Right about now, are you wishing you’d passed on finishing off the holiday cookies? Held off on eggnog and wine? These are the days many of us are finding clothes a bit snug and the scale reading more than we like it to. Don’t despair. A new weight-loss plan in town hopes to help.

Livea, formerly known as Medifast, has been helping many shed those extra pounds since the program began last August. Whether it’s 10 pounds or 80, I can hear you all say, "Not another one." But it seems Livea is a bit different from the others in its approach, support and follow-up. I heard nothing but positives from those currently participating.

Andrea Sowers, COO of the company, emphasizes that success on a weight-loss program often relies on one-on-one support. With that in mind, they provide each client with a team of dietitians and nutritionists for guidance and support, often at the once-a-week weigh-in. There are currently 10 centers around the state, with 4,000 active clients. At this point, it is exclusive to Minnesota, with one in Wisconsin.

So, how does the program work? There is an extensive product line of 90 food choices participants choose from. These include main courses, bars, soups, cereals and drinks. Snack bars are eaten every few hours, and though I didn’t have one, I was told by several participants they are very good. These provide an equal balance of protein and carbs.

Participants can also have a home-cooked grocery store meal once a day. They’re advised to shop the outer aisles where fruits and vegetables are and to avoid the inner aisles. Why? That’s where the temptations lie in the form of snacks like cookies and crackers.

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Clients are also urged to keep a daily journal of what they have eaten and how much. Once they reach their goal, there is a 10-week balance phase which gradually transitions them off the program so they don’t lapse back into their old habits. This is then followed by a one-year lifestyle or maintenance phase.

"Support and accountability are key at all levels," Sowers said.

Chris Blade, Post Bulletin publisher, joined the program 2½ months ago, and she’s already shed 30 pounds. Her goal is to lose a total of 68 pounds.

"The prepackaged snacks and meal replacements are small portions, but they are enough and very good. I don’t feel hungry or have any cravings. I usually have 1,100 calories a day, plus drink about 64 ounces of water," she said.

Blade’s weekly grocery store meal usually includes 5-7 ounces of a protein and three vegetables.

"I really can’t say enough about this program," she said. "I highly recommend it."

You might recall former mayor Ardell Brede as a spokesman for Medifast, now Livea. As the center’s most visible client, his goal was to lose 75 pounds, which he did. He supplemented the program with riding his bike 10 miles twice a week. His success was such that his wife, Judy, decided to join him, and between the two of them, they lost significant amounts of weight.

So many people in town knew what Brede was doing that when he went to Red Lobster, the server asked if he really wanted butter with his lobster.

"I was a walking billboard for the program," he said.

After a time, Judy quit the program, but he continued on. Then she became ill, eventually passing away a year ago. Recognizing that this was an extremely difficult, emotional time, Brede was advised to quit.

"I’m not a good bachelor, I can’t cook, and I eat out most of the time, so gradually I’ve gained a lot back," he said.

However, the good news is that one of his resolutions for 2020 is to rejoin. Having had success before, he knows he can do it again.

Livea is located at 2048 Superior Drive NW, Suite 300. Call 507-208-7227 to learn more.