Sunday, 20 November 2016

Why I joined and QUIT Slimming World

Trigger Warning - I am discussing Eating Disorders in this blog post!

I never ever in a million years expected to be writing this post. Firstly, because I have always been a bit confused about the principles of Slimming World, secondly... because when I was originally planning to write this post a few weeks ago, it was meant to be titled: 'I joined Slimming World' (hangs head in shame kind of vibe). Unfortunately, it just brought out the worst demons in me and I ended up relapsing pretty badly into an eating disorder I've suffered with since my early teens.

It's quite hard talking about it and I only mention it vaguely in weight loss related blog post, but I think I should probably talk about it openly to break down the stigma around eating disorders and mental health. It happens to so many people. Keeping quiet won't help anyone. So... Since the age of 12/13, till I was around 22/23 I have suffered with bulimia. At times, it was so bad that I am surprised I never ended up in the hospital. I was fainting and lived on less than 500 calories a day... Sometimes I had periods of being fine for weeks/months, but it would eventually come back with a vengeance later.

Starvation, exercising for hours on end, laxatives (hence why I hate all the flat tummy tea sponsorships!), binge eating, purging, you name it... I've been there. I wish I could turn back time and get support or learn about body positivity. I wasn't even big back then, but I thought I was massive. Being bullied and called fat didn't help. Once I hit 23 we started trying for a baby and that's when I was 'magically cured' from the horrible thoughts as I had to eat well and not purge to get my body ready for the baby. Basically since I fell pregnant for the first time, became a mum and was breastfeeding, I was in my 'safety blanket' and didn't really suffer any relapse episodes (with few exceptions after I stopped breastfeeding Zac), until I joined SW.

I might talk about it in more detail in the future, but that's all you need to know right now to understand the Slimming World failure for me. I have always been 'kind of' against Slimming World. Yes, the unlimited fruit and veg is great, loads of water etc... I also really like the fact that they make a point about filling most of your plate with veggies, with a side of protein and carbs like potato, rice etc. I have always done this and will continue to do so, because that's a balanced meal (+some healthy fats). Fab!  But I have always thought that counting 'syns' and considering good fats like avocado and nuts 'bad' was not on! I also didn't like the promotion of artificial sweeteners and low fat food. It was almost like a Slimming World rule no.1 - replace all sugar with artificial sweeteners asap! 

But... I joined anyway, as one of the first things your doctor can do for you to sort out your weight is joining Slimming World. I did that just to see how I get on. It was basically my last resort, as I kept losing a stone or two and than putting it back on and lacked motivation. My friend joined with me and we were pretty optimistic about it all, despite finding the full weigh-in at a group, lining up like cattle a bit grotesque. I thought that the weekly weigh-ins will really motivate and help me and they did, but only until they turned into a real trigger. Some members were literally depressed with lack of weight loss or putting some weight on. Some were serial 're-joiners' who started and quit many times with no success. 

I actually did great in my first few weeks and I was enjoying the plan. I obviously didn't eat any artificial sweeteners, unlike most members, as I strongly believe that they cause cancer, but I did the unlimited fruit and veg thing and stuck to eating 3 healthy meals a day, plus healthy snacks. I lost over 1 st (18lbs) in total in a few weeks and I was sooo pleased. 

Unfortunately, as the weeks went on, I became obsessed with the scales. A warning sign for me, as I used to weigh myself 20 times+ a day when I suffered from various eating disorders. Twice a day turned into a few times a day an by week 5, I was checking my weight 10+ times a day. Only someone who suffered from and eating disorder will understand this. It is a mental issue and we just think it's normal/needed to know our exact weight all day.

As I am breastfeeding, I had to stay healthy. I couldn't limit my calorie intake drastically. I was walking every single day for at least an hour to give me that extra boost. It was great. I think that all the weight loss was actually due to that, mixed with eating mostly fruit and veg and avoiding junk. After a few weeks, I noticed that I would find excuses to go out to the shop or for an extra walk just to burn more calories. I would get up on the day of my weigh in, early in the morning and do fasted cardio at 6 o'clock in the morning, just to sweat out that extra 1 lb that I didn't lose last week. I just had to lose every week, otherwise I was a failure, right? 

When extra exercising stopped working, I found myself punishing myself and ended up bingeing and purging a number of times and that's when I said ENOUGH! I am not compromising my mental and physical health for this. I don't want to end up being the 16 year old me again. After missing a week, going back and paying them for the missed week and then going back once more, I just never went back. It's not for me. I told my husband and my friends about my relapse, so I can feel safe around them and they can look out for any weird behaviours from me.

So, I am not saying Slimming World is completely evil and will give you an eating disorder. I just want to warn anyone who has a past of bulimia, anorexia etc to really think if this is a good environment for you. Most members are obsessed with food and the scales, eat artificial sweeteners and drink diet coke daily (their drink of choice, so healthy, right?) and snack on some very questionable foods. For example: a ridiculously unhealthy junk like a Mug Shot is considered a free food, that you can eat without 'synning' yet an avocado or a handful of nuts will have about 15 syns! Yeah... I just can't... Also, a tuna sandwich on  brown bread from Greggs was over 25 'syns'. Whaaaaat? Just doesn't make sense. 

