What I Learned from Jenny Craig

After a little walk/errand I made an easy lunch as soon as I walked in the door. Easy lunch = Sandwich, carrots and fruit – am I right?IMG_9970 (800x600)I made an egg sandwich with sprouts and a pile of tomatoes. It was very mess to eat, but delicious! I ate most of the mango while cutting it Winking smileIMG_9969 (800x600)

I mention it in my “Pictures” page, but I have tried practically every diet out there. I started officially dieting probably freshman year of high school with the Cabbage Soup diet and then hit every other crash diet in existence on the “weigh up”.

It’s been a few years since I did the Jenny Craig diet, but all the recent ads on TV had me thinking about it again. I’m sure you’ve caught the Sara Rue commercials.jenny craig girls (source)

The program has you eat prepackaged meals and snacks (which you buy from them). Some meals require you to add fruit or veggies or yogurt to “round it out”. It is low calorie and very controlled, which is how it works. I did the Jenny Craig program for about 3 months in college until I fell off the wagon (read: binged on hundreds of loaf cakes for the following 3 months and then decided to try a new diet).

But, I would like to think that those 3 months were not a complete loss – especially because the plan is so expensive!! (You have to buy all your food from them.) So today I’m sharing with you

What I Learned from the Jenny Craig diet:

1. The “weight loss consultants” are sales people. They are not RDs or doctors. They have sales quotas.

2. Taking laxatives before a weigh in “helps” you drop 3-7 pounds fast.

3. God help you if you lose 7 pounds in “one go”. (And God help the person in the bathroom after you.)

4. Taking your prepackaged meal to Disneyland is weird. And it sucks when everyone else is eating churros.

5. You can buy low calorie prepackaged meals at the grocery store for much cheaper. They’re called Lean Cuisine.

Probably the one positive thing I learned…

6. Portion controlled snacks are a good idea if you are a grazer.

Things are about to get pretty busy around here in RERland, so I stocked up on tons of bars and snacks yesterday. If I don’t have a snack around I completely attack the kitchen when I get home from work/school/errands. So, I’m keeping these around to help prevent that.IMG_9977 (800x600)

I won’t lie and say that Sara Rue’s before and after pictures don’t make me want to eat shelf stable Swedish Meatballs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Don’t judge, bathing suit season is coming soon.) But, I know the plan doesn’t work long term for me. It is a crash diet – 1200 calories of pre-planned food, not “real life”. I was starving and the food isn’t exactly delicious, you know?www.toothpastefordinner.comwww.toothpastefordinner.com

That being said, please don’t call me the C-word in my comments. To each their own and I never judge other peeps for doing their own thing.

I vote we eat what we like, watch how much of it we’re eating if we’re trying to lose weight, and rock on.


  1. Jessica says

    Hi Monica!
    I know this may be a little personal but have you ever tried counseling for emotional eating? In my experience it’s never about the food, it’s always about the feelings. You may really benefit from going to therapy and maybe even become an intuative eater 100%

    • says

      Hi Jessica,

      Yes, I went to therapy for a long time in college. I really loved it too! Intuitive Eating is supposed to help with that (eat when you’re hungry not when you’re sad/lonely/angry).

      My issues with food and weight are a lot more complex than emotional issues. My history of binging and restricting truly stem from wanting to be thin. But, that has made my body’s “hunger scale” get super desperate when I am the slightest bit hungry. I think those are the bigger issues I need to work on.

      Thanks for the input :)

  2. Julie says

    wow, on the commercials they make it sound like the consultants are angels sent form above. my sister was thinking of doing this, but realized how much it would cost and forgot about it, thankfully

  3. says

    I’ve never tried Jenny Craig. My mom once offered to buy me Nutrisystem. For some reason I said no.
    I like you started dieting freshman year of high school. That being said, I think you do a much better job than I do (at least from what I can gather from your posts). I think you look great in all your pictures!
    As much as I hate to admit it, I’m going on another diet. One I’ve done before that I know works.
    Like you said to each her own.

      • says

        Hi Tia,
        Basically what I did was this diet that my dad saw on a late night TV infomercial. It sorta sounds ridiculous but it actually worked.
        To do the real diet you take a quiz and that gives you a meal plan, but all the meal plans are basically the same except for your body type restricts the types of foods you can eat (i.e. my body type was not supposed to eat red meat). But I feel like it still works regardless, just following the basics and that’s eating 5-6 times per day.
        Meal 1: 2 egg whites or 2 oz protein and 1 piece of fruit
        Meal 2: 2 oz lean protein and 1 fruit
        Meal 3: 2 oz lean protein, 1 cup veg, 1/2 cup carbohydrate
        Meal 4: 2 oz lean protein, 1 fruit or cup of veg
        Meal 5: 2 oz lean protein, 1 cup veg, 1/2 cup carbohydrate
        Meal 6: piece of fruit or veg (optional)

        This worked for me because it was flexible and I like to eat a lot. With this I felt like I was eating all the time (every 3 hoursish). I don’t really measure things exactly but I did at first, now I more or less know what 2 oz protein looks like and half a cup of rice, etc.
        Feel free to follow on my blog if you’re interested! I don’t post nearly as often as Monica, I’m shooting for once a day with this diet :)

  4. says

    haha i love that toothpaste comic. such a favorite! loved your thoughts on JC… and that is totally something you can do by yourself without paying someone and for the products. good job on stocking up and being prepared. love you long time.

