Debi Gerhart, Philadelphia, PA
I would love to introduce myself. My name is Debi and I am a work from home momma to 4 kids. We live outside of Philadelphia in a teeny tiny town. My husband and I have been together since I was in high school. He has been with me through all the ups and downs of life.
Food was my go to comfort. I would always lose the weight but then it would come back. Sometimes it would come back, and then some. I would start to eat badly again because most of the diets I would go on were very restrictive. I would stick to them for a while but then I would slip up. Once I would slip up, it was a free for all for the rest of the day. Well, I already messed up the day, I might as well enjoy it. Then I would start the next day. If I was lucky, I could make it through the day and not mess up again. If I wasn’t lucky, it would be a repeat. There were many times that I would start a diet, only to gain weight because of that kind of thinking.
I tried them all too. I tried low fat, no fat, low carb, high carb. I tried liquid diets, cabbage soup diets. I tried diet pills and shakes and bars. I tried cycling, where you eat this or these kinds of foods one day, and these kinds on another. I tried only eating things that say low fat, or low sugar. But everything ended up being so restricted, that I always failed to keep the weight off.
Looking at pictures of myself was painful. I would hide behind the camera. Then one day my daughter asked me why I wasn’t in any of the pictures. I didn’t want to give her any body image issues so I said it was because I was always taking the pictures. But it made me think. Someday my kids will look back and not see pictures of me. They will not see me having fun with them. I didn’t want that. I wanted them to see us together, being happy, active and a family. That was it. I knew it was time to get the weight off.
Besides not being in the pictures, I was unhappy. My body ached. While I was not as big as some, I was bigger than a lot, and I could feel it on my body. I am a little girl and all the extra weight was dragging me down. I couldn’t go down the slide or fit on the swings. And when we went to the park, all I wanted to do was sit.
When I decided that I needed the change, I was very interested in Nutrisystem. I had heard good things about the program. I had seen the commercials where the celebs lost massive amounts of weight. What intrigued me was that the food came to the door. I didn’t have to actually cook it. But the best part was the food was pre-portioned. It was the exact right amount of calories I needed to lose weight, in a healthy way, and learn what I had been doing wrong for so long.
It featured pantry-ready meals and 10 Chef’s Table frozen meals. I loved the fact that there were self-stable meals because with a family my size, fridge and freezer space is limited. Plus, with certain meals, I could throw them in a bag and take them with me, to my mom’s, traveling or even a snack bar for the car.
Like I said, I was bigger than a lot and smaller than some. I joined the program at 186.8 lbs. I am only 5’2, so like I have said, that makes a big girl. It was hard writing that number down. It is still hard seeing that number. 186.8 lbs. All I could think, was how did I ever get this big. I am sure I blamed it on having 5 pregnancies. I am sure I blamed it on genetics. All my dad’s family were big. No matter what I blamed it on, it was because I love food. I used it for comfort for being happy, for being sad, and because I was bored. It was also because I never knew how to limit my food. And I was lazy!
Not hard because I was losing out on anything. I hate great meals, everything that I could want, really. I could choose Hamburgers, Sloppy Joe, Pizza, even Donuts and Cinnamon Buns. It was hard because I freak out on a diet. And suddenly I want all of those forbidden things.
Nutrisystem’s hamburger looks like this one
The only thing that was actually forbidden was eating food not on the plan. But really, all of my favorite foods were on the plan. I just wanted to lash out and eat McDonald’s, Wendy’s and pizza from Pizza Hut.
I could eat the “junk” I wanted. I was losing weight. And by week 5 I had lost 17 lbs. I was so much happier. I had more energy. I was able to run around with the kids, and not feel worn out and drained all of the time. My skin looked healthier and even my hair seemed to shine. I was finally feeling confident about myself, for the first time as an adult.
I didn’t feel like I was on diet. The really nice thing was that I was learning portion control. Hubby was working at a pizza place and would bring home a large pizza almost nightly. Once in a while, I would cheat and enjoy a slice of pizza. Before Nutrisystem, I would never have a slice of pizza. I would cave and eat a slice of pizza. Then I would say when I messed up and eat 4 or 5 slices of pizza. On Nutrisystem, to be able to eat a slice of pizza and a side of veggies was a huge step for me. When I would hit a small plateau, I would cut out my small cheats and my body would jump-start back on track.
