How Do You Lose Weight When You Can’t Afford Jenny Craig?

Welcome to the “I can’t afford Jenny Craig” club! If you can’t afford to spend money on diet programs such as Jenny Craig or other diet plans, you are not alone. These budget friendly weight loss tips will help you find the strength, motivation, and energy you need.

Research shows that different people doing the same amount of exercise and eating the same types of food lose different amounts of weight. This is good news! If you can’t afford Jenny Craig, you’re spared from spending money you don’t have on diet plans that may not even work for you. Your body may not be built to lose weight the Jenny Craig way. This is especially important for people who don’t understand why weight loss can be so difficult (read 6 Ways to Deal With Your Girlfriend’s Weight Gain).

The Jenny Craig diet may not teach you how to live a healthy, light, joyful life. Losing weight isn’t about finding the right diet plan; it’s about listening to your body, learning what you need to eat to satisfy your physical needs, and taking care of your emotional and spiritual health.

I Can't Afford Jenny Craig
Can’t Afford Jenny Craig? Spice It Up!

I lost over 20 pounds without spending money on Jenny Craig, Lululemon clothes, gym memberships, Pilates classes, or expensive fat reducing kitchen tools. Even if I could afford or Jenny Craig diet plans, I wouldn’t. I’d rather spend spend money on travel, books, and new gadgets for my bike.

8 Ways to Lose Weight When You Can’t Afford Jenny Craig

The majority of people who lose weight and keep it off – without spending money on Jenny Craig – have tried more than method of weight loss. Try different combinations of exercise, portion control, weight loss groups, exercise buddies, etc. You may find that a weight loss support group works for you, or you might prefer working one-on-one with a nutritionist or doctor.

Commercial diet plans may help you lose the weight temporarily – and make you feel like you belong to a club that includes famous people who lost weight with Jenny Craig, but the weight will likely come back. Statistics show that the weight is guaranteed to return in one to three years. Then what? You’re back to square one: wondering how you can afford to pay for another round of Jenny Craig.

1. Pay attention to your body’s natural rhythms and programming

Our bodies are programmed to resist weight loss, which is why it’s so hard to lose weight. But you don’t need money to hire a fitness trainer, nutritionist or Jenny Craig expert. You can outsmart your natural programming by trying new fitness exercise programs or incorporating intervals (short, fast bursts of activity that are recently shown to be effective).

“All the popular diets can help you lose weight because they provide almost identical calorie intakes,” says nutritional biochemist Shawn Talbott, PhD, author of The Cortisol Connection: Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health – And What You Can Do About It. “But different people may do better on different diets because of personal tastes. For instance, if you love bread, don’t even think about trying Atkins…because it won’t work.”

2. Remember that food has more effect on weight loss than exercise

Eating the right food – in the right amount – is 66% of weight loss. Exercise is important, but what and how much you eat is more important in terms of losing body fat. Learn how to eat like a healthy, fit woman who listens to her body instead of following the crowd into fast food restaurants. You don’t have to spend money on expensive eating programs or weight loss plans.

Avoid weight loss supplements, diet pills, or dieting in general. Unless your doctor prescribes them, don’t take weight loss supplements or diet pills. I tried them when I was young, and they were a big waste of time and money. Plus, they can have unhealthy side effects. And it’s been shown that dieting doesn’t work for weight loss; instead, you need to develop long-term healthy eating habits.

3. Learn NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Time)

Keep moving, even when you’re watching TV or sitting behind your desk at the office. “Naturally thin people never stop moving,” says personal trainer Fawn Gill. “Even in their seats, they shift and fidget. This is known as non-exercise activity time, or NEAT.” Fawn says constant movement burns calories and raises the metabolism. Thin people are often fidgety, never staying still, always moving – and that is one of the best weight loss tips.

“Americans have a skewed vision of fitness,” says cardiologist Dr Michael Ozner, author of The Complete Mediterranean Diet: Everything You Need to Know to Lose Weight and Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease… with 500 Delicious Recipes. “They think they have to join expensive gyms, sign up for classes, or take precious hours out of their already jam-packed schedules to lose weight. Once again, misinformation has gotten in the way of motivation and good sense.”

4. Let yourself get a little hungry

Give your stomach a chance to empty out! When I was an overweight teenager, I almost never experienced physical hunger. I was emotionally starving, which is why I ate and ate and ate. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned what it feels like to be physically hungry. Now I love the feeling of being hungry, and I enjoy eating healthy food because I can feel it energizing my cells.

