2006
12.06

Have just returned from a Lighter Life introduction session. It’s a radical weight loss programme – Clare put me onto it, where she has lost something like 30 pounds in four weeks. Combination of ‘nutrition packs’ and counselling, on the grounds that weight problems are more psychological than physical – “trying to lose weight by suppressing hunger is like dealing with alcoholism by drinking water”. You lose psychological dependency with food thanks to the life-saving nutrition packs and water.

Weight: 137.5 kg. Hight: 6′3″ – BMI: 38.

I… wasn’t impressed. The lady was herself rather obese (uh?) - larger than success story “Jackie” – and claimed to have helped write the original programme. But she was ignorant of even basic nutritional concepts (that I picked up from Atkins), contradicted herself (paraphrase: “diets that involve suppressing hunger always fail. Lighter Life food packs don’t trigger insulin, so you don’t get hungry and the weight melts off!”), made assumptions about me I didn’t like, tried outright bullshit (“let me explode the myth of ‘large frames’. I got my skeleton weighed [by some kind of weighing x-ray machine?!?] and it was 8 1/2 lbs, only 1/2 heavier than the really thin nurse. So that’s that myth exploded.” 2-step rebuttals on a postcard please.) and.. yuck.. went for the hard sell (stood by the door seeing me out going “it’ll pour off, you can get great new clothes for spring, you can go on the pull again!”, etc. What am I, a marketing demographic?)

And she insisted I had my clearance medical (only £30!) with her favourite doctor. And didn’t want to show me the video when I stated asking questions (which I’m going to do for £250 a month!) My back was well up.

So, yes. I know I can get a bit cynical and argumentative, and all, but err. Was not convinced, neither factually and emotionally; and I am reassured that with this re badged Slim-Fast, you have to be 110%. Came back & Lise pointed out that I’d be having counselling with her on a weekly basis. To be honest, if it wasn’t for people vouching for it, I’d have left a lot earlier.

Think I’ll look for another local person & try again. I am now inexplicably highly sarcastic and facetious tonight for no good reason.

  1. Find a local weight watchers group. Seriously, they’ve been around for years, outlived all the fads and people swear by them. Also they’re cheap, and widely supported, ie a lot of supermarket food is marked with the appropriate points or whatever it is. You’ve got nothing to lose :) Maybe you can find someone to go with you?…

  2. My line manager has lost about 3 stone on lighter life, she is about to start reintroducing food (well, lettuce) after having nothing but shakes and soup since september. Oh and this isn’t rebranded slim fast, slim fast let you eat a meal a day and kept your calorie intake at 1000 a day, lighter life gives you half that.

    There’s no saying it doesn’t work (although only 50% of her “club” have stuck it out, and they havn’t started maintenance yet) she is feeling and looking great; however I am not convinced it is a healthy way to lose weight.

    The tiny calorie intake puts your body into a constant state of gluconeogenesis, breaking down fat and muscle to use as energy. You don’t feel hungry, after about 3 days the hunger dissapears and the idea of eating makes you feel a bit queasy, along with the self satisfaction of sticking it out, this makes it easier to stick with as time goes on (as an anorexic in remission I find this concept frighteningly familiar). The food packs (which is where most of the cash goes, apparently once you start eating there are no more bills) prevent total malnutrition, but I hate to think what happens to your guts, there’s no fibre in there. So essentially you get an initial crash weight loss, then you stick it out for a bit until you fall out of the habit of eating, then reintroduce food, in the form of healthy eating, to a clean slate.

    I’m not convinced TBH, I understand very well the difficulty in adjusting eating patterns, but I did it, and lost 3 stone in as many months, without the need for starvation (which would have done in my mental health if not my physical health). If you have the commitment to consume nothing that isn’t reconstituted from a powder for several months, you have the commitment to look at your diet objectively, and start planning your meals with a mature brain, and not with a growling stomach or an emotional whim. For me the hard part was to dissociate food from the various associations I have cultured and consider it as pure nutrition, learning what is good for me, and learning how to eat what I physically *need*. I have lapsed a bit lately, but I still maintain the ability to look at a doughnut and think “that really won’t be as good as I think, and then I will regret it, I would rather be slim than have a dissapointing cake”!

