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As you all know I was of sick most of 2004 due to vertigo. I was very inactive during this time and as a result I put on a lot of weight. I also ate when I felt sick as it settled it down. At the beginning of this year my Mum asked if I would join Slimming World with her. She is a lot bigger than me and had joined Slimming World before but she stopped going when she reached her target and the weight piled back on.
I must admit I laughed when she suggested Slimming World. I said no at first and told my boyfriend about it. He thought it was a good idea. Without calling me fat he reminded me how unhappy I was with my weight. Another factor was my brothers wedding. He is getting married in the Bahamas in November and we want to look slinky and slim in the photos. Not beached whales!
So after deciding I would go with my Mum we toddled off to our local group at the end of January. I was nervous and thought that everyone would stare. I was very wrong and they all seemed very nice. We sat down in a separate area so Moira the consultant could explain Slimming World before we decided to go for it. As she ran through the plan I thought it sounded easy as they emphasise that you can still have things like chocolate. Just in moderation! She congratulated us for coming saying that coming for the first time was hard to do. You also get a welcome pack, which includes a 'Food Optimising' book. It explains everything in there and its also the book where your weight is recorded each week.
After our welcome talk we were asked to queue up and pay the fees. I can't remember what they are now but I'll find out! There is a joining fee but if you look out on the website they usually have offers and often the joining fee doesn't apply.
Then we had to weigh in. I'm not going to say what I was but I was shocked, as I hadn't weighed myself in a loooong time. Oh it's worth mentioning now that they NEVER reveal your weight, just what you have lost. So if you're worried that people will laugh don't. If you do think about going then you have to remember that everyone else is there for the same reason so why would they judge?!
After weighing in there is what they call Image Therapy. It isn't as bad as it sounds, really! Basically its a get together to swap ideas and give each other moral support. This is great if you are having any problems as someone else often has a solution. I'm lucky, as my group and consultant are very friendly. We have had a couple of other consultants step in when Moira has been on holiday. One of them was lovely but the other one was evil! Don't let that put you off though. The whole idea is that they are to help. Not to patronise or lecture you.
The first day we went we couldn't stay as we both had other plans for that evening. I would recommend anyone thinking of going that they do stay the first time. I don't stay all the time but if I have nothing else planned then I do stay as its very motivational.
Moira starts by introducing anyone new and telling them what a fab group we are (!) Then she moves on to any awards. There are various awards you can achieve. Firstly there are the awards for losing half a stone and stones. You get a lovely shiny sticker to put on the back of your book. It may sound silly but having these motivates you and you are very proud when you get a new one. The first one you get is half a stone which may not sound a lot but they show you what 2lbs of fat looks like and its not a pretty site! There are also awards for Slimmer of the week and Slimmer of the Month. Sadly I have never achieved these but not to worry!
Then there is Club 10. This is basically awarded when you have lost 10% of your weight. They do well you in your handbook how to work it out but they do tell you what it is if you ask. So that's good for anyone who is hopeless at maths! They say that losing 10% of your weight has amazing health benefits and this is why they do it. If you manage to keep it off or lose more for 10 weeks then they will give you a week for free. I was gutted as I went 8 weeks losing or maintaining and then I put on. I tried my best but I was really ill and had to keep eating loads (that's my excuse anyway!)
Finally there is an award for Body Magic. I'll explain this later on but it's basically if you do exercise. You can lose weight without doing exercise but if you do it obviously speeds things up a bit.
When you get an award it is nice but it can be embarrassing if you are shy. So when I was awarded my half-stone Moira told everyone what level I had achieved and how much weight I had lost to date and how much I lost that week. Then everyone claps. She normally asks what kind of week you had and things like that. So if anyone is having serious problems then other members offer advice. Once all the awards have been done she goes through the other members. I've found that I can go thinking what's the point of carrying on and leaving feeling so motivated.
So I've yabbered on but you still know nothing about the diet. I shouldn't really call it a diet as its not really. It's more a change of lifestyle and way of eating. You never feel hungry if you follow it properly either so no munching on lettuce leafs (unless that's what you fancy!)
