Weight Loss vs Body Positivity: Why I Quit Slimming World

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that my content has changed a little recently. Where my posts were once about 90% relating to weight loss (specifically Slimming World), that focus has slowly dwindled, and now it’s not part of my social presence at all.

Let me give you a bit of background. I’ve been ‘overweight’ for pretty much as long as I can remember, moving from just overweight to pretty bloody overweight and back again a number of times. Having never really made any effort to change this, around 2.5 years ago I joined my local Slimming World group, and started working towards what I thought would be my ‘goal weight’.

If you’re not familiar with Slimming World, it’s basically a weight loss group/diet plan that categorises food into 3 groups:

Free food: Low fat, high energy food which can be eaten in unlimited amounts. Includes fruit, veg, lean meat, pasta, potatoes, rice & fat free yogurt.

Healthy extras: High fibre and high calcium foods that must be eaten in measured amounts. Includes wholemeal bread, some cereal, cheese and milk.

Syns: Everything else! Basically anything not covered by the other two groups, including chocolate, crisps, alcohol, oil and avocado. You are encouraged to use 5-15 syns a day.

Basically, the ‘lifestyle plan’ (or diet, to you and me), focusses on low fat food – but not necessarily on low sugar or high nutrition. As time went by and my weight dropped (I’d lost nearly 4 stone the last time I checked), I’m kind of sad to admit that I felt happier and so much more confident. It’s only recently that I have begun to understand how fucked up that really is.

You see, whilst being bigger hasn’t stopped me from living a full life, it has always been in the back of my mind as something inherently ‘wrong’ with my body. Something I should change, should be embarrassed about, should hide underneath clothes that ‘flatter my shape’, and certainly not something to be proud of. It’s ‘unhealthy’, society says, yet somehow nobody batted an eyelid when I was following a diet that had me eating mountains of sweetener, bingeing on processed food without a thought, and saying ‘no’ to social events for fear of putting on half a pound. Whilst Slimming World did work for me, and I felt positive about my new found confidence and figure, something didn’t feel quite right. Trust me, when you’re close to tears because the vegetarian lasagne you just ate was a little over your daily ‘cheese allowance’, things are far from positive.

Everything in moderation

After finally unloading all of this stress and anxiety onto some very supportive friends (who couldn’t believe that Slimming World lets you eat unlimited Mullerlight yogurts, yet an avocado is off limits), something hit home. Low fat does not equal healthy. Depriving yourself does not equal healthy. Skinny does not necessarily equal healthy, and most importantly, MENTAL HEALTH IS HEALTH TOO. I got rid of the Frylight and sweetener, put away my scales, and filled my cupboards with food that Slimming World forbids. Nutritious avocados, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, dark chocolate, olive oil… I decided to listen to my body, instead of a company who – essentially – is making money off my insecurities. I stopped worrying about how many ‘syns’ might be in meals that my friends had kindly cooked me. I realised that everything is good in moderation, and stopped feeling guilty for eating wholesome, nutritious food.

Am I scared of putting on weight?

This is the part where I’d love to say that I don’t care if I put on weight again. Wouldn’t that be wonderful.

Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case yet, but I’m working on it and that’s okay; social constructs, like what constitutes ‘beauty’, aren’t easy to overcome, so it’s not going to happen in an instant. Whilst the way I’m eating is definitely a normal person’s definition of ‘healthy’, the mindset of Slimming World tells me that I am going to double in size because I’m not following their plan. I’m still scared that I am going to put on weight despite putting so many good things into my body, and I just have to remind myself that Slimming World is not the only way to eat well (in fact, some might argue that it’s not a way to eat well at all).

Body positive thinking

To be honest, my end goal (though it seems like a lifetime away) is to get to a point where I couldn’t care less whether I’m 9 stone or 20 stone, and don’t place any of my self worth on how big or small I am. Women who practice body positivity (and I still consider myself one of them, despite the obstacles I face!) are an incredible inspiration, and I’m trying to train myself to see my own body as I see theirs. That’s a real challenge, though, and I feel almost guilty for promoting ‘body positivity’ whilst still checking the mirror every day to see if my tummy has grown. All because I’ve started eating avocados instead of Curly Wurlys. That’s kind of shocking to me; I didn’t think it would be this hard.

