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Producing positive results

When it comes to food, you’ll never know if you like it until you try it.

For Theresa and Gerald McLaughlin, that axiom has led them on a weight loss adventure that, with the help and guidance of Parkview Medical Center’s mobile nurses, allowed them to shed dozens of pounds in less than a year.

“I’m willing to try anything once,” Theresa said. “But their vibe and personalities, telling us about serving sizes, saying ‘hey here’s some fruit’ or ‘here’s all the stuff you guys could be eating’ and I thought ‘wow, we’re really not eating very good food but we’re really paying high prices for it.”

Theresa and Gerald

It was one of many epiphanies the couple experienced after first encountering the nurses at the Pueblo Mall and a display of the amount of sugar in a single can of soda.

The long string of 26 sugar packets attached to the can was a shock to the couple, who at the time went for soft drinks more often than they did for water.

“We’d buy it by the 12-pack and when it was on sale we’d buy four 12-packs,” Gerald said. “Now, when we go to our fridge we grab our bottled water or our carbonated water.”

After learning about the sugar in soft drinks, the McLaughlins gravitated toward the nurses’ grocery store tours; hour-long sessions held at Albertson’s, where the nurses help people learn how to find healthier food options.

The McLaughlins said they learned how to read labels, how to stick the outside aisles of the store to find fresh produce and how to reduce the focus of their diet away from processed foods and meat to fright fresh fruits and vegetables.

The tours also taught them how to save money shopping. Theresa said their weekly grocery bill dropped from an average of $100 to $50.

Theresa with Mobile NursesThe weight loss results were just as dramatic. Theresa lost 57 pounds in less than a year and dropped 10 dress sizes. Gerald shed 36 pounds during the same time frame.

“Every time we went, they had something new to teach you,” Theresa said.

And with new knowledge came new tastes.

Traditional, predictable fruits gave way to pomegranates and kiwis. Root vegetables started making more appearances on their plates.

Gerald said that soon into the program they started to incorporate exercise, something as simple as walking. They started with a goal of 10,000 steps in a day and went up from there.

The payoff came for the couple that summer, during a 16-day trip to Disneyworld in Orlando, Fla.

The plane didn’t feel so claustrophobic and the rides didn’t either.

“We were able to do 12 miles a day. We could ride the rides and not worry about weight restrictions or not being able to fit into the restraints,” Theresa said.

The irony was that the trip was a food and wine festival. Theresa said they planned to treat themselves but practice portion control as well. But by the third day, they found themselves seeking out the healthier options, eschewing barbecue for salad one day.

By the end of the vacation, they actually came back 1 ½ pounds lighter.

“As you go on, you start seeing a little less on this side or a little less here,” Gerald said. “You look at yourself in the mirror and start to say ‘Oh that’s looking better.’”

Since starting the tours, the couple has continued to follow the Mobile Nurses’ outreach programs, attending events such as Converse with a Nurse and cooking demonstrations at the Library.

Theresa, who was prediabetic before starting her life change, is no longer so.

“We’re now eating to live instead of living to eat,” she said.

“They validate what you do and that your health is directly related to your nutrition,” Theresa added. “I went from a size 26 to a size 16 and I didn’t use my health insurance to do it. I used the outreach of Parkview and the Mobile Nurses to get my life back.”

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400 West 16th Street, Pueblo, CO 81003