It’s finally time to put away your summer clothes and start pulling out your layers…because fall is officially here! And with every autumn leaf that hits the ground, it seems like there’s another pumpkin dish or drink on display. Luckily, pumpkin isn’t just delicious, it is actually a superfood. Check out these great reasons to enjoy more pumpkin this season!
Feel full and satisfied
Pumpkins are rich in fiber, which helps you to feel more full and satisfied. New, preliminary research even showed that fiber appears to benefit gut health by nurturing the good bacteria that live in our bodies.1 Plus, a single cup of pumpkin delivers almost 2 grams of protein, which also can contribute to feelings of fullness.2
When considering your next pumpkin purchase, be sure to buy fresh or unsweetened pureed pumpkin to avoid added sugars. Look for the smaller “sugar” pumpkins to get the best flavor. Large decorative pumpkins, like the ones used to carve jack-o’-lanterns, will often be stringy and bland. Fresh pumpkin is surprisingly versatile and can be added to soups, smoothies and oatmeal for a mildly sweet flavor enhancer.
Great source of amino acids & protein
Despite their small size, pumpkin seeds are packed with powerful nutrients. You’ll enjoy amino acids, protein and vitamins with every serving.3 Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of magnesium, zinc and potassium, among other beneficial minerals.4 And with only 18 calories per tablespoon5, a dash of seeds can add a tasty crunch to any meal, without hindering your weight loss goals. Just be sure to use a measuring spoon to keep the portion in check.
Balance your immune system
A pumpkin’s vibrant orange color comes from beta-carotene, an antioxidant that your body turns into vitamin A.6 Not only is Vitamin A beneficial for eye health, helping your retina absorb and process light, but it can also help your body fight harmful infections, potentially boosting your immune system.7
Support your skin’s health
While pumpkin will never replace sunscreen, some studies suggest that beta-carotene may help to prevent skin irritation caused by UV rays.8 What’s more, the vitamin C found in pumpkin may also promote a healthy complexion. Although beauty products containing vitamin C are popular, most topical applications can only reach surface layers of the skin. One of the best ways to experience vitamin C’s benefits is to consume it: Eating fruits and vegetables, like pumpkin, allow the vitamin to be absorbed into your bloodstream, where it can directly impact the deepest layers of skin.9
New Research Says It Might Help Regulate Blood Glucose
Researchers are finding that active ingredients in pumpkins’ pulp and seeds may be the keys to developing new treatments for those with diabetes. In one test, pumpkin seeds showed hypoglycemic properties, which could eventually be used to help regulate blood glucose levels;10 however, more studies are needed to further these findings.
Enjoy a Healthy Seasonal Treat
With the holidays quickly approaching, you may be looking for healthier alternatives to sugar-laden dishes. This succulent squash is versatile enough to be included in a variety of meals, while keeping you on track with your weight loss goals.
Pumpkin’s lightly sweet and mellow flavor adds a seasonal touch to any dish. It pairs wonderfully with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, so there’s no need to reach for high-calorie, artificially-flavored pumpkin products. Love pumpkin spice? Our limited-time Pumpkin Spice Cakes and Pumpkin Loaf are two delicious ways to indulge in the best fall flavors.
Are you ready to start improving your health in time for the holidays? Contact us to book a free appointment where you’ll meet with a personal weight loss consultant to discuss your goals.
If you are following the Rapid Results program, be sure to check with your consultant before making any modifications to your plan.
As a parent, you are undoubtedly determined to create the best life possible for your children. And chances are, helping them to live a long, healthy life is part of the plan. This prospect can be daunting, however, especially if you are new to parenthood: After all, you are responsible for determining how to raise healthy children—and then doing it!
Rest assured, that you can raise healthy kids. It starts with focusing on being healthy yourself and creating an environment that instills healthy habits in your children. Read on for eight habits of healthy families.
1. Instill Healthy Habits Early On
To instill lifelong positive habits in your kids, it’s good to establish healthy patterns at an early age. If your children become accustomed to eating unhealthfully during their early years, it can make it more difficult to change their eating patterns later-on. By introducing their palates to various fruits and vegetables at an earlier age, they may grow more accustomed to the different tastes and come to like them, maybe even prefer them to unhealthy alternatives (it can happen!).
Exposure to different flavors, textures, herbs and even mild spices at a young age can also help build their palates to foods that are flavored by more than oil and salt. If they are hesitant, try introducing a new food in conjunction with something they already like.
