Saturday, December 27, 2014

Why WebMD Doesn't Want You to Get Well

I never could figure out why Little Red Riding Hood
didn't notice how hairy Grandma's arms were
Is WebMD Just a Front for Big Pharma?

I used to research various health conditions on WebMD, but lately I have become suspicious that this trusted source is really the big bad wolf dressed up like grandma.

Or should I say, Big Pharma dressed up as an independent, unbiased medical website.

Today I was reading an article in WebMD about pre-diabetes and tripped over the following nutritional advice:

Go for meals that mix low-fat protein, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit calories, serving sizes, sugar, and starchy carbs. Favor fiber-rich foods, which help you feel full and not eat too much.

This may seem like great advice to you since the federal government has been saying the same thing for years with its fancy food pyramid and My Plate propaganda. Meanwhile, Americans have been getting fattier and collecting chronic diseases as if they were Beanie Babies.

The prescription to eat whole grains and low-fat proteins is based on nebulous conclusions drawn by such nutritionists as Ancel Keys, whose research data contains more holes than a doughnut shop. Dozens of books have been published in recent years that debunk such potentially dangerous nutritional guidance, including such best selling exposés as The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet and Death by Food Pyramid.

So why would WebMD -- the Marcus Welby of the Internet -- want to deceive us? I had my suspicions when I read an article about prediabetes on WebMD, which was sponsored by --  who else? -- INVOKANA®  "a once-daily pill that helps manage type 2 diabetes in adults."

I did a little research and found out that WebMD is far from being an independent medical source. Like a greedy doctor who attends medical conferences vacations in Hawaii and Vegas on the drug companies' dime, WebMD is bought and paid for by Big Pharma.

Which has nothing to gain if millions of American adults and children were to actually lose weight and get healthy.

Do your own due diligence before deciding the best or healthiest way to eat. And if medical content is sponsored by drug companies, be wary -- no matter how reputable the source.

In the end, Little Red Riding Hood climbed into bed with "grandma" and got eaten up by the wolf.



More from Diet Skeptic:

What's Wrong with Registered Dietitians?


Why I'm Addicted to Chia Seeds


Why Fat Head Pizza Is the Holy Grail of Low Carb Pizzas 

The Shocking Truth About Imported Olive Oil
 

Making Cauliflower Rice in the Vitamix


Follow Nancy's board Low Carb Recipes on Pinterest.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

How Losing Weight on Medifast is a Lot Like Playing Scrabble

My husband and I play a lot of Scrabble.* As in pretty much every day.

So today, as I was looking for a way to play my q without a u, I searched for two-letter q words on the Merriam-Webster SCRABBLE® Players Dictionary website and played the word qi. Which I might not have known was a word if I didn't know about this amazing tool.

And then it occurred to me that being successful, whether at Scrabble, weight loss or life in general is not so much a matter of luck or chance as knowing how to solve your problems by searching for, finding and using the best available resources.

All of us have access to the web and can research how to lose weight. Many people will try eating mindfully, fasting intermittently, counting points or slurping cabbage soup seven times a day until their fingers start sprouting leaves. And, in some cases, they might be successful.

But those methods didn't seem right for me.

I was looking for a way to lose weight that was relatively quick and sustainable and did not involve deprivation, elaborate meal prep or obsessive tracking.

So when I read a relative's post on Facebook about losing a ton of weight on the Medifast 5&1 Plan, the same diet one of my morning radio guys used to lose over 100 pounds, my antenna perked up -- even though I was skeptical about diets and not too crazy about the idea of eating processed food.

I had tried Nutrisystem and could barely force myself to ingest the company's replacement meals. Why would Medifast be any different?

But I was at a point at which I really wanted to lose weight and ready to try something new that had clearly worked so well for other people. I did my research, ordered a month's worth of replacement meals and waited for the magic powder to arrive.

And before I knew it, 35 pounds just disappeared.
What may look like a bad rack of letters
could spell a 7-letter Bingo word

So getting back to the Scrabble metaphor, sometimes being overweight seems like one of those miserable Scrabble rounds when you have a rack of bad letters and can't seem to form a word over five points. You may be over 50, on pills that puff you up like a parka or (fill in the blank with your favorite excuse for not losing weight). Which makes it easy to throw up your hands and cry "uncle."

Honestly, it's easier to just keep eating the cupcakes.

But if you really want to lose weight, it is possible. My Scrabble letters formed the word M-E-D-I-F-A-S-T. Yours may form a different word.

*If you enjoy playing Scrabble but do not like the luck factor, try a variation created by my husband called Drew's Rules. And, in case you wondered, qi -- pronouncedt chē -- is"the circulating life force whose existence and properties are the basis of much Chinese philosophy and medicine.)

You can purchase Medifast replacement meals directly from Medifast Centers, the Medifast website or -- for no extra cost -- through the co-branded website of a Medifast TSFL health coach. Medifast does not recommend purchasing its products from third party vendors, but if you choose to do so, you can find them on both Amazon and eBay.

Medifast Custom Order - You Choose ANY 10 Boxes


More from Diet Skeptic:

Can You Drink Alcohol on Medifast

Medifast Centers Vs. Take Shape for Life


Planned Exceptions: What Is Your Pie Policy?

