Some years back, I lost 80 pounds in about six months. I went on a doctor supervised liquid diet. This is also known as a very low-calorie diet. The second description is much more accurate because I was consuming 500 calories per day.
The diet consisted of these nutrient packed shakes which you could also make into other items if you chose. There was also a soup if I recall, but I didn’t like it. As a matter of fact, I really only liked the chocolate flavor, so for about five months, that’s all I had.
The weight loss was dramatic and I felt great. It still feels weird to say that I felt awesome during this process but I did. And I was exercising. Running was much easier and I enjoyed every step.
I used to run after weighing in at the meetings before the session started. Often on these runs, I would talk to my friend, Susan. One particular run I remember Susan asking, “What’s the plan after you don’t have the shakes to lean on?” My answer was a defensive, “I don’t know but I’ll be fine.”
Well, I probably wouldn’t write this blog if everything went fine. Susan was actually being supportive. She was trying to get me to think about the process of how to maintain weight. It is much different, and I’d argue harder, to maintain than to lose weight.
I didn’t have a plan or a process. Where the system broke down, at least for me, was the lack of group support in the weight loss process which meant there was no group afterward.
Yes, there were meetings with a group of people. Unfortunately, it was just a collection of individuals. There were three types of people – the gripers, the Pollyannas and the lifers.
The lifers were the minority. They were a very small group of maybe three or four that had started the program together at the very beginning and formed a bond. They were nice but not inclusive.
The Pollyannas were a slightly larger minority. In true Pollyanna form, nothing ever went wrong. One of these people gained twelve pounds one week and proudly announced how that was the best thing to happen in the journey. Twelve pounds. In a week. This person claimed it had to be mostly muscle because of the intense workout regimen they’d taken up. Maybe a month then, but not a week.
Then there were the majority gripers. They spent so much time complaining that it made me show up early and go for those runs. During the meeting, they would turn positive for the audience (group leaders, speakers, etc.). Then they would gripe about how worthless the meeting was afterward. I could barely hear them as I bolted for the door.
Looking back, I was probably more a Pollyanna and that hurt my personal process. I figured out early on that the overall program wasn’t great. Yes, I could lose weight. A lot of weight. Fast. That was great but I had zero clue how to keep it off.
To be fair, the program continued into maintenance mode and you had to come with food log in hand. The judgment I felt during those sessions made them uncomfortable. Maybe there was no judgment but I felt there was and, in this case, perception is reality.
What they didn’t have was a defined process that included group support. I voiced this opinion a few times and didn’t even really get an acknowledgment. The last time I tried, the program leader told me, “This is about you and no one else.” Wrong. So very, very wrong.
The weight came back for me and others I knew in the program. All of them in some significant amount. I’m sure some people kept it off, but I would bet my salary it was a very small number.
Why I am reflecting on this now is that my focus is on the process. Finding a positive group of people to help encourage my journey is a big part of the process. Last night I was with a small group of friends at a wine event and they all have my back. The Sub-30 Club I recently joined barely knows anything about me, yet I feel they have my back. My wife and family have my back and that’s critical.
Don’t get me wrong, none of these great people can lose the weight or get healthy for me. It is on me to execute the plan and trust the process. It is just much easier to not be alone on the journey.
I won’t lose weight as fast as I did in the past. I’ve plateaued here for awhile because I haven’t eaten the way I need to even as I picked up my activity. I’m not worried. I have a group of people cheering for me and the process will produce results as I learn how to make small swaps and move even more.
That time I lost 80 pounds was ok. I like this process a lot more, though. It isn’t all about the number this time. It’s about life, health, family, friends and so much more.