How Dame Edna lost two stone on the Jenny Craig Diet

For some one who professes to have a ‘lifelong aversion to exercise’, Dame Edna Everage, or her creator – Barry Humphries is looking remarkably svelte these days. But the Aussie National Treasure doesn’t put his recent weight loss down to a fitness and exercise plan, he credits his new figure to the Jenny Craig Diet.

Picture courtesy: Nicky Johnston/ITV

Picture courtesy: Nicky Johnston/ITV

Humphries, 78, has lost an incredible 2st 5lb over nine months, and it’s all by following the food regime created by the diet experts at Jenny Craig. Humphries decided to do something about his weight, as over the years, he has been putting on more and more pounds. He says:‘I loathe exercise, however, the weight has been creeping on for a few years now. It got to the point where I really didn’t like what I saw in the mirror and my increasing girth was causing all sorts of headaches for my tailor. I was also having to give expensive suits away to the Salvation Army as I just couldn’t get into them any more.’

And the Aussie Queen credits his fourth wife of 22 years, Lizzie Spender, with helping him to tackle the increasing pounds. ‘I really didn’t want to, but my wife helped me with the decision to tackle my food intake. It was fortunate I was also offered the chance to become Jenny Craig’s ambassador, as their approach appealed to me.

‘I do not like the word diet, I do not like hardship. I have been in some health farms at various points in my life and have always run away in the evenings to go to a five-star restaurant and eat some decent food.’

He adds: ‘I didn’t feel ill due to the excess weight, but uncomfortable, and I was getting very tired and needing to have a lie down during the day. I easily got out of breath when walking. My blood pressure was high and a few years ago, I developed a hiatus hernia [in which part of the stomach pushes through the muscle of the diaphragm causing indigestion], which I took tablets for. I think it was because of my eating habits.’

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The Jenny Craig Diet Plan works by delivering calorie controlled meals to the recipient that include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. The diet is not supposed to be a ‘quick fix’, as people that start on a diet regime later in life, like Barry, should be prepared to shed the weight at a slower rate. The cost of the food plan is around £10 a day, and once the desired weight loss has been achieved, dieters are then encouraged to maintain a healthy eating plan by cooking for themselves. You can, if you prefer, go on their maintenance regime which costs much less – dieters can continue with some ready meals and with a weekly counseling phone call, or just opt for a phone-call service (£11 per call).

The Jenny Craig Diet has had a few celebrity endorsements, most recently our very own Cheryl Baker, from Bucks Fizz fame, and the US TV and film star Kirstie Alley has also recommended the diet. The current UK ambassador is the ex Spice Girl Mel B.

Humphries was perhaps a tougher client than most however, as after starting on the diet plan in March of last year, he was expected to reach his desired weight by July. This was pushed back to September because he hadn’t lost the weight, then again to December, when he finally hit the target, almost five months behind schedule. And he needed a little extra help from the Jenny Craig counselors who apparently called him every day, a service not normally offered to members. Humphries said: ‘I needed that. I have a big weakness for cheese and desserts, so I had to train myself to have much smaller portions.’

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But he got there in the end, and now his BMI is down from 29.5 to just under 25. He is now 13st 5lb – scraping into the healthy range for his 6ft height, with a BMI of 24.9. However, he still relies on the ready meals at times.

‘If I travel, I take Jenny Craig meals with me. Last year I started my farewell tour, Eat, Pray, Laugh, in Australia, which I am bringing to the UK this October, and as the weight dropped off my energy levels definitely improved.

‘This has been the easiest, most relaxed way of changing your lifestyle that I can imagine. Having your meals organised for you really does take the strain out of depriving yourself of certain pleasures.’

He adds: ‘I feel so much better in myself. I have gone down three dress sizes, and I feel like a new man.’

Dame Edna would be so proud.