The Philosophy Of Slimming World

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

When I posted this photo on the left I said how it was probably the only photograph of me in shorts since I was a child because I actually just never owned any. I thought, first, my thighs were too fat, and then I registered that I actually don't have ankles at all (cankles, hi), and then it was that my knees were too fat. It wasn't a case of me thinking I was like ugly fat overall, I was generally okay with my size. It was just the pesky legs that stopped me from, well, a lot. I blamed the flat feet (they're pancake flat!)

I have lost 8kg. It's not a huge amount, certainly not going to get me on the cover of any magazines, but it's significant. I have polycyclic ovaries, and I used to have the syndrome that accompanied. This is an imbalance in hormones which is difficult to address, for many the resolution is to lose weight which is all well and good except for the fact that PCOS hinders your ability to lose weight greatly, and makes it very easy to put it on. In my worst times I was going to the gym and working out for an hour minimum a day, cutting calories at every turn, and I did not lose a pound. Not a single one. My work at the time depended on looking good and the longer I don't tone or lose the harder that was because my confidence plummeted. 

I have said as of late that it is not my size that I am concerned with, I am fully aware that I am in a position where I can buy clothes that fit in every shop I go to. My issue was with being comfortable, and more specifically being comfortable in summer. I was tired of sweating so much, of feeling so tired and run down, of avoiding certain clothes because I didn't feel good in them. It's easy to tell someone not to mind it but that doesn't solve the problem. One much change, inside, mentally and emotionally.

So onto Slimming World. 

I have tried every diet known to man. At 17 I dropped to 44kg with endless exercise and near on starvation, at 18 I gained everything back and then some, I did diet after diet. Most recently I tried Keto which I had heard was good for PCOS and breaking through the plateaus. It worked for a little while, and then I fell pregnant with Ezra. 

Two babies in two years is tough on the body, and I am incredibly lucky in that despite my eating and the hormonal changes I did not gain any weight from the pregnancies. But this left me at the point I'd started at where I wasn't very comfortable anyway. 

Exercise has always been a point of contention with me. I have joint hyperflexibility which affects my ability to do things - not enough to be considered a disability mind you. It means my joints bend too far in the direction they shouldn't, it affects my ankles, knees and hips mostly, which in turn affects my back and neck. Running and the like was absolutely out of the question, as I could barely even walk ten minutes. I took advantage of being postpartum and signed myself up for Pilates classes which due to being made for new mums were gentler and more relaxed. My strength improved but I didn't lose weight etc.

I had heard of Slimming World before. It came alongside weight watchers. The newer, fresher, younger sister. It allows unlimited pasta and potatoes etc. This, I thought, is wild. They definitely did not see me coming. Did they not know how much pasta I could eat and how often??? I laughed in the face of their infinite pasta! Come at me.

However, what I didn't realise was that there was much more to it than that. My life and relationship with food boiled down to denial and excess. To diet and to lose weight was to deny. Slimming World, I believe, aims to change that and harbour a healthy attitude to food. It was not that I was not allowed or that I shouldn't have something, it was that I should be sensible. 

Pasta is an easy food to make, an easy base for meals, and so with dieting's obsession with cutting carbs it made dieting just a chore. Too much preparation and too much time, especially with a baby. I didn't have the patience. I could always start a diet well but it would eventually devolve into toast, or pasta with cheese on it. 

What Slimming World has done has removed the element of guilt. Guilt is the common denominator of dieting, rather than helping one to change their thinking around food is it installing a sense of guilt when you eat something that you “shouldn’t” be eating. At the moment this is focused on carbohydrates, and sweet things. The problem with guilt is that it often doesn’t stop you doing things, it just makes you do things in secret. 

There are, of course, benefits to this, in terms of short-term weight loss. But Slimming World, I think, aims to help people to create a life-long habit of choosing foods that are alright. I don’t think it aims for us to make perfect choices for every single meal, which is generally unrealistic (at least it is for me) but its aim is to make sure we don’t make bad choices for every meal.

