I agree with you on a lot of points. I don't know about the Exante thing or other 'shakes' if that's what you've limited to mean VLC. I've averaged about 870 cal per day this year, which technically probably classifies as a VLC too? But just normal food. In my case I haven't 'cheated' but in my case I disagree that you couldn't go off plan, then jump back on - in fact, although I haven't done that, I think that that is a more robust way to get the weight off because if you can keep getting back to business after a deviation, you're probably good for the rest of your life, and by contrast never deviating (and being scared to deviate?) is much more likely to fail big-time later. There's more than one way to skin a cat. Accept that the story might be different with shakes and stuff though, as i don't really know the science behind that approach.
I also agree with you that really the only way to get consistent results is to be consistent and that a lot of people go too easy on themselves. Particularly agree that whatever diet you're doing there's some hard yards to do initially to adapt your body (brain?) to the new regime, and that if you always snack when you're hungry then you'll always continue to be hungry and always continue to snack, and then you're not likely to get anywhere quickly. And it's sort of frustrating to hear complaints that someone ate chips and chocolate and had a few drinks which was outside their plan, and then two days later is complaining about not losing. I think some people just find it really difficult to say 'no', which is something I don't understand, but i'm grateful that I can (when I put my mind to it), and would rather be me than someone who's dragging this weight-loss thing out for years and years. So i'd say be happy that you're you and be happy that you're not in the majority who live with being unsatisfied about themselves yet can't somehow make the changes, because for sure you'll have had some hard times with your choices but in the end your path is actually easier than for most people who don't (seemingly) have the choice to be fully committed or not.
Stayed the same weight this week, which is actually quite remarkable given the extra chunk of protein in shake or bar form I'm having before every workout. I calculated it to work that way, but even so, I'm learning so much more about how my body works and responds to nutrition. I still have 9lbs to go to my target (which was set to include an extra half stone loss for bounce-back). But that might actually hang around for a while, now that I'm exploring weights more. So for now I'll continue to work on getting that stomach flatter and firming up generally rather than worrying about the scales (although I'll still check in on Monday mornings ).

So with all that positivity out of the way, it's time for me to be a bit of an arsehat (yet again). Brace yourself for more advice from the inexpert mind of a diet victim!

I'm going to sound mean, but here's the truth. I cannot emphasize enough that once you've got the first couple of weeks down on this thing, it is actually sticking to the plan at all times and ensuring you DO have three litres of water a day that is the ONLY thing that will stop you feeling so much hunger and guarantee success.

All the little workarounds and snack ideas etc... they may sound appealing and well-intentioned. And they may make you feel better in that instant. But will make you have evening hunger pangs, they will make your spare time miserable and consumed with diet thoughts at all times, and they'll slow your losses in the longer term, never allowing you to get into gear properly or make steady consistent progress. This diet, and other VLCDs, can only work if you are really disciplined. They are for people who know that syns and points and treats and blah... ultimately just prolong the battle and turn a diet from a mission, into a lifestyle. If you've already decided that weight loss is absolutely essential for you life to progress, and not just a nice-to-have improvement to your looks or fashion plans --- if you reeeeaally want it and need it --- just do it. Do it following the simple rules. Do it and don;t stop doing it until you're done. No amount of paperwork or tickers or treats is going to get you there, just your own mental strength.

If you have treats because you always feel hungry, then you will always feel hungry. When you think "Aaaaarg, I reaaally need something to eat, now, my life is crap and nobody understands!" Well, sadly, you still just have to NOT eat outside your plan. Have a pint of water, and go do something else other than eat. Decorate, knit a jumper, go for a walk, pickle stuff - do anything that isn't passive (watching telly won't work in the first weeks). Hunger at the start means your body is demanding more fuel and of course is used to getting what it wants, when it wants it through eating on demand. A VLCD, and ketosis in particular, hurts to start with because your body and brain must retrain to use the fuel sources you already have, in excess, in your body. Once the fat starts burning off, and you see the results on the scale (I'm not going to count the intial 6-9lb or whatever water loss, because we all expereince that, and you should actually plan to regain that initial drop when you stop anyway) you just need to stick to it. Three packs and lots of water. You will lose a stone a month, every month. But the more you try to adapt the diet to be more pleasant, the less likely it will work and the less likely you will be able to stick to it, not just physically, but mentally. As you progress you learn, and may be able to tweak stuff a bit. But for most, the 'treats' and tweaks are too early, and actually at any point are just conjured forms of acceptable gratification that will make life more miserable for you over the long stretch.

