Inside Jenny Craig

Hi Friends 🙂

Thanks for the nice words about my race! It went much better than I thought it would. But my legs have felt so tired and worn down – I hope they heal up. Walking up stairs is so awful and going from sitting to standing just makes me wince in pain. That is reason enough to train properly – which I didn’t do…

I’ve gotten a few comments and emails about my Weight Watchers experience as well as my former employer, Jenny Craig. I’ll get to WW later (hopefully later this week), but I thought I’d talk a bit about JC today.

I started to work for Jenny Craig in 2007 as a Weight Loss Counselor.

I had no idea about their program when I started there, but I got hired. (I am still friends with my former manager – it was worth it to work there because I got to meet her!) I went through training which focused mostly on selling food and exercise products (dvds, balance balls, ankle/wrist weights, resistance bands, etc). We were paid a measly hourly wage and earned commission off the food and products we sold. We also got paid for program upgrades, having clients with the highest percentage of weight loss, and things of that nature.

The JC program itself isn’t bad: Clients are told to eat 5 times per day: 3 meals and 2 snacks and the program includes lots of fresh produce. However, all of the meals are Jenny Craig meals: frozen dinners, canned soups, bagged cereals, snack bars, single serving bags of pretzels, cheesecake and the like. I won’t lie and say the food wasn’t good – I thought it was delicious. But the servings were small and the meals were expensive — $2 for a bag of cereal (one serving), $6-7 per dinner, $2 for snack bars and $3-4 for cans of soup. A weeks worth of food would cost $120+ and then you still had to buy fresh produce and dairy products (skim milk or fat free yogurt was recommended).

So in addition to the cost and the processed foods, the other issue I had with the program was little wiggle room for potential clients with food allergies. Most of the meals (if not all) contained dairy and wheat. And if you wanted to avoid artificial flavoring or coloring, forget this program. *I will say that during my final weeks with Jenny Craig, the food was slowly being changed from having High Fructose Corn Syrup to using Brown Rice Syrup – which to me was a step in the right direction.*

But the program wasn’t all bad. I think it was good for many clients to have the one-on-one support and to have someone weigh them weekly – it held them accountable. I did like that the JC program tries to attack weight loss/weight management in three ways: food, exercise and mindset. You need to get over the mental games when you are trying to lose weight, and I appreciated that JC did its best to incorporate that into the program. Unfortunately most of my clients thought the mindset part was worthless and as a result, didn’t do so well on the program.

I also thought the program did a good job with trying to help clients get to maintenance – after you lose ½ of your weight you start eating your own food for 2 whole days and as you keep losing weight while eating your own food, you get “rewarded” with more and more days of eating on your own. This would make the program cheaper (not having to buy the JC food) and would hopefully give clients the tools they need to continue to keep the weight off. Sadly this is when many clients stopped coming. They thought they knew it all and quit the program. And all too often they would come back in a few months right back where they started.

I think in ANY weight loss/exercise program, consistency is key. And it is too bad that more of my JC clients didn’t stick with it. I won’t pretend that I was the best weight loss counselor, but I did my best.

I worked for JC during the Kirstie Alley days — as annoying as she was, I kind of liked her. She has a new show on Lifetime that I have watched twice — plus she has a new weight loss program out. Anyone heard about that?

So, all in all, I don’t think the JC program is awful – there are definitely some not so good things (little emphasis on exercise and the reliance on processed, prepackaged foods) but there were good parts as well (focusing on having a weight loss mindset, being held accountable, focus on fresh produce). I do think that many of my clients needed to be told what to eat and when to eat — soon they became habits and they were able to lose weight quite successfully (1-2 lbs per week). Sure I wish the food had been healthy and had been prepared at home, but sometimes you have to choose the lesser evil: eating junk food or eating processed JC meals that are at least portion controlled. I do think that what works for one does not work for another — and I think learning portion sizes is a good way to lose weight/maintain weight loss, which is what the JC meals were intended for. The program sets you up to EVENTUALLY prepare your food at home and track it using the Diabetic Exchange System.

What do you think of the Jenny Craig program?


If you have any questions about Jenny Craig I’d be happy to answer them – just note that my knowledge is about their program from 2007-2008. I have no idea what other changes have been made since then.


One of Jason’s coworkers brought us a Spaghetti Squash:

I’ve eaten them before but I’ve never prepared it myself! Any fun ideas or tips on preparing it?