2. Practice Mindful Eating
When considering different ways to be healthy for kids, consider when and where you eat. Eating while distracted by a TV, phone or computer is not ideal for either parents or kids, as distracted eating can lead you to eat more.1
Things can get complicated when food is used as a reward or punishment for certain behaviors, a method to soothe oneself or as a distraction.2,3 By changing to a mindful-eating mindset, focus on dedicating the time of consuming food to nourish your body. Try to set an example for your kids that eating is a mindful experience, paying attention to hunger cues and that when you feel satiated, you can stop eating.4
3. Plan Healthy Choices in Advance
If you want your children to make healthy food choices, make it easy for them by keeping an abundance of healthy foods in the house. Even better, have those foods prepared and ready to go so that eating something unhealthy does not become an easier option than choosing healthy alternatives.
When your children are hungry and looking for something to eat, make it easy for them to make a healthy choice. Whether it’s celery with almond butter, low-fat yogurt with fruit, carrots with hummus or a dozen different options in between, there are many healthy snacks that your kids are likely to enjoy.
4. Encourage Daily Activity
Exercise and movement are an important part of daily life. A good habit to develop is taking an evening walk or a bike ride as a family, go to the park or play a family sport—the possibilities are virtually endless. Team sports are also a great way to keep your children active—and they’re a good way to get social interaction, both for your children and you.
Whatever you do, make it fun and keep it consistent. The earlier you start, the more your kids can have the groundwork to continue living an active life, well into adulthood.
5. Eat Meals Together
Schedules can get crazy, and dinnertime usually is a hectic time with the race of commuting from work, after school activity and homework. But by creating a family dinner routine, it can help you and your children get much-needed time to reconnect after the busyness of the day.
If you can lead by example and sit with them, eat with them, talk with them, and be relatively consistent with dinner timing, this can be a time that you all can look forward to and try new foods together. As they watch their family eat and enjoy a food they may be unfamiliar with, they may be more willing to try it and enjoy it.
Eating together as a family can also improve your children’s nutritional health. According to the American Psychological Association5, when families eat at least three meals together per week, the children are 24 percent more likely to eat healthy foods when compared to families in which few or no meals are eaten together. The children are also 12 percent less likely to be overweight.
6. Make Sure Everyone Gets Enough Sleep
While eating healthy food and getting enough exercise is important, it’s also vital for children to get the right amount of sleep each night to function optimally.6 It’s good to start as early as possible on helping your little ones get good sleep and setting a nightly routine that they can come to expect, so that a focus on adequate, healthy sleep becomes a habit and a normal part of life. Also, if they know that every night they have the same routine, it may cut down on the “bedtime negotiations” of trying to get a later bedtime.
To help establish healthy sleep, try following your circadian rhythm, or the natural 24-hour cycle of light and darkness. The premise is fairly simple: Sleep when it’s dark and rise when it’s light; doing so not only helps ensure better sleep, but it can also help facilitate weight loss and improve many aspects of your health.
In addition to following your circadian rhythm, it can be helpful to create routines surrounding bedtime:
Institute regular bedtimes.
When getting ready for bed, remove electronics, which may interfere with restful sleep.
Cultivate an environment of rest and relaxation that promotes restful sleep. This may include a bath or shower before bed, storytime, and then a dark, cozy room to sleep in.
And practice good sleep hygiene. Even though you may not go to bed at the same time as your children, it’s important to model healthy sleep habits for your children so they understand and value the importance of sleep for the entire family.
7. Avoid Negative Body Talk
Children are attentive to their parents and emulate what they see, so be kind to yourself and try not to dwell on negative aspects of your body. Instead, maybe focus on the parts of your body that you are proud of, and emphasize for them (and yourself) that everybody is different … and beautiful.
8. Be a Positive Role Model
One of the most important steps you can take to create a healthy family is to model healthy behaviors for your children. After all, if you encourage your children to adopt healthy behaviors but routinely engage in unhealthy ones, you’re sending mixed messages. Show them how to be healthy through your own actions.
Creating a healthy environment for yourself and your children is built on making simple, consistent choices over time. By making the decision every day to engage in healthy habits, you are helping to ensure better health for you and your children—not only for today, but for the future.
These are just helpful tips for you and your family to develop healthy habits, each family is different and always consult your healthcare professional for any health-related concerns.
Need some help implementing healthy habits of your own? Jenny Craig can help! Our approach to weight loss combines delicious, nutritious meals and one-on-one guidance from your own personal weight loss consultant. Contact Jenny Craig for a free appointment to get started today.
No matter if you’re embarking on a weight loss journey for the first time or you’ve tried countless other programs without success, finding the right plan to help you lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way can be challenging. With so much misinformation about weight loss and trendy new fads, it can be hard to sift through what’s fact or fiction.
Our personal weight loss consultants are one of the cornerstones of our successful program. Not only do they provide unparalleled support, but they’re always there to answer any questions you may have along your journey.
