Monday, February 24, 2014

So, What's All The Hullabaloo About Plexus, Already?!?

Unless you've been living under a rock, don't spend much time on Facebook, or simply don't have all that many Facebook friends that are women obsessed with their weight, you have probably been inundated with ads for Plexus, before and after photos of people on Plexus, and over-the-top testimonials about Plexus.  Listen up, people, it's annoying!  There is no such thing as a "magic pill" (or drink, if you will).  I am skeptical of the claims that have been made.  I am annoyed that my Facebook feed has been filled with weird claims and testimonials about the pounds of weight and inches of fat people have lost. To be honest with you, I have contemplated unfriending more than a few of these obnoxious "Ambassadors" over the past few months.

You know the ones. . . the people that fill their Facebook pages with images like this:

So, it is with great trepidation that I admit the following to all of you out there in cyberspace. . . 

I am a Plexus user. . . . 

Gasp!!!  I know, I just gasped along with you!!

So, now that I know I have lost about 99% of you reading this, and more than one of you will probably unfriend me before the rooster crows at dawn, I would like to continue my story. . .

You may be asking, "Why are you admitting this in such a public forum, Vanessa?"  Well, I will tell you.  I have been using Plexus for a full six months now.  This is not something that I just tried for a few days, figured I could make a few bucks selling, and then tried to suck all of you into purchasing as well.  This is something that I have been highly suspicious of, researched thoroughly, and decided to really put to the test before admitting out loud that I was using it.

So, read at your peril, but here's my story. . . 

Right about the middle of August 2013, I realized that I just couldn't keep eating some of the crap I had been eating for years.  Now, don't get me wrong, I have never, EVER been one of those really skinny girls that could just eat a bag of Oreos every day yet never gain weight.  I have worked VERY hard--especially since having 2 kids--at maintaining my weight.  I am also a conscientious eater that really enjoys a steady stream of healthy fruits and veggies in my diet.  I try to limit starchy carbs, breads, and I never, ever, ever drink sodas. As the decade of my 40's reared it's ugly head, I just woke up and said to myself, "Vanessa, you're not getting any younger, your metabolism is never going to just spontaneously gear up one day, and it isn't going to get any easier to lose the weight.  So, you need to get off your fat @%*!" (yep, I know, I'm the wife of a pastor, but I do occasionally swear in my head. . . okay, who are we kidding?  I pretty regularly swear at myself just right out loud.)

So, I circled a date on my calendar--August 26th--as "D-Day".  That was the date I was going to get serious about losing that 10 lbs that had eluded me since having my last baby (who is now 8)!  I realized that after 8 years, I could no longer blame pregnancy, childbirth, and 50 lbs of weight gain while pregnant as the reason for my steadily increasing BMI.  

In preparation for "D-Day", I hopped on line and set myself up a nice little Nutrisystem account.  I know, I know, it all seems a little weak, but a decade ago Nutrisystem helped me lose the extra 15 lbs of weight I needed to get rid of after the first kid was born.  I think the food is halfway decent, it's relatively affordable, and super easy to just throw in my bag and warm up at the office.  Anyway, "D-Day" just happened to coincide with the first day of the new school year.  My kids were back on schedule and I was ready to lose that weight!

It was all going pretty well.  I lost 4 lbs the first 2 weeks on the plan. . . and then I plateaued. . . 

No biggie, I thought, it's gonna just take some time.

Then, as luck would have it, my neighbor--who is also a close friend--came over and helped me plant some cacti in my front yard.  We got to talking and as it turns out, she had been using Plexus for several months. She told me her story, and how she was a little embarrassed to be hyping it on Facebook.  However, as she continued, she told me that she was so thankful that she had been given the opportunity to try it and didn't want to keep it from other friends that might also benefit from it.  No hard sales pitch, no "awkward" friendship, no big deal.

So, after a few weeks of researching the ingredients and the product as a whole, I decided to sign up and give it a whirl.

Fast forward to today. . . I have lost 20 lbs since August and really do feel pretty good.  However, here are some of the questions I had initially, what worked for me, and various other things that you may be interested in.

1.  Is it expensive?

I guess that's relative.  I'm kind of a tightwad, so yes.  It is expensive.  30 packets of Plexus Slim will run you about $75 a month.  I actually do 2 packets a day, and It is just shy of $150/month.

2.  What is it?  A shake?  A meal substitute? Is it disgusting?

It is a powder packet (kind of like those Crystal Light singles).  You just mix it in a bottle of water and drink it.  It is not a meal substitute, just a fruity-flavored drink--not thick or gritty at all.  I think it tastes pretty good, but with the exception of my one cup of coffee a day, I only drink plain old water.  So, any amount of flavor is awesome for me!

