Rooted in a Healthier Life: Jean’s Story
66-year-old grandmother loses 93 lbs.*
I grew up on a farm in Southeast Iowa. We raised dairy cattle, beef cattle, hogs, and chickens and grew most of our fruits and vegetables. Dad also grew wheat, oats, corn, and beans. Mom canned a lot and froze a lot. We only went to town once a week or sometimes only once every two weeks. Mom would buy staples like sugar, flour, and seasonings at the grocery store. I would take the money I had to spend, go to the dime store, buy a candy bag, sit in the park, and eat it all. I looked forward to buying my bag of candy.
I was slim during my childhood (even though one of my favorite meals was fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy). In the summer, we did eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes from the garden, and in the winter, we ate a lot of canned tomatoes that mom thickened with flour. Lard from butchered hogs was used in cooking, and we made our butter and then later bought it from the creamery we sold our cream to. So, as you can see, I grew up eating differently than many people do now.
Hi, I’m Jean (“grannyroots” on the NutriSystem boards), a 66-year-old former eighth-grade science teacher and stay-at-home mom. I have been married to my husband Richard for 40 years and have two daughters and two grandsons. I love being outside in my yard, flower gardening, and taking digital pictures of the birds and flowers in my yard. I am actively involved in my church and am currently writing a book about it, and I run my website. This is my weight-loss story.
As a child and teenager, I was of average weight. I did not develop a weight problem until my daughters had 20 pounds to lose. The program I used to lose that weight taught me to think of what you should not eat as”illegal.” That wasn’t a good idea. After I had lost the weight and I could eat the”illegal” foods, I overate them and ballooned up to 60 pounds overweight. Worse, I developed a craving for sweets. I would call myself a sugarholic. By the end of 2004, I weighed my heaviest ever—239 lbs. (I’m 5’4″).
Worse, I started developing health issues, which were partly due to my weight. I had two knee replacements five years ago; I am sure being 90+ pounds overweight increased my problems with my knees. Then in February 2005, I discovered that I had a fatty liver and was on the verge of a liver problem called NASH (Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis).
Plus, my husband Richard was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at around the same time, so I knew I had to be healthy to take care of him when he got worse. As you can see, I had many important reasons why I needed to get the weight off.
That’s when I started NutriSystem—the only weight loss plan that worked for me. It took me 16 months, and in May of 2006, I reached my goal of 93 lbs.* lost.
I found some things challenging along the way: getting all my vegetables in, being prepared when I ate out, and handling the times I really wanted to binge (and maybe did). But the program made it more accessible. Having food that you could take with you and preparing the food quickly was beautiful. I usually never leave the house to go shopping or to a meeting without at least some of these items: yogurt, a NutriSystem dessert, fruit, and water. (I usually eat something every couple of hours as I have trouble with blood sugar dropping.) I also use the bulletin board, read the Daily Dose, and like to read the profiles.
My family has been very supportive, too. My daughter and grandsons have sent me notes of encouragement from time to time like”Great job” or”We are proud of you.” At Easter, the most recent was when my oldest grandson walked into the house and handed me a giant rabbit and balloon congratulating me on my weight loss.
It was all so worth it, as it is pretty rewarding to look at myself in the mirror and like what I see—and feel much better about myself. Also, I like the positive comments I get and being treated nicer by the people I meet. When you are overweight and middle-aged, you are not always treated well. But when you are at your average weight and looking more attractive, you receive a lot more respect. People treat you better and are more likely to treat you as an intelligent human being. For example, when I’m out buying clothes and tell the clerks I have lost 93 pounds*, they are surprised, and then I usually get asked a lot of questions about NutriSystem.
More importantly, my health is much better now. At my last checkup with the liver specialist, I was told that if I maintained my weight loss, I would not be at risk anymore for NASH, but the risk would return if I put the weight back on.
In addition, it’s much easier for me to bend over to work in my flowerbeds. Since I can no longer get down on my knees due to my knee replacements, I must bend over to the garden. Two years ago, I would have had to quit after about twenty minutes, go in the house and lie down because my lower back would hurt so badly. Now I can bend over much better without my lower back hurting and, when needed, can even get on the ground. Best of all, I know that as long as I maintain my weight loss, I will stay healthy and be able to remain active for a much longer time. My flower garden beckons!
I’ve also had some funny experiences because of my weight loss. I’ve been asked several times if I have had plastic surgery to get rid of the excess flab around the middle, which makes me smile. Also, I talked to a relative of my husband’s who had not seen me in two years, and she kept commenting on my new hairstyle. She kept looking at me as if she was trying to figure out what was different. After about the third compliment on my hair, I shared I had lost 93 pounds* since she last saw me. Her reply: “I knew something was different!”
I’ve learned a lot from NutriSystem, which will help me maintain my weight loss. I try to eat right, eat smaller portions, and exercise more. If I have a bad day or two, I have learned to get back to eating right as quickly as possible. I walk more to increase my activity level, and I am doing stomach-toning exercises (and I should have started them sooner). I am also eating different foods now, and I have learned that if you restrict how much you eat of the food you crave, you will get over the craving and still not fall off the wagon.
My best advice to others would be that it may be too big of a challenge if you think too far ahead, but taking one day at a time is not. Also, enter the program with the idea that you will make some permanent changes in your eating habits and are not just getting the weight off and then planning to go back to your old eating habits. My journey was sixteen months, and if you take it one day at a time, you will make it.
*Results not typical