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I’ve finally done it. I’ve dropped 4.5 stone and reached my target weight exactly one year since I first signed up to Slimming World. It feels like a huge achievement, and I can honestly say I’ve never felt so comfortable in my own skin as I do today.

How did I do it?

After many years of insisting I could lose weight on my own and failing miserably, my friend suggested we go to a Slimming World class and I reluctantly shuffled along. However I wasn’t expecting to be greeted by such a lovely consultant, Gina, who’s warmth and positivity beams out of her. She’s an absolute gem and has the biggest heart for all of her members. I really think it’s key to find a group you feel comfortable going to with a leader who’s genuinely inspirational and encouraging.

She sat the new members down to explain how Food Optimising works and then it was time to get on the scales. Ooooof! I’d really packed on the beef since moving up to the North East. I was such a comfort eater, and that coupled with being a food writer and someone who likes eating out had really taken its toll. I’d been hiding underneath floaty clothes and studiously deleting any pictures of me looking porky from my phone.

So I set my target weight and off I went.

The food

I was expecting it to be a bit joyless if I’m honest – especially as I used to base most of my meals around bread and cheese! But as soon as I got my head around all of the things I could eat I was flying. Because I’m a keen cook and recipe developer, if you give me a list of ingredients I’ll make it my business to come up with the tastiest dish I can. That really has been one of the keys to my success.

You can freely eat: Lean meat and fish, eggs, fruit and vegetables, pasta, rice AND potatoes!

You have to measure: Bread, Milk and Cheese – you get a daily allowance called Healthy Extras.

15 Syns per day which = a limited amount of treats: I spend mine on Low Calorie Crisps, Booze, and Sauces like ketchup and anything else I fancy! As long as you’re counting it within your daily allowance that’s fine.

Speed Food: I try and fill my plate with a third/half speed foods which gives your weight loss an extra boost. So these are things like heaps of salad, handfuls of spinach in soups and stews, piles of steamed greens, and plenty of melon, grapefruit, raspberries and satsumas. It’s a really good habit to have got into and it feels like second nature.

Planning ahead is essential

Every Saturday I sit down and plan a week’s worth of meals. To start off with this included breakfasts and lunches, but eventually I only needed to actively plan my dinners to make sure I was keeping things interesting. I’m a creature of habit when it comes to breakfasts and lunches, so I only need a small repertoire of things to keep me happy.

Breakfasts

Overnight Oats and fruit
Marmite Toast and fruit
Bacon, Egg & Mushroom Sandwich
Smoked Salmon Scrambled Eggs on Toast with Spinach

Lunches

Pimped up Noodles with Prawns and Vegetables
Jacket Potato with last nights leftovers and heaps of salad
Chunky Meal Soup
Omelette & Salad

Dinners

I’ve used loads of recipes from the Slimming World website, their brilliant magazine and cookbooks, as well as the fantastic Pinch of Nom website.
And of course I’ve come up with some of my own favourites too:

Sticky Chicken Traybake
Steak Pie
Caramelised Onion Burgers
Crustless Quiche
Chicken, Dill and Vegetable Rice Pots

And I will of course be adding to this collection!

Sides

I’m more than a bit partial to chips, so my absolute mainstay has been Slimming World Chips – I use potatoes, sweet potatoes or butternut squash, cut into wedges and sprayed liberally with frylight and then seasoned to high heaven with sea salt, pepper, dried herbs, paprika, cajun spices – whatever I can lay my hands on to bring the flavour! Then it’s just a question of roasting them on a high heat for about 30-40 minutes with the occasional shake. The whole family loves them. In fact, the whole family have loved quite a lot of the food I’ve been making, so it’s improved all of our diets to be honest!

Write it down!

Keeping a food diary has been absolutely essential to keep me on track and monitor if I’ve had enough speed foods for a good result. I’ve honestly kept a daily food diary pretty much every week that I’ve been doing Slimming World. I keep it stuck to the fridge and just note everything down as I eat it.

Eating out isn’t impossible

Some of my favourite eating out experiences

Some of my favourite eating out experiences at Kith & Kin and Riley’s Fish Shack

Going out for food does’t mean you have to blow your weight loss for the week. I always tend to look ahead at the menu to see if there are any Slimming World friendly options. You can usually find something, whether it be grilled meat or fish with plenty of veg or salad. It’s easy enough to have a quick word with the staff when you order to customise your meal a bit. No dressing, no butter, no chips but boiled potatoes instead etc. You should never be afraid to ask!

