My Nutrisystem Review
I’m Jane, a 30-year-old professional living in Boston. I weigh… well, we’ll get to that. I work about 30 hours per week at a demanding job downtown. I also work 40 hours per week at a business I run from home. Which means I do a whole lot of sitting, and then when I’m done with that, I’m exhausted.
I decided to start Nutrisystem for a number of reasons. When working from home, I was eating too much too often—it was just easy with the kitchen right nearby. When working at the office, I would either go the whole day without eating and be starving and run-down when I got home, or I would break down and spend $10 on a sandwich or sushi from the grocery store.
It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great, and it certainly wasn’t a system. Every summer, when traveling, I would lose about 15 pounds. Then every winter, I would gain it back. I hate that. I hate that my winter clothes are all one or two sizes bigger than my summer clothes.
I realized that I have to have a system if I’m going to take care of myself—it’s not healthy to gain that weight and lose it again every year. And I was sick of being tired and eating simple meals like a yogurt or a granola bar that didn’t leave me satisfied, and eating man-sized meals with my boyfriend that I knew weren’t a healthy choice for me.
More importantly, I realized that I just wasn’t going to come up with the system on my own. I’ve tried that, but for the last ten years the same process has repeated over and over. The responsible choice was to get some help, and Nutrisystem looked very easy.
The big draw for me was the simplicity. I love to cook, but at this season in my life my focus is on growing my business and saving to buy a home. It’s hard work, and it leaves me with little mental or physical energy to spend on planning, preparing, and serving healthy meals. Actually, that’s not true. I have the energy to do all those things, but I don’t want to do them. I want to spend my precious free time with my family, friends, and significant other, not counting points or weighing food portions.
So I started up on Nutrisystem. And now we get to talk about weight.
Weight isn’t something we like to talk about, especially for women. It’s probably the thing we’re the most secretive and competitive about, except for maybe our salaries. Why? Because it’s a hard number. It’s something we can directly compare to see who “wins”. It is, culturally, some measure of our value as women.
But we have to talk about it, so that we can know what works when it comes to losing weight. Because a successful weight-loss plan can change your life. Losing weight steadily in a healthy, sustainable way helps you feel better, move better, look better… it’s just better.
When I started Nutrisystem, I weighed 169 pounds. I wish I could say that’s the most I’ve ever weighed, but it’s not. My weight has moved between 130 and 180 pounds since I was maybe 13 years old. At 5’7”, 169 pounds puts me at about a size 10.
After 6 months on Nutrisystem, I now weigh 147 pounds. I lost 22 pounds in 6 months, which is just under a pound a week. This puts me around a size 6.
BEFORE Nutrisystem AFTER Nutrisystem
I can’t speak to inches lost because I’m not a tape measure kind of girl. But I’m a jeans girl, and we all know the feeling of getting back into the jeans you love. My summer jeans! I can wear them in the winter! Everything fits better.
Nutrisystem prescribes 30 minutes of exercise a day. I’m going to be honest – I didn’t do that every day. One of the best things about Nutrisystem for me is that I continually messed up, and it still worked. That, to me, was astounding.
Some weeks I worked 90 hours. Do you know how much exercise I did? None. It’s embarrassing, but true.
But I was encouraged by the idea that 30 minutes of exercise a day was enough. I’ve done exercise plans and weight loss plans that required strenuous, hour-long workouts, which isn’t a sustainable lifestyle for me. I’ve even done that challenge where you do hot yoga every day for a month. I just couldn’t wait for it to be over—I haven’t been back since.
But 30 minutes a day of exercise of any kind is something I can do. Even just going for a walk counts. Or I can jump on the treadmill, and if I only make it 20 minutes, I still have done most of what was asked of me. I can watch a 30-minute television show and work out for its duration. In fact, I’m done with Nutrisystem now, but the effect of trying to integrate 30 minutes of exercise into my daily routine has lasted. It’s pretty easy.
Plus, there’s a surprising bonus: a 30-minute workout sounds short and manageable, so it gets you into the gym or out for a walk. And then, it’s easier to keep working out for another 15 or 30 minutes, which gets me a ton of extra reward.
Okay, so what’s Nutrisystem all about? There are all different plans, but my plan provided me with a breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert/snack, and protein shake for each day. Some of these were frozen meals, and others were shelf-stable items that I could store in the pantry. There was a big list of items to choose from, and I’d submit my choices partway into each month and get a delivery when it was time to start the next month.
It was my responsibility to supplement these meals with fruits, vegetables, and dairy items from the grocery store. I’m not a huge fan of dairy, so I would often substitute almond milk for cow’s milk. Again, did I do things perfectly? No. Sometimes I made fabulous salads and had an apple with me at all times. But sometimes I just microwaved the dinner, ate it, and called it a day.
Ordering the meals is easy. Storing the meals is easy. Preparing them is… mostly easy. I’ll admit that it took me almost the full six months to figure out how to make the macaroni and cheese correctly, but I did love it once I figured it out. (Note: the microwave way doesn’t really work. Boil the water first.)
