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!
I’m not feeling very good about my recent weight-loss, or lack thereof.
The figures don’t lie. For the first two months when I joined Slimming World I was going great guns. In just nine weeks I had lost 2½ stones, averaging a loss of about 4 pounds a week. It was falling off me, and I was winning Slimmer of the Week or Month almost every week. It seemed easy. Follow the plan, eat plenty of speed, and enjoy my syns – and the weight loss will follow.
However, we then went on holiday at the start of September and it all fell apart. We enjoyed our break, and ate and drank well, and it made a dent – albeit not a large one – in my progress. But ever since, I’ve done terribly. My weight has yo-yoed up and down from week to week for the last 2 months; so much so that during September and October I’ve only lost a total of 2 pounds!
I went from losing an average of 4 pounds a week to only 2 pounds in two months. That’s not good.
It can only be attributed to one thing. I’ve been going off-plan far too many times in the last while. I guess I’d grown a bit complacent, and told myself I could cheat on the odd day and get away with it. But I’ve not been getting away with it. Every time I’ve raided the cupboards at home, or thrown caution to the wind when ordering a meal out, it’s come back to bite me in the ass.
To be honest, I feel pretty disgusted with myself, and I feel a total fraud for accepting the Mr Sleek award in group during the week. I really don’t deserve it. Not based on my recent lack of progress.
I’ve lost my way, and I need to find my way back. Because I don’t want to quit. I don’t want to give up and go back to how I used to me. My life is already immeasurably better for losing 3 stone, and I know it could be even better for losing another 3 stone or more. I just need to renew my determination.
I need to question every decision. Every time someone places a menu in front of me, every time I go food shopping, every time I pass a convenience store, and every time I open the fridge door. I need to remind myself, every time, why I’m doing this. And each and every time I need to make a better decision. I need to ignore the voices that tell me I can cheat “just this once”, because inevitably there ends up being far too many “just this once” times.
My amazing wife, who is on this Slimming World journey with me, has suggested to me that I need to go back to basics. She has suggested that I re-read my food optimising book, and start keeping a food diary. And when she said it, I must admit at the time I pretty much dismissed the ideas. But upon reflection, I’m starting to think she’s right. Maybe I do need to start again from scratch, and follow the plan to the letter.
They keep saying in class that a 10 pound weight loss for women equates to a drop in one dress size. I’m not quite sure how that equates to men’s clothing, but in recent months I have dropped a jeans size!
Before I joined Slimming World I was positively bursting out of my clothes! All my trousers felt tight, and the shirt buttons over my belly were under severe strain. On some occasions, I’m surprised they didn’t ping off across the room and take someone’s eye out!
I was fooling myself that I still took the same size of clothes that I used to, but every day the number of items in my wardrobe that actually went around me were dwindling.
Thankfully, since losing a bit of weight, I’ve managed to bring a whole load of shirts and trousers back into regular use that were previously too small for me. I’m now wearing all those clothes – well some of them anyway – that I had kept hold of “just in case” I ever lost weight. And I’m also facing the prospect of having to buy some new smaller clothes in the near future!
But this is the thing… We all keep hold of smaller clothes, waiting for the day when we might – just might – fit into them again. But when losing weight, and inevitably some items become too big for us, should we keep them too?
I guess what I’m saying is, should I keep my fat clothes, in case I get fat again?
I don’t want to think that I’m going to fail with my weight loss and put it all back on again, but then again history has proven that I have done exactly that time and time again. I’ve lost weight on several occasions over the last 10 years, and have always regained the weight. So who is to say this time will be any different?
Sure, I feel positive and determined now, but who is to say what might happen in six months or a year’s time? And if I do throw away my fat clothes now, will I live to regret it if I end up putting on weight in the future? Should I keep my bigger clothes, just like I did with my smaller clothes, “just in case” I might need them again?
I really don’t know. I’m torn – a bit like the seat of some of my trousers!
