Posts Tagged ‘NutriSystem’

Nutrisystem hands-on review: the overall process and results

Generally speaking you’re eating at a moderate caloric deficit here, so you’re losing 1-2 pounds a week, quite reliably.  Slow but sure.

Overall, I hit that benchmark every week.

You’re eating all through the day, and eating low GI, so you’re not particularly ravenously hungry after that first couple days when you’re getting used to the idea of an imposed limit on quantity.

The foods are reasonably tasty and satisfying; the online discussion boards serve mostly as a place for dissatisfied people to vent about when the one food item they dearly love is rotated off of the available list because they are likely among the few that  actually like that one thing.

The food varies from being better than an MRE to being better than a Lean Cuisine.  If you’re on this program, you need to keep in mind that you did not join for the taste of the food but for the quality of the results.

The lack of coordinated exercise is somewhat made up by the presence on the site of an exercise support group and collection of exercise resources pulled from other online sources.

And as we’ve said, the results are good.

The COST.  Here’s some good news.  Your health insurance probably gives you a 12% discount on the program.  You get another discount for signing up for automated delivery for a 2 month minimum.  You get another big discount by buying $100 gift cards for $78 through Costco’s web site (small surcharge for non Costco members).   This discount was 50% just this past month on sale.  You get a discount for whatever month number you are in.   You get a discount for clicking a link daily for 50 days.  You get a discount for recommending other people.    Overall for my wife and myself, for unlimited frozen for one person, shelf stable for the other (we combined food) it was on the order of $300/month.  And our dining out budget went almost to zero, and our grocery store spend dropped sharply.  It’s hard to see it costing any more than eating normally.

Medically … our doctor recommended it whole heartedly.  You’re getting plenty of veggies and the program hits all the government recommendations admirably well.

Overall?  We’re going to give it an A minus.  It would be an A+ if there was a little more formal encouragement of exercise beyond just incidental walking.  VERY GOOD program.  Not for everyone, works for us.  You could assemble your own hacked food plan that was similar, but I believe you’d pay more, since you’d spend a good amount of time looking for, for example, snack food that is protein and fiber supplemented to give you more fullness.

Give it a try if it sounds like it would help.   If you want an extra $30 off the first order, email us at the address on the top right.  Disclaimer, I get $30 off if you take the $30 off.  That has nothing to do with the good review I’m giving the product here.


Nutrisystem hands-on review: the Support

Rave reviews here.  They have a fully staffed dietary services department and they like to be called.  They’ll spend quality phone time with you, working out the details of the plan with you and looking over what you’re doing. It’s a huge strength.

They don’t have a local meeting strategy like JC or WW so this is the totality of their service.  It’s very conducive to doing-it-yourself and is quite helpful overall.

Nutrisystem hands-on review: the Exercise

This part of the review almost writes itself.

There isn’t any.

No required exercise, other than a guideline to have some non sedentary activity as possible for 30 minutes total during your day.  They count walking to and from your car, so it’s pretty broad indeed.  Great for people who are immobile.  Not so great for people who can move, and many people choose to totally ignore that and exercise to feel good anyway.

Nutrisystem hands-on review: The food

This week  we’ll be rolling out the results of our Nutrisystem evaluation, a piece at a time for several days.

I was not solicited, rewarded, paid or compensated by Nutrisystem in any manner for these opinions.

First, the food.  You can either go shelf stable, or shelf stable plus frozen, with various degrees of how much choice you want as far as how much frozen. The frozen comes in a styrofoam box with dry ice and is frozen as hard as a concrete block so it won’t melt.

The shelf stable is good eating.  The frozen is even better.  You will miss some things along the path to getting a low calorie version of a food, but you will have plenty to eat — 150 different foods.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack, two snacks for men.

You need to add the specified carb items and protein items each day, and four servings of vegetables, all from pretty broad approved-food lists.

Altogether you’re at about 1200 calories a day for women, 1400 for men, but you don’t have to count calories if you eat what’s on the approved list.

A plug .. per my physician’s request

I know I was proud of the day I started; I thought this was the greatest day of my life because, by God, I was going to do something about my fat behind.