    Reading “Only fat people skip breakfast” helped me a lot initially, and I do revisit it from time to time. It’s a harsh read in places, but if you can’t be honest with yourself, who can you be honest with? I didn’t really follow the plan in there to the letter, but I did keep the spirit of it, and adapt it to what works well for me.

    Good luck whatever you decide to go with!

  3. Tried it; was one of the worst. There is a real cult-like attitude involved. And anyway, Man is built to eat meat, not hunt Ryvita!

  4. Precisely – you and I know how it works in sufficiently more detail than you’d find, in say, Heat magazine; artificial starvation, hence not feeling hungry. The nutrition powder is to stop you dying whilst you do it. It is therefore hard, and you deserve a medal by the end. The woman either didn’t grasp this, or was foolishly trying to hide it from someone who was clearly aware enough to look past the marketing (i.e. me). There’s a reason I try scientifically based stuff, like Atkins.

    If you have the commitment … you have the commitment

    Oh yes. I have viewed food as fuel for the body for some time – I don’t eat half the stuff I see people in the street eating, and whilst I have weaknesses for things like kebabs and chocolate, I have the willpower to not even look at doughnuts etc. However something is clearly not working, so – logically – I try a new approach.

    “Only fat people skip breakfast” – is that a book? And why am I not surprised that the obese woman pushing this praised skipping breakfast…?

  5. When I was studying Human Skeletal Remains in Archaeology we were mostly looking at lifestyle. The Mesolithic had it great: stature like modern, sometimes taller; low infant mortality, long lifespans (into the 60s and might be longer), no fractures of long bones, excellent teeth. We all went in for as much of the Mesolithic diet as we could, which is effectively Atkins: lay off the starchy stuff that came in during the Neolithic and scuppered health up for millenia, and watch it with the sweet stuff. Works well; I’m somewhat heavier than I was when my younger daughter was born over a quarter of a century ago, but not much.

    (Besides, saying “I’m on a Mesolithic diet” sounds cool)

  6. Oh, yes, and lots of different sorts of meat, poultry and fish, and lots of different veggies and fruit

  7. Agreed.

    Yes “only fat…” is a book, written by a nutritional councellor. It’s not an easy read, particularly if you have had eating disorders, minor binging habits or a tendancy to try and pull the wool over your own eyes. I have read mixed reviews, some hate it, some swear by it. A lot of the former say things like they didn’t like being made to feel guilty, or that it couldn’t possibly be so easy, but for me it was. A lot of it is about psychology, the rest is more like wholefood eating, going back to the eating habits our systems are evolved to deal with, i.e. little and often, no refined sugars, lots of fibre, decent, healthy balanced eating. I could have done it on my own I guess, but reading the book forced me to face up to a few home truths (such as my diet not being half as good as I might think if I was still overweight).

    When I started on it I posted this: http://community.livejournal.com/thinkingthin/10963.html on my moot’s slimming group (by chance there were about 5 of us all at once trying to lose weight) which sums it up.

    Missing breakfast is one of the silliest things you can do, I eat so much more if I skip breakfast, it’s like I’m trying to make up for it all day. A boiled egg and a slice of toast fills me up really well gets the day started right, and is less than 200 calories (AKA half the pastry I would end up having mid morning if I was hungry)

  8. I hope that link works btw, the post is friends only, but you are friended, I’m not sure if the community thing changes that.

  9. No, I can’t read it. Thanks very much for sharing this all with me BTW!

    From http://www.amazon.co.uk/Only-Fat-People-Skip-Breakfast/dp/0007176996 :

    The reason why diets don’t work for so many people is that they are actually binge eaters. This means that they can diet reasonably successfully until they get a taste of one of their trigger foods, whereupon they lose all self-control and eat as much food as they can physically cram in. The result is that a binger will be on a permanent see-saw of weight loss and weight gain, accompanied by varying degrees of guilt, anger, depression and frustration.

    This sounds similar & fascinating.

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