You can’t afford Jenny Craig, but you can afford to get a little hungry at least once a day. Learn the difference between physical and emotional hunger. I’m not saying you should starve yourself, but it is vital to know when you’re physically hungry versus bored, or sad, or angry. Eat to energize your body and satisfy your hunger.

5. Avoid the gym. Organize your own walking or jogging club

Fitness centers, health clubs, and gyms cost hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. Plus, many people stop going a few weeks after spending money on their health club membership. Fitness clubs and gyms count on the likelihood that most members stop going, at least regularly, after a few weeks or months. Yet they’ve paid a year in advance or are making monthly payments until the contract expires. If you don’t have money for Jenny Craig, you can’t afford to buy a gym membership. Exercise outside.

You might even organize a group of friends for daily or weekly walks, runs, hikes, or bike rides. This way you can be social and lose weight. Working out with friends will give you added incentive to stick to your exercise regime.

6. Trade your fitness DVDs and exercise equipment with friends

This is one of my best budget friendly weight loss tips: dig out your old yoga mat or Pilates DVDs. Trade them for your friend’s exercise ball or Wii Fit games. This is free, fun, and will keep you working out in new ways. The more you surprise your body by doing different types of exercises, the higher your metabolism will burn.

A 45 minute run or walk in the fresh air – especially through the snow, wind, rain, or hair — instead of a gym can burn more fat, improve blood flow, and keep your brain alert. Sunshine increases serotonin and vitamin D levels, which help balance your hormones and stabilize your weight. Be creative in your weight loss ideas, and you’ll never need to save money to go on a Jenny Craig diet eating plan.

7. Adopt a flexible natural eating plan, such as the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes (such as lentils and chick peas), whole grains, fish, nuts, unsaturated fatty acids (especially olive and canola oil) and sometimes even modest amounts of wine. This natural eating plan may also include low-moderate quantities of low or no fat varieties of dairy products and meat. There are dozens of different versions of the Mediterranean Diet plan; they all incorporate different sources and proportions of vegetable fats (olive oil, canola oil, and nuts), types of carbohydrates, kinds of protein sources (legumes, fish, chicken, eggs and lean meat) and quantities of alcohol (from none to moderate).

Being able to consume fat while dieting may make the Mediterranean Diet plan an easier way to lose weight. It’s cheaper than Jenny Craig, is largely plant-based, and is a natural for for grocery shopping, daily life, and even traveling.

8. Explore different budget friendly weight loss options

“When I started the Plant-Based on a Budget website, my goal was to teach people that it’s actually more affordable than a standard American diet,” says Toni Okamoto, author of Plant-Based on a Budget: Delicious Vegan Recipes for Under $30 a Week, in Less Than 30 Minutes a Meal. “And now, with my book, I’ve taken everything I’ve learned over the past 10 years and put it together to create a comprehensive guide to help people save their pennies while eating healthy. Everyone deserves access to foods that will enhance their health—regardless of their finances.”

How Do You Lose Weight When You Can’t Afford Jenny Craig?

“It’s not what you do once in a while it’s what you do day in and day out that makes the difference,” says Jenny Craig. That’s a good weight loss quote, but I like Joan Welsh’s better: “A woman’s health can be judged by which she takes two at a time – pills or stairs.”

If you can’t take the stairs two at a time yet, forget about Jenny Craig. Just start walking up the stairs one at a time. Step by step, you will start to feel better, lighter, healthier and happier!

Do you have trouble losing weight – no matter what diet you try? Read 8 Reasons You Aren’t Losing Weight on the Weight Watchers Diet.


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36 thoughts on “How Do You Lose Weight When You Can’t Afford Jenny Craig?”

  1. The South Beach Diet certainly gives you an advantage over Jenny Craig diet, since it does allow you to eat vegetables as well as lean meats. In addition to lowering your intake of sugar, your body is also being detoxified of sugar and fats. The hope is that this 2-3 week introductory phase will cure you of hunger cravings and sugar cravings. The best feature about this diet is that you can eat as much as you want of healthy foods, a limited portion of the foods you want, and can also enjoy a flexible diet plan. Plus it’s cheaper than Jenny Craig!!!

  2. Its sad that teens and preteens nowadays cant control their weight with or without jenny craig diet prgrams. with todays age of fast food and processed foods, no doubt weight will be a major problem. Take this advice: eat more of alkaline based foods such as raw veggies, fruits. there’s so much ways in preparing these into delightful dishes and desserts!

