Starting Medifast (And Why When You Start Matters)

Starting a new lifestyle, especially with diets, can be daunting and intimidating. We’ve all fallen into the “I’ll start on Monday,” and when Monday comes around just don’t. At least we’re in good company, but how does that help us?

Just like other diets, when you start Medifast matters. If you’ve just ordered the system and are waiting for you first shipment, it claims that it can take up to 7-10 days to reach you. Use those 7-10 days to your advantage. Do your research on what lean&green meals can really be comprised of and purchase those items (even try whipping up some of the meals), look into meal hacks before even getting started (especially if you like cooking), look into some of the “do’s and don’ts” of the system.

Ultimately, get excited about your purchase and starting it all before it even arrives. Don’t overwhelm yourself and wait until it arrives – then suddenly you’ll have lots of small packets in small boxes inside of a large box and not know quite how to best handle them all.

So, that’s all pre-Medifast in that little window of shipping time. When should you actually start Medifast? Well, I’m not a health coach, so I don’t have a recommendation for everyone. However, as someone who has recently started it, I can recommend times to avoid and thoughts that factored into it.

Here were some of my times to avoid/times that I didn’t want the start date to fall on:

  • Don’t start on a significant date to you – especially one that will focus around food. The fact that there will be donuts at the next meeting is not significant, but an anniversary, birthday, or family reunion is worth postponing your journey by a day or two. There will always be something, but your 25th anniversary or your 21st birthday or your first reunion in 5 years are all pretty great reasons to enjoy being in the moment – and that includes food.
  • Don’t start on a particularly stressful day. I don’t mean that, if you work or classes or anything else is stressful on a regular basis that you shouldn’t do it. I mean that if you for example have a large presentation, interview, midterm, or anything else along those lines, wait until you’ve finished with that. That day or two won’t kill you, and you won’t be able to blame anything on the system either (which could discourage you from continuing it).
  • Don’t start on a Sunday or Monday. If you start at the beginning of the week, it can be easier to keep track of. However, that leaves the transition into the system during the busiest part of your week (if you work Monday to Friday like many). Get closer to the part of your week that you really look forward to, and let it ease the slight blow of starting something new like Medifast.

That last point leads us into the “first 3 days.” Multiple people told me that the first 3 days would be the hardest, and I am glad that I believed them. My family members who had experience with the system and food coach all had similar recommendations as to handle this transition.

I personally began my journey on a Thursday. It was ideal because I had a lab section that was cancelled that day, my next day (Friday) only had a few classes with nothing more than showing up and taking notes involved, and my weekend had no work-related events. So, I was home-free when the box arrived on Tuesday to get through a busy Wednesday and jump in feet-first Thursday.

Honestly, my first day was rough. It just was. Getting used to less food, less calories, and also eating at incremented times is weird, and I was not a happy camper for a day or two. Though it can be discouraging, you’ve purchased a month’s worth of food, so do your best to push through it. A few months later, I can promise you that those first few days are worth it.

Here’s some things to help you through the first portion of your journey:

  • Keep distracted. You’ll be less focused by food when you are keeping your mind busy. The hunger pangs will be there, but it’s better if you don’t focus on them and count down the minutes to your next meal.
  • Drink water, and I mean LOTS of water. Get used to drinking lots of water in different forms – it helps speed up the process and also keeps you full.
    • Herbal tea (or an decaf tea) are helpful. If you’re a tea person, stock up on your favorite flavors.
    • Unflavored carbonated water that only consists of CO2 and H2O are great as well. Just make sure to avoid the “natural flavors” that could have sugar or anything else that could slow your progress.
    • Medifast sells “Flavor Infusers” that are essentially their version of Crystal Light packets. I purchased their Strawberry Lemonade, Mandarin Orange, and White Grape Peach flavors for the first month. These help a lot – though remember only to drink up to 5 a day!
    • Purchasing a bottle with measurement markings on it can help a lot – because you can track how much water you’ve had.
  • Eat on time, but not early. Now that my body is used to the system, it can be hard for me to get all of my meals in sometimes because I get distracted. However, your first few days (and up to the first week), you won’t be forgetting those meals. Just be sure not to eat them early – they need to last you all day, and you’re training your body to get used to those time increments.
  • Watch what you are eating. The solid foods will be more filling than the shakes – though they all contain essentially the same nutrients for your body. So, if you can, go for the puffs or cereals or something a little more substantial than the shakes, smoothies, and juices for your first few days.
  • Stay away from temptation. Don’t go out to lunch with your coworkers and colleagues to a pizza place if you know that you’ll have to bring your meal with you. Don’t hang out for a while in the break room or other place with the baked goods someone brought in from home. Out of sight, (kind of) out of mind.
  • Watch how much you exercise and exert yourself. It can be tempting to start working out when you start the diet – wait a bit on this. The “QuickStart” guide recommends up to 2 weeks before introducing something new. You are giving your body less than it is used to, so you might have more of a tendency to wear out quickly or even feel light headed if you over exert yourself. Give your body time to get used to the system – then introduce it to your schedule.

Just do your best to get used to the system the first few days, and even in the coming weeks. Don’t be upset with yourself if you are still hungry or feeling temptation – just don’t give in a stick with what you committed to do when you purchased all of the meals. It will feel different, it will take adjustment, you will be hungry, you will be tempted – because you’re retraining your body’s schedule and retraining your brain when it comes to food and fuel.

Be patient with yourself and try your best to find it exciting. Do the new recipes excite you? Research more of them! Which foods excite you the most? Try those first, and then research ways to make them even better! Find ways to make it fun – otherwise, even though I’m only at 3 weeks, and I can already tell you that I would be burnt out if I didn’t make it exciting.

You’re working toward something – you bought the meals. Whatever that is, do it for that. Start out, and get choosy!

Good luck!


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