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★★☆☆☆

“Pay to weigh and listen to other people talk on and on...”

Written on: 11/07/2014

After my third and last attempt to get into the swing of Slimming World I decided that these groups are only as good as the consultants running them and I was not willing to spend any more money trying to find a group that worked for me. It is okay for the critics of those who dare to complain about SW to come on here and say 'just try another group' but each time you do it costs you more money, probably more miles in petrol and you have to beat that 'back to square one' feeling you get each time you restart.

I found the same issues with the three groups I attended - three in the space of a year. The newbie talk was rushed. The meetings were overcrowded to the point where it was usual to stand in a queue for almost 30 minutes waiting to be weighed. There was no way around it either no matter which time I arrived; if I arrived early for weigh-in I then had to wait almost 45 mins for the rest of the weigh-in to be completed and for the class to begin. If you arrive later you risked being told to wait until after the class - but you have pay before you sit down though. Coffee is available during the weigh-in but trying to relax and enjoy a steaming cup of coffee in a flimsy plastic cup with toddlers running wild around you was a nightmare and a safety hazard. The meetings were more like a mothers group than a serious slimming group and I felt a more professional approach should apply when you are paying money to attend these things and find yourself surrounded by babies and toddlers who cannot stay quiet. I am a mother too by the way!

Image Therapy...hello? just what does this mean exactly? the consultant goes around each person reading their names off a list in the order each person weighed in announcing their gain or loss and how long you get to speak depends on how 'in' you are with the consultant. A common complaint I understand. Also, if you weighed in early you get your weight read out early - great - but then have to sit for over an hour listening to other peoples results - if you weighed in late you have to sit for over an hour waiting your turn. The consultants had their favourites, they all seem to, and some women held the floor for ages going into great detail about what they did and ate on their holidays - other women including myself got our weights read out to feeble applause and then our personal 'therapy' consisted of 'Are you set for the week then? good!'...and onto the next person. I never learned any recipes - I guess they want you to buy their books - no suggestions for how to make the most of food allowances, just reading out weights, laughing and chatting (with the clique) and then 'Have a successful week!' and it's over! the consultant is then busy weighing in the newbies and get packed up so I as never able to speak to them personally. I got no phonecalls to check up in my first weeks at each of the groups and one consultant only favoured Facebook as her point of contact and when anyone asked her a question she'd say 'Im going to throw this one out to the group... can anyone answer this?' if not that then just photo after photo of plates of food people were about to eat.

The eating plan is basically high protein-low carb. The recommended wholemeal bread, Hovis Nimble, is thin as paper and not at all satisfying so I preferred to go without altogether. Portion control is not part of the ethos and I think portion control has to come into it somewhere as eating is largely behavioral. I dont agree that you can or should eat as much potato and pasta as you like and I have seen people not lose weight week after week by taking this literally. You'd think you could eat as much fruit as you like - you cannot - some have to be strictly limited, the 'superspeed' fruits simply make you go to the loo. 'Fill up your plate with free foods' is fine so long as you can stomach endless amounts all day every day of baked beans, tinned tomatoes, salad veg, eggs, tinned tuna, capers, muller light yogs. You get bored with these 'empty' foods that don't fill you up and you are not learning how to control your portions by piling your plates high as they say. The only way to stay feeling full is to eat loads of the lean meats but who wants to eat meat all the time?

I noted that people lost large amounts of weight, I also know people who lost loads of weight with SW only to put it all back on again once they stopped attending because portion control never figured in the eating plan. I now follow the heart foundation's eating plan and have lost 2 stone in the past 3 months and I can eat bread during the day - proper bread too - and I can take more milk daily which is something that is severely restricted on SW (only 1/3 of a cup?) and for women this is not appropriate as they need calcium. My days are not focused on 'filling my plate high' with anything as what I now eat fills me enough to not need to do that. I know some will be offended by this critique but basically SW is a money making organisation when you come down to it - I know people do lose weight with SW but the most important thing it taught me is that it does not cost money to lose weight and you don't need to be reduced to being a number on a plastic card to feel like you are doing something worthwhile.