We tapped three of our personal weight loss consultants: Amber, Belen and Renee, to give you their top tips on weight loss, Jenny Craig and why they love helping change people’s lives.
What makes a consultant so important in a weight loss journey?
What do you think is the biggest dieting myth out there?
What are your members most surprised about on the Jenny Craig program?
What is the best part of your job?
What question do you get most from your members, and what advice do you provide?
What inspired you to become a weight loss consultant?
Fill in the blank: Jenny Craig is…
If you’re ready to start focusing on your health, our personal consultants are ready to help! Book a free appointment to discuss your goals with one of our consultants.
In your 20’s, you may not be in the habit of thinking too much about your health and wellness long-term. After all, other than catching a common cold here and there, maybe a few strained muscles and a cavity now and again, you may feel like you’re in top form, with no major health issues yet. Plus, you’ve got other responsibilities competing for your time and attention, whether it’s finishing college, starting your career, tending to your family and personal relationships, or managing your finances.
We get it: It’s a lot to handle and a lot to figure out. Yet it’s important that you start prioritizing your health and wellness in your 20s—not only to stay healthy now, but to remain healthy later. Here’s a look at what you can do to help optimize your health and wellness in your second decade … and for decades to come.
Stay on Top of Doctor’s Visits and Screening Tests
While health concerns are generally less likely in your 20s than in your older years, certain conditions are more likely to develop now, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other immune-system disorders.1
To be sure you stay in optimal health, take the time to find a doctor while you are well rather than waiting until you are sick. Schedule a comprehensive physical exam so your doctor can do a thorough health assessment; be certain to let her know if you or members of your family have had any medical conditions, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure.
In addition to regular checkups with your doctor, the National Institutes of Health2 recommends specific health tests and procedures beginning in your 20s, including the following:
Blood pressure: You should have your blood pressure checked every three to five years as long as your test results are normal. If it seems to be creeping up (with the top number—the systolic—reaching 120, or the bottom number—the diastolic—reaching 80), have it checked yearly. You may also need to have your blood pressure checked more often if you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems or other medical conditions; be sure to check with your doctor.
Breast health: Ask your doctor if you should be doing monthly breast exams to help screen for cancer. Mammograms are generally not recommended until age 40, but if you have a close relative (mother or sister, for example) who was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age, your doctor may recommend getting a mammogram earlier.
Cholesterol: Ask your doctor if you should have a cholesterol screening, which is recommended for women between the age of 20 and 45.
Dental: Get a full exam and cleaning once or twice per year, per your dentist’s recommendation.
Diabetes: You should be screened for diabetes if you have a body mass index over 25 and you have other risk factors, or if your blood pressure is above 135/80.
Gynecological: If you're female, beginning at age 21, you should have a pelvic exam and Pap smear every three years to screen for cervical cancer.
Immunizations: In addition to getting a flu shot every year, talk to your doctor about other vaccines you may need, including HPV (human papillomavirus); pneumonia; TdAP (tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis); and varicella (chickenpox).
Vision: You should have an eye exam every two years if you have vision problems, or more, per your optometrist. If you have diabetes, you need an exam at least once a year.
Some experts3 also recommend that you do a head-to-toe skin check monthly to look for new moles and make sure any existing ones have not changed shape, size or color. This is particularly important if you have a personal history of sunburns or a family history of skin cancer, or if you have a large number of moles.
Commit to Sleep
While staying out late on the weekends may happen regularly during your 20s: Remember that getting adequate sleep is vital to your short- and long-term health. Numerous studies4 have shown that insufficient sleep is linked to a number of serious health problems, including:
High blood pressure
Impaired immune function
To ensure that you get healthy amounts of sleep, try to follow as closely as you can your circadian rhythm, the natural 24-hour cycle of light and darkness. The rules are simple: Sleep when it’s dark and rise when it’s light (within reason, of course). In addition to aiding with sleep, living according to your circadian rhythm may help with weight loss5 and can influence many aspects of your health, including hormone release, digestion, depression and more.6
In addition, be sure to sleep in a dark room to help boost levels of the “sleep hormone” melatonin. Also avoid screen time before bed, as the blue light emitted from electronic devices can impair sleep.7
Put Your Phone Away When Driving
It goes without saying: Driving while distracted can be deadly. In 2015, nearly 3,500 people were killed nationwide in crashes involving distracted drivers, with an estimated additional 391,000 people injured.8
Distracted driving is particularly common among millennials. Research9 shows that large numbers of people within the 18- to 34-year-old group admit to “frequently” or “always” engaging in distracted behavior—such as sending or checking texts or e-mails—while behind the wheel. In fact, about 17 percent of millennials text or email while driving, compared with 4 percent of non-millennials.10
So for your own safety and that of the people around you: Put your phone away while driving. It’s just not worth the risk (and your friend won’t mind if you don’t respond immediately, we promise).