The good news is that there are some incredible resources out there to help. Body positive bloggers, comedians and YouTubers (BodyPosiPanda, Sofie Hagen & Grace Victory to name a few!) are slowly helping me to change the way I think about my body, along with some incredible people who I know in ‘real life’ too. I adore podcasts such as The Guilty Feminist and Don’t Salt My Game, and am slowly-but-surely getting rid of diet culture promotors from my social accounts. It’s a challenge, but I know that once I get there, I will feel incredible. For now, though, I’ve shifted my focus from being thin to just being healthy, and I’m already so much happier!

Whew! That was a little longer than I anticipated. Thank you for reading this far if you did. I would love to hear everyone and anyone’s thoughts on this subject, as it’s something that I genuinely believe affects every single one of us in some way. Do you think you can be body positive and still want to lose weight? What is your biggest challenge when it comes to accepting yourself as you are? Please leave me a comment, or feel free to message me privately if you’d prefer. ?

All my love,

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5 Comments

  • Reply Bethanie Wardell

    Aww Alice thank you for your honesty! You have made a very good point and only recently I too have discovered the importance of eating healthily rather than “dieting”. My body changed so much after having kids and it has taken me four years to come to terms with how I look now. But I just think of the wonderful things it has done and I try (very hard) not to care what others may think. Good luck for your new journey but I am happy you now feel happier. You eat that avocado gurl!! Xx

    November 3, 2017 at 9:27 pm
    • Reply Alice

      Ahhhh Beth, thank you, I love this comment! We all have our own struggles, especially as women, and it can be so difficult when we’re made to feel that our bodies aren’t acceptable! I love the idea of a world where we can all just not give a shit, and not be judged based on our size or what we look like. Your body has done incredible things, and I’m glad that you have come to terms with it – hopefully one day you might even be able to love it 🙂 you are beautiful! And I’m having avocado for breakfast tomorrow! Xxx

      November 3, 2017 at 9:36 pm
  • Reply Mum

    Oh Alice … You are and always have been beautiful ❤❤❤xxx inside and out xxx I think slimming world has helped you get to a place, and now that place is to be healthy in body and mind ? … It’s not the devil’s work but sometimes my mind definitely needs to be focused and a few weeks on SW helps … At other times healthy eating is definitely the way forward, with the odd spree now and again with no guilt!!! I am very proud of you ❤❤❤xxx

    November 4, 2017 at 10:16 am
  • Reply Loryn

    Alice. I legit know what you mean. I lost three stone 4 years ago but since my redundancy, it’s piled back on. It doesn’t help that I personally yoyo from binge eater to EDNOS sufferer. I am so on board with bodyposipanda and selfloveclubb but at the same time, this body isn’t mine. This 14 stone 9lbs, more after Christmas I’m sure is not my body. It’s the body poly cystic ovary syndrome has given me and I dont want it. Your question “Can you be body positive and still want to lose weight?” Is one I struggle with everyday. Especially as I try to teach my three year old sister to love her body for what it is. Yet she sees Me, stepping on the scales and holding back tears at the numbers shown whilst saying “You are not the numbers on this scale”. This is hard battle but I do believe we can all get there eventually. I am desperate to read bodyposipanda’s book. I’m hoping the library copy I’ve reserved will hurry up and come back before Xmas but I doubt it.

    December 17, 2017 at 6:51 pm
    • Reply Alice

      Hi Loryn,
      I’m so glad someone else feels this way. I’m sure it’s just the first step to body acceptance/body positivity, but it feels like I’m in 2 completely different minds sometimes! I’ve bought BodyPosiPanda’s book for my kindle and am finding it excellent so far, so I hope your library copy arrives soon! Let me know what you think when it does!
      I think I’m going to start thinking about what I’m eating in a more positive way – think about nourishment rather than deprivation and feeding myself with goodness. It’s not just about putting on weight, it’s feeling crappy with low energy levels and getting sore acne spots and dull hair. I know that when I eat more wholesome food I feel better, but at the same time I’m not going to deny myself or beat myself up for eating things I really want.
      I hope we can both get to where we want to be one day 🙂 feel free to message me any time!
      xxx

      December 29, 2017 at 3:33 pm

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