Weight Loss expert Jenny Craig
(CNN) -- Jenny Craig is the co-founder of the Jenny Craig weight loss program and one of the most recognizable names in the weight loss industry. Her program stresses healthy eating, activity, and life balance.
CNN Moderator: Welcome to CNN.com Jenny Craig. We are pleased to have you with us today.
Jenny Craig: Hello to the chat audience! I'm real pleased to be here!
CNN Moderator: What sets the Jenny Craig Program apart from other weight loss programs?
Jenny Craig: I think the main thing is that we focus on lifestyle. Jenny Craig really isn't about dieting. It's about making changes in your lifestyle that can help you through your whole life, not just a quick fix or a short-term answer.
Question from chat room: When did you start the Jenny Craig program?
Jenny Craig: Actually, I've been in the industry since 1959. The Jenny Craig program was started in 1983. We started in Australia, then expanded and came back to the U.S. We started in the U.S. in 1985 and have expanded to 568 centers in four countries.
Question from chat room: What inspired this program that you have developed?
Jenny Craig: Throughout my career in the weight loss industry, we learned what things worked, and what didn't work. We took the best of what worked, and put it together to create the Jenny Craig program. It's a combination of eating the right foods, exercising, putting balance in your life, which we think is important.
Question from chat room: What is the average cost of the meals for one week?
Jenny Craig: The meals are approximately $7 to $10 per day, depending on how many days of the week. When clients first start, they're on the program seven days a week, but we gradually wean them off the food because our objective is to teach them how to make the right choices after they're off the program. So, they gradually decrease the number of days they're on the food.
Question from chat room: What is your opinion of high-protein, low carbohydrate diets, such as Dr. Atkins' plan?
Jenny Craig: I don't believe in fad diets. I think that fad diets are unhealthy, and I think they only address a short-term solution. We prefer for people to make lifestyle changes that they can live with for the rest of their life. With programs or diets like Atkins, once they get off the program, their weight comes right back, and it's unhealthy in the meantime.
Question from chat room: How do you feel about herbal supplements
Jenny Craig: It depends on what kind you mean. I like herbal teas. We recommend them on the program. I don't think that herbal supplements are a substitute for eating right and supplying our bodies with the things we need to function.
CNN Moderator: What is your opinion of the United States Department of Agriculture findings that "the main thing in weight loss is calories in versus calories out?" Does this lead to the conclusion that it does not matter what diet you are on as long as you are eating less?
Jenny Craig: It does matter because foods that are high in fat are also high in calories. Fats have twice the numbers of calories as carbohydrates and protein. If you eat foods that are high in fat, you automatically will be eating foods high in calories, plus the fact that a high fat diet is not good for us healthwise. Fats create problems with high cholesterol and plaque that builds up in our arteries and create all kinds of problems.
Question from chat room: I do aerobics three times a week, active dancing another four evenings for several hours, and I try to eat sensibly. Yet, I seem to be plateaued weight-wise. I would like to lose about 10 lbs. What do I do?
Jenny Craig: To answer that question, I'd have to know what is a good body weight for you. Sometimes we set unrealistic goals for ourselves. Maybe your body type is not intended to be 10 pounds lighter. I really don't know without seeing you if that's a realistic goal. You seem to be doing all the right things, and that's good.
Question from chat room: I love pasta and bread. Does this mean my body is craving a certain vitamin or mineral?
Jenny Craig: No. It simply means that you are accustomed to eating a lot of pasta and bread! We need to introduce variety into our menu and not stick with any one food.
Question from chat room: Jenny, do you have a program for nursing mothers? My baby is one month old and I need to lose 20 lbs.
Jenny Craig: Yes, we do have a program for nursing mothers, as long as it's six weeks after delivery. It's a very good program. We have doctors that refer patients to our program.
Question from chat room: What are the differences between your program and Weight Watchers?
