“I am an emo­tional eater and I al­ways will be.”

GH’S ge­nie fran­cis on los­ing weight and gain­ing con­fi­dence

Soap Opera Digest - - CONTENTS - by mara levin­sky

Soap Opera Di­gest: When I spoke with you upon your re­turn to GH, you said that you had been a lit­tle down and de­pressed af­ter you left the show last year. When we have mo­ments like that in life, it can af­fect —

Ge­nie Fran­cis: Ev­ery­thing!

Di­gest: Yes, in­clud­ing how we feel about tak­ing care of our­selves — and I was cu­ri­ous to know how that pe­riod of time was for you on that front.

Fran­cis: Yes. I got very, very de­pressed. It lasted for maybe, I don’t know, three months. It helped me a lot to hear how my fans re­sponded on Twit­ter and things like that, and watch­ing that un­fold made me feel a lot bet­ter, ev­ery day. But, you know, I am an emo­tional eater and I al­ways will be, no mat­ter what I do. So, yeah, I did a lit­tle [emo­tional] eat­ing. And then I fought my way down. I still have a lit­tle fur­ther to go be­fore I feel like I am fully back, but luck­ily for me, I do have the Nutrisys­tem fam­ily, that net, to fall back into, which is so good. And I like the pro­gram. It’s re­ally good, it’s tasty food, and it’s just easy.

Di­gest: When you fall off the wagon, so to speak, with healthy eat­ing, do you start eat­ing food that isn’t good for you, or are you more of an overeater?

Fran­cis: Oh, eas­ily, I’m not a vol­ume eater, I’m a su­gar eater. The sweets just some­how com­fort me and make me feel like I’m go­ing to be okay. Of course, that only works in the mo­ment, and then later on or the next day, I feel like I want to die. So, it’s a nasty, nasty, vi­cious cy­cle to be in. And I get that the re­la­tion­ship with food can be painful. It has been for me, un­for­tu­nately, for most of my life. One of the things that is a fix for me if I’ve done badly the night be­fore is to get on the treadmill. That changes my at­ti­tude, as well as burn­ing off a lit­tle bit of my bad eat­ing from the night be­fore. I also have a time of day when I eat badly. I’m good all day — I’m re­ally, re­ally good. The witch­ing hour for me can be any­where from 4 to about 8. I don’t re­ally know why that is! But it def­i­nitely feels that way for me. So get­ting through that pe­riod of time re­ally is the ticket for me. Di­gest: When you got back on track with your eat­ing, what did you do?

Fran­cis: I went right back to the ba­sics of Nutrisys­tem. I went right back to us­ing their foods, be­cause it takes all of the stress away for me. I like to ex­plain to peo­ple that I’ve had to quit many things in my life, un­for­tu­nately [laughs]. I am a per­son who likes to use things to make me feel bet­ter, and a lot of those other things can be very easy be­cause you just, hope­fully, give them up and they don’t come near your life ever again. When it comes to food, you take your tiger out of the cage three times a day and take it for a walk. That’s hard. So, for me, if I get my Nutrisys­tem, if I get all my meals from them when I want to re­duce [my weight], then the tiger is back in the cage, be­cause I don’t have to fig­ure out what to do — I don’t have to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for what I’m do­ing, es­sen­tially! I let some­body else de­cide. Some­body else is go­ing to fig­ure this out for me, and they’ve got lots of peo­ple over there fig­ur­ing it out! I let them fig­ure it out and do my think­ing for me, and that works for me. I used to do things like the Pa­leo diet and God knows what else. I’ve done ev­ery­thing! And when I first saw the food plan for this diet, for Nutrisys­tem, I looked at it and I said, “This will not work. There is no way that I can do this and lose weight.” And I got very dis­heart­ened be­cause I thought, “Oh, this isn’t go­ing to hap­pen.”

I ac­tu­ally put it off; I put off do­ing it. And then I thought, “Ah, what the hell, I’ll do two weeks.” And I lost two pounds a week, which is re­ally a good, fast loss. And I ate a lot of food — three meals and two snacks a day. So it’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing be­cause once you know that, once you know you can eat well, en­joy your food, not feel hun­gry, ex­cept for your next meal, why would you ever go back to do­ing those star­va­tion things? Okay, when I do Pa­leo, I lose two pounds a week, when I do Nutrisytem I lose two pounds a week. So, why would I do that to my­self again? No rea­son!

Di­gest: What do you think you would be do­ing had you not started Nutrisys­tem?

Fran­cis: What I would have done is done the “Starve, starve, starve — oh, my God, I’m dy­ing.” And then it’s right into the cookie jar. That’s what I would have done! And it’s a bad thing be­cause what they ex­plained to me at Nutrisys­tem is that when you do that starv­ing thing, your me­tab­o­lism ac­tu­ally slows down. So, you’re not burn­ing as ef­fi­ciently as you do when you eat the three meals a day and the two snacks, be­cause your body is al­ways get­ting food; your body can count on that next meal, so your body says, “Okay, I’m go­ing to burn calo­ries!” It’s in­ter­est­ing how that works. I mean, it has been re­ally based on the glycemic in­dex and por­tion con­trol, so th­ese things work. They are tried-and-true ways of deal­ing with weight loss. It’s th­ese new, fad things that mess you up.

