Thank you, Jenny Craig for sponsoring this post. -- Get serious about losing weight with Jenny Craig! I don't talk about it very much, but for those of you who knew me in high school and college, you knew me as a much larger person. In my mid-20s I managed to lose over 60 pounds (not all at once, but slowly through diet and exercise). Although I've been able to maintain a relatively healthy weight since then, I've had periods of time where I'm a bit heavier than I'd like. Since I've successfully lost weight in the past, I considered myself pretty savvy when it came to how to eat healthier. However, doing Jenny Craig taught me some things I didn't expect. Here are the five things I learned about how to eat healthier. 1. Plan Your Meals Ahead Meal planning isn't just convenient, it also ensures you waste less food and you're more likely to eat healthier. When I don't have a plan in place I tend to rely on fast food and other convenience foods that aren't nearly as healthy as if I plan and cook for myself. A great tip is to cook a lot of your foods on Sunday afternoon/evening. That way, you can pre-portion meals for the week. I often will roast a bunch of veggies on Sundays and also cook a load of chicken that I can use in a bunch of different dishes throughout the week. If you're looking for meal plans, there are tons of weekly (and even monthly) meal plans on websites like Pinterest. If you're following paleo, low-carb, high-carb, low-fat, you name it, you can find meal plans to help you get your meals planned for the week. 2. Use a Salad Plate Prior to starting Jenny Craig, I was sure my portions were in check. Man, was I wrong! I knew the rule that your plate should be 1/2 veggies, 1/4 protein, 1/4 carbs, but I was basing that off of a dinner plate. You guys, that's just way too much food! Very early on in the program, my consultant suggested I start eating from a salad plate. She also suggested I take the food out of the plastic container and place it on a salad plate. I've followed that advice from very early on and I'm so glad I did. My portions were way too large. Compared to what I was used to eating, I was very surprised at how small the protein portions were. Generally, I don't eat a ton of carbs, so that wasn't nearly as surprising to me. I quickly learned that even with healthy foods, I've been eating too large of portions. Using a salad plate was a great way for me to see how much food I actually need to feel satiated. I don't even use my dinner plates anymore. 3. Allow Yourself A Treat One of the things I like most about Jenny Craig is the fact that their meal plans incorporate all kinds of foods, even treats like cookies and cupcakes. In the past when I've gone on a diet, I considered baked-goods off-limits. I've found that when I make a food off-limits, all I want is that food. By not allowing myself to have certain foods, I've given the food a lot of power. I was placing way too much value on foods as bad or good. With Jenny, I started to let go of those bad vs. good food labels. I also never felt deprived because I knew I was going to get a dessert every night. I've learned that I can have a treat every night. It just needs to be a small one. Most of the Jenny desserts are approximately 150 calories, which gives me the sweetness I crave without all the calories. Being serious about losing weight doesn’t mean you have to give up enjoying the foods you love. 4. Acknowledge Non-Scale Victories When I've dieted in the past, I've fixated on the scale. It's hard not to. But I also know that getting healthy is about way more than just the number on the scale. I've tried really hard to celebrate non-scale victories. For example, I've praised myself for reaching my gym goals for the week or for passing up treats my coworkers bring to the office. It's the little victories I've tried to appreciate rather than just fixating on the weight loss. I'm most proud of the fact that even when I've gone off the plan for a couple days because of work events and travel, I was able to get right back on and was still able to lose weight. In the past, when I've gone off my eating plan, I would sometimes go way off my plan to the point of quitting altogether. Jenny made it easy not to quit because everything was there for you, the food, and the support system. Jenny Craig really is the easiest weight-loss program I've ever tried. 5. Visualize Your Success Another thing I liked about Jenny was having a dedicated consultant to talk to each week. It was fun to get to know her and it was a relief to feel comfortable going there each week. Weight loss is really personal and it would be hard if you didn't feel comfortable with the experience. One of the things I loved about weighing in each week was the way they helped me to visualize my success. They had these two little metal containers with little glass pebbles in them. Each time I lost a pound, I placed a pebble into the other container. Over the course of eight weeks, I lost 11 pounds* and it was pretty cool to see that number in pebbles in my hand. They had other ways to help me to visualize my success. For example, they had two reams of printer paper stacked together, tied with a ribbon. For some reason, 10 pounds doesn't feel like a lot of weight loss. That is, until you lift up those two reams of paper! Ten pounds is actually a lot of weight. I started to feel better about my accomplishment once I lifted up those stacks of paper. Overall, I had a good experience with Jenny Craig. It taught me these five tips for how to eat healthier that helped me lose weight and feel good. If you've heard of Jenny but never tried it, I would definitely suggest it. It is the perfect diet for anyone who likes a simple, straight-forward plan. If you're a super busy mom or don't like to cook, this plan is for you. Not having to plan or cook made this plan a breeze. I even lost 11 pounds in the process. *Results not typical. Members following the Jenny Craig program, on average, lose 1-2 lbs. per week. I received promotional consideration. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.