On Monday night this week we did something that we would previously have vowed never to do when we collaborated with LighterLife to do a workshop for the male members of our local branch.
Now for those who don’t know what LighterLife is about you can find details on their website www.lighterlife.com. In a nutshell (apologies to LighterLife if I do not describe the program in it fullest), they help people lose weight quickly through radical through nutritional intervention. Their brand is huge and they have thousands of people following their programs globally.
On Monday morning we posted our proposed involvement on our Twitter feed and within an hour I had three personal email messages asking me what the <insert profanity> I was doing. Here’s an excerpt from one of these:
“The words Lighterlife fill me with dread, take me back to times of horrible mental anguish. If anyone is doing a sole source program, I’d be amazed if they could manage exercise, and introducing exercise at the end of a regime, when weight is lost, but also skin is hanging off you and muscle has been eaten away is just the hardest way round to approach the issue”.
Now I can vouch for the fact that the person who sent me this is not some neurotic lunatic looking for an excuse to be melodramatic; she was genuinely concerned, presumably because she did not want people to go through what she and some of her friends have been through. (If I wasn’t already aware, I was certain that we were dipping our toes into some pretty dicey water as far as some people were concerned!)
Our involvement came about after the local LighterLife counselor contact me to do a workshop for them. (Yes, they contacted us, so credit where it is undoubtedly due). One of our members had been through their program and had said nice things about us.
We’re respected gym with (I perceive) a reputation for giving good advice and influencing people to get healthier, stronger and fitter. But despite our attempts to persuade our member otherwise, she signed up to the LighterLife program a few months ago. And her journey has persuaded us that rather than just ruck up and posture indignantly, we can (and should) actually work with and help people in a similar position.
We managed to persuade our member not to do the ‘LighterLife Total’ (shakes and a snack bar only) program, convincing her that the ‘Lite’ program would work for her (two shakes, one snack bar, and one meal) – which it did. She was determined to do it come what may, so that was a result for us. Along the way we also helped her with some supplementation (additional amino acids etcetera) that would allow her continue with her personalised resistance (strength training) program and would go some way to ensuring that she maintained her lean mass – which it also did.
Note: Most diets that elicit substantial weight loss actually strip you of metabolically and structurally essential lean tissue and do not so much for actual fat loss. Yes you’ll lose some fat, but you’ll lose a greater proportion of lean mass. Not good news, especially when you go back to advisable long term eating habits (did anyone say rebound weight gain?)
Our member is no longer doing LighterLife. She has lost the weight that she wanted to lose. She has maintained her lean mass (almost all of it). She trains three times per week consistently. Her eating habits are pretty good. She’s stronger. She’s leaner. And she’s happier. And at the time of writing (five months after finishing the program) there has been no rebound weight gain. All in all, I’d say it has worked.
All things being equal I’d rather people didn’t do the program and followed our W10 Food Pyramid, but thats not going to happen – they’re going to do it. And whilst we don’t necessarily agree with the LighterLife approach and our approach is in not similar, I do accept that we share a common goal – which is to help people get healthier, lose weight and overall live a better quality of life. I’ve now also seen first hand that we can help people through the program ensuring that they get the outcome they want, without compromising themselves further down the line. In other words, we can work with them to make sure that they keep the weight off and they never have to go through the program again (something LighterLife say is important to them also).
Yes, it would be easier for us to sit here and criticise LighterLife and their approach (as I have previously done), but that’s not going to help anyone. What they do gets people the outcome they want and therefore people are going to do it, regardless of what I or anyone else thinks and advises. The answer is not for us to distance ourselves from it but rather recognize that its going to happen and work with people to ensure the best possible outcome. So that’s what we’re doing.
Note: Before the cynics amongst you pipe up and shout about the potential commercial benefits, we haven’t been paid (nor do we intend to ask for) a penny!
Our first workshop (a nutrition and exercise Q&A/open forum) with the male group was very well received and we’ve now been asked back to do two more for the female groups in the next week or so. I’ve also had two personal email messages from attendees asking follow up questions – all good.
In bigger picture terms, if it helps people through the program, it works for LighterLife. If it helps people chose a less radical program and/or avoid the rebound weight gain, it works for us (and them). And if it gets people both the short and long term outcome they want, then it works for them.
Let’s see how things progress.