After almost 6 months I am still amazed by the power of Slimming World

It feels like ages since I wrote a blog about Slimming World.  Now that I don't have to get weighed each week I struggle to think of things to write about.

This week, though, I feel like a miracle has happened to me.

I went to group last week to get weighed - it was the first time in two weeks - and I had put three pounds on.  It was a shock, as that's my biggest gain I've had during my Slimming World journey, but it was over two weeks and it was kind of deserved.  Actually, not kind of, very much deserved.

I can't remember now all the stuff I had eaten (hell, I can barely even remember what I ate yesterday), but I can remember what I ate in the 24 hours leading up to weigh in.  On the Tuesday, I had a bad apple which turned my tummy and sent me straight to the shop for a whopping caramel shortbread.  Literally, the caramel was like half an inch.  Then that night I had a slice of chocolate cake.  On the Wednesday, just before weigh-in, I had a chocolate orange brownie (which was worth every single syn, it was incredible) and I had a huge thing of rice and chicken for my dinner.

So just those few poor choices alone, not even taking into consideration the Easter eggs I had left that I'd consumed and the white bread I'd given in to, explained the three pound gain.

It was fine, though, because I was still within my target range.  The last time I'd got weighed, I just dropped into the bottom half of my target range.  The gain meant I was still half a pound within that range which was all good.

However, I knew I had a weekend away in the next SW week and would most likely put on more than half a pound during that.  That would mean falling out of my target range for the first time since becoming a target member and having just a week to pull it back before having to pay again.

I was a bit worried that I'd got so used to tossing it off a bit and not really focussing or trying that I would find it so hard to get 100% back on plan if I did fall out of the target range.

I tried my best this last week to be as good as I could on the days that I had no obstacles.  Thursday I had a fabulous day (until we had an Indian and wine for tea), Friday and Monday I was 100% on it and had no syns, Tuesday I was 100% on it and only used 10 syns, and Wednesday I also stuck to it 100%.

Saturday and Sunday, not so much.  I had churros with chocolate sauce, enchiladas, tuna melt, loads of alcohol and really sugary cocktails, proper Italian creamy ice-cream, waffles with maple syrup, Yorkshire puddings, proper gravy, caramel brownie...

I was so expecting to be expecting a gain but, weirdly, I actually felt like I'd lost weight.  My tummy felt flatter and less bloated than it did last week, and I just felt a bit slimmer.  I don't have scales at home so I couldn't weigh myself to check, but I definitely thought I'd lost weight.

And I had!!! I lost two pounds!!  TWO POUNDS!

It just goes to show that a couple lot of bad food choices on one or two days doesn't have to write your whole week off and send you into a downward spiral.  Four and a half days of my week were totally on it and they were obviously enough to undo the damage from the weekend and the last couple of weeks.  I also think the amount of walking and dancing I did on Saturday night played a big part in counterbalancing the naughty things.

So now I am back at my target weight, right in the middle of my target zone, and so determined to stay within that range.

The power of Slimming World is amazing.  When I was losing the weight, I did stick to it pretty strictly.  Of course, when I went out for a meal or for drinks, I enjoyed myself.  But I didn't just use my syns or have treats for the sake of it.  Now, however, I eat pretty much what I want - within moderation.  Since I've become a target member I have had an Indian a few times, I've had drunk McDonald's at least twice, Easter eggs, white bread - things I would not even think about eating before - and I've not put on a stone.

One bad meal won't make you fat, just like one good meal won't make you skinny.  It's all about striking the right balance and, at the end of the day, making sure you're happy.  Because if you're not happy, you won't enjoy what you're doing and will look for ways to sabotage.

You may also like: Confessions of a Slimming World target member


I got my smear test invite and completely freaked - an open and honest confession

Last weekend I received the 'invitation' to my first cervical cancer screening test - a smear, to you and me.  I don't like to call it an invitation, because an invitation is something you get to something fun - like a party or a wedding - not to have an invasive 'procedure' at my GP's office.

I got my letter  at the weekend.  So many thoughts ran through my head when I first opened it.  The first?  I'm not 25 yet.

"It's ok," I thought.  "I don't need to go yet, it's another six months until I'm 25 so I can just wait until then."

