But sleep is not a mere luxury or indulgence; it’s necessary for good physical and mental health. Research shows that chronic sleep deprivation increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, as well as other health problems.2 Furthermore, people with insomnia are more likely to suffer from depression and to have anxiety than people with regular sleep.3
But what can you do if you’re the mother of a newborn, or if you have older children who continue to wake you at night? Read on for some tried-and-true solutions.
The problem: Your newborn wakes to eat every two hours.
Why it happens: Newborns’ tummies are tiny—only about the size of an apricot at 1 week of age4—so they need to eat often, usually every two hours or so in the early days. This can add up to unbelievable sleep loss for you, especially when you factor in that it takes the average breastfed newborn at least 20 minutes to feed, perhaps a bit less if you’re bottle-feeding.
Coping tips: Aside from hiring a night nurse to handle the night-time baby duties (which won’t work if you’re breastfeeding), there are no magic bullets. However, there are a few tips that can help:
Follow the age-old advice to nap when the baby does. Let your partner handle the housework or call on family and friends to tidy up so you can get some rest. Keep your baby in the same room as you. Doing so can not only help to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome5 (SIDS), but it also can mean less time padding down the hall to fetch the baby. While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against bed-sharing, you can put the bassinet or crib right next to your bed for easy feeding.6 Sleep in shifts. This, again, won’t really work if you’re nursing, but if you’re bottle-feeding, you and your partner can trade off with the feeding/changing duties. Other than that, pace yourself … most babies don’t begin to start to sleep through the night until 6 months of age or older7 (although their sleep stretches do tend to get longer as their stomachs grow).
The problem: Your older child is still waking at night.
Why it happens: Whether it’s due to teething, reaching an all-too-exciting milestone such as walking (which makes many babies want to do anything other than sleep) or a dozen different reasons, some older babies awaken once or more at night.
Coping tips: Look at the number of books on sleep tips for babies and you’ll see how big of an issue this is. In the meantime, try these tips:
Don’t jump at the first sound. Babies can be noisy sleepers, so give it a few minutes to make sure she’s actually awake before fetching her. Establish a soothing bedtime routine. Starting at approximately the same time each night, give your child cues that it’s time for bed: turn down the lights, use quiet voices, take a warm bath, read a book. Look for an underlying problem. Virtually from the time she was born, my daughter snored as loud as a semi-truck, and not just when she had a cold. She also woke, crying, several times a night, even as a toddler. My mama’s hunch told me this wasn’t right, so I asked her pediatrician about it—turns out her adenoids were inflamed and needed to be removed. Presto! Sleep problem solved. The problem: Even though your child is sleeping through the night, you’re still sleeping poorly.
Why it happens: A dozen different scenarios might apply.
Coping tips: Practice what the experts call “sleep hygiene”8:
Don’t eat too close to bedtime, and avoid carbonated drinks, which can trigger indigestion.9 Watch the alcohol. Even though it can help you fall asleep faster, your sleep can be disrupted later as your body processes the alcohol.10 Get regular exercise. Just 10 minutes of aerobic exercise can help you sleep better. Don’t do strenuous exercise too close to bedtime, though.11 Set the right temp. Your bedroom should be cool to get the best sleep, preferably between 60° and 67° F.12 Get the right light. Natural light is sleep-inducing; artificial light is not. Research has shown that artificial light, especially the blue light emitted from cell phone and computer screens, disrupts your body’s circadian rhythms and suppresses the production of melatonin, which helps with sleep. So, reduce or eliminate your screen time for two to three hours before bed, if possible, and try to get a healthy dose of bright outdoor light during the day. Also consider ditching your fluorescent light bulbs, as they, too, emit sleep-robbing blue light.13 Ask your partner if you snore. Sleep apnea is a major cause of disrupted sleep; snoring is a classic sign.14 Have your vitamin D checked. Research is increasingly showing that low levels can cause sleep problems.15
And although it may be little comfort now as you stumble through your days, bleary-eyed, know that with time, you will actually come to miss those middle-of-the-night wakeups and quiet, peaceful feedings, when it’s just you and your child, together.
If you want to join or restart back on the Jenny Craig program, you are eligible to do so once you are six weeks post-partum. If you are breastfeeding, your consultant will ensure that you are on an appropriate calorie level so that you and your baby receive the proper calories and nutrition you both need during this special time.
If you’re wondering how you can naturally boost your mood and increase your energy, the answer may be to get moving. Studies have shown that exercise improves not only mental health but it can also promote relaxation.1 Even better–you don’t need to be a professional athlete or exercise-pro to reap the benefits.
Wondering what simple activities can help you feel great? We’ve rounded up 7 exercises that may help lift your spirits and explain how each exercise improves mood differently.
