I will start off by saying that the size and shape you feel comfortable with and are healthy at is up to you. For me, I was always ‘skinny’ as a child and teenager. I could eat whatever I wanted and I never seemed to put weight on. Then I hit my 20’s and I only had to look at food and I gained weight. It was a learning curve having to focus on what I was eating and make healthier choices. Over the years I got bigger and after having my children I was the heaviest I have ever been. Growing a human is hard work and I was not going to spend my pregnancy’s worrying about calories or weight. I focused on nutrition and making sure my babies were getting what they needed but otherwise I had whatever I felt like eating. Now both my boys are in the world and life is somewhat into a routine I have felt I’m ready to lose my ‘baby weight’ and get back to a body shape and size that I feel more comfortable with. However, with two children to look after I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to either afford the healthier options or have the energy for it!
There’s many diets and weight lose schemes out there. I have looked into a lot of them and over the last decade I’ve tried a few. For me, Slimming World has been the one that’s suited me best. To summarise the diet, you have ‘free food’ (syn free, not calorie free), Healthy Extras and syn food (basically food that convert to ‘points’ and you only get a certain number of syns a day). There’s plenty of food on the free and healthy extras so I rarely feel hungry. This was important for me as I hate feeling hungry. I lose willpower a lot quicker if my brain is constantly focused on when and what I can next eat. I get weighed once a week at my local group and I’ll either stay to the meeting to get ideas and motivation or I’ll just weigh and go (handy during summer holidays as it’s hard to concentrate with two kiddies with me – plus I don’t want J, age 4, to hear too much about ‘dietting’ or ‘plans’ as I don’t want him worrying about food. He has his own food issues as part of autism so I don’t want to add to it or create ‘obsessions’).
Being a parent is time and energy consuming. I’m guilty of skipping breakfast and/or lunch as I’m running around fitting everything in (plus my youngest, age 4 months, has a great ability to want a bottle as soon as I go to get myself food!). This is means I crave snacks and have less willpower to cook a healthy meal and end up getting a takeaway. Here’s some ideas for what’s worked for me…
Get a notebook and planner
When you join Slimming World you do get some really useful books and for the first 4 weeks you get a food diary and exercise planner. It’s great as you can show your consultant and they check you’re on the right lines, give advice to optimise etc. Once I was passed the first 4 weeks I brought a ‘Plate Planner‘ from a lovely lady I found on Instagram (not an ad, I paid for it). It lets me track my weight visually (a graph and colouring in stars for each lb lost), plan my meals (with a ‘tear off’ shopping list), plan my exercise and motivational pages where I consider what works/doesn’t work for me. It also has pages to write down everything I’ve eaten so I can keep check on how many of my 15 syns a day I’m using. Another bonus is that J see’s me writing and planning the shopping. In this ‘tech world’ he is growing up in, I love that he can see that writing still has a place. It gives him something positive to imitate.
By meal plan I mean breakfast, lunch, dinner AND snack list. I find that if I know what I’m having today, and tomorrow I am more motivated not to snack or deviate (I actually turn down cakes and biscuits on ‘catch ups’ and café breaks). It also means that I can save myself time and plan food which suits my day eg: worked around appointments, plan picnic food for outings and ‘quick dinners’ for long days. I also try to ‘stretch food’. For example one evening I’ll have salmon and new potatoes, with salad. I will cook an extra portion of salmon and put it in the fridge. On my ‘planner’ I will plan to have salmon salad the next day for lunch. The salmon is already cooked and ready. It works out cheaper than buying the ready cooked bits from the shops and saves me time as I don’t have to try and cook the portion at midday when kiddies are wanting my attention.
The other benefit of meal planning is that it saves me money when grocery shopping. I only buy what I need. I also spend less time walking up and down the aisle which means I’m less tempted to pick up the snacks and extras that will just use up my valuable syns. Time-wise it’s always helpful to be in and out quickly as both J and F get fed up shopping and the pressure of J wanting to get out or F doing a badly timed poo means that without my list I can get derailed and loose focus too easily. J likes the list to, and likes to help me complete it by grabbing bits for me. It gives him something to focus on himself so he’s less concerned about the people, the noises and which tills are opening/closing.
‘I am a ‘picker’. I can easily polish off a pack of biscuits absentmindedly over a day. I went through my Slimming World pack and wrote down all the free foods that I like to eat and could have as a snack. I then make sure that I have them ready for me to just grab from the fridge. If I’m heading out I will take some in an old takeaway container so I can pick at it whenever I want something. I also pack J his own little snack pack so I’m less tempted to stop off at the café at the park, or drive round to MacD’s to get him something quick.
Here’s a list of the sort of things I buy (not at the same time, I try to rotate so I don’t get bored):
- Boiled eggs (batch cooked and store in fridge with shells on for 1 week-although doesn’t last that long as I eat them).
- Cooked meats (beef, chicken, flavoured chicken, ham, prawns, salmon…my friend uses ‘crab sticks’ too).
- Pickled stuff especially onions as they are a favourite of mine. Also love a jar of pickled cockles.
- Salad bits (cut up cucumber, carrots, celery etc).
- Raw Veg (broccoli, mangetout, garden peas etc).
- Fruit (Apples, strawberries, raspberries, melon etc).
- Left overs from last nights dinner.
I also tend to keep my Healthy Extras for snacks too. I stick to fruit and fat free greek yoghurt for breakfast which frees up my Healthy Extras to use in meals or to snack on. For example:
- Cheese triangles (either eat on its own or on crispbread if I have ‘B choice’ left)
- ‘Benefit Bars’ (I get my from Aldi)
- Beans on Toast (I know its kind of a ‘big snack’ but sometimes I am just that hungry).
