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!

Back on plan

It’s the 10th of January, and the Christmas and New Year break is already a dim and distant memory.

Gone are the long lie-ins. Gone are the days spent languishing on the sofa. And gone are the hourly trips to the fridge to graze on all the worst food possible!

We’re back at work, and we’re back on plan!

Over the break we enjoyed a very nice Christmas, a two-night trip over to Galway (party capital of western Ireland), and an amazing wedding. Indeed, we indulged so much that when it came to New Year’s Eve, we opted to stay at home and give our livers a rest.

But it took till our first Slimming World class of 2017 to encourage us back on plan. However before that we needed to find out what damage we had done over the last 2 weeks.

The class was somewhat busier than normal last week, so it was easy to hide amongst the crowd. I had literally not set foot on a set of scales for 2 weeks, and so I had no clue what my weight would be. And so it was with some trepidation that I stepped gingerly onto the scales.

I was pretty such I had gained weight. But by how much?

Well, I actually LOST weight – 1½ pounds in fact!

All that wine and chocolate, and sausages, and everything else I had enjoyed over the holidays hadn’t done the damage I feared. I guess the fact that I stayed on plan up until Christmas Day itself may have helped me mitigate my excesses.

The only down side was that, because there were loads of new members joining the Slimming World class, our consultant didn’t have any time to do the usual Image Therapy, and as such nobody in class heard about my amazing achievement!

Oh well. I’ll just have to keep losing again this week!

UPDATE: I forgot to mention, back in December I had set myself an interim target to try and achieve a 4 stone loss by Christmas. And you know what, I only went and did it! In the space of 6 months I lost 4 stones, which I think is amazing. Now If I can just lose another 4 stones over the next year!

Counting my alcohol syns

Gin and Tonic

One of the things I do to make my weight loss more successful is to avoid drinking alcohol at home. Booze is just empty calories, in that the alcohol provides no nutrition to the body. And to be honest, I’d rather save my syns for food!

However, with less than 6 weeks till Christmas, I’m faced with a number of social occasions with colleagues, friends, and family. And if I’m going out then I do like to have a drink. But all the while I’m conscious about not going crazy, because those syns can quickly add up.

A standard strength pint of lager such as Carlsberg Export is 11½ syns. And a pint of Guinness is only slightly better at 10 syns.

If I’m having wine for dinner, and polish off a bottle to myself (something that’s entirely do-able), that’s anything between 30 and 40 syns for the bottle!

So what can I drink that’s low in syns, and is generally available in pubs and restaurants?

Spirits

A standard pub measure (35ml) of gin is 4 syns, and it’s the same for vodka, brandy or whiskey. So I can have up to three gins with slimline tonic on a night and use just 12 of my 15 syns.

Beer / Lager

Drinking pints is just too  syn-full, so I normally try and see if I can find a low-calorie bottled beer.

Coors Light is only 5 syns a bottle, and Corona Light is 5½ syns.  They’re probably the lagers you’re most likely to find available in a pub or restaurant. Although there might be other light beers, and it’s always worth asking, because most of them will be around 5-6 syns each.

I also like to ask for ice in my glass, which always seems to make the bottle of beer last a bit longer.

Here’s a fuller list of beer syn values.

Wine

I do enjoy a nice glass of red wine, particularly over dinner. But it’s so dangerous to start drinking wine in a group, because the waiter or your dining companions will invariably top up your glass a number of times during the meal, often without asking you first! Also, with different sizes of wine glasses everywhere, you don’t know what size of measure you’re getting.

One trick I’ve used before is to order a glass of a different wine to what everybody else is drinking. That way you will have a better idea of the size of drink you’re getting, and it also means that it won’t be topped-up from the bottle(s) on the table!

Having said that, the size of a ‘glass’ of wine seem to vary quite a lot, and you often get by default quite a large measure! A small glass (125ml) would be about 5 syns, a medium glass (175ml) about 7½ syns, and a large glass (250ml) is 10½ syns – depending on the strength of the wine.

See more about syns in wine.