3.  Does it make you jittery?

It hasn't given me the jitters.  I'm one of those people that can only take half-doses of decongestants, otherwise I get hand-tremors--which is highly unfortunate for the poor soul that wanders into my office for a foreign body removal during allergy season. . . Needless to day, I am extremely cautious about ingesting stimulants. . . It's very bad for my practice!  So, I have been pleasantly surprised to find no queasy sensation, jitters, heart palpitations, or hand tremors.  Does that mean you will have the same outcome?  I have no idea.  All you can do is try it.

4.  Is this a multi-level marketing deal?

Yes, and let me tell you, that is the MAIN reason why it has taken me 6 months to tell anybody I have been using this stuff.  I freaking HATE MLM's!!!  Nothing will ruin friendships faster than an mlm!!  Seriously!  That said, I want you to hear this from me:  I don't really care if you buy this stuff, or not!  In fact, if you're worried about this effecting our friendship, then don't buy it at all.  Or, better yet, buy it from my friend Kristy.

5.  Is there a guarantee that I will lose weight with this product?

Umm. . . NO!  Like any weight loss regimen, you have to work hard at it.  That means you need to eat right, exercise, get a good night's sleep, and control your caloric consumption.  You also need to drink a lot of water.  The nice thing about Plexus is it makes me really thirsty, so I actually want to drink lots of water.  Plexus was just one tool in my toolbox.  I still eat Nutrisystem prepackaged meals occasionally for lunch and dinner.  I run 3 miles 4-5 times a week, and watch my calories with the help of My Fitness Pal.  (You can download the app for free on the iTunes app store).  I also wear a Fit Bit (courtesy of my in laws this Christmas) and am intentional about taking at least 10,000 steps a day.  So, if all you want to do is drink 16 oz of pink drink every day, don't waste your money!

That said, Plexus does offer a 60-day money back guarantee.  Not sure how much of a hassle it is to actually get your money back, though.  If you try it and are dissatisfied with the product, let me know how the customer service is. . . I'm just kind of curious on that one.

6.  Will I stop craving sweets?

I have no idea.  I absolutely love sweets--cookies, cake, interesting things I find on Pinterest. . .   I can pretty much eat sweets any time of the day.  However, I did find with this stuff, I was less inclined to crave them.  If they are sitting in front of me, you better believe I'm gonna dig in.  However, if it's not easily accessible, I don't find myself going out of my way to look for them.  Again, all you can do is try it and see how it works for you.  No guarantees from me.

7.  Will this cure my Type 2 Diabetes and/or Thyroid Disease?

See the first sentence of #5.  I know, I know, there are a lot of claims flooding Facebook about this one.  As an Optometrist, a significant portion of my day is spent dealing with patients that have diabetes, thyroid disease, and other random autoimmune diseases. It's a lot of what I do for a living.  Yes, losing a couple hundred pounds will more than likely help your Type 2 diabetes.  It will also make things a lot easier on your thyroid.  Don't even get me started on obesity and autoimmune disorders. . . The positive impact on your overall health and wellness will more than likely come from the actual weight loss itself, not the Plexus product.  I think most Americans could stand to lose a few pounds.  If we cut out a lot of processed and highly refined foods, the levels of Type 2 diabetes, thyroid disease, and autoimmune disorders would plummet in this country.  However, if you have any of these medical issues, and Plexus helps you shed a few pounds, you will  probably notice that you feel better.

8.  What's the catch?  Vanessa, why are you now sharing this with the world?

That, my friend is a great question.  I have an extensive background in health, nutrition, and medicine (I am a doctor, after all).  I have been reluctant to "hawk" this product, as it is really not a simple drink-this-and-you-will-lose-weight deal.  You have to really work at it.  However, it was the final catalyst for me to actually get back down to my pre-kid weight.  I feel great and have (so far) not experienced any negative side effects--unless you count having to pee every hour a negative. . . I have so many friends that struggle with weight and self-esteem issues.  My hope is that for perhaps one of them, they will find this to be the "thing" that they have been searching for that will actually work.  It worked for me, and I am a huge and natural cynic.

I have devoted my entire career to helping people with their health care issues.  I truly believe that this product is a great tool for that journey.  When used properly, in conjunction with common sense and healthy dietary choices, believe it can be quite a helpful product.

Again, I detest mlm schemes.  So, I can guarantee you I am not doing this for any monetary gain.  However, if you are interested in trying this product, click here to go to the site.  

