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Name: Kate (that's me!). Down: 25lbs Fav thing about the program: "Ideal Protein helped me get on track and gain back my confidence". Outfit: Brooks Running (gotta look cute while working out!) (Image: The Jeremy Townsend Experience)

True Life: I tried the Ideal Protein diet, and lost 25 pounds (!)

*Editor's Note: Just a teeny little reminder that we are not nutritionists or doctors! Just a group of writers and editors - and this is just the experience that one of them had. Goodness knows every body is unique, and different things work for different people. This is just what worked for Kate! Obviously check with your doctor before undergoing any intensive lifestyle and diet changes, and if anything starts to feels wonky...stop! And call your doc. Remember, whatever it is that makes you feel healthy, happy and wonderful....GO FOR IT. We'll keep sharing the stories we hear along the way :)

Let me start off by saying, I LOVE FOOD. Just like Oprah (and millions of others), I love bread. I also love sweets and basically all foods you shouldn't eat. When you are trying to drop some serious poundage, this appetite doesn't work in your favor - unfortunately. I knew I had to make a change to reach my goals, but I really didn't want to starve myself.

I've done the HCG diet in the past (the diet where you can consume only 500 calories a day), and I felt like I was basically on my death bed or in full HANGRY attack-mode at all times - so I knew I didn't want to go back to that. Then I chatted with a friend (doesn't it always start that way...) who did the Ideal Protein program and lost more than 50 pound.

So I thought - let's do it!

You can't just DO the Ideal Protein Protocol - you have to sign up through one of their licensed centers. I chose Fremont Spine and Wellness (but there are dozens in the city, you can find something near you with their tracker) where I learned all about the Ideal Protein Protocol from Dr. Marnie Hansen. On top of being a certified chiropractor, she's an Ideal Protein coach who's really been through the struggle of weight. She is the aforementioned friend who shared that she used the program to drop more than 50 pounds, and it seriously changed her life. In return, she wanted to help change mine.

And she did, because Spoiler Alert - I'm down 25 pounds and it feels awesome.

Full disclosure, I started this diet at my heaviest weight EVER. When it comes to shedding baby weight (at least for me) the STRUGGLE IS REAL. I did the diet for 5 weeks. Here's what to expect:

WEEK ZERO:
This week is all about learning about the program. It's a good idea to actually know what you're getting into, right? The Ideal Protein Protocol is a four-phase, low carbohydrate, moderate protein, ketogenic weight management plan with a focus on lifestyle changes. The pillars of the program are nutritional guidance, ongoing coaching, support and education. This week it’s all about the prep! Meet your coach, set your goals and weigh in. That's right, step on that scale (eyes closed) and get measured. I learned that I have a high percentage of muscle so that was a positive (the only positive). This fancy scale you step on not only tells your weight, but also your metabolic age. Yikes, apparently I'm old.

WEEK ONE:
On this program you're provided three pre-packaged meals a day: breakfast, lunch and a snack. You make your own dinner (a protein and vegetable) and you're allowed to snack on approved veggies throughout the day. Day one and two I felt pretty good. The meals are surprisingly tasty - not like diet food. Day three I had a pretty intense headache because I wasn't drinking enough water (apparently this is a common side-effect due to your body detoxing). I want to give a special shout out to these Ideal Protein foods: Chocolate brownie, peanut butter bar and apple oatmeal. Thank you for getting me through my crazy, insane and abnormal sugar cravings. I lost 7 pounds and a couple inches (one from my waist) in the first week alone. I left my appointment feeling pretty proud of myself and confident in my ability to stay on track. I also texted everyone I know telling them I lost weight - like somehow 7 pounds made me look like an entirely different person. Mom hormones are nuts. #SomeoneTakeMyPhoneAway.

