My New Year 2009 resolution is to lose 50 pounds by July.
OK. I know that’s a pretty hefty goal. But there it is. Obviously, I need a plan, and some help. I have tried many different weight loss programs over the past 30+ years of my dieting life. (I’m 42. I remember my first diet attempt at age 12) A few of those gave me success, which of course was all temporary, and most if not all have contributed to my yo-yo spiral right up to the top of the scale.
On the other hand, the past 5 years of trying to “self-design” my weight loss and fitness program has been a complete failure. My “non-dieting diet” approach combined with the activity level of a slug has successfully placed an additional 25+ pounds on my hips in less than two years.
I need help. I need a proven program, with a long-term maintenance plan, and a solid support team.
But I have a problem. Weight loss is a very expensive undertaking. In todays economy, when just putting ANY food on the table takes a small loan, it seems an extreme luxury item to invest in a weight loss program. Please spare me the ”Your health is worth any price” drivvel. That phrase was coined by the diet industry marketing team.
Let’s get REAL here. My husband is entering Month Nine of unemployment since being laid off for “economic downsizing” last spring. We quickly spent his meager severence. He scraped together a few temp jobs along the way until they dried up in November. We’ve spent all of our savings, and we are now looking into the option of taking a line of credit on the house so we can keep making our mortgage payment (robbing Peter to pay Paul, wouldn’t you say?).
My husband and I both hold higher degrees from a prestigious University. We live in a high-end middle class suburb. Our neighbors include four doctors, a lawyer, a judge and several accountants. We were thrilled to get a killer price 4 years ago and move into our dream neighborhood. Ours is one of the more modest older homes in the neighborhood. As of the past four months, we get the majority of our food from a church charity every couple of weeks. I have parked my car and take the bus to and from work. It adds an extra 30 minutes commute time each way, but my office subsidizes the fare. Our children actually qualify for free school lunches now, if I can swallow my shame and ask for the forms. We don’t fit the “typical” sterotype of a ”needy family”. But here we are – starting to panic about how we are going to keep our home, and “ride out” the storm somehow until a job will come along. According to media reports, we are not alone. I recently heard there are over a million families just like us, created by our economy collapse in the past 6 months alone. …And the numbers keep growing.
So, is my New Year’s resolution a ridiculous pipe dream?
Signing up for the latest Jenny-Watcher-Fast-Medi-Quick-Plan is NOT looking like a financial option for me.
I’ve been doing some reaseach. I have a few options I have been considering. Of course there is the obvious “eat less and exercize daily” plan. And, if I stuck to it, I might lose a pound per week. That’s only 4 pounds per month. I might meet my goal in two years. With results that meager, it’s pretty hard to stay motivated.
I could buy back my gym membership, but that will not solve my meal planning. I actually stopped my gym membership a few months ago because I wasn’t using it enough to make it worth the cost. I wasn’t using it because I was too fat to use the machines comfortably.
Several friends in my neighborhood have been very successful on the Medifast Plan and are chomping at the bit to sign me up. So, I have closely examined this program over the past several months:
Medifast Meals File Photo
Premeasured meals and snacks that do not require refrigeration, ”medically designed” with high protein and soy which keeps you feeling full all day, and boosts energy levels. Participants eat 5 MF meals per day plus add in one [real food] meal of lean meat and veggies. The “5 and 1″ plan.
It appears the success rate is very high for those who stick to the program, and rapid weight loss (5+ pounds per week) is common. The online support group is vibrant and motivational. MediFasters are encouraged to create their own free blog, upload weekly V-log videos, chat, network, etc. A personal health coach is always available in your area for free emotional support, education, and assistance with ordering needs. Catchy sales pitch:
“This plan is clinically proven and recommended by over 15,000 doctors. No more counting carbs, points or calories! One Simple Plan Every Day!”
I like the whole idea of “instant” meals where I don’t have to think. I also wont have to waste my time attending “group meetings”. (One of the major reasons I LOATHED Weight Watchers)
#1 COST = approx $300 per month on top of your regular grocery bill. If you are single you might be able to cut back a little on the grocery bill, but you will still need to purchase food for your “lean and green” meals. If however you are feeding a family like me (and growing teenagers to boot), you are going to have to keep buying the same amount of food as usual. You just wont be eating very many of the meals you fix for them.