The variety of food was really great, I have to say. I didn’t really get bored, unless I got lazy and ordered only one or two different dinner items for a month.
My suggestion would be to try one of each item the first month and keep track of what you like the best. I think the variety in food is a matter of taste, so you have to have a little trial and error here, as with any food.
I was overall really pleased with the food. I did find that many things were heavy on sauce for me, although I don’t generally use a lot of sauce or condiments on my food. I found that I really liked adding vegetables, like broccoli or spinach, to the food, and that spread the sauce further and made everything taste great.
The frozen breakfast burritos were a huge surprise, because I expected to hate them, but they grew to be one of my favorite foods! Since ending Nutrisystem, I’ve made similar burritos myself and froze them to re-heat in the mornings. Mine aren’t as good as the Nutrisystem ones! But I like the habit they created.
There were, of course, meals I didn’t love. The mushroom risotto… just no. The frozen desserts were maybe too good (seriously great), but some of the cake-style deserts were overly sweet and tasted like protein bars.
Still, just the habit of eating three meals a day is a help. I know, that’s something I should know by the time I’m 30 years old. But, it’s so easy to skip breakfast! It’s so easy to eat a huge lunch and skip dinner. I feel like Nutrisystem has set me up to realize the benefit of eating small, balanced meals throughout the day.
I was initially skeptical of the protein shakes as well. How much protein do I really need? But, these were one of my favorite parts of the Nutrisystem plan! The coffee and strawberry shakes were flavorful and delicious, and were a real treat for me during the day. They’re very easy to travel with, drink in the car, or have any time of day. This is a habit I plan to keep for the foreseeable future!
I feel so much better since starting Nutrisystem. I know part of that is the weight loss, but I’m also sure that a big part of it is the nutrition. Every day for six months, I’ve been getting a balance of carbs, fat, protein, vegetables, and fiber. Plus, I feel like I’ve internalized how big a proper dinner portion should be—smaller than I’m used to, that’s for sure! But enough to feel satisfied.
The combination of better nutrition, more exercise, and less weight has me feeling more energetic and less tired. I can come home from work and take a friend up on an offer to hang out, instead of just crawling into bed and watching TV. And it’s easier to go to the gym because I know that when I go, I actually feel good and have more energy.
I still drink wine a few days a week, and I did that while I was on Nutrisystem as well. I’m pretty sure you aren’t supposed to, but I didn’t want to give it up! Maybe I could have lost more weight if I had, but I also might have quit the program earlier.
I also drink coffee a few times a week. I like it. I have no idea if I was supposed to be doing that on Nutrisystem, but I did. This was the big thing for me. I could make some missteps, and it still worked.
And missteps I definitely took. We made dinner together sometimes in the house, which means I went off the grid and had tacos or lasagna or curry. We’d go out for an occasional burrito. Someone would order pizza, and I’d have a slice. We’d meet friends for dinner. I’d have a cupcake or a glass of champagne. Okay, two glasses of champagne. Okay, it was more like four, but it was New Year’s Eve!
And things still worked. It was the steadiness of the weight loss that impressed me. I’ve lost weight before, and I’ve lost it faster than I did over the last six months. But never in a steady way, and never in an easy way. With Nutrisystem it was always easy to get back on track, because not much was required of me. I picked out food I liked, someone brought it to my door, I ate it, and I somehow continued to lose weight even when I was messing it up!
My overall takeaway from Nutrisystem has been great. I’ve gotten in pretty good shape comfortably, and it hasn’t been strenuous or hard. But I had to think about the environmental cost as well.
I try very hard to have a minimal impact on the environment, and so prepackaged meals aren’t my normal way of doing business. Still, I reconciled the environmental effects of shipping food to my door by the understanding that the food I buy from the store has to be shipped there.
Fortunately, the boxes and dishes for the Nutrisystem meals are recyclable, so the waste was more minimal than I expected. Plus, I was no longer buying any other packaged food, so that waste was eliminated.
I don’t think the waste was perfect, but it wasn’t excessive either, as long as I was careful about recycling.
It’s probably hard to follow perfectly. Life gets in the way. In fact, life doesn’t get in the way—life is the thing! I refuse to miss a dinner out with my boyfriend or a chance to celebrate a holiday because I’m eating microwave lasagna at home.
What’s not hard is to mostly stick with it. It’s not hard on most days to do most things right, and for me, that worked! I am grocery shopping for two, and that still worked fine even when only one of us was doing Nutrisystem.
It’s certainly easy to grab breakfast and then bring lunch to work. Dinner is a little harder if you want to eat together, but we’d usually share a salad or vegetables, I’d have my Nutrisystem meal, and he’d have a piece of chicken or a sandwich or really whatever he wanted. It was no extra cooking—in fact, it was a lot less!
Overall, I’m very happy with my Nutrisystem experience. I’m just a real person who has a busy work schedule, doesn’t love exercising, and wants to come home to a glass of wine instead of a treadmill. On this program, I could still be all those things, PLUS wear my summer jeans! That’s a win as far as I’m concerned.
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