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.

It’s amazing what a bit of healthy competition does

At class this week it was pointed out to me that both me and the misses are just 3 pounds away from our next ‘stone’ awards! In my case, I’m 3 pounds away from my 5 stone loss, and for the misses, it’s her 3 stones.

Having lost 3½ pounds this last week, it seemed to me to be a ‘big ask’ to lose another 3 pounds the following week, so I dismissed the idea at the time. But we talked about it when we got home, and agreed that we’d give it a go, and see if we could both lose 3 this week.

Now my dear lady wife is generally the more competitive one between the two of us, but the idea of working towards a target has really solidified my determination for this week. Of course, it also means that I’m going to obsess about my progress for the whole week, and will probably be jumping on the scales every day to track progress.

The weigh-in is next Wednesday. Wish me luck!

Willpower is not a long-term solution

I don’t like the word willpower when talking about weight loss. It has too many negative connotations for me.

The website dictionary.com defines willpower as “control of one’s impulses and actions; self-control.” To me maintaining self-control equates to fighting against my natural urges – my natural urge being to eat the face off me!

The thing is, I don’t like this idea that I need to exert willpower in order to lose weight, because that’s just setting myself up for a fall. Anyone can resist against their impulses for a short period of time, but it’s not a long-term strategy. At some point the willpower is going to fail, and I’m going to ‘fall off the wagon’.

Put a box of donuts in front of me, and my self-control will hold out for a while, but eventually I will crack and scoff the lot!

And that’s the thing about willpower – it’s only temporary. Willpower requires us to resist an impulse, but does nothing to try and change the underlying impulse itself. If I could reprogram myself to address the impulse and modify it, then I wouldn’t need willpower at all!

So instead of using the word willpower, I prefer to use the word determined. I know it’s only a change of word, but to me it’s also a change in mind-set. When I am determined I have made a conscious and positive decision to follow a certain path. I’m not fighting against an impulse, I’m not resisting temptation, and I’m not “being good”. Instead I am making positive choices in my life to achieve my goal – to lose weight.

I’ve talked before about every little decision, and I’ll be the first to admit that many of my little decisions aren’t the right ones. I lose sight of my goals just as much as the next person. It’s hard to keep focus all the time. But hopefully by harnessing the positivity of being determined I can make a few more correct decisions in the future.

So when I look at the donuts in the future, instead of thinking to myself “I would really love to eat those donuts, but I will resist” (a negative emotion) I will instead try to think “I don’t want those donuts, because it will impact my weight loss” (a positive emotion). And by doing so, I hope to end up eating a lot fewer donuts!

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!

Every little decision

A few weeks ago I was in a bit of a slump, and not happy with my progress. But now I feel that I’ve reached a turning point.

After two weeks of getting just half-pound losses, I knocked it out of the park this week with a massive 5½ pound loss! And I couldn’t have been more delighted. Actually that’s not quite true. There was another lady in class who got a 6 pound loss, and snached the Slimmer of the Week from my grasp!

My big loss meant that not only did I get my 3½ Stone award this week, but I’m only a few pounds away from getting my 4 Stone award – which was my target for Christmas.

So how did I turn it around?

Well my new mantra of the moment is Every Little Decision. It’s the three words that I repeat to myself throughout the day, and help me make better decisions.

It’s all too easy to have a sneaky bite of something naughty. We tell ourselves “just this once” or “maybe just this little thing“, or the phase I love to use “well you’ve got to live“. But what I realised is that every sneaky bite I had was having an impact on my weight loss. I found that I couldn’t get away with having the odd little cheat every now and again. If I wanted to achieve the weight loss I desired, then I needed to question Every Little Decision.

Every time I looked in the cupboard, opened the fridge door, or walked past the sweeties in the supermarket, I had to remind myself that every little decision counts. And for me, I needed every little decision to be a right decision.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve not given up on my syns. I still have them, and enjoy them. I love to have an oat bar with a cup of tea as I’m going to bed. And so I tend to save up my syns for the latter part of the day. But I’m not going without. I’m just being careful.

The problem was that I had got complacent. As an obese man, my losses when I started doing Slimming World were fairly easy. I could have the odd deviation from food optimising, and still get some weight loss on the scales. But now that I’m almost 4 stone lighted (yay!) the weight doesn’t shift quite as easily, and I need to be a bit more strict with myself.

And so, last night for example, when I was attending a drinks reception, I decided to make good decisions. So when the plates of crisps, pastries and mince pies were put in front of me, I decided to say no thanks. They looked really tempting, and a few weeks ago I would have probably taken one or two things off the plate. But the thing is, it would have probably been on top of one or two other little treats that I would have eaten earlier in the day. And without realising it, I would have eaten probably an extra 30 syns in the day!

It’s no wonder I wasn’t losing weight!

So for now, I’m going to keep repeating my Every Little Decision mantra until it annoys the hell out of everyone I know.

By the way, did you know that a single mince pie is between 11 and 13 syns! And according to the Syns Online database, a mince pie from the Marks & Spencer in-store bakery is 19½ syns! Are they even that nice? And are they really worth all those syn? Most people I know don’t really like mince pies that much, but eat them anyway because people give them out at this time of year.