Saturday, 12 September 2009

My first Lighter Life meeting

My local Lighter Life HQ is not, as Google Maps purports, "six minutes' walk from a local train station", but slightly too far for me and my fragile ankles to walk comfortably. Which is annoying.

I'd already been weighed at my introductory session (turns out I have borderline BMI - I could have chosen the "lite" programme where you eat a proteiny meal a day, but I am a keen and prolific self-saboteur and that method seemed to have to wide a margin for error), so all that was left for me to do was join the group.

LL HQ has a large, comfortable room with lots of light, squashy sofas, a TV, a flipchart with squiggly psychotherapy diagrams, and a big sign saying "NO FOOD TALK" on the wall. There were about 6 other ladies (the groups are all single sex), who were between 20 and 60 years old (I reckon), and between 1 and 2 weeks ahead of me on the plan. None of them were heifers; some were plumpish, but most just looked like they were carrying a little post-Christmas weight.

They were all really nice and very chatty, and there was a definite coffee morning feel to the entire affair as they all greeted each other, compared weeks, swapped the food packs they didn't like for ones they did (everyone had different tastes), got weighed, and went to pee on special sticks to see if they were in ketosis.

I sort of sat curled up on my own, feeling shy and taking trouble over choosing my packs. What to have? I went with a selection of everything: porridge, shakes and soups (you don't get bars until your second week).

I also tried the water flavours - an orange one, a fruity one and a lemon one - which cost £9 and taste like orange and lemon squash, and Ribena. You don't get these until you're halfway through the first week of your diet. The Lighter Life Counsellor (to whom I will refer hereon in as LLC) warned me that all but one of them (Fruits of the Forest) contained Inulin, a sort of fibre which can cause upset stomachs.

I sat there sipping a glass of St Clements (orangey and Inuliny) and talking to the other ladies until the 'counselling' session began. This week was about the parent, adult and child "ego states".
  • The parent state, if I have this right, is the voice that says "you mustn't eat this" and is critical.
  • The child state is the voice that goes "BUT I WANT IT"
  • The adult state is your more balanced voice who makes decisions based on what's in front of them. "I want this but I shouldn't. Am I really hungry?"
Or something.

To be honest the counselling bit seemed a bit perfunctory. The LLC went over the points on screen and asked us all how food was seen in our households when we were children. I felt this went very quickly, then we were moving on to the next thing.

However, it did make me think - in my house, my mother was very strict about food - about not having sweets or snacks, eating everything you were given whether you liked it or not, and staying at the table until everyone was finished. But mealtimes were BORING because the adults talked and talked and talked through all the courses, right through to the sherry and cheese bit, and the bit where they all smoked. It seemed to last FOREVER.

But then one parent or another would suddenly stop being strict and be "naughty" - encouraging me not to finish my meal and "save space for pudding". Then giving me extra pudding (which we rarely had at home). Then they'd randomly break their no snack rule and take me out for ice cream or sweeties.

God, I was a spoiled child.

But the thing is, it was "naughty" behaviour. My family, for all their properness, were very playful, and I think the children in the house gave the adults an excuse to indulge their playful, naughty side. And they love their food. Going out to eat, whether we were off to a posh restaurant (always fun because of pudding, less so because of the endless talking) or getting takeaway from KFC, was a Big Event that made everyone jolly.

It's a wonder none of them were fat.

So I suppose I associate sweet food and snacks with naughtiness, and a certain amount of adult endorsement.

And I haven't been slim all my life - there was a period as a young teen where I was desperately unhappy and fed my unhappiness by skipping meals and solely eating food gleaned from the school tuck shop - crisps, chocolate, fat Coke, etc. And I seem to remember my mother also giving me the food I wanted, perhaps in a desperate bid to help me, but not knowing how. Somehow the weight dropped off me over the next year, and I went to sixth form college a size 10.

Anyway. I didn't say all this (the LLC moved on too quickly!) but it did ring a few bells in my mind.

Then I got all my food packs, was wished good luck, and left.


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