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She Believed She Could, So She Did

“It really is about making myself healthy now so that way when I am older I don’t have as many health problems,” she says. “It’s about thinking long term and taking care of my body now.”

As Leigh Demby embarked on yet another attempt to lose weight, she began searching the web for inspiration. She found it in a quote that is variously attributed but always on point. Someone on Pinterest had posted the words, “She believed that she could so she did.” Something clicked. Leigh thought, “Why can’t I be as successful with my efforts to lose weight as I am in my career? ” She had all the reason in the world to do so—she had injured her knee and was told that she was too young for a knee replacement. Her doctor said that the only way to address her pain was to lose weight. But she had tried that before. Weight Watchers. Jenny Craig. She even had gastric bypass surgery.

Even before she injured her knee, she wasn’t living the life she wanted. “Let’s be honest,” she told us. “I had a breakup and I just found myself spiraling and that’s how I actually ended gaining the weight.” “I was not active,” she confesses. “I worked all the time. I drank a lot of wine. I was just miserable.”

She’s since lost 76 pounds (and counting) and the support of her family, co-workers, and even the baristas at her local Starbucks is all just more motivation. “Especially at the point that I am now, people will say something and it’s just more reinforcement, like… wow… I have done something great. "I am achieving something I have wanted to do my entire life.”

A year ago, Leigh could barely walk. She was on crutches, with pain in both knees, and her doctor told her she was out of options. She would have to lose weight. A group of researchers at Wake Forest University has shown that intensive dieting and an hour of exercise three times a week can significantly reduce the debilitating knee pain caused by osteoarthritis—indeed, weight loss has been proven far more effective than pain meds, which cause 30% reduction of symptoms in only half of all patients. Leigh’s orthopedist, Dr. Mason, lost 30 pounds himself on OurSkinny and encouraged her to give it a try.

“I really wasn’t sure because I had tried so many programs,” Leigh recalls. “I went home and studied the book every day to get my mind wrapped around what I was going to be doing. It was a little intimidating, but once I started, I was like, this really is easy.” It worked… Having lost 75 pounds, Leigh won’t have to have knee surgery. “I don’t have any knee issues at all, and I am really excited to go see Dr. Mason in October to show him what he inspired.”

For Leigh, this time was going to be different, in part because it had to be. “I was fairly healthy otherwise,” she says. “I didn’t have any medication problems or high blood pressure or diabetes or anything like that. It was strictly the fact that I couldn’t walk.” Once she had done her research and thought about the power of belief—in herself most of all—she began to see the success she’d always wanted.

“It was a little intimidating because when you read the booklet, you’re like, ‘This is really not a lot of food.’ I thought to myself, this is going to be really hard, but then after the first day I realized that I wasn’t hungry!” “It was a mind thing.”

Coffee, of course, was a different matter: “I did not want to give up my Starbucks coffee.” “Every day I would get a vanilla latte,” she recalls. “I got that everyday whether it was iced coffee or hot coffee, and when Courtney suggested using the Vanilla Pro for my creamer, I realized I didn’t have to give up my one vice.” “I get black coffee with room for cream… and the girls at the counter finally got up the nerve… ‘Now, what are you doing? You’ve lost so much weight!’ I don’t just put the powder in there—I mix it with water just like it says—pour half of it in the coffee and drink the other half.”

Leigh is a planner—a compulsive researcher—and she made sure to put those skills to use in order to make the OurSkinny program work for her. “I like to plan my meals out for the week. I do meal prep every Sunday and I am always researching. I used the OurSkinny website for inspiration and Pinterest as well. For me, making a change was about being creative and doing something different. That’s how it can become an everyday thing.”

“I didn’t like cauliflower before, but it is so versatile and you can do so many different things with it now it’s one of my favorite vegetables. I had never had spaghetti squash before I was on this program.” “I ate a tremendous amount of rice before. We had rice almost every night for dinner. A lot of Americans do—rice and potatoes—but I had to find something for my household that we could substitute. Now, we do cauliflower fried rice and cauliflower mashed potatoes and spaghetti squash noodles.”

“I had a friend who told me that she doesn’t like vegetables, and I thought to myself, you’re just not cooking them right. Of course, if I had to have a steamed green beans for dinner every night, I would not have had the same success.”

For Leigh, the change is real and permanent, and not just because she’s worn out a pair of running shoes since that time her doctor told her she was too young for a knee replacement. “It really is about making myself healthy now so that way when I am older I don’t have as many health problems,” she says. “It’s about thinking long term and taking care of my body now.”

“I had tried all these different ways to lose weight, but I had never been in that place, had the right mindset, to make a commitment to a different lifestyle.” “I don’t have that mindset ‘I am scared to gain the weight back’ or that this is just temporary. No. It really is for the rest of my life and I have never felt that way before. I want to eat healthy every single day. I want to be 70 years old and doing Crossfit. I want to be able to go do a marathon. “I just never made that commitment but I have now and I will never go back.”

OurSkinny success story before photo

Leigh Before

From the Blog: Leigh's Top 5 Tips



Leigh worked with OurSkinny’s coaching staff at every step of the way, and that made a huge difference, as did enlisting the support of family and friends. “I didn’t have the support when I was doing Weight Watchers online. I didn’t have anyone to talk to and was feeling very isolated. Where I work now, we are all supporting each other and it has definitely been the support this time around that has helped.”



“Stick to a schedule,” she says. “Make sure that you are eating every two to three hours. Make sure you drink your water—if you think you are hungry, drink a bottle of water because there's a good chance you just think you are hungry. I have a reminder set up on my phone… because at work I get super busy… but I get that reminder and I say, ‘Okay, let me go drink my shake!’ so that I am steadily on the program.”



“Stick to the program, but try to get creative. I love all the crispy bars, and I always get the variety packs so that way I can have something different every day. Do some research and vary your meals, choose a different snack, pick a different fruit. Don’t eat the same thing every day because that can get boring, and the program is flexible enough that with a little effort you can make it your own.”



“I know it’s not officially part of the program, but you do have to incorporate exercise and find ways to make that interesting, whether you go walk your dog or do a vigorous house cleaning. My most recent reward was just buying a new pair of running shoes, but my next goal is to start working out with an actual trainer. It’s about thinking long term and taking care of my body now.”



“It is a lifestyle and you’ve got to make that commitment—not just for 30 pounds, 80 pounds. or 100 pounds that you want to lose—this is a life-long journey and this program allows you to develop that over time. Once you start seeing the results, you begin to realize that it’s an easy transition. I just never made that commitment, but I have now and I will never go back.”

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