WEEK TWO:
This was a pretty hectic work and mama duty week. My baby came down with a three-day fever and I admit that I had a rough time getting in my veggies and taking care of ME. I didn't cheat and stuck with it, which was a true miracle folks. I also traveled for my "traveling with a baby series" to Mt. Rainier and managed to stay on track. I actually missed a meal (not recommended) but didn't cheat! There were lots of temptations but I stayed strong. It paid off, and I lost another 4 pounds. People started to comment on my face looking thinner. I was simultaneously overjoyed and somehow offended at the same time. I’m shaking my head at myself right now. This week the headaches were gone and I wasn't craving sugar anymore. I also felt full.

WEEK THREE
Getting ready to go to Hawaii so this week is all about preparation! I went into the clinic and got 2 weeks worth of food. This time I got to pick the items I like and that I felt were easier for me to eat on the go since I'll be traveling (the first two weeks the food was selected for me). Side-note, I highly recommend the mug cake and vanilla pudding (SO GOOD). I kept on track and lost another 5 pounds. You're not supposed to do intense workouts while on the first phase on the Ideal Protein plan so I kept things light with 30 minute walks and yoga here and there. I did spin a few times and just went at my own pace.

WEEK FOUR
Hawaii-bound! Ummm...here's when we get to the "we're all human", "we all make mistakes" portion of my journey. On one night in particular while on my Hawaiian vacay I consumed (basically) my body weight in Mai Tais and poke. I mean, come on. The beach, sun in my face, salt in my hair. I had to indulge, and so I did. By the end of my trip I was a bit terrified to return home and weigh in at the clinic. But, to my joyous surprise I somehow lost 4 more pounds! Huh? We concluded that it was all the extra walking plus I ate smaller portions than I would have in the past - another positive habit I picked up from my helpful coach.

WEEK FIVE
My last week on the diet and I wanted to end on a high note. This week I was absolutely perfect and even stayed at the office to use the workout equipment. On my first appointment ever at the clinic with Dr. Marnie, she sat down with me and had me write down my "WHY" statement. Basically, what's my reason for partaking in the program. It was super helpful to go back and read my statement: “I don't want to be a toothpick, I just want to be healthy for myself, my family and my daughter. I want to be around to watch her grow up and it doesn't hurt to look good while doing it”. My last weigh in comes and I'm down another 5 pounds. I immediately purchase a new pair of jeans, cause why not! I earned them.

So there you have it folks! I did the Ideal Protein Program for 5 weeks and I lost 25 pounds. They did not pay me to write this - nor is this an ad. Having been through many diets in my life, when I found something that truly worked for me I thought it was worthwhile to share it with others who may find it does the same for them. I feel so much better about my body. My clothes fit better, I like the way I look in photos and I have more energy.

But obviously all this isn't for free. Ideal Protein is not cheap, but for me - it was worth it. Most of the centers have you put down $399 initially, which includes the first week of food, products and coaching fees (remember, you have on-going weekly appointments). Then it's $99 a week after that for food and supplements. So for the five weeks you're looking at about $800. I KNOW! It sounds super expensive. But also remember that you're barely shopping for groceries like you usually do, and (if you're being good) not eating out either.

Either way, you just have to find what works for you - and your wallet. I liked Ideal Protein because the program has structure and rules in place that helped me hold myself accountable, and when I was lacking at that - I had a great coach to help lift me up. *Actually it wasn't just my coach, but all the staff there are awesome. Patricia is another coach there who often helped me get back on track. It really is a team effort.*

After my five weeks, and when I knew I wanted to write this article I thought - let's grab some gals who also did it and do a photo-shoot! Cause when you feel good about yourself, why the heck not. Check out the gallery to meet some of the other ladies who've had success with the program, and a special thanks to Brooks Running for dressing us to fashionably fit and fab.

One of the biggest issues I've had with diets or programs in the past is that once I cross the finish line of the program, I go crazy and fall right back into bad habits and gain the weight back. Dr. Marnie stresses the importance of the four phases of the program set in place to help you maintain your success, and I can attest that as someone currently in the "maintenance" phase of the program...so far, so good!

Ideal Protein has centers all over the city and state, and more information than you could possibly dream of online. If you want to use the Fremont clinic like I did (cause the ladies are so FAB), call 206-634-1300 or check 'em out online.

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