Learning to maintain

I’ve been at Slimming World target for a couple of weeks now, and after sixteen months it’s been very hard to make the mental transition to the notion that I don’t have to lose weight anymore – that I’m actually at my ideal weight.  I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.

Actually, I say sixteen months – but really, before that I had been on a miserable usually-failing diet since my mid-teens.  I’d never been happy with my weight, even when I managed to starve myself down to a stone lighter than what I am now at age twenty-two – I wasn’t very well at the time and still thought I needed to lose more.  As such, I have actually never been happy with my weight until now.  It’s a very strange feeling.

The first week after getting to target, I maintained (and was utterly shocked to do so, given that I’d spent the weekend at UKGE eating all the things I’d been avoiding in my last few weeks of trying to get to target!).  The second week, I put on a pound and a half (which is perfectly within my target range – Slimming World allow you to be up to three pounds either side of your target weight once you’re a target member), and I’m finding it quite difficult to get it into my head that that is okay and that I’m meant to be going up and down now and not really losing any more.

Last week, I was experimenting with having one extra Healthy Extra B choice per day, which is a recommended way to maintain once you’re at target.  This week, I’m not doing that, ’cause I’d like to lose the pound and a half and be perfectly at target again.  I suppose I’m going to be playing this game forever now (I’ll be at Slimming World for life – I’m never putting the weight on again!).  It’s just going to take some getting used to.

Tomorrow?

Last week, at Slimming World weigh-in, I was half a pound away from my target weight.  So close!

I would kill to get to target at weigh-in tomorrow.  This weekend, there will be lots of delicious food opportunities, and Geth has been talking about them all week, and my mouth has been watering like mad.  If I get to target tomorrow, I know I can enjoy the weekend safe in the knowledge that I have the freedom to put on a couple of pounds, whereas if I don’t get to target tomorrow, I will have to spend another week trying really really hard, like I have been the last couple of weeks.  I’m starting to feel a bit deprived, and so I’m crossing everything that things will go my way.

Thing is, because I had a really big loss last week, I’ve been very nervous about maintaining or gaining back, as has happened a few times over the last month or so.

As such, after carb-loading for the EMF 10k on Saturday, I’ve done four SP days (all veg and protein, no carbs except for fibre-rich Healthy Extras) in a row.  I’ve made sure to get out for at least a walk every day.  I’ve stuck to under 80 syns for the week.  I made sure not to over-celebrate after the 10k and skipped out on the pub lunch Geth was having on Saturday.  In short, I’ve done everything I could under the circumstances – if I hadn’t had a race on, I suppose I could have done a complete SP week, but I find SP a struggle as I miss my pasta and I think a full week of it would have made me feel even grumpier!

If I gain or maintain tomorrow, I will be pretty upset, to tell you the truth.  But if it happens, I will just have to keep plugging on.  I am so determined to get to target now.

But it would be really nice if tomorrow I could have that doughnuts ‘n’ champagne celebratory lunch I’ve been fantasising about for sixteen months.

Weight loss update

I’m so nearly there.

After a few up and down weeks, I had a great loss at Slimming World yesterday – 3lbs off and Slimmer of the Week.  I’m now only 2.5lbs away from my target weight.

I don’t expect to achieve it next week, because apart from during the early days when I was losing very fast, I’ve never really had big losses two weeks in a row.  I think the following week is a good one to aim for, though, so I’m going to try my very hardest.  I desperately want to be at target before all the summer ‘holiday weekends’ start happening, as stuff like that always gets in the way of weight loss, so I’d much rather be in maintenance mode by then.  There’s also the fact that once I’m at target, I won’t have to pay my weekly Slimming World fee anymore!

Fingers crossed – we’ll see how it goes.

Feeling the cold

We’ve finally seen some spring weather in the last week or so.  Outside, it’s been lovely – the winter was so long and awful that being able to walk around in bare legs and light jackets last week felt like being on holiday somewhere tropical.

Inside, however, when I’m sitting still (which I’ve been doing a lot, obviously, as I’ve got a lot of work to do at the moment), I’m still really feeling the cold, and have had to have the electric fire going next to me most of the time now that we’ve pretty much switched off the central heating for the summer.  It’s one of those disadvantages of weight loss – I just don’t have that excess blubber to keep me warm anymore.

I’m definitely looking forward to it warming up more for the summer – I feel silly having the fire on this late in the season!