  3. Some food groups in the Mediterranean diet are more important than others in promoting health and longer life, according to research published on the British Medical Journal website. Eating more vegetables, fruits, nuts, pulses and olive oil, and drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, while not consuming a lot of meat or excessive amounts of alcohol is linked to people living longer. However, the study also claims, that following a Mediterranean diet high in fish, seafood and cereals and low in dairy products were not indicators of longevity.

    While several studies have concluded that the Mediterranean diet improves chances of living longer, this is the first to investigate the importance of individual components of the diet. The authors maintain that when high intake of vegetables, low intake of meat or moderate alcohol intake were excluded from the rating system, the benefits of following a Mediterranean diet were substantially reduced. They also note that there are clear benefits in combining several of the key components, for example high consumption of vegetables and olive oil.

    The conclusion is that the main reasons why the Mediterranean diet can lead to living longer are moderate consumption of ethanol (mostly in the form of wine during meals, as traditionally done in the Mediterranean countries), low consumption of meat and meat products, and high consumption of vegetables, fruits and nuts, olive oil and legumes.

  4. Great thing about the Mediterraneans is they consume more fresh fish and salads than the English or Americans. The Mediterranea food is more exciting and it looks tastier.

    The weather is great as well.

  5. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comments on these weight loss programs. My favorite is still the volumetrics, though I try to incorporate bits of the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil on my popcorn! :-)

  6. I absolutely love the zone diet ideas:)
    By all means, it’s the safest way to train yourself without pushing too hard.

    Jay Chua

  7. The key to losing weight and keeping it off is to find the eating plan that fits your personality and lifestyle. And don’t forget about exercise!

  8. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    That’s great, Jake! I’m glad the South Beach is an effective diet plan for you…do you find it difficult to stick to a diet? I think I would.

  9. I think South Beach Diet Plan is the best from these five. I have been following South Beach Diet Plan and it does work, I have managed to lose 13lbs in 5 weeks, which I think is quite good.

  10. Thank you for replaying!
    I am eating about 2,000 calories every meal.(not counting the drink)and I have a small 70 calorie snack once a day.I am eating fast food probably once every 2 weeks.This is what I’ve been eating.Im not eating much sugar in my meals.I don’t know what I am doing wrong,I have been eating like this ever since I was a little girl(7 or 8).I have lost a lot of baby fat since then,but there is still a bit of fat that is still there and won’t go away.
    Thanks again,

  11. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Lissa,

    I know how you feel — it took me a long time to lose weight!

    Approximately how many calories do you eat every day, and what kinds of food do you normally consume? Counting calories is difficult at first, especially if you haven’t been taught how many calories is in different types of food. I was never taught about calories, and was always eating way more than I was burning off!

    So, tell me what you eat in a given day. Keep track of every single thing you eat — write it down as soon as you eat it. Do this for 2 or 3 days, and then tell me what you’re eating.

    I suspect there will be the answer to your inability to lose weight…because achieving weight loss goals is ALL about what you’re putting in your mouth!


  12. Hi,
    I have been doing exercises that I enjoy, such as dancing, skate boarding, walking dog or w/ friends ect. but I dont see much results, actually, I seem to be gaining wait!Is this because I am growing or am I doing something wrong?Please replay :)

  13. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hello Jimmy,

    Thanks for your Greek olive oil Mediterranean diet tip! I’ve heard about this diet. I’m glad it worked for you.

  14. My doctor recommended a weight loss program. He suggested a couple of options but they didn’t seem to workfor me.

    A friend of mine suggested the mediterranean diet and gave me a couple of different sites. One in particular was the greek olive oil mediterranean diet. This diet really work well for me. I lost almost 20 pounds and have more energy.

  15. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your tips. I think what and how much you eat is just as important for weight loss for teens as exercising is.

  16. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Carol,

    Finding the best safe weight loss program really depends on your lifestyle, personality, and genetics! For instance, I didn’t need a diet as much as help with my emotional eating. And, I started doing Pilates and Yoga and strength training almost every day, which helps so much.

    Truthfully, I’m not a big fan of any one particular diet. I think it’s more important to to eat healthy, nutritious foods. And, don’t overeat…and develop strong muscles through Yoga and Pilates!

  17. Aiming to lose one pound per day for one week using the Scarsdale diet menu, tried Atkins but the food seemed really unhealthy. Scarsdale sounds much better. Any advice welcome.

  18. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Yes, I’ve heard that the Atkins Diet wasn’t a safe weight loss program in the past. But, since then, I think it has safe, balanced levels of protein and other nutrients.

  19. I personally wouldn’t recommend the Atkins diet, there is so much debate concerning it, and some studies have even shown that it might cause coronary heart diseases.

