It comes as no surprise that my dad’s lone reference in People magazine (back on February 11, 2002) is on caloric intake. The issue’s enticing cover reads ““HALF THEIR SIZE: Real-Life Diet Success Stories … Yes, it can be done! How ordinary people shed hundreds of pounds and kept them off.”

“Each year Americans spend more than $33 billion on weight-loss products and services … And yet the nation has never been fatter: … 61 percent of American adults are either overweight or obese,” the article reports. That was 2002. In 2018? We have a $66 billion weight-loss industry and 2 of 3 adults are either overweight or obese.

The article (which you can still read HERE).covers seven people from across the US who dropped around 150 lbs. and successfully kept it off. My dad’s patient, Judy Wood, was one of those people.  Here’s an excerpt:

For 30 years Charles Pruitt has practiced medicine in Magee, Miss., often suggesting diets to folks whose weight had spun out of control. Few followed his advice like Judy Wood. “Something in Judy made her want to stick with it,” he says. … Working with Pruitt, Wood kept records of the caloric count of everything she ate and how much exercise she needed to do to metabolize what she consumed. … Hoping Wood’s success will rub off on others, Pruitt refers patients to her for counseling. They don’t always want to hear what she has to share. “Too many people are looking for a quick fix,” she says. “That doesn’t work with obesity.”

With that lone reference in People magazine, but more importantly, with now over 45 years under his belt as a rural family physician, I figured if anybody can answer how to get over the “weight loss plateau,” it’s my dad.

“Basically,” he wrote back, “you have to reduce your caloric intake a little more.  But what I say to my patients to get their attention is ‘We have to shock your metabolic system to get it moving again.’  The way they shock it is to drastically reduce calorie intake for two to three days. And I ask them to eat lots of raw cucumbers, lettuce, celery and bell peppers.”

By “drastically,” he means take another 200-300 calories out during those days.  And by “cucumbers, lettuce, celery, and bell peppers,” he means anything in the fresh produce aisle.

“Those who are committed to continued weight loss will start losing again,” Dr. Pruitt says.

When patients complain that they don’t have time to exercise or their knees and hips hurt too much to exercise, he reminds them “of the patient who couldn’t get out of her chair. She lost the first 80 of 180 pounds without getting out of her chair by lowering her caloric intake!”  (Those two words again!)

Quick fixes don’t work. The only way to lose weight – and get past the plateaus – is by committing to regular exercise and a low-calorie diet.  Once you commit, “Please Stay on the Path.”

(As for making time for regular exercise, read here for how my dad does it:  “That’s Dr. Pruitt. He WALKS EVERYWHERE.”)


Jenny Pruitt Cleveland is a Content Creator in Nashville, Tenn. She swims, bikes, and runs a lot. In former lives she’s been a middle school teacher, magazine reporter and editor, cycling tour guide, and underwater photographer.