Wabi Sabi Dieting & Renee Zelwegger's New Face

Women Who Pin Too Much: Confessions of a Low Carb Recipe Collector

Follow Nancy's board Low Carb Recipes on Pinterest.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas Medifast!

Editor's note: Due to a coffee spill, the letter between u and w and the number between 0 and 2 are not working on my keyboard today and ha*e been replace with a < and /, respecti<ely.

I recently wrote a couple of blog posts that may ha e seemed not so kind to Medifast corporate. A member of one of my Facebook groups thought they were mean. And I could see how she could take them that way.

This pizza recipe from the Sandy's Kitchen blog has
a cauliflower crust.  It is a popular sub for Medifasters and
other low carbers who cra e the cheesy fabulousness of pizza.
But most of my Medifast friends realized my intent was to provide a little tough lo*e to a company that has helped so many people radically change their li<es. Like a wayward teenager, my Medifast is going to grow up to be an awesome adult. She just needs to be nudged in the right direction.

So on this day before Christmas, I want to wish Medifast the company a most sincere and heartfelt Merry Christmas.

Without Medifast, I might be wearing plus sized clothes by now and taking diabetes, cholesterol and high blood pressure medications.

Without Medifast, I might still be trying to eat in moderation and wondering why the needle wasn't mo<ing on my scale.

Without Medifast, I might still be con<inced it is impossible to lose weight after 50 and blame hormones and menopause for my predicament.

Without Medifast, I might ne<er have learned that meals do not need potatoes, rice, pasta or bread to be complete.

Since losing 35 pounds in less than four months last year, I ha<e retained many of the healthy habits I learned through the Medifast 5&/ Plan and Take Shape for Life program.

I eat frequent smaller meals and as few refined carbohydrates as possible.

I Stop, Challenge and Choose instead of automatically reaching for a food I don't lo<e and which doesn't lo<e me.

I find ways to reward myself that do not in<ol<e food.

I consider the farthest spot in the parking lot the best place to park.

And, of course, I drink more water.

And fewer martinis.

So thank you you, Medifast, from the bottom of my heart. You may not be perfect, but you helped me become a whole lot happier and healthier.


And if anyone reading this blog post is considering trying Medifast to lose weight, all I can say is "Do it." Sign up with a free Take Shape for Life health coach and order your meals now in time for your January reju<enation.

Gi<e yourself the best Christmas present e<er by committing to starting Medifast as soon as you can. Like me, you'll be amazed to see those pounds melt away like a snowman in Miami Beach. Because e<en though Medifast used to ad<ertise, "It's not a miracle, it's Medifast," I'm not so sure.

You can purchase Medifast replacement meals directly from Medifast Centers, the Medifast website or -- for no extra cost -- through the co-branded website of a Medifast TSFL health coach. Medifast does not recommend purchasing its products from third party vendors, but if you choose to do so, you can find them on both Amazon and eBay.

Medifast Custom Order - You Choose ANY 10 Boxes


More from Diet Skeptic:

Can You Drink Alcohol on Medifast

Medifast Centers Vs. Take Shape for Life


Planned Exceptions: What Is Your Pie Policy?

Wabi Sabi Dieting & Renee Zelwegger's New Face

Women Who Pin Too Much: Confessions of a Low Carb Recipe Collector

Follow Nancy's board Low Carb Recipes on Pinterest.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

How Not to Compliment Friends Who Lose Weight

During my weight loss journey last year, a co-worker stopped me in the hallway and told me I looked great. Then she hesitated and asked, "You're okay, aren't you?"

Since I work in the healthcare field, I had to chuckle since the nurse who complimented me was aware that people lose weight due to causes other than diet and exercise, cancer being the most obvious.

I assured her I was fine and then walked back to my desk on a carpet of air, thrilled that my Medifast diet was producing noticeable results.

Most people on a weight loss diet are genuinely pleased when people notice and comment on their slimmer shape. But a video produced by my Take Shape for Life health coach friend, Leah, made me realize there are good and bad ways to give such compliments. The worst way for her is to say these five words:

"Keep up the good work."

In her video, Leah provides a surprising interpretation of this seemingly positive statement, "You look better, but you're still fat."

Instead of being motivating, the "compliment" is a reminder that she still has a long way to go.

The "but you're still fat" part is silent. But to someone who has a lot of weight to lose, it roars as loud as a Harley.

Telling someone to "keep  up the good work"
can be taken as a backhanded compliment
Not everyone might react to the statement as Leah does, but it's important to know that inference could be there for some people -- especially those who have struggled with their weight and body image for a long time and do not need to be prodded or poked to continue fighting a very personal battle.

Just as you would not tell an overweight person they should go on a diet, telling a person who is in the midst of losing weight they should keep going implies you consider them unacceptable as they currently are.

Leah's insightful video is just one of the many gems on her YouTube channel that helped me lose weight on the Medifast 5&1 Plan. If you're not already a subscriber, you can sign up here.

