Take Shape for Life: Two Months In

I joined a weight loss meal replacement lifestyle pyramid scheme and all I got was this stupid shaker cup (oh yeah, and I’ve lost over 30 lbs in two months).

Let me start by saying I feel a little discontented talking about this, not because I am sensitive about my weight. I might not like having the proportions of Barney Rubble or Wario, but that’s not the reason why I’m uncomfortable discussing my weight loss progress.

The real reason I’m hesitant to talk about this is my attitude towards both the girthy weight loss industry and those who preach one method or another like it’s written in some ancient tome by a bunch of devout monks. I’m almost just as upset about this diet working as I am glad that it IS working. Plus, nobody gives a fuck about the food you aren’t eating. With that said, let me tell you all about the food I’m not eating:

So What The Heck Am I Doing To Lose Weight?

There’s the big question, right? I briefly mentioned in my last post that I’ll be eating tiny packets of soy protein isolate. That’s entirely accurate. I’ve been doing a program (ugh, I hate the diet lexicon) called Take Shape for Life. It’s the Medifast meal replacement plan but you get a salesperson coach and join a religious cult peer group for support. You get a big box full of tiny packages of snacks, a few textbooks written by Dr. Stockphoto M.D., guides on what you can eat, the same generic shaker cup that all these meal replacement plans give you, and an invitation to a Facebook group curiously populated by people with two last names (this is probably just an observational coincidence). There’s also a mailing list reminding you how your life will be so much better as long as you continue to talk to your coach about buying more soy protein isolate.

How Does It Work?

The idea is you eat 5 of these Medifast replacement meals throughout the day. They consist of things like granola-like bars, crunchy snacks, and packets of freeze-dried, powered microwave meals. These snacks and meals consist of about 100 calories. Then, you get an additional meal called a “lean & green.” This is 6-8 ounces of specific types of protein, and a few servings of specific types of vegetables. No breads, no beans, no sugars, no deep-fried Oreos.

Essentially, the diet puts you into ketosis, a state where your body eats itself. This is similar to the Atkins diet, except your sweat doesn’t smell like beef tips. On top of that, you need to drink a buttload of water like you should be doing anyway. No milk, no soda, no juice, no Wendy’s Chocolate Root Beer Frosty Floats.

After you lose all of the weight you want to lose, there is a transition phase where you alter the plan, as well as phases that essentially lock you in for the rest of your hopefully skinny life.

There’s no exercise plan to get you to lose the weight, and in fact, I was advised to not exercise while in the “weight loss phase.” Ding ding ding, take me home, Dr. Stockphoto!

Okay, So How Bad Is It?

It’s not really good, but you start to appreciate the tiny morsels of synthetic food product. Like I said, the main ingredient in most of this stuff is soy protein isolate. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not meant to be consumed long term due to the adverse effects soy has on the body and mind (have you ever talked to a vegan?). However, the medically portioned meals do put you into ketosis, and I haven’t noticed any adverse health effects other than honing in my newly discovered inability to process spinach. I’m BM’ing like a Yoshi in Shy Guy City, so that is a plus too.

Make sure you toggle the sound on to get the full effect. You are welcome.

Although I would love to eat normal food, these tiny portions do a surprisingly decent job quelling hunger throughout the day, and the lean & green is definitely something I start to look forward to by the end of the work day. I’ve always liked the feeling of being a little hungry over the feeling of being full, so I can’t complain there. While some of the meals are pretty shitty, mixing them with hot sauce or Sriracha makes them tolerable. Some items are comically terrible and misrepresented.

For example, check out the Macaroni and Cheese:

What they lead me to believe:

Medifast Mac and Cheese Lie

What I got:

Medifast Real Mac and Cheese

Or these delicious pancakes:

Medifast Pancake Lie

Nailed it!

Medifast Pancakes Lifehack

Another problem is the expense. If you break down what you actually paying for, you are spending about $0.02 for every calorie you get from Medifast. Or, for those who aren’t organic robots, each little package of food costs somewhere between $2 and $3. A cheap box of granola bars is around that and gives you at least 6 times the food. Soy protein isolate isn’t an expensive ingredient, and while everything in Medifast is supposed to be medically balanced to keep you in ketosis, it is ridiculously overpriced. I guess you can overlook that since it works, but when you the math, you start to notice the large object being inserted into your butt.

The cost to buy into the food club isn’t the only expense though. You still need to fork over money for groceries for your Lean & Green. For example, this $50 homemade, low-carb, buffalo chicken, pepperoni, mushroom pizza casserole fed me for about a week.

A $50 Gluten-free, Carb-free Pizza

This is probably the best thing you can make with practically no carbs.

But Lynk, You ARE Losing Weight, Right?

All in all, Medifast (or Take Shape for Life, as they prefer that I call it) works. I hate the Cutco/Rainbow/Get Rich Quick feeling it has and see right past that bullshit. The community is awkward and preachy as fuck, but maybe that’s what anonymous support looks like? What made this work best for me is having several coworkers doing it together. We’re all losing weight and suffering through it together. Weight-loss isn’t an easy thing. It is slow, and you have to do a bunch of shitty things you hate just to make the tiniest dent. For me (and a handful of those who are doing it with me) Medifast seems to be easy enough not to make me hate every moment of it, and a small part of that is how quickly the results come. In two months I’ve lost just over 30 lbs. We’ll see what happens when I reach my goal weight and can forever shun shitty, price-gouged soy protein snacks.

Honestly, what has made this work for me is that several other people that I work with every day are doing it and suffering through it too, and because of this we’re all seeing results. It’s not about which best-selling, critically-acclaimed, stock-photo doctor is on the package or the herp-a-derp actors in the testimonial videos, it’s about sticking to it for the long haul and for some, you really need the support of real people for that.

My recommendation? If you have a bunch of big fat friends and you all don’t mind making a car payment (for a good car, even) for food, I recommend giving it a shot. It does seem to work.




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