Find a Job You Love
Sure, everyone wants a job they’re excited to go to day in and out. But did you know the work you do beginning in your 20s can affect your mental health years later? According to researchers from Ohio State University11, people who reported low job satisfaction between the ages of 25 and 39 reported higher levels of depression, sleep problems and excessive worry in their 40s. They also scored lower on a test of overall mental health and were more likely to have been diagnosed with emotional problems.
Have a job you’re not thrilled about? The good news is that the researchers found that improvement in job satisfaction early on in one’s career helped mitigate the health problems listed above.
Keep Weight Gain in Check & Adopt Healthy Habits
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention12 reports that people tend to gain a disproportionate amount of weight between the ages of 19 and 29, with women gaining an average of 12 pounds and men gaining an average of 9. Yet gaining weight in your 20s goes far beyond aesthetics and being able to fit in your favorite pair of jeans: It can affect your long-term health.
Research13 shows that middle-aged men and women who had gained between 11 and 22 pounds after the age of 20 were up to three times more likely to develop heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes than those who’d gained 5 pounds or less.
What’s more, your weight and waist size—along with the amount of weight gained since your mid-20s—can increase your chances of developing several health problems, including:
To help maintain a healthy weight, try incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet; limit the amount of sugar you eat (and watch out for it in these common places); eat plenty of lean protein; make exercise a part of your daily life; watch your portion sizes; and get adequate sleep.
Find Work-Life Balance
It can be hard not to burn the midnight oil when you’re relatively new to the workforce and are eager to prove your dedication to your career and your employer. But it’s important that you try to establish a healthy work-life balance—not only because it’s good for your social and emotional health, but because it can be hard to change habits once they’re established (and once your co-workers are accustomed to your 24/7 availability).
Use these tips to help establish a healthy work-life balance:
Set reasonable limits. Try to establish sensible work hours—and expectations—from the outset. Let your co-workers know that you don’t routinely work during your off-hours … crises, deadlines and occasional heavy workloads notwithstanding, of course.
Set healthy boundaries for yourself. Resolve not to check email or voicemail from home—and turn off your phone notifications if you have a hard time ignoring every text and email that comes in.
Take your vacation time. Not only is it vital to unplug from work once-in-a-while, but taking a vacation may also be good for your health. Research14 has shown that among men who were at high risk for heart disease, those who took regular yearly vacations had a lower risk of dying during the study period, compared with those who didn’t take a vacation.
Find ways to reduce stress daily. Exercise, meditation, listening to music—do whatever works for you to help reduce your stress levels. Also consider reading for pleasure: Research15 shows that doing so can reduce stress by up to 68 percent.
And if you’re finding that you can’t quite make the commitment to work-life balance now, you may find the motivation to do it toward the end of this decade. Researchers16 have found that people in the last year of their 20s (as well as those in the last year of their 30s, 40s and 50s—what they call the "9-enders") often are more reflective of their lives and more likely to make dramatic changes.
We hope these tips help you start prioritizing your health and wellness starting now. Even though your later years may be a long way off, the steps you take today to safeguard your health can have dramatic impacts down the road.
Do you need more help instituting healthy habits? Contact Jenny Craig for a free appointment and get started today!
Many of us have heard the term 'probiotics' tossed around by doctors or peers, or plastered on labels at the local grocery store touting benefits of digestion and beyond. But what exactly are probiotics, and what part do they play in a healthy diet? Read on as we discuss the benefits and growing research around this beneficial belly bacteria.
Simply put, probiotics are the "good bacteria"1—the little guys that keep your gut health in tip-top shape, helping to balance the “good” and “bad” bacteria in your body. Your body needs an adequate amount of positive bacteria to stay healthy, so probiotics, whether occurring naturally in food or supplement form, may potentially boost your overall well-being2. The most widely known food source of probiotics is yogurt; others include some cheeses and other dairy products3. Another source—Kombucha—a drink rising in popularity, is also loaded with the beneficial bacteria.
Getting enough probiotics benefits your body in a number of ways, including promoting efficient digestion4. Because they contribute to the makeup of your gut health, probiotics may help monitor appetite and digestion from the inside5. Keeping your digestive system firing properly ensures that your body absorbs and processes all the key nutrients needed for healthy digestion and metabolism6—two things that also aid in maintaining a healthy weight.
