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The Jenny Craig Experiment

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Susannah Locketti: Starting any new weight loss program is nerve-wracking, and beginning my four-week journey on Jenny Craig is no exception. Today I must visit my local Jenny Craig center to get weighed in, measured, order my meals, and learn about the fundamentals of the program.

susannah locketti at jenny craig

I'm having mixed emotions. I have been losing weight on my own for over two months. I've lost 21 lbs through diet and exercise, and am afraid of making a sudden change. Then again, sudden changes seem to be my thing lately. My husband moved out a few weeks ago, and my new schedule as a single mom is crazy! I've had less time to prepare meals amidst the temporary chaos, and the idea of having all of my meals preplanned and ready to eat sounds like a welcome break right about now. I also have mixed emotions about consuming processed meals because my diet right now has been nothing but whole.

My stress level is also at an all-time high, which makes me even more susceptible to episodes of binge eating. I am hoping the individualized support is just what I need right now to get me through this transitional time. The only downside to starting Jenny Craig this week is that I am headed to the West Coast for four days, and am wondering how the heck I am going to stick to this program in the airport, at restaurants, business meetings, etc. I have never lost weight on a business trip in my life. Normally, my binging party starts at the airport and lasts through my entire trip. I come home feeling fat, bloated, and weighing more than when I left. Maybe this time it will be different.

Friday, June 5th
The visit to my closest Jenny Craig center is a 30-minute drive north to a town called Hanover, Massachusetts. Jenny Craig is located on the lower level of a pretty commercial strip. The windows are adorned with Valerie Bertinelli in her bikini -- damn, she looks good. I am fresh from a workout with no makeup, but managed to slip on an old dress to try and dress up. Unfortunately it is horizontally striped, which does nothing for you visually.

I am met by my consultant, Lynn, who is about ten years older than I am and very sweet. Yes, she is thin, and she keeps thin on Jenny Craig. She preps me for my first weigh-in and measurements. I cannot believe I am sharing these numbers with the rest of the world, but here goes.

Weight: 165 (I'm only 5'1")
Chest: 39
Waist: 35
Abdomen: 38
Hips: 44

OK. I am clearly a far cry from 36/26/36, but that is why I signed up for this, to see those numbers go down. Lynn and I sit down to chat about my history with food, my current level of physical activity, and everything there is to know about the Jenny Craig program. Yes, there is a real woman named Jenny Craig. She began this program over twenty years ago in Australia (with her husband, who passed away a year ago). Since then, it has grown into a small empire now owned by Nestle.

Jenny Craig also has three cornerstones to the program: Food-Body-Mind. Jenny Cuisine is clearly the main component of this program. For the next four weeks, I will be eating their breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. I supplement with fresh veggies, fruit, and dairy. I'm allowed 1,500 calories a day, based on my level of physical activity, which is high. Because I am traveling this week, I selected foods that travel well: breakfast bars for portable breakfasts, soups that travel, some chicken salad meal kits that travel, as well as some other microwavable options. Lynn gives me a Cookies and Cream Bar on the spot to nibble on because I haven't eaten lunch. This bar has enough calcium to count as a serving of milk. I feel like I'm cheating while eating it -- it certainly is tasty. Haven't had anything sweet like this in months!

This program leans toward smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to keep you satisfied and your metabolism up. I like this approach because as a binge eater, extreme hunger is a trigger for me. My first meal on Jenny Craig is their frozen turkey burger on a bun. It is small, and the roll does not have as much fiber as I would like, but it is surprisingly filling. I eat it with a salad and a packet of Jenny Craig Ranch dressing, which is actually really good. I also like that it is a portable packet that I can discreetly pack in my purse while in L.A.

June 7th
Sitting at the airport waiting for my flight. I get my favorite coffee at Starbucks but pass on the pastry, and instead pull out my Jenny Craig Honey Oat Bar. This little bar is high in fiber, filling, and makes a great sweet treat. I don't feel deprived. I have packed an orange and an apple for the flight. I didn't pack lunch because I will arrive in L.A. before lunchtime and plan to eat one of my meals at the hotel.

Ate my chicken salad meal kit, which is essentially six whole grain crackers, a fruit cup, and a can of premade chicken salad. I don't mind the kit, with the exception of the packaging of the chicken salad. The can reminds me of a can of Fancy Feast cat food -- it is the same size can, too. I would recommend they serve this portion of the meal in a pouch to make it more appealing for the consumer.

June 11th
Back home, and stuck to my Jenny Craig meals faithfully. It is strange eating processed food all week, but I am shocked at how low in sodium it all is. That is making me feel better about it. It is also strange not preparing my own meals. I do this for a living, so it is very weird having a week off from it, with the exception of meal prep for the kids. Speaking of my kids, they have stolen many of my Jenny Craig snacks from the pantry, so I must hide them. Oh, one little tidbit about the food that you may not see on TV: it makes me gassy. I sound like an orchestra.

So I made it through a week on Jenny Craig, with three more weeks to go for the sake of research. Tough week to gauge this program as a whole because I have been away for nearly all of it, with many meals out due to business. My weigh-in reveals I am at 162.6 ... I have lost 2.4 lbs. I am in shock and rather excited, considering I did it amidst two kids, a divorce, and my busiest time of the year work-wise.

One of the biggest questions people ask with a program like this is "What does it cost?" The food for the week was $136.40, the Premium Success Program fee was $235.00, the Premium Success Maintenance Plan was $96.22, and the books and reusable bags totaled $67.78. There were some specials going on that saved me $90.00, so the total for Week 1 was $448.79. The only fees moving forward will be for my weekly meals.

Stay tuned for my week two blog. I also welcome any questions you have about this program so I can answer them in future posts.

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4 comments so far | Post a comment now
Get Listed in Google July 6, 2009, 11:42 AM

Very interesting!

Bridgette July 7, 2009, 1:46 PM

I find the price of the weekly meals to be quite expensive. That’s what it costs for me to feed my family of 4 a week. And, that’s not including the extra produce you buy on your own?

I also question what you are putting into your body? It’s so processed and must be full of additives? Would be nice to see a list of ingredients/vitamins in that chicken salad.

Good luck. I’m interested in hearing more!

Kelly July 7, 2009, 2:35 PM

Wow, I started on Jenny Craig on 7/3/09. It will be nice to follow your story…

Michelle Lamar July 20, 2009, 8:25 PM

I started on JC in May, I’ve lost 15 pounds and I love the food. I will be reading to see what you think but I’ve found Jenny Craig to be THE BEST weight loss, healthy experiences I’ve had.

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