Enara Health’s Registered Dietitian Danielle finally decided to spend a week on VLCD to see what it’s really like. Read below to find out what she learned…
Day 1: Excited and feeling good about this experiment. This will be really helpful in knowing what my patients go through, even if it’s for a short amount of time. Forgot to take 2 out of 3 pictures today: so that’s what they’re always talking about! Cooked a tofu dish in my endeavor to be more plant based. Had a friend in town which gave me anxiety about having to stay on plan in a social situation, but we got salads at Whole Foods and I had tons to choose from.
Day 2: Went on a run with coworkers and ran longer than expected (5.75 miles). The other part of the reason I want to do VLCD for a week is that my body has felt inflamed recently. Hormonal issues, muscle strain in my back from working out in a way my body wasn’t used to, overeating at social events and with friends in town, so I’m hoping this puts me back on track. Random thought: overnight oats really are the best! (forgot to take my picture until I finished it :O)
Day 3: I noticed that when I threw out my empty plate after lunch, the smell started to make me feel hungry again even though I had just eaten a pretty big salad. It shows how important it is to prime your environment for success: staying away from kitchens, candy jars, dining tables after you’re done eating or the the wafting of leftovers could deter you!
Day 4: Frustrated with the scale. My weight hasn’t moved an ounce since Tuesday! I can see why my patients get frustrated; VLCD is a huge commitment and steady weight loss is motivating. But I did a body composition test today and my muscle is up a little and my body fat is down 0.5% in last 3 weeks so that makes me feel better. Progress is not always about numbers on the scale.
Day 5: Lunch at Genentech with one of my OG patients. It was great seeing the options there for VLCD and just healthy options in general. Blog post about my Genentech experience coming soon! Day 5, continued: I can see how Friday can be a little depressing when you don’t have a big glass of wine waiting for you at the end of a hard week. I started thinking of things to entertain myself like shopping, free music in the park, or a new recipe to cook.
Day 6: So hot out! Walking around the Stanford Shopping Center, all I want is an ice cream. My boyfriend decides to get Pinkberry and I’m sad I can’t join (even though I don’t even like Pinkberry!). Decided on an iced coffee with almond milk and that actually hit the spot on this 90 degree evening.
Day 7: Got some bad news and instantly thought of how chocolate or a drink would make me feel better. I never thought I was a stress eater but maybe? Fought through it but it was definitely hard.
Day 8: Made it through the weekend! My patients go through 13 weekends of this, which impresses me everyday. The only way to get through the VLCD is to want to better your health more than anything else that instantly gratifies you. It has to be the most important thing. I’m glad I went through this, even for a week, to get a firsthand account of how truly difficult it is, and how rewarding it is when you’ve reached your goals. I hope that it gives me deeper empathy when counseling and more patience around how hard it is to do this program for three months so I can be a better coach and motivator. It also really showed me how off track I had let my daily diet go in the last few months and ways to bring it back under control. I hear you, VLCD people!
Left: Me before VLCD, Right: Me during VLCD