Like most people when starting a new diet, I had a few concerns. Diets are hard. And I didn’t want to go on another diet. I wanted to change my life. Could eating food on a plan, food that was sent to my house, really be a life change? But also could the food actually taste good? I mean it is diet food. And if something doesn’t taste good, can I really stick with it? Of course, then there is the actually sticking onto a structured food plan. But the food was actually good. I did not LOVE all of it. But that’s the case with any food. But over all the food was ok. And since I could have pizza, donuts and hamburgers, sticking to it was easy.
I had heard some people say that it took them time getting used to eating small portions, but I was stuffed. I was not used to eating that many times a day. Before starting Nutrisystem, on most days I was busy and barely at until dinner and then I over-ate. Everyone knows how bad that is for you. Eating during the day, several times, was a lot for me. After doing it for a while though, it did get easier. I would actually start getting hungry at regular meal times. But just because I was hungry, didn’t mean I was starving. I could settle the hunger with a meal bar. I remember thinking when I looked at those soups, there is no way that will ever fill me. But after I started eating them, even though they were small, they filled me up.
On days that I was still hungry, a side salad or some carrot sticks finished off the meal. I started eating a lot more fresh produce, which has so many benefits. And is highly encouraged on the Nutrisystem Plan.
Even having my “junk” foods on Nutrisystem, like supreme pizza, donuts, snacks that tasted like candy bars, even cookies, popcorn and chocolate pudding, it was still hard to not eat what my family was eating. If the family was eating nice, hot pizza or having cheese steaks it is hard to decide to eat only a small turkey pepperoni pizza (which was my favorite.) Or to decide to have a salad instead of having chips and dip. But making the choice to lose weight is a hard one and it was important to me to make good eating choices.
I still cheated though. And most likely if I had cheated less, I would have lost a lot more. I am sure I would have lost a lot more. But for me having those cheats, and not being very strict is what kept me going and made me stay on the right path. It kept me going nuts every time I did eat something from Wendy’s or had a candy bar. I think some people can do very well not cheating as much and can keep on going. I wanted to make sure I was not repeating past mistakes, and keeping a balance I could live with.
While I know how important it is, I still hate exercise. I don’t think I will ever really like it. I have severe asthma. So during certain times of the year, walking to my mailbox can set me off into an attack. But when I was breathing ok, I did make a point of walking more and on a great day, I would even jog/run. Exercise is not really mandatory on a diet plan, it is important to have a good exercise plan. Yes you can still lose weight without the exercise, but the weight drops off much faster and it is so much healthier. They say a diet helps you look good with your clothes on. Exercise makes you look good with your clothes off. In the end, I guess it is up to the person. So even hating to exercise, I wanted to look great, in every way.
I think Nutrisystem is a great program for anyone who has issues with dealing with food. It helps people retrain their bodies and their thinking about food. In the beginning because it is so structured, it helps you learn all those things that you are taught as a kid and forget as soon as you get the chance to eat what you want. It helps the dieter learn how to go from being on a diet to losing weight and being healthy. Because you add in fresh fruit and veggies, you are not hungry, and it can help you learn the signals your stomach is actually saying. Maybe you are thirsty, or just bored. So that when you go off the program, it will keep you from going back into the old habits. If you can continue eating the way the plan teaches, you can continue to lose weight, or maintain what you lose.
Photo: The day I hit the 25 lb mark (I went on to lose 36 lb in total)
Even after going off of the program, I still understood portions. I learned that small amounts of food were really enough to satisfy me. I could eat one slice of pizza, not half a pizza. I was able to maintain the weight loss. I continued eating well, and limited the junk. Junk food was a treat, not an everyday food choice.
Now I know, being healthy and being fit, being good to my body includes eating right, drinking water, getting enough exercise and if I slip up, the day is not ruined. I just need to stop, and get back on track. The whole key is moderation and control. And I do not think I could have learned that without Nutrisystem. Nutrisystem helped me be a better mom, a better wife, and a happier person.
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