1. Do you have a former boss or teacher perhaps that just made an impact on your life? The best part of working for JC was meeting my manager, Susan. She is hilarious and has this tremendous love for life. She lost 40 lbs with JC and her transformation was amazing! She is a truly great friend who has always supported me in whatever decision I made.

2. Jason and I are planning on taking a quick weekend trip in November – any suggestions on where to go? It must be continental US since we are planning on leaving on a Thursday night and returning home on Sunday – Chicago or Vegas came up – we’d like someplace warm please…Cost is a factor, but we haven’t decided on a price limit yet, so all suggestions are welcome and appreciated!

Enjoy your day!


Posted in Life. Tags: . 40 Comments »

40 Responses to “Inside Jenny Craig”

  1. Myra Says:

    go to vegas!!!!!! it’s warm and you can meet uncle kenny. heck you can probably stay with him for free. but i would recommend one of the hotels. it’s the funnest place on earth!!!!!

  2. Kylie @ A Hungry Spoon Says:

    Asheville, NC is a great place for a long weekend! We’ve visited there the past two summers and loved it–lots of local art, music, bookstores, and incredible food 🙂

  3. tracy Says:

    i’ve used jenny craig and i totally agree with all you said. it’s a great kick-start for portion control and to get your “stomach to shrink.” my husband joined and has lost almost 20 pounds in about 10 weeks. i lost 16 pounds and would like to lose another 10 but can’t do it on jenny. i like real food too much. i do check in on maintenance and have kept the 16 pounds off for over a year. this is my 3rd time on jenny and each time it really kicks start the weight loss. since this third time, i’ve been able to lose weight and run consistently.

    as for vaca – we’re looking for a place too. i vote for longboat key florida (near sarasota). lovely!

  4. Matt Says:

    I think if people ate real food, they wouldn’t have a reason to diet. An apple with peanut butter is so much more satisfying than a bag of chips. Ditch the processed crap, move a little, and you will be a hell of a lot healthier. Just my thoughts 😉

    • couchpotatoathlete Says:

      Matt I agree with what you wrote — and I don’t think JC is the answer to the obesity problem — your answer takes care of that in my opinion! But I do think JC is good for people who have no clue how to eat — it gives them a starting point. Long term? I don’t think its a good idea.

      • eatmovelove Says:

        Good point. I think even Valerie Bertinelli who was successful with JC says she now eats mostly her own meals, fruit/veggies, etc. But it helped her identify portion control and the support was good. Sometimes I think people just need a plan and help to stick to it.

  5. Alyssa Says:

    Mmy last boss was amazing! She was so loving, motivational, and inspirational. She definitely made a mark on me!

    Go to Napa! So romantic 🙂

  6. Shanna, like Banana Says:

    LOVE spaghetti squash..I tell you how to prepare here:

    As for vacays, come out here to Cali, I’ll take you to wine country =)

  7. Lauren @ 40Apples Says:

    Very interesting insight into JC… I had a coworker who went on the program and lost some significant weight, though she was already an avid exerciser and just did it to lose like 7 lbs for a vacation!! Anyway, I never knew what it really entailed until I saw her eating all those packaged foods… Kinda blew my mind that that’s all you can eat for at least a while, but that method certainly works wonders for some people, so you gotta respect that!

    Have you ever thought about New Orleans?? I don’t know if that’s too far… I just think it’s such an amazing place to visit – such a different culture, it almost feels like a foreign country. Either that, or NYC!! 😀

  8. Maria @ Oh Healthy Day Says:

    I’ve always wondered what it was about the pre-packaged JC food that made it “healthy” and it seems to me that is the fact that it’s portion-controlled. Which yes, it great, but does it teach the clients that preparing the same meal from scratch is definitely the right way to go? Hmm, but interesting information here!

    I think you should go to Austin Texas – I hear it’s fantastic, warm, and great for foodies 🙂 I’ve never been myself, but have always wanted to!

    • couchpotatoathlete Says:

      As far as I knew, the only reason for the meals was to get clients used to what real portions should look like. Unfortunately (and I forgot to add this part) — JC did want clients to continue to have 1-2 JC meals per day as a part of their maintenance plan: that way they’d have that constant portion control for 2 meals (plus JC would make more money!)

      • Michelle @ Chasing Ambulances Says:

        This is what I’ve heard about JC. The pre planned, pre-packaged meals help people adjust to smaller portion sizes. I didn’t know that they advocated that people keep eating them! But I’m not too surprised. I think advocating to continue to use their product/service on a lifelong basis is Business 101, eh?