  5. Ida says

    Having someone else pick my meals would never work for me. I like to roam around the grocery store and I’d really miss that on a home-delivery diet.

  6. Katy says

    I could not agree with you more! I have lost 30lbs myself since Jan. of this year and I have been tempted by those crash diets because I want a fast fix specially on those weeks I lost nothing :( I have had friend who are doing this system or that system and have also tried to sell me on it. I look at it this way, if tomorrow I lost my job what would I do? If I cant afford the food they wont work with me so more then likely I would gain the weight back plus more. Making smart choices on the other hand dont involve money and although grocery can add up it is still cheaper and longer lasting then anything that is prepackaged and costs and arm, a leg, and a toe! You can lose the weight you want to on your own and dont need to do that!

  7. says

    i always have pre-portioned snacks on hand except i’m too cheap to spend the extra money for the 100 calorie bags so i just portion them on my own using my food scale.
    how do you make your eggs so puffy & pretty?

  8. says

    I’m a one time “Weight Watcher” and now long time intuitive eater. There were good things that I picked up from Weight Watchers – mainly the final push to start cooking for myself and experimenting with new veggies. But towards the end of my journey I was afraid to eat outside of my kitchen and stressed out at every restaurant I ever went to. Yes, I was movie star thin and movie star miserable.

    So I try to listen to my body – eat when I’m hungry and try not to judge myself as a good or bad person based on what I eat. There are days, like your Jenny Craig ad days, where I look at an image and think ‘well you KNOW you can get that skinny maybe you should try’ and then I just try to silence that voice and know that counting every calorie and living life by the scale is no life at all!

    And I have never met you and only know you via the blog but it looks like you are enjoying yourself, your family and your life so I say don’t sweat that commercial.

    • Nicole says

      I am too an ex WWer. I did lose the weight and managed to keep it off for 10 months, but I lost a lot of my self respect and my respect for food. WW is good in that it made it calorie counting for “dummies” but not so good when a number would hang on my mind for the week (either I loved myself or I down right HATED myself).

      PS Monica, you are beautiful.

  9. says

    I never did any of those diets. When I decided it was time to lose weight I counted my calories and ate those Lean Cusines for dinner because they were portion controlled and I knew how many calories I was eating. It really did help me learn portion sizes and I also learned how to eat in the real world. That’s why I don’t think Jenny Craig is a good idea–you have to eat their food and as soon as you stop, you gain it back. My friend did it and lost 30 pounds then couldn’t afford the JC meals so she quit–and gained 45 pounds!

    I don’t think ANY diet will work if it’s a “buy our food/supplement/etc”. To be successful we have to make lifestyle changes and learn how to eat smart and healthy.

  10. Ashley says

    How do you cook your eggs for sandwiches like this? I’ve been curious since I started reading. I’d love to make something like this and bring it to work.


  11. Jen G. says

    I once had a roommate whose aunt did Nutrisystem. She got tired and brought her leftover food to my roommate, thinking “Grad student? They’ll eat anything, right?” The answer to that was a decided NO! We went through the packages of food like they were science experiments (which they seriously resembled). I’ll keep my pooch if it means I can still have fresh, tasty food and a cupcake now and then!

  12. says

    I have to ask, is 1,200 to little? That’s kind of what I’ve been aiming for. Depending on the food I eat I wouldn’t say I feel like I’m super deprived or anything, some days suck but most are good. Either I’m way under estimating my numbers or 1200 just works for me? Should I be upping it maybe :$

    I also love those cartoons :) so funny.

    • says

      I think 1200 is too little. I bet your basal metabolic rate is more than that alone, if you are doing any kind of activity on top of that then it’s way too low.

  13. says

    Ugh, the Jenny Craig diet sounds awful. I knew it was bad but I had no idea it was that bad. Any “diet” that requires you to eat 99% of your food from a box is not my kind of lifestyle.

  14. says

    1200 calories would make me so mean and crabby. The pre packaged plan, while effective, is never good long term because you’re not taught how to eat in the real world.

    With that being said, Sara Rue looks amazing.

    I agree with your vote: eat what we like, but not too much if we want to drop a few pounds. Seems easy, right? If only….