How Does Exercising Improve Your Mood?
Regular exercise may give you a mood boost and improve the symptoms of depression and anxiety.2 When you break a sweat, your body releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins that enhance your sense of well-being. Getting active can also take your mind off of worries and help to relieve stress.3
What’s more, exercise may also help improve self-confidence.4 Along with boosted positive body image, there have also been findings of increased self-esteem.4 And the benefits of exercise don’t stop there, by breaking a sweat on a regular basis it allows you the chance to meet new people and socialize with friends.
Getting active is a great outlet to work out any stress you may be experiencing and can help with depression.5
Once you get into the routine of working out, whether a daily walk or workout class, you’ll likely start to notice a difference in how you feel – for the better.
Read on as we explore 7 different types of activities and the benefits of each.
#1. Yoga to Decrease Anxiety
The benefits of yoga go beyond increasing your flexibility – it may also help reduce anxiety.6
A study analyzed the anxiety levels of people who practiced yoga for at least one hour, three times a week. The results revealed that yoga is associated with increased levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric), which is an amino acid and neurotransmitter that can help decrease anxiety.7 One of the reasons could be due to the slow, deep breathing that is so vital to the practice. If you’re not up for an entire yoga class, even simple stretches along with mindful breathing could be beneficial.
#2. Tai Chi to Reduce Stress
Yoga isn’t the only stress-buster on the block. The ancient Chinese martial art of Tai Chi may also help you stress less.8
Tai Chi involves standing and shifting your weight back and forth while engaging the muscles in your lower and upper body and breathing rhythmically. Multiple studies have found that the slow and fluid movements help your muscles and mind relax.9 Think of it as meditation in motion. As an added benefit, Tai Chi can also help improve your balance, flexibility and strength.10
#3. Pilates to Improve Sleep
Not being able to sleep can be frustrating, but Pilates may be able to help your mind unwind.11
Pilates is a series of strengthening exercises to help improve physical strength and mental awareness. A study performed by Appalachian State University found that Pilates can do more than tone your body. Participants who did Pilates on a mat for at least 150 minutes a week were less likely to have sleep issues.12
#4. Cycling to Increase Energy
You don’t need to enter the Tour de France–research shows that even short rides on a bicycle may be beneficial!13
One study found that just a single 30-minute ride on a stationary bike boosted the energy levels of participants.14 The study’s authors also recorded positive electrical changes in the participants’ brains that were related to energy. Although we often think of physical activity as being tiring, you may feel a little more energized after a workout session.
#5. Weight Lifting to Increase Clarity
It turns out that pumping iron can not only tone your body, it may also boost your mind.15
You don’t have to curl heavy dumbbells to reap the benefits of weightlifting. A study of older adults found that performing low-intensity, weight-training exercises three to five times a week for a month, improved the participants’ cognitive function.15 The cognitive tests showed an improvement in executive function, which includes planning, behavior regulation and multitasking.
#6. Dancing to Release Endorphins
If you love dancing for fun, we have good news: not only can it raise your heart rate16 which helps burn calories, but multiple studies have shown music may offer a healthy escape for your mind.17
Much like a runner’s high, the rhythmic movement of dancing releases endorphins that may boost your mood. Put on some music, dance away, and see for yourself!
#7. Swimming to Reduce Depression
Looking for a mood-boosting exercise that is low-impact? Consider swimming which can improve your mental and physical health.18
The results of one study found that swimming had the same effect on rats as an antidepressant.19 Because swimming uses special breathing techniques and repetitive strokes, it can be meditative and potentially reduce tension.
By incorporating one or more of these exercises into your daily routine, you may boost your mood and even bring you closer to your weight loss and fitness goals.
Are you looking for a weight loss program that can help you with your eating habits as well as give you guidance on physical activity? Book your free appointment with Jenny Craig to start your weight loss journey today.
If so, you’re not alone. There’s a growing body of evidence that suggests people may be predisposed to eating larger meals in the evening,1 especially if they’ve skimped on food earlier in the day. Because satiety is lower as the day goes on, it can be easy to eat dinner or snacks and then feel the urge to eat again, shortly after.2 So how can you combat your body’s tendencies?
Front-loading your calories may be the answer. Read on as we explore why eating a substantial breakfast may prevent your evening food habit.
When trying to lose weight, it’s a common myth that it’s a good idea to skip breakfast or eat something very light in the morning. Or, perhaps you’re trying to offset a large dinner from the night before, so you skip the morning meal. Recent research3 suggests that there is a link between eating breakfast and having a decreased risk for high cholesterol and blood pressure. So, eating breakfast is a good idea, not only to help with weight loss, but also for your heart!
