start what I had set out to do when I joined. It was like I was finally in front of the door I had been waiting for for so long. I was going to start the maintenance program. And I have never looked back. If you think you can eat a lot on WW when losing weight, you should see what Maintenance looks like!

    I wish you much success on Medi Fast but if you ever end up back on WW you might want to consider my strategy.

    Thank you for your great blogs and your enthusiasm for healthy food and for including WW points in your recipes.

  44. Kitchen Riffs ~ Thank you, John!

    Sally ~ Thanks for that clarification, we are on the same wavelength. :-)

    Molly ~ Ah yes, thinking "less" about food. There's a big difference between my goal and my current reality. The goal was to really step away from food, to stop reading about it, to stop writing about it and definitely to stop cooking it and thus going through the constant consideration of What's in the fridge? what's in season? who's coming for dinner? what photos on my sites need updating? what am I hungry for? and on and on and endlessly on. The reality is that I got away from that last but not away from the first ones, you'd think they would have been the easier ones! I'm still a work-in-progress on this regard but I am slowly filling my time with non-food interests again. Any ideas? How would you do it?

    LindaRuthC ~ Wow, good for you, that is such an inspiration. I am happy that official WW people are finding what I'm doing to make sense, if only for awhile.

    Janine ~ Sixty pounds, wow, that's just awesome, I hope you are sooo proud of yourself! Your words really made my day, thank you.

    Anonymous ~ Isn't this, yes, a funny way to "meet"? I'm so glad you wrote. Your words really resonate with me because when I think back, I know EXACTLY how many points I needed to lose weight on WW, 18 on the Old Point system, but have no idea what the maintenance points were! I know it's because my practice was to do 18 points a day most days, then relax on the weekends. And that system worked for me for about four years! But still, I don't know a THING about WW Maintenance and even now, I can tell I'm not really looking forward to Medifast Maintenance either because I so want to get off the program.

    I've been warned. THANK YOU.

  45. Thanks for sharing Alanna. Good luck. I am a vegetarian and I love your site and I love my CSA and cooking, but I find that I love eating my cooking so much that I am now obese. I lost 50 pounds thru attention to diet and exercise a few years ago but still had about 50 to go. I tried weight watchers but ended up GAINING 20 pounds. You have inspired me to try medifast.

  46. Anonymous1/27/2013

    Hi, Alanna.

    Thank you for posting your experience and being so honest and forthcoming. I'm a WW life-timer and loyal to the program. I've been hesitant to post a comment because I did not want to appear as a troll or as negating others' experience. That's not my intention.

    So, that said, here is my concern ... One's overall health status and underlying medical conditions can be at the heart of being unable to maintain a healthy weight.

    Individuals who are *truly* on a weight loss program (ie, faithful to Weight Watchers 24x7) and not seeing results, probably should see their physician. There are some times in our lives when we are not *meant* to lose weight ... when we are growing children, when we are pregnant, when we approaching menopause, when we are ill, etc.

    I understand the struggle with weight loss and maintenance. After all, I didn't end up in Weight Watchers because I ate healthy and exercised regularly. However, I've often struggled since attaining my goal weight. Some times, I wasn't faithful to the program, and that is correctable. But other times my body was operating at 100% due to illness or the transition to menopause. It's these times that a physician, not a new weight loss plan, was my best course of action.

    So, my intention is to encourage your readers to evaluated their own health and visit their doctor prior to adopting a new diet if they think it might be necessary.

    Wishing everyone health & happiness,

    ~ Susan

  47. Anonymous2/04/2013

    I, too, needed a change from Weight Watchers. I am a lifetime member, but currently over my desired weight. I tried WW several more times, with no success...they just keep messing with a program that worked for me 12 years ago, and the new ones just don't. I decided on Jenny Craig for many of the same reasons, and I am finding the change was a good one. As a real-food cook, I was worried, but the meals are tolerable, and once I got past the first week of starving, even cooking for my family is ok--they were kind enough to eat dinners out the first week! I worried about all the processed food (and still do), so I was glad to hear the friend's advice that the important thing is to lose the weight (and keep it off). I do the Jenny 5 day plan (loosely), which gives me 6 meals a week on my own, with their guidelines. (I sometimes do more than 6 on my own, but have plenty of Jenny meals and snacks in the freezer for back up. I agree--find something that works for you in this stage of your life.

