What’s vtrim and what have I experienced first-hand?
Vtrim is a researched-based weight management program that’s home-grown on the campus of University of Vermont (my alma mater). The vtrim researchers have been obtaining NIH research grants for nearly a decade and have slowly accumulated the research which makes the case that online chat-based weight management can be successful. The research continues, but now vtrim is available to anyone in the world wide community who wants to lose pounds and change their lifestyle for good.
Two years ago I heard about vtrim. About a year ago I became a trained facilitator (health care professionals with weight control coaching skills). I admit I was a doubting Thomas but I ventured in because I was curious and know we need cost effective and easily accessible ways to help people succeed at lifestyle change. But I wondered, how could a weekly online chat for an hour (no phone connection), a weekly journal review and comments, and e-mails, create a community in which people could find success?
In November I began my first vtrim group. Food and exercise guidelines and goals as well as online journaling are core program elements. On the weekly chats we’d debrief about the week, focus in on a topic surrounding behavior change and offer lots of support. Twenty-four weeks later, mid April, my first group ended. All I can say is WOW and YES!
After a few short weeks my group came together as a community. Sure we lost a few members along the way (that’s true for in-person programs). Weight losses ranged from less than 10 pounds to greater than 30, but we didn’t focus on pounds lost on chats at all. Suffice to say participants who really "worked the program"; managed their food intake by cutting calories and fat, ate more fruits and vegetables, etc; upped their calorie burn with exercise, religiously (or almost) kept journals; did very well. Others struggled initially but during the middle of the program began to “get it” – this was about making long term permanant lifestyle changes.
Insights shared during our weekly chat were inspiring to all. Support was contagious. And I was relentless with my missives about what’s entailed in long term weight management and it that it WILL be a long term battle. Vtrim is not a diet, it’s about creating and cementing new healthy behaviors - permanent lifestyle changes.
Bottomline: Research shows us that the people who do best in weight management programs take advantage of the tools and community aspects of programs (whether live or online). As well, research shows us the longer the program and the longer people are engaged the more weight they will lose. And if we are going to help the millions of people who are overweight or obese and at risk or with weight-related health issues, we’re going to have to use and maximize the technologies at our fingertips. Vtrim is just one solution.