What’s more, new research7 indicates there may be a mix of bacteria in your gut that may help—or hinder—your weight loss efforts. The study looked at how gut bacteria works to turn the parts of food you can’t digest into energy you can use—and suggests, depending on the mix of bacteria you have, that they could impact how many calories are produced.8 So depending on your microorganisms’ efficiency, your own gut bacteria may be supplying you with additional, unwanted calories. While the researchers acknowledge these findings are preliminary, they concluded the development of new probiotics might help further individualize dietary weight loss plans in the future.
Another potential health benefit from probiotics is its ability to reduce inflammation levels9. Chronic, high levels of inflammation in the body can impact digestion, the immune system and potentially the onset of a variety of diseases10. Probiotics are often considered an important component of promoting healthy digestion and while research is limited, findings have indicated that they may help reduce symptoms in conditions like irritable bowel syndrome11. By minimizing the inflammatory response inside your body, probiotics may help your system continue to process, absorb and excrete foods the way it should.
While more research on probiotics is needed to fully understand all of the health benefits, adding foods into your routine such as yogurt with live and active cultures is a great way to help keep your gut happy and your digestive process running smoothly.
For more information on how Jenny Craig can help you along your weight loss journey, contact your local neighborhood Jenny Craig center for a free appointment.
Make sure to discuss with a health professional before adding any new supplements or vitamins to your diet.
 “What Are Probiotics?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 Apr. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/what-are-probiotics/art-20232589.
 Kobyliak, Nazarii, et al. Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4761174/.
 MacKenzie, Macaela. “Probiotics May Not Help You Lose Weight-but Prebiotics Might.” Prevention, Prevention, 14 June 2018, www.prevention.com/weight-loss/a21528828/probiotics-weight-loss/.
Warning: your stomach might start growling after reading this post!
We asked Jenny Craig members to dream up ways to make their Jenny Craig meals even more delectable—and they answered! It wasn’t easy, but we’ve finalized our winners for the fourth annual Simple Inspirations Recipe Contest.
Eight dishes were selected from four different categories: breakfast, entrees, snack & desserts and Fresh and Free Additions. Feast your eyes on a sneak peek of select winning recipes in each of the categories. The full recipes will be available soon in our upcoming e-book that will be featured on our website!
Berry Delicious Breakfast Bowl
Charis R. wasn’t joking around when she named this creation, ‘berry delicious.’ This recipe takes Jenny Craig’s Classic Waffles and turns them into a pastry-like liner in a small glass. Once microwaved and rolled out, they’re placed in the oven to be baked until toasted perfection. Topped with a smoothie made with banana, strawberries, and almond milk and then sprinkled with a finely chopped Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch Anytime Bar and fresh berries, this breakfast bowl is one of the best ways to start your day!
New York Sesame Bagel with Honey Bacon “Cream Cheese” and Grilled Peaches
Dreamed up by Kelly D., this modern, fresh twist on a classic bagel is sure to delight your taste buds in the morning. The stars of this dish include our New York Sesame Bagel, cooked peaches, and Greek yogurt. If you’re not drooling already, the ‘cream cheese’ is flavored with a little honey and bacon bits (Yum!). Simple to make and even better to eat, you can whip up this breakfast in under 20 minutes.
Summer Chicken Salad Sandwich
We think this sandwich can be enjoyed any time of year! Suzi G.’s creation features our Grilled Chicken Sandwich, fresh apple slices, non-fat Greek yogurt, spices and lemon juice for extra flavor. After dicing the chicken and mixing the ingredients, the toasted sandwich bread is layered with two crisp Romaine lettuce leaves before being topped with the creamy chicken salad mix.
Spiced Up Chicken Chili
Amber R. from Wisconsin sure knows how to make a hearty and flavorful chili! Made with an assortment of veggies ranging from mushrooms to green onions, this chili features bold flavors from spices such as cumin, chili powder and paprika. For the base, this dish features Jenny Craig’s White Bean Chicken Chili. Once you’ve cooked all the veggies over medium heat, add the chili and mix for a delicious meal – perfect for a cold day!
Fresh and Free Additions
Pappy’s Crunch Salad
No Jenny Craig meal needed for this dish! Larry N. took onions, carrots, red, yellow, green and orange bell peppers, cucumbers, celery and cherry tomatoes to make this crunchy and satisfying salad. But it’s the dressing that steals the show: Made with hot sauce, garlic wine vinegar, lime juice and pepper to taste, it’s one zingy mix that makes eating all your veggies – enjoyable!
O’Veggie Grilled Kebab’s
If you’re looking for a delicious way to sneak more veggies into your day, Mary S. created the perfect side dish for you!
Zucchini, yellow squash, and Bella mushrooms are sliced and seasoned with lemon juice and dry Italian seasoning. Then they’re grilled to perfection…and voila! Mary enjoys her kebabs with a side of Jenny Craig Creamy Herb Dressing.