Another win for breakfast is that by making it one of the largest meals of your day, you may be setting yourself up for more weight loss. One study4 divvied up participants getting the same number of calories into two groups: the first group had a large breakfast, medium lunch and small dinner; the second group had their meals in small-medium-large order. The group that ate the larger breakfast showed a two-and-a-half times greater weight loss than the latter group. The report concluded that a, “high‐calorie breakfast with reduced intake at dinner is beneficial and might be a useful alternative for the management of obesity and metabolic syndrome.”5
What makes this study even more telling? Hunger suppression was cited among the large breakfast eaters—reaffirming that by loading up on more food early on, you may be able to avoid late-night snacking impulses.
Janet Nash, registered dietitian for Jenny Craig explains, “From dawn until mid-afternoon, our metabolism is optimal and the body is most efficient at burning calories as fuel. So it makes sense for us to prioritize consuming most of our calories earlier in the day when our metabolism is optimal and avoid eating large meals in the evening, when the body is winding down and getting ready for bed.”6
This is why Jenny Craig’s newest program, Rapid Results, is designed with a specific eating pattern that includes a larger breakfast. With three meals and three snacks spread throughout the day, the plan may better stave off hunger that might result in overeating.
Front-loading your calories aligns with your body’s natural circadian rhythm, which in simplest terms is your internal clock. Rapid Results recommends a 12-hour “nourishment” period that starts with a well-balanced breakfast and ends with a lighter supper. For the next 12 hours, your body can focus on “rejuvenation,” which also includes sleep. This timing can help optimize metabolism and may accelerate weight loss.7
Adopting this kind of routine can also improve other aspects of your life, not just your weight. As Dr. Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, FACSM, national nutrition and metabolism expert explains, “Scientists have also found that sticking to the 24-hour nourish-rejuvenation cycle not only preserves your muscle mass, but, with physical activity, may increase it. You’ll also activate fat burning and reduce swings in appetite. Sleep quality and energy may also be enhanced.”
That’s why it’s important to set yourself up for success, and front-loading your calories during the day may help. You can also plan evening activities that are just as rewarding and will help you avoid mindlessly consuming food. Take a walk after dinner or do some stretching. Draw a soothing bath or apply a face mask. Get artsy by playing an instrument or drawing.
So, the next time it’s been "one of those days," try taking a breather and find an alternative to your evening snacking—your body will thank you!
If you’re ready to try eating with your body’s natural circadian rhythm and incorporate a healthy eating regimen into your routine, contact Jenny Craig for your free appointment today.
 Longo, Valter D., and Satchidananda Panda. “Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, and Time-Restricted Feeding in Healthy Lifespan.” Cell Metabolism, vol. 23, no. 6, 14 June 2016, pp. 1048–1059., doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2016.06.001.
 Peterson, C. Pennington Biomedical Research Center. “Time-Restricted Feeding Increases Fat Oxidation and Reduces Swings in Appetite Levels in Humans.” Oral abstract presentation at: The Obesity Society Annual Meeting at ObesityWeekSM 2016; October 31 – November 4, 2016. www.obesityweek.com.
The Link Between Weight and Cancer
It’s an astounding fact, but the average American’s risk of developing cancer is 1 in 3 during his or her lifetime.2 While numerous factors affect a person’s risk, studies have shown a clear link between being overweight and developing certain types of cancer.3 Research from the American Cancer Society suggests that 8% of all cancers in the United States are due to excess body weight.3
The type of cancers linked to being overweight range from breast cancer in postmenopausal women, colon and rectal cancer, to esophageal cancer, kidney cancer and pancreatic cancer – just to name a few.4 Excess body weight may also be responsible for other cancers including cervix, liver, ovary, and prostate.3
The risk of many of these cancers may also increase when a person has excess abdominal fat, regardless of their body weight.3 Additionally, it’s also believed that being overweight as a child or young adult can make a person more likely to develop certain cancers than someone who gained weight later in life.3
Although there is a clear correlation between weight and cancer, researchers and physicians still don’t fully understand the exact reasons, due to the complexity of the disease. Some theories are that excess body fat might affect immune function, inflammation, levels of insulin and hormones, such as estrogen. Scientists are still conducting extensive research to obtain a better understanding.
Can Losing Weight Reduce Your Cancer Risk?
While all this information can be overwhelming, research suggests that you can take steps to reduce your cancer risk.5
Not only can losing weight improve other measures of health and wellness, but it may also help lower your risk of developing certain cancers. For example, while research is limited, there have been findings that show weight loss might reduce the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer and aggressive types of prostate cancer.6
A study of 36,000 women found that postmenopausal women who intentionally lost weight had a much lower rate of endometrial cancer up to 11 years later when compared to women who did not lose weight.11 What’s even more interesting – they didn’t have to lose an exorbitant amount of weight to reap the rewards – those who intentionally lost 5% or more of their body weight had a 29% lower risk of developing endometrial cancer.7
The study on endometrial cancer also provided additional information about the causal link between weight and cancer. The researchers suggested that excess body fat likely boosts the amount of estrogen that a woman’s body produces, potentially increasing the risk of hormone-sensitive cancers.7 The same study also suggested it’s never too late to lose weight in order to reduce your risk of developing the disease – a powerful message to anyone putting off their health and wellness goals.
