Thanks to Jenny Craig, I have lost 12 pounds in six weeks … and it was not tough.
Admittedly, I have not been working out as much as I would like, with work, grad school and parenting obligations. In fact, this has been one of my most busy autumns ever. But I still lost about two pounds per week.
I have not been gnaw-my-arm-off hungry.
Jenny Craig simply parceled out my nutrient-filled food in small portions and instructed me to eat them steadily throughout my day. I did not have to count calories or do much thinking about weight loss at all. All the work was done for me.
And the weight is continuing to come off.
Even after my official blogger partnership with Jenny Craig concludes this month, I will be continuing with the program. I simply love the ease and efficacy of the portion-controlled, calorie-counted meals.
The question I have been getting a lot from friends is, “How is the food? Really?” The honest answer is that it is pre-packaged food. It is better than most of the meals I have purchased over the years in the frozen section of the grocery store. After six weeks, I have sampled nearly everything that Jenny Craig offers. Read on for my honest and complete assessments of the food investment, as well as my favorite food selections.
Like many of us, I was short changing myself in the morning what with getting the kids out the door and lunches made. I have learned that only coffee for breakfast will make me want to eat all the things later in the day. The Jenny Craig breakfasts have been welcome fuel. You add your own piece of fruit to add fiber and sometimes non-fat, unsweetened Greek yogurt to add protein. I am more of a savory than a sweet breakfast person, so my favorites include:
Egg, Cheese & Turkey Sausage Burrito
Florentine Breakfast Pizzas
Since I work from home, a pre-made lunch is a great time saver, and a deterrent from my eating too many calories when sitting on a stool in my kitchen. You add your own fresh or steamed veggies to these meals to bulk them up healthfully. There are also to-go lunch packs which have come in handy when I have had meetings and chaperoned kids’ field trips. My most liked lunches:
Asian Style Chicken – use as filler for lettuce wraps
Baja Style Quesadilla
Pasta Ole and Southwest Style Chicken Fajita Bowl – add these to big bowls of steamed spinach when you have a Chipotle craving
This one was admittedly the hardest meal for me, as I continued to cook dinner for my family. It also became clear that I was eating most of my calories, and too many calories, in the evenings at home. So this dinner time transition was necessary. I eat my Jenny dinner as my main course while my family eats the main course I prepare for them, and then we all eat salad and simple, non-starchy vegetables with a bit of healthy fat like olive or coconut oil. I will never look at a whole, massive baked potato as a standard side dish serving again, and this is a good thing for lifetime weight management. The tastiest dinners, in my opinion:
Chicken Pesto Pasta
Fish & Chips
Lemon Garlic Shrimp – super garlic-y sauce, so place this one over a bed of steamed broccoli and let the veggies soak it up
I am usually not a big weight loss bar or shake person. Often these products are full of sugar, make you gassy and are laden with calories. I do better eating whole food snacks like nuts, veggies and fruit when losing weight. However, the Jenny Craig Anytime bars contain just 110 calories and the Jenny Craig Shakes have just 100 calories.
I found the Anytime Bars are a good snack to stash in your bag when you get “hangry” in traffic or to have with a mid-afternoon cup of coffee. The Peanut Butter Chocolate Anytime Bars taste like candy and have a good deal of fiber.
I learned I liked the Vanilla Cream Shake when blended with ice and half a banana or a handful of berries (my morning fruit serving) for a much lower in calorie and easier to digest version of a recovery shake on those days I had a long run or workout session.
The desserts and snacks I found handy in that they are pre-packaged for calorie control. There is no worry about the aftermath of mowing through the Black Bean Taco Chips when the bag contains only 120 calories.
All in all, these Jenny Craig extras are very helpful if you find, like me, that portion control is your weakness when working to lose weight.
This is the hard one: You have to skip it to get the most out of Jenny Craig. Because your calories are greatly reduced — I am currently consuming only 1200 per day — you cannot drink any alcohol at all. Once in a while I will swap out a snack or dessert for a white wine spritzer, but I pay for that in hunger. I am learning that drinking when you are truly committed to weight loss unequivocally screws up your progress. The weeks I allowed myself more than half a glass of wine at parties I lost significantly less at weigh-in that week.
This is what any trainer or nutritionist will tell you too, of course: You cannot drink your calories. I have been trying to tell myself that at the end of the day, herbal tea and an epsom salt bath is what will really relax me. It’s not the same, but I do look better naked. When I was in my twenties through my mid-thirties, I used to be able to simply cut food calories all week, drink on the weekend and still lose weight. Those days for me are gone baby gone, and I am not happy. Getting older blows, but getting fatter blows more.
Conclusion: Jenny Craig is an effective weight loss program. You are paying for your calorie-controlled food, as well as the Jenny Craig consultant support and accountability. These resources combine so that you lose weight without thinking about it too much. It is a great program for busy parents.
Results not typical. Members following the Jenny Craig program can expect to lose, on average 1-2 lbs per week. I was provided a free trial program on Jenny Craig. However, the opinions expressed are entirely my own.