Snacks & Desserts
Mocha Cheesecake Froyo
Nicolle M. invented this decadent dessert. Starring Jenny Craig’s Triple Chocolate Cheesecake, chocolate milk, instant coffee and fat-free yogurt, this creamy froyo is made by whisking up the ingredients and freezing for 2 hours. As a bonus topping, you can drizzle it with a berry compote—or if you don’t feel like froyo, skip the freezing step and make this into a cheesecake shake.
Vanilla Cream Shake
In a rush? Do you have 5 minutes? Perfect, then you can make this shake by Suzi G. Start with a Jenny Craig Vanilla Cream Shake and add fresh spinach, ½ frozen banana, 1oz. avocado, a little vanilla extract and a pinch of cinnamon to whip up this creamy and satisfying shake. Take it with you on the go or enjoy it at home, this shake is perfect as an afternoon treat or snack!
Congratulations to all the winners who entered this year’s contest. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss out on all the recipes and cooking instructions when we release the full Simple Inspirations e-book later this year.
Not all recipe exchanges may fit in the Rapid Results program. Be sure to check with your consultant for any necessary modifications to stay on track.
If you’re new to motherhood, there may be a few things you’ve been taken aback by: the never-ending feedings and diaper changes, the distant memory of a good night’s sleep, the unpredictability of a newborn’s schedule—not to mention a body that is constantly changing. But chances are you’ve also been amazed by the delightfully unexpected things: the tiny toes, the sweet breath, the little sighs of contentment. And of course, a pure, deep love so powerful it can take your breath away.
Amidst it all, your body has been recovering from the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth while undergoing dramatic hormonal changes. And if you’re breastfeeding, it’s been working hard to produce enough milk to nourish another human being. You—and that miraculous body of yours—are working hard and going through a lot.
Still, you may be wondering if the pregnancy pounds—and your post-pregnancy body—are here to stay. We’re happy to say that returning to your pre-pregnancy weight is possible. Read on as we discuss when it’s healthy to start trying to lose the extra pounds … and the healthy way to do it.
1. Keep your weight gain (and loss) in perspective.
As alarming as the relentless creep of the scale was throughout pregnancy, you may not have as much weight to lose as you think. According to the March of Dimes1, most women lose about 10 pounds right after birth and a bit more in the first week as they shed the placenta and other artifacts of pregnancy. Weight loss often continues in the following days and weeks; according to the National Institutes of Health2, most women lose half of their pregnancy weight by about six weeks after delivery. If you are breastfeeding, this may also increase weight loss, as you use stored fat, along with calories from your diet, to make milk.3
2. Don’t try to lose weight right away.
According to experts, you’ll need to wait six to eight weeks after delivery to start trying to slim down.4 Your body needs that time to recover from pregnancy and childbirth; plus, if you lose weight too soon, it may take your body longer to fully recover. And if you are breastfeeding, you need time to establish a healthy milk supply before starting to limit calories.2
3. Aim for gradual weight loss.
Even though you may be itching to fit back into your old jeans, you need to plan on losing weight gradually. Dropping pounds too quickly can not only lower your energy level at a time when you’re already fatigued, but it can also cause you to lose lean muscle.5 Also, if you’re breastfeeding, losing too rapidly can put your milk supply at risk and potentially affect your baby’s growth.6
Aim to lose up to 1 to 2 pounds per week if you aren’t nursing and ½ to 1 pound per week if you are.6 Since breastfeeding requires an extra 450 to 500 calories daily7, try not to dip below 1,800 calories per day, or your milk supply could suffer.6
4. Choose a well-rounded, sensible eating plan.
Steer clear of fad diets or ones that overly restrict calories; instead, focus on a plan that is balanced and emphasizes a healthy rate of weight loss, such as Jenny Craig. Other important tips:
Steer clear of higher-mercury fish such as king mackerel, orange roughy, shark and swordfish if you are breastfeeding. Use lower-mercury seafood such as catfish, pollock, salmon, shrimp and canned light tuna instead, but limit to 12 ounces per week.8
Include extra protein and calcium in your diet if you are breastfeeding. The RDA for protein during lactation is 71 grams9; calcium is 1,000 milligrams10. Jenny Craig follows expert guidelines that meets or exceeds the recommendations for breastfeeding mothers on the program
5. Don’t skip meals.
It can be a challenge to take proper care of yourself with a new baby in the house. Be sure to make time for healthful meals and snacks—especially breakfast, as research has shown that regularly skipping breakfast not only puts you at higher risk for gaining weight, but for developing dangerous visceral belly fat.11
6. Load up on fluids.
Drinking ample fluids is important for all people, but particularly breastfeeding moms, as it helps to keep your baby hydrated.12 Aim to drink about 6 to 8 cups of fluids per day—water is best if you’re watching calories—and even more if the weather is hot or you’re feeling thirsty. (Experts refer to this as “drinking to thirst.”) If the demands of taking care of a newborn are making it hard to drink enough, keep a glass where you feed the baby so you can sip on it every time she eats (which is often!).