  15. says

    I thought about Jenny Craig for a hot second in college. My rationale was if the portion are already there then I won’t eat more. But as I thought about it the idea of having a hamburger stored under my bed being ok is really kinda strange. What is in that food?

  16. says

    I love this post. :-)

    And for what it’s worth, from looking at your pictures you look great – not like you need to lose weight at all!

  17. says

    Hi Monica, don’t take this the wrong way because I think you’re awesome :) Buuuuut…. it makes me very sad when you talk about how badly you need to lose weight. It’s totally fine to want to be more fit or a few pounds lighter – I kinda hate my thighs so I’m one to talk – but to me, you honestly look amazing!! And I, too, have issues with emotional eating and have my moments where I go way too crazy and binge on sweets, which I understand feels shitty and isn’t healthy. So I get wanting to curb that behavior. But you talk about wanting to lose weight as if you have SO much to lose, and I just hope that you can one day see yourself the way others see you because you look gorgeous!

      • Katy says

        I do as well….everytime she mentions it I have to do a double take because I think she looks great! Healthy, strong, and motivated.

        • Jamie says

          I was going to post a comment along the same lines… I don’t see why you want to lose weight, I think you look good! Not everyone is meant to be rail thin- myself included. With that being said, I have the same issue of wanting to lose those last 10-15 “vanity pounds”.

    • says

      While I also think Monica looks AWESOME, she has stated several times that she wants to lose a few pounds to feel better/more healthy and to complete a sub 4-hour marathon. She knows her body and feels confident that shedding a few pounds will really help her increase her time. Lots of athletes do this, and it’s possible to do it in a healthy way. I really don’t think it’s all about how Monica “looks,” but rather how she FEELS and how her body PERFORMS. Nothing wrong with that.

  18. Brian says

    Portion control is what it is all about – that is the great aspect of weight watchers NO BOUGHT food – just watch your portion sizes :-) You can eat what you want just in the right amounts!

  19. says

    I cringe when I hear someone joined Jenny Craig…not from a judgmental way at all, but just because there are better ways than Jenny Craig! That fake, shelf-stable food isn’t really good for you. And thanks for making me laugh with your “what I learned” list! :)

  20. says

    How did you cut that mango? I purchased two mangoes and just hacked my way through them. They were still yummy, but I feel like there’s got to be a method to the madness. Any advice? :)

  21. Lauren says

    No judgement here! I have many a food issues even tho from other people’s perspective i’m super healthy and have no problems with emotional eating, binge eating, constant thoughts of wanting to be thinner even tho you know you shouldn’t reeeeallly be having those thoughts but of course that’s impossible, having such a screwed up sense of what hungry is that it’s either full or starving, etc…

    ps i’m curious how the chocolate chunk luna bars taste :) i’ve been eyeing them up since they came out but haven’t splurged yet!

  22. says

    I think you look great. I dont think any of those fancy diets work. I tried WW for a month and was starving the whole time, I was out of “points” soon after lunch because I didnt know how to buy or eat the right things. I was wondering if you have ever heard of Sparkpeople.com it’s a free website that teaches you how to live healthier not “diet” it has food and execise trackers and a lot of good articles and member blogs. Most of their success stories have managed to keep the weight off. I’ve been using it for just over a year and have lost 20 lbs. I still have about 20 to go but if I keep following what I’ve learned I’m sure I’ll be able to lose the weight and keep it off. Good luck.

  23. says

    I agree with this completely. No one thing works for everyone. I have lost 100 pounds and kept it off, doing what works for ME! But I don’t claim to have all the answers or expect it to work for everyone. People get way too caught up in the “right” diet.

  24. says

    Your list cracked me up – so true. I totally agree with your point about learning to use 100 calorie bags, etc. I would always lie to myself…it was only a FEW extra chocolate covered almonds, which is why the weight never came off.

    But I want to point out for those thinking of joining, the main meals are almost all frozen. I don’t get the “shelf stable” meatballs – scary. I think what I like about JC is that I am learning what portions really are supposed to look like. I’m also getting used to eating every few hours. As a new mother, it is difficult to make all my own food. If I weren’t a new mom, I wouldn’t do JC. You can do it cheaper on your own if you have time AND self-control.

    That said, I have no idea what I’m going to do once I am off the plan. I don’t feel like they are REALLY teaching me how to eat or food ideas, etc. I may just use My Fitness Pal. I also feel totally confused regarding the amount of dairy I now eat. I cannot do that for life.

  25. says

    I’m into week 8 of Jenny Craig and hating every second. The food is horrid (reviews on my site if you want to be grossed out). I am losing weight but I go to bed hungry most nights on 1200 calories.

    It is teaching me portion control though and I’ve been playing around with calorie counters and tweaking some of my favourite recipes to be lower calorie for when I can finally eat proper food again. I’m missing real food. I LOVE real food.

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