Monica Michaels’s urge to change was hardly new. She’d spent decades trying fads, pills, exchange programs, supervised fasts — you name it. I didn’t succeed even when I had more time and energy, thought Monica, now juggling two jobs and helping care for her disabled sister. So later that week, when her mom, Shirley, mentioned going to a TOPS weight loss support group together, Monica didn’t see much point.
But her mom pushed — and once they got to the meeting, Monica was surprised by how welcome she felt. If they have a scale big enough to weigh me, I’ ll join, she decided. Her doctor didn’t have a scale big enough…but TOPS did. It revealed she’d reached 423 pounds.
In the weeks that followed, the group cheered as Monica made little changes; she kept a food log, limited fast food, pre-portioned snacks. First came amazing success — 19.75 pounds gone in a month, 75 pounds in a year. But as she hit 100 pounds lost, it all stopped. Still over 300 pounds at that point, Monica tried plateau-busting strategies to no avail. A year passed, then two. “People at TOPS seem inspired that I’m not giving up, but I can’t hang on much longer,” she admitted to her mom. Desperate, she visited a weight loss surgeon, suspecting it was her only hope. Turns out it wasn’t…
A Little Shocked
“For three weeks, let’s replace your meals with protein shakes and see if it shocks your body into losing weight again,” the doc suggested, adding that the strategy can work magic for patients over 50. “I guess it can’t hurt,” Monica said. She headed to Costco and found inexpensive ready-to-drink shakes with 30 grams of protein each. She stocked up on them in chocolate and caramel flavors.
“Here goes nothing,” Monica said the next day, opening her first one. The drinks were tasty, and she got five a day. Still, by midday, she just wanted something to chew. Hang in there and give it a chance to work, she said to herself. Each day got a bit easier, but a week passed with no weight loss. Then two. By the end of the third week, Monica was feeling energized, a sign her metabolism had picked up. She stepped cautiously on the scale. She was down eight pounds!
Cruising to Success
Though elated, Monica worried a shift back to real food would end her progress. More than one doctor has told me protein is key, she remembered. So she decided to aim for 90 grams a day. A daily shake, plus options like cottage cheese, eggs, and chicken helped her hit her new goal.
“One thing I notice is that I get full a lot faster now,” Monica told her mom after a protein-rich frozen dinner. Maybe Shirley could take advantage. Inspired by tips she’d learned at TOPS, Monica used a kid-size fork for a few weeks. It helped her slow the speed at which she ate; her body had more time to register it was satisfied, and she felt content eating less. She also began pausing during meals. If she felt full, she stopped eating.
It worked. Though she was well past menopause, Monica’s metabolism seemed to burn ever hotter. Before she knew it, she was down 233 pounds. Her sleep apnea, fatty liver, and kidney issues — all gone. She got off arthritis meds too. Monica’s advice to others who feel stuck at an unhealthy weight? “It’s never too late to try again,” she says. “At age 62, I weigh 50 pounds less than I did in high school!”
Metabolism-boosting meals made the easy way!
To kick-start stalled weight loss like Monica did, begin by replacing your meals or snacks with five shakes a day for 21 days. Monica used Premier Protein brand, (Buy from Walmart, $7.47). After 21 days, switch to healthy meals like these zero-fuss examples, aiming for 90 grams of protein daily. Monica also suggests pausing often to listen to your body; once lightly full, stop eating.
BREAKFAST: Top protein-rich cereal (such as Kashi Go) with 1⁄2 cup vanilla protein shake and fruit.
LUNCH: Enjoy a healthy frozen meal or pack a “lunch box” with protein, veggies, quinoa, and vinaigrette.
DINNER: Pile a low-carb tortilla with low-sugar sauce, cheese, and healthy toppings; broil.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.
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