9.  Oh, so since you set up your own site, you must be in it for the money, right?

Ummm. . . no.  Did you not read #8?  I'm not all that interested in selling this stuff.  However, by signing up for the site, I get mine at a discount.  Since I really like this stuff and plan on being on it for a while, it just made good financial sense to set myself up as an ambassador (did I mention that I'm a tight wad?)  Feel free to purchase it from my site.  I will forewarn you, though, if you want someone to bug you, be your cheerleader, or check up on your progress, I'm probably not your girl.  If I know you, I may shoot you a text now and then to see how you are doing, but that's pretty much the extent of the customer service you will get from me.  

In closing, there is no pressure here.  I promise, I am not going to corner you at church, or in the grocery store.  We will still be friends either way.  Feel free to message me, email me, or leave some way for me to contact you in the comments.  Otherwise, let's just pretend this conversation never happened, okay?

Friday, February 7, 2014

My 287 Ah Ha Moment. . .

My favorite day of the week is Thursday.  

I know, it's weird.  Why not Friday. . . or Saturday. . . or, for goodness sake, Sunday?  

Well, I will tell you.  On Thursdays, I commute exactly 56 minutes each way to work.  Early in my career I used to listen to music.  Once I tired of the never-changing playlists on the radio (yes, this was waaaaaay before the invention of MP3 players), I switched to talk radio.  That didn't last long, as I found it made me stressed, angry and paranoid about life and the world we live in, but that's another story for another day. . . 

Fast forward to several years ago when I finally entered this century and received my very first iPod--courtesy of my early-adopter husband.  A whole new world opened up for me--the beauty of podcasts!  I have listened to thousands of these interesting, convicting, (and yes, sometimes boring) self-help lectures all wrapped up in fancy little Apple packaging.  Thus began my weekly self-help pep talk along Highway 287, and the reason behind my love for Thursday.

This past Thursday was a particularly insightful drive for me.  The Texas Panhandle woke to about 2 inches of fresh, dry, powdery snow. . . covering about 1/8 of an inch of zamboni-smoothed ice.  Of course, being Thursday, it was my day to drive to my satellite practice 50 miles away.  I dutifully bundled up and set out just a few minutes early to allow some extra time to get there.

I quickly realized that it was going to take me waaaaaay longer to get the 50 miles than it normally did--since I was not breaking any land speed records in my little front wheel drive Chevy.  In fact, the simple 3 mile drive out of my neighborhood-in-the-middle-of-nowhere caused me significant stress at a meager 20 mph.  I was able to pull over in a couple of spots to allow the much faster moving (insert "insane") motorists to pass.  There were several places that I was unable to pull over, and could feel my blood pressure rise--along with the white knuckles--as other crazy 4-wheel drive wielding Texans tailgated me down the road.

Since I knew this was going to take a while, I put on one of my favorite automatically downloaded podcasts--Your Move, with Andy Stanley.  I was a little annoyed to find that the latest installment was a repeat message that I had probably listened to at least 4 times in the previous year.  It was a message titled "Comparison Trap--the Land of Er".  However, at this point, the roads were really dicey, and both hands (not to mention, 100% of my attention) were needed to merely stay out of the bar ditch.  

It's funny to me how God has such a unique way of getting my attention.  Apparently, there was something in this message that I needed to hear again.  So, dutifully, I decided to comply--more out of fear of death, auto damage, or the risk of having to hoof it several miles in 4 degree weather, than the actual realization that God might have something to teach me!

The message revolved around the centuries-long problem with contentment.  Now, those of you that know me, know that I invest a significant amount of energy trying to teach my kids the art of contentment.  It is a conversation that I regularly have with myself as well--thus the reason I had listened to said podcast 4 times in the past year!  So, my natural inclination was "Sheesh!  Really?  Again?  Haven't I learned this, already?!?

Anyway, as Andy began to speak, he referenced the book of Ecclesiastes.  Seeing as how Solomon was, indeed, much, much wiser than I, I figured I should pay attention.  Here are the verses that he referenced:

Ecclesiastes 4:4-6
4. Then I realized that we work and do wonderful things just because we are jealous of others. 
This makes no more sense than chasing the wind.
5. Fools will fold their hands
and starve to death.
6. Yet a very little food
eaten in peace
is better than twice as much
earned from overwork
and chasing the wind.

