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Deb Leone's Story

February 1, 2019

Deb was in love with sugar. She decided to cleanse her body of sugar with the help of the Weight + Wellness Center at Tufts Medical Center. Read her story.

Deb before her journey at the Weight and Wellness Center

My name is Deb Leone and I am 54 years old. I can say my weight loss journey began in December 2018, but if I’m being honest I have been on a roller coaster food journey for most of my life. As for so many people, food played an important role in my family’s holidays, celebrations, any happy times. The seed was planted for food to become a comfort crutch. And for me, it was mostly sugar and by extension carbohydrates-the beginning of a serious addiction.

Living, going to school and working between Brooklyn and New York City kept my weight down as I walked everywhere. Of course, youth played a role, and even though I was making terrible nutritional choices (i.e. diet Pepsi and Snickers bars) I also wasn’t eating a lot. I did start to gain some weight in my late 30’s and 40’s. I used Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem at different times to lose between 10-15 lbs. So, things were seemingly okay, at least in my mind.

Injury + sickness

Fast forward to 2018. I suffered a concussion, followed by post-concussion syndrome which literally landed me in a darkened room for nearly three months with an additional two months of further recovery spent mostly alone at home. I packed on quite a few pounds during that sedentary and lonely time. I told myself I deserved all the treats to help me feel better. The trouble was, even after I recovered I kept eating all the sugary treats because I was so addicted and literally could not stop.

Then a second blow. Despite being inoculated I caught whooping cough. Another three months of sedentary hibernation with continued comfort eating. But the mysterious cough that would not go away brought me to Tufts Medical Center. When I weighed in at nearly 192lbs at that doctor's appointment I was crushed. I was obese. I couldn’t believe it, but I knew I had to do something.

Sugar detox

Deb after diet changes

My doctor referred me to the Weight and Wellness Center. I knew I didn’t want surgery so even before my first appointment I embarked on a round of Whole 30 because I knew I had to cleanse my body of all the sugar and other junk I had been feeding it. So, out went all the sugar, flour, anything with preservatives. The sugar withdrawal was brutal. For me, I even had to give up fruit for a bit because the natural sugar sparked strong cravings. At first, I didn’t even exercise too much to tackle at once. Together with Kelsey Kalenderian and Laura Paradis at the WWC Center, I continued to make changes to what and how much I was eating and it was working! For the first time, I was eating in a healthy way with realistic goals. After all, I want to lead a pleasurable life and for me that includes a food indulgence from time to time.

So while I’m eating smaller amounts of food than I was prior to December 2018 I am not eating the Snicker bars and diet Pepsi of my youth. This time I’m doing it the healthy way. I use a food journaling app to track calories. I did bring back the walking I took for granted in NYC. Now, instead of driving I walk everywhere I can. I use the Pacer app to track my mileage. Most recently I’ve added some weighted arm exercises. Without realizing it at first, taking the time to make each step a solid habit before adding the next was/is the key to my success. I’m so much more aware of all my food and exercise choices every day. And I think that will be the key to success.

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