I know this sounds mean and nasty, but it's the truth of it. It would obviously be waaaaaaay easier to say "well done hon, you are doing great, we all have wobbles, by the way have you tried some whole cream in your coffee?" etc... But there really is no point in doing it at all unless you are genuinely committed and are ready and prepared to just do it. Otherwise it is just a waste of money -- as well as threadbare emotion that you probably have little of to spare. I believe that there is no point placating or encouraging any other course of action, as it is just making that person's task longer, harder, more unpleasant and ultimately doomed to fail. Tough love I suppose, although that sounds a lazy cliché. Don't expect your weekend blowout to have no impact on your emotional state through the following week.

Sorry, I know we all want to add more treats and more packs and dump some of the discipline with no consequence, but VLC diets don't work that way. That's more of a Slimming World approach; lose a 1lb a week on average over a year by making small changes to what you eat, be allowed jelly and whippy cream every day. And of course SW is fine! Maybe more healthy, who's to say? But what you certainly cannot do, is to try to combine the two philosophies. Delve into the forum - you'll find the same, achingly tragic cyclical stories again and again and again and again. Until they stop. And that person either stays fat forever or gets totally exasparated with the comfort culture, and becomes driven and unstoppable in their desire to achieve their goals.

I believe that many of the people I talk to most often on this forum have simply had their fill of dieting, they are sick of feeling sick, and as a result are inexorably driven towards their goals with a vengeance. I pity those that try and get in their way as they get closer to the finish line! But reading some older stories - and more worryingly some very new ones - I'm concerned that the current popularity and undoubted promise of a VLCD is blinding many people to the hard work and commitment that is still required to make them work in a healthy and happy way.

So there you have it. It's not nice, but it's the truth as I see it. If you want honest help and practical support, I'm very happy to offer a harsher alternative that won't be to everyone's tastes! I think I mayhave benefitted from more home truths and less mollifying over the years. And of course if you'd prefer to hear many, far kinder voices of comfort, well then you won't go without those either.

You’re 100% right FF. your post really helped me during my toughest moments this past week when it looked really hard to stay on track but I’m glad I did.

Thanks so much for the reality check..!!
Hmm. I write or say things out loud that I should possibly just keep in my head. But I figured that there’s plenty of genuine niceness on here to balance my grump, so no real harm in an alternate view.

Good luck with your own mission. You’ll get there. I think hydration this weekend is going to be tricky to keep on top of. I’m planning lots of outdoor chores in the sunshine to keep busy, followed by more smugness admiring a slightly less hectic garden. Might even cycle to the pub for a pint of icey pop later :) Achey this morning though. Measly gym sessions starting to add up. Not decided on packs etc... for the day yet. Overdid it with bars yesterday for convenience, so might start off with a granola and a vat of coffee.
Couple of pounds. Surprised actually as wasn't targeting a loss this week. I reckon that must be in blood, sweat and tears - wrestling massive tangles of blackthorn and rose prickles to recycling all weekend. Going to have a second food week starting today. Not that I've actually had anything today. Egg salad planned for tea.
Just wanted to say I really appreciated reading your diary - and congratulations, by the way, on coming so close to your goal. You have been amazingly disciplined and I totally admire that.

I've done a VLCD once before and this is my--oh dear--second time, and I totally agree that you have to stick to it or it's the wrong diet 'format' for you. It works for me not because I'm a paragon of discipline but because it is better for me to work within very strict limitations. My problem (as you can tell from the fact this is my second time around) is getting out the other end: transitioning from extreme diet back into health lifestyle.

So basically I think your 'tough love' is spot on, and bears thinking about. Um, that sentence sounds really weird. But I don't think it makes you mean or nasty to say these things.