  48. There's another way to lose weight and lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease, as well as most other common diseases of aging, but it requires a complete paradigm shift-- to being fueled by fat, not carbs. In this way you can keep your blood sugar low and consistent without having to "eat" every 2-3 hours. And I think you're totally right to be suspicious of highly processed food-- it's not food! Look at what humans have been eating for most of our time on this earth-- it wasn't grains or sugars, and it sure as heck wasn't processed food. The longterm health risks of a carb-fueled, processed-food diet are still significant, even if you lose weight. And starving yourself is not the answer. You'll lose weight with calorie-restricted carb-based diets, but it will always come back. Please consider reading "Why We Get Fat" by Gary Taubes, and check out Robb Wolf's book "The Paleo Solution." Also see the websites Mark's Daily Apple (Mark Sisson's book "The Primal Blueprint" was my introduction to these ideas) and consider trying a Whole30 (see the Whole9 website). I've been eating this way (low carb, meats, veggies, nuts, seeds, fruit, all real unprocessed food) for two years and have never felt better. Best wishes to you and thanks for a great source of wonderful veggie recipes!

  49. Alanna, Three years ago, I reached that very low place where my weight was at an all time high, and I was no longer chubby but FAT. I, too, knew many people who were successful on Medifast. I considered the plan for months before I dove in. I was on Medifast for almost 6 months, and lost 31 lbs. Considering the fact that I lost 7 lbs. the first week, my losses were slow compared to others, but I am a very small person. I went on a cruise, celebrated my daughter's high school graduation, and never deviated once. I reached a very happy goal weight of 123 lbs. on my 4 ft 11 frame, and I maintained it for...about a month. As soon as the holidays came, I started to fall off the wagon. In the three years since, I have gained an average of 5-6 lbs a year, so I have gained back more than 1/2 of what I lost. I did not do a good job transitioning and making the permanent changes necessary. I NEVER planned on staying on Medifast the rest of my life. I am sad to say that I am starting again on Medifast tomorrow, and I am not sure how long I will last, or how I will do. I have a limited supply of foods remaining from past orders, so I want to use them up and not order anything new, but I will see how it goes. I think I have enough for at least a month or two. I wish you luck in the transition and maintenance phase. It is truly the hardest part.

  50. I just switched to Medifast myself, which is something I said I would never do, but I just could keep joining WW time after time and failing. I needed something different, and so far so good. Of course I would rather be eating whole foods, but I have tried that way too many times with little success I will continue this until I am at goal. I also know that I will have to do what I am told if I am to maintain. With weight, indiscretions are visible to all.

  51. I wanted to thank you for posting your switch from WW to Medifast. After reading your decision, I started to investigate and found out all I could about MF. I started my journey in February and am now down 40 pounds. I have more to go, but this is the first time in 30 years I have been able to stick to a diet long enough to be successful. So again, I thank you.

  52. I am in my third week on Medifast after being devoted to Weight Watchers and ONLY Weight Watchers as a plan for nearly my entire life (since I was 10). Yes, WW works. It truly does. But, like you said, I wasn't working the program. I hate how they change it every year so nothing is consistent anymore. Plus, I'm food obsessed. WW was too permissive because I could anything and this made me push the "anything" boundary until those choices were unhealthy and I'd "make up" for it by making more unhealthy choices to compensate.
    What I love about MF so far is I just don't think about food anymore. I eat to fuel. I can't wait to get to goal so I can enjoy real food again and I hope that this "reprieve" from my obsession with food may help me develop a different mindset about food in my future.
    I was reluctant to try it--and I don't share that I'm doing MF with many people--because in a way I feel like I gave in to something "easy" or that I'm cheating in this weight loss. Except, it's not easy, it just seems to be working.
    I'm curious....have you transitioned yet? If so, how is that going?

  53. This is GREAT! I have been doing Medifast on my own and lost 60 pounds so far. I loose and average of three a week! Dr. A's book explains how you CAN do medifast without buying the food! This allows you to eat Organic non processed food AND it gives a better option for people with Soy issues or prefer to stay Vegetarian! One of the best ways I have found to stay motivated is to blog (diymydiet) I love reading about other people who are successful against the "fat" battle! Thanks for all the info and the super detailed post!

  54. Anonymous8/04/2013

    I have had the same problem as you with ww. I am lifetime but I feel like all I do is think about food when I'm on it. I have been feeling like a sell-out to good health for considering mf so I really appreciate your honest input. I am going to give it a try! And btw, your comments to others are always so kind and considerate. Thank you for being such a lovely voice on the internet when we are barraged with so much ugliness!