You can purchase Medifast replacement meals directly from Medifast Centers, the Medifast website or -- for no extra cost -- through the co-branded website of a Medifast TSFL health coach. Medifast does not recommend purchasing its products from third party vendors, but if you choose to do so, you can find them on both Amazon and eBay.

Medifast Custom Order - You Choose ANY 10 Boxes


More from Diet Skeptic:

Can You Drink Alcohol on Medifast

Medifast Centers Vs. Take Shape for Life


Planned Exceptions: What Is Your Pie Policy?

Wabi Sabi Dieting & Renee Zelwegger's New Face

Women Who Pin Too Much: Confessions of a Low Carb Recipe Collector

Follow Nancy's board Low Carb Recipes on Pinterest.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Corpulent Cops and Slinky Shrinks: Obesity Rates by Profession

If you want to be at a healthy weight, think twice about becoming a cop. Whether it's the doughnuts or the stress, about 40% of police officers are obese. Ditto for firefighters and security guards.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are psychologists, scientists and economists, only 14% of whom meet the criteria for being obese (body mass index of 30 or above).

An infographic published in The Wall Street Journal paints an interesting picture of how different professions rank according to weight.

It was a little surprising to me that so many police officers are overweight since that would be a real hindrance to chasing criminals. Most of the cops I see on TV are hunks, although some of the Staten Island police in the Garner case looked like they spent too much time at Dunkin' Donuts.

I was less surprised that social workers and clergy had a higher chance of being obese than the average Josephine since people in helping professions may soak up other people's negative emotions and eat more comfort foods to numb their feelings.

So why are economist, scientists and psychologists at the low end of the obesity range? My best guess is that people in these professions are data driven and know how to eat and move properly to avoid gaining weight. Instead of blindly following USDA guidelines that promote excess carbohydrate consumption, they keep up with the latest research that suggests the government recommendations are based on skewed data designed to benefit big agriculture.

Some people may argue that BMI is a false measure that does not take into account higher muscle mass. We've all seen those firemen's calendars depicting muscular dudes with six-pack abs. But the authors of a study called "Addressing the Epidemic of Obesity in the United States Fire Service" concluded that firefighters do, indeed, have a weight problem, and presented the following possible causes:
* Attempts to improve nutrition in the firehouse often are met with resistance.

* Firefighters often consume diets high in processed carbohydrates and sugar, which promote obesity and cardiovascular disease.

* Firefighters overestimate the ability of physical activity to counteract the impact of large food portions or unhealthy dietary choices.
The last reason really intrigued me because many obesity experts suggest that people who exercise regularly may not lose weight because they view it as a license to eat more food.

"You can eat a Big Mac in 15 minutes, and it takes an hour to take that off with biking," says Patricia Crawford of UC Berkeley's Center for Weight and Health. "There's just no comparison -- there's no way we can exercise off a bad diet. The days aren't long enough."

Which makes sense given that lunch at a Largo, Fla., fire station one day consisted hot dogs, chili, cheese, Tater Tots, cole slaw and brownies.

The bottom line? Unless you practically live at the gym, it is almost impossible to outrun the calories you consume -- especially if you eat a diet high in refined carbohydrates and have a job that releases frequent bursts of cortisol.

You can purchase Medifast replacement meals directly from Medifast Centers, the Medifast website or -- for no extra cost -- through the co-branded website of a Medifast TSFL health coach. Medifast does not recommend purchasing its products from third party vendors, but if you choose to do so, you can find them on both Amazon and eBay.

Medifast Custom Order - You Choose ANY 10 Boxes


More from Diet Skeptic:

Can You Drink Alcohol on Medifast

Medifast Centers Vs. Take Shape for Life


Planned Exceptions: What Is Your Pie Policy?

Wabi Sabi Dieting & Renee Zelwegger's New Face

Women Who Pin Too Much: Confessions of a Low Carb Recipe Collector

Follow Nancy's board Low Carb Recipes on Pinterest.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Trimming the Fat at Medifast: Six Ways the Company Could Better Spend Its Money

Yesterday, in Part One of this two part series, I talked about the fat cat package Medifast CEO Michael MacDonald is receiving from the diet company's board of directors -- a whopping 700% jump in total compensation -- from $1.1 million to $7 million -- between 2012 and 2013.

A law firm is currently investigating this sweetheart deal for the guy who earned his position by merit happened to be the brother of one of the company's former CEOs -- as well as the overall compensation of the entire C-Suite (which includes the former CEO's daughter) from $2.1 million to $12.1 million in the same time frame. This is a curious reward for serious missteps and lackluster growth in revenue and stock price, thanks to an executive team with a history of hiring relatives and college buddies' kids.

MED closed at 32.57 on Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. If you had purchased
the stock on Dec. 31, 2009 you would be up a measly 6% (with no dividends) in five years.
During the same time period, the total stock market index almost doubled --
and small cap stocks like MED performed even better.
(Graph courtesy of Medifast Investor Relations website)
So how could the board have better invested these millions of dollars instead of overcompensating the company's head honchos?

Here are just a few suggestions:

Offer free shipping for all purchases over $50: In one of its more boneheaded moves, the company recently increased the amount of money you need to spend on each order to receive free shipping, offering credits for future purchases instead. Given that we live in a microwave society where people prefer instant gratification, free shipping for smaller purchases would encourage more new people to try the program and current members to order more frequently.