I will say, though, one thing I could not do is weeks on shakes like you have. I have to mix it up: even if means putting a blind sociopath's idea of pasta carbonara in my mouth occasionally. Believe me, at the point I'm eating it, I'll find it delicious.
Morning. The end game is afoot! Just ten more days, two more Monday morning weigh-ins, and I’m done with dieting. I’ve stuck to it for all of 2018 so far and it’s time to ease off! More calories and more activity in the warmer weather is the way forward. Now my BMI is officially healthy (just!) I’m enjoying getting fitter as much as I enjoyed the first results of getting thinner, so that’s great. But I reckon I now need to think about doing it off ketosis and solely on balanced real food. I’ll miss it in some perverse way as it is so effective and easy to just crack on with, but there’s so much fresh Spring produce everywhere I cannot justify another order of Exante (although some of the protein products from the broader company will come in handy). For now though, sticking to plan plus some pre-gym boosts is still the routine for just a little longer! Maple granola for brekky... ...not sure I’ll ever use up the savoury meals though (other than dahl).
Ahhhh! This is so exciting. Congratulations on being so so close to your goal. That must feel amazing. I've absolutely loved watching your journey - so much so I wish I'd got my arse in gear and started the diet earlier so I wouldn't be starting pretty much as you're finishing.

I selfishly hope you'll stick around as move into the maintenance phase.

(dahl forever! long live dahl)
  • Nearly there.
  • After 4.5 months, or 140 days of powder and pity, I'll be back to normal people food after this weekend. Bloody hell.
  • That makes today my last working day on Exante., and the last time I will be cosncious of dieting in my office.
  • I weighed myself this morning, and that was the last time I will ever step on the scales, unless it all goes awry again sometime in the future.
  • In the end, I have lost 3st 9lbs, or 51lbs in 2018. I originally intended to lose 56lbs, or a further 5lbs, so that I had half a stone in the body bank for a water/muscle bounce back when I started adding protein and exercise, but as it turns out I've been doing that a few weeks now, so I'm more than happy.
  • My BMI is now a technically healthy 24.5, which is the achievement that I'm most proud of. My primary motivator for doing this was future health; of my heart, kidneys, joints and more, and this is measurable evidence that I've made a difference (that and the fact I now have no clothes that remotely fit me).
  • I still have a bit of a tummy (but a much improved view of my feet!)
  • It's now down to daily walking/cycling and a bit of gym work over the longer haul to sort that out. Can't expect miracles, but at least I have given myself a chance to help myself.
  • Contrary to my expectations, I also seem to have developed a totally different, and better attitude to food. I no longer crave snacks or carby, sugary, fatty junk. In fact, I have a healthy, and not silly, negative reaction to unhealthy foodstuffs now. For example, I resent all the advertising and misleading nutritional marketing. I could obviously just start eating potatoes and pizza and mayonnaise and cake again, but it just isn't going to happen. I'm done with it. In fact one of the reasons I need to stop, is I am craving fruit, veg and the healthy stuff. That's good, eh.
  • One more weekend of being a bit of a Spartan then, but from Monday it's poached eggs or fruity porridge for breakfast, and a bowl of healthy things for dinner. I will also stop the Citric Acid watch and buy some zero-cal sugar-free drinks, godamnit. Gin is sugar-free too, right?
  • Not disappearing immediately or anything, just being indulgent and marking my last working day on the dust. Woop for me. talk soon...
How fabulous........really delighted for you :classic_big_grin:

Well done indeed :winner: :0clapper:

Please stay around to tell us how life in the ‘normal’ world is going :classic_smile:
I will, definitely. Not going to cut the life support just yet!

The truth is, that I wouldn't even have got close without support, particularly you Darcy, Whizzy, Fade Away and Lighter Life - when I needed it most. Collectively you all got me 'in the zone'. You are all weight-loss warriors, as well as other members that I've bumped into more recently.

That said, I'm still on it for just a little longer, In fact, it's time to have a bar...
A milestone achieved and no mistake. Congratulations FF, it must be awesome to be on the cusp of, not only a new phase of this journey, but a turning point in your life. Thanks for sharing the points you have. It’s a great reminder to why we’re all here. Enjoy the flexibility :)
I know it's a cheesy thing to say and I came pretty late to the FF party, but you really are an inspiration to me. You're an excellent reminder that his diet *needs* all the focus and discipline you can give it. No cheating, no messing around.

