Two Last Things for 2018- 30 Day Challenges and Slimming World

I hadn’t planned to write this one but two things kept popping up on my Social Media over the weekend which I wanted to address.

Number One- 30 Day Challenges

No alcohol in January, no cake, no sugar – you get the drift.

Yes, if you can do this it’s amazing, and if you generally have good habits already in place this is totally achievable.

BUT

January is a shit month.

It’s cold, dark, everyone is skint and on a comedown from the excitement from Christmas.

Now take away something which you enjoy (and I assume you enjoy whatever you are thinking of giving up or it wouldn’t be a challenge) on top of that and you are just making January a little bit more tough for yourself.

Yes, of course the health benefits be good for you.

Chances are though at some point in January will power will crack and one drink or cake will spell the end of the challenge and possibly spur you to say ‘fuck it, i failed so i might as well have some more’.

I’m not saying not look to make improvements in this area but be kind to yourself about it.

If you have a drink every night aim for two nights a week where you don’t drink.  Aim to reduce your cake consumption by 50% of what it currently is.  Still beneficial, still challenging, still an achievement.

But here’s the thing- if you aim to do something 100% and slip up you see it as a failure.  If you aim to make small changes then you allow yourself some room to slip up without failing to reach your goal.

Changing your mindset as to how you make changes and view those changes will ultimately help you sustain them long term and build upon each win.  Making goals to change things more realistic will make you more likely to succeed and help you treat yourself a little kinder.

Number Two- Slimming World

I’ve seen lots of posts by Fitness Professionals talking about the negatives of Slimming World.

Now yes- some of the rules are absurd.

Yes – the education around nutrition is poor.

Yes- Some consultants actively discourage exercise (muscle gain doesn’t assist in the scales going down and they only go off weight).

Yes I would encourage people to see a nutrition coach or PT for advice instead of go to Slimming World.

BUT

I worry the demonising of the brand could alienate those who are Slimming World Members.

No it’s not the ideal.

But for some people Slimming World is a less intimidating option that booking in with a PT.

For some people they perhaps need to do that and build some confidence before they go to a gym.

I say this because this was me.

And knowing that PTs actively disliked Slimming World may have discouraged me from making that leap from a slimming club member to a gym goer.

Once I started working with a PT I quickly phased out Slimming World. I didn’t need someone to tell me to to, as I learnt more I was able to make the choice myself.

My point is whilst it isn’t the optimum of nutrition it also isn’t harmful.

It can teach some basic lessons in what to eat more of and what to eat in moderation, it can help you learn to manage your eating, it can act as a springboard.

That is it could act as a springboard if we encourage those Slimming World members we meet to use it as such.

Ultimately Slimming World creates a calorie deficit.  We encourage clients to create a calorie deficit.  Different methods, different education but same goal.

I’m not suggesting we celebrate Slimming World but we could instead educate people as to why some of their rules are a bit silly in slightly kinder words so as to not put people who do currently do Slimming World from also working with us.

 

 

The Scandal of the Mullerlight Yoghurt

Slimming World have changed Mullerlight yoghurts from a ‘free’ food to having 1 syn.  From what I can tell this has caused something of a shitstorm on social media.

If you aren’t familiar with Slimming World – in a nutshell, there are ‘free foods’ which you can eat as much as you wish of everyday and Healthy Extras (a small portion of foods providing calcium and fibre) which you eat each day on top of your free food. Everything else has a syn value – you can have 5- 15 syns a day.

The bonkers thing here?

Mullerlight yoghurt’s recipe has not changed (from what I have read). The yoghurt today provides the same number of calories, same amount of sugar etc. as it did yesterday – it’s just the Slimming World company have decided that people were eating too many of them because they were ‘free’.

They have also done it with Smash and tinned spaghetti by the way.  Again the nutritional values within these foods has not changed overnight.

So here is my issue with Slimming World.

This whole yoghurt fiasco demonstrates it perfectly.

The company doesn’t teach people how our energy system works. If you follow the plan you can lose weight – but it does little to educate you on how to eat well and be healthy, away from counting syns and eating lots and lots of jacket potatoes.

Background- Back in 2011 I was overweight- I did no exercise and I ate takeaways more than I ever cooked. Diets were started every Monday morning and abandoned on Monday evening. I eventually decided to go to Slimming World. It was practically a last ditch attempt before I gave in to being overweight forever.

Now I have plenty of positives to say about the experience – the people were lovely, for me getting weighted kept me accountable and at first the plan worked- I was generally eating better food than I had been and losing weight.

Fast forward six months.

I’d started a Zumba class at the same time as Slimming World. I’d enjoyed it. The confidence I gained from doing Zumba led me to venture into other classes and I was now doing Body Jam, Body Combat, Zumba, Yoga and Circuits on a weekly basis.  My shape changed (I got smaller) as a consequence- but my weight loss slowed.  The consultant suggested that sometimes you could do too much exercise. This was when alarm bells started going off in my head.  I’d started to educate myself more as I started to enjoy a healthier lifestyle and it felt a little like I was being encouraged to do less exercise to see bigger results on the scale.

Likewise there was little emphasis placed on the nutritional benefits of food. Generally having some good fats such as avocado with your breakfast would probably be seen by most as more beneficial than having a kitkat for breakfast. Yet 100g of avocado is around 10 syns whereas a Kitkat is 5.5.  It is therefore unsurprising that people on Slimming World choose to stick with processed foods over fresh but high in calorie foods in some instances.

I often say I lost 4.5 stone on Slimming World, but in truth the last couple of stone came off through simply making better choices and exercising. I’ve since stayed the same dress size but put 2 of those stone back on. I am now the fittest and healthiest I’ve ever been.

Accountability and support is vital when people want to live a healthier lifestyle but groups such as this focus purely on a number on a scale going down.  There is little emphasis on how calories work – how many you should eat, what they should generally be made up of to get a balanced lifestyle, how they provide you with fuel. There’s limited reasons for people to choose fresh over convenience foods and there’s no education as to why – just because Mullerlights are ‘free’, eating 20 will still derail your progress.  There’s not enough encouragement to get moving and some of the education around exercise in my experience was quite simply incorrect.

I understand the logic behind Slimming World changing these foods from ‘free’ to ‘syned’.  What they could have done however is educate people as to why even with ‘free’ foods you need to eat in moderation.  If they did that they would de- mystify their product however.  Like everything else Slimming World is just another method of creating a calorie deficit.

Not all calorie deficits are created equally however – and I don’t feel like Slimming World helps you understand how calories work, that free foods still have calories and over eating them will slow down weight loss. Equally, unlike a fitness professional say, who would celebrate changes to your physique over changes on the scale, Slimming World aren’t bothered by you dropping a dress size and looking amazing as you shape up via exercise.  They want you to earn stars so you stay hooked and kep paying them a weekly check in fee.

So essentially- if you currently do Slimming World, eat well, have been eating a Mullerlight a day and getting results guess what? You will continue to see those results going forward because the food itself has not changed.

But if this has made you question the sense of Slimming World-  all is not lost.  The good news is you can sign up for My Fitness Pal for free- work out how many calories you need a day, what deficit you want to aim for and track what you eat!