My friend who doesn't have a history of eating disorders  (+she isn't overweight and eats normally) also quit SW and she found all the rules and the general mentality very off putting and quite unhealthy. Don't get me wrong, the consultant was very nice and supportive and I met some very nice people at the group, but it just wasn't a good environment for me mentally. 

So here's my confession I never thought I would make. I JOINED (and quit) Slimming World. Who am I? I guess I was just so desperate to lose the extra weight I put on over 5 years ago. It's purely because I think that my current weight might affect my health in the future I don't have any problems now and I eat well and keep active most of the time, but I don't want to end up with knee problems or diabetes when I am 40. I am actually pretty embarrassed that I joined SW, but sometimes when you're so desperate to lose weight, you will try something you might not completely agree with. Every time I said something that contained the words 'Slimming World' I cringed so hard, I wanted the ground to swallow me up.

I will probably have to start therapy now to make sure I am in the right frame of mind again. Thankfully the main trigger (Slimming World) is out of the picture now and I am focusing on being healthy and nourishing my body to be able to continue breastfeeding. Since quitting, I have been fine again, so that's good. I just know to avoid SW for the rest of my life now.

I also have to mention that 16 out of the 18 lbs I lost was actually due to eating well and daily exercise and the eating disorder behaviours started once my weight loss plateaued after a few weeks.

Have any of you had a similar problem? What do you think of Slimming World? Did you have a positive or negative experience?

Sandra


PS. My breastmilk was still perfectly nutritious while I was going through all that, just in case someone's wondering. Scientifically, even breastmilk of a smoking mother or someone who eats junk is more nutritious than formula. I thought I would add this to avoid any 'concerned comments'.



  

11 comments:

  1. Hi! I joined Slimming World to slim down for my wedding 3 years ago and then re-joined last year, quitting it in May. I just didn't do well with all the rules, and while everyone was lovely, it was like joining a cult at times. The image therapy did nothing for me except make me feel bad about why I wasn't perfect. I'm now going on walks, eating healthy and generally trying to be sensible as I had a major health issue so need to lose weight healthily. I think it works for some people and not others.

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    1. It is almost like a cult, you're right. Going on walks, eating healthy and being sensible is the way forward! xxx

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  2. I'm not 100% up-to-date with Slimming World but I will say I am almost tired of hearing about it. Is that bad? Also, I can't say I would promote anything that encourages the use of artificial sweeteners.

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    1. Yes, that was literally me. I was sick of hearing about it but it was my last resort. I actually felt ashamed telling anyone that I joined and felt like I had to explain that I don't actually agree with some of the stuff they encourage, like artificial sweeteners etc.

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  3. I love this post. I'm recovered from Anorexia and whilst I think I have quite a good relationship with food now, I am against any dieting club in general for this purpose. I think you did really well to quit, and I'm really glad you're ok now xxx

    Sam // What I Know Now

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    1. I have been doing really well till I joined SW. Pregnancy and breastfeeding keep me in check, hence why I haven't had a relapse in a very long time. Sending hugs x

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  4. My mum is a nutritionist so healthy living is always a prominent conversation in our household, and whilst I'm not in any hurry to give up the occasional Domino's despite her prompting, one thing we both agree on is that the Slimming World 'Rules' are bizarre. The best way to lose/maintain a healthy weight is to eat lots of fruit and veg & cut out processed food! Stick to meat, veg and grains in their natural form! I never understood the amount of processed foods, ready meals and artificial sugars recommended by SW, it's kind of common sense that it's not going to be good for you! Also the fact that you can have pasta by the bucketload, when pasta definitely isn't 'good' for you! I think at the end of the day it has to be everything in moderation!

    I hope you're feeling better & on the road to recovery soon - at least you're in a position now where you can recognise toxic behaviour patterns and get help! That's a really big step! xxx

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    1. Thank you lovely. A completely agree with you, it's all about healthy, unprocessed food and moderation. Another thing Slimming World doesn't really talk about, but a big issue for many people who overeat.

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  5. I went to a few different SW clubs and this was my understanding of it too. I didn't understand how I wasn't losing vast amounts of weight with my food, cooked from scratch, than these people eating potatoes and mug shots by the boat load. I gave up after one leader congratulated another on her weight loss. The lady said she'd had a vomiting bug in the week. The leader said "ooh, it's like a little thank you from the scales." I stood up and walked straight out. Not all leaders will be like this, there will be decent ones out there, but in my experience they are charlatans and I sent an email to SW indicating that if this is the quality of support then I am appalled.

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    1. Oh god, THIS!!! Someone at my group had a stomach bug and she lost a lot and everyone was like - oh, so jealous! Thankfully the leader made a point that this isn't the kind of weigh loss they should be striving for. I know someone who is overjoyed whenever she gets sick just so she can say she lost 5lbs and she's all chuffed with herself...

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  6. It's great that you've shared this and you are an extremely strong woman!

    www.upyourvlog.com

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Thank you very much for your comment. If you have an important question, you can contact me via Twitter: @TheBlackPearlB

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Love xxx Sandra

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