— Terry Bradshaw, speaking about NutriSystem


My personal physician called this morning, to remind me that my LDL cholesterol is very directly tied to my weight, so I can either do Lipitor or not gain any weight, whichever I want.  He’d been tweaked by something or another here and just wanted to remind me to keep my a$$ moving.

Well said.

Anyway … he wants me to plug two things.

NutriSystem.  My personal feeling is that it’s good to use to establish a reality of opinion on how much food you need, and if you continue to sway, there’s no better stop to that than to be limited to a  particular food course which you know you won’t be in danger for.

Insanity DVD’s.  This is far and away the best exercise program for home use, and it will kick you to the curb over and over again.  You may need to go through it once at whatever level you can muster, and then do it again for reals.  It is hard.  It is super long. You will have times you don’t know if you can get out of bed, let alone go to work.  It is da bomb.


Attention NutriSystem Participants … save some bucks

Here’s what’s probably the least expensive path thru NutriSystem

The 5-day package is $44.50 (ish) at Walmart.  Use the coupon above to cut $5 off of that each time.  That’s $39.50 for 5 days.  About $10 less than online and you don’t have the worry of having to suspend the auto-replenishment online or remembering when you need more.

The disadvantage is, you’ll be eating the same things each week, and some of them are yuck.  But any you slice it, you’ll be eating the same things eventually on NS and some of them are yuck.  The better ones are very similar to military MREs, just smaller portions.  Not something you’d want to be using indefinitely but good enough.

How to choose a diet

Diet and Nutrition

Tons of google searches coming in yesterday and today on choosing the best diet.  This is the beginning of “I’m Fat” Month.  The gyms are packed, the diet sites on the internet are hopping, and sites like ours here are experiencing a lot of search activity related to how to choose one specific diet over another.  If you’ve googled “NutriSystem vs Medifast” or “Weight Watchers vs Jenny Craig” and found yourself clicking one of the top results to arrive right here, welcome.  I happen to be somewhat of an expert in every available diet because I tried, and utterly sucked at, most of them.  I don’t have anything to sell you, I don’t have an ax to grind, and I’m not crazy.  Hopefully you’ll find something here that helps.  If you do, come back, there’s something new here almost every day.

There are SO many diets to choose from.  Which one?  Low carb, low protein, high protein, balanced protein and carb …. low fat, high fat, no fat …  liquid or solid … liquid AND solid …  good grief it’s complicated.

Then once you make that content decision, on to the format decision.   Make it yourself, or have it delivered to your house, or picked up at a weight loss center … regular food or powdered meal replacements.  Wow.

How many calories?  How long will it take?

Listen, these are all procedural questions.  They are not the question at all, really.  Process will not get you permanent weight loss.  At all. Ever.  Diets have absolutely nothing to do with permanently losing weight. Heart change is where lifetime self controlled eating begins.  You’re fat not because of what specifically you ate — you’re fat because you ate too much for a long time and didn’t do anything permanently helpful about the obvious results.  Join the club. Me too.  Until my heart changed.

And for that, you need some time, more than the next five minutes for sure.  Start with the beginning.  Not the diet but the life change.  Why do you want to change your life, for the rest of your life?

Why, exactly, do you want to lose weight?

Who can you line up to be your support network, trusted friends and confidants?

How serious are you about committing time to this project, realizing that it will take about a  year per 100 pounds you need to lose?  First off, do you physically have a year per 100 pounds?  If you’re 300 pounds overweight and your doctor is saying you’re a ticking time bomb, get with your doctor right away and have them set up the fastest safe way for you to lose weight, and then never look back.

Now … assuming you have time to lose weight at a regular-food pace, what kind of eating program fits the time, abilities, and finances you have?  If you can’t boil water, and have no place to boil water anyway, your choice will be very different than if you’re a food magazine contributor.  If you’re not wealthy, don’t salivate over the $200 per week delivered meal programs.

Then …  totally forget all the commercials, all the stuff your friends have done, all the things your favorite TV personality endorses.  Concentrate on YOU.

If you don’t like food simulations, stay away from NutriSystem.  Sorry.  It does not taste like the commercials look.  At all.  Some of it is a good bit worse than military MRE‘s.  And, listen, that’s saying something.  The best ones are about like you’d imagine a shelf-stable meal tastes like.   If this won’t bother you, I’d put this in my top 2-3 choices.  Costco has the best discounted price on NutriSystem subscriptions.  You can get this stuff shipped to you frozen if you’ve got deep pockets.

