* Today marks the end of my fourth week with Slimming World, and even though I gained a pound in there, I still managed to lose 11 and a half pounds. Not quite to the full stone (which would have been amazing), but 11.5 is nothing to sneeze at.
I have to admit, I was skeptical. I had lost two and a half stone (35lbs) on my own in 2012 by doing a modified Atkins style diet of extremely low carb, and surprisingly, high fat. The downside is that I managed to gain back nearly an entire stone from September 2012 until October 2013 when I stopped eating low carb, but kept some of the higher fat items in my diet. I gained about 1 pound per month…which doesn’t sound TOO bad, but when I worked so hard to get it off in the first place, it wasn’t too good, was it? But I was still skeptical. A friend of mine did Slimming World and she told me about it and it didn’t sound all that different from Weight Watchers, which friends in the US were doing and I kept thinking of joining, but I didn’t want to walk into meetings alone. Plus the whole point system at Weight Watchers confused me. Even though I had a voucher from my GP to do Weight Watchers, I put off joining.
Someone I know (I won’t say who to protect their own weight loss journey) asked me to join Slimming World with them and two others to do it as a small group. It’s been great having that type of encouragement and support so close, though I wonder if it’s hindering making friends at the weekly meetings. It probably doesn’t help that I’m still a newcomer to the village even after nearly 5 years, since a lot of the people the people I attended with knew because they both had children the same age, or both attended the local secondary school, etc. But friendships will come, I’m sure.
My first evening at Slimming World, I met my consultant, Rebecca Stone. Rebecca is amazing. She is VERY energetic and enthusuastic about Slimming World and about helping people. She even rang me during my first week to see how I was doing and it was a great chance to ask her some additional questions that had popped up. The two weeks she was ill and we had a “substitute” I wasn’t impressed with the sub, so I think a lot of Slimming World has to do with your consultant, too. When I joined, Slimming World was running a promotion, so we got 10 weeks for the price of 12, plus a Christmas cookbook. Not bad, plus by pre-paying for 12 weeks in advance it commits you to attending for at least those weeks. Slimming World also offers a money-back guarantee if you haven’t lost anything after your first four weeks but could prove (by keeping food diary pages) that you kept to the plan. To me, this was important. Not because I wanted to set myself up to fail, but because it was an extra incentive to keep track of everything on the food diary pages.
After that first meeting, I came home, told my husband how I thought this was going to be hard, and I read the books in my packet cover to cover. I also picked up the current Slimming World magazine and I loved the magazine. It focused more on recipes and “feel good stories” and there was very little fluff/filler. Every ad in the magazine was geared towards Slimming World and even listed the number of “syns” for the items advertised.
I had a really pretty Cath Kidston blank book that I got when I was up in Edinburgh with my mom in April as a freebie for spending x amount. It’s in the London fabric, and I hadn’t started using it yet as I wanted to put it towards a really good purpose since it was such an attractive book. This book, as my cousin says, became my Bible. I had a Pinterest board of inspiration, and I downloaded and printed off some of the things I had pinned to it to paste into the front cover. I also set a page for “goals” where I listed all the things I hoped to accomplish with my weight loss, even the really silly ones like “stop feeling uncomfortable on amusement park rides”. I’ve left plenty of room to add more goals and inspiration, too. I started searching both Google and Pinterest for Slimming World links and I created my Slimming World board. I found a lot of graphics with syn values listed, so I printed all those out and started pasting them into the back of my book for easy reference, as well as started writing down the syn values for some of the foods I eat a lot. I also grabbed some Post-it tabs and am tabbing off each week as I go, using the pages for the week as a food diary, and a place to make notes, add more inspiration, etc. etc. Writing down what I eat helped a lot with creating the food diaries, and even though I’m past my four weeks I’m going to keep doing it for several more just because I’m finding it a useful tool. Writing down what I eat also helps me to realize how little I might have eaten one day, or to realize partway through the day that I hadn’t eaten any fruit.
The Syn thing has been interesting for me, too. I’m following the Extra Easy plan and without going into too much detail, each day I am allowed a dairy product off the A list, and a grain product off the B list. I can have unlimited fruit and vegetable, unlimited lean meat, and some other foods are marked as “free” – like baked beans, pasta, and potatoes. Everything else you put into your mouth counts as a syn, and you can eat 5-15 of them per day. With all the free food, sometimes it’s hard to eat many syns, but the beauty of the syn is that in the evening if I’m looking over my food diary and saying that I’ve only had a few syns, I can go make myself a hot chocolate (one of the reduced fat versions with water), and add a splash of milk to it for another half syn to make it creamier (and sometimes I make it all with milk if I still have my A choice for the day). Some of the syn values are shockers — I looked up McDonald’s just last night for Tim while he was on night shift we we discovered how many syns were in some of those foods (answer: a lot); while some of the syn values are reasonable, such as 1/2 syn per level Tablespoon of Reduced Salt & Sugar Heinz ketchup, or 1 syn per Tablespoon of single cream (so I can still have my creamy coffee!) Even chocolate, in moderation, isn’t too bad. A Cadbury’s Freddo is 5 syns, and a single Celebration candy from a Celebrations tin is 2.