Stop charging $40 a pound for popcorn: In a previous blog post, I did the math and figured out that Medifast's new popcorn snacks work out to be over $40 a pound. What are they sprinkled with gold? I'm betting even Donald Trump would take a pass, just on principle. Medifast is already perceived as expensive by many people; so why add to this overall misperception?

Million dollar prize for best video: Medifast could significantly up its coolness factor by offering a $1 million dollar prize for the best Medifast video and then airing the winning commercial on the Superbowl. Tens of thousands of YouTubers would jump at the chance to win a cool mil -- in addition to the many vloggers who already have Medifast channels -- - create more excitement and engagement around the brand.

Share the wealth: Aside from Medifast paying relatively low salaries to its rank and file corporate employees and weight loss center staff (who consistently complain about low pay), the company's Take Shape for Life division favors a select handful of health coaches. Orphaned members of Medifast's 34 centers that are closing on Dec. 31, 2014 were divvied up among only the highest ranking health coaches who already have hundreds of clients and only so many hours in a day to provide support. These clients could have been more fairly distributed to include more hard working health coaches who have demonstrated success and have more time to devote to these new clients.

Hire better mad food scientists: Though Medifast offers some palatable replacement meals, especially when combined with each other and cooked in a Babycakes Doughnut Maker, some of its newer products have clearly been duds. In particular, the new maintenance line was received with a collective WTF? since the products are costly and must compete with such popular items as Quest bars. The company also refuses to put instructions on its savory meal items, such as ziti marinara, to warn newer customers that the magic powder must first be soaked to avoid tooth breakage.

Invest more money in technology:
Medifast's computer systems seem to have been designed in the Flintstone era with glitches and quirks that are aggravating to customers and health coaches alike. During the brief time I was a TSFL health coach, I could not use my primary email address because the program would not accept a domain name with a hyphen. And don't get me started on creating my health coach profile. It reminded me of the old days on the Internet using klugy programs like Geocities.

Ironically, I am a huge fan of the Medifast 5&1 Plan -- especially when combined with Take Shape for Life -- because it helped me lose 35 pounds in less than four months with minimal will power. If Medifast linked executive compensation more closely to performance, the company might actually make its investors some money and make its customers, employees and health coaches a lot happier.



Subscribe to Diet Skeptic Does Medifast by Email


You can purchase Medifast replacement meals directly from Medifast Centers, the Medifast website or -- for no extra cost -- through the co-branded website of a Medifast TSFL health coach. Medifast does not recommend purchasing its products from third party vendors, but if you choose to do so, you can find them on both Amazon and eBay.

Medifast Custom Order - You Choose ANY 10 Boxes


More from Diet Skeptic:

Can You Drink Alcohol on Medifast

Medifast Centers Vs. Take Shape for Life


Planned Exceptions: What Is Your Pie Policy?

Wabi Sabi Dieting & Renee Zelwegger's New Face

Women Who Pin Too Much: Confessions of a Low Carb Recipe Collector

Follow Nancy's board Low Carb Recipes on Pinterest.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Is Medifast CEO Michael MacDonald Worth His Fat Paycheck?

Wouldn't it be great if your compensation at work soared 700% in one year?

That's the happy situation for Medifast CEO Michael MacDonald, but some law firms are crying foul. While the top dog is feasting on filet mignon, the company could be in the dog house with investors.
Medifast CEO Michael MacDonald

Law firm Kirby McInerney LLP is actively inviting shareholders of MED stock to help it "investigate potential claims against the Board of Directors of Medifast, Inc. (“Medifast” or the “Company”) (NYSE:MED) concerning the improper compensation of the Company’s executives."

And chief among these lucky ducks is MacDonald, the brother of former Medifast CEO Bradley MacDonald, whose total compensation jumped from $1,160,702 in 2012 to $7,070,686 in 2013.

Naturally you would expect the Owings Mills, Md. weight loss company had a stellar year with a rising stock price, rocketing revenues and ingenious initiatives that compelled such a stunning reward.

And you would be wrong.

Medifast is currently showing lackluster growth and even declines in some areas. Its stock price wavers from Strong Sell to Hold as investors lose confidence the stock will fatten their own bottom lines.

Meanwhile, MacDonald is laughing all the way to the bank.

Tomorrow in Part Two of this story, I will discuss how Medifast could better invest its limited resources instead of paying off the mortgage on the CEO's mansion.


You can purchase Medifast replacement meals directly from Medifast Centers, the Medifast website or -- for no extra cost -- through the co-branded website of a Medifast TSFL health coach. Medifast does not recommend purchasing its products from third party vendors, but if you choose to do so, you can find them on both Amazon and eBay.

Medifast Custom Order - You Choose ANY 10 Boxes


More from Diet Skeptic:

Can You Drink Alcohol on Medifast

Medifast Centers Vs. Take Shape for Life


Planned Exceptions: What Is Your Pie Policy?

