The Real Secret to Losing Weight (and It Has Nothing to Do with Deprivation)

Through her connection with her personal Jenny Craig consultant, 41-year old Angela managed to reach her weight loss goals.

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Results not typical. Members following Jenny Craig program, on average, lose 1-2 pounds per week.


Dieting can be an uphill battle, even at the best of times. During periods of emotional distress, people often turn to food for comfort, making it that much harder. But just as loss and loneliness can pack on pounds, emotional support and camaraderie can support healthy habits and weight loss.

Such was the case for Angela, the 41-year-old, San Diego-based elementary school teacher who struggled with the number on the scare her entire life, but after the devastating loss of her mother, saw her eating get out of control. Before long, she had reached her highest weight ever. "I was miserable," she remembers, "I couldn't keep living that way."

At a friend's urging, Angela signed up for Jenny Craig®, the diet plan known for providing personalized client support. Upon meeting her personal consultant Weight Loss Expert, Linda, Angela quickly learned that Linda has also recently lost her mother, and the two women instantly bonded over their shared experience.

During the next 18 months, Linda, who was the director of a center in San Diego and former Jenny Craig member herself, helped Angela learn how to deal with her emotions in a healthy way. If Angela was missing her mom, Linda listened compassionately and encouraged her to go for a run or hike instead of reaching for the ice cream. Now, 75 pounds lighter, Angela attributes the weight loss to the support she got from her weight loss expert.

75 pounds lighter, Angela attributes the weight loss to the support she got from her weight loss expert.

Motivation and Persistence

As anyone who's ever dieted on other programs knows, sticking with it is the hardest part. Nutrition Specialist for Jenny Craig (and former consultant) Sarah Venters says, "If you go more than seven days, it becomes hard to track meal plans and monitor progress." Jenny Craig's weight loss experts provide members with one-on-one support and accountability – both essential components of any successful weight-loss program.

Perhaps even more importantly, consultants help members identify the right motivations and goals. Research shows that the type of motivation an individual has to lose weight has a significant impact on how much weight he or she loses. Specifically, individuals with internal motivators (like self-esteem and wanting to set a healthy example for their children) are able to lose more weight than individuals who are motivated by more external factors (like simply wanting to be skinnier).

Linda was able to help Angela tap into healthy emotional objectives for her weight loss — a strong desire for a boost in confidence and increased energy — which, in turn, boosted her overall commitment to the program — and her likelihood of success.

Of course, having a lapse in the weight-loss process can happen. Rather than being harsh and punitive, Jenny Craig's consultants provide constructive support and compassion when that happens. Together with their members, they help identify the reasons behind a slip-up and get them back on track. Nicole P., a 6-year veteran of Jenny Craig, knows this well. "It's worked for me over the years and I still go in every month," says the Stamford, Connecticut mother, who uses the program for maintenance. "If my weight goes up, I know I have to deal with the consequences and I have my consultant there with me every step of the way."

Portion Control 101

In addition to providing emotional support, consultants help members change their eating habits and gain the skills and knowledge to maintain a healthy weight. One of the most important of these is portion control — eating smaller amounts, six times a day as opposed to two or three massive (and often carb-heavy) meals. Members learn that eating plenty of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables will support satiety throughout the day.

Thanks to help from her consultant, Nicole says she feels as if her brain has been retrained to recognize a healthy portion, and having grown accustomed to Jenny Craig portion sizes, she can apply that knowledge to her own meal planning. So, for instance, when she makes lasagna, she sticks to one serving comparable to the size she'd receive from Jenny Craig.

A Long-Term Relationship

Even after a member reaches her goal weight, the bond with her consultant lives on. "It's hard not to have life-long friendships between consultants and members," says Linda. Consultants continue to be there to support clients through ups and downs — and during particularly stressful times. "Holidays can be particularly hard, because there are a lot more temptations," says Venters. Eating out and vacations are also challenges, she says.

Another component of maintenance is celebrating weight-loss milestones.

Another component of maintenance is celebrating major weight-loss milestones with your consultant. Angela described being able to cross her legs under the table or wrap the entire bath towel around her body for the first time. Even now, she says she sometimes looks at her shadow and is amazed at seeing a woman wearing running shorts.

Such moments can add up to larger life changes and increased emotional health. "I'm much more adventurous and in control of my life," Angela says of the change she's experienced. She's even signed up for a Tough Mudder, and will be doing her first half marathon in February.

But perhaps the most significant milestone came at a recent checkup, when Angela's doctor officially marked her obesity as "Issue resolved." For her, there could be no better formal acknowledgement that she had taken her life back.

What do YOU think?

Have you struggled to lose weight in the past? What were the biggest pitfalls for you? How did you stay motivated?