  55. NeverTooLate Laura ~ Oh! I so relate! I think that I started to put on weight again (after losing 30 pounds on WW in 2002) beginning in 2005 when I started writing A Veggie Venture. Funny to think that “veggies” put me over the top!

    Susan ~ Wise words, indeed, to make sure that a weight issue isn’t really “something else”. Thank you for the reminder. PS You put your concern so very gently, no worries about sounding like negative or like a troll!

    Anonymous ~ Jenny Craig, it is! Figuring out what works for each one of us, what a revelation.

    Erika ~ Primal, it is! Primal, it is! I hear such good things about this whole approach. I think it would be an easy transition for me ... thank you so much for sharing your experience and another point of view.

    Nancy ~ What a story, once again a reminder the importance of remaining vigilant. As I write this, this moment, I am feeling “flubby” a week after a Florida vacation where “key lime pie” figured all too prominently. I just feel icky -- I’m back to vigilance, this very day.

    E Jane ~ Good luck! The wisdom here, “I needed something different.”

    Chris ~ Oh my, WHAT a story! And down 40 pounds, whoa!! Good for you!

    ShowLover ~ Yes, I started my transition back in March. (It’s now August.) I’m not ready, yet, to write about it, I’m still learning. And I won’t feel like an “expert” until maybe a year or so has passed. But let’s just say, so far so good! :-)

    Sara ~ Good for you, girl, good for you! I have a friend who is doing “sort of Medifast” with real food and yes, I think it’s very do-able. Thanks for adding your experience!

    Anonymous ~ YOUR kind words mean the world, thank you. And good luck, it takes commitment, of course, every program does. But it’s do-able and at least for me, not too hard, once I got past the idea of just getting started.

  56. Anonymous8/11/2013

    Yuck! I found your blog because of the WW recipes and was so excited. Disappointed that you're eating crap instead of real food. You realize you can't maintain that for the rest of your life, right?

  57. Hi Anonymous ~ No need to hide behind anonymity here, come out into the open.

    I “get” your reaction, if you read the post again, you’ll see that I spent several months avoiding Medifast for that very reason. Once I went on, I couldn’t wait to get off, so I stuck to the program tight-tight-tight. I went back to real food in March and using principles learned from Medifast, have stayed at my goal weight with little issue.

    So while I “get” your reaction, really, make your own choices and allow me the freedom to make my own.

  58. Hi Alanna - I found your blog while googling about Medifast and TSFL. I was interested in your journey and also happy to see you are now on maintenance and doing well. I too did the WW thing in 2009. I was able to slowly lose, but then hit a plateau and was unable to lose down to my goal no matter how diligent or how much exercise I did. After abandoning the WW plan, I regained all but ten pounds. I started TSFL and Medifast the first of May 2013 and have lost 31 pounds of my 40 pound goal. I now believe I'll reset my goal to 50 as I feel it is attainable. I don't like all the Medifast food either, however I do like most of it. I appreciate never feeling hungry and all the support the TSFL community gives. It's the easiest weight reduction program and most successful I've every tried. Not only have I had success, but also my 2 daughters, daughter-in-law and my best friend are losing steadily or on transition. It really is wonderful to have so many of us helping each other. My coach is great too! Good for you taking off the weight and keeping it off. I detested counting points and was always hungry on WW. Every day I say to myself (or others) "this is so easy I can't believe it."

    I am curious to know if you are still sticking to 5 or 6 meals a day and if you use any Medifast to help you maintain?

  59. Hi Christine ~ Good for you, good for so many in your family! You have your own Medifast support group going on there!

    I do indeed stick to the five 100-calorie meals plus a main meal now and when I stray off that regimen (for example, the last week has been hard, a funeral, a houseful of guests, two big family parties, a birthday dinner) my body really hates it and I can’t WAIT (like this morning, already) to get back onto it.

    The one Medifast food I’m still using, especially when we travel, is the bars. They’re just so handy, so easy to carry around and eat on the fly. I haven’t found a good substitute, even though I’ve made a couple of recipes that I hoped might do the trick.

