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Regaining Control In the Midst of the Uncontrollable

LA JOLLA, CALIF., November 13, 2001 - As worldwide events continue to evolve in unpredictable and disconcerting ways, many Americans are experiencing a wide range of emotions. Patriotic fervor is at an all-time high as people rally together. Equally common are feelings varying from hopelessness and despair to confidence and resiliency.

While it's natural to think that healthy behaviors such as losing weight and eating nutritiously may have fallen by the wayside in the past two months, one of the nation's leading weight management companies has found just the opposite.

"Our core business was not significantly affected by the tragic events of September 11," explains Patti Larchet, President and Chief Operating Officer for Jenny Craig. "While we did experience a decrease in new enrollments in the days immediately following the attacks, that trend immediately reversed itself the following Monday. In fact, key performance indicators remained - and continue to remain - at higher levels than at this same time last year."

Larchet surmises that this sustained interest in weight loss might be due to the fact that many people feel powerless to control what is happening on a national or global level, but feel that they can exert influence in their own personal lives. "Weight loss, like managing the family finances or completing projects at work, is a very 'actionable' item that people can impact almost immediately," adds Larchet. "For many people, regaining control of their health has helped them get their lives back in balance."

Many Americans are finding comfort in healthy eating and exercise behaviors. Not only do these rituals offer solace and a sense of continuity, they provide much-needed feelings of confidence and accomplishment. However, if you're among those who have temporarily abandoned the healthy lifestyle you enjoyed prior to September 11, now is not the time for guilt or negative self-talk. Rather, it's a time for refocusing on personal priorities such as spending time with family and friends, taking care of your health, and enjoying quiet time for yourself. Here are a few ways to get back on track:

  • Enlist the support of others. Now, more than ever, a nurturing team of family members and friends is essential for your personal success. Cultivate a group of people who will encourage and motivate you as you make positive lifestyle changes.
  • Take exercise one step at a time. If you haven't walked or worked out at the gym since mid-September, the key is to get back into shape slowly. Work up to 30 minutes of enjoyable physical activity on most days of the week. Pressed for time? Break up your half-hour workout into three 10-minute bouts, so you can easily fit exercise into your routine plus get the benefit of "mini-destressors" throughout the day.
  • Try something new. Maybe aerobics, jogging or rollerblading aren't what you need right now. Perhaps yoga, tai chi or something that emphasizes the mind-body connection might be more soothing to your soul.
  • Savor the experience of eating. At mealtime, focus on the pleasurable aspects of eating such as time spent with family and friends, the opportunity to unwind, and the chance to replenish your body with a variety of tasty, nutritious foods. And keep in mind that there's no such thing as "bad foods" - even your favorite "comfort foods" can be enjoyed in moderation.
  • Create an environment for success. With grocery list in hand, concentrate on the perimeter of the store where the healthier items tend to be located. Purchase a variety of nonfat dairy products, whole grains, lean meats, and fresh produce items so you'll have all the ingredients you need for quick, delicious meal preparation.
  • Power up your produce consumption. Ironically, National 5-A-Day Week was September 9 - 15. It's not too late - or too difficult - to begin eating five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day. Add a banana and orange at breakfast, a leafy green salad packed with chopped fresh vegetables at lunch, a piece of fresh fruit for a snack, and a vegetable or two at dinner.
  • Take time for yourself. Your spirit, like your body, needs to be recharged on a daily basis. As you're planning your daily schedule, set aside time for activities that calm and reenergize you, such as a hot bubble bath, listening to instrumental CDs, writing in a journal, or taking a 15-minute catnap.

"Weight loss, like any positive lifestyle change, is a journey - not a destination," adds Larchet. "As you reestablish control over your eating and exercise behaviors, other aspects of your personal life will get more into balance as well. The end result is a renewed feeling of confidence, as well as a 'can-do' attitude that will help keep your spirits high as you enter the upcoming holiday season."

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