Greatest Loser 2018

In the midst of all the house chaos, it was a nice surprise at Slimming World yesterday morning when I won our group’s Greatest Loser 2018 award!  Apparently I’ve lost more weight than anyone else in our group.  I got a certificate, a sash and some lovely flowers:

Vase of roses
The roses I was given. I bought the vase specially, ’cause I reckoned that now we’re grown-up homeowners, we should probably stop displaying fresh flowers in a pint glass.

I’m really happy to have recognition like this – it’s been hard work, but I have lost a lot of weight (3st 12lbs so far!) over the last year and a bit, and now I’m so close to target I can almost taste it.  I think it must taste like the 100-syn bag of jam doughnuts that I will be devouring on the day I reach that magic number, before angelically returning to my healthy fruit and veg.  Well, I’ve got to have something food-related to look forward to!

2018 Ciders #10: Friels

Friels was another of my birthday ciders that I had about a week and a half ago.  I then had a couple of pints of the stuff at my local last Thursday and it knocked me out a bit; it’s pretty strong stuff and having lost a lot of weight my alcohol tolerance is a long way from what it used to be.  It’s nice stuff though.

Friels
Friels.

The taste is perfectly medium in my book, with the apple flavour very strong.  I do enjoy it, but given the aforementioned reduced tolerance I’m going to have to be careful with stronger ciders from now on if I’m having more than just the one.

Reflections on Dry January

Because it’s currently one of those weird transition times in life for me (everything is in flux due to the house move), January has sort of both flown and dragged at the same time.  Not drinking for the month has been a lot easier than expected, but it’s felt different than expected, too.

Last time I went for a substantial period of time without alcohol (Lent 2011), I spent the whole time being irritated that I couldn’t drink when I was out or visiting people, making sure to try as many alcohol-free versions of beer and cider as I could find, and impatiently counting down the days till Easter, when I would be able to drink again.  This time round has been a completely different experience, and I suppose that’s partly because my life has changed a lot without me realising.  I don’t go out to pubs or round to people’s houses anywhere near as much as I did in my mid-20s, mostly because I’ve relocated twice in the intervening period and have maintained a much more pared-down social life than when I lived in my hometown.  As such, I’ve only been out once in January (post-birthday, that is), to a dinner party, and I found I didn’t miss drinking while socialising at all.  I’ve had no interest in alcohol-free fake booze, either – this is mainly due to being on Slimming World, as fake booze would just amount to useless extra syns when I’ve got perfectly good syn-free fizzy flavoured water to drink.

The biggest difference, though, is that I’ve not been itching to get back to drinking again, or really missing it much at all.  I think there are a few reasons for this:

1. Not drinking is actually a more stable thing for me in terms of stress/anxiety levels

Obviously, it’s an extra-stressful time at the moment, and usually I’d deal with that by having a few ciders in the evening.  What I found over Christmas, though, was that drinking was actually leading to more stress and anxiety the next day, which was the main reason I decided to give Dry January a try.  While it’s sometimes felt a bit frugal/miserable to be spending weekend evenings without a drink, on the whole I think not drinking has been better for my mental state.

2. I feel healthier

Over Christmas, having even a couple of drinks every night, coupled with all the extra food I was eating, was making me feel ill.  It’s nice to have avoided that sluggish/bloated/hungover feeling for a while.

3. My evenings have been more productive

I started the year with a lot of New Year Resolutions, mostly pertaining to daily habits like writing and keeping up with hobbies, and I’m pleased to say that I’ve been sticking to them.  It’ll be interesting to see if this feels harder on an evening when I’m drinking alcohol.

4. I’m not doing the ‘was I drunk when I did/said that?’ dance

Well, that’s not quite true – I have caught myself doing it a few times, and then realised I couldn’t possibly have been drunk, because I’ve not drunk alcohol all month, obviously.  This has been a) eye-opening – I’m surprising myself with the things that I assume I must have been drunk to have done/said (e.g. not actually remembering doing household chores that I have done – I was surprised to find that sometimes ‘not remembering’ is due to distraction/tiredness rather than alcohol use!) and b) alarming – it’s really made me realise how much mental energy I waste on trying to ascertain what state of intoxication I was in at any given time.  And this is with my current ‘normal’ intake of about 10-15 units a week – I dread to think what it was doing to my mental state pre-Slimming World, when ‘normal’ was closer to 40 units a week.

5. My Slimming World results have been killer

Obviously, as I’ve not had to spend my syns on alcohol, I’ve been free to use them for other things…but I’ve found that I’ve not been that bothered about the other things, meaning that rather than struggling to stay under the 105-syn weekly limit, I’ve been averaging a much more SW-friendly 70-80 syns per week, meaning that my weight loss is really speeding along at the moment.  This is definitely something I will be keeping in mind when I go back to drinking!