Food optimising is a healthy balanced diet, which has been devised by nutritionists. So you don't need to worry that you're putting your health in any danger. You can basically pick from the following plans:
1. Green Day
2. Original Day (also known as red day)
3. Mix 2 Max
4. Success Express
Anyone that has done Slimming World before will recognise the Green and Original days. Mix 2 Max and Success Express are new this year. I have never bothered with them but I'll try my best to explain them!
With the Green and Original you get 'free' foods, healthy extras and syns. The free foods are different according to which plan you are on. However, there are superfree foods, which apply to both days. Let me tell you some of them:
Quorn - not all Quorn is free so you have to be careful. It does include the sausages, mince, pieces and fillets. Tofu - sounds disgusting and I've never tried it. Hmm Eggs - boiled, poached scrambled and even fried when using Fry Light. Dairy products - quark, v low fat cottage cheese, v low fat fromage frais, v low fat yogurt (e.g. Muller Lights) Vegetables - all are included apart from peas and sweetcorn. These are only free on Green for some weird reason or other. Fruit - all fresh and frozen fruit is included. All cooked, canned, pureed and dried fruit you have to use it as a Healthy Extra or Syn it. (I'll explain all this later).
The free foods on Green are potatoes, pasta, rice, baked beans, pulses and grains. So you can eat as much of these foods as you like. There is no limit and not weighing or counting of calories which is nice!
If you fancy this and still want a bit of meat then that fine. You get to choose Healthy Extras. Healthy Extra A is the same on both plans and these are your dairy products. They are high in calcium, which is important for good health, and could also benefit weight loss. So if you want to choose milk or cheese (or both!) then you can. You can either have one or two choices from A depending on what you want.
Some Healthy Extra A choices: 350ml skimmed milk 250ml semi-skimmed milk 175ml whole milk 28g Cheddar cheese 28g Edam 42g Mozzarella 42g Reduced fat cheddar 3 x 22.5g Dairylea Light Triangles
So as you can see there is quite some choice.
Healthy Extra B choices are high in fibre. Again important for a balanced diet. Here is a list of some of the choices:
Meat & Poultry - e.g. 85g steak. 113g chicken Fish - e.g. 113g halibut, 170g cod, 85g tinned tuna
The above are applicable on a Green day. The below are also applicable on an Original day.
Nuts & Seeds Cereals - e.g. 42g All Bran, 28g Shreddies, 28g porridge, 2 Weetabix Crispbread - e.g. 4 Ryvitas Bread - 57g any wholemeal bread, 3 slices of wholemeal Nimble Cheese (again! So if you love it you can have it on A & B) Soups - e.g. Baxters Healthy Choice Soup (most flavours) Dried, Canned & Cooked Fruit - e.g. 198g stewed apple, 71g dried apricots.
When I follow a green day its mostly so I can have pasta. I love spag bol, which you can still make. You can use mince and use it as a Healthy Extra B. However, I prefer to use Quorn mince (free) so I can have loads. It's possible to make it without the use of sauces like Ragu. Passatta is free so use that and herbs to add flavour. I will admit its not as tasty as the real thing using meat and sauce but it's a great way to have the dish without it containing any syns.
They do say that you can eat as much pasta, potatoes and rice without putting on weight. Personally I find that's not true for me. I had a Green week and I was good and stuck to it 100% and I put on half a pound. So when I'm on a green day I don't go overboard on them. I must point out that I am the exception and most people have loads and have good weight losses. The important thing to remember is everyone is different. One woman I know couldn't eat too much fruit or she put on weight. I can eat it till the cows come home and it helps me lose.
***ORIGINAL DAY ***
The free foods on Original are meat. This includes beef, lamb, pork (including bacon), chicken, turkey, fish and seafood. So if you like your meat then this is the one for you.
Again the Healthy Extra A choices are the same so I won't need to list these again. The Healthy Extra Bs listed at the bottom of the Green day are the same (the cereals, bread and such like).