If you’re looking to lose weight, here are some tips to get started:
1. Commit to a Plan
The first and most important step to losing weight is deciding to start. By setting weight loss goals that are measurable and attainable, you’ll be more likely to stay on track. Keep in mind that losing just 5% of your body weight can reduce your cancer risk.7
2. Sync Up with Your Circadian Rhythm
You likely know how important making healthy food choices and exercising is to lose weight, but did you know that when you eat is just as important as what you eat? Eating in sync with your circadian rhythm, also known as your body’s internal clock, could help accelerate your weight loss.8
Not only could eating with your body’s natural rhythm help aid your weight loss goals, but studies have also found a potential reduction in developing cancer by following a daytime nutrition strategy, such as time-restricted feeding because of the reduction in blood glucose levels.9 Studies have also shown a reduced risk of breast cancer by consuming the majority of your calories during daylight hours.10
3. Try a Science-Backed Program to Kick Start Your Success
Jenny Craig’s newest program, Rapid Results, is based on the science behind circadian rhythm. The plan divides the day into a 12-hour nourishment period and a 12-hour rejuvenation period. During the nourishment period, you eat six times, choosing from nutritionist-designed and chef-crafted meals. During the rejuvenation period, which includes sleep, your body’s cells can adequately repair and regenerate, preparing for the next day.
Do you want to see how working with your natural circadian rhythm may help you lose weight and potentially see health benefits beyond weight loss? Contact Jenny Craig for your free appointment.
 Longo, Valter D., and Satchidananda Panda. “Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, and Time-Restricted Feeding in Healthy Lifespan.” Cell Metabolism, vol. 23, no. 6, 14 June 2016, pp. 1048–1059., doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2016.06.001.
If you’re a man over 30 and feel like with every passing year, maintaining your fitness seems exponentially difficult, you’re not imagining things. As we age, our metabolism slows1, growth hormone production diminishes2, and our lives typically become busier and more stressful—which can make it challenging to keep exercise and nutrition a priority. Before long, you may have put on more weight than you’re comfortable with, and everyday activities—like mowing the lawn or shooting hoops—begin to feel a lot more laborious.
However, by making a few simple lifestyle changes, you may be able to reclaim your fit-self and restore your athleticism and vigor! Try one or all of these 5 tips for staying fit after 30:
1. Move more
You may feel like you can’t add anything else to your busy schedule – but including more movement into your everyday routine might not be as challenging as you think. Start small: look for ways you can add extra steps into your day. Try parking a couple blocks away from the store, take the stairs instead of the escalator, or use the restroom that’s furthest from your office space at work. Although it might not seem like much, all those steps can add up quickly and significantly impact your calorie burn for the day.
2. Fuel your body right
Think of your body as a high-performance engine: sure, you can add lower octane fuel and it’ll run fine for a while, but ultimately performance will suffer and the engine will break down. Same goes for your body—it’s critical to fuel it properly. That means including a well-rounded diet and loading up on vegetables. Vegetables are nutrient dense and high in fiber, which means they’ll help you stay fuller, longer and without piling on too many extra calories. Your engine will be running smoothly in no time!
3. Moderation is key
Committing to eating healthier means limiting junk food with low nutritional value. However, you don’t need to swear off burgers and desserts altogether. Remember, all foods can be enjoyed in moderation, provided they fit into your overall nutrition plan. It just means keeping them as once-in-a-while treats, as opposed to everyday staples. Jenny Craig incorporates menu items like the Classic Cheeseburger and Chocolate Lava Cake that include just the right amount of proteins, carbs and fats—to leave you feeling satisfied without derailing your goals.
4. Plan Ahead When Dining Out
If you have plans to dine out, take a few moments earlier in the day to look at the menu, review the nutritional information (if the restaurant provides it), and decide what meal you plan to order. By pre-selecting your food before you’re at the table and before you’re ravenous, you’ll be able to make a more informed choice.
5. Ask for help!
Don’t worry, you don’t need to figure everything out on your own. In the same way that you might bring in a plumber or repairman to work on your house, you can benefit from the expertise of individuals with education and years of experience. By following a plan like Jenny Craig, where you get your own dedicated personal consultant to provide support, odds are that you’ll achieve results quicker than trying to lose weight on your own.3 Plus, you’ll be on your way to feeling healthier and more energetic than ever before.