Wabi Sabi Dieting & Renee Zelwegger's New Face

Women Who Pin Too Much: Confessions of a Low Carb Recipe Collector

Follow Nancy's board Low Carb Recipes on Pinterest.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

That Office Fudge Isn't Doing Any Body Any Favors

We all have a colleague at work whose popularity is due largely to the candy dish on her desk. Co-workers stop by for the latest office gossip and leave with a handful of M&Ms. If they're smart, they figure out that both of them are best avoided.

But this time of year, the candy lady is harmless compared to her evil cousin, the holiday fudge maker. She's the office ho Jezebel who makes a big batch of fudge and leaves it in the break room on a holly rimmed plate to tempt all who enter.

As I type, that plate of fudge may still be lying in wait in my office break room. It was there all day yesterday, flirting with me each time I stopped in to pick up a colored copy or check my mail folder. "You know you want me," she purred, like a young Bette Davis who knows she's hot.

The trouble is, I wouldn't be satisfied with just a fling. I'd take a smallish sized piece, go back to my desk and then all I'd be thinking about is finding another excuse to go back to the break room to get some more. Like the bad girl from the movies, I'd know she spelled trouble, but I couldn't get enough.

It's possible the person who made the fudge has perfect self control like that annoying sensible friend who can eat in moderation and complains she's full after eating half a meatball. Maybe she just can't fathom that she's triggering other people's carb addictions with that irresistible combination of sugar, fat and salt that goes by such an innocent the sounding name. Fudge.

And though her co-workers may be happy for the brief moment that chocolatey piece of heaven is in their mouth, for most of the day they will feel sluggish and irritable, because eating "foods" with such high concentrations of sugar causes blood sugar to soar and cells to cry out, "Enough already!"

As for me, I knew I could not eat just one piece of fudge. So each time I went into the break room I looked at the pretty plate as if it contained fascinating artifacts instead of fudge. Fortunately, I was prepared and could sublimate my desire with a couple of squares of dark chocolate that I keep in my desk drawer for just such emergencies.

Oh, and for the spelling cops out there, I deliberately misspelled "anybody" as "any body" in the title of this blog post. Because it's the body that pays the price for that ephemeral moment of fudgey bliss long after the last taste lingers on the tongue.

You can purchase Medifast replacement meals directly from Medifast Centers, the Medifast website or -- for no extra cost -- through the co-branded website of a Medifast TSFL health coach. Medifast does not recommend purchasing its products from third party vendors, but if you choose to do so, you can find them on both Amazon and eBay.

Medifast Custom Order - You Choose ANY 10 Boxes


More from Diet Skeptic:

Can You Drink Alcohol on Medifast

Medifast Centers Vs. Take Shape for Life


Planned Exceptions: What Is Your Pie Policy?

Wabi Sabi Dieting & Renee Zelwegger's New Face

Women Who Pin Too Much: Confessions of a Low Carb Recipe Collector

Follow Nancy's board Low Carb Recipes on Pinterest.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How to Diet Like an Anthropologist: The Fly on the Wall Method to Melting Fat

A huge part of shedding pounds and maintaining my ideal weight has been making conscious choices about what I eat. In many cases I use Take Shape for Life co-founder Dr. Wayne Andersen's  Stop, Challenge and Choose method (more about that here), which forces me to push my pause button, ask myself questions, and make a choice that leads to optimal health.
Channel your inner Margaret Mead

I also have another weapon up my sleeve that I call "going into anthropologist mode."

Part of the reason we overeat or eat suboptimal foods is that we get caught up in the moment and do not think before we act. Our hand grabs the cookie and stuffs it into our mouth before we even realize what we have done.

That's where having an inner anthropologist comes in handy.

Instead of being part of whatever situation I'm in, I take a step back and become an observer. Like a modern day Margaret Mead, I watch how others are behaving around food and describe it to myself. Not only does that distract me from eating, it makes me realize how automatically other people help themselves to foods they had not planned on eating just because it is set before them. (Think chips at a Mexican restaurant.)

Yesterday at work I was tempted by three of my favorite foods: pie, pizza and fudge, none of which I had planned on eating before I left the house. In the old days, before Medifast, I would probably have eaten all three since fattening food that magically appears was like winning the Lottery, an unexpected prize to perk up my day.

Instead, I tapped into my inner Margaret and watched other people eat the food, which made me lose the desire to eat it myself. In fact, the thought of eating the food just because it was there seemed absurd and, ultimately, unappealing.

Though I usually prefer to feel like a part of whatever group I'm around, sometimes it is better to distance myself when the group is doing something that deters me from my goals. Being an introvert, it is easy for me to become a fly on the wall and observe others. And, when you think about it, when was the last time you saw a fat fly?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Into Each Life Some Bread Pudding Will Fall

Someone posted a marvelous story in one of my Medifast Facebook groups today about visiting her family for Christmas and being tempted with high-carb goodies. I was so impressed by her message, I wanted to share a couple of highlights. Names have been changed to protect the slender.
"Christmas with family is a huge emotional pull. They made Mom's recipe bread pudding in my honor! My nephew made a big production of slathering cheese on a Ritz just for Aunt Betty. We roasted marshmallows, and the 'best' one was for me. Of course I ate."
When she arrived home from her trip, "Betty" trepidatiously hopped on the scale and found out she had lost 1.5 pounds.