I’ve become an expert at choosing the healthiest things on the menu, rather than ending up choosing the most calorific! That’s also the beauty of staying to group at Slimming World as people are regularly going out to local restaurants and we help each other by recommending what we’ve had that’s healthy. Whether it’s Indian, Chinese, Turkish or Italian, there’s always something on the menu that’s a more sensible option.

Exercise

Walking the dogs is my exercise - this stunning coast is a big part of why we moved here!

Walking the dogs is my exercise – this stunning coast is a big part of why we moved here!

I’m not a natural exerciser, but if there’s something I love to do, it’s walk! I take the dogs out after the school run for a good hour whatever the weather, and then try and build in another walk in the afternoon. I got a fitbit for my birthday in the summer and initially set myself a target of 10,000 steps per day. I’ve since increased that to 15,000 and actually try to aim for 20,000 if I want to see good results on the scales. It really really works for me and my body is feeling much stronger and leaner than it ever has.

I’m going to be doing a Marathon 26 mile walk for Macmillan in July so this is all good preparation as I think that works out at about 60,000 steps in one day!

Matthew and I have also been going to an excellent class called Hydro Deep at one of the local pools. You wear a special flotation belt that keeps you afloat at the deep end so you can take part in loads of special resistance exercises. It’s really hard work but loads of fun and has turned into a bit of a Thursday night routine for us.

I think my weight loss has really been boosted by exercising, and probably meant I’ve been able to get away with the weekends when I’ve gone a bit off piste!

I’m no angel

Which brings me on to something I’m keen to address. Yes I’ve had commitment, yes I’ve changed my habits, BUT I’ve also had days when I’ve lost the plot and eaten a family-sized bag of crisps or a massive portion of sausage and chips from the chippy.

The key for me has been learning to draw a line and start again the next day, rather than give up. Keeping a food diary and going to class week-in, week-out and being accountable by stepping on those scales. There really is nowhere to hide when you’re getting weighed by someone else!

Also, if I’m perfectly honest, life has thrown all sorts of tough stuff at us since we moved up to the North East, so concentrating on being healthy and getting out for walks has been a total sanity saver. It’s the one thing in my life I’ve had control over.

Me at my target weight, March 2018

Me at my target weight, March 2018

Feeling better

There’s nothing better than your clothes starting to feel loose and you can go clothes shopping for things a size or two smaller. No longer do I feel despair in the changing rooms, but instead I’ve got a spring in my step. No longer am I reaching for the loose and flowing dresses and tops to hide myself away. I feel extremely proud of how I look as a 43 year old mum of two.

I’ve been going through my wardrobe rediscovering dresses and tops I’ve not worn for years, and when I hit my target at the weekend I tried my wedding dress on and it fit! What a feeling!

Hitting target

I can’t tell you how overcome I was when I stood on those scales and I’d actually gone under my target weight. I was SO nervous that it wouldn’t happen, as I’d woken up at 6am and weighed myself only for my scales to say I was 2lbs heavier than my target weight. I was SO frustrated, so I got up and went for a 5 mile walk with the dogs. By the time I got home those 2lbs had vanished. But I was still incredibly worried about what the Slimming World scales would say.

I stripped off all the clothes that was socially acceptable (I went without my underwired bra on in case that jeopardised things) breathed out all of the air from my lungs, stepped on and closed my eyes.

Honestly I think I gave everyone a fright coz I shrieked so loud and then promptly burst in to tears. What a mess! My lovely Slimming World group were so happy for me, so it was hugs and tears all round as I got my target member certificate and had to make a little speech.

I was high as a kite for the rest of the day, and Matthew broke out the champagne in the afternoon. The rest of the weekend is a bit of a blur if I’m honest!

The next chapter

So now I’ve got to learn to maintain my weight. This is the part I’m a little concerned about in case I just start to get complacent and slip back into my old bad habits. My approach is going to be to continue going to class as much as I can, eat in exactly the same way and gradually increase my exercise levels.

I wanted to shift the weight once and for all so I can just concentrate on living my best life and being healthy for my family. And I’ve done it! I’ve really done it!

I hope my story will inspire any of you who have similar aspirations. You CAN do it!

 

 

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Author Katie Bryson
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