8 Things I've Learnt Since Starting Slimming World

1st May marked my first weigh-in at Slimming World. I've lost 9.5lbs so far in my first month, which is a great achievement and one I'm so proud of, but I've learnt a lot more than just losing weight. My journey is a bit different to others, it was actually never my full intention to join, even though I had been struggling with my weight for years. I'd been having some health issues (recently diagnosed with IBS) so I went to my doctors for help. It was then they referred me to have 12 weeks of Slimming World (or Weight Watchers) for free as part of a local scheme called Live Well Dorset. My BMI was too high and I was told they'd have to stop giving me my contraceptive pill if it stayed this high. Now was the time to make some changes. I agreed a group, time and location, and a month later, here we are. If you're unaware with how SW works, I'd highly suggest checking out the website.

I thought my diet was okay, but it obviously wasn't...
I work from home so I snack. A lot. I was buying in cakes and crisps and eating them whenever I was hungry. It wasn't satisfying or fulfilling, it just got rid of the craving for a short while. I eat out a lot too, and of course I like everything that is fried and creamy, and my sweet-tooth for puddings doesn't help me either. I was having meals without vegetables, and not eating a piece of fruit for days. However, I was going to the gym and training with a PT, so I really expected the weight to come off from all my hard work. Someone said to me "you can't out-exercise a bad diet" which is so true. I thought my diet wasn't too bad, but since starting Slimming World, I've really noticed how often I order takeaways, how many Starbucks I drink, and how little fruit I was consuming. It's opened my eyes to a healthier diet.

Writing a food diary is hugely eye-opening
I enjoy writing list and notes, and I've really liked the 'Weight Loss Planner' tool on the Slimming World website. They encourage you to handwrite a diary to give to your consultant, but as I'm always on the go, I didn't get on with physically writing everything down. The app and Planner however is amazing, as it accurately shows your Syns and Healthy Extras. I add everything I consume. The directory has pretty much every brand and food, so I can work out the Syn value accurately and not just guess it. It's amazing how noting it down can show you what you've already eaten in the day, and maybe some water or a cup of tea might be a better idea instead.

The feeling of being part of a community (& finding friends!)
I wasn't sure if this one only applied because of the fact I put my life online and therefore, have opened a new door to a wave of people also doing Slimming World, but I've come to realise that everyone doing SW actually feels this way. Even last week, I was in a store and the sales assistance tried to sell me chocolates. I told her I was on SW and she said "oh, me too!" and we had a lovely little chat about it. In that moment, it felt nice to bond with someone over something new. I've made new friends, chat regularly with people online in the same boat, and just feel part of something hugely benefiting my own life and many others too.

Swapping snacks with a sweet-tooth can actually be really simple
I said before that I have a real sweet-tooth, so it's been a new challenge finding snacks I can swap. Of course I always try and grab fruit or free food where I can, but sometimes all I can think about is a bloomin' cake. The SW Hi-Fi bars are great, along with the Alpen Light Bars. I have a Muller Light almost every day, the ones that are 'sprinkled with dark chocolate' are best. For pudding, I like having a meringue nest (2.5 syns), breaking it up with fruit and a Muller, it's perfect. Curly Wurly's are a must (6 syns), I suck them so they last long! If I fancy ice cream, Ben & Jerry's have a 'Lighten Up' range (6 syns for 100ml) which is delicious. I also like Mini Milks (1.5 syns) and Twisters; the mini ones are 2 syns but if I'm at the beach or out with friends, the bigger one is only 4 syns. I've also been drinking a lot of diet coke/pepsi max, and have a new love for Cream Soda too. The Sainsbury's one has no added sugar and is made with real vanilla extract. It's completely Free and hits the spot in the afternoon. Lastly, my favourite drink when I fancy a chocolate bar is an Options Hot Chocolate. The orange one is my favourite. I pop a little bit of Soya Chocolate Milk in too and I swear it's the golden ingredient.

You can eat whatever you like, as long as it's tailored to fit your allowances
A lot of trying to lose weight has been a mental journey for me. I comfort eat. I stress eat. I'm lazy with cooking so never used to make much, and of course, all those naughty snacks I didn't have to tell anyone about were my weakness. SW has shown me a different mind-set. Instead of telling me what I can and can't eat (which makes me want it more/less), I can have whatever I like, as long as it's in my allowance...and moderation! It's okay to have a maintain or gain one week too, because it's all about learning what your body needs and wants. Overeating wasn't helping me physically or mentally, but eating in moderation certainly is.

Having an 'off plan' day or going over your syns, isn't the end of the world
A few weeks ago, I had a Chicken Korma Curry (around 25 syns) and was convinced I'd ruined my weight loss. I got on the scales a few days later and I'd still lost 2 pounds. Goes to show that a day or two off plan isn't going to ruin your hard work. I then had a full weekend of alcohol, doughnuts and pizza and only gained half a pound. I quickly realised that it's absolutely okay to do this every now and again. It's okay to have a takeaway. There is no point pressuring myself daily, it's about sticking to it where you can and not worrying yourself silly if you have a day or two off. We all do it.

Staying for group is as beneficial as they say
I've learnt all of the above by staying for the Image Therapy, aka 'group'. I find it nicer to say 'I stayed for group'. I associate the word therapy with seeing a therapist and it doesn't feel like that at all. It is time-consuming (around an hour and a half for me), and I originally found clapping for people I didn't know a bit tedious, but I've realised it helps me stay motivated. I learn so much from the others, and when my consultant asks me how much I'd like to try and lose for the week ahead, it makes me believe I can do it when I say it out-loud and make that commitment.

I'm learning to cook!
I've never enjoying cooking much but since joining SW, I was almost forced to get my act in gear. I have learnt so much about different spices, cooking from scratch, making my own sauces, and the reality of what goes into ready-meals and takeaways. I feel so much better meal-planning, food shopping and making dishes that both myself and Benji enjoy.

1 month down, 9.5lbs lighter, but a hell of a lot happier, more confident and more determined than ever to get to my goal weight. I can't wait to go back to the doctors and tell them I've done it. My BMI is down, my jeans are starting to fit again, and I actually love eating, cooking and exercising alongside too. Thank you, Slimming World.

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