If you don’t like going out to a particular place to pick up your food, and don’t like expensive small quantities of food, Jenny Craig is going to be tough.

If you’re not into counting calories, either Weight Watchers or one of the palm-size and fist-size portion plans like Body For Life is going to be more your thing than an X calories per day charted plan.

If you don’t like going to meetings with other fat people, or if you’re a guy and don’t like mostly-women discussions, Weight Watchers meetings are going to be tough.  Otherwise, that’s in my top 3 also.  Weight Watchers at Home is a fine thing, if you have some built in way of insuring you don’t cheat.  Having to go weigh in, in front of a scowling lady you don’t even know, is an excellent thing.  Listen, you obviously cheated or you wouldn’t be fat to begin with.  If you’re going to start an at-home self-monitored program, you are going to have to grow a pair, spiritually and emotionally speaking, or you’ll just cheat your way through this too.  If in doubt, go to the meetings.  If the results aren’t an average of 2 pounds a week of weight loss, go to the meetings.

If you are not able to exercise strenuously, or you’ve realistically not already been exercising hard and don’t think you’ll make the required physical metamorphosis, an exercise-based program like Body for Life, or the P90X / Insanity diet,  is not going to be for you, at least right now.

If you don’t like being told what to eat or not eat  … hey … wait to lose weight until you get over the idea that your own plan of eating is something good.  Obviously if you’re fat, your way isn’t working anyway.

Stay away from plans that eliminate carbs entirely, even for a few days or weeks.  You’ll feel like crap.  Besides, God puts almost all our essential nutrients into plants.  You need those.

Vegetarianism or vegan-ism is not a weight loss plan. There are lots of fat non-carnivores.

Not eating is not a weight loss plan.  Laxatives are not a weight loss plan.  Paying penance through extreme exercise is not a weight loss plan. Juicing is not a weight loss plan.  Cleansing is not a permanent weight loss plan.  If there was something toxic inside of you that needs to come out, you’d be wanting to roll around on the floor in pain.

So much for things that don’t work.  In the little space above you have my entire life self-confession.  I did every single thing above and overall got bigger every year.   Way less than a half pound per month increase for 25 years.  Slowly but steadily digging my grave with a knife and fork.   Don’t do that.   You are worth far more than that.  Avoid some of my mistakes, please.

OK so … what DOES work?

In summary here’s my top three recommendations.  Choose only one and stay with it for a minimum of 12 weeks before you change, except on doctors’ orders.  If you’ve lost 25 pounds in those 12 weeks, do not change unless you feel unhealthy.

#1 choice:  Caloric intake control.  If you’re choosing how many calories to eat, the most understandable way I know is to find the number of calories a day it takes to sustain the weight you WANT to be, and eat that many, and go to the doctor at the beginning to verify it’s not unrealistic for you, then go back as often as they’ll see you to get checked up on.  Every one day significantly above that number of calories will add about 3 days to the time it takes to lose the weight.  And don’t count your exercise calories as extra calories you can eat; if you exercised enough to keep fat off, you wouldn’t be fat to begin with.

#2 choice:  Weight Watchers.  Meetings if you can, otherwise the at home program with absolutely no variation or cheating.  Avoid the frozen Weight Watchers food whenever possible.  Theoretically they won’t be pushing it at the meetings, and realistically it’s not going to be as satisfying as making something for yourself.

#3 choice:  NutriSystem if you aren’t going to cook for yourself, and you can tolerate simulated food products,  and you will eat the vegetable servings it specifies in addition to your boxed food.  Otherwise,  consider one of the two-shakes-and-a-meal programs.  Both of these #3 choices are inferior to the others because you have no plans on eating this particular boxed %&@%#^ forever.   So you’re setting up an intentionally artificial temporary diet and are going to have to choose #1 or some kind of #2 later to keep the weight off.

Here’s a little mantra.  This is going to take time, so do today what you can and will do again tomorrow.  Then put enough days together eating just the amount it takes to sustain a lower weight, and you will become that weight in due time, a couple pounds per week on average.  More pounds some weeks, less others.  But the same good results every week — permanent lifestyle change.