Di­gest: Do you stock your kitchen dif­fer­ently now that you’re on Nutrisys­tem?

Fran­cis: I know what my but­tons are — well, su­gar is re­ally the only thing. And so, ini­tially, when I’m start­ing to rein it in again and I want to lose weight, I get that com­pletely out of my house, be­cause I can eat the other foods, re­ally, without be­ing trig­gered. So, that’s been my ap­proach. The nice thing about Nutrisys­tem is that they have a ton of snacks, and they have sa­vory snacks, so I can stick with the sa­vory snacks rather than get­ting the ice cream bars. It’s best for me to know what my but­ton foods are and to stay away from them. Peanut but­ter is an­other one. I love peanut but­ter! But it is a but­ton food, so that’ll go out of the house.

Di­gest: And what do you do when you’re eat­ing in a restau­rant?

Fran­cis: I go back to the way I’ve been taught by Nutrisys­tem, which is es­sen­tially, I get a pro­tein and I get a veg­etable and I will have a lit­tle bit of starch, but I won’t have a big serv­ing. I’ll get a pro­tein that’s about the size of the palm of my hand, I’ll have a veg­etable or even two veg­eta­bles, a cup and a half to­tal, and if there’s some cooked pota­toes, I might have a lit­tle piece of it, a wedge, but I don’t go crazy. And I eat sal­ads. Al­ways sal­ads. There isn’t a day that goes by that I

“I am an emo­tional eater and I al­ways will be.”

don’t have salad.

Di­gest: When you re­turned to work at GH, did you have any anx­i­ety about be­ing on cam­era again?

Fran­cis: Yes, I did. I had a lot of anx­i­ety. But I started to get my con­fi­dence back in about five or six days.

Di­gest: You’ve spo­ken can­didly about how much the pres­sure to be thin in Hol­ly­wood af­fected you when you were a young woman just start­ing out in the busi­ness. What is your re­la­tion­ship to that to­day?

Fran­cis: It’s funny; I just re­cently said to some peo­ple, “You can’t body-shame me.” You know, things change. It’s 2018; you can­not do th­ese things. It’s not okay! But I never would have said that when I was younger. All I thought was, “What­ever you think about me, or what­ever you say about me, is who I re­ally am, and you are right and I am wrong.” And I don’t feel that way any­more. I ab­so­lutely don’t. And I feel good the way I am. I like my body. I’m happy with what’s go­ing on with me. You know, I fluc­tu­ate those 10 pounds, like ev­ery woman does. But as I was say­ing be­fore, my con­fi­dence came back, and not only that — you know, I am more than just my body! My au­di­ence re­ally has seen me ev­ery which

way, and they haven’t left me.

Di­gest: Did you ever feel like the GH au­di­ence felt dif­fer­ently about you when you were heav­ier?

Fran­cis: I def­i­nitely didn’t feel good about my­self — but my au­di­ence never gave me any hard time. I never heard a word about, “Jeez, you need to lose weight.” Never. Never! I have a lot of love from th­ese fans, I re­ally do. I’m very for­tu­nate in that. Very, very for­tu­nate. Di­gest: You’ve told us be­fore that you can trace your own panic about your weight back to when you were a teenager and GH had Laura go on a diet. Did you feel like you had to be pri­vate about your strug­gles back then?

Fran­cis: When I was 14? Cer­tainly I wouldn’t [have spo­ken out about it] at 14; I just wanted to die! I was mor­ti­fied! Even when I was 19, no, I re­ally didn’t want to talk about it. I wasn’t se­cure enough in my­self to talk about that. But I am now! I started to do it be­cause I started to feel like, “What do I of­fer so­ci­ety? Doc­tors cure peo­ple, sol­diers go out and save the coun­try — what do I do, what do I of­fer peo­ple?” And I felt like my per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence was the best thing I had to of­fer. You know, stand­ing up in front of ev­ery­body and telling some­one that I’m so great and so per­fect and my life is per­fect and look how fab­u­lous I am is just a bunch of b.s.! And it’s just not me. I would rather share with peo­ple who I am. Also, I get so much love from th­ese peo­ple that I feel like my gift back to them is my hon­esty.

(laura collins)

Amer­ica’s Sweetheart: By the time Luke (An­thony Geary) and Laura, pic­tured in 1980, be­came a cul­tural phe­nom­e­non, Fran­cis was strug­gling with her self-image and her weight. At the time, she notes, “I wasn’t se­cure enough in my­self to talk about that. But I am now!”

So Emo­tional: Fran­cis, pic­tured with Ni­co­las Bech­tel (Spencer) in 2017, ad­mits that she did some emo­tional eat­ing when GH took her off con­tract.

Shake It Up: The ac­tress at home with a Nutrisys­tem shake.the pro­gram “takes all of the stress away for me,” she says.

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