Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Personal Pros and Cons of NutriSystem

I'll start off detailing how I came to be on NutriSystem and share the pros and cons of it for me personally.

Firstly, as I've mentioned in another post, I was facing an extremely hectic summer.  I decided to try NutriSystem for the summer because in being honest with myself and recognizing that the mom-is-last syndrome from which I suffer would get in the way of any real success if left to my own defenses, I gave it a shot.  I figured losing some would be better than the mere 3 pounds I manage to lose here and there during crazy times.

I'm glad I did because I have so far lost 22 pounds since April 19, but there are a few surprises I'd like to share with anyone who is thinking about joining.

Firstly, I called the advertised number and asked a lot of questions.  It sounded so easy.  I only wanted to become a NutriSystem member because they were going to provide the meals for me.  I thought this meant I would only meal plan for my picky kids and husband rather than cooking as much as I do when I'm trying to eat all the stuff they don't want to.  It didn't quite turn out that way. (There's quite a bit of prep in all the do-it-yourself participation involved.)

The food arrived and I accepted the introductory package, a little bit of everything, to taste it all and decide what I wanted from there.

When I opened the box, I was actually very insulted at what was inside.They had given me chocolate bars for breakfast, lunch, and dinner covered in chocolate, things like donuts and muffins for breakfast, and a ton of chocolate, cookies, and chips for the dessert/end-of-the-day snack.  I was offended because it made me feel like so many others have made me feel...that I must hole up in a corner of my house eating crap day in and day out and I therefore needed a daily dessert or chocolate every day.

I decided to turn the other cheek, as they say, and just go with it.  The following day I started only to discover that I was suddenly starving for the first time in my life, and with a raging headache.  I found it ironic that I was absolutely N-E-V-E-R hungry pre-NutriSystem and I start it and find myself ready to rip somebody's head off for food.  Food was all I could think about all day.  It didn't help that I was unprepared and that the sales rep wasn't totally forthcoming despite my interrogation.

I followed the directions in the journal they provide which goes like this:  [NS Breakfast Entree and NS shake], [PowerFuel], [NS Lunch Entree and PowerFuel], [SmartCarb], [NS Dinner Entree and SmartCarb], then [NS dessert entree].  NS = NutriSystem, PowerFuel=Lean Proteins from a very limited list provided in the journal, and SmartCarb=Starchy Veggies & other items from a very small list in the journal. You are also to take in 8 glasses of water daily, 4 non-starchy vegetable servings, and are allowed 3 what they call Extras from a limited list in the journal.

I found myself just fine in the morning since I had never eaten breakfast, snack, then lunch anyway, but I did question what on earth I was doing as I licked peanut butter from a 1-Tbsp measuring spoon. I thought to myself, "Am I really licking peanut butter from a tablespoon right now and calling it a power fuel?"

I'm guessing actual hunger kicked in because eating smaller portions and more frequently every few hours turned on a switch in my body.

Also, as I reached for the very small container of instant mashed potatoes with broccoli to rehydrate for my lunch (about 3/4 cup only), I asked myself "Really? This is the whole lunch?"

Since one of the very reasons I find myself Fat was being chained to a computer virtually every spare minute of my life for the past 12 years, I was very disappointed to learn that it was practically a requirement I join their online community and dig and search for answers to what was sure to ruin the NutriSystem experience for me.

It turned out there was a much larger list of these extras, powerfuels, and smart carbs to be found online to supplement the 4 entrees they provide and it turned out there is a recipe section there to turn some of these little things they give you into actual filling meals, i.e. some people turn the instant potatoes into potato pancakes, etc.

It also turned out that I did not like a lot of what they provided to me, but I stuck it out to figure out what I did and did not like to personalize my next order.  While you couldn't get me anywhere near that sloppy joe mix again, not even for a million dollars, there is quite a bit I absolutely adore, especially after I learned how to jazz it up, i.e. turning the burger patty into a gyro, or the very dry grilled chicken breast chunk into some chicken fajitas.

So, I do recommend NutriSystem to people, but I think you need to get real honest at what is holding you back before deciding if it is the right plan for you.

Personal Pros:
  • Not having to fret about what I'm going to eat each meal with what family is going to eat. 
  • Losing weight even when things are hectic. 
  • A lot of it actually tastes good when spruced up a bit into recipes.
  • I do not suffer from heartburn at all when following the plan. 
  • I eat more veggies than I ever have. 
  • I drink more water than I ever have. 
  • It helped me to give up pop/soda.
  • I've learned a bit about portion control.
Personal Cons:
  • The headache I get after a few days off when restarting. 
  • An automatic weight gain when I run out the door leaving my packed food behind (regardless how much I eat or what I choose). 
  • I sometimes get tired off the shelf-stable food and stray to the fresh homemade version. 
  • I get all veggies out and therefore do not get in my whole 4 servings of veggies daily. 
  • They don't exactly have the nicest, most compassionate or patient people around in the chat rooms for support.
  • I can't stand nor have time for automated answering services and therefore avoid calling their always available counselors.
  • While my plan with joining was to cut down on my food prep for myself (cuz I'm prepping other things for family), I find myself in the kitchen 6 times a day now prepping little things for myself. 
  • The expense. 
So, as of right now, my pros equal the cons in number, so I stick with it the best I can. 

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