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 own 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 and go to the dime store and buy a bag of candy and 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 own butter and then later bought it from the creamery we sold our cream to. So, as you can see, I grew up eating totally 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 own website. This is my weight-loss story.
As a child and teenager, I was of normal weight. I did not develop a weight problem until I had my daughters and had 20 pounds to lose. The program I used to lose that weight taught you to think of the things 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 found myself weighing my heaviest ever—239 lbs. (I’m 5’4″).
Worse, I started developing health issues, which were at least in part 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, at around the same time, my husband Richard was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease—so I knew I had to be healthy in order to take care of him when he got worse. As you can see, I had many vital 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 to be 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 easier. Having food that you can take with you and being able to prepare the food quickly was wonderful. 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 hours as I have some 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. In fact, my daughter and grandsons have sent me notes of encouragement from time to time like”Great job” or”We are proud of you.” The most recent was at Easter when my oldest grandson walked into the house and handed me a huge rabbit and balloon congratulating me on my weight loss.
It was all so worth it, as it is quite 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 normal 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 at first 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 if I maintain my weight loss I would not be at risk anymore for NASH, but if I put the weight back on the risk would return.
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 to garden 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 and 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 stay 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 was talking 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 and eat smaller portions, and also exercise more. If I have a bad day or two, I have learned to get back to eating right as quickly as possible. To increase my activity level, I walk more and I am doing stomach-toning exercises (and should have started them sooner). I am also eating some different foods now and I have learned that if you restrict how much you eat of food that you crave, you will get over the craving and still not totally fall off the wagon.
My best advice to others would be that if you think too far ahead, it may be too big of a challenge—but taking one day at a time is not. Also, enter the program with the idea that you are going to 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, too.
*Results not typical