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The Power of One
Veronique Cardon, creator of the innovative CogniDiet® Weight Loss Programs, helps busy women take control of their weight by focusing on themselves

by Sharon A. Shaw

If Veronique Cardon, M.S., has one message for today’s busy female professional, it’s this: Make time for yourself. After all, those who do not prioritize their own health and well-being often gain unwanted pounds and develop serious health problems that accompany the extra weight. She’s not trying to scare anyone; rather, she wants women to know it’s entirely possible to develop healthy habits and reap the considerable benefits that result, all without radical therapies or having to make tremendous sacrifices. She knows from experience.

Cardon spent the first few decades of her career in the pharmaceutical industry, where she traveled the globe managing some of the most well-known medications for the largest companies in the field. Unfortunately, the uninterrupted years of prioritizing her high-powered job, along with trying to balance the stresses of a lengthy commute, a rigorous travel schedule and the needs of her family, began to take a toll on her health.

At 42, Cardon was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had to undergo a total hysterectomy, which drove her into “a hormonal nightmare.” Five years later, even though she was cancer free, she had gained almost 25 pounds and was lacking the vibrancy she once felt. Her doctor told her that her blood sugar and cholesterol were elevated and that she needed to lose weight and eliminate stress. Finally, she made a change: “I allowed myself to look at me first.” She began with simple changes to her diet, exercise and stress management. “By doing this, I realized life continued,” Cardon says. “My husband and kids still loved me and I was still successful even though I was now taking one hour a day to care for myself.”

She learned that for one to change, one must be educated, so she earned her degree in holistic nutrition from the Clayton College of Natural Health. Inspired by this knowledge, she adopted a discipline of eating fresh foods, avoiding carbohydrates and sugar, and working out with a trainer. “I was passionate,” she says. “I wanted to really become better at what I ate and what I was doing to my body. My body really changed. It had a huge impact.”

She also pursued additional training in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and emotional brain training (EBT) and incorporated these important elements into her lifestyle. Eventually, she developed a program—now known as The CogniDiet®—that uses these principles, as well as stress management and “the power of good food,” to help others experience the same positive change and weight loss that she did.

“The CogniDiet® is the result of my life and experience from a medical and professional point of view,” says Cardon, who holds a master’s degree in nutrition, an M.B.A. and a commercial engineering degree, as well as training from Harvard Business School and INSEAD, one of the world’s leading graduate schools. Today Cardon has a suite in the Princeton Integrative Health Center, where she offers one-on-one programs, hosts group classes and leads WebEx seminars geared toward busy professionals around the country who seek improved health by taking charge of their own lives.

The 12-week core program of the CogniDiet® relies on three pillars for transformation. The first step involves identifying negative thoughts and controlling behaviors—especially when one is stressed, fatigued or emotionally vulnerable—and replacing them with positive ones. Participants also use EBT to reward their good decisions through meditation or visualization techniques that make them happy and deflect cravings. “As you start to think differently, your new attitude has the power to transform your life,” she says.

The second pillar of the program is stress management. Stress triggers hormones to aid in the fight or flight response, and because most Americans experience daily stress while sitting in the office or waiting in traffic—largely immobile tasks—they don’t use this glucose. Instead, Cardon explains, the brain signals the body to replenish its stock, thereby causing weight gain.

Finally, the third pillar is nutritional education. Cardon teaches the role of nutrients, the importance of food combinations and portion control, as well as how these to apply to each individual in the program. Participants also learn specific skills required to eat more mindfully. Physical activity is also discussed and encouraged for its many benefits.

As a top pharmaceutical executive with more than 20 years of experience, Cardon has come to understand the barriers people face when making health choices and, in particular, when trying to lose weight and keep it off. This experience has developed her ability to translate science into meaningful, clear and digestible guidance for her clients.

Cardon understands how to lead and motivate individuals through the life-altering changes that inevitably follow weight loss. She puts the success rate of the CogniDiet® at 95 percent, with participants losing as much as 25 pounds in 12 weeks. “The goal is not to lose 20 pounds in two weeks,” Cardon explains. “The slower you go, the longer you will keep it off.”

Her clients are busy women of all ages—as young as 29, as old as 73—who “have tried it all,” Cardon says. “When we have the first meeting, I tell participants, ‘If you have not come to the point where you know that something will change only if you change your behaviors, then this program is not for you.’ You are giving yourself permission to be first. Slowly but surely you will change something every week.”

In addition to the 12-week core program, Cardon offers a four-week Sugar Detox Program and a six-week “Help, I am Stuck” Program for participants who need to lose the last challenging five to 10 pounds. These programs are available in groups, via WebEx or one on one, and Cardon says she has received the same level of success with each method. Clients can choose from several meetings per week in order to suit their busy schedules, though each group is limited to six participants to maximize participation. “It is very interactive,” Cardon says. “We discuss what you learned, your plans and your obstacles; the women inspire one another.”

Delphine Dubois, M.D., is president of a thriving health care communications agency in New York. She is also a busy mother of three who has struggled with her weight for much of her life. Despite having succeeded in dropping pounds through some of the well-known diet plans, she would eventually gain back any losses she achieved. When Cardon suggested that the weight gain was related to elevated stress levels, Dr. Dubois had what she calls “a big ‘aha’ moment.” Through the CogniDiet®, Dr. Dubois lost 12 pounds, her cholesterol dipped significantly and she stuck to a schedule of working out three days a week.

Because of her location and busy schedule, Dr. Dubois chose to attend CogniDiet® meetings via WebEx. After successfully completing the 12-week session, she wanted to share her experience with her co-workers and employees, because she recognized that stress was negatively affecting them as well. After an orientation with Cardon, the staff set up bi-weekly WebEx meetings for the group.

“It was a great experience for everyone,” Dr. Dubois says. “It helped me identify some of the triggers of stress at work for others and find ways to impact them. As a result, I got to know some employees at a different level.” Now, because of what they learned through CogniDiet®, Dr. Dubois’ team members bring in fruit to snack on instead of cookies, and they also eliminated “bad foods” from their meeting menus.

In addition to her hands-on work with clients, Cardon continues to spread the word in other forums. On March 24, Cardon will be showcased as an Innovator in Women’s Health by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association. She is also putting together an advisory board to begin a clinical trial of the CogniDiet®. She serves on the Board of Trustees of The Suppers Programs, a not-for-profit organization based in Princeton that teaches people to cook and heal with whole foods. Cardon is also a facilitator for the organization and leads a monthly “Supper with a French Healthy Twist.” Hardly prone to letting her success control her life, Cardon is using it to power her life—and to help others do the same.

The CogniDiet® Weight Loss Programs
The Princeton Integrative Health Center
614 Executive Drive
Princeton, NJ 08540
609-285-2949 | www.thecognidiet.com


Photograph by Allure West Studios

Suburban Life Magazine