Her conclusion:
"Into each life some bread pudding will fall. With Walt's homemade whipped cream."
The point is, you are always going to be tempted to "cheat" -- whether you are still actively on the Medifast 5&1 Plan or on your own customized maintenance diet. You may need to be rigid if you are so addicted to certain foods that one bite will induce a foodaholic binge. Or if it will mean getting kicked out of ketosis and having to spend a few days getting back into fat burning mode.

But it's also possible you can indulge in some old favorites, knowing you will get back on the horse as soon as the familyvisit/vacation/holidaypartyseason or whatever is over.

It's what you do most of the time that counts. And for people who are actively doing Medifast or maintaining their ideal weight, that means eating more protein, vegetables and fat and very few empty carbs.

I've been reading countless Facebook posts these past few weeks about family visits, holiday parties and office potlucks that put people to the test. Are they really serious about losing or maintaining their weight? Or will one little breeze topple them over?

Barbi Brown, one of my favorite Take Shape for Life health coaches, tells her clients it's okay to be "Perfectly imperfect." If you set yourself up to be 100% perfect, you may be devastated when you succumb to temptation and use that as an excuse to keep eating and drinking to excess.

Just knowing that "into each life some bread pudding will fall" means you get to decide if you want to eat a huge slab or tiny sliver -- or munch on a Medifast bar instead. And if or when you decide to indulge, you're not a total loser or a bad person.

Because it's what you do most days that matters.

You can purchase Medifast replacement meals directly from Medifast Centers, the Medifast website or -- for no extra cost -- through the co-branded website of a Medifast TSFL health coach. Medifast does not recommend purchasing its products from third party vendors, but if you choose to do so, you can find them on both Amazon and eBay.

Medifast Custom Order - You Choose ANY 10 Boxes


More from Diet Skeptic:

Can You Drink Alcohol on Medifast

Medifast Centers Vs. Take Shape for Life


Planned Exceptions: What Is Your Pie Policy?

Wabi Sabi Dieting & Renee Zelwegger's New Face

Women Who Pin Too Much: Confessions of a Low Carb Recipe Collector

Follow Nancy's board Low Carb Recipes on Pinterest.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Why I Want to Be a Low Carb Grandma

Making Sweet Memories That Do Not Involve Sugar

My TSFL health coach friend Stacie posted a link to an article on Facebook today about uncoupling food and feelings. It is a great article (which you can read here), but what struck me the most was the story about the grown woman who soothed herself with milkshakes after a rotten day at work because it reminded her of special outings with her grandma when she was a little girl.
"As I sit here in my car slumped down in the driver’s seat sipping on my milkshake, I wonder why. Why am I ashamed and hiding in my car with a milkshake and why did I get it in the first place? Grandma has been dead for over 20 years now."
Not only will I not bake cookies with my grandchildren,
I will refuse to wear tops that look like kitchen curtains
With two married daughters, it is only a matter of time before I become a grandma myself and create special memories with my grandchildren. And I am hoping that bonding over Ben & Jerry's is not among them and that she doesn't prefer the other grandma who lures her with cookies and candy.

If my grandchildren associate me with any comfort foods, I want those foods to be low carb. Like salads with grilled chicken, pomegranate seeds and walnuts. Or cheesy lasagne with zoodles instead of pasta. Or smoothies with real cocoa, almond butter, frozen banana and cashew milk . . . and maybe a little kale thrown in for good measure.

When my hypothetical grandchildren grow up and have a fight with their boss, I don't want them to stop at an ice cream shop on the way home from work. I want them to make a salad, take a walk through the woods or watch an indie film.

I want them to find comfort in childhood memories that do not involve carbs.

You can purchase Medifast replacement meals directly from Medifast Centers, the Medifast website or -- for no extra cost -- through the co-branded website of a Medifast TSFL health coach. Medifast does not recommend purchasing its products from third party vendors, but if you choose to do so, you can find them on both Amazon and eBay.

Medifast Custom Order - You Choose ANY 10 Boxes


More from Diet Skeptic:

Can You Drink Alcohol on Medifast

Medifast Centers Vs. Take Shape for Life


Planned Exceptions: What Is Your Pie Policy?

Wabi Sabi Dieting & Renee Zelwegger's New Face

Women Who Pin Too Much: Confessions of a Low Carb Recipe Collector

Follow Nancy's board Low Carb Recipes on Pinterest.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Standing Three Hours a Day Is Like Running 10 Marathons a Year

By now you've seen the shocking headline -- "Sitting Is the New Smoking." You may have even vowed to stand up and walk more frequently.

The inverse relationship between computer and butt size
I know I did, and my resolve lasted, oh... maybe a week?

But a funny cartoon on Facebook today motivated me to revisit the recent research on the dangers of sitting, and I have re-committed to sitting on my duff as few hours a day as possible.

Here's why:

It turns out sitting not only doesn't burn up many calories, it changes the way we metabolize food. If we sit at our desks after lunch, most of the glucose in our blood gets converted into fat. But if we take a walk after lunch, some of that sugar is burned off to fuel our muscles.
Even standing up is better than sitting because our bodies require fuel to feed the small muscles in our legs and other muscles that keep us upright. Some scientists have called the kind of metabolism that occurs when we're standing as NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis), which is a neat way to think about it.