Here is a list of the ones available on an Original day:
Beans, Peas, Lentils & Lentils - e.g. 142g baked beans, 100g wholemeal pasta (cooked weight) Vegetables - e.g. 227g baking potato (raw weight), 198g new potatoes (raw weight)
I mostly stick to the Original day with the occasional Green. There are so many meals that you can have. I'll list a few of my favourites:
Roast dinner - you can have as much meat and veg as you like. You can still have your roast potatoes as well. If you do them in Fry Light then they can still count as a Healthy Extra B. Cooked Breakfast - you can have as much bacon and eggs as you like (remember to use Fry Light if you're having fried eggs). Unfortunately sausages aren't free so you would have to syn them. I tend to have the Quorn sausages, as they are free. Tomatoes and mushrooms are free as well. If you want baked beans or toast then you can if you count them as your Healthy Extra B. Oh and Worcestershire sauce is free as well! Steak - as much steak as you like. I have mine with veg and a jacket potato (Healthy Extra B) Homemade burgers - plenty of minced beef mixed with chopped onion and herbs. You can always use an egg to bind it as well. That's totally free so you can have it in a bun (a 57g wholemeal roll counts as a Healthy Extra B). If you like bacon in it then that's free and slices of cheese can be used as well as a Healthy Extra A!
***MIX 2 MAX ***
Mix 2 Max and Success Express are new to Slimming World this year. I will outline them for you but I have never attempted them myself, as I am happy with the Green and Original. They do recommend that if you are new to get to grips with the Green and Original plans first or you may get confused! I know just from reading them it sounded a bit complicated so that could be why I've never given them a go.
Right then. Mix 2 Match you decide whether to go Green or Original for each meal. You are allowed 3 meals a day and you can have 3 or 4 Healthy Extras each day. This does mean that any snacks or starters you have in the day you have to count as syns had they been free on one of the plans. This doesn't apply if the food is free on both plans. So if you are having melon as a starter it is free whereas smoked salmon would have to be syned even if you were having an Original dinner. You have to take the syn value from the opposite plan so in this case it would be Green and therefore be 2 syns per 28g. You get the same amount of syns a day (between 5 and 15)
Still with me? It does sound really confusing but once you do get to grips with the Green and Original day it makes much more sense. Using Mix 2 Match gives you more flexibility. You could then have say a pasta salad for lunch and then steak for dinner.
I'll be honest and say that only one person in my group has tried it. She loves it and says she can plan better as she isn't limited. Maybe all the people in my group and brave enough to try it. I have a feeling if I did it I'd do it wrong and end up eating the wrong things.
*** SUCCESS EXPRESS***
Success Express is a great way of giving your weight lose a boost. Again you can have 3 meals a day. At each meal you choose Green or Original free foods. They do say you can have both together as well. Fill one third of your plate with these free foods and fill two thirds with superfree foods (these are the foods that are free on both Green and Original). Again you pick your usual amount of Healthy Extras and syns. For any snacks and starters you either have to syn them or have a superfree food, which would be free.
Now there is no use trying to lose weight without having a treat now and then. Each day you can have between 5 and 15 syns. Whether you decide to save them all up and use them all for one day or several days then its up to you. I have done both and it all depends on what plans you have that week. So if you know you're going out and want to enjoy yourself then you can. So if you fancy chocolate (and who doesn't) then you can have it!
I have got away with over synning loads and I don't know how I've done it. One week I had 3 puddings (spotted dick, carrot cake and something else) and I still managed to lose a pound. Most syns are the same on all the plans but some are different. So for example, a Mars Bar is 14 on all of them. Whereas an average fish & chip portion of chips is 17.5 on Green and a huge 27 on Original. This is because potatoes are free on Green so it's the way they have been cooked that give them their syn value.
If you do love your chips then you can have them for free. If you par boil them, dry fry them, then bake them in the oven with Fry Light. They are totally free on Green this way!
Here are a few syn values to give you an idea:
Rich Tea biscuit - 2 Walkers crisps - 9 Half a pint of lager - 5 Jam doughnut - 12.5 Cadbury Buttons (15g bag) - 4 Shot of Vodka - 2.5
You don't need to exercise to lose weight with Slimming World. If you do choose to then this will obviously speed the process up. Slimming World refer to exercising as Body Magic. If for any health reasons you don't think you can exercise and you want to then speak to your doctor first. If you are unfit then its important to take things slowly at first. Perhaps just going for a walk to begin with. Nothing too strenuous. Then you can go further when you feel ready.