Jenny Craig: I wouldn't want to make a comparison. I don't know that much about Weight Watchers. Our program focuses on all the things that experts agree for long term weight management. That includes the right foods in the right proportions and exercise.
Question from chat room: I'm a busy professional, and I struggle to balance my work and home life. The hardest thing about eating is that I rarely have time to cook and often eat out. Any tricks to making better food choices?
Jenny Craig: Yes. First of all, because we have the frozen dinners, people who are very busy and work outside the home find it very convenient to have these foods prepared, and they are delicious, as well as good for us. Our clients often want to continue on these foods even after they've lost the weight because they are so convenient. The second part of that is we have a wonderful dining-out guide that teaches our clients how to select foods in all the ethnic restaurants, which foods to choose that are in their own best interest.
Question from chat room: I am a college athlete and I was wondering if your meals could provide all the nutrients and calories I need.
Jenny Craig: The answer is that I don't know how active you are and how many calories are required. As far as the breakdown of what is in the foods, yes. But if you're training very hard, we'd need to increase the number of calories that you take in.
Question from chat room: How does the Jenny Craig Program teach people like me to keep the weight off for good?
Jenny Craig: You have the tools to keep the weight off for good because we teach you how to make the right choices. We're all creatures of habit, and habits are formed by repetition, by doing the same thing over and over. When you get used to eating the right foods and exercising daily, they become habits. That's how we're able to keep the weight off for the rest of our life.
Question from chat room: With all of the 'diet' information out there, I always get confused on what kinds of food to eat, how much to eat, etc. Does the plan offer detailed (and easy) information for helping us to determine correct portions, etc?
Jenny Craig: Yes, we do. In fact, we have a neat little guide that shows the exact size, so that visually you can see the amounts you should be eating. We also talk about portion sizes.
Question from chat room: Will you be selling your food in supermarkets like another diet plan does now?
Jenny Craig: Not the foods that are on the program, no.
Question from chat room: Jenny, are you coming out with any new exercise videos soon?
Jenny Craig: Yes, we are. They're in the works now.
CNN Moderator: What strategies do you suggest for those who want to lose small amounts of weight such as 5 or 10 pounds?
Jenny Craig: It's really the same strategy. Whether you need to lose 10 pounds or 100 pounds, it gets down to lifestyle. Many clients come in with 10 or 15 pounds to lose. People are wise to get the first 5 or so pounds off, and not wait until it becomes a serious problem that can cause health problems.
Question from chat room: How many calories per day should an average adult woman have?
Jenny Craig: Our guides range from 1200 to 2300, depending on how much a person needs to lose. I would say anything in that range is good for healthy weight loss.
Question from chat room" How do I keep myself motivated to eat right?
Jenny Craig: One of the benefits of going into the centers is that you get the support and the direction that I think is important. Of course, we have little tips that we give the clients to help keep them motivated. But mainly, when you know you're being monitored, that someone is watching what you do and congratulating you on your successes, it is extremely motivating.
Question from chat room: Jenny, how do you feel about all of the fat-free snack lines that are out today?
Jenny Craig: That's good news and bad news. The bad news is that people tend to think that if it's low in fat, they can eat as much as they want. But as we pointed out earlier, it's really calories that count. If you're taking in too many calories, you'll gain weight. That's the danger with the low fat foods--people tend to overeat with them.
Question from chat room: What impact does drinking a lot of coffee have on losing weight?
Jenny Craig: We recommend that people cut their coffee intake down to one cup. On the program, we recommend caffeine-free. I think caffeine itself isn't good in excessive amounts.
Question from chat room: Do you have an adolescent program?
Jenny Craig: Yes, we do. We have a very good adolescent program. We're real proud of it because there are so many obese adolescents today. I want to point out that a child must be 13 in order to enter the program and must have the parents' permission, of course.
CNN Moderator: What percentage of people in your program are men?
Jenny Craig: About 10 percent are men, the rest are women. I think it's a combination of things. I think what happens is that women go home, and the husband is so pleased with the way she looks that he decides to join. We don't direct a lot of our marketing to men. However, I think that men today, because of the health risks of obesity, more and more men are coming onto the program.