As far as I am aware, I have not really denied myself anything. I have eaten my fair share of meals with little to no vegetables in them (save for the tomatoes in the sauce). Today, for dinner, I had pasta and pesto, I threw some salad leaves on the side but to be totally honest there was much more pasta. I have also had days out where I have simply forgotten that I’m supposed to be “dieting” so much it hasn’t felt like a diet. I have not paid for any books or memberships, I have simply got the general rules down: low fat, pasta is ok, potatoes are ok, high fats like cheese and such in moderation are “healthy extras” and don’t eat into your “syns”, “syns” are reserved for things generally considered to be junk food. Ascribing labels to things can be both a benefit and to our detriment. To me, a benefit, because it feels like I’m a part of something, it feels good having some kind of rules to stick to and to remind myself of.

I'm not entirely sure when I started on this, but I've not been doing it long and I definitely haven't been strict. I don't cook on weekends, usually, and so whoever cooks for me loads up on the vegetable oil for the roasties. Pizza on a Saturday is almost a law (followed by leftovers for lunch on Sunday).

I started at 74kg, and I am now 66kg. Like I said, it isn’t much, but with everything in mind I think it’s great. It’s more weight than I have lost in eight years. I have felt the difference in the fit of my clothes, in my being comfortable in my clothes, and being comfortable in this disgusting heat. I feel better. 

TOMMY'S – I won't relax until I have the baby home in my arms

Sunday, 29 July 2018

I won't relax until I have the baby home in my arms

It’s hard to give up so completely, even if you want to. In reality, hope is stronger.

Supporter Story by Farrah, 
Had I a pound for the times I'd heard that, I’d be rich. Miscarriage is common, stillbirth a tragic event but not unheard of. When your baby has been born and you are back in the comfort of your own home, unless you are told otherwise, you have nothing to worry about. Out of the danger zone. Now, you can breathe, and now you are safe.
I watch on. I watch those around me and I think, “But even then you won’t relax,” because they won’t, whether the deaths of babies are on their radar or not.

Sharing Raw Loss

Friday, 6 July 2018

I share, I believe, quite openly about my losses. I also believe that words very much have a sort of healing power, and ridding yourself of them can be therapeutic. However, sharing raw loss, sharing thoughts and feelings so soon after a loss, I believe, can have a detrimental effect. 

In the first weeks after I lose Ezra I wrote a lot. I wrote constantly. It was a way for me to get down in black and white what I was feeling, to get it out of myself and launch it into the world, but it was less about into the world and more about out of me. I had thoughts and I had feelings and experiences that I didn’t want to have, and by putting it down I could see what was going on and I work out what it was I was feeling and fuck it off. I could stop thinking about that particular thing because by the time I’d worked through it enough to write coherently about it it was done with.

I did not get a huge amount of responses to these things and, in all honesty, responses were not what I wanted. Responses and interaction and understanding were not what I wanted. I wanted relief. 


Friday, 8 June 2018

Let's start this with one fact. A very true fact, not a "off the internet" fact, but an indisputable, black and white fact:


Suffocation is death via asphyxiation. Blankets, pillows, clothes, muslin, duvets, caught under a parent, between bed and wall, and so on. This kind of death is preventable, that much should be common sense to everyone. Don't use blankets and nobody will suffocate underneath one, don't put baby in your bed and you can't roll over onto them, don't use a pillow and it can't cover their face, don't use a sleeping bag that's too big and they won't get stuck in it.

SIDS is not preventable. I know that we talk about the "risks of SIDS" being bed sharing and so on, as if by not doing those you are safe, but that's not the case.

Being Away.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Fair Oak Farm
Fair Oak Farm
Our first holiday!

I was so kindly invited to stay at Fair Oak Farm – thanks to Hanna for arranging.  However, it took me a relatively long time to say yes. I mean, let's face it, it was two nights away in a really lovely country estate. Acres of land, unspoiled countryside, a farmhouse, a cinema, a bar. It sounds great, doesn't it? It's a perfect venue for a party or a wedding.

We stayed in the farmhouse, which had five bedrooms, sleeps twelve or so. We were in the attic room with a friend of mine, which had a double bed and an adjoining room with a small double – perfect for a small family with a child. There was also two more double rooms, and two more family rooms. There's a couple of treehouses, a few single shepherds barn things. Basically, there's a lot of accommodation.

