June 10, 2023

When I took my first post-pandemic flight last summer, I noticed that I had to pull the seat belt almost all the way out in order to get it around me. “How could that be?” I wondered. Were they making seat belts smaller to save money?

I didn’t really think about it again until I had a spa treatment and couldn’t tie the one-size-fits-most robe to completel cover me – which was very upsetting.

When I actually weighed myself, I realized that eating my way through the pandemic had taken a major toll on my body. I hadn’t really been paying attention because I was living in leggings and oversized sweaters and I rationalized that I was buying everything a size bigger since I was home all the time and could just be relaxed. No wonder so much of my trip had been uncomfortable.

Because I couldn’t stand having any part of my body touching the stranger in the seat next to me on a plane – especially during a pandemic – I vowed to lose the excess weight before my next trip. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who was experiencing this.

I read that reality star Brittany Cartwright had become a Jenny Craig spokesperson to lose her postpartum weight. I couldn’t use baby weight as an excuse anymore since my youngest is turning 30 this year but I definitely needed to lose the postpandemic weight. I had found Jenny Craig easy to do years ago and decided to go back to the program. I knew I could do it because, as someone who doesn’t cook, I liked the frozen meals, which were small but surprisingly delicious.

Jenny Craig’s new Max Up program adds some innovative new features to their already effective program, including their own version of intermittent fasting. You stop eating for the day at 7 pm, then have one of their Recharge bars at 7 am to hold you until breakfast at 9 am. This has become a habit I can stick to almost anywhere.

Since the pandemic, you no longer go into a center to pick up your food for the week, get weighed and meet with your coach. Instead, you get a scale you connect to the Jenny Craig app so your coach can see it, you have a weekly phone call, order your food and it’s delivered straight to your door by DoorDash. This is so much more convenient. Plus, I love my coach, Michelle, and I always hear her voice in my head when I feel like having something I know I shouldn’t. She wouldn’t say, “Don’t!” but she would ask me to think about whether it’s worth it and, often, just that pause is enough to make me stick to the program. Her support has been invaluable and she’s always encouraging even when I seem to reach a plateau.

In four months, I lost 30 pounds and, although I have a way to go, I can tell you that my latest trip made clear what that means to me in practical terms. My seatbelt was no longer a struggle, my hips were not touching my seatmate’s, I didn’t have to walk sideways down the aisle to go to the bathroom, my spa robe wrapped around me properly.

This really became meaningful when my bag weighed in at 30 pounds and I realized I had lost the weight of a piece of luggage.

Because I know she travels a lot, too, I reached out to Brittany Cartwright to see how she was doing on Jenny Craig and if she had any tips.

“Since losing weight we’ve taken a few vacations, most recently to Florida,” she said. “I felt so confident stepping onto the beach in my bathing suit, knowing my hard work is paying off. Even while traveling, Jenny Craig is so easy to use, I never feel lost even on vacation. My coach had a lot of tips on substitutions and swaps so that I never felt left out of anything.”

Cartwright has just about reached her 30 pound weight loss goal and agreed that it’s easier to travel light. “I really enjoy getting to pack new outfits and having more energy while traveling,” she admitted.

I’m sharing this not to tell you it’s better to be skinny or that you should look a certain way but only to assure you that if you’re unhappy with your weight, you really can change it. I didn’t start Jenny Craig to try to meet some standard of beauty – I’m too old to care what others think – but because the extra weight took away some of the joy of traveling and that was unacceptable to me.

“This is not an easy journey and it’s extremely personal,” said Cartwright. “What’s right for me is not necessarily right for someone else, and vice versa. Definitely move at your own pace and choose to do what feels right for you and your body. It can be so easy to compare ourselves to others. Take a step back and realize you are your own person. Remind yourself that every single body is powerful and beautiful. Be proud of yourself!”

Like Cartwright, I’m proud of the fact that I’m taking control of what I want and am sticking to my goal. I’ve already lost the weight of a pretty heavy carry-on and am hoping to eventually lose the weight of a packed-to-the-limit checked bag. But not the actual bag, please.

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