- Dry cereals or bowl of cereal with milk.
Don’t make multiple meals
My eldest is an awful eater. He is restricted by texture and there’s only a small list of foods he will eat (basically dry foods only). I will never force him to eat things or use withholding food methods. This will just add to the anxiety. He’s not doing this to be fussy, he’s doing it because his brain processes senses differently to others. However, I can not be having to cook several meals or be in the kitchen for hours with food that’s taking different times to cook. So, whatever I am cooking I will make tweaks for J.
Here’s some examples:
- Chicken with noodles
Mummy has chicken, stock cube, garlic, onions, water, soy sauce, veg and noodles. J will have breaded chicken oven cooked (I cook mine in wok, both cook at same time so no hardship or extra effort), vegetables cooked in microwave so no sauce on it and noodles plain (I just take his out then add the extra salt, soy and garlic to mine and husbands).
- Cooked Breakfast
Mummy has bacon, eggs, baked beans, homemade chips/wedges, salad bits. J will have bacon, sausage (oven cooked), fries (oven cooked) and veg (microwaves). Again it’s easy to just put these extra bits in the oven as they are from the freezer.
- Salmon salad
Mummy has salmon with garlic and soy sauce, with salad leaves, cucumber, celery and pickled onions. J will have salmon with a little garlic with couple of mini potato waffles (just goes in oven with salmon) and veg (microwave steamer).
It may not seem much but it gives J the impression that we are eating the same basic meal so he’s not ‘controlling’ meal times (I don’t mean that in a negative way, just that if J is given ‘options’ for food time he will always pick the same meal, over and over. By having whatever Mummy’s meal plan says then he doesn’t have the idea in his head of his wants. Once he has idea in his head it’s hard to change it as he struggles to understand others need/wants at times (‘mindblindness‘).
One handed lunch
I find that lunchtime is the hardest for me. Both boys are awake and energetic and want amusing. J is easy enough as he will sit and eat his lunch then play. However Baby F isn’t quite that easy. As I said earlier he will usually want a bottle the same time I’m eating, and if not wanting feeding then he wants to be held or amused. I’ve learnt to make quick, easy lunches that can be eaten with one hand.
- I will batch cook tuna pasta (syns for the mayonnaise) and just scoop some out into a bowl for lunch and grab a fork.
- I’ll have Primula Cheese on crackerbread (Healthy Extras). I measure the cheese by putting the crackerbread on the scales and resetting to zero, then squirt the cheese on till I reach the allowance. Then quickly spread and ready to eat.
- Precut veg sticks with a dip (low syn humous, the yellow of curried eggs, quark etc).
- I’ll quick fry some prawns in ‘fry light’ and add soy, garlic, salt and onion and have them with salad which I’ll cut up in the kitchen to be small enough to eat with a fork, one handed (I don’t add dressing as the prawns are flavourful enough.
Use the App
I find the Slimming World app on my phone really useful. It has a syn search bar so if you are shopping or at a friends then you can quickly see whether the item is within your allowance for the day. My phone is always with me so that means I don’t have to carry the Slimming World books with me (my baby bag is full enough as it is).
Save Your Syns
Right now it’s the summer holidays. This can be a challenge to weight loss as we go out for days out, especially if I can’t take prepared food with me. I want to go for days out and treat J to his favourite places to eat. Just because I’m a diet doesn’t mean he needs to miss out on these things and frankly I like to eat out too. This is where meal planning comes in handy. If I know what days we are going out that week then I will save my syns on the days leading up to wherever we go. I can have 15 syns a day, which is 105 per week. So if we’re going to McDonalds I will save 14syns (Small fries 8.5, 4 chicken nuggets 5.5 and diet coke 0) which is pretty much my whole days syns so rest of my meals will be 0 syn. For something bigger like a jumbo hotdog at the cinema which is roughly 35.5 syns (depending on toppings and which brand) then I will save 12 syns from 2 days before and the day of the cinema (which leaves me 3 syns to use on a little treat, sauce for my chips etc).
Fitting in Exercise
I dont have the time or money to go to gym. I also have M.E and fibromyalgia so exercising has to be done very carefully or I will have a relapse that will leave me confined to the bed/sofa. Instead I’m doing a ‘little extra’ on every day things. I walk the long way home after I drop J at nursery, I go the 10 minute walk instead of the 5 minute route. That’s an extra 5 minutes a day over the three days he attends so that’s 15 minutes exercise a week (it will be 5 days a week when he starts reception so that’s an extra 25 minutes). I also try and do at least one ‘family walk’ a week which will be to the local park, around the woodlands etc. We can easily spend 1 hour just walking and playing, and being active. I’m amusing the children and getting my exercise.
Something else I like to do is Zumba. I can’t go to the sessions because of the children so I use youtube videos. The best bit is that J will join in with me. I only do 5-10 minutes as thats what I can fit into my day, but it’s fun and again, it keeps J engaged. If I do that 2-3 times a week that’s 10-30 minutes a week. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to loose stones on that type of exercise but it’s more than I was doing previously so I will still benefit.
I joined Slimming World towards the end of June, and so far I have lost just over 1 stone. I don’t want my posts to be about numbers but I will do updates on how I’m getting on and milestones (probably more so on Instagram stories or Twitter). I’ll try and write more posts over my journey with what’s working for me and the family. I would love to know your thoughts, hints and tips so please comment below or come find me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.