The Pre-Christmas Downturn

Just as we can be sure that every Slimming World group in the county will be bursting at the seams with new members in January, we can also see a downturn in interest at this time of year on the run up to Christmas.

Using the Google Trends site we can plot over time when people do searches for the term “Slimming World”, and as you can see, over the last 3 months it’s being going down:

Google Trends – 3 months from 10th Sep to 10th Dec 2018

I suppose with the Christmas and New Year party season upon us there are some people putting their weight-loss plans on hold for the time being, which is why there are fewer searches for Slimming World.

I wonder if the graph correlates to weekly attendance figures in groups. I bet it does!

The day after the night before

The company Christmas party was last night, and by the look on people’s faces you can tell they had a big night!

It’s 10.00am and half the staff haven’t made it into the office yet. And those that are hear look like they would rather be anywhere else! Pretty much everyone is looking hungover, and in between sharing war stories of how much they drank and what nightclub they ended up in, there’s only one thing on people’s minds…

Breakfast rolls!

Bacon, sausage, and egg – maybe with a bit of black pudding and some tomato ketchup – all in a white bread roll. It’s the perfect hangover cure!

Personally, I wasn’t at the party last night, and I’m not hungover. But the smell of the breakfast rolls in the office is driving me crazy. I know that if I had been drinking I’d have had at least one of these by now – and even though I’m not hungover, the smell is driving me crazy and I’m seriously considering getting one!

These Christmas nights out cause serious damage to my weight loss, even when I don’t go!

Printable Food Diary

Here’s a Slimming World compatible Food Diary for you to download and print:

This A4-sized template in PDF format allows you to quickly and easily record all your meals and snacks during the week, as well as your Healthy Extras, Syns, Water intake, and Body Magic.

One of the main advantages over the official Slimming World diary is that it’s much bigger, and gives you more space to record the food and drink that you have.

Slimming World for men

I felt that my Slimming World consultant was in a very spiritual mood this morning as she come over to me, laid her hand on my shoulder, and uttered the words:

Blessed art thou amongst women

She wasn’t – of course – likening me to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Rather she was making the point that, out of 30 people in the room, I was the only man there!

And she had a point. Weight loss groups like Slimming World are dominated by women. It’s just the way they are. I guess there aren’t that many men that are comfortable with the group/class format. There are just as many overweight men as there are women out there, but I’m guessing that most of the guys prefer to try and lose weight on their own.

Of all the Slimming World groups I’ve ever attended, the maximum number of men that have attended a class was three (including me). And so, for some men that can feel a bit intimidating or uncomfortable, having to walk into a room full of women.

Indeed if it wasn’t for the fact that I started Slimming World along with my wife (at her encouragement, I should add) then I’m not sure I would have been too keen to go along.

We’re all just people

These days I don’t think too much of the sex of the people in the room. After all it doesn’t really matter if someone is male, female, or a non-binary gender. We are all just people who share the same motivation for being there – and that’s to lose weight.

So I’d say to any concerned men out there to stop worrying that a group is going to be women-oriented, because it’s not. Nobody’s going to point and stare at you if you’re a man. Indeed you’ll probably be welcomed with open arms!

Variations for men

There’s no real difference in the food optimising plan for men and women. Everyone is encouraged to eat the same things, and to fill up on lots of healthy fruit and veg. The only difference is that some men can get more syns.

There is a distinct advantage, however, when it comes to the bi-annual group awards. For the men, the Mr Sleek and Man of the Year awards, there’s a lot less competition to win that in the women’s awards!

The run up to Christmas

I don’t know about you, but my calendar is getting very busy on the run up to Christmas.

There are so many social events at this time of year, as every group, company and organisation decides that it wants to celebrate Christmas with a party or dinner.

For anyone doing Slimming World, the sheer number of social occasions can seem quite daunting. Many people wonder if it’s even possible to say on-plan at this time of year!

Start with a plan

For me, the very worst thing I can do is throw myself into the festive season without a plan. For instance, if I turn up at the work Christmas party in a couple of weeks time and haven’t thought about it beforehand, then the chances are that I’m going to eat and drink everything around me.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Benjamin Franklin

If I have a plan then I can at least mitigate some of the damage I might cause. I might not spend the whole night food optimising, but hopefully I won’t undo all of the good weight loss I’ve achieved throughout the year!

Of course the type of plan I need will depend very much on the type of gathering:

  • For drinks, I need to plan ahead about what I’m going to drink – if indeed I am going to drink. One of the best ways to stay on-plan at a drinks party is to stay sober, which can be reinforced by deciding to drive that night. Of course, not drinking can be a bit boring, and in that case I like to remind myself of the number of syns in alcohol, and plan ahead what (and how much) I want to drink.
  • For dinner out, I like to think ahead about what I will eat that night. It helps if I know where we’re going to be eating out in advance so that I can check out the menu online. Otherwise I’m likely to make some very bad decisions in the spur of the moment!
  • For a house party, I like to engage with the host in advance. Most of the time they are very amenable to looking after all their guest’s needs. The chances are they are looking after all the vegetarians and those with food allergies, so why not those of us who are trying to lose weight. I like to offer to bring free or low-syn food and drink as a contribution to the party – then I know it’s safe to have as much as I want.

Think about before and afterwards

Once I have a plan sorted for the upcoming event, I need to also think about before and afterwards:

  • Do I need to save up my syns from the proceeding week?
  • Do I need to eat before the party, to reduce the amount I eat when I’m out?
  • Do I need to take low-syn food or drink with me?
  • Do I need to stock up on healthy snacks for when I come in drunk, so that I don’t get a late-night kebab?
  • Do I need supplies for when I might be hungover the next day and not wanting to cook?

These (and countless others) are the questions I need to ask myself when I’m putting together my plan.

What if the plan falls apart?

Sometimes the best laid plans don’t quite work out. I may have planned a controlled night when I was only going to go out for three low-alcohol beers and then come home – but instead I end up staggering in the door at 3am completely hammered, and with the stains of a burger and chips down my front.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

And the temptation is to think that everything is ruined, and give up entirely on Slimming World and weight loss entirely. Or at least give up until next week. Besides, I’m going to be hungover tomorrow and craving cheesy puffs and sausage rolls – so there’s no point trying.

But I know that if I continue to eat off-plan for the rest of the week then I’ll regret it, because I’ll probably put on all the weight I lost in the last month!

So I know that I need to get back on to food optimising as soon as possible – ideally as soon as I get in the door after the party. After all, I’m now back home, and am fully back in control of what I eat and drink – so any damage from now onward is entirely my own doing! 

Have a Happy Christmas

I suppose with all things, it’s about striking a balance. I don’t want to be overly restrictive and end up having a miserable time. But similarly I don’t want to go mental and regret it. I don’t want to step on those scales in January and find I’ve put on two stone!

Anyway I hope everyone that reads this also has a Happy (and well-planned) Christmas!