Are you ready to take the next step and start a weight loss program with proven results? Contact Jenny Craig for your free appointment to start reclaiming your health.
If you too are starting to feel like you’re spinning your wheels, never quite reaching the end of your to-do list, take heart: There are ways to streamline your day and to help ease the stress of today’s modern world. Read on for 9 simple tips to help stop feeling overwhelmed and give yourself the gift of time:
1. Grab time for yourself where (and when) you can.
Even if it means giving up 15, 20, 30 minutes of precious—and all too elusive—sleep, consider getting up a bit earlier in the morning, even if it’s just to grab some quiet time before the rest of the household wakes. I like to make my coffee, sit down, cup in hand, and watch the sun rise—and I do it every single day, putting aside my nagging to-do list and pinging cell phone.
2. Plan dinners ahead of time.
Some moms (or dads) are organized enough that they can plan an entire week of meals at a time, grocery shop, and then actually cook them—over the weekend. This undoubtedly saves immeasurable amounts of time during the week, but if you’re not quite up to the entire task, you may consider planning your meals and doing the majority of the shopping over the weekend, when work and school schedules are less demanding. You may still need to make a few quick stops for produce during the week, but at least some of the pressure will be alleviated during those hectic workdays.
3. Take advantage of downtime.
Got some time to kill while you wait in the stands at baseball practice? Put those minutes to good use—finish sending work e-mails (within reason), clean out your overflowing purse, or sketch out next week’s meals. Or, even better, take the time to refresh and actually do something for yourself: Take a walk, read a book, knit, call a friend—whatever helps you get some of that vitally important, and all too rare, “me” time.
4. Keep a family calendar.
When my husband first suggested instituting an online calendar, I revolted. The prospect of reducing schedules to our phones seemed so … clinical. I also feared we would let the calendar take the place of actual dialog and we would neglect to discuss important events and family details. But I’ve gotten used to it and it’s helped to avert an untold number of scheduling disasters. It keeps everyone in the loop on upcoming events.
5. Realize that your kids may be able to do more than you think they can.
Your children may be more eager than you think to help with simple tasks around the house. Put the younger one in charge of taking out the trash; an older child can help set or clear the dinner table. It’s the little things that can help build not only responsibility but also save you a few extra minutes.
6. Let your older kids pack their own lunches.
Not only can it help save you some money, but having your kids pack their own lunches can instill healthier eating habits early on. Try having your kids take their own lunches the majority of the time—and let them get in on the act by choosing what they want to pack (within reason, of course). If they need a bit of help in selecting items that constitute a well-rounded meal, make a checklist with categories, such as the following:
Also, consider making a few sandwiches ahead of time; or lunch-worthy smoothies that the kiddos can grab in the morning on the way out the door.
7. Ignore your e-mail, at least a little.
Not only can the practice of constantly checking and responding to email be an intrusion into your home life, but it can also eat up oodles of time. A recent study1 found that workers spend a staggering 7.4 hours per workday on email, often starting while still in bed. Another study2 found that people who check their email only three times per day, as opposed to unlimited amounts, experience less psychological stress. Yes, it can be hard, but try reducing the number of times you’re checking email throughout the day. Your cortisol levels will thank you for it.
8. Set up an errand co-op.
Bringing tots along on errand runs can be exhausting for all involved - with the constant potty breaks, hauling kids in and out of car seats, and inevitable pleas for toys/food/etc. Enlist a friend and take turns watching each other’s kids while the other tends to errands…it’ll go faster and everyone will likely be happier.
9. Schedule time for yourself.
All of this may sound fine when it comes to managing your all-too-hectic life and household. But what about the part about taking care of you? Unfortunately, all too many moms make the mistake of managing a million different details of other people’s lives, but they neglect to manage their own. So just like you schedule your kids’ entertainment, school and sports activities, start scheduling your own. That’s right—put your workout time on your family calendar. Or your facial. Or your gardening. Or your weekly Jenny Craig consultation. And stick to it, just like you would for your kids.
We hope you take these suggestions to heart not only for your own stress levels and sanity, but so you have more time in your day to enjoy family and life!
My name is Erin and I am a 21-year old college graduate with a music degree in vocal performance. Yes, I am a millennial, who’s all about hipster fads and natural remedies, but two years ago, I was not feeling so healthy. I had been overweight as far back as I can remember. Growing up overweight eroded my self-confidence and left me feeling depressed. In high school, I played a lot of tennis with the hopes that the added activity would help me lose weight, but it didn’t. Looking back, I realize that I was engaging in mindless eating without any portion control. Before losing weight, I often woke up feeling sad and telling myself, “today I will start losing weight,” but it never seemed to happen.
