Welcome, Guest
Success Stories
Way to go, Father Joe!
Ohio priest loses 30 lbs.*
No one would have blamed me for gaining weight.

In fact, it was just the opposite: most people who knew me probably felt sorry for me. I had, after all, gained weight after beginning full-time use of a wheelchair. My Multiple Sclerosis (MS), diagnosed in 1991, had progressed to such an extent that, by 2006, I was no longer able to walk. My physical exercise days (which were always important to me, even when I required more and more assistance), and not just my walking days, were over.

“Poor Fr. Joe,” I could almost hear family, friends, and fellow nursing home residents say. “He’s gaining weight, but there’s really nothing he can do about it.” Sad but true: I guess I would have agreed. My “thin” days from young adulthood seemed to be over, and I thought I was just going to have to live with a heavier version of myself. Throughout my life, I rarely ate big meals and rarely ate between meals, and so I didn’t feel the need to dramatically change my eating habits. And my weight slowly increased; again, it felt as though there was nothing I could do about it.

Rolling with the punches

Strange, because after 22 years of living with MS, I have dealt with lots of living adjustments: the end of active parish ministry as a Catholic priest; the inability to drive my van anymore, even with the hand-controls that I had used for eight years; and residing in a Catholic nursing home, where my physical needs could be addressed, and where I could at least serve as chaplain by celebrating services and visiting with other residents. Throughout my life with MS, I have proven myself to be pretty resilient: when I got knocked down, I didn’t stay down. I figured out a way to get back up—at least partially. I may not have been healthy physically, but in every other way (emotionally, psychologically and spiritually), I was generally fine. But I was slowly gaining weight. I had taken control of so many areas of my life; regarding my weight, however, I felt like a “victim” for some reason.

On December 31, 2012, I saw a Nutrisystem television advertisement. I’m sure I had seen the ad before, but on that day I heard, “You will lose weight,” with “new” ears. Maybe it was because even my “XL” sweatpants were starting to feel tight; maybe it was because I was feeling the need to (once again) buy clergy shirts with a bigger neck size; maybe it was because my seat was beginning to spill over my wheelchair’s seat; maybe it was because an acquaintance had recently told me that I looked like I had gained weight; maybe it was because a new year approached. Whatever the reason, something “clicked,” and I soon afterwards placed my first order of Nutrisystem.
I soon found that the meals and the desserts are delicious! I would go to bed feeling full, and I would wake up in the morning looking forward to the day’s meals. And Nutrisystem worked for me: I lost 30 pounds* and I feel motivated to keep it off by eating more healthfully, and monitoring portion size. So even though I enjoy food, I keep reminding myself that I love being (relatively) fit more.

Showing what can be done

It feels amazing—not just because of my physical transformation, but also because of my mental transformation. Physically, I feel much better. However, one of the things I enjoy most about my weight loss is being told how great I look. Yes, I'm a Catholic priest, and in most areas of my life am pretty humble; still, I guess I have some vanity! But part of the reason why I enjoy those comments is that they're often based on my looking different than people might expect. Because I have MS and use a wheelchair, people who don't know me will sometimes expect that I'll be fat, depressed, and slumped over. But that’s not me at all!

Mentally and emotionally, I no longer feel like a “victim” regarding my weight. Now that I have experienced positive results, I feel better equipped to approach weight management in the same way that I have approached the other areas of my life affected by MS—feeling empowered, and feeling in control.

I certainly can’t jump out of an airplane or run a marathon because of my weight loss on Nutrisystem, but that’s all right. What’s more important to me, anyway, is what I can do!

—Father Joe

Expect to lose 1-2 lbs. per week. Weight lost on a prior Nutrisystem® program.