  9. Laury @thefitnessdish Says:

    Yuck, I totally couldn’t live on packages meals for that long…..maybe like 10 years ago when I was a dieting fien I lves on Lean Cuisines, and Weight Watcher meals full of HFCS and other frankenfood. Thats good to know they started using brown rice syrup though, a step in the right direction indeed.

    I worked for a Chiropractor right out of high school, is office was in a gym and we did a lot of sports rehab therapy, it’s what made me become a trainer…I learned a lot from him. he was a really smart man, like a big brother to me, I adored his wife and kids–and he definitely made a big impact on my life!

  10. lisaou11 Says:

    I always wondered what the program did to help people learn how to eat without the frozen stuff packaged for them—good to know there is something that they do to help that.

  11. Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) Says:

    Just make sure you don’t over cook the squash. It will lose its stringy quality if you do. I think those programs are helpful for people that have no idea what to do or where to start. If you are really overweight and don’t have a clue how to portion control or how to shop for healthier options than I think it is a good place to start. However, it can be a little harder on you later on when you really need to learn more about how to shop and prepare healthier foods. My biggest problem with WW is that they are sucking you into a different type of calorie counting. Don’t get me wrong, I do count calories, but I think having to learn a different way of counting them leads you to be dependent on their program.

    I like Kirstie and always have!

    • couchpotatoathlete Says:

      Sarena- good point about JC. It would be best for people with no clue about what to eat or how much to eat. But yes, it would be tough to rely on frozen convenience foods for the rest of your life!

  12. Mary @ Bites and Bliss Says:

    I’ve never tried Jenny Craig, WW, or anything like that..but I think out of all the diet plans, Weight Watchers seems to be the best. Like it says, it teaches you *how* to eat and doesnt limit you to certain foods like Jenny Craig. I mean, that’s just freaking ridiculously expensive. Plus, I think I’d get bored not being able to cook or bake. :/

    My aunt was on weight watchers and lost over 100 lbs and was happy the entire time. It also helps with maintenance since it teaches you what to eat, you’ll be less likely to slip into bad habits. But with Jenny Craig, once you’re out of’re sort of on your own.

  13. Beth Says:

    I’ve never tried Jenny Craig but I have to say, I see a lot of problems with using pre-portioned packaged foods to lose weight. I didn’t know that you got to eat your own food 2 days after you’d lost half your weight so in that respect its good that it eases you off the program, but I think you should be able to, and encouraged to, eat all your own food all the time. Otherwise, how can you make longterm changes? That’s why I think WW is best! 🙂

  14. Katie Says:

    I love spaghetti squash! It is so versatile too. I throw some cooked into a bowl, top with roasted veggies, add some sauce, and there’s the meal.

    I eat them a lot actually. 🙂

  15. Nic Says:

    How Sweet It Is has a spaghetti squash recipe on her blog today. Mac and cheese. Looks yummy 🙂

    Have you thought about checking out San Fran or Napa Valley? Both fun places to visit and warmer than MN in November!

  16. Kate Says:

    interesting post! my aunt has tried JC before. i think the bulk of most marketed “diet programs” are made up for the financial gain of someone and it sounds like JC is similar. but you are correct, at least people are eating protion controled meals that pay some attention to food groups present.

    i am still in touch with some of my former bosses too! there is one i am most definitely not friends with 🙂

  17. Anne@ Food Loving Polar Bear Says:

    I have a former boss who has made an impact in my life, he was my boss when I was a trainee and we organised an amazing event together and he taught me so much. I’m a much more independent employee after his guidance. My current boss has also made a HUGE impact on me, no one has ever given me so much independence and trust in my job before and I enjoy every minute of working with him.

  18. Emily (A Nutritionist Eats) Says:

    Thanks for the inside scoop! 🙂
    One issue that I see with programs like this is that you are eating completely seperate meals from your family, can’t go out to eat, etc.. which doesn’t seem like something that could last…

  19. itisallaboutbalance Says:

    Ooh let I would love to know how the squash turns out!!! About JC I DEF agree with Matt’s comment up there!

  20. Wendy Says:

    Don’t know if you have ever been there, but one of my favorite places on the planet is Door County, Wisconsin. We might try to get up there for a day or two soon, hopefully! Each town has such unique, charming shops and restaurants and the waterfront cliffs are amazing. I love to go to Al Johnson’s Swedish restaurant (where goats graze on the grassy roof!) and have their lingonberry pancakes! Also there are some awesome B&Bs there.