I have only just started thinking about Body Magic. When I first joined Slimming World I was working full time in an active job so I didn't really give it a though. Since leaving I have found losing weight harder. I did think about joining a gym but because of my vertigo there are so many things I can't do. I go swimming every week but I felt I needed something more to help move things along. I've invested in an exercise bike and I go on there as often as I can.
You get a separate booklet on Body Magic when you start so it explains it in detail along with all the benefits. If you keep a log of your activity then you can work towards the awards (bronze, silver and gold). Once you get an award you get a sticker!
The website is great. There are many things that you can do on the member's only part of the site. If you attend the class every week your consultant will let you know what the group password is. With that you can join. Every week this password changes so remember to find out. I forgot this week and I didn't have last weeks either so I can't get on there till I get it. For some reason the password from the previous week always works so if you forget one week then use the previous one. When you join you are asked to create your own password as well. Joining is easy and everyone reading this is clued up on the internet (I hope!) so I won't patronise and go into more detail.
What I love about the website is every week you can enter your weight loss and it creates a graph. This is really good as you can see how you are doing very clearly and it even predicts your future weight loss to keep you motivated. There is also a section on food, which contains recipes so if you are getting stuck on what you can have or simply fancy something different then this is the place to look. There is also a bit on health so if you are contemplating Body Magic then give this section a read.
The online tools can be very handy as well. There is an online 'syn calculator' so if there is a new product then you can work out how many syns it is. I used this loads of times when I first joined but I have since invested in a Food Directory which lists every brand you can think of. The Food Directory, several recipe books and the Slimming World magazine are available from your consultant. You can also keep your food diary online. Again I used this at first when I started and I loved it. I stopped using it though and writing it down on paper as it meant going online more than I was able to at that time.
***SO DOES IT WORK?***
I can honestly say that it does work. I have lost two stone and two and a half pounds to date. The last couple of months I have found it difficult as I've gone from an active job to sitting on my bum all day. Now I seem to have it back on track again with the Body Magic I lost 3 and a half pounds this week. I was also on anti sickness tablets for a while in June/July and they made my appetite HUGE and I just ate and ate and craved things like puddings. So I'm now at my lightest since joining. However, I was the same weight a couple of weeks ago as what I was in July. For the last couple of months I yo-yoed losing a bit then putting it on. I'm glad I'm out of the rut again and hopefully I'll be at my target very soon.
I would also like to say that sometimes if you stay the same or gain not to be too disappointed. They suggest that you measure yourself (chest, waist and hips). The reason behind this is you may gain weight but have lost an inch or so. Muscle is heavier than fat so you could have burnt off the fat and toned your muscles. I didn't do this at the beginning and I regret it, as it would have been good to know how many inches have come off my stomach and thighs! I have gone down 2 dress sizes and I'm now back into my old clothes YAY!
I'm glad I joined, as I couldn't have lost this amount of weight on my own. I remember reading reviews on Slimming World before I joined and leaving comments saying that I could never be bothered doing anything like it. So if you're thinking this and would like to lose weight then why not give it a go?!
Joining - £10 Weekly fees - £4.25
You can also buy 5 week and 10 week countdowns. I'm not sure how it works out with the 5 week countdown but if you go for the 10 week countdown then you only pay for 9 weeks so you save a bit of money. I do this so I don't need to mess about with paying each week. They say that it keeps you committed as well. If you've paid you may as well go after all. I've never felt like not going but I'm sure that if you did have doubts (if you had a bad week) then having already paid would influence your decision!
Once you reach your Personal Achievement Target (PAT) then you can attend your Slimming World group for free!
Interested? For your nearest group log on to the website and it finds your 10 nearest groups so you can pick the one most convenient to you.
Excellently covered from start to finish. The review as written is exceptional, but new readers (after 1st January 2009) should be aware of the newly introduced Extra Easy plan, more details of which can be found on the Slimming World site.
Necormancer 21.04.2008 13:36
Exceptional! Covered everything and well written! -Necor. Keep it up!