7. Ask your doctor about exercise.
While experts used to recommend not returning to your usual physical activity routine until six to eight weeks after giving birth, that’s no longer the case. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists13, you should be able to start exercising soon after giving birth, or whenever you feel ready—as long as you had a healthy pregnancy and a normal delivery. (If you had a Cesarean section or other complications, wait until your doctor gives you the go-ahead.) Chances are you won’t have the same stamina as before pregnancy, so be sure to start back slowly and not overdo it—taking a walk with the baby in a stroller is a great way to start.
8. Be realistic.
Just as it took nine-plus months to gain your pregnancy weight (and to grow that sweet baby), it can take some time to lose it. So be patient, be kind to yourself, and be realistic. Most women are able to return to their pre-pregnancy weight by six to 12 months after delivery.12
Above all, remember that while those lingering pounds may be discouraging, they’re a reminder of what your body was able to do: grow and nourish your beautiful baby. So take it slowly, be kind to yourself, and treasure these days with your child. They’ll be gone before you know it—and so will your baby weight!
Want to take something off your plate as a new mom? Leave the meal planning and prep to us! The Jenny Craig program is a safe and effective way to lose those pregnancy pounds—you just need to be at least six weeks post-delivery to participate. Book your free appointment to get started today!
6 Lauwers, J; Swisher, A: Counseling the Nursing Mother: A Lactation Consultant’s Guide. Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2011: pg. 171
12 Lauwers, J; Swisher, A: Counseling the Nursing Mother: A Lactation Consultant’s Guide. Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2011: pg. 169
While adjusting your diet is a critical part of your weight loss journey, physical activity can be a great way to boost your weight loss efforts—and help maintain your progress. One of the simplest ways to stay active is to take a daily walk; not only is it safe and effective, but it’s also convenient—and free!
In addition to weight loss, walking offers other benefits:
It boosts your mood. Walking is a light form of exercise that can improve your mood and reduce anxiety, research shows.1
It strengthens your bones. As we age, we become more prone to osteoporosis, a condition that involves bone loss. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation,2 this is especially true for women. As a low-impact, weight-bearing exercise, walking helps to keep bones healthy by slowing age-related declines in bone density.3
It helps curb cravings. Studies show that a walk as short as 15 minutes can reduce cravings, such as chocolate.4
It cranks up your immune system. Research5 found that people who took a 20-minute walk five days or more per week had 43 percent fewer sick days than those who walked one day a week or less. What’s more, if the frequent walkers did get sick, they had milder symptoms and their illnesses didn’t last as long.
Ready to start moving? Use these 12 tips to start a walking routine that can help support your weight loss journey!
Tip #1: Make Walking a Part of Your Daily Routine
One of the easiest ways to walk more is to make it a daily habit. Start off by setting specific days and times when you will walk. If you are new to exercise, avoid less-realistic goals, such as walking twice a day. Unrealistic goals are more likely to deflate your spirit than challenge you to push ahead, so set attainable and measurable goals that can help you stay motivated.
Use these ideas to make walking a daily habit:
Take a 30-minute walk before or after dinner each evening.
Walk a few laps around the neighborhood after you drop the kids at school.
Take a lunchtime walk a few times a week.
Treat yourself to a gentle hike over the weekend.
Experiment with the days, times and routes that work best for your fitness level and schedule. Walking should be an enjoyable activity that motivates you to continue.
Tip #2: Find a Walking Buddy
Have your spouse, co-worker or neighbor (or your dog!) join you for a regular walking date, and you’ll kill two birds with one stone. After all, what’s better than spending time with a friend while staying on track with your fitness goals? You’ll also get the following benefits of a fitness buddy:
Accountability: With a partner, you no longer walk just for yourself. You show up on the right day and time to be there for your walking partner.
Enjoyment: Walking alone lets you process your thoughts, which is great. However, walking with a partner is not only fun—it gives you the opportunity to catch up and discuss what’s going on in your lives. Chances are the walk will go by faster than you expected and make it even easier to meet up the next time.
More miles: You may log more miles when walking with a friend. You may get so engrossed in conversation that you find yourself walking farther—and perhaps even faster—than expected.
