I can’t go to my usual group

I can’t attend my regular Slimming World group this week, because I have an appointment in the city centre later that evening.

It would be too much travel for me to get home and attend my normal group, and then get back into the city.

Luckily, when you’re a Slimming World member you can attend any group throughout the UK and Ireland. So if, like me, you can’t make it to your usual group, then you can attend any of the other groups listed on the Slimming World website.

I’ve found one really near my office that happens to be on the same night as my usual group, so I’m planning to go there for my weigh-in. I don’t think I’ll have time to stay for the IMAGE therapy, but at least I won’t have to miss my weigh-in.

Because all the membership details are computerised, you can present your Slimming World membership card at any group and be a visiting member. It even knows if you’re on a countdown.

Going it alone?

If you’re currently a Slimming World group member, and have been going for a while, you probably know the food optimising plan pretty well. And you may have considered the option of leaving the group, saving the money, and going it alone.

Similarly if you’re a lapsed or former member, and you’ve let things go for a while, you might wonder if it’s possible to start back on the Slimming World plan without re-joining a group.

Of course there’s always the online membership which still gives access to all the recipes and resources on the Slimming World website – and the monthly subscription is cheaper than going to a group.

But even without having access to the Slimming World website any more, there are loads of recipes and advice available on other sites on the internet and social media.

So can you go it alone?

The answer is going to be down to individual circumstances, and to what extent the group helped you keep a momentum with your weight loss.

If you are one of those people who most weeks weighs and leaves, and doesn’t stick around for the Image Therapy, then it might be arguable that you could just as easily weigh in at home on your own. But, of course, that requires a fair degree of self-discipline.

On the other hand if you know that your weight loss suffers when you don’t stay for Image Therapy, then it’s probably a sign that you need to keep going to a group.

The classes often provide motivation, helpful advice, and recipe ideas – and are clearly invaluable to some people. Personally, I know that if I stay for the image therapy then my weight loss the next week will be better.

What if I don’t stay for image therapy?

There’s a whole host of reasons why people don’t stay for image therapy: they’re too busy, tired or ill, have family commitments, have had a bad week, or just find the sessions torturous! And let’s face it, not every Slimming World consultant is inspirational and engaging.

And if find that you weigh and leave more often than not, and you feel you have the strength and determination to keep food optimising on your own, then maybe you can go it alone.

I’d like to hear about people’s personal experiences on this in the comments. Have you successfully followed the Slimming World plan without being a member? How did you do it? What advice would you give to others? 

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.

Slimming World Acronyms and Abbreviations

I thought it might be useful to define a few Slimming World acronyms that are seen quite commonly on blogs and forums, for any new people that might not be sure what they mean.

CWCurrent Weight
EEExtra Easy – the name given to the standard Slimming World food optimisation plan
HEA / HXA / HEXAHealthy Extra A – your measured daily allowance of dairy (milk, cheese, etc.)
Healthy Extra B – your measured daily allowance of fibre (bread, cereals, crackers, etc.)
IMAGEIndividual Motivation And Group Experience – sometimes called IMAGE Therapy – the guided discussion that happens in group when the consultant goes from person to person
NSVNon Scale Victory – an improvement or benefit of weight loss that doesn’t show on the scales, like an improvement in your health, dropping a dress size, or being able to do things that weren’t possible before
PATPersonal Achievement Target – your self-set target weight. It is recorded by the consultant on your behalf, and comes up on the tablet when you weigh-in.
SOTMSlimmer of the Month – given out on the last week of the month to the person in class who lost the most weight in that month
SOTWSlimming of the Week – award given to the person in class who lost the most weight (excludes new members and those who gained in previous week)
SPSpeed Protein – a variation on the food optimisation plan where you only eat Speed and Protein foods, and no Free foods – meant to boost weight loss by removing carbs from your diet
SWSlimming World
SWStarting Weight
SYNSShort for ‘Synergy’
TWTarget Weight

I’ll add to this list as other ones occur to me. If you know of any I’ve missed, feel free to add them to the comments.

Loads of Stickers

It may seem silly getting excited about getting stickers on my book. After all, they probably cost a fraction of a cent to produce. But it’s not their monetary value. It’s what they represent.

In Slimming World, every time you lose a half stone you get given a sticker and a certificate to mark the occasion. Stickers and certificates are also given out if you win any other award such as Slimmer of the Week, Slimmer of the Month, Woman/Man of the Year, Miss Slinky, Biggest Loser, and so on.

Here’s a photo of my book:

Slimming World stickers on my book

As you can see, I’ve lost 2 stone so far, and have won Slimmer of the Week three times and Slimmer of the Month once. Very proud!

Each time I get one of these awards I get strangely excited about the prospect of being able to add the sticker to my book. They’re a bit like trophies that I get to show off to the rest of the group – not that most of them care either way. But they’re also a good reminder to me when I’m sat at home during the week to stay strong and not be tempted to raid the fridge.

Whenever I think about stuffing my face with chocolate, I remember that I’m aiming for my two and a half stone sticker, and I close the  kitchen cupboard door and go and find a carrot to munch instead!

It’s amazing that something so simple as a sticker can act as motivation for me to stick to the Food Optimising plan.

In fact, I’m so proud of them, I even display them on the progress page of this website!