#2. Maintenance Cost= The meal supplement products are clearly effective and most people say they are fairly tasty. This is cleverly counter-productive for the wallet once maintenance rolls around. MF fans find it is difficult to maintain their weight loss once introducing “real food” back in again. They are continually purchasing the products to supplement, or to do another round to get extra pounds off. My local area MF Health Coach admitted that it is “just easier to not think” and keep using the products. Hmmmmm….But then, her husband is a surgeon. Perhaps it is never required to think when she pulls out her wallet.
Verdict: Successful Weight Loss that comes with a price. When Medifast says this is a “Lifetime Commitment” they are talking about your wallet just as much as your waistline.
This is depressing. I would actually like to do the Medifast program. I believe it would work perfectly for my busy lifestyle as a full-time office manager, bus rider, mom and night performer who forgets to eat for hours and then binges on whatever she can find in the kitchen later…
Celebrity Kristy Swanson
But perhaps the truth needs to be faced here. Are these kind of weight loss programs just for the “rich and famous” crowd? The paid celebrity spokespersons? Who is ACTUALLY paying up for this program?
I decided to do an unofficial survey. I placed a open question on the MF chat board last night requsting people to please candidly tell me exactly HOW they are personally paying for their monthly boxes of Medifast product. The responses I got from several women were ‘enlightening’.(some men do this program too, but only women were chatting last night). On the open chat forum women were very hesitant to open up and specifically tell me how they were paying for it. They would say things like “well, it has been a real sacrifice, but it is going to be so worth it“, or “it’s been really hard for my husband and I money-wise, but my health is so much more important than money”, or “my health coach gives me extra product if I buy in bulk”…
The REAL answers came to me in the form of private messages:
“Hi. I’m a single mother of five and I can’t afford to buy Medifast. I have research all their products and found similar cheaper products in the stores. I am still losing the weight just like the others, and I post here for the support, but please don’t tell anybody”
“My husband and I are both doing the program. We are using our credit card and will try to pay it down as quickly as possible. We decided that there will never be a good time to afford it, and we are just going to do it and pay it off later somehow”
[wow! that means those two are paying well over $600 bukeroos per month - plus interest!]
“I am a student so I can barely afford to buy one month worth, and then I only eat products every other day to make it last two months. The weight is coming off a lot slower, and I have had set-backs, but it’s all I can afford to do. I figure it is better than nothing”
And so it goes. None of my more “candid” virtual friends dared to speak out in the forum on this, nor does it appear anyone is allowed to express any real concerns about the program openly. The woman who is substituting regular store products for MF products actually expressed fear she would be “kicked off” the website or “really thrashed” if anyone knew what she was doing. Interesting. It seems to me Medifast needs to reassess their customer profile and do a cost analysis adjustment - STAT!
In our plumeting economy, it seems that a business like MediFast, or any other high-end weight-loss program shouldn’t stay afloat! But, maybe this industry is truly “recession proof”?! Let’s face it. FAT is “big” business. It’s been Multi-billion dollar per year BIG BUSINESS for decades. We are all so desperate to get thinner and trimmer and be younger and beautiful. We want it fast, and we want it NOW Daddy!! (ala Veruca Salt, in Willie Wonka) At any cost. For decades people have been shelling out. But what about now, in this “new” dire-straight economy? Just how many dieters out there have quit. And, how many are still placing hundreds of dollars on their credit cards every month rationalizing that their “health is more important than mere money”…or “Once I am slim I will get a better job to pay it off”…or, “I just have to make this a priority”…”the economy is bound to turn around soon”..etc…
Possible, or Pipe Dream?
I admit, I’ve been tempted multiple times in the past 9 months to pull out the CC and throw caution (and my fat) to the wind. I rationalize that if I start the program now, I could lose my 50 pounds by the time DH gets a job and then we can pay it off!
Well, there it is. I would love to hear from any of you about this subject. I am particularly interested in hearing from someone who has invested in Medifast, (or any other mainstream mega-diet) and is willing to candidly tell us How you paid for it, and if it was worth the investment in the end.
Is there anyone out there who is successfully losing weight within their budget, and keeping it off?!? If you exist, PLEASE DO TELL ALL!
Filed under: Business, economy, food, Health, weight-loss | Tagged: budget, Business, cost, debt, diet, economy, exercize, finance, Fitness, food, Health, luxury, MediFast, money, price, Slim, weight, weight-loss | 12 Comments »