I’m also learning about portion sizes, and about making food stretch. One day, I planned on grating some dark chocolate to put in my yogurt (BTW – certain yogurts are free!) and I carefully measured out 15g of Green and Black’s (4.5 syns) and started grating it….only to stop after I had only grated 9g because I had enough! And Cheese — while 40g of reduced fat cheddar doesn’t look like much, it sure does once you’ve grated it! I was absolutely surprised when I went to make a recipe that called for Parmesan cheese to discover that a Healthy A choice was 30g of it. 30g of grated parm is quite a bit and was more than enough for my bowl of pasta. My digital and analog scales, measuring jugs, and measuring spoons have become my new favourite kitchen tools. After I measure things out, I put them into regular every day dishes to try to remember for the future how much of something I can have. Your daily healthy A of semi skim milk is 250ml, which just happens to conveniently fit into a crystal creamer from Princess House, so I can fill up the creamer in the morning and use that milk in my tea all day and when it’s gone I just count the rest of my milk as 1/2 syn per splash (or I count it all as Syns and have cheese as my A instead). 100ml of orange juice (2 syns) goes as high as Strawberry Shortcake’s eyes on my juice glass. 35g of porridge oats can be measured to the third line on a small IKEA plastic bowl. 70g of extra light Philadelphia Cream Cheese is just enough to cover 6 Ryvita Crispbreads, having my A and B in one go.
Coming up with new meals and ways of cooking things is fun, too. Tim likes having sauces/gravy with his meals and the other day I combined greek yogurt (free), diced cucumbers (free), mint and dill (both free) to make a version of Tzatziki to serve with Salmon. Last night, I wanted to have a bit of a treat and I still had the syns to spend so I combined sliced banana (free) with a Toffee Muller Light yogurt (free) and topped it with 100g of reduced fat devon custard (4.5 syns) for what Tim dubbed “Banoffee mess”. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Like my homemade taco seasoning mix that is heavy on the cumin tasted pretty bad when I stirred some into my scrambled eggs! But it’s all about experimenting and trying new things. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Slimming World chips, on the other hand, are AMAZING. Slimming World chips can be cut to whatever size you want (so skinny fries, chunky chips, wedges, or even roastie size) and you just boil the potatoes, drain them and shake them (like making regular roast potatoes), but you spray the tray with Frylight instead of oil or meat drippings. Someone in our group suggested Marmite on top. Now, I do not like Marmite and I think it’s gross, but a tablespoon of Marmite warmed up and mixed with a little hot water made a very tasty glaze for the potatoes.
Another thing that’s become really important to me is eating breakfast. I am not a big cereal person, so some mornings I have scrambled eggs with beans (both free) or a yogurt and an apple (also both free). Some mornings if Tim is up and we’re both hungry, I’ll do a “grill up” — the Slimming World equivalent to a fry up with eggs, bacon (with the fat off!), grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, and beans. Is this having an impact on my weight loss? Probably! It’s now 1030 and I’ve been up for a few hours and the first thing I did as I sat down at the computer was grab a yogurt out of the fridge. It’s become habit to me in the past 28 days.
Another easy swap for me that I totally credit with this week’s amazing 5.5lb loss is Tetley’s “best of both” blended teabags. It comes in a bright pink bag and it is half regular tea, half green tea. And we all know about the multiple health benefits of green tea, don’t we? And honestly, because it’s half and half, you can hardly taste the difference. And as Rebecca pointed out, it also weans you off more slowly from caffeine instead of going straight to pure green tea. Though, it will be a while before you can pry my coffee away from me, I will admit.
I started measuring myself again, too. In the past 28 days, 16.75 inches are GONE from my body overall. I measure EVERYWHERE — around my belly (can it really be called a waist?), my hips, below and above my boobs, upper and lower thigh, calves, ankles, neck, around the top of my arm, and around my feet. I used to not measure as many places, but I find it’s important to look at all the places I collect extra fat. If I could figure out a way to measure my face, I would. My foot width went down by an inch, and I even noticed that when I went to wear a pair of shoes from a few years ago that are now too big. And a pair of shoes I had bought online that were barely wide enough without socks now fit comfortably with socks. Obviously, the measurements are subject to bloating and other changes — like my upper arm sometimes swells due to the Hidradenitis, but by keeping track I can also monitor that condition. My hips will bloat a little at that time of the month. My knee is currently injured, so my lower thigh has been a bit bigger. But there’s a definite downwards trend.
Can I get another amazing 5.5lbs off this week? Maybe. Who knows? But if I can get off 2.5, I will have the first stone gone. Would it have been amazing to do it within the first four weeks? Yes. But being 2.5lbs away from it is nothing to sneeze at, and I won’t beat myself up for it, either.
*image from Someecards via Pinterest.
** Unknown via Pinterest. (is this your creation? Let me know so I can credit you!)
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