Not only was my weight affecting my mood and health, but it was also impacting my future career in vocal performance. I love singing, but If you aren’t comfortable with your image, performing is a nightmare. Confidence is key. The reason I knew I had special talent was by participating in Texas All-State auditions. These auditions are held with the singer behind a screen and the judges on the other side. You are judged solely on your voice. I would win with my voice but was not confident that I could win with my image. In musicals, I always played the mother, evil stepmother or comedic mayor. Image says a lot when performing in front of others, and I felt my image told the story of a young woman who was unhealthy, not confident and not a leading lady.
I talked with my older sister who is also my best friend. She could tell how miserable I was. She had lost weight on Jenny Craig and recommended that I give the program a try. I trust her more than anyone, so when I told her that I had enough of being overweight and would start on Jenny Craig in January, she said, “Start tomorrow!” – and I did.
When I signed up for Jenny Craig Anywhere, I was asked what kind of consultant would work best for me. I let them know I wanted someone that would hold me accountable to my goals. Amber was that consultant, and during our weekly consultations over the phone, we would celebrate my wins and talk about the upcoming week and any challenges that I might face.
One week I told her I was going on a date, a first for me since starting college. It was a dinner date and she told me this happy occasion did not have to be a reason to go off my plan. She suggested that I choose the restaurant and decide beforehand what I was going to eat. The date went well and I learned that I could still stay on track while balancing a social life.
I found school was easier with my consultant Amber at my side. My meals were prepped, the food was delicious, and people started to notice my weight loss! The Jenny Craig program provided me with a perfectly balanced meal plan for a healthy lifestyle. The menu taught me when to eat, how much to eat, and how I should feel after a meal, satisfied but not stuffed. I loved not having to cook a single thing, except for veggies, which I eat a ton of. As the weeks went by, the weight came off!
I lost 25 lbs.* on Jenny Craig while in a new relationship and taking 21 hours of coursework in school. I gained the confidence I should have always had. My life was a fresh start after losing weight on Jenny Craig. I stopped worrying about what others were seeing or thinking, and most importantly, I stopped comparing myself to others. I left for class every day feeling comfortable in my own skin and this showed in my life.
I became more active, more outgoing and a better leader within the music school. I didn’t say “no” to opportunities anymore. I took classes at the college gym without embarrassment, made healthy choices on a menu, and when asked, helped colleagues with advice about losing weight in a healthy way. I would be lying if I said it was easy, but I realize my life would not have turned out the way it did if I had not lost weight and learned new, healthy habits.
I credit Jenny Craig for helping me make my dreams a reality. Losing weight made me the best version of myself. One piece of advice I would give to someone wanting to lose weight is to do it for yourself. Losing weight to impress the cute guy you work with does not work. Believe in yourself and lose weight for you.
I wanted to share my story because I know that there are thousands of girls out there just like me. I want them to know that their life can change. It’s possible to change the way you think about yourself, just by gaining some knowledge on healthy eating. Food is a life source, not an emotional crutch. Thank you, Jenny Craig, for giving me a new start.
*Members following our program, on average, lose 1-2 lbs. per week
But concerns around weight gain during menopause isn’t just about being able to fit in your favorite pair of jeans—it can be bad for your health. According to the North American Menopause Society, obesity—particularly abdominal obesity—puts postmenopausal women at increased risk of developing chronic medical conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and breast and uterine cancer.2 And those with Type 2 diabetes may find that weight gain worsens their symptoms.3
But why does midlife weight gain happen in the first place? And is there anything you can do to prevent the pounds from sneaking on? Read on for the 5 most common causes of menopausal weight gain, along with sensible ways to keep the pounds in check.
The Top Causes of Menopausal Weight Gain
1. Hormonal Changes
The drop in estrogen and progesterone that causes the cessation of your period, along with the classic complaints of menopause—mood swings, hot flashes, an altered sex drive, just to name a few—is also a cause of menopausal weight gain.4 This hormonal shift, particularly as it relates to estrogen, is also why you’re more likely to gain weight around your abdomen, as opposed to your hips and thighs.5
But weight gain can start to happen before you’re in full-blown menopause. Many women notice weight changes during the period of time leading up to menopause—called perimenopause—when hormone fluctuations and symptoms start to occur.
2. The Natural Aging Process
You can’t blame hormones alone for menopausal weight gain; you are also more likely to gain weight as you grow older because muscle mass naturally diminishes with age.6 Losing muscle mass affects how quickly your body can use calories and lowers your resting metabolism rate, making it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight. This is why you might find that you’re eating the same but still gaining weight.
In addition to losing muscle, women are more likely to become insulin-resistant as they age.7 Insulin – a hormone that plays a key role in stabilizing blood sugar levels – when unregulated, can make weight gain more likely and weight loss more challenging.
