In a recent visit to Australia, OH! Magazine caught up with the woman whose name has been synonymous with weight loss for more than three decades.
Q. So it all began in 1983 for you. Can you tell me how you first come up with the concept for the Jenny Craig Weight Loss Program?
A. The Jenny Craig journey really started after the birth of my second daughter. I had gained 55 pounds and for the first time in my life I had a weight problem. I decided to join a gym where I began to regularly exercise. I changed my diet by reducing portion sizes and selecting my food more carefully, which helped me lose the unwanted pounds.
This was really the beginning of my health and fitness career – I started to work for several gyms and then began managing some of them, eventually opening up one on my own. I learned the business and became more and more interested in people who had lost weight matching my passion for seeing people achieve their goal weight. Back then, people didn’t pay much attention to what they ate and I knew there was a real market to help people regain control of their eating habits.
In 1970, I met my partner Sid Craig who was a partner in a women’s fitness salon, Body Contour was formed as a division of that company. I started working at that company and supported Sid in expanding the business.
One of our aims was to put into action a nutrition-focus for losing weight combined with tailored exercise programs. We had really noticed a need for a weight management program, because most of our clients at the time didn’t have a good understanding of the role that good nutrition and targeted exercise played in managing their weight.
In 1982 we sold our shares in Body Contour and this is when we decided to venture out on our own to start up Jenny Craig. In early May 1983, we opened up nine Weight Loss Centres in Melbourne and today have over 600 centres worldwide.
Q. Why your program has been so successful and stood the test of time, in an industry that’s filled with fad diets and supposed quick fixes?
A. The Jenny Craig Program isn’t just another diet, it’s really a healthy lifestyle change and we provide the tools and support to make those changes.
Our philosophy at Jenny Craig is that we provide a comprehensive weight management program that teaches our members how to eat well, move more and find life balance. Our lifestyle approach makes it easier to adopt the changes necessary for not only weight loss, but also weight maintenance. Our great tasting food serves as a tool that is paramount to program success.
The defining difference and the reason we have been so successful is that our team takes a genuine interest in the lives of clients. We have consultants who provide one-on-one support to clients. They take a personal interest in each and every client tailoring the program to meet their specific needs. We know that achieving weight loss is very difficult for many people and our consultants help you prepare for and overcome the countless challenges throughout your weight loss journey.
In addition to this, the Jenny Craig program has been developed by a team of leading specialists in the field of health and wellness. It’s based on solid research and that’s why we help clients achieve real and sustainable results.
Recently, a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, suggests doctors consider recommending Jenny Craig’s weight loss solution to their patients. Jenny Craig was identified as one of the most effective weight loss programs based on evidence that its participants achieved greater sustained weight loss at 12 months, relative to control groups.
Q. Traditionally, your program felt like it predominantly targeted females. Is that the case in reality? And what differences exist in the program for male clients?
A. Our program is for everyone and we see a good split between male and female coming to us for help with their wellness goals. The program is specifically tailored to meet the needs of each individual client, to ensure their success. It is suitable for anyone to participate, at any age and at any stage of life.
Our clients set a great example to their friends and families and this means that more and more men are joining Jenny Craig. They see their partners, children and friends achieve their weight loss goals. They value the support provided by our consultants and importantly for many of our male clients can do this privately and confidentially.
Q. Can you explain the importance of exercise in the Jenny Craig program?
A. The Jenny Craig program is built upon the three success factors, food, body and mind – and we believe that each pillar is just as important as the other.
Exercise is a crucial element of our program, however we understand that for many of our clients leaping straight into a rigorous exercise regime is neither practical nor necessarily safe. Depending on the client’s starting fitness, our program will gradually elevate exercise levels as the client’s fitness and confidence improves. Again this is where our consultants provide the best advice and support tailored to each client. I personally have found that brisk walking is the best all-around exercise because one can do it anywhere and requires no special equipment…just a comfortable pair of shoes.
Where appropriate, our consultants can recommend high-intensity exercises such as gym programs or running, but always within safe limits.
Q. What are the latest developments in your program?
A. We have reviewed our menu and have launched 33 new products in the past few months. Our program is based on the latest information and research that we have available to us in terms of nutrition and healthy weight management and lifestyle planning. For this reason, we have updated our nutritional products and we will continue to evolve the program to help our clients achieve their weight loss goals.
Most recently we’ve introduced nine new items including, an Apple & Berry Brekkie Cup, Beef Massaman, Spanish Chicken, Fish & Wedges and Butter Chicken, as well as newly refreshed items including Moroccan Couscous, Chilli Con Carne, Chicken Parmigiana and Macaroni Cheese.
We are always looking to enhance and innovate the Jenny Craig program and products to support great results and successful weight management and have many more exciting introductions on the horizon.
I can’t reveal too much, but we have even more delicious menu items that will be introduced in the coming months – giving our clients even more variety as they journey to achieve their weight loss goals.
Though the menu is evolving, some elements of the Jenny Craig program, like the one-to-one support, crucial to the program’s success in delivering our clients sustained results, will always remain.
Q. You recently partnered with Dr Ginni Mansberg. Can you tell us a bit about that collaboration?
A. Jenny Craig recently began a partnership with Dr Ginni Mansberg. While she’s not a Jenny ambassador and won’t be promoting our program, she will be sharing with our audience the realities of healthy weight loss, including the many benefits and challenges.
We feel that Dr Ginni’s a straight shooter, and love how she champions evidence-based approaches to healthy living. Importantly, from her own day-to-day medical practice, Dr Ginni clearly understands the very personal and often emotional journey weight loss can be.
For these reasons, we feel Dr Ginni will connect with our audience and is a strong fit with the culture and approaches taken at Jenny Craig.