  60. Hi Alanna - checking back here. Thanks for your input regarding the continuing journey! I have found out it really helps me to read inspirational stories of success. I have attended the TSFL meeting that was held locally - it is so much fun to hear the passion that people have to tell how losing weight has changed their life. It was amazing to me that some of the people are even dietitians and health professionals! One was even the director of "Be Fit" for our state and found out that exercise alone does not a slender person make! I was especially happy to hear the men that spoke. I have some men in my life that could use this program!

    I am almost ready to go into transition now. I plan to follow the "rules" and add back gradually - I believe I'll be using some MF meals to help me stay at my goal weight even on maintenance.

    One last note - it sure is more fun to go shopping now!

  61. Yes yes and yes again! Congratulations on reaching the transition point, yes, so empowering it is to take control. Just FYI - keep your shopping in check, my experience with both WW and Medifast is that it takes a couple two or three or even six months for your body to settle into its new size and shape. But yes , I’m checking out fall clothes now as I have virtually no cold-weather clothes except sweaters that still fit.

  62. Anonymous10/12/2013

    I started Medifast after my father died of an obesity related heart condition. I lost a lot of weight, got to a lower size then I had ever been as an adult and felt..... well fantastic! (I went from 280lb to 152 in about a year). My problem was...... maintenance. I seem to be an all or nothing kind of person. I have gained back 50lbs and feel terrible. I am terrified to do medifast again thinking it will work in the short term but not in the long run, but then again maybe I woudl finaly learn to transition and eat healthy after. So scared to make a choice on what to do.... so in the meantime? McDonalds and ice cream. I dont even like this food, I just dont know how to stop. I had a beautiful garden this year and ate very little of it because I was so out of control with yucky food that nothing healthy sounds remotely appetizing. Just not sure what to do.

  63. Anonymous ~ Aii, I do so appreciate how "many choices" can create this sense of powerlessness, of feeling overwhelmed. I hope that someday, when "your" time is right again, that the memory of feeling so fantastic will help you make a choice.

    My belief is that "all" the legitimate weight-loss programs work: follow them, the weight will come off. Maintaining the weight, no matter the weight-loss program, is the real trick. I think WW teaches healthy-eating habits, whether or not you count points. I think Medifast does not teach you what "is" healthy food but does have important lessons about the timing of food intake.

    Good luck with your journey, my heart goes out to you. I can "hear" the tears and frustration.

  64. Just checked back in and found your update on your MediFast post. Congratulations! You inspire me to try yet again to take off those unwanted 25lbs and keep them off for good. I am considering MF I will have to read more about it on their website. I am pre diabetic and you are right the risks are too high to wait any longer. Wishing you continued success!

  65. Michele ~ It would be my great honor to act as your inspiration. It feels a little bit like "paying it forward". Let me know, please?

  66. Anonymous1/22/2014

    Thanks for your story! Very inspiring. I did Medifast several years ago through the guidance of my physician. I checked in weekly, weighed, took my blood pressure, etc. My blood pressure lowered, my cholesterol went down where it should have been and I felt amazing. I lost over 50 pounds with Medifast. Afterwards, I went to WW to learn to maintain. However, having a daughter who plays travel ball did me in summer after summer. To the point where I said, the heck with it, I just don't care. Well, that wasn't true really! I did care. Recently, a very, very close friend of mine who has struggled with weight loss and is a couple years older than me, I'm 52, started going to a trainer and eating better and looks amazing. With my job, unfortunately, I can't go to a trainer and some physical issue limit me right now on what I can do training wise. However, I got on the scale the other day and not only did I gain back the 50 pounds I had lost (about 4 times now) I gained another 5. That's when I said, nope, not gonna do this anymore. So, I am back to Medifast which is something I absolutely KNOW works, and once I have lost 30-40 pounds, I am giong to try the trainer thing on a small scale. I don't have lots of time, but hope I can work it out. I know how great I felt on Medifast and how much I don't hurt when the weight is gone. So, realistically, I have to lose about 70 pounds. The good news is that Medifast has some more choices now than ever before. Years ago, my parents went on Medifast and all they had were shakes! So, to have options now like cereal is huge for me! I love the bars and the shakes and it's easy to prepare. Thanks again for sharing and wish you continued success!

  67. I did weight watchers for a while, but with the plan changes and the meetings it just wasn't working for me and I stopped doing it a few years ago... and then regained all I'd lost on WW and then some. I started Medifast on my doctor's suggestion about 6 weeks ago and it has been amazing for me... it is exactly the plan I needed. I've been blogging about the experience daily and would love some more readers who can help keep me accountable, and maybe I can inspire some folks too!