So, the original plan was to celebrate the start of Non-Dry February with a few of my birthday gift ciders after weigh-in tomorrow, but having realised that I’ve got a tattoo appointment the next day (which is starting to feel like the worst timed tattoo appointment of all time), I will be avoiding alcohol for an extra day so as not to thin my blood, meaning that I will be enjoying my ciders on Friday night instead, having gone exactly thirty days without a drink.  It’ll be nice, but this month has really made me think about my drinking going forward, and what I can do to keep an eye on it.

’80s jumpers

I’ve been a lot colder than usual this winter.  I’m guessing this is because I’ve lost a lot of weight and so I don’t have that cosy layer of fat keeping me warm anymore.  Luckily, my love of vintage clothing fairs came to the rescue, and so in recent months I have become the shamelessly proud owner of a new collection: a collection of vintage ’80s jumpers.

Me in a vintage '80s jumper
This jumper was labelled a ‘Cosby jumper’ by the vintage stall that was selling it. No, that didn’t put me off it, though I did resist the slightly more garish ones that were next to it. I make no promises for next time, however.

In previous winters, I lived in hoodies.  This was the most practical thing at the time, because the various sources of heating in the house, combined with my larger self’s tendency to overheat every time I did any activity that wasn’t sitting down, meant that I was constantly doing the too-hot-too-cold dance and needed something that was easy to throw on and off.  This winter, though, I’ve found it’s most comfortable to wear something warm and cosy all day long, which is where the jumpers come in.  They’re nice and hardwearing, and there’s never any shortage of them at vintage fairs, so I think they’re going to be my winter go-to for a few years to come.

Pasta

One of my favourite things about the Slimming World plan – and I don’t think I’d have been so successful on it if this hadn’t been the case – is that pasta is a ‘free food’, so you can eat as much of it as you like (within reason – I have been cutting down on my portion sizes as I’ve got closer and closer to target – but I still eat pasta nearly every day):

Pasta and pesto
Pasta and red pesto, my all-time favourite. Used to be a regular meal but now just a ‘treat’ – I need to add lots of veg and use my ‘syns’ to make it Slimming World friendly!

My favourites are Quorn bolognaise, Quorn chicken pesto (after months of unsuccessful attempts to make my own syn-free basil pesto, I gave up and went back to using the stuff in jars for 3 syns per tablespoon), Quorn lasagne (did you guess I’m vegetarian yet?) and, when I’m in a super stodgy high-carb mood, pasta with potatoes, carrots and chickpeas.  I love carbs and I’m so thrilled I’ve found a way to lose weight without having to cut down on them too much.

One of my ambitions for this year is to try and find more pasta favourites.  I’ll keep you posted!

Slimming World

I went to my Slimming World group today, as I have every week since the beginning of last February, when I first joined.  It’s sort of become second nature, but at the same time a big part of my life.

Pre-SW I had been trying unsuccessfully for eight years to lose weight.  The thing I’ve found has been most helpful with SW is the weekly group weigh-in – I find I’m so much more motivated to stay on track when I feel like I’m accountable to other people, and having this weekly appointment has really helped me during difficult periods of my weight loss, at times when, during previous efforts, I would take my eye off the ball and end up regaining everything.

Over Christmas/New Year/my birthday, for instance, I put on five pounds over three weeks.  When I went to weigh-in today after a week during which I tried really hard to stick to plan (Dry January is really helping with this), I’d lost four and a half pounds of that weight and am nearly back where I was before Christmas.  Just having a support system to keep track of this kind of thing works so much better for me than trying to do everything myself.

Also, it’s great for magpies like me, ’cause you get shiny stickers with every achievement:

Slimming World members' book
My Slimming World book. You stop reading it once you’ve memorised the Syns in all your favourite foods, and from then on use it solely for sticking shiny things on.

Lost another half stone?  STICKER.  Done enough exercise for a certain number of weeks?  STICKER.  Lost more weight this week than anyone else in the group?  SHINY, SHINY STICKER (not to mention a basket of Slimming World-friendly food).  My SW consultant calls it “bling for your book”, and I love bling.

I’ve lost three and a half stone with Slimming World so far – aiming for four and a half stone in total.  Hopefully, with all the indulgences of autumn and early winter out of the way, that last stone before target shouldn’t take too much longer!