Losing weight is boring and incredibly personal. This is not an article about losing weight don’t worry. It’s about how social media helped me on my way.
Anyone who knows me will realise that not only do I struggle to maintain a healthy weight, I also tend to take an ‘all or nothing’ approach to things I want to accomplish. So when I want to make a change I have to do something drastic, whatever area of my life this applies to. Being far too wimpy to consider anything surgical however, the only way to do this in relation to body weight is by extreme dieting, of the very low calorie persuasion – an approach I highly recommend if you want to see dramatic results fast.
The last time I lost weight with a regime of this kind was about 8 years ago in the UK, when NICE regulation dictated this should only be done as part of a supervised programme. The choices were a weekly meeting and weigh in, being sold as a franchise and making a lot of buzz at the time – I investigated this but the consultant involved seemed more interested in recruiting me into her downline than helping me lose weight, and knew less about nutrition than I did, so that wasn’t for me.
The other main offer at the time required weekly individual meetings with a ‘counsellor’ for weigh-ins and advice, as the only way to purchase the products, so I went for this. 12 weeks of shakes and soups and bars – boring, functional and effective, I lost the weight and kept it off pretty well for years.
The same products and programme is now available in Spain, through the same form of distribution, but the deregulation of the industry has also made mail-order options available and caused an explosion of new providers. So having decided to commit to something similar this year I had a fair bit of research to do. If you would like to know more about the programme I selected and why then please contact me @Casslar or via info[at]costaconnected.com, but my priorities were meeting the nutritional criteria, shipping internationally at reasonable rates, and offering the greatest possible variety of meal replacements – because I dislike milky drinks intensely, and with so many built around the idea of shakes, this can be very limiting.
So, I ordered my first month’s pack in January, and was pleasantly surprised at the variety of solid and savoury options on offer. I have not had to gag down a single milkshake, and I have stuck with it for a couple of months and a couple of stone, and I am very happy with the outcome so far. But one of the best parts of the programme was completely unexpected, and came from the existence of a fantastic (closed) Facebook group.
Because losing weight in a hurry is boring, and its antisocial – so much of our culture and social life revolves around eating and drinking, we even label dates and liaisons around what is consumed: ‘lets have lunch’ ‘see you at teatime’, etc. We offer refreshments to indicate hospitality, to show our welcome and approval, and to celebrate social occasions. If you are opting out of this, even for a fixed time-limited period, you can feel like you have leprosy, however well-intentioned your friends who are not on the same path as you.
Sitting through birthday meals with my tasty meal-replacement bar and a cheeky sparkling mineral water is bloody hard work, and I can’t tell you how great it is to have support from others on a similar course, who understand. Who can pat you on the back when you get through a tough night like that, or who understand when you have a bad day and slip up.
Friends from all over the world who you’ve never met, but who cheer when you post the accomplishment of a milestone – a BMI threshold crossed, another 10lbs eliminated, a new clothing size squeezed into. Friends who empathise and support when you have a bad day and screw up, or who tell you off for messing with your own head by weighing every day when all that matters is the weekly downward trend and you just need reminding of that fact when you are obsessing over the wrong things.
People who have felt safe enough to share truly humbling backgrounds and motivations to their own weight loss journeys, often those facing unbelievable odds and obstacles: health problems, disability, in some cases huge amounts of weight to lose. People who know their weight problems are holding them back from professional success, from being able to travel, to play with their children, or access life-changing medical interventions or fertility treatment. Incredible accomplishments like reversing diabetes, post-traumatic stress and years of ill-health. People whose motives, achievements and commitment often put my own needs right into healthy perspective.
A group of strangers I have never met yet often feel very close to, strong minded folks who are committed to following a tough programme independently and making amazing differences to all of our lives. I salute you my VLCD friends, and thank you for the support and encouragement that is helping me achieve my own goals whilst celebrating and sharing in yours at the same time.
I wish you all everything you deserve and hope to gain. Summer is coming my friends, and this time, we will be ready for it!
Costa Connected, for Costa Blanca News, April 4th 2014. ©Maya Middlemiss, Casslar Consulting SL