Writer San Tong got the opportunity to do a two-week trial of Jenny Craig – and not only is she sharing her experience, but also four lessons learned.

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Confession time: My muffin top bugs me. And I don’t always love how my thighs look in the mirror.

That’s not to say I don’t love and take care of my body. I stay active and healthy, and I know I’m beautiful inside and out. I’d just be lying if I said those trouble spots didn’t bother me. Not that I’ve ever stayed on a diet long enough to do something about it.

But upon returning from a recent trip to New York — land of dense, cream-cheesy bagels, everything-on-it pizza, and super-sized pasta bowls — I realize the situation might call for some outside help. So when the opportunity arises to do a two-week trial of Jenny Craig®, the diet program known for its results — and personal support-based approach, the timing couldn’t be better. I’m hopeful that with the plan’s structure and support, I’ll finally be able to stay the course.

And while I don’t expect to drop tons of weight in two weeks (1-2 lbs. a week is the average weight loss on the program), I do hope to take away some longer-term learnings from the program, one of which is to teach clients healthy eating (and living) habits that last a lifetime.

Prep Time.

Before I officially begin my diet, I visit my local Jenny Craig center, where I meet with my counselor, Kimber — a.k.a. the World’s Best Weight Loss Coach. This is a big part of the program, and one that sets it apart from other diet plans: each client gets a personal consultant who provides support and a planned menu to help you reach your goal.

Kind and energetic, Kimber takes my measurements and walks me through the program: Jenny Craig will provide all my meals, along with a plan for exactly what I will eat. I can incorporate certain foods and beverages — considered “free” foods —in limited or sometimes moderate amounts depending on the item.

After our visit, I head straight to the supermarket where I stock up on carrots, asparagus, apples, plums, bananas and more. If this is dieting, I think to myself, I might just have a shot.

Day One.

The next morning, I wake up pretty jazzed about the idea of eating a bunch of fruits and vegetables — even if it means I’ll have to give up my potato chips and cheese crackers. (Mmmm, cheese crackers.) My first meal of the day is more than satisfying. Jenny Craig breakfasts are a combination of three of the following: one meal item like a muffin or egg sandwich, 1/2 a fruit, and 6 oz. of yogurt or a ready-to-drink shake. In fact, by the time lunch rolls around, I’m not even that hungry.

Snack Attack.

The rest of the day goes smoothly—except that after lunch, I begin to anticipate the dreaded afternoon snack craving. Sure enough, around 3 p.m., I have to admit that it’s pretty hard to look past the vending machine. But I manage to do it, opting for a plum instead. Kimber would be so proud, I think to myself.

Halfway There.

A week has gone by, and I eagerly head to the Jenny Craig center for my first check-in. Kimber welcomes me and gently leads me to the scale. I step up. Deep breath. And…the results are in: I’ve dropped 0.7 lbs.! Not quite a full pound (my goal for the week), but I won’t lie—I feel like I’ve accomplished something huge. In addition to losing weight (and steering clear of the vending machine), I definitely have more energy and fewer highs and lows throughout my day.

The Good, the Bad, the Peanut Butter Pretzels.

By Wednesday of my second week, I’m feeling pretty good about myself, and I decide I’ve earned a little freedom. I start playing fast and loose with my snacks, adding in some limited free foods. Unfortunately, this proves to be a slippery slope down vending-machine gorge. At one point, I find myself feeling some work-related stress, and before I know it I’ve gotten into the peanut butter pretzels—and beyond. (Looking at you, cheese crackers.)

Ugh. Total cheat-fest. But here’s where that support comes in. Normally, this kind of slip-up would permanently derail me. But with encouragement from Kimber (love Kimber), I get right back on the plan.

The End – and the Beginning.

Shortly after that, I have my final weigh-in. I’m a little concerned about my recent cheat day, but even as I walk in, I know my clothes are fitting better—these jeans were way easier to zip up this morning!

All in all, I lost about a pound and a half in two weeks—not bad for such a short trial, and well within reach of the average. I’m inspired to discover how much more I could achieve with a longer commitment! What’s more, I’ve proved to myself that I can stick with a plan — with a little help, of course — and I learned some invaluable smart-eating tips to help me maintain a healthy weight long term.

1. Size matters.

The meal plan I followed on the Jenny Craig program trained me not to gorge myself silly on things I like to eat. The focus on portion control made me realize just how much more I was eating on a regular basis. Remember, just because you’re eating healthy food doesn’t mean you can go overboard on it. A huge part of developing healthier eating habits is learning how to recognize your body’s fullness cues.

2. Don't be afraid of eating often.

At first it felt like I was eating all the time on the program, and then I realized that’s simply because… I was! By consuming six small meals or snacks spread throughout the day, I was able to keep my energy levels stable and my hunger at bay (which meant I was less likely to overeat). Just make sure you follow Jenny Craig’s planned menu so you don’t overdo it by mistake.

3. Personal support is powerful.

Kimber was truly my weight loss secret weapon. Being able to connect with her one-on-one whenever I felt down or frustrated by my progress was such a life-saver. Now, I know that having a reliable point of contact to stay accountable is key for maintaining healthy habits.

4. Choose the diet plan that's best for you.

When it comes to diet plans, one size is not likely to fit all. In the past, I’d abandoned programs that required me to count calories, track steps and measure out portion sizes because I found them too overwhelming. Then, I’d wonder what was wrong with me: Why couldn’t I stay focused on my goals? Being on Jenny Craig taught me that there was nothing wrong with me, rather there was something wrong with the diet plans I had previously tried. Now, I know that to get to a healthy weight — and stick to it — I need a plan that takes the guesswork and worry out of the process. I listen to my body, I eat the food that’s planned out for me, I check in with my consultant — most important, I don’t overthink it.

What Do YOU Think?

Are you interested in trying Jenny Craig? What aspects of the program do you think would help you the most? What would be the hardest part for you?