  68. Anonymous3/08/2014

    Great article, thank you! I lost about 50 lbs on medifast over 4-months period and have been about +/-10-15 lbs for 4-years now. Not too bad. Medifast was simple, convenient and really fast. I guess I am very healthy so I did not experience any adverse effect from rapid weight loss. On the contrary, my skin problem and gastrointestinal problems were gone since losing 50 lbs. I had more energy and learned to cook healthy (mind you, I am a total idiot in the kitchen so this gave me an opportunity to learn to cook).

    I felt like I was ready to continue with my weight loss journey and to lose the last 35 lbs using a new method -- yep, weight watchers. I figured cooking 3-meals and learning to eat healthy when eating out might be a good challenge. It's only been 3-days but I do feel good in general and lost a bit already.

    If this doesn't work, I will go back to medifast. I had a bit of a problem doing the medifast maintenance plan but 10-15 lbs gain/loss over 4-year period is pretty good, considering I can gain and lose 10 lbs pretty quickly. For now, I'm going for slower method while learning how to cook healthy!

  69. Anonymous3/12/2014

    I was lifetime WW member and after hitting about 50...the weight kept coming on in the midsection!! Following WW and eating less than extra points on that I was still gaining. I exercise faithfully 5 to 6 days a week and at age 65 was at my highest weight. I think I had 3 cookies all of Christmas and was careful with food choices. FINALLY ...seeing 2 friends looking and feeling super...then finding out they started Medifast last fall...I decided I needed to try that. One of them had been WW member too and was gaining on the plan after about age 50 too!!! I am losing slowly on Medifast and have found shakes and bars that make this pretty easy to do daily. We have always loved veggies and chicken or fish, so easy to have my cooked meal a day too. My only concern is that I hope I am not getting too much soy in my diet with all these products!! Anyone have any thoughts on this? So far I have gotten used to the soy taste in the shakes and bars and now they seem to taste pretty good!!

  70. I need to lose some weight and WW works for me but it is too slow. If I do Medifast and lose the weight could I go on WW and maintain that weight? I like WW because it is so easy and I CAN eat what I want. I did Medifast once but when I went off I gained it all back so quickly. Want to do it again but with a plan this time for after I lose the weight. Anyone else try Medifast and then go to WW?

  71. Lynn ~ I think the trick is to find what works for you and it sounds as if you’ve figured that out, Medifast for losing and WW for maintenance.

    For more than a year now, I’ve been “off” Medifast but I still use the four 100-calorie meals plus one protein-heavy main meal to tell me “when” to eat but use WW to tell me “what” to eat, veggies, salads, healthy meats, limited carbs, the occasional sweet.

    Good luck with your journey!

  72. Alanna -

    One thing that your readers should be careful about is Medifast triggering their Gout.

    I have been on Medifast for less than 4 weeks (and lost 19 pounds) and have had 4 painful Gout attacks in that time period.

    I finally found an article put out by Medifast that said that the the Ketosis state can trigger attacks and they suggest doing a modified version of the 5 & 1 plan.

    I did not listen and stayed on the 5&1 and started taking my gout medication more regularly as I love the diet and results and do not want to leave it - but I do feel this is something that people should know about when starting.

  73. Anonymous10/09/2014

    Hi Alanna, I am thinking about doing Take Shape For Life, which uses the Medifast food. I think we go through changes, and what worked before all of the sudden doesn't anymore. I did WW for 3 years and lost 70 lbs, but then all of the sudden I wasn't getting anything out of the meetings and just seemed to lose my interest and motivation. I've gained 45 lbs back. I had a great leader, so it wasn't her. I just changed I guess. I normally turn up my nose at anything that involves pre-packaged meals too, but for some reason I feel that I need more structure than WW can provide. Maybe it will be enough to get me back into weight loss mode. Thank you for sharing your experience with this.

  74. I have tried them all. WW, Slim Fast, Xenadrine, Phentaramine, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, you name it, beside the 21 Day Fix and others....but NOTHING compares to the Take Shape For Life Health Coach that I retained about 6 months ago. I have since lost 63 lbs.! I have been so inspired and want to pay it forward, that I became a coach too. I love my job and love my ability to help others. Thank you for your extended story. I still have about 28 lbs. left to lose, but I will get there, I have faith and confidence that I have never had before. Thanks!