As many of you will have read, we were not at home when Ezra passed away, he and I were at my mum's house. The idea of being away from our usual environment gave me the willies. I realise that the two things were unrelated but there is never a moment where doubt doesn't cross my mind, I wonder if what happened would have happened if we'd just stayed home, if I had done one thing instead of another.

WOKEMAMAS - Why you really need to just Not Care.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

I’m a single parent. And I’m twenty-four. This always seems to be a bit of a surprise to people because I seem to have my head above water.
People often comment on how laid back I am, especially about things to do with parenting. The fact of the matter is that there is so much out there to make a mother feel guilty about her choices, which is unsurprising.
We, as women, are judged on every aspect of our lives: if we wear makeup, if we don’t, if we are skinny, or fat, or in the middle, if we’re happy with ourselves, if we’re critical of ourselves. Everything is judged.
There lies a problem, however, in parenting. Because what you’re doing affects a child and so the judgment is harsher and can absolutely make you feel like the pits.
I don’t like to toot my own horn, but after a bachelors degree, three babies, two births, one funeral, and one miscarriage, I’ve got laissez-faire down to an art. And I’m going to tell you how to get there too.

HUFFPOSTUK - Why Instagram Was An Unlikely Saviour Through Grief

Saturday, 24 March 2018

The internet, as with all new things (and let us not forget that while we have had a seismic growth in technology over the last decade, it is still new), receives a lot of criticism. From online bullying, trolls, racism, sexism, revenge porn, and all sorts of other things, it can be a true cesspit. What we forget, however, is that it is also used simply as a tool to bring together like-minded individuals, and those who have shared experiences.

In my case it was experiencing the death of a child. I documented my pregnancy with my son on Instagram, as well as his birth. When he died, I withdrew, but I wrote about it on Instagram - at the time a private account. But somebody reached out. Our experiences were not identical but it seems that when it comes to the death of a baby there are so many ways it can happen that mirror accounts are a rarity.

When I was ready, I went public with it, and I found a community of people who were not afraid to speak about the realities of grief. It was not the following I had had before, it was not friends or family, but a whole new world of people. I found that in the early days, speaking to anyone about my grief was a waste of time because there was no way that any of them would understand it, so when I found the baby loss community on Instagram it felt as if I was finally being understood and that my grief was validated. Strange, isn’t it? That one grieving for their child needs to feel validated. It seems peculiar to me that the death of the child should be forgotten about quicker than the death of a parent, but that is how many think. I think that is in part due to the fact that we don’t talk about the fact that children die but also in part due to the fact that “you can just have another” (one of the many, gut-wrenchingly cruel things to have been said in the aftermath).

#BabyLoss and #InfantLoss led me to a plethora of (mostly) women, all of whom had experienced the loss of a baby, often stillbirth or neonatal loss. Admittedly, neonatal loss was less common, so our experiences did differ, but they understood what it was like to come home from the hospital, see all their baby’s belongings and know there was no baby; they knew what it was like to have to arrange a funeral for your child, how there was nothing to be said in their eulogy because they had hardly lived. You’re, instead, only able to talk about what you wish they would have experienced, and nice as that is it’s hardly comforting.

When the exhaustion of being asked if your child is your first baby multiple times a day hits, they understood. I couldn’t just say yes, as you often think or are told to do, because the feeling of betraying my first born was too strong. They understood how tiring it is to constantly bare yourself to strangers. The awkwardness and the lull in conversation after revealing that your baby has died, they understood.

Instagram became a safe haven where I wasn’t judged for hating pregnant women (even though my sons death and my subsequent miscarriage was far from their fault), for wishing I had died instead, for wanting another baby. These women became friends. Actual, real life friends. I could text one of them with a thought that would likely make a normal person think I needed professional help or maybe that I was beyond it. When I fell pregnant for the second time and miscarried, it was them that understood exactly how that felt, and then with the third, it was them that cheered me on, genuinely pleased.

As good as the Lullaby Trust, Tommy’s and SANDS are for the bereaved parent, you can’t choose who you talk to, and more often than not they are people whose losses happened years ago. Their situations are not the same as your own, and to really see any light at the end of that tunnel you need to be able to imagine yourself. Seeing people like you who seem to be on the “other side” of that situation, whose lives don’t seem to have ended. You need to see people just like you who have managed to somehow muddy through the swamps.