3. Poor Sleep Habits
Your body needs sleep in order to function properly, but many women, particularly perimenopausal and menopausal women, find that they have trouble getting enough rest.8 The reasons for sleep disturbances at this age vary—some women have sleep apnea or other sleep disorders, while others struggle with mood and anxiety disorders, restless leg syndrome or hot flashes.
Regardless of the reason, a lack of sleep is associated with weight gain.9 Being sleep-deprived can also lead to snacking and eat more calories all around.10
4. A Poor Diet and Lack of Exercise
Eating a healthy diet and getting the recommended amount of exercise each week is important at any phase of life. However, it becomes even more critical in helping to fight weight gain during menopause.
Although you know you need to eat right and exercise, you may not always do it as you struggle to balance your career, family needs and social life. With so many priorities competing for your time and attention, it can be easy to grab unhealthy food and skip exercise. Although your body may let you get away with this in your teens, 20’s or even 30’s, it isn’t so forgiving once you reach menopause.
Your genetic legacy can also influence menopausal weight gain. If your mother struggled with her weight during menopause, you may also have difficulty managing yours during this time.11 Additionally, if a parent or another close relative carries extra weight around the middle, you’re more likely to follow in their footsteps.12
How to Keep the Pounds Off
1. Make Dietary Changes
Due to all the changes associated with menopause, you may need to eat a couple hundred calories less per day than you did in your 30s and 40s.13 This might sound daunting, but it can be easier than you think. For example, replace beverages such as soda and juice with calorie-free options. Be sure to drink water throughout the day—eight 8-ounce glasses or more—to help promote a feeling of satiety, and for overall good health. And steer clear of alcoholic beverages—like sodas, they are empty calories, devoid of any nutritional value.
Also, consider whether you should reduce your consumption of sweets and food filled with empty calories. We all have our temptations when it comes to treats, but moderation is key. This means that you can indulge in your favorites every now and then, but in order to prevent weight gain, you need to make it the exception, not the rule. Need more convincing? Research shows that nearly 300 calories come from added sugars each day in the average American diet!14 Half of these calories are from juices and soft drinks, while the rest come from desserts like cookies and ice cream. Another reason why portion-control is key!
If you’re following the Jenny Craig menu, we’ve got you covered as your snacks and desserts are already accounted for in your overall weight loss plan, so you don’t need to worry about enjoying a slice of that Chocolate Lave Cake.
Overall, your diet should include more fruits, vegetables, calcium sources such as nonfat yogurt, and healthy proteins. Lean meats, eggs, low-fat dairy and legumes are some of the protein sources we love.
2. Eat With Your Circadian Rhythm in Mind
To achieve maximum weight loss, you’ll also have to think about the timing of your meals and snacks. Cutting-edge research shows that when you eat is just as important as what you eat.15
Your body and metabolism are regulated by your circadian rhythm. This refers to the behavioral, mental and physical changes you experience over a 24-hour period.16 These changes are divided into two 12-hour periods, which are dictated by light and darkness. It turns out that your metabolism follows a predictable curve each day that matches these periods: your metabolism peaks in the middle of the day and decreases as the day goes on.
To help you on your weight loss journey, Jenny Craig has developed the Rapid Results program, which divides the day into a 12-hour nourishment period and a 12-hour rejuvenation period. You eat six times a day during the nourishment period and take a digestion break during the rejuvenation period. By following a program such as this, you will find that you’re eating in sync with your body’s natural rhythm, which can lead to greater weight loss.17
3. Keep Moving
If breaking a sweat isn’t part of your normal routine, now is the time to start. Even if you work out regularly, it may be a good time to re-evaluate your exercise routine to make sure it includes both aerobic exercise and strength training. Not only will this type of variety keep you from getting bored with your workout routine, but it is also necessary to maintain health and promote weight loss.
Aerobic exercise is any activity that gets the large muscles in your body moving for an extended period of time. Some examples include walking, running, dancing, swimming and cycling. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week.18 Even small bursts of activity throughout your day can help you reach this number. Try a brisk walk on your lunch break or after work a few times a week – little changes throughout your day can make a big difference!
As for strength training, this includes any exercise that increases skeletal muscle strength, mass, power and endurance. The CDC recommends that adults do muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups at least two days a week. You don’t need to be a bodybuilder to reap the rewards: try incorporating weights in a simple circuit based workout with stretching and cardio. Not only does strength training prevent muscle loss, but it can also help you rebuild muscle and prevent osteoporosis.19
All forms of exercise also offer a number of other health benefits, including a lower risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, enhanced joint and muscle health, and relief from depression and anxiety.20
4. Get More Sleep
Because lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain during menopause, it’s important to get enough rest each night. According to the CDC, adults between the ages of 18 and 60 need seven or more hours of sleep each night.21 If you’re not getting enough rest, try figuring out why and take steps to solve for it.
