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Why I Refer to Myself as a Success Story

Image courtesy of Marcus /

Image courtesy of Marcus /

In my lifetime, I have been on approximately three dozen different diets and have tried a myriad of products geared towards losing weight. In no particular order, these weight loss gems ran the gamut from the South Beach Diet to the Cabbage Soup Diet, Weight Watchers to Nutrisystem; the ‘eat nothing but grapes for a week’ diet to my own self-styled ‘starve myself to the point of near–fainting’ diet. As you may have guessed, with varying degrees of success (-300% to 5%), generally nothing worked.

Of course we cannot forget the plethora of paraphernalia that goes along with most diets, of which I tried: Slim Fast, the Hollywood 48 Hour Miracle Diet (the real miracle here being that this liquid concoction does, in fact, work in the sense that it flushes out the system and acts as a detox aid), the Jillian Michaels Fat Burner pills, massive quantities of oolong tea (which produced serious issues of diarrhea and dehydration), and the pathetic list goes on.

I blame myself, in large part, for my dieting woes. My need to remain a healthy, viable member of society was usurped by my desire to shed unwanted pounds. It was a never ending cycle of abuse to my body. Drop a few pounds, gain a few pounds, and then gain a couple more for good measure. It was a vicious cycle, one which felt like my body was purposely doing this horrible thing to me out of spite. “Torture this temple, will ya? I’ll show you!” it seemed to taunt.

Image courtesy of Akarakingdoms / FreeDigitalPhotos

Image courtesy of Akarakingdoms / FreeDigitalPhotos

Before I knew it, I was a month away from my 49th birthday and tipping the scales at roughly 180 pounds. While it’s true, I stand 5’8”, one of the most appalling things that people could say to me when expressed a desire to lose weight was, “…but you’re tall; you carry your weight well.”

I carry my weight well?

My apologies if I don’t take that sentiment and hold it dear to my heart with a fervor that rivals my love of cheeseburgers. I didn’t want to carry my weight. That implies that there is an abundance of something extra, said something being the very unwanted weight that I have to lug around every day of my life. However, I couldn’t feel sorry for myself. No one forced me to eat two grilled cheese sandwiches laden with four slices of cheese each for breakfast. My hands weren’t tied behind my back as my arch nemesis force-fed me 12 Twinkies. And the last time I checked, there wasn’t a 357 Magnum being held to my head to gently coerce me into stuffing an entire chicken-spinach-onions-peppers-extra cheese pizza down my throat.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

The time for being overweight was over. Nothing beats a failure but a try, so I figured I had to give this whole diet thing another shot. Only this time, I was going to do it the right way.

Exactly six months ago to the date, on June 14, 2012, I walked into my local Jenny Craig center. Although I wore the face of a woman who was confident and eager, on the inside I was crying out desperately for help and, at times, while I sat and talked with the consultant to begin my weight loss journey, the tears that were locked on the inside threatened to spill from my eyes and trickle unfettered down my cheek. What began as a walk of shame that day turned out to be the catalyst that led me six months later to strut about like a proud peacock with my head held high, no hint of shame, no shame in my game … and 25 pounds lighter.

Jenny Craig is not sponsoring this post, they’re not paying me to say favorable things about the organization nor did they offer to give me a month’s worth of free Jenny Cuisine in exchange for good press. There’s absolutely no compensation on my part from Jenny Craig.

So why sing their praises? Because Jenny Craig gave me something that I was unable to give myself: a svelte 155 pound hot bod!

Michal Marcol

Image courtesy Michal Marcol /

Jenny taught me to look at food in a different way. Jenny taught me about portion control in a way that didn’t terrify me. And one of the most valuable things that Jenny has taught me is that the occasional slip up on a diet doesn’t have to equate to failure. It’s a part of life. I just have to know when to pick myself up, put down the fried chicken leg, dust myself off and get myself back on track. It’s not rocket science. This is knowledge that everyone is capable of attaining and likely are already versed in these little life lessons. The problem is that we don’t listen or take heed. My apologies; in this regard, I will speak for myself: I didn’t listen or take heed.

In less than seven months, I turn 50 years old. I think I look damn hot for a seasoned woman. There is a truth and a reality that is a take-away for me while on Jenny Craig: As much as the thought of this tires me out, I now know that diet alone will not keep me slim and trim; physical activity in some form needs to be in my future for a long time to come. Currently, as I have done since joining the Jenny program, I work out at a gym three or four days a week…sometimes five when I feel as if I’ve gone off the deep end. And while that image in the crystal ball of me jumping in the car and heading to the gym 10 years from now does seem daunting, it’s not a deal breaker for me. While I’m not a ‘gym junkie,’ I am one of those people who just so happens to enjoy going to the health club to get my sweat on. Can we say endorphins?

I owe a lot to Jenny Craig, and especially to my wonderful and patient counselor, Lisa. She has been my cheering section when I’ve reached milestones, my therapist when I stumbled and my bended ear when I needed someone to listen. Jenny offers a real support system, something tangible that stays with you throughout the weight loss journey … and beyond. I needed that, and for that I’m eternally grateful. Thank you, Jenny Craig. With your help, I’m a success story. I can now live out your slogan: Feel Like New. Feel Like  You.™

∞     ∞     ∞     ∞

Everyone is different. What works for one may not work for the next. So I’d like to leave you with this little piece of advice.

This was my journey—my weight loss trials and tribulations. Although I have found success with Jenny Craig, it would be irresponsible of me to think and/or advise that this is the perfect weight loss program for everyone that is trying to shed excess weight. The most sage advice that I can give, however, is to always first consult with your physician or a qualified healthcare professional on any matters regarding your health and weight management, especially prior to implementing a diet plan or beginning an exercise regime. It’s your body … take extra special care of it, now and for always.

~Valerie Albarda

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Initially, I thought about making this post a double salute: to myself and to my husband. You see, my husband Maarten also joined Jenny Craig about six weeks after I did. This past week, he reached his goal weight. Now we’re both success stories. Yes, I wanted to toot his horn, but I realized I couldn’t steal his thunder. Maarten’s story is his story and he should be the one to tell it. However, I will say this: I am immensely proud of my husband for what he has accomplished. He set a goal, stuck with it and, with the rough times and the not-so-rough times, saw it through to fruition. His determination is an inspiration. So if you should see him, shake his hand, give him a pat on the back, and say, “Congratulations…you did it!”




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