Whether we're fidgeting, vacuuming or standing at our desk, we're efficiently using food as it's intended -- to fuel our muscles -- which is why we're supposed to count all of our non-sitting hours as "exercise" and not just the ones when we're running on the treadmill, lifting weights or Zumba-ing.

While doing research for this blog post, what really astounded me was a quote in the Daily Mail from British researcher Mike Loosemore, MD. Standing just three hours a day is equivalent to running 10 marathons a year. And, no, that is not a typo.

I don't know about you, but standing three hours a day at work sounds a lot more appealing than running 260 miles.
Woman sitting on slug bench

Fortunately, my company has provided everyone in my office with electronic desks that move up and down so I can stand during the day as much as I want to. But even cube workers who don't have electronic desks can prop up their computers on some books or block of wood.

As for me, I'm recommitting to being a stand up gal for at least three hours a day at work. Aside from  metabolizing my food more efficiently and storing less fat, I like how it feels to sit down after I've just stood up for an hour. Instead of that logey feeling of sitting in my chair like a slug who barely moves, I feel like I've earned the right to relax for a bit before getting back up and starting the cycle again.

You can purchase Medifast replacement meals directly from Medifast Centers, the Medifast website or -- for no extra cost -- through the co-branded website of a Medifast TSFL health coach. Medifast does not recommend purchasing its products from third party vendors, but if you choose to do so, you can find them on both Amazon and eBay.

Medifast Custom Order - You Choose ANY 10 Boxes


More from Diet Skeptic:

Can You Drink Alcohol on Medifast

Medifast Centers Vs. Take Shape for Life


Planned Exceptions: What Is Your Pie Policy?

Wabi Sabi Dieting & Renee Zelwegger's New Face

Women Who Pin Too Much: Confessions of a Low Carb Recipe Collector

Follow Nancy's board Low Carb Recipes on Pinterest.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Orphaned Members from Soon-to-Close Medifast Centers May Select Their Own TSFL Health Coaches

When I found out that 34 Medifast Weight Control Centers will be closing by the end of this year, rumors swirled around what would happen to the center members left adrift after the doors were shuttered.

Then I heard that members who wanted to continue the program with a Medifast Take Shape for Life health coach would be assigned a health coach by the company. Only not all health coaches would be in the pool of lucky people receiving these new clients.

It made sense that Medifast would want to ensure their orphaned center members were assigned to reputable and competent health coaches, but I knew many who fit the bill who were not included in this Merry Christmas present from Medifast.

When I switched from Medifast Direct to Take Shape for Life about a year ago, I was randomly assigned a health coach who was pretty high up in the company's food chain. She was capable and professional, but I always felt like I was just someone for her to check off on her to-do list. She literally had hundreds of clients.

Compared to the health coaches I have since be-"friended" on various Facebook groups, the relationship seemed impersonal. I pretty much did the program on my own though I ordered my replacement meals via my coach's co-branded TSFL website. Once when my order was messed up, she took a few days to get back to me and then she told me to call the 800 number.

If I were to start the Medifast program now I would want a TSFL health coach who is actively engaged with his or her clients; so I was happy to hear that Take Shape for Life is allowing former center members who were assigned to a select group of health coaches to switch to other health coaches if they so choose.

Below is my Twitter exchange with the company's social media contact:





Former Medifast Center members will have the freedom
to choose their own TSFL health coach
Since I am no longer a TSFL health coach and have no legal or monetary affiliation with Medifast, I do not benefit from this policy, but I am glad that Take Shape for Life is providing its clients with the freedom to choose a health coach who best meets their needs.

You can purchase Medifast replacement meals directly from Medifast Centers, the Medifast website or -- for no extra cost -- through the co-branded website of a Medifast TSFL health coach. Medifast does not recommend purchasing its products from third party vendors, but if you choose to do so, you can find them on both Amazon and eBay.

Medifast Custom Order - You Choose ANY 10 Boxes


More from Diet Skeptic:

Can You Drink Alcohol on Medifast

Medifast Centers Vs. Take Shape for Life


Planned Exceptions: What Is Your Pie Policy?

Wabi Sabi Dieting & Renee Zelwegger's New Face

Women Who Pin Too Much: Confessions of a Low Carb Recipe Collector

Follow Nancy's board Low Carb Recipes on Pinterest.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Merry Christmas! Your Medifast Center Is Closing

Medifast just gave many of its center members the best Christmas present ever by announcing it is closing 34 corporate owned Medifast centers on December 31, 2014.

Don't be fooled by the white coat.
It's all about selling memberships.
And that's good news why?

Many people who join Medifast centers do not realize they could lose just as much weight -- if not more -- by purchasing their food online through a free Take Shape for Life health coach. When their local center disappears, they will be forced to choose another option for procuring their replacement meals if they want to continue to melt fat on the Medifast 5&1 Plan.

According to the official Medifast press release, center members will be offered several options, such as purchasing food online through Medifast Direct.

