I was off the diet this summer, and I didn’t do too badly. In fact, even with all the gnocci and ice cream that the summer brought my way, I only put on about six pounds. I kind of hoped to lose those quickly and even get rid of the few other pounds I still had to go, but it’s been hard to stay motivated.
First of all, there’s the job. I’m stressed there and at home, and also, the lunches in the cafeteria are pretty good! Wouldn’t it be my luck to find two of the only four probable gourmet-type lunch ladies in the United States? I’m thinking these ladies could have a show on the Food Network or something. The theme would be something like how to cook delicious meals for 400 or more people. Seriously though — what school do you know of that serves lobster bisque on a regular basis? LOBSTER BISQUE!! I don’t know about you — but I have trouble passing on any kind of bisque, let alone the lobster.
But, as I said, I have been trying. I’ve been going every week to my Jenny Craig appointments, albeit each week taking home smaller and smaller orders of food because I have yet to eat the victuals of the week before. This past week, I was sitting in the lobby, waiting for my appointment, and I had a crisis of faith. You see, like all diets, Jenny Craig is a religion. But that doesn’t bother me. I know it’s a religion. What bothers me, is the way they market it like it’s a religion.
First of all there’s the big Jenny Craig sign that hits you in the face as you walk through the door. Is it any coincidence that the letters “J” and “C” are three times the size of the others in the phrase? I don’t think so. Then, behind the words “Jenny Craig” there is a poster of two pairs of feet walking on sand leaving footprints behind them. So, I was sitting there thinking, Are you freaking kidding me? FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND? I can’t believe I had never noticed it before.
I’ve always kind of joked that the appointments are a bit like the sacrament of Reconciliation. You go in and you confess all your transgressions each week. “Forgive me counselor, for I have sinned. This week I ate a bag of Funions.” For your penance, you must step on the scale, experience the weight of your guilt, and then she will likely ask what temptations lie before you in the week ahead. Once you have confessed, then you may partake of their low-cal bread.
Last week, as I was having this moment of dietary agnosticism, I really started to look around. And you know what else I noticed? All the posters they have of the celebrities who have had success with Jenny Craig, like Valerie Bertinelli and Felicia Rashad; in those posters, the women (in their “after Jenny Craig” photos) are lit from behind in a kind of glowing light. These are the saints, the apostles of J.C. They were even touting Bertinelli’s book, Losing It, etc. It was as if they were saying, “Hey, would you like to read the Gospel According to Valerie?” Yeah, tell us all the good news, Val. What was this place? Had I joined some kind of cult?
It was as if I had an epiphany, or an anti-epiphany right there in the lobby, sitting on that pastel-swathed nondescript office chair between the faux ficus and the overflowing stack of well-perused copies of the Star Magazine. And I honestly don’t know where I will go from there.
I just started to think, okay, the food isn’t bad, and yes, I have lost a lot of weight, it’s good, it’s great for me and all, but when it really comes down to it, this is just a lot of marketing crap. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with the fact that I have kind of plateaued, and I admit that the bisque isn’t helping, but still, I feel a kind of void when it comes to faith in the program currently.
And one more thing, while I am kvetching about my apostasy, I have one more thing that I found that day. Just before the saleslady went in the back to collect my food, she mentioned a new promotion they are having in November. I started reading the flier about it and noticed a disclaimer that struck me as kind of funny: Jenny Craig is owned by the Nestle Corporation. I don’t know why, but that seems a bit ironic in some way. Like, I can lose all this weight on Jenny Craig, and then over the winter gain it back by eating crunch bars. It’s like they’re hoping to get those of us who struggle with weight both coming and going.
What’s that economic term when a company owns all phases of production and distribution? Isn’t the Nestle-Jenny Craig relationship a kind of vertical integration?