If your busy schedule is keeping you from getting to bed at a reasonable hour, try to simplify it. Don’t be afraid to start saying no to certain activities or delegate some responsibilities. Take a hard look at your schedule and see where you can cut items to make room for more sleep.
5. Seek Support
It can be difficult to make lifestyle changes on your own, so why not get some support? Surround yourself with friends and loved ones who will support you on your journey to lose weight and get healthy. You may want to consider the benefits of having your own personal weight loss consultant, who is there to support you every step of the way.
Also, consider enlisting a friend to be your workout buddy and make lifestyle changes together. It’ll make sticking with these changes even easier—and more fun.
Although menopause can cause weight gain, you can take steps now to help prevent or minimize it. By understanding why you gain weight during this time and implementing simple lifestyle changes, you can continue on a healthy path – weight gain is not inevitable! You may even lose weight if you implement healthier choices that you weren’t making before.
If you’re ready to take the next step in your weight loss journey, contact Jenny Craig today to schedule your free appointment.
 Cell metabolism 23.6 (2016): 1048-1059. DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2016.06.001
2 small tomatoes, diced 1 green pepper, chopped ¼ red onion, diced ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped 2 small garlic cloves, crushed Juice from ½ lime Pepper, to taste
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Serve with your Jenny Craig street tacos or use it as a dip with carrot chips!
*Counts as 1 cup veggie serving
Parisa was featured in Women’s Health Magazine and explains her story in her own words:
My name is Parisa, I’m 28 and I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my life. At 17, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease which is a chronic autoimmune, inflammatory bowel disorder. I relied on medication to control the pain and the severe digestive problems I was experiencing. Once achieving remission and having no active symptoms, I quickly began to overeat, gaining over 50 lbs. I coped with stress by eating and during my years of college, graduate school, and job hunting, the pounds continued to pile on. Eating a large package of double stuffed cookies and a family size bag of potato chips were frequent snacks that I thoroughly enjoyed.
I was married in October 2015 weighing 270 lbs., which was the heaviest that I’d ever been. I was excited about my wedding, but being a size 22 made bridal gown shopping a challenge. The gown I chose was lovely, but wearing it did not make me feel like a beautiful bride. I had pangs of remorse that I had not lost weight for my big day. I blew it off by making jokes about my appearance and let it go to enjoy my wedding.
Weeks later when I was looking at my wedding pictures, I was overcome with strong emotions that hit me hard. I saw my groom and bride maids looking healthy and happy. When I looked at myself in the photos, I felt little joy. I was immersed in regret, disappointment and sadness. Fortunately, those feelings changed quickly to a fierce resolve to take back control of my life and make changes that would have me looking and feeling the way I wanted. I was ready to make a change and I vowed to commit to choices in my life that would make that change happen. There would be no more excuses.
A commercial for Jenny Craig came on as I was processing all of this, and I felt it was a sign. I made an appointment right away. The way to success was to be accountable, get support, and learn new eating habits. At Jenny Craig, I would have my own consultant to help me achieve these goals. The date was January 6, 2016, and it was a new beginning!
The Jenny Craig Program gave me the tools I needed to change my eating habits. The food was delicious, and I ate six times a day which helped me from feeling deprived and kept the hunger away. I stayed accountable to myself and my consultant by keeping a weekly menu planner to track what I ate and to record my weight. I stayed motivated by taking pictures documenting my weight loss and comparing them to pictures of me at my heaviest. When I needed extra motivation, I would look at those and remind myself of how far I’d come.
My consultant, Rosetta, has been one of my most enthusiastic cheerleaders, supporting me through the challenges and providing tips and strategies to keep me on the road to success. Most importantly, we became friends. Her reassurance and support gave me the encouragement to keep going and not give up. I don’t know what I would do without her.
I lost 102 lbs.* on Jenny Craig! During my journey, I achieved one of my most important goals which was to weigh less than 200lbs. on my first wedding anniversary. My health has improved tremendously and my medications for my Crohn’s disease have been drastically reduced. I’m able to walk up and down stairs and I no longer need my emergency inhaler. I’m able to exercise comfortably and have taken up several different activities including belly dancing and aerial yoga. Clothes shopping is fun now and I love that I can walk into any store and find something that fits. Gone are the days of endless snacking on double stuffed cookies and potato chips. I am now the happiest and healthiest I‘ve ever been. I feel back in control of my life and feel proud of my accomplishments that have given me back my life!
*Members following our program, on average, lose 1-2 lbs. per week