OPTIFAST Weight Management Program Participant Triumphs Through Tragedy
Sitting sedentary behind a desk as a Customer Service Representative for the past 12 years, Paulette Maxson is all too familiar with how easy it is to snack your day away.
“When you sit for eight hours a day you tend to feel lethargic and eating is a natural cue to liven your spirits,” Maxson says.
She isn’t alone.
Most American workers sit for eight to 10 hours a day. Yet this prolonged sitting has been linked to a range of illnesses, from increased hunger and...
...inflammation, to high blood pressure and high blood sugar.
“When I came home from work, I just wanted to sit down on the couch, grab the remote and relax. Because of this, my husband and I would go out to dinner frequently as I didn’t have the energy to cook,” Maxson says.
In 2012, Maxson began to notice her clothes weren’t fitting right and her hobbies were no longer fun anymore.
“It wasn’t fun to kayak. I was out of breath by the time we got to the water, I was sore the next day and the weight was hindering my motion and my life. The weight just made everything harder—you are tired and have no energy,” Maxson recalls.
“At a checkup with my family doctor, I was told that my sugar levels were close to pre-diabetic and that I needed to take precautions and continue to watch my levels,” Maxson says. “Then I was introduced to a weight management program through Tamarac called OPTIFAST.”
The OPTIFAST Program is a medically supervised weight management program that closely monitors and assesses progress towards better health and emotional well-being.
“The program uses a full meal replacement plan that transitions to self-prepared ‘everyday’ meals, in conjunction with comprehensive patient education and support,” says Ruth Barkel, community health educator with Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial.
In addition to meal replacement plans, the program incorporates lifestyle education, expert counseling, medical supervision, weekly support with a health coach and one year of weekly classes covering behavioral, nutrition and physical activity topics. Barkel calls it an entire toolbox of resources that keeps people in the program on track.
Maxson says she went to an informational session that explained the OPTIFAST weight management program in detail. Shortly after she started the program, Maxson says she noticed she had more energy. Her clothes started to fit better.
“My goal wasn’t to get skinny,” she says. “I just wanted to do what I wanted to do and not have my weight hinder my lifestyle.”
Maxson saw great success with OPTIFAST and lost over 25 pounds.
Tragically, Maxson lost her daughter in 2014.
To ease her grief and pain, Maxson sought food as a comfort and started emotional eating. Through her grief, she ate her way back up to her heaviest—189 pounds. “I realized I needed to take control again and be an example to my family, my grandchildren,” Maxson says. “My husband has diabetes and we needed to get a grip and work at it.”
“I had nothing to lose but weight, so in January 2016 I restarted the OPTIFAST program at Tamarac,” Maxson says.
Barkel says the meal replacements products help narrow choices so a program participant can work toward weight loss and management by controlling the amount and types of food consumed.
“The lifestyle education helps you achieve and sustain better health through nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes,” Barkel says. “The expert counseling and medical supervision utilizes expertise of physicians to help you lose weight safely. Then we incorporate weekly support with a health coach and one year of weekly classes covering behavioral, nutrition and physical activity topics.”
The meal replacement is easier than trying to find a food diet, Maxson says, because she doesn’t have to decide what to eat or count calories.
Maxson’s daily regimen includes an OPTIFAST shake for breakfast.
“It’s easy, I can add fruit or sugar-free pudding mix and thicken it,” she says. “The taste is delicious and you can customize it to whatever you like. I have an OPTIFAST bar for a snack, chocolate and peanut butter are my favorite and they cure my sweet tooth. I will enjoy a salad for lunch and a sensible dinner with protein and bulk it up with vegetables.”
Maxson is at her goal weight of 150 pounds, and is in maintenance mode. She will have maintained her goal weight for one year this August and she plans to continue to maintain and reap the rewards.
“I never get to the point where I am obsessed with the scale, but it is top of mind and being a numbers person it keeps you in check,” she says.
Maxson continues attending support groups that she says hold her accountable. The groups give her a shared goal. Every week, she learns about nutrition and how she can incorporate healthy choices into her lifestyle.
“It’s one night a week that I look forward to and it doesn’t take up your entire life—it’s a lifestyle change and an infinite program,” she says.
Maxson says the program has also helped her save money because she and her husband don’t eat out anymore, eating sensible meals at home instead of eating out three to four times a week as they did previously.
She’s also incorporated exercise through her membership at Tamarac, going three times a week. Maxson says she enjoys using the pool and classes like yoga and “Short and sweet.”
“The weight loss has really allowed me to find a new lease on life. I enjoy my hobbies again, shooting and muzzle loading is very active and being out in the elements is no longer challenging for me. I look forward to walking my dog and am planning a 100-mile bicycle tour in Traverse City this summer with my granddaughter, who is also participating in the OPTIFAST program,” Maxson says.
“Tomorrow never comes, so start today. If a 66-year-old grandma can do it, so can you,” Maxson says.
The OPTIFAST program consists of a one-time $795 program fee and includes regular visits with a medical professional. OPTIFAST products can be purchases separately at Tamarac each. OPTIFAST is a Nestle product and offers a variety of options such as three soup flavors, ready to drink protein, protein powder and three flavors of protein bars.
The next OPTIFAST weight management program information session is Wednesday, April 26 at 5:30pm at Tamarac. For more information or to register for the information sessions, please call 231.924.3073.