“If your blood pressure goes any higher, you’ll need IV medication to bring it down,” the doctor explained to Jeannette Asbury, 51, as a flurry of nurses hooked the Missoula, Montana, mom to monitors. “In the meantime, let’s do a full cardiac workup to see what’s going on with your heart.”
“My heart?,” Jeannette panicked. She’d been sent to the ER because her blood pressure pills weren’t working and her head was throbbing. At 300 pounds and a smoker, she knew she was out of shape. But were things so far gone that her heart was giving out? She glanced at her husband, Rob, and saw fear in his eyes. Her own eyes welled with tears. All she could do was think of their kids and silently vow: If I make it through this, I’ll do whatever it takes to get healthy.
After Jeannette was discharged, she knew where to start. She’d go cold turkey on cigarettes. And while she was at it, she’d give up alcohol; after all, it was just empty calories and often led her to binge on greasy food.
Taking it one day at a time, four months passed. It was the longest she’d followed through on healthy changes since her daughter Chelsea had been born 24 years before. And yet, Jeannette barely lost an ounce. So she asked her fitness-instructor sister, Amy, for advice.
“A nutritionist I know came up with the perfect diet for you,” Amy said. “You just eat one serving of protein, one serving of fat, and one serving of carbs at each meal. That’s it. You don’t have to give up anything. If you want pizza, the cheese is your protein, the pepperoni is your fat and the crust is your carb. Oh, and veggies are unlimited.”
Jeannette gave Amy a skeptical look. Wasn’t that too easy to work? “It keeps your portions down. Instead of pasta, bread and wine, you’re only choosing one of those things — so you’re cutting a lot of carbs and calories, but you’re still allowed your favorite foods,” Amy insisted. “And every meal is balanced, so you get the mix of nutrients that makes weight loss easier. I’m using it myself!” Jeannette figured, Why not?
Jeannette ordered The One One One Diet ($23.39, Amazon) by Rania Batayneh, MPH, and found it was even simpler than Amy had said. A food like french fries — which gets its calories from both fat and carbs — could count as either nutrient. So I can have a burger as my protein, a bun as my carb, and fries as my fat, Jeannette realized. There was a daily snack, just like a meal but with half-size meat and grain portions. And figuring out portions was simple; Jeannette could use servings listed on packages or the internet. She started to piece together meals like a puzzle.
She could have a bowl of cereal as her carb, milk as protein, and nuts as fat. Mashed potatoes with gravy were a carb and fat — just add chicken breast and steamed veggies for a perfect meal. “If I want a brownie, I can have a brownie,” she explained to Rob. “That’s my carb, and I balance it out with a grilled chicken salad.”
Jeannette quickly got into a groove and found she was completely content eating a lot less. Just seven days on the plan, and her pants were easier to button. In mere weeks, people were complimenting her on her weight loss — and she had enough energy to start walking during her lunch break. Several months later, her body had changed so much that her uncle didn’t recognize her!
Did Jeannette ever slip up? Sure. She helped herself to a second slice of chocolate cake on her birthday. “I wasn’t worried. I knew I was going back to my balanced plan the next day,” she recalls. And that’s exactly what she did. “Once you start to feel so much better, it’s addictive,” says Jeannette, who began to prefer more natural, unprocessed foods like whole-grain bread and Greek yogurt.
The payoff was huge. At a routine checkup, Jeannette couldn’t believe her ears. “You’re down 120 pounds, no longer pre-diabetic, your cholesterol looks good — and we’re going to take you off your blood pressure meds,” the doctor said.
Jeannette still gets a lump in her throat remembering the moment. “After so many promises to myself, so many failed diets — I finally did it,” she says. “I love my life now. I feel like a kid again. I’m a better mom, a better wife. I actually jumped up in the air the other day, just because I can! Anyone out there who’s struggling like I was, I want you to know that you don’t have to feel miserable to get yourself to a better place. I felt great the whole time — and I ended up losing 152 pounds!”
The One One One Diet Sample Menu
Breakfast:1 bagel (carb), with cream cheese (fat), lox/lunchmeat (protein) and veggies to taste.
Lunch: Slice of pepperoni pizza—the crust counts as a carb, the pepperoni as fat and the cheese as protein. Enjoy with a side salad.
Snack: 1 mini blueberry muffin (which counts as a snack-size serving of carbs), a serving of almonds (fat) and a glass of milk (protein).
Dinner: 1 serving of any protein and unlimited veggies grilled with 1 serving of olive oil. Dessert: 1 serving of any carbs like cookies or ice cream.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.