Question from chat room: Are the Jenny Craig meals geared towards women, or can men benefit just the same?
Jenny Craig: Men can benefit just the same. The only difference, of course, is that with the men, we increase the number of calories.
Question from chat room: I find that the program works very well, although, after one year on Jenny Craig, I have not gotten any encouragement to eat my own food or to "lessen" the amount of days. Do the employees get a commission based on selling food?
Jenny Craig: The answer is that they do NOT get a commission on selling food! I don't know why after a year you're still on the food, because I don't know how much weight you needed to lose. We have people coming in that need to lose 200 pounds, so at the end of a year, they'd still be on the foods. A lot is determined by how much weight you need to lose, how long you come, and how regularly you come. Sometimes people come for two months, take a leave of absence, and come back six months later. I don't know if your year was a solid year, or just intermittently.
Question from chat room: How closely do you work with diabetic clients? As we all know, weight is a huge factor in keeping insulin under control?
Jenny Craig: Yes, it is. We have had many clients who were insulin dependent when they started the program, but don't need to use insulin now. So, our diabetic program is very good. We have a diabetic cookbook that has received rave reviews.
Question from chat room: Will you be coming out with any new cook books? I love those!
Jenny Craig: Yes, we will. We've had good reviews on the others that we've introduced. There are really some good recipes in them.
Question from chat room: I don't need to lose any weight. However, because I am always wrapped up with work, I find it hard to eat right. I would love to maintain my current weight. Would the Jenny Craig foods work for me?
Jenny Craig: It depends on what size you are now. We don't recommend people trying to lose weight, but certainly for maintenance, you could eat the foods. It's healthy, well prepared and very tasty.
Question from chat room: Why are your vitamins such an important part of the program?
Jenny Craig: When people are trying to lose weight, they cut down on calories. To insure that you're getting the proper nutrition, we feel that you should take a vitamin supplement. I take one every day, even though I don't have weight to lose. It's just part of our philosophy; it's an insurance policy.
Question from chat room: I have a slow thyroid and I cannot lose any weight. I was thinking of joining your program.
Jenny Craig: First of all, you should address your low thyroid problem. There is good medication that your doctor can give you. You should have a proper diagnosis. Then, you should join the program because it will give you the tools to making the lifestyle changes that are necessary.
Question from chat room: How is your staff trained to give "support"?
Jenny Craig: First of all, when we're hiring people, the one thing we look for is that they care. They must care about helping people. We can teach them the program and the routine, but we can't train them to care. I think anyone who is on the program, or knows anyone on the program, will tell you that our counselors have a "missionary" approach to their job. They love what they do, and they enjoy seeing people successful.
Question from chat room: How do you decide how much weight that particular person needs to lose?
Jenny Craig: We go according to the actuaries. There's a healthy weight range that's put out by the dietetic association, and we use that as a guideline. I think the real question is "when did you feel your best, at what weight?" Not everyone is made to be a size 6 or size 8. You have to go with your genetic programming.
CNN Moderator: Do you have any final thoughts to share with us today?
Jenny Craig: As far as the American population is concerned, 61 percent of our population is either overweight or obese. If we don't do something about it, it will get worse. Today, there are more obese adolescents than ever. Parents need to be role models and teach their children to make smart food choices. Itís got to start at home. You like what you get used to eating, and if parents don't get children used to eating healthy foods, they'll grow up eating snack foods and fast foods. This could mean that the children will face the same challenges, or greater challenges, than the parents are facing today.
CNN Moderator: Thank you for joining us today, Jenny Craig.
Jenny Craig: Thank you! I enjoyed being here.
Jenny Craig joined the chat room via telephone from San Diego and CNN.com provided a typist. The above is an edited transcript of the interview on Wednesday, March 21, 2001 at 1:30 p.m. EDT.
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