At the end of September I’d been following the Slimming World plan for one year. In that time I’d lost one and a half stones and successfully fit into the bridesmaid dress I ordered a size too small the year before. I planned to share my thoughts on the plan back in September but have been a tad distracted thanks to performing said bridesmaid duties then working a seven day week filled with overtime, freelancing, puppy training and working on a cheese farm. So, instead I’m sharing my hints and tips today – a little conscious that I’ve had a pretty synful fortnight as I’ve been too busy to go to class and that I may have gained a few pounds but without too much guilt attached to that.
Why I’m sick of explaining why I’m on a diet and listening to other people tell me about my body
I thought I’d start my Slimming World review by explaining why I started the plan. Since the age of 11 my size has bounced between a size 10 and a size 16. Over the last ten years I’ve lost and gained the same three stone twice and then gained an extra half a stone on top. I’ve become a lot more at ease with my weight and how I look as I’ve gotten older but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to return to a weight a found more comfortable. When I get fatter or thinner and particularly when I start to make changes to how I treat food, the way I’m treated by strangers, friends and even family changes. I sometimes wonder if that’s the reason I’ve put weight back on in the past. I’ve never been particularly comfortable with the different treatment I’ve received while a size 10 versus a size 16 just ordering a drink at a bar.
Choosing to lose weight is a personal thing, but I always get a lot of comments on what I should be doing to lose weight from slim friends and acquaintances. Sometimes they’re helpful (and occasionally invited) but sometimes I get a little annoyed. The truth is we all know our own bodies best and that’s why I don’t necessarily appreciate it when you tell me that I shouldn’t be eating after 6pm or that I need to quit refined sugar or stop eating out or that my diet is too restrictive and I should let it go and find my ‘natural weight’. When I joined Slimming World, a few people insinuated I must be a bit of a numpty for not being able to eat healthily on my own and being stupid enough to spend money going to a group.
Those three stones I lost and gained twice? I did that on my own. So yes, I do know how to at healthily. I initially went along to Slimming World because losing weight this time round was harder. I keep going because I like the people that go there, I like chatting about food in a positive way (though I do wish they wouldn’t use the word ‘syns’). Even before Slimming World I followed a fairly healthy diet – I cook my meals from scratch, eat a lot of fruit, veg and fish and rarely eat dessert (though I have found a sweet tooth in recent years). This meant in my first week following the plan I maintained, but I stuck with it and while I’ve not lost as much as I would have by following the plan 100% all of the time, I’ve done the things I wanted to, maintained a social life and a food blog and I fit into that sodding bridesmaid dress (at least I did before it shrunk in the wash, sorry Ames). In the time I’ve been going another member of my group has lost about ten stones, so there’s no doubt that this can really work.
What are the plus points of Slimming World?
The best thing about the Slimming World plan is that you don’t need to go hungry. That’s not to say you shouldn’t wake up feeling hungry or that you ought to eat if you’re not, simply that you always have the option of eating something and that really helps you stick with it. You may need to alter how you cook your favourite recipe, make a cleverer choice at a buffet bar or turn down a slice of cake but you don’t need to become totally preoccupied with food by denying yourself it. The other main plus points are the support – whether it be in group or online. I’d recommend using Pinterest and Instagram to find recipe inspiration. Search for Slimming World or use hashtags like #extraeasy and #swmafia on Instagram to find other Slimming World people sharing their journey. It’s also possible to eat out on Slimming World and I’ve lost a few pounds even when eating out a couple of times a week by making considered choices but I’ll often choose what I want from a menu and just make sure I’m not as indulgent the rest of the week. You’re encouraged to eat 30 per cent fruit or veg at each meal and this is easily stuck to at a restaurant by swapping chips for salad or unbuttered veg.
What are the negatives?
You won’t necessarily lose weight every week on Slimming World, so you need to remain aware of the bigger picture. I follow the extra easy plan which means I keep my consumption of milk or cheese within a certain level every day and also make a choice of a fibrous food daily – selecting cereal or brown bread or maybe nuts (again at differing weights depending on what you select. Because you can eat as much lean meat, fish, fruit and veg as you want along with lovely, lovely carbs (potatoes, rice, pasta) and fat free dairy, it can be difficult to define your portions. Because you need to stay within certain limits with some foods and I work long days as part of long weeks, I do need to take a planned approach to eating, which means batch cooking and knowing which snacks I can grab and go with. This isn’t really a negative as I enjoy cooking and the times I do go off plan tend to be because I’ve not had time to go shopping to stock up on things to make meals with.
At first I was probably eating too little, I find if I have carbs for lunch I don’t lose as much and I don’t really like to eat bread at all as it makes me feel bloated but all in all, if you listen to your body your portions begin to regulate themselves. At the moment I’m eating more, probably because of the cold weather and doing so and staying full means I’m less likely to succomb to over-synning. Syns being the values attached to foods outside of these food groups or over and above the foods you follow a daily allowance with.
Slimming World friendly food I’ve eaten
I had the good intentions of posting the recipes for some of the foods pictured below when I made them but time constraints mean I just ate them instead! if there are any you particularly like the look of just leave me a comment and I’ll run through the recipe and method.
I plan to lose another stone and a half by following Slimming World, this might take 6 months or another year, depending on how many times I decide to over do the G&Ts or choose a sticky toffee pudding instead of a black coffee for dessert. I’m in no position to say that Slimming World is right for everyone or to say that you should follow it if you want to lose weight but for me it seems to work most of the time.