Also your writing and your comments always gives me a giggling. And I've very grateful for your advice and tips.

You totally deserve your success and your happiness and your healthier life! Yaaay!
I promise that I won't do this everyday, as it will be EXTREMELY annoying, but this is my first day fully back on real grub, so I thought I'd share. I'm not being smug, and I know my goal was relatively small compared to many, but if I now succeed or fail back on civvy street, you'll at least know where it all went right/wrong. I'll post stuff about maintenance challenges/successes from time to time. But it will include graphic references to solid foods, so you know, if you are of a sensitive disposition, maybe steer clear...

I had yoghurt for breakfast, which was both yummy and strange, as I have got into the habit of skipping breakfast and trying to push the packs later into the day. Anyway, I added lots of mixed seeds and some of this magic goo. Oh and a vat of coffee obviously.

For lunch I have a salad and a couple of eggs, and this evening I'm going to make a vegetable madras - just for kicks.

But it's the little things. Citric acid is now back on the table, so I have a bottle of squash at work for the first time in a long time. The ridiculous volumes of water I've been forced to drink are a pain but possibly the healthiest part of any VLCD, so I'm going to try and keep that up. But some of it will now be lemon flavoured!

I'm out of the office later today, so I'll get my hour's walk in the sunshine with no trouble, and if my day finishes on time, I may even do a bit of weight-training this evening.

Sounds full-on, written down. It won't feel like it - the exercise is actually the best part of my day by a mile, because it's not indoors in the over-air-conditioned gloom (The only person I take any notice of on most walks is Brian Eno...)

So. Have great days everybody. It's going to be a lovely week. Hopefully most of you will see more of it than me. Dang other people...
Thanks. As ever, the reality is less smiley, and more spreadsheet-based. But it'll all be over for another day in three hours or so...

I blumming love that Fage Total 100% yoghurt stuff by the way, with any fruit or seeds. I quite like the Alpro ones too considering how relatively healthy they are, but Fage wins (and is on offer a lot these days).

The truth is, that I've had so little for so long, that very basic things are exciting me.

The idea that I can now let myself eat fruit whenever I want, for example, makes me a bit giddy. I just bought a punnet (punnet! great word!) of raspberries and a diet Pepsi just because I remembered I could. Still going to avoid most carbs though, simply because I now see refined carbs particularly, as dead calories that will turn straight to sugar and unwanted chub on me. I don't think bread, potatoes, white rice, pasta etc... are ever going to feature anything but very rarely in my diet ever again. Of course I could happily wolf down toast and spaghetti as much as the next person, but I've proven I can go without, and it's a very 'easy win' just not to get into dead calorie habits again. I'll eat other veg on that half of my plate though - so won't be avoiding carb content entirely.

I now know that I won't get fat again if I don't snack, make good food choices, don't get into bad habits again by promising it's a 'treat', and don't lie to myself and cheat my own progress. I'll choose to have the egg and mushrooms without the toast and butter, the sausages and veg without the mash, and stay out of the habit of expecting dessert. I must also continue to completely cut out the glaringly obvious crap that someone my age should have ditched a loooooong time ago, like cakes, biscuits, chocolates etc... I'm actually still really disappointed with myself that at 40+ I was happily eating entire pizzas, and scoffing Crunchie bars and Mini Logs and stuff like that. Even stealing packed lunch snacks of an evening! No wonder I have a weight problem. What a bloody idiot...

Mind you, I've had two meetings today, and both came repleat with a sizeable central platter of pastries/cookies that got hoovered up by others both times. We are tempted to eat this crap at every turn, and every time that I don't, somebody who wants to feel more justified in their own choice, tries to pressurise me into 'just having one'. Nope. Shan't. I've spent too much money and effort getting this far; b**ger off :)
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Same here. There are few things in life sexier than a well constructed spreadsheet.

Ooh la la la.

Also I am well up for hearing about your maintenance journey FF, as long as you are still happy sharing. I think at some point is is probably healthy to leave the weight loss bubble and get back to life (albeit a new, healthier, better balanced life). And when you're ready do that I'll wave you off the biggest cheer for your success. But for now I will definitely be vicariously enjoying your real-food-eating.