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!

Changes to the Slimming World plan

Slimming World announced today that a number of changes are going to be made to their healthy eating plan. Consultants are sharing this news starting today, but the changes do not take effect until Christmas 2018.

The highlights for the standard Extra Easy plan seem to be:

  • Everyone gets an extra Health Extra A – that’s an increase in the amount of milk or cheese you can have each day
  • A number of foods are being removed from the Healthy Extra A and B categories – most notably some soft cheeses from the HEA

Specific changes for if you’re doing an SP day are:

  • Only one Healthy Extra B from now on – the second HEB you used to get when doing SP has been removed
  • Peas and beans (all types) are no longer listed as P (Protein) foods, so if you want to eat them on an SP day then you’ll need to syn them
  • Syns for people doing an SP day have been reduced to 10!

These changes all come in as Slimming World prepares to celebrate next year the 50th anniversary since its foundation.

Non Scale Victories

When you attend a Slimming World class you are weighed every week, and your progress is entirely defined by the amount of weight you’ve lost.

However, the process of losing weight is not all about the number of pounds and stones you’ve shed. Sometimes it’s about things that don’t show on the scales.

It’s about how you now feel about yourself, how your health has improved, how you can do things that previously used to be a struggle, the inches that have gone from your waist, the dress size you’ve dropped and the clothes that you can now fit into.

These are called Non Scale Victories (or NSV for short). They are the achievements and progress you can see but that don’t necessarily show up on the scales. 

Everyone’s Non Scale Victories are different. They might be things like:

  • You can now fit comfortably and confidently into that amazing dress you bought for a special occasion
  • A friend that hasn’t seen you for a while notices and compliments you on your weight loss
  • Your health improves so that you can play with your kids
  • Your muffin top no longer spills out over the top of your jeans
  • All that body magic has helped you run your first 5 km without stopping
  • You have extra energy, improved confidence, and generally feel better

All these victories need to be celebrated, and your consultant will be delighted for you to share your Non Scale Victories with the rest of the class!

The good biscuits for visitors

There seems to be a very peculiar thing in Irish culture that says you always need to have some “good” biscuits in your home, just in case you get visitors.

It seems to be the ultimate social faux-pas to greet a visitor (be they friend, family or mortal enemy) without something sweet and fancy (biscuits, cake, or similar) to offer up with a cup of tea, even if said visitor turns up at the door completely unannounced.

I’m not sure what would happen if anyone ever turned up at an Irish house and there were no biscuits to offer, because I don’t think this occurrence has ever happened. 

The impact for literally tens of thousands of Slimming World members in Ireland is that they are obliged to have “good” biscuits in their homes at all times.

And it would take the strength of Samson himself to resist those biscuits for longer than a day or two.

Even now I can hear the chocolate hobnobs calling to me from the kitchen press. And there’s no such thing as having just one. Biscuits are a trigger food for me, and once I open the packet, at least half of them would be gone – and that’s a lot of Syns!

And afterwards, of course, I’d have to buy some more – you know – in case we get visitors.

A day in and out of hospital

My wife and I were looking forward to a really quiet Bank Holiday Monday, but our plans didn’t quite work out.

The phone started ringing just before 7.00am. One of our family had fallen at home while carrying a glass, it had smashed, and they had cut themselves badly on the hand.

And so in the midst of calling an ambulance, throwing clothes on, and rushing around to their house, all thoughts of a good healthy breakfast flew out the window.

The rest of the day was full of activity. For my part, I ended up acting as a taxi service for various members of the family – ferrying them to and fro in and out of the hospital – and also making sure that the dogs were fed, walked and looked after.

Different members of the family were in and out of the hospital all day, and all of them had to just grab whatever food was available in the few minutes they had.

I’ve spoken about hospital food before from the perspective of a patient (spoiler: it was all bread!), but it’s not that much better as a visitor. Because it was a Bank Holiday, only some of the catering facilities were open. As such my wife’s breakfast was two slices of white toast with jam. I’m not sure how many Syns were in that, but at the time we weren’t highly motivated to work it out!

By the time we finally got home last night it was just after 11.00pm, and I contemplated trying to reheat some left-over curry from the fridge for dinner, but in the end my tiredness took precedence and I went straight to bed.

Thankfully the injuries to the patient weren’t quite as bad a we first feared. They did have a 90-minute operation to repair the damage to the hand, but they should make a full recovery and be out of hospital very soon.