There's a diet that is helping people lose weight fast. So in February we shot testimonials and a doctor's opinion.
But then the pandemic hit. So did wearing masks. We decided to hold the story.
Now we know maintaining a healthy weight is more important than ever, since obesity is a risk factor for severe, even deadly COVID-19.
This plan safely brings the food to your home, and the support can be done virtually for physically distancing.
"I'm at the orthopedist's office for my follow up and I have to get on the scale, and I'm like, 'Wait, what!' It was quite a shock," said Elinor Dorsey, 57, an Optavia coach in Covington.
"People would say, 'No, you won't look good in that because your behind's too big,' or you know it's, 'My face was so fat,'" said Lydia Steele, 57, an Optavia Client.
"I found myself to be in my 50s and the heavy blonde," said Chloe Coombe, 65, an Optavia client and coach.
The three women bonded over a weight loss program that they say took off pounds fast, and was easy to follow.
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Elinor Dorsey says her weight gain happened fairly recently when she fell, broke her arm and needed surgery. It was also around the time she lost her mom.
"It was just a lot more than I even thought. Like it was kind of like what I would weigh when I was pregnant. Like kind of scary, you know," remembers Dorsey.
And then three years ago she heard a friend talk about a weight loss program that focused on health, with some flexibility. Four months later, she took the step.
"I can't tell you what made me pick up the phone this one day, but one day I just knew like something has to give," Dorsey said.
And it did.
"The first week I lost four pounds, which was a lot for somebody five feet four inches." Then the next week I lost two pounds and I remember coming and telling my husband, 'This is going to work. I'm going to reach my goal,'" Dorsey said.
In a little more than three months, she did reach her goal. Twenty-five pounds were gone, and then to her surprise another eight came off.
"To do this program for four months and everything needs to be taken in, it was crazy," Dorsey said about her clothes.
Eat 6 times a day
Elinor follows Optavia. You eat six times a day, 800 to 1,200 calories total. There's a variety of 60 mini meals or 'fuelings' as they are called, like shakes, bars, soups, biscuits and pudding, to keep your metabolism revved up. There are customized plans but most people are on the 5&1, meaning 5 of those fuelings, bought from the company and delivered to your home, then one lean and green meal, with vegetables and protein to help keep you from losing muscle.
It is low in simple carbs, like sugar and starch. There is free support, a personal coach for counseling, and an extensive online community. Coaches can give advice for what to order if you're going out to eat, and there are numerous shared recipes for lean and green home meals. You're encouraged to drink 64 ounces of water a day and get seven hours of sleep. Elinor had so many people notice her transformation, that she became a coach.
"It keeps me accountable and it's just very rewarding to help somebody with something they're struggling with. I mean, I can't think of a greater way to spend my time," Dorsey said.
"Having a weight loss coach is shown to, is shown to provide the kind of support that most of us need to loose weight, so it is a good thing," explained Dr. Melinda Sothern, of LSU Health Sciences Center School of Public Health.
A health, exercise and weight loss expert Dr. Sothern says if you stick to commercial weight loss programs, they can be effective, especially over the short term. Long-term weight loss is more rare, but there is science suggesting that online and personal coaching, like Optavia has, lead to weight loss success two years later. Dr. Sothern also points out the benefit of planned meals and snacks.
"There's numerous studies going back decades to show that if the food is packaged for you, and it's delivered to you, and you don't have to think, and you don't have to shop, and you don't have to cook, you're more likely to follow the plan, and you're more likely to lose weight," explained Dr. Sothern.
Another benefit: feeling satiated.
"So when you remove the carbohydrates and the sugar, and replace them with proteins and fats, you're going to feel full faster," said Dr. Sothern.
"Well after one week I wasn't hungry. My one complaint was why do I have to keep eating," said Steele.
Registered nurses Lydia Steele and Chloe Coombe asked Elinor to coach them. Lydia remembers being overweight as far back as grade school.
"Somebody said as I was eating Cheetos, 'Well that's why she's so fat," remembers Steele.
She is a type 1 diabetic and found that the 5&1 program did not work well for her, so Elinor got advice and recommended the 3&3 program.
"After that, the weight just started falling off, so within, I would say, two months, two and a half months, I had lost 20 pounds," said Steele.
"The first three days were hard because you're just starting something new. You're getting rid of sugars, and within a month, I had lost the prescribed amount of weight
that they say that you will, if you stay on the program. And within about four months, I had lost 45 pounds," said Coombe.
The women say when they put some pounds back on, they just get back on the program, but they do that before any weight gain gets out of control. Chloe's son rewarded her success with a trip overseas to visit him.
"They call it habits of health. I prefer to call it, not habits, but decisions. That's a stronger word. It is for my health, and it is for the rest of my life," said Coombe.
"The program is all about building new habits and it's one habit at a time, and it's replacing old habits with new habits," said Dorsey.
And Elinor takes her role as a coach seriously.
"You're sharing private things, like for instance, I have a book where people's weights are written down. If this house was on fire, that's the first things I'm grabbing," said Dorsey.
And remember the shock Elinor felt getting weighed at her doctor's office? Well, not after she lost weight.
"I thought I was going to cry. I was like, 'I did it!' So, I mean, I know how people feel, like I feel emotional even saying that, but it's true," Dorsey said with her eyes tearing up.
Same thing happened to Lydia when she got weighed in the doctor's office.
"And I just smiled because I knew I don't have to worry about this. And the nurse turned and just, her mouth just dropped," remembers Steele.
Oh, and remember the grammar school classmate who called Lydia fat as she ate Cheetos? Well recently, after more than 40 years, Lydia approached him.
"I said, 'Do you remember when you said that to me, because it lasted with me.' And he said, 'I am so embarrassed. I am so embarrassed. Now look at me and look at you,'" Steele recalls.
And the three women are not looking back. Most of their larger clothes are out the house for good.
The packaged foods cost around $400 a month and are delivered to your home. The personal coach and online help is free.
Coach Elinor: 985-264-0507
Coach Chloe: 985-778-9082