“Tweaking” your plan – Why?

11.08.12 |

Fall is here and we are getting ramped up to enter the holiday season. Can you feel it? Are you looking forward in joyful anticipation or feeling the tugs of added stress? Are you just teetering between the two?

For those of us on the 5&1 weight loss plan of the Take Shape For Life program, we are armed and ready for the season. With a scientifically proven, balanced program we have the ammunition we need to get through the holiday season and make it one of the healthiest ever!

Then why, oh why, do we sometimes end up “tweaking” the program? First of all, if I knew how to get to a healthy weight on my own, why didn’t I do it yet? Or why didn’t I stay there? Follow the program as it is written and you will succeed!

Here are a few pointers to help with some common “tweaks.” I have conferred with Nutritional Services on these particular points. Feel free to contact them for specific questions. You can email them .

  1. Splitting the Lean & Green meal. Yes, it can be divided during the day. The key here is to do so and still eat every 2 to 3 hours AND only the six meals/day. If you find you are having a stressful day or a very busy day and you need to change things up, go ahead and divide the Lean & Green meal. Try to adhere to the principles of balance and portion control. It is better to divide both the protein & vegetable rather than eat the protein at one time and the vegetable at a different time. The weight loss phase of this program is based on keeping your carbohydrate intake at 80 to 100 grams per day and your calorie intake at 800 to 1000 calories per day. The beauty of the program is that by following the simple 5&1 protocol, you don’t have to count carbs OR calories.
  2. “My schedule is really crazy so I’ll just keep adding extra Medifast meals every 2-3 hours.” This is not recommended by Nutrition Services. That being said, there may be special circumstances that could warrant eating more than 5 Medifast meal replacements per day. For instance, as an OR nurse, there were days that I could be working for 18 to 20 hours straight. On those days, it was advantageous for me to continue eating every 2 to 3 hours. I did, however, run the risk of going out of the fat-burning state due to the increased carbs I consumed. This is an individual circumstance and should not be used as a general rule. This is an issue that needs to be monitored. If it is a habit that you have more than 5 Medifast meals per day rather than an uncommon event, you should speak with your health coach and focus on changing that habit.
  3. “I am exercising a lot so I’ll just add extra protein to my day.” First, during the 5&1 weight loss phase of the Take Shape For Life program, you should not be exercising for more than 45 minutes a day. Also, it should not be of the intensity that you would be “huffing, puffing, or sweating.” That being said, it is acceptable to add 3 ounces of “leanest” category protein or 2 ounces of “leaner” category protein if you do have an occasion where you are working out at a high level or for more than 45 minutes. Again, this needs to be monitored and addressed if this is more your normal rather than the exception. Get with your Health Coach or you can ask for a consult with Alana, the Certified Trainer with Nutritional Services. Also, you can download the TSFL Exercise Guide from your Health Coach’s website, under Knowledge Center/Downloads.
  4. “I feel tired and lethargic and a little light headed. Do I need to add more salt to my program?” If you are experiencing a general “not well” feeling, weakness, lightheadedness, &/or lethargy, seek the advice of your Primary Care Provider. It is common to have decreased sodium and potassium due to the diuretic effect of weight loss, especially after just a few weeks on program. The 5&1 does have adequate amounts of the nutrients we need, but you can add an additional cup of chicken bouillon to your daily intake. You can enjoy it all by itself or you could use it to mix your soup instead of water. The added sodium from the bouillon could make a difference for you. Remember, if you do this, you do need to count that bouillon as one condiment. Another alternative is PowerAde Zero. This product has no calories, fats, carbs or protein. It does have sodium and potassium and some of the B vitamins. Remember, feelings of hunger may be indicative of sodium depletion. Try one of these remedies and see if it helps.
  5. “If I can lose weight eating 5 Medifast meals a day, I know I can lose more if I only eat 4.” WRONG! Studies show that the 5&1 plan is safe and effective. Those studies are based on taking in 800 to 1000 calories per day. If you decrease your caloric intake, you will fall below that calorie threshold and that is not safe. Also, the lower calorie intake will most likely cause your body’s metabolism to slow down, thereby slowing or stopping weight loss. It is what I call “starvation” mode. Besides, you will most likely go out of fat-burning and experience hunger and cravings. Take it from me; I got to a weight of 270 pounds by eating only twice a day. By eating 6 times a day I got to a healthy weight for the first time in my life!

So in review, here are the basics of the 5&1 program:

  • Eat every two to three hours
  • Drink at least 64 ounces of water daily
  • Eat all five Medifast Meals each day
  • Measure your Lean & Green portions of your meal
  • Cut exercise in half for the first three weeks; never more than 45 minutes a day…no “huffing, puffing, or sweating”
  • Avoid foods and beverages not “on plan”
  • Start a journal to keep track of progress
  • Keep in touch with your Health Coach
  • Access the Bionetwork through your coach, support calls, client services and Support In Motion
  • Work through the Habits of Health lessons
  • Register with Support In Motion (
  • Read your Quick Start Guide at least once a month.