I’ve been asked a few times about diets so thought I’d put a few words down as to my experiences.

I’ve always enjoyed food, and usually the bad stuff. Take aways with a couple of pints, nice bottle or two of wine in a nice restaurant, but it all takes a toll. Pretty much if you don’t burn off more than you put in, you’re going to put weight on, hardly rocket science. Over the years, I’ve done a couple of diets, Weight Watchers, Atkins and they’d all had a reasonable short term effect but I’d always pile it back on, with holidays being my worst time.

I got back from a holiday in Dubai in October 2011 and was looking at the pictures, that was my wake up call. I needed to do something about my weight. I sort of mentioned it to my wife and she’d been at one of these “ladies who lunch” type of do’s the day before and she’d been talking to one of my Mum’s friends about a diet that had really worked for her, so a couple of phone calls later I’d got the name of it, Lighter Life. A quick google and I found there was a Lighter Life rep and meeting point about 5 minutes drive away so after a couple of days thinking about it, I rang her up.

Turned out there was a weekly meet at 9 every Thursday. She explained a few bits to me over the phone but it would be best if I came down. Guess that was the first hurdle, the next one was actually going, not really into all this sort of group meeting shit but thought I’d give it a go. The Thursday I went, I trotted up the stairs, burst into the room and found I was getting glared at by about 2 dozen women. I didn’t know there was a separate male/female class so I got asked to wait outside. In the naughty corner and not even started yet.

They all soon trooped out and it was my turn. The rep, Lorna took me into the back room and explained how it worked. It was a strict diet but if you followed the rules you would get success. You bought their food packs which were a range of shakes, soups and meals, with bars allowed at a later date, and this is what you ate. They were designed to give you all the vitamins and nutrients your body needed but in a controlled portion. It was just a case of adding water to the shakes or boiling water to the soups and meals. Sounds strange and it was almost like army ration food but Lorna talked a good game and I was in. Lots of measurements were taken, I was over 16 1/2 stone, not good and that was me in. Have to say I didn’t fancy the group meetings bit, all a little like alcoholics anonymous. Just had this vision of sitting round a table with a load of big blokes and when it was my turn to introduce myself, I’d say

“Hello, my name is Malcolm, and I’m a fat bastard”

To be fair, it wasn’t like that at all. In my time there, there was only ever 4 blokes turned up and 2 of them faded away after a week or 2 so it was just the hardcore 2 or 3 of us, and we used to try and gee each other up, giving encouragement if we needed it. The meetings were mainly Lorna explaining each step of the diet and to be honest, I genuinely found them quite interesting and looking back, they probably did actually help me more than I thought at the time. I used to joke it was a kind of brainwashing into what we should and shouldn’t be eating, but it was more a case of educating us and a lot of what we went through has stayed with me now.

The first week was a bit of a struggle, but I did it. The foods weren’t too bad, not something I would choose to eat but I needed to do this and I was of the mindset that I at least needed to stick it out. When I went back for my first weigh in, I’d lost over 10 lbs in that week!! That gave me a right buzz and really focussed my mind to think this was going to work. That night, there was also a new chap there and I still laugh at this. It was a cold November night, and he turned up in a t shirt and tracksuit, sweating like mad from walking up the stairs. Lorna took him into the back room, and started going through the bits. Generally, you could never hear what was going on in the back, but tonight, I could hear the chap as he had quite a loud voice.

“Thanks for that Lorna, can I have milk and sugar in my coffee?”

“No, just what is on the diet”

“In my tea?”

“No, just what is on the diet”

“Right, so its just these food packs here, right?”


“Can I…..”


“Could I….”


“Okay, right, I know I have to do something, I’m in. I’ll take the packs and get off”

“Actually, we don’t do that, you have to stay for the meeting.”

“But, but, I cant. My wife has cooked me a big tea and it’ll be ready in 10 minute.”

Never saw that chap again!!

The second week, another 5 lbs and that was over a stone in total, in only 2 weeks!! The third week was always going to be difficult. We were going to a big black tie do in aid of Children in Need. Now I’ve been to some charity events, but this was on another level. MC was Gary Barlow and there were all sorts of celebs there, even had a Bentley in the auction!! And the food and wine was fantastic, or so I was told!! I just sat there and watched everyone else eat and drink. Even had a few on our table wafting drinks under my nose, tempting me but it just made me more determined. Was really chuffed with myself when I came out of there and hadn’t fallen off the wagon.

After a few weeks, you start to introduce “proper” food into your diet, dropping one of their food packs. Its all very gradual and you’ve still got the back up of the weekly group meeting. Again, a few weeks further on once you’ve stabilized on one proper meal, you introduce another, dropping one more food pack. There are a couple of cookbooks for Lighter Life and these were a big help. In fact, I still use a number of their recipes even now. Even if you’d had a bad week, there was no name and shame. Any increases in weight were kept between me and Lorna. The “transition” stage was when the weight loss started to slow down but the big thing was it wasn’t going up. After a while, then you’re off their food packs and released into the wild. Not as daunting as it might be with other weight management courses, as you can still visit the group for any help and advise.

In the end, I lost over 4 1/2 stone on Lighter Life and it has pretty much all stayed off still. I possibly went a little too low at one point as even I thought I looked a little gaunt but with exercise and the things I learnt at the meetings, its stayed off. I ended up having my last meeting in August 2012, so I’d been going about 9 months to loose what I did. It wasn’t easy and the diet is very strict, particularly at the start but if you have the right mindset, then you should be able to do it.