It can be a bit scary thinking about joining a weight-loss class like Slimming World, especially if you’ve never been before. So I thought I’d share some information about what actually goes on, so you’d know what to expect.
You can find out where your local class meets by checking the Slimming World website (UK site/Irish Site). You don’t need an appointment, or to contact them ahead of time. Just turn up and say you want to join. There are new members joining all the time, so there may well be other people starting at the same time as you.
On your first visit, I would say you need to be fairly punctual for the start time of the class. The Slimming World consultant will have a special table set up for newbies, and they will use the first half hour to explain the Slimming World plan to you. They will also give you a number of books that give you all the information you need about the plan, and a membership card.
The membership card is used each week for you to check in, pay your weekly fees, and weigh in. The card will also have details that allow you to login to the website and access all the online information.
While you’re getting your introduction chat, all the other existing members will be arriving to have their weigh-in. They’ll be going to a different table where there’s a bunch of computer gear, and depending how busy the class is, they might need to queue up. First off they check-in with their membership card and pay their weekly fee, and perhaps buy some of the stuff for sale in class.
You can buy copies of the Slimming World magazine (at a discounted price), recipe books, and different flavoured high-fibre bars. The bars seem to be really popular with group members, but are not a mandatory part of the diet plan.
After check-in comes the weigh-in. Members may need to queue up again at the scales. Here you’ll hand over your membership card and book, and when instructed you jump on the scales. There is a display on the desk to tell you your weight, and the person doing the weigh-ins will be able to tell you how much you have lost (or gained, or maintained) in the last week. They will write your progress in your book, and an electronic copy of the weigh-in will be stored on their tablet computer.
Once you start to lose weight and reach a milestone (half a stone, one stone, one and a half stones, etc.) you’ll win an award, which consists of a sticker and certificate. If this happens, the weigh-in person may ask to keep your book, as they like to announce the awards to the whole class.
All the weigh-ins for existing members happen in the first half hour of the class, while you’re getting your introduction chat. As a first-timer, you’ll be added into the computer system and get your first weigh-in at the end of class.
At the end of the half-hour the class talk starts. Feel free to sit anywhere – there is no allocated seating! The consultant will make some announcements about awards won, and any company news. They may also initiate a guided discussion on a particular topic. You should feel free to join in the conversation if you want, or keep quiet if you feel a bit nervous – whatever’s good for you.
The consultant will then go round each person in class to talk about their progress this week. They will announce your weight loss this week (if you lost) and your total weight loss to date. They will never announce what your current weight is – just how much you’ve lost. The class members will then generally clap to congratulate the member. The consultant may then ask how your week went – if you did anything in particular, or cooked something nice, that you might want to share with the class – or if you had problems that the class or consultant might be able to help you with.
It’s a pretty informal and supportive structure, and if you’re really nervous about talking in class you can have a quiet word with the consultant and they’ll not call out your progress.
And that’s it. Once the consultant has finished going round everyone then the class is over, and you can leave (unless it’s your first week, and you still need to do you first weigh-in). Depending on the size of the class, the whole thing lasts between 60 and 90 minutes (including the weigh-in half hour), although some people do discretely leave early if they have pressing engagements. Some people also weigh-in and they leave straight away, but I don’t think those people get the full value from attending the class.
It’s not unusual to be worried about coming along for the first time. I was worried about people judging me or being unkind. However, everyone’s there for the same reason, and as such they are all friendly and supportive. You will also see all shapes and sizes, and both young and old people in class. There might be someone looking to lose 10 pounds, and someone else looking to lose 10 stones, and lots of folk in between.
And although classes are dominated by women, there are some men that attend as well – so don’t be scared off if you’re a bloke like me. I go along with my wife, as we’re both trying to lose weight, but there’s also men that come along on their own.
You can also speak as much or as little as you prefer in class, but I always think that you get out of things what you put in. And so you’ll find that if you ask questions or offer helpful advice, you’ll get a lot more out of the class.
I hope that was of some help. If you have any questions about anything I might have missed out, feel free to write them in the comments.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.