  75. My husband and I have just begun Medifast only through Take Shape for Life. There is no additional cost outside the food and you get a personal coach/ accountability partner. They have facebook groups you can belong to for encouragement, new recipes, a free nurse and dietician line and even more accountability and motivation. It is the best way to go......don't just order you food through medifast and do it alone. THEY STAY WITH YOU THROUGH TRANSITION AFTER THE WEIGHT IS GONE! This is priceless. The education after the fact. It is what will make your weight loss journey a success.

    I AM NOT A TSFL COACH. I was given a coach's number through the daughter of a friend and I am on my way to better health. The processed food is the biggest hurdle, in particular the artificial sweeteners. I am now working on my own almost calorie free pancake syrup and jam using only stevia so I can at least avoid them in the extras.

    For the first time in a long time, and after 20 years of yo-yo dieting, I feel hopeful for a successful outcome. Thank you TSFL!

  76. I love finding postings such as this. I just recently posted on my own blog that I needed a restart. I am a Weight Watchers lifetimer that has gained back and for the past 2 years have been doing WW on and off - again, the weight is still there because I'm not totally doing the program (my fault, not WW). But just this week I decided I was "pointed out". It should not feel like work to eat! I don't see the food, I see a point value.

    About a year ago I told my doctor that I was tired of counting points. He told me to stop counting them that if all I learned from WW was counting pts, then I wasn't doing the program. It took me a year to finally realize I needed to let go. I know what to eat, I know correct portions, I know when I'm full and I know I need to be more active. I KNOW WHAT TO DO - I just kicked the pts out of it!

    I'm using Sparkpeople right now just so I have a phone app to use for tracking, though I'm not really worrying over calories and such. I just look at the bottom to see if I stayed within the range - and so far, so good! I haven't been on the scale yet, but I'm hopeful!

  77. Anonymous7/28/2015

    Thank you for sharing your story. I'm 6 years into maintaining a goal weight after losing it successfully, finally with Medifast. My favorite part of the program was not having choose what to eat for every meal. Other programs like Weight Watchers had been a really important part of my journey, bringing awareness of how much food I needed to eat, but in the end, my will power gave into old comfortable habits and I ended up falling off the wagon. Medifast was so fast and effective, the excitement of what I saw happening on the scale was plenty to get me through the times of hunger and discomfort adjusting to the program.

    I followed the process from beginning to end, and did the transition plan after reaching my goal weight. It worked beautifully. I gradually got used to eating real foods a whole new way in little guided steps. I think the biggest factor to keeping the weight off has been making a decision to leave old habits behind and adopt a completely new way of eating. The emotional and relational connections with food ahve been the hardest to retrain. I am passionate about eating lean and green, but I still face challenges when a holiday rolls around or I have to attend a social gathering when unhealthy foods play a central role in the celebrations. Keeping the weight off for me has become a daily series of decisions to do the best things for myself - to exercise regularly, drink lots of water, reduce sugars, eat mostly lean and green foods and cut carbs.

    I am such a fan of this new way of living that I have written a cookbook of my favorite lean and green recipes that follow the guidelines of the 5 & 1 Meal Plan. It's my way to give something back to other people on a similar journey. Even in maintenance, my family eats these meals all the time.


    I'd be honored for you to check it out and share a few of the recipes with your community! I hope to continue creating new, exciting AND delicious ways to eat lean and green. I'd love to be a part of the conversation as we all pursue a healthy life together.

  78. thank you so much for this. I began medifast today and I have been a little cranky due to being hungry. this blog is super helpful.

  79. Anonymous11/25/2020

    Thanks for sharing that story b/c it's nearly identical to mine. I understand all the science behind diet and weight loss and even became a dietitian as a profession years ago. Perhaps subconsciously because of my lifelong struggle with weight. I've loved and been a fan of weight watchers for years and definitely think it can work too....in fact, I'm living proof of that because I lost 64# on it and since have gained it back for several life changing reasons over the last 8-9 years. I too have tried to re-start that option to find myself being the problem with it, not the program. When others around me were trying medifast options, I took a look and decided I needed to do something different to hopefully get my mindset in a place where I could get a different result. It's working so far, but I definitely struggle with the "non-real food" part because everything I've taught my patients and myself over the years is just the opposite of what I'm doing right now. I appreciate your words and the reminder that there is always a different approach and sometimes the means to an ending isn't always what we expect. I hope you're well and continue to write for many of us to read. Thanks again for sharing.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna