Saturday, 12 September 2009

How Lighter Life works

Firstly, I don't work for Lighter Life or anything. I just buy their food packs, attend their counselling sessions, and pray for slenderness.

Lighter Life is a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD), on which you abstain from normal food for 14 weeks. Instead you have 4 protein-based, nutritionally rich (apparently) "food packs" per day - shakes, soups and bars.

You can only do Lighter Life if you have a BMI of over 29; if you have less to lose you can do the "lite" programme, on which you have 3 foodpacks and a low-carbohydrate meal per day.

Doing all this gets you into ketosis, a state in which your body burns your own fat, rather than food you've digested, for fuel.

If you follow the programme you typically lose about 3 stone in the 14 week period.

There are other programmes with a similar regime - The Cambridge Diet and the government-endorsed Lipotrim system. But the two things that set Lighter Life apart are

1. The price - at £66 per week it's so hefty that every time you feel yourself wobble, pound signs appear before your eyes.

2. The counselling - you can't do the programme if you don't commit to the weekly group counselling sessions. Your Lighter Life Counsellor (LLC) uses cognitive behavioural therapy and transactional analysis techniques to explore the reasons why you overeat: the idea being that once you finish the programme you'll have lost all your extra weight, and you'll be fully equipped to go back into the world without stuffing your face with cake every day. And, if you do stuff your face with cake every day, at least you'll understand why.

The stages of Lighter Life (as I understand them)

1. Foundation - the 14 week abstinence period

2. Development - if after 14 weeks you have more to lose, you go onto this programme. Not sure how long it is, and I think you have some sort of break before starting it, as you're not supposed to follow a VLCD for more than 14 weeks without some sort of dietary change.

3. Route to Management - a 12 week programme in which you gradually reintroduce normal food until you're eating regularly again. I think the purpose behind this is to not completely blitz your metabolism, and to put some of the food behaviour theory stuff into practice.

4. Management - this is when you've reached your goal weight, and I'm not at all clear about how it works. I think it might involve some sort of secret handshake.


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