It was about this point in his sermon that I pulled onto Highway 287.  I was the car in front. . . you know, the slow guy that is holding up all the other traffic?  The roads were still a little icy.  The outside temperature was now a balmy 1 degree, and we were just about to go across a series of bridges.  For those of you that have driven in a Texas ice storm, you understand, it's the bridges that getcha.  So, being the experienced driver that I am, I was taking it kinda slow--40 mph to be exact.  There were a couple of trucks and several semi-trailers right behind me.  I was starting to experience some anxiety from all the traffic stacking up.  I don't know about you, but I'm the kind of personality that doesn't like being the slowest member of the herd--especially when that slowest member is keeping everyone else from going as fast as they would like.

I was very thankful when the road finally opened up into two fairly decent lanes.  Slowly, all those trucks began to pass me.  It was strangely freeing to slow down even more to grant them access.  In just a few minutes, all the traffic was long-gone and down the road and I was all by myself again on Highway 287.  I began to relax.  The roads started to clear, and I was able to ramp it up to about 70 mph.  

Still listening to Andy go on and on about contentment, he reached a point in his message where he was addressing "the comparison trap".  Why are we so inclined to always be looking to our right and our left?  Why are we always so worried about what others are doing?  Why do we stress about keeping up with the Jones'?

That's when I saw it. . . the huge double-stacked tractor trailer in front of me.  You know the one. . . that semi that has TWO trailers in tow.  The guy that is bigger, heavier, and meaner than everyone else on the road.  I began to slow, as the left hand lane had returned to a bit of an icy overlay.  The right hand lane was still fairly clear, and certainly did not require the measly 55 mph that the huge mammoth beast in front was traveling.  However, with no other options, I was resigned to camp out behind said behemoth.  I was surprised to find that my blood pressure began to fall, my knuckles loosened their grip on the steering wheel, and my entire body began to relax.  With nowhere to go, but straight ahead at 55 mph, behind the biggest guy on the road, life became inexplicably calmer.

By this time, the sermon was over and I had moved on to another. . . can't even remember what it was, because I had stopped listening and was instead mulling over the profound experience I had just had inside my own head.  As I realized I was only going to be about 25 minutes late to work, and that my first patient had actually no-showed, life just seemed so much simpler.

I was able to read the following verses in Ecclesiastes later that day, and here's what they said:

Ecclesiastes 4:7-8
7. Once again I saw that nothing on earth makes sense. 
8. For example, some people don't have friends or family. But they are never satisfied with what they own, and they never stop working to get more. They should ask themselves, “Why am I always working to have more? Who will get what I leave behind?” What a senseless and miserable life!

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
9.You are better having a friend than to be all alone, because then you will get more enjoyment out of what you earn. 
10. If you fall, your friend can help you up. But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble. 
11. If you sleep alone, you won't have anyone to keep you warm on a cold night. 
12. Someone might be able to beat up one of you, but not both of you. As the saying goes, “A rope made from three strands of cord is hard to break.”

So, here was the take-home message to myself yesterday, and the Ah Ha Moment from 287:

1.  Sometimes when you are being pushed down the road by people behind you, you are going faster than you should.
Translation:  Don't let the world tell you how busy you need to be, how many accomplishments you need to make, how many sports your kids need to be involved in, and how many hours in the day you need to work in order to "keep up".

2.  When you start to look to your right and your left at those that are going to pass you, you forget to pay attention to what is right in front of you.

Translation:  Don't be so busy trying to outpace those that want to pass you, that you forget to enjoy the blessings of today.

3.  Sometimes it's nice and relaxing to align yourself with someone bigger, stronger, and more capable.

Translation:  That big double-stacked tractor trailer in front of me could have easily been traveling at a faster clip--he was bigger, heavier, and had A LOT more wheels on the road than the rest of us.  However, he was confident, secure, and not in any hurry to get where he was going.  It's good to be friends with those that are strong.  Let me repeat Eccl 4:10  "If you fall, your friend can help you up. But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble".  I will add, sometimes your bigger and stronger friends keep you from doing stupid things--like driving too fast on icy roads!

4.  Sometimes going too fast does not really get you to your destination with anything extra to show for your effort.

Translation:  I was only 25 minutes late to work.  My first patient had already cancelled.  I didn't lose anything by being late, yet I gained my life, my sanity, all my fingers and toes, and an intact automobile.

So, in closing, I think the Eagles probably said it best in their song "Life In The Fast Lane"

Life in the fast lane
Surely make you lose your mind
Life in the fast lane, everything all the time
Life in the fast lane, uh huh
Blowin' and burnin', blinded by thirst
They didn't see the stop sign,
Took a turn for the worse

So, here's to staying out of life in the fast lane. . . 

Wishing you a right-hand-lane kind of day!