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!

Moving to a new group

I’m going to have to move to a new Slimming World group. On Wednesdays, my usual weigh-in day, I’ve now got a new commitment and I don’t have time to get to the group.

It’s going to be a real shame, because I was just getting to know some of the other members, and they’re great people! It’s amazing how sharing your weight-loss journey with people brings you closer together – and it really has felt like a little community.

So I need to find a group on another day of the week, and I think the best option for me going forward is one that’s on a Saturday morning.

The upside is that this week, as I transition from one group to another, I have a 10-day week, so hopefully that’s given me some extra time to shed those pounds!

The moving process

The process of moving to a new group is seamless. Just tell the person doing check-in that you’re transferring across, and they’ll update the records on their computer.

I feel that it’s a nice courtesy as well to let your old consultant know that you’ve changed group, just so that they know not to worry about your sudden absence.

You might also want to update your weigh-in date and time.

What is image therapy?

If you’re new to class, you’ve probably heard people talking about “image therapy” but you might not be sure exactly what it is.

The word “IMAGE” in a Slimming World context is actually an acronym which stands for Individual Motivation And Group Experience. It’s when the consultant, after making any announcements or giving a brief talk on something, goes round all the people in class to ask them about their week.

This is an opportunity for members to reflect upon their progress (or lack thereof), and to ask any questions they have about the Slimming World plan, or to seek inspiration from the consultant or class members.

What do people talk about?

I’ve heard lots of things discussed during IMAGE therapy, including recipe ideas and plans to deal with difficult upcoming events (such as weddings and dinners out). The consultant will often aim to head off any negative emotions, and instead try to focus members on practical steps that might turn their situation around.

It can also be tempting for members to turn their ‘go’ at speaking into a confessional session!

Do I have to take part?

No. You can decide, without stating any justification, that you don’t want to speak in front of the class. You can either opt out permanently by talking to your consultant in private, or you can opt out for just a week at a time if you just don’t feel like talking that day. And don’t worry about not speaking. Most people will not even notice you kept quiet, and those who do notice will understand why you might not want to join in – after all, we’ve all been there!

Will the consultant announce my weight?

The consultant will never tell anyone in class was you weight is, or what it was in the past. They will often highlight what you have lost that week, or in total since joining. For instance, they may say “Richard has lost 2 lbs this week, and a total of 1 st 7 lbs since starting 12 weeks ago!” When these losses are announced, it’s normally class etiquette to clap to congratulate the member.  The consultant will probably gloss over if you maintained or put on weight; instead focusing on only your total loss to date.

What are mini targets?

Your consultant may ask you if you want to set a mini target for the week ahead, which might be a weight loss target or a body magic goal. They will record the target on their tablet, and may mention it back to you the next week – but they will never criticise if you fail to make it. Some people don’t like to set mini targets as they feel they are setting themselves up for failure – but others like to use them as a motivational tool, and to help them keep focus for the week ahead. As with all things, it’s your decision about whether you want to join in.

Do I have to stay for IMAGE therapy?

No. There are plenty of people who come, get weighed, and go. We all lead busy lives, and we all understand that we don’t always have the time to stay for group. However, having said that, it’s almost always beneficial to stay for class and for the IMAGE therapy sessions if you can. The interaction with other members, and the individual support you will receive, can make all the difference in terms of motivation for the coming week.

I’ve had weeks where the last thing I wanted to do was sit in the group and admit what a terrible week / day I was having – but forced myself to stay, and then came out the end with a completely different outlook, and all fired up for the week ahead.