When you’re looking to lose weight, social media success stories can be a serious source of inspiration. And if you’ve seen a bunch of those features online over the years, chances are one of them may have mentioned OPTAVIA®. Followers of the weight-loss plan eat a mix of pre-made, portion-controlled food sent to their door as well as protein-rich, low-carb OPTAVIA recipes and snacks they make at home.
However, the company’s co-founder and independent OPTAVIA Coach, Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen (a.k.a. Dr. A.), says a big reason why the plan works for so many is that the focus isn’t just on food. After joining OPTAVIA, clients connect with a coach who works one-on-one with them, providing support as they learn lifestyle habits that’ll help them shed pounds and improve their health. Plus, they get access to a community of other OPTAVIA clients who are on a similar journey—and who are eager to give and garner encouragement, too. “I wanted to teach people how to take control of their lives and create health for themselves—and provide them with the tools to help make that a reality,” says Dr. A of why he co-founded OPTAVIA.
Wondering if this top-trending plan is right for you? Read on for information about the OPTAVIA program that can help you decide.
1. There’s a focus on healthy lifestyle habits—not just what you eat.
While many people join OPTAVIA to eat a healthy diet and achieve a healthy weight, the plan isn’t all about the number on the scale or the food on your plate. People on the plan focus on five other key areas: hydration, exercise, sleep, mindfulness, and, surroundings (the places and things you surround yourself with). These pillars are all part of the Habits of Health Transformational System designed by Dr. A, which he says teaches people how to improve their wellbeing through small, simple behavior changes. According to OPTAVIA, a comprehensive approach to weight loss has been scientifically proven as a way to reach weight loss goals.
Julie Upton, RD, co-author of two nutrition books and co-founder of Appetite for Health, a nutrition communications firm, agrees with Dr. A’s 360-degree approach to wellness. “Taking a holistic look at all of the areas of your life that can impact the number on the scale is crucial,” she says. “Being overweight is rarely a result of people not knowing what’s good for them. Things like stress, anxiety, and depression are almost always also at play. Plus, healthy habits tend to bundle together and build on one another,” Upton adds. “When you transform one area, a new, healthier lifestyle may become sustainable.”
2. You’ll learn how to fuel your body with a focus on protein, non-starchy veggies, and healthy fats.
For those first starting OPTAVIA, the most popular plan is the Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan, which OPTAVIA says is backed by a cross-disciplinary panel of experts, physicians, and scientists. In addition to nutrient-dense, pre-portioned meals that OPTAVIA sends you (a.k.a. “Fuelings”), you’ll also learn another healthy habit: how to cook a daily “Lean & Green” meal with ingredients purchased from the grocery store. These Lean & Green recipes consist of five to seven ounces of cooked lean protein, plus three servings of non-starchy vegetables and up to two servings of healthy fats. You can also have an optional snack. Think: dill pickle spears, sugar-free ice pops, celery stalks, or nuts.
“Ultimately, OPTAVIA helps clients adopt healthy habits that can inspire long-term success, allowing them to eventually replace some or all Fuelings with Lean & Green meals they make themselves,” says Dr. A. In other words: You’ll gain all the know-how to shop for and cook meals that can help you manage your weight.
3. You’ll have a wide variety of foods to eat.
OPTAVIA offers more than 50 different Fuelings. There are also easy-to-follow lists of foods that are great choices for Lean & Green meals. These include things like:
- Lean meats (like turkey, lamb, or chicken)
- Fish and shellfish (like salmon, shrimp, and crab)
- Low-carb veggies (like spinach, cauliflower, mushrooms, and cabbage)
- Healthy fats (like avocados and pistachios)
This kind of food diversity will help you stick to the plan, says Upton. “If you’re only limited to a few foods, there’s a good chance you’ll get bored and fall off the wagon. The more variety you have, the more likely it is you’ll stick with it and ultimately develop an eating and lifestyle pattern that lasts the rest of your life.”
4. You’ll have one-on-one support.
Before you begin your get-healthier journey, you’re paired with an independent OPTAVIA coach, who’ll help you determine which plan is best for you based on your goals. They’ll also be available for personal guidance throughout the process, hold your hand (virtually!) throughout each step of your journey, and celebrate your victories. According to OPTAVIA, 90% of their coaches were once clients—meaning they’ve been in their client’s shoes and have likely had similar experiences during their own weight loss journeys.
This kind of personalized support can be a game-changer, says Upton. “Having someone you can reach out to when you’re struggling, or just need some motivation or advice is so helpful and can help you stay on track,” she says.
5. You’ll have a built-in community of like-minded people trying to get healthier with you.
In addition to OPTAVIA’s plan and products, healthy habits system, and personalized coaches, you’ll have access to weekly meetings with other members—a community of thousands of other people all on a similar journey who can give you real-time support. (You know, for the times you’re tempted to drive to your favorite take-out spot instead of making a Lean & Green meal for dinner.)
“We know that group support helps people adhere to healthy habits—and when it comes to weight loss, adherence is crucial because you have to be able to stick with the program to achieve your goals,” says Upton.
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