"Three hundred forty-five,” said the nurse. Stacey Morris stepped off the scale, her cheeks instantly on fire, her mind racing. How did I get so much bigger? How, how, how? The doctor came into the exam room. He listened to her heart, talked about blood sugar, and asked how she felt. “My knees are worse than ever,” admitted Stacey, still reeling. “And I have no energy at all.” He nodded solemnly. “Try to work on the weight,” he said. She looked away. After decades of diets, she’d sworn them off forever. She couldn’t bear more pain or disappointment. "Yet…at this rate, I’ll be over 400 pounds in a year," she realized. Stacey imagined the life that lay ahead. Should she try one more time to get healthier?
A Sign of Hope
Back home, Stacey settled in her easy chair with a bag of chips and clam dip. As she snacked, her mind quieted, her muscles relaxed. She was blissful when suddenly, Carnie Wilson appeared on her TV screen. Stacey froze, a chip halfway to her mouth. Wilson’s extreme obesity and weight struggles even after gastric bypass were a big reason Stacey resisted the surgery herself. Now Wilson was in her living room, and she looked amazing. “I weigh 168 today,” the singer said. “I’m in a beautiful place.” Wilson said she had gotten help from a fitness guru famous for transforming folks in extremely bad shape. Since then, Wilson shared, slimming had become “practically effortless.”
Stacey shook her head in disbelief. To hear Wilson say that on this day of all days…it has to be a sign, she thought. She felt tears come to her eyes. When Wilson mentioned the name of the man who helped her, Stacey looked him up on her computer. As she read about Diamond Dallas Page, she was impressed by “DDP” and his down-to-earth diet and exercise advice. His main message: Take my guidelines and make them your own. I like that, because being too strict backfires for me, Stacey thought. She ordered his yoga videos with modifications for people with limited mobility. And she decided to start by giving up what she knew were her binge foods: chips, dips, fries, white bread, shakes, and soda. That will be my only rule for now, she thought.
DDP Yoga: A Good Start
A journalist often on the road, Stacey hit a taco place for lunch the next day and ordered rice and beans. No bun, no fries — good choice! Dinner was an omelet. Once she was full but not stuffed, she pushed the plate away. Progress.
After she wrote about her experiences on DDP’s website, a 64-pounds-slimmer nurse named Terri reached out to her. Now Stacey had a mentor willing to look at her food logs. In an email, Terri suggested once more that Wilson try eating more veggies, explaining that they’re full of slimming nutrients. Over time, Stacey noticed that veggies, fruit, nuts, beans, and potatoes satisfied her the most. "I’ll trust my body," she thought, eating more and more fiber-rich plant foods and less of other options. Stepping on the scale, “I lost 20 pounds in a month!” Stacey gasped. Never had weight loss been so effortless.
Overcoming Emotional Eating
Newly motivated, Stacey tried her first yoga workout. Using a chair to make the moves easier, she could still feel her face turn beet red. But she was frequently reminded to rest if she needed to. So she did, and she made it through 25 minutes!
She was managing five workouts a week when Terri arranged a surprise: DDP called her himself! He offered encouragement and a tip: “I suggest you give up dairy,” he urged. “It makes a huge difference for many people.” "I’ll try it for a month," she decided. She replaced dairy with more plant foods like tofu and almond milk. To her amazement, her energy soared and the weight came off faster. In nine months, she shed 100 pounds.
Down nearly 200 pounds in 18 months, she’s convinced her approach was better than gastric bypass. “The surgery is life-changing for some, but I wanted an option with no side effects or risks,” says Stacey, 53, now a weight-loss coach. In the beginning, she had no idea that plant foods were working magic inside her. “I just found the more plants I ate, the better I felt. It was nature’s way of telling me I was giving my body exactly what it needs to be happy and healthy.” Maintaining the weight loss for over eight years, she adds, “I got where I am today without ever being harsh or strict!”
Eat lots of plant foods like Stacey, and you’ll load up on prebiotic fiber, notes Microbiome Diet author Raphael Kellman, MD. Turns out, prebiotics feed special bacteria living in your gut — bacteria proven to reduce calorie absorption, turn off cravings, and activate genes linked to effortless weight control. Meanwhile, processed food and excess meat feed bacteria with the opposite effect.
“Groundbreaking evidence suggests that altering gut bacteria may be an effective alternative to gastric bypass,” reveals Dr. Kellman. He cites a Harvard study that found implanting mice with gut bacteria from gastric-bypass recipients led to rapid weight loss without surgery. “This made many realize the surgery may work primarily because it triggers beneficial changes in gut bacteria,” he explains, “I’m already helping my patients lose a great deal of weight by improving their bacteria.”
Results are quick, too. A separate Harvard study found that eating prebiotic-rich meals can help to transform gut bacteria within 30 hours. And women we’ve spoken to report losing a jeans size overnight!
Best Prebiotic Fiber Foods
Plant foods with the most prebiotic fiber include leeks, onions, garlic, greens, bananas, jicama, asparagus, artichokes, oats, apples, kiwi, cocoa, and flaxseed.
The Healthy Gut Bacteria Diet
Stacey loads her meals with prebiotic-rich plant foods and aims to stop eating when full. She also skips sugar, cow’s dairy and gluten (an irritant found in wheat). Visit StaceyMorris.com for more tips and recipes. As always, get a doctor’s okay to try a new plan.
(Enjoy One Daily. Add a stevia-sweetened soy or almond milk latte if desired.)
Option 1: 1 bowl of steel-cut oats with sliced apple and nuts
Option 2: 2 eggs cooked in olive oil with spinach or asparagus
Lunch & Dinner
(Enjoy One at Each Sitting)
Option 1: Wild salmon seasoned with herbs to taste; snap peas sautéed in olive oil
Option 2: Lentil soup, preferably homemade; side salad with olive oil vinaigrette
Option 3: Stacey’s Get-Slim Pizza: Spread a gluten-free pizza crust, such as Mama Mary’s, with jarred pesto, add veggie toppings (onion, mushroom, olives, garlic), sprinkle with a little goat cheese, and bake until heated through.
(Enjoy as Needed to Control Hunger)
Option 1: Nuts or guacamole with sliced veggies
Option 2: Banana-Berry Smoothie: In blender, blitz a handful of frozen strawberries, 1/2 banana, about a cup of almond milk, a scoop of vegan protein powder and cocoa and stevia to taste.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.