Monday, September 5, 2011

What is Partners for a Healthier Weight?

To quote some of their welcome package, Partners for a Healthier Weight is a "medically and psychologically supervised" program that "uses a meal replacement called Optifast which provides 900 calories per day.  The meal replacement is 12 weeks in duration and is followed by a 6 week transition to food.  Regular physician/nurse assessments and blood work are all a mandatory part of the medical monitoring.

The meal replacement will certainly help you lose weight; however it is the weekly facilitator-guided sessions that are essential to your long-term success!"

Before the program starts there needs to be a referral from your family doctor, an initial fasting blood work, and an extended online survey.  The results from the blood work and survey are the basis for the meetings with the nurse, dietician, and psychologist.  They all assess you for your likely success, review the survey and have some questions of their own.  Plus there's a bit of a physical with the nurse.

Week 1 was a welcome and introduction where the nurse, dietician, psychologist and physiotherapist are all present.  Because of the pre-work I'd already met the nurse, dietician and psychologist.  There was a meet and greet to get to know some of the other participants.  Once we'd done the meet and greet the group was divided in half with half starting with a walk test and half starting with weighs and measures.

The weighs and measures were much what you'd expect.  Waist measurement, a body comp analysis and an extended blood pressure test.  I've forgotten the waist measure and blood pressure, but I have the Tanita Body Composition Analyzer TBF-310 results.

Height 5'5"
Weight 226.0
BMI 37.6
Impedance 422
Fat % 45.8
Fat Mass 103.5 lbs
FFM 122.5 lbs

The walk test was a bit of a surprise to me.  They suggested comfortable clothes and sneakers.  It turned out to be the 10 M Shuttle Walk Test.  I was kicked out at level 11 for not making the time.  After it was over I regretted not wearing my sports bra - it was nearing a full out run for me.  Unfortunately my course was shared with another who went even farther than I did.  I probably went out because of the pressure on my back and hip of always having to turn left and the dizziness.  Wish it could be done again and there would be an option to turn left or right on demand!

Most of the rest of the night was caught up in signing away waivers, quick talks and getting an intro to week 1.

Week 1 was a 1200 calorie diet with a strict measure of tracking.  Each day there were:

  • 5 70 cal servings of grains and starches (only 2 could be bread, corn, potato, turnip, squash)
  • 3-4 65 cal servings of fruit
  • unlimited vegetables
  • 2-3 90 cal servings of milk or alternatives (milk, yogurt)
  • 6-7 75 cal servings of meat or alternatives (1 oz) includes cheese, eggs, peanut butter, legumes
  • 3 45 cal servings of fats
  • 2-4 condiment servings of 20 cal
The first few days I struggled to get to 1200 calories.  I was out and about and didn't have the reference with me.  By the end of the weekend, knowing it was your last time in a long time to chew food, it was really hard to stick to the program.  There is a cupcake splurge I must admit to being the lone participant in.  There were also many of my favorite healthier foods - spinach, corn, raspberries, and apples.

The first week had a high level of anxiety for me.  The idea of not eating was just so far out of my realm of possibility it was stressful.  There were nightmares and random feelings of being completely overwhelmed.

It's actually been less challenging to be on the liquid diet than to think about being on the liquid diet.

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