But the best deal by far is to sign up with a Take Shape for Life health coach. For the same amount of money they would pay to purchase their food through Medifast Direct, they can receive ongoing support from knowledgeable men and women who have successfully lost weight on the program.

On one of the Medifast Facebook groups to which I belong, one of the members recently posted that she lost a lot more weight after signing up with her TSFL health coach after her Medifast center closed earlier this year. Which makes sense to me.

Though Medifast centers try to act all medical, they are really just retail storefronts designed to push expensive program memberships.

According to Glassdoor reviews from actual people who work at the centers, counselors are pressured to sell, sell, sell while pretending to care about their clients. Here are a few excerpts from their candid reviews:
"It is all about the money and NEVER about the client. Consultants are judged on how many clients they can get in and out in an hour and how much they can sell. The worst place I have ever worked for!"

" . . . long hours, working weekends, ridiculous unrealistic sales goals, the company charges weight loss program fees of hundreds of dollars to clients to sit for 5 minutes with counselors who don't know anything about weight loss!"

"I was asked to lie to our members by my manager. You often spend a large portion of your day calling old members begging them to rejoin. You will have to clean bathrooms and also simultaneously be expected to be dressed in a blazer and business professional attire."

"Have to check-in w/management to use bathroom, and only management schedules lunch time and breaks. Management ridicule clients behind their backs. Zero respect for clients or employees."
As for clients, some people profess to love their Medifast center, but others complain about duplicitous sales tactics, such as this disgruntled poster on the ConsumerAffairs website:
"I went in for what was to be a free consult. Changed my mind within the 3 day period. Went in to return their product which they refused. My free consult was $25 at refund. It was labeled an orientation and my refund was $82 when I paid $400. I don't need a blender ($40) or a ($30) kitchen scale or an ($8) water bottle they were giving away free."
Think of all the fresh vegetables
you can buy at Whole Foods
In contrast, all of the TSFL health coaches whom I have come to know and respect this past year really care about helping people lose weight and gain optimal health. Many of them make themselves accessible to their clients on a daily basis via text, email and phone. Some of these coaches are featured on a Medifast Before and After pictures blog post I published in September.

So, thank you Medifast for giving your center members the best Christmas present ever. With the money they save on memberships they can buy organic vegetables and grass fed meat at Whole Foods and still have enough dough left over to buy cool new clothes that flatter their shrinking figures.

UPDATE: Though orphaned Medifast center members will be assigned Take Shape For Life health coaches, they are permitted to switch to a TSFL health coach of their choice.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Will You Drink High Protein Coca-Cola Milk?

Coca-cola is taking a lot of heat for its arguably sexist ads showing naked women wearing nothing but milk, one of whom is weighing herself on a scale with the caption, "Drink what she's wearing."

Yet despite all the hand wringing on Twitter and HuffPo, the soft drink giant got what it paid for -- lots of free publicity for its first venture into dairy milk beverages.

Coke is partnering with a Chicago-based dairy collective called fairlife LLC to produce a premium milk that has twice the protein and half the sugar of regular milk. Oh yeah, and they're going to charge more for it.

The good news is the cows get to live in a luxury bovine hotel  "clean, comfortable surroundings with soft sand beds in freestanding protected barns," according to an article in Dairy Foods. And, unlike mailmen, they can "walk around freely while being shielded from wind, rain and snow."

fairlife 2% milk
Personally, I like the idea of a higher protein, lower sugar milk option and would be willing to pay a few more pesos for it. My usual "milk" these days is unsweetened almond milk, which contains only 1 gram of protein, 0 sugar and 30 calories per 8-oz glass. In contrast, the fairlife 2% dairy milk contains 13 grams of protein, 6 grams of sugar and 120 calories. (Unfortunately, Coke is not offering a full-fat milk option at this time, likely due to faulty data on the evils of saturated fat.)

Whatever.

So would I pay more in money, calories and sugar to drink fairlife instead of almond milk? Maybe. I can picture making a snack or meal out of a bowl of fairlife milk with nuts, seeds and berries -- or even making a smoothie with it.

But not yet. Currently, fairlife is only available in a few cities like Minneapolis, Chicago and Denver.

To be honest, though, I'm not holding my breath in anticipation. I'm more excited to try the new Silk cashew milk which is supposed to be a bit creamier than the almond milk. Unfortunately, it only available in Sacramento at Walmart; so I'll have to wait until it hits the shelf at Bel Air or Safeway.

You can purchase Medifast replacement meals directly from Medifast Centers, the Medifast website or -- for no extra cost -- through the co-branded website of a Medifast TSFL health coach. Medifast does not recommend purchasing its products from third party vendors, but if you choose to do so, you can find them on both Amazon and eBay.

Medifast Custom Order - You Choose ANY 10 Boxes


More from Diet Skeptic:

Can You Drink Alcohol on Medifast

Medifast Centers Vs. Take Shape for Life


Planned Exceptions: What Is Your Pie Policy?

Wabi Sabi Dieting & Renee Zelwegger's New Face

Women Who Pin Too Much: Confessions of a Low Carb Recipe Collector

Follow Nancy's board Low Carb Recipes on Pinterest.