    Didn’t know you worked for JC! I credit them for kicking my butt into gear. DUring the summer of last year, Hubby and I both wanted to drop about 20 pounds so we tried Jenny Craig. Ate the food for three months, exercised a lot, and 15 months later I’m 30 pounds lighter and fully intend to stay at my current healthy weight. I totally agree with your good points and bad points about JC. I am thankful, though, that they taught me so much about portion sizes.

  21. Becky Says:

    I eat spaghetti squash all the time. It’s super easy to cook.

    1. Cut it in 1/2.
    2. Scoop out the seeds.
    3. Place cut side down in a microwave save, covered dish in about 1 inch of water.
    4. Cook for 8-10 minutes, depending on the size.
    5. Allow squash to cool and scrape strands out with a fork!

    I top mine with just about anything…tomato sauce, black beans and salsa, chicken and veggies. It’s delish!

  22. Holly @ Self-love and Running Says:

    I’ve actually never thought about or learned about the JC program so it was interesting to read what it’s about.

    I love spaghetti squash. I usually cut it on half, scoop out the seeds and put it in the microwave with a little bit of water (in a microwavable dish obviously) and cook it for about 12-15 min. I top it off with some tomato sauce and cheese. Yum!

  23. Di @ Says:

    A couple years back, I tried JC for a few weeks and quickly discovered it wasn’t for me. I agree that the food is okay and that you’re getting support with portion control but I felt:

    -restricted in what I could eat (not as much variety as I would like)
    -I couldn’t cook as much as I liked to or that I had to make my husband separate meals
    -I was constantly being sold something or other

    After that, I returned to the Weight Watchers point system for good where I was able to lose 110 lbs since the end of 2008. The reason this program has been so successful for me is that it allows a great deal of flexibility which is something I need. I can literally eat anything I want but have to stay aware of calories and portions. And, I love that I can cook to my heart’s content. In fact, it’s my personal challenge to lighten up every yummy high-cal recipe I’ve enjoyed in the past. The cool thing is that it’s very possible to do.

    At the same time, I’m for people going with the program(s) that work for them. Everyone’s life situation is different and if JC helps them make positive changes – more power to them. I wish all of us luck in achieving our health goals. 🙂

    • couchpotatoathlete Says:

      Congrats on losing 110 lbs! That is wonderful! WW helped me lose close to 20 lbs and I too liked the flexible nature of the program. Do you mind me asking if you still count points during maintenance or have you found something else that works for you?

  24. eatmovelove Says:

    I had no idea you worked for JC! You are just full of surprises 🙂

    Um…I totally vote for Vegas – just so you can post pics and I can live vicariously (and somewhat resentfully) through you…;).

    Spaghetti squash rocks (love acorn lately though). Cut it in half, roast it in the oven for 30-40 mins. String it out.
    I usually have it on the side with chicken or something with loads of veggies and spaghetti sauce….and cheese…

  25. Angela (the diet book junkie) Says:

    thanks Holly, that was really interesting! i’ve always wondered how some of these programs work. did you have to call your clients and encourage them too? (i think they do that at Curves.) that’s sounds so funny to me, that some of your clients didn’t want to work on the mindset part. i mean, doesn’t it START with mindset?? 🙂

    for your vacation, i think a few people said wine country. that definitely has my vote! 🙂

    • couchpotatoathlete Says:

      Yes, we called them every few days: just to check in and also to remind them of their appointments. Usually they didn’t answer the phone so I just left lots of messages.

      And yes, it SHOULD start with the mindset, but to be honest I think most clients wanted a quick fix and didn’t want to think about it much. I think that is why many of them would gain/lose/gain/lose and not really get anywhere.

      And wine country sounds great!

  26. Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards) Says:

    san francisco… or tahoe! okay, i am from northern california, but totally NOT biased. 🙂

    great discussion of JC! fun to learn more from someone who knows.

  27. Sherris (lungs quicken) Says:

    I love spaghetti squash! since I dont eat grains that cuts noodles out of my dies so I make pasta using spaghetti squash. I actually made it the other night using ground bison, some chicken italian sausage and fresh herbs and spices it was amazing. I like to cook the squash in the oven, bake at 350 with a little ghee or coconut oil in the inside, for about 1 hour, then scoop out the inside. Top with spaghetti sauce and enjoy. I love that I always have left overs.

    also you should go to san diego for your vacation.

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