Closing of Jenny Craig: her weight loss empire and her tragic accident

For half a decade, weight loss guru Jenny Craig could barely speak.

A freak accident kept her quiet for several years after her namesake diet program hit its peak, backed by celebrity spokespersons and a catchy jingle that played in company advertisements.

The debilitating accident happened in 1995 when Craig fell asleep on a sofa with her head resting on her chest. A noise startled her and her head jerked up, snapping her lower jaw against her upper jaw. Years later, she remembers having to spread her teeth.

“To say I was scared is an understatement,” she wrote in her 2005 autobiography, “The Jenny Craig Story: How One Woman Changes Millions of Lives.”

Thus began Craig’s stepping back from his role as lead ambassador for Jenny Craig Inc., which plans to close soon after four decades due to financial troubles, NBC News reported Wednesday. The network said it reviewed an internal letter announcing the closure, which was sent to employees on Tuesday.

America was obsessed with this self-help craze 100 years ago

The company is one of the few weight loss programs that ruled the diet industry for decades as millions of Americans sought to control their weight.

Jenny Craig Inc. has faced increasing competition and waning interest in recent years, especially as weight loss diets have fallen out of fashion and popular new drugs, such as Wegovy and Ozempic, promise weight loss. faster.

But in the 1990s, the company seemed to be everywhere, even as its founder seemed to disappear. Several doctors expressed bewilderment as to why Craig couldn’t speak after his jaw incident, until one finally gave him an answer: the muscles in his face had been stripped and required surgery to repair them.

Learning to speak again has helped Craig better understand her weight loss clients, many of whom went on diet after diet before becoming successful, she told CNN’s Larry King in 2001.

“They keep trying things, and it’s very frustrating,” Craig said. “I’ve been through the same kind of thing. And so I really sympathize with them.

Craig’s desire to help people lose weight grew out of personal experience. She told People magazine in 1990 that she felt bad about herself when the weight from her second pregnancy was hard to lose.

“I used to look in the mirror and cry,” she said. “I was crying and saying, ‘What have you done to yourself?'”

New Orleans native Craig and her husband launched their weight loss empire in 1983 after the couple moved from the US to Australia and saw a gap in the diet industry from the country. She had worked in the weight loss field for decades, including at a chain of women’s “figure control” salons, she told CNN. This experience, she says, taught her “things that work and things that don’t.”

Jenny and Sid Craig’s bet on Jenny Craig Inc. proved successful. The company grew to employ over 1,000 people and at one point operated over 660 weight management centers in Australia, the United States, Canada and New Zealand.

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For the year ending June 1993, at the height of the scheme’s popularity, the company earned over $490 million. It also made the couple millionaires.

The diet, which focuses on pre-packaged foods and one-on-one coaching, has garnered plenty of endorsements from celebrities including Mariah Carey, Queen Latifah, Jessica Simpson, Jason Alexander and Kirstie Alley. The company also ran ads featuring Monica Lewinsky, but it pulled the ads from the air after people criticized Lewinsky as a bad role model.

Despite its popularity and expansion, by 1993 the company was beginning to experience financial difficulties. Later, he refocused his program to include supplements, exercise equipment, and a simpler eating plan with more choices.

After leaving day-to-day management of the business, Craig told San Diego-based Ranch & Coast Magazine in 2017 that she noticed a change in the weight loss industry.

“Now it’s not just about looking good, it’s about eating healthy and exercising to live longer,” she said.

Some people involved with the company have said they regret encouraging people to focus so much on their looks.

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Last year, actress Valerie Bertinelli apologized for helping to promote a ‘diet culture’ mentality while she was spokesperson for Jenny Craig. Her 2009 appearance in a two-piece swimsuit on the cover of People magazine made headlines for how she recovered her “bikini body” while on the show.

“Looking back, I was part of a diet culture that didn’t celebrate women of any size,” said Bertinelli, who starred on the TV shows ‘One Day at a Time’ and ‘Hot in Cleveland. “, at the Washington Post Live. in January 2022. “It was all about getting down to the smallest size possible, and if you’re not there, then you’re a failure. And I no longer believe that to be true.

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