Tip #3: Short Walks Are Better Than Nothing
Strapped for time? That’s okay. Life gets busy and overwhelming. It’s important to know that even a few minutes of activity is better than nothing. For instance, just 10 minutes of walking per day brings health benefits, research6 shows. And a new study found that 10 minutes of physical activity can also boost your mood.7
So when you’re rushing through errands and driving to the next item on your list, try taking a moment for you. Explore a new neighborhood or park for a few minutes, or park farther away so you can work in some extra steps. If you’re squeezing in a walk at work, try a walking meeting; chances are the change of scenery—in addition to the exercise—will do you and your co-worker good.
Tip #4: Find Your ‘Why’
Everyone has a reason why they want to start living a healthier lifestyle and lose weight—what’s yours? Take some time to think about the real reasons that have motivated you to adopt healthier habits—perhaps grab a pen and write them down. Here are a few idea starters:
To have the energy you need to tackle your day.
To ensure you’ll be able to keep up with your kids or grandkids for years to come.
To be a role model for your children.
To be healthier overall or relieve health issues due to excess weight.
When you are feeling a bit weary or unsure if you want to lace up those sneakers, remember your ‘Why.’ To get more inspiration, check out these motivation tips.
Tip #5: Get Good Walking Shoes
You will be even more motivated to go walking if you have shoes that are comfortable and fit correctly; properly fitted shoes can also help prevent pain and injuries. If you suffer from back, hip or knee pain, it might be worth going to a specialty shoe store to have your step assessed and get recommendations for what shoes are best for you. Keep in mind that you’ll need to replace your walking shoes periodically.
Tip #6: Set the Pace With Music
On days when you’re not feeling motivated to walk at a brisk pace, help set the mood with the right playlist. Put together a list of songs that motivate you to move and keep you going when you need a little inspiration.
Tip #7: Plan for the Weather
Get in the habit of checking the weather forecast regularly and planning your attire and walking schedule accordingly. Here are a few tips:
Get the right layers, such as activewear sweatshirts and beanies, to keep you warm in cold weather.
For hot days, plan to walk earlier or later in the day.
Try to walk during the day in the winter months to take advantage of the sun’s warmth.
If you live in an area where it’s not possible to walk outside for much of the year, consider joining a gym and using the treadmill there; or try walking at a local mall.
Tip #8: Up the Pace
Walking faster means more calories burned. So the next time you’re out on a walk, see if you can increase your pace. If you have trouble keeping a brisk pace for the entire walk, try varying your speed for a specified amount of time; or use markers such as streetlights or mailboxes. With time, you’ll build up your stamina and be able to maintain a faster pace for longer.
Tip #9: Vary Your Walking Routes
It’s important to change up your walking route. Here’s why:
Going on the same walk every day can lead to boredom, which, in turn, can lead to less motivation to walk.
Different types of terrain keep your body challenged. Walking hills is a lot more rigorous than a flat path.
Walking can become a tool for expanding your horizons and seeing new places. Make your walks a means of exploring areas you might not usually visit.
Tip #10: Take the Stairs!
Many of us have heard it before: Instead of the elevator, take the stairs. It sounds simple, but this one tactic can add up to more steps per day and can support your weight loss efforts.
Try these other tips to help increase your steps per day:
Add walking into activities with friends and family. Rather than going to a movie, suggest a walk!
Choose public transportation when possible. If you arrive somewhere by bus or train, the block or two to get to your destination adds up to more exercise.
Tip #11: Monitor Your Walks
Many of us are motivated by results. To keep yourself accountable, try keeping track of your walking routes, your distance and how you’re feeling. Whether you write it down daily or use your smartphone or wearable fitness device to track your steps, it’s easier to stay motivated when you can track your progress. After a few weeks, look back to your first walks. Do you notice any changes? Perhaps you can walk longer, more often or don’t feel as tired after your walks.
Tracking your walks is especially helpful if you sit a lot at your day job and are seeking ways to increase your daily steps. In fact, sitting all day is one of the surprising things that can cause weight gain.
Tip #12: Use Walking as a Tool to De-Stress
Remember: Walking is not just for physical fitness. It also helps improve your mood and is a great way to reduce stress. Before you begin a walk, take a moment to notice how you are feeling. Then, after going on your walk, pause and reflect again. Process your current mood. Are you feeling different after your walk? How do your heart rate and breathing compare?
In the bustle of a busy schedule, it’s easy to forget to process how we are feeling in the moment and what truly affects us in daily life. By increasing our awareness, it may be easier to pinpoint our stress—and reap the health benefits of doing so.
We hope these tips help you enjoy one of the easiest, safest and most convenient ways to support your weight loss journey and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Ready start a weight loss program that is safe, convenient and delicious? Learn how Jenny Craig can help you reach your goals. Book a free appointment to get started today!