Slimming World? Sorry it’s just not for me.
If you are one of the many people who are using the Slimming World programme then I apologise. This post may not be for you because I’m feeling a little bit angry about it. Or should that be hangry.
I’ve been using the programme (haphazardly) for around a month now. Two weeks going solo online and two weeks at my local group meeting. I’ve lost weight – about four pounds in total – so I guess you can say it’s effective.
I expect it would be even more effective if I followed the plan to the letter. In fact my Slimming World consultant pushes you for your half a stone loss in your first two weeks, so confident is she that it works. If you haven’t lost weight in the first four weeks you get a refund. So yes, it works if weight loss is your goal.
But for me, it feels like a thoroughly unhealthy way of losing weight. Not necessarily physically (although I could pick holes in it) but most definitely psychologically.
Eating is a part of life. It can be a really enjoyable part of life and at the very minimum it’s a necessary one. However, eating and fuelling your body is not the sole rhyme and reason for living but this programme of weight loss turns it into just that. Your whole worth suddenly becomes wrapped up into how many pounds you lost or gained that week – cheering yourself and others on if the quest to be thinner is greater than the desire to eat bread. Nodding in a sympathetic but patronising and disappointed manner if you put on a pound or two.
I know it works for a lot of people and that’s absolutely fine but I just wanted to take a minute and talk about why it doesn’t work for me. Quite a few of you have asked me how I’m getting on with the plan so I want to be honest.
You see, the thing is I’m a mother. I’m busy keeping two people alive and happy, I’m also a partner, a sister, a daughter and a friend with a prosecco problem. I need to clean my home. I need to do the food shopping. I need to go to work. I need to make doctors, dentists and KFC appointments. I need to go to spin class. I need and want to watch shit television. I blog, I vlog, I write, I talk too much and I worry endlessly about whether I’m screwing my kids up. And every so often, I need to make time for my relationship as well. In a nutshell, I need to have a life that doesn’t revolve around planning and perfecting every bite that goes into my mouth. I just don’t have the time to think about eating in that much detail. My whole world just cannot be about slimming. It just cannot be all about me.
I’m also relatively sensible and know that stuffing my face with aforementioned chicken will make me fat (ter) – I know that eating a ton of carbs will do my friendly thighs no favours and I know that that extra portion of pudding will not help in my quest to lose the love handles. I don’t need to be told how to eat, especially not with a complex and highly confusing algorithm of syns, hex’s and free foods.
But lets talk about those ‘syns’ for a minute. Briefly for those of you who think I’m a spelling mistake away from a Catholic confession – syns refer to food that isn’t free or part of your healthy extra A or B. About as clear as mud I’m sure you’ll agree.
Fruit, veg and lean meat and fish are all free foods and you can eat as much as you want (excellent for learning about portion control…). You can also choose one portion of something (usually dairy) for a healthy extra A and one portion of something else (usually bread) for a healthy extra B per day. Everything else is a ‘syn’ and you’re only allowed 5-15 of these per day.
They call it food optimising. I call it food obsessing.
Seriously. I have spent the last four weeks obsessing and planning every mouthful of food that passes my over-hungry lips.
Can I eat this?
How many syns is this?
Wtf do you mean that a Wicked Zinger burger has 34 syns in it before I’ve even sniffed a hot wing?!
You get the drift.
Just the word ‘syn’ makes me want to howl with hungry rage. The whole focus of Slimming World purports (theres a word for you!) to be encouraging, motivating, life changing blah blah blah but really at the heart of it is the diet industry making you feel guilty and bad for doing something like… eating. Shame on you for doing that hey.
The diet industry is worth millions if not billions and it has been founded on the back of people’s insecurities. If you feel bad about yourself, if they make you feel like a fat cow for long enough and feed you images of tiny, toned women with Barbie like proportions then you will eventually pay them your hard-earned cash to make you look like that too. Because being thin will solve all your problems, right? Ahem.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as much a sucker as anyone for this kind of advertising. I’ve spent my whole adult life on the quest to be thinner or more toned or more perky or whatever. Sitting there in a group Slimming World class though, surrounded by intelligent women (and it was all women) who were beating themselves up for being “fat” whilst the group leader jumped up and down, excitedly peeping on about “keeping on track”, “avoiding the buffet” and most infuriatingly of all “not letting yourself down” made me see that this isn’t the programme for me.
I am not letting myself down if I choose to eat a burger. I am hungry and exhausted and sick of counting calories. And I will go to spin class tomorrow to burn it off (maybe).
In fact, I can safely say that I will not be joining a specific weight loss programme ever again. I do want to lose a few pounds for my sanity, health and strength. But is this going to be the sum total of my life? Will I be defining my worth based on my waistline?
No. And you know what? Nobody who loves me or cares about me will define me that way either.
I just feel like if I want to lose weight then I really know how to do it already – I don’t need a group that pretends to be supportive to make me feel bad about my body, obsess over the scales and tell me not to eat too much bread. I don’t need to be fat shamed. I certainly don’t need to feel that my weight is my worth and if I didn’t shift some of it this week then I’m not as ‘good’ as I should be.
That is not a balanced way of eating that I can get on board with and so, in the words of some very successful (and not too skinny) Dragons…