  20. When you are trying to lose body fat, the best way to do it is still by proper dieting and exercise. Avoid taking slimming pills at all cost, they do more harm than good.

  21. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Congratulations, Julie, on losing 7 kilos! Good for you. How do you eat coconut oil — do you cook with it, or put it on salads?

  22. Great post and comments. I am actually eating more, being busy I always skipped breakfast, big mistake. Now I have a big breakfast and I have lost 7 kilos so far! I also have olive or coconut oil every day.

  23. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comment, Judy.

    The word “diet” doesn’t have the best reputation these days, and I’ve never been on a diet that worked, that actually helped me lose weight! But, I have lost about ten pounds in the past few months…slowly, but I think they’ll stay off.

    I’ve been eating lots of salads (following the “volumetrics” principle, which is that fibrous foods fill you up but aren’t fattening). It’s not the Mediterranean healthy eating plan per se, but it’s close. I’ve cut out my meat intake to a few bites of chicken, pork, or meat a week — off my husband’s plate :-)

    Anyway, thanks for your comments…I love hearing from you!


  24. Well, in a sense Laurie and Biz are both correct. It should really just be called Mediterranean eating or a Mediterranean eating plan, which if done correctly is a diet of fruits, veggies, good oils (live EVOO), nuts, and legumes. So that is an eating ritual not a diet as we seem to use the word. Just a healthy way to eat!

  25. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    I’m not a teen, but I’m always focused on losing body fat and weight loss…and I eat a ton of salads and fruit. My favorite is to make a salad of apples, colorful peppers, onions, and whatever other veggies and fruits I have. Then, I top with raisins, pumpkin seeds, and shelled sunflower seeds instead of salad dressing. This is one of my favorite meals (when I’m not chowing down on a cheeseburger :-) )

  26. Last year I have so much Body fat because of a very bad diet and lack of exercise. Now I am doing lots of Cardio to reduce the fat specially on my tummy.

  27. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Lilly,

    I know how your daughter feels — I struggled with my weight as a teenager, too! It’s difficult, especially when you go to school with those thin popular gorgeous young teen cheerleader types (and most schools have them).

    The tae kwon do class might help, and I like your comment on my “Tips for Hiring a Personal Fitness Trainer” article. I think a personal fitness instructor might be great for certain teenagers. The personal attention and instruction might make the difference she needs.

    Thanks for your comments,


  28. My teenage daughter has struggled with her weight since she was ten years old. Thanks for these weight loss tips for teens, I’ll make sure she sees them. I was never overweight as a child and I don’t know why she is. I have struggled with depression though and so does she!

    She just started taking a tae kwon do class and I think that might help. Her teacher is strict!

  29. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Callie,

    I don’t think weight loss supplements are good for teens — or adults, for that matter. It does depend on the reasons for being overweight, though; I think a doctor might prescribe a weight loss supplement in some cases.

    But generally speaking, the best way to lose weight and body fat for teens (and adults) is to eat lots of fruits, veggies, and protein. Stay away from simple carbs (white sugar, white flour), and eat good fats like olive oil sparingly.

    And, exercise!!


  30. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Tom, thanks for your comment. I don’t think it’s just our society today — I need weight loss tips for teens back in the 80’s, when I was an obese teenager! Well, I was never really OBESE….just round. But I agree that giving weight loss advice to children and teens is sad….and I don’t think we can deny that childhood obesity is increasing. I think that’s a fact, isn’t it?

    Hi Melanie, I didn’t know how that exercise is less important than what you eat and how much you eat until about a year ago — and I’m almost 40 now! When I was a teen and young adult, I’d eat tons of garbage and then run around the block a few times…and wonder why I couldn’t lose weight. Thanks for your comment — I never thought my weight loss for teens advice was “holistic”, but I think you’re right! Cool. :-)


  31. Definitely, biz — diets aren’t good for keeping the weight off because you can’t sustain those eating habits for the rest of your life!

    I lost 10 pounds in the past 3 months not by dieting. I’ve been focusing on filling up on fruits and veggies, and then eating the meat and potatos portion of my meal if I’m still hungry. I love fruit and veggies, because I’m full after eating them — but not stuffed and lethargic!

    The best way to lose weight is to find a healthy eating plan that you enjoy and can sustain for the rest of your life.

    And, stop emotional eating!

  32. I agree that weight is very important aspect of the health. But sincerely, I am not the fan of diets because simple reason – if you are overweight due to eating too much you can loose weight, but you will bulk up back, if you continue to eat as you used, after diet ending. I think that only solution is to have non-stop balanced nutrition intake.