My weight-loss regime began first thing last Friday, and it's already Wednesday: day 6.
I had a moment of great satisfaction and encouragement on Monday morning, when I weighed myself nude on my home scales - a weekly routine followed ever since 1st July 2008 - and found that over the previous seven days I had lost 6 pounds. And only four of those seven days were 'Slimming World Regime' days. Which argues that I would have lost even more - say eight pounds - if my home weigh had covered seven days of the new food and drink regime.
Of course I knew that (if there is no cheating) the first week will nearly always show a big drop in weight, while the body sheds excess water - two interested friends have reminded me of that. And that quite soon I'll be struggling to lose a steady two pounds a week - possibly nothing at all if there is an unavoidable feast to be attended.
But I have several advantages over some slimmers:
# I live alone. I have total control over what I eat and drink in my own home, and there's nobody else in the house to weaken or subvert my resolve, or make cooking my own meals awkward, inconvenient or impractical.
# I have more money than average. I can afford high-quality diet-friendly foodstuffs - plenty of top-quality fresh meat, fish and fruit for instance, none of which comes cheap in supermarkets. (And yes, I could save money by visiting street markets)
# I have leisure. No family commitments of any kind. My diary is well-planned and leaves me with ample time to myself, which I protect. I can do what I want, when I want.
# I have Fiona. I can travel around, quickly and extensively. Possibly to out-of-the-way farm shops and suchlike.
# I am organised - some would say unnaturally or laughably so. But it helps. My records monitor what I consume, what progress I am making, and make my forward planning easy.
# I do not crave chocolate nor sweet things generally.
# I never drink alcohol by myself at home - I'm strictly a light social drinker. Indeed I never 'need' a drink.
# I don't have a confidence problem. I've got over the dire issues of a few years back, and I've rebuilt my life. I have faith in myself. And there is nobody in my daily life who is likely to undermine or thwart whatever I want to do: everyone is supportive.
All these things underpin my main motives for losing weight, which are: to feel lighter on my feet, feel more energetic, get fitter, become better-looking, and get into a physical state where I am likely to live long and prosper. The last is not to be pooh-poohed. I'm a lot closer to meeting the Grim Reaper than a complacent forty year old. I want to defer that awful moment as long as possible! I really felt I had reached something of a crossroads with my health. It was either get a grip now, and take myself in hand, or let it all go, and watch myself go into a flabby and rather unattractive decline.
Oh, you might say. So being attractive matters to you, then? Well, yes! Of course! Why do I need to explain, or even apologise? No woman wants to be a pudgy-faced blob. I can't be beautiful, but I can be trim and fit-looking, and generally present myself as a pleasant, health-conscious senior woman who knows her worth.
All of these are fine words. How do they translate into actual meals that taste good but lead to weight loss? Well, as an example, I'll take you through Day 4's cooked lunch.
It was all done in a wok-like pan. A chicken breast cut up into small pieces (which went in first), then I added quartered mushrooms, a sliced red pimento pepper, and sugar snap peas. The frying phase done with, I next added a can of chopped tomatoes, and dashes of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce and tabasco. All this was tossed or stirred-together with two cooking spoons. I also added a little salt, pepper and Aromat seasoning.
I let this simmer for ten minutes, stirring now and then. Then I scooped it onto a plate:
Well, that looked appetising! I poured out a glass of water, and soon my plate looked like this:
It was entirely SW-compliant and very tasty, although slightly too hot, and for the future I'd go easier on the Lea & Perrins and tabasco.
This wasn't an 'official' Slimming World recipe. Unless I'm into an entirely new area of cooking, I never slavishly follow recipes. I prefer to wing it, to be inventive and creative with whatever fresh foodstuffs I have on hand. Nor am I over-concerned with presentation. Masterchef-style art and style isn't required. It merely has to look colourful and decently-arranged for the customary photograph. In the same evening Jackie next door (who joined SW two or three weeks ago) cooked a vegetarian meal for four - soup starter and main course - all on SW principles, with Jo down the road contributing a dessert also on SW principles (though slightly naughty, involving half a syn point!) As you can see, my girl friends like to pay more attention to presentation:
This was again completely SW-compliant. Another 'invented' dish. It was yummy. I had an apple for dessert. That evening I cooked myself a baked and seasoned salmon fillet, with new potatoes and asparagus boiled in salted water...
...and to follow, Madam had raspberries and blackberries plopped onto fat-free Natural Greek Yoghurt:
That was not what I usually eat for dessert, but it was thrown together out of pot and punnets as an experiment, and it was delicious! And everything in that lunch and that evening meal was SW-compliant, apart from the dash of tomato ketchup (which cost me one syn point). I had to watch those syn points, because you are allowed only 15 per day, and I needed to create 8 'spare' points to use up on a large glass of white wine in late afternoon, when visiting Brighton for a drink. My control spreadsheet shows that I managed it (click on it to enlarge):
And now Day 6. For once I fancied a cooked breakfast, especially after the depressing Donald Trump victory in the US elections overnight. Two dried apricots, an apple, then fried egg and fried kidneys, plus grilled bacon trimmed of fat - all except the dried apricots fully SW-compliant:
You might well be wondering what am I frying all this stuff in. Surely not butter? No. SW recommends this, one-calorie spray oil:
I think it comes in at least four flavourings, and I like 'Buttery'. If you want to fry or roast anything, you prepare the pan with a few sprays first, then add the food to be cooked. Chunky items (like those liver pieces or the salmon fillet) benefit from extra puffs over their surface. The spray oil acts as a thin lubricant - but it's very thin, and this is almost dry-frying. Although you use no more than a medium heat, it's still important to keep the food on the move, and not let it overheat in one position - although any natural juices inside the food will help prevent burning (and residues on the pan that need to be soaked off later).
I'm amazed that I am still allowed all this stuff. But the SW weight-loss regime - or my mostly-compliant selections from it - lets me do it, and gives me some slippage too. The next SW weigh-in is tomorrow (Thursday) evening, and you can imagine how eagerly I am awaiting the outcome of my first week!
Of course, no pain, no gain. I may feel well-fed - indeed very healthily fed - and firmly on the road to my goal of losing two and a half stone by the early summer - but what have I had to give up? Dairy items chiefly. It was a wrench, but I threw away and renounced delicious butter and tasty cheese. Boo hoo.
But it had to be done. Still, I'm hopeful of finding new things to enjoy. I bought some Quark yesterday, which seems to be a kind of soft runny cheese on the lines of fromage frais. Not something I would have considered in the past! But it might go well with a generous slice of ham in a wholemeal bread sandwich. Who knows. I'll try it and see.
I'm still allowed a glass of cold milk each day, but I hanker after more. And yet to drink it synfully will cost me 7.5 points! As much as a 35ml gin and tonic would cost me! And almost as much as a 250ml large glass of white wine! But then, if I can arrange matters (as I did yesterday) so that every day I have 8 syn points spare, then I can on occasion double my cold milk intake...
And there's another thought. Plateau Life. At some point I shall reach my target weight, and I'll want to put the weigh-loss brakes on and go no further, just hovering at a sustainable 12 stone 5 pounds. By then I will have acquired good eating and drinking habits. So the SW principles will carry on and not be abandoned. But to hover I will have to syn a bit more than now. Just how much more will need to be found out by experiment, but to begin with I'd increase my synning allowance from 15 points to 30 and see what happens to my weight and appearance.
Any increase in my syn allowance will be welcome, even only a modest one. It will seem like an extra little pay-off for all the effort made. This position is all a long way off at the moment, of course, so I'll put it out of my mind and concentrate on the main goal.