No, Natalie.  No.

All the stories I have written at work about the importance of a smear test for young women and those people out there campaigning so hard to get the age limit lowered to allow younger girls access to a smear, and there I was about to put it off for six months.  I was so angry at myself.

I was even thinking of excuses to get out of it.

"If I ring and book an appointment they will see I am not 25 yet so will tell me to ring back, so there's no point," I told myself.  "It must just be a mistake, I must check they have my date of birth right next time I go to the doctors."

As soon as Monday morning came around, and the mad rush to get an appointment at the doctors subsided, I rang and made my appointment for my smear test next week.  As soon as that, I was amazed!

Of course, I am nervous about it - I imagine it is going to be quite uncomfortable.  But that discomfort will be nothing compared to the repercussions that could potentially follow if I put it off and there is something not right.  It's not a risk I am willing to take, and other girls my age shouldn't either.

There are young girls out there in their early 20s fighting, begging, pleading doctors to give them a smear test because they are concerned about symptoms that they are experiencing.

So many women put off going for their smears, it's quite scary.  It's understandable, in some ways, but it's scary.  It's like putting off going to the dentist because you're scared, it's the same concept.  It's also a bit embarrassing too.  But, honestly, they've seen it thousands of times before - unless yours sings it really is no different.

A smear test can save your life.  Regular cervical screening is the best way to detect changes to the cervix before cancer develops.

Early detection and treatment can prevent cancer developing in around 75% of cases.  It also can detect cervical cancer early on, meaning treatment is more likely to be effective.

I have preached previously about the importance of going for your smear test when you have been invited - you can read that here if you like - but it really is important.  All the money that the funding that is being cut to the NHS and smear testing is still funded.  If it really wasn't that important, surely they would just cut the funding and leave us to our own devices?  No invites through the post, no reminders etc.

If you're reading this, and you know you have a cervical screening invite shoved in a drawer somewhere that you've been trying to forget about, dig it out and make the appointment.  The worst thing is that it might hurt a bit.  But, come on girls, that's better than the worst case scenario alternative, isn't it?

You may also like: How the strength of one family could save the lives of others


Another Slimming World blog for you

I have absolutely no idea how I managed it, but since I last went to Slimming World I've lost one and a half pounds.

It's been two weeks since I was weighed at group - since then Easter happened - and I've miraculously managed a weight loss.

I said in my post earlier this week that I'd struggled since getting to target.  My first week I ate loads of non-Slimming World things and gained a pound.

Then it was Easter - I ate what felt like a lot of chocolate and drank a fair bit of alcohol.  I also had an Indian and a McDonald's on two consecutive days.  That's what drinking does for ya.

I was determined this last week to pull it back a bit and, whilst only managing it for half the week, it obviously paid off.

I said in my post earlier this week that I'd been beating myself up and been really hard on myself about my chocolate "binges" which were actually not worthy of being described that at all.  I think what it is is that I have barely eaten chocolate since starting SW and, when I have, it's been measured portions to keep in my syns.  So not working out the syn value and not keeping track of it as closely has maybe made me feel a bit less in control and a bit more binge-like.

As I said, though, eating one half of a large Cadbury egg in a whole day is really not a binge.  I'd have eaten three whole large eggs in one day last Easter and still gone back for more!

The best thing is, I am not ever so slightly in the bottom half of my target.  I've got rid of that one pound gain from my first week at target and am half a pound under my target range.  That means that even if I dramatically go off the rails this week, I can still put three and a half pounds on before I leave my target range.

And I honestly can't see that happening.  My biggest gain has been two and a half pounds and that was Tom's birthday week (yep, ate more that week than over Christmas and New Year ha!)

I worked out my BMI last night after group and was over the moon to discover I now sit happily right in the middle of 'healthy weight'.

When I started Slimming World, my BMI was 26.8 - I was classed as being overweight.  To look at me, I'm sure none of my family and friends would have described me as overweight - I suppose that's why BMI isn't always the best figure to look at or stress over.

I wish I'd kept a food diary for this week now, as what I've eaten has obviously been fabulous!

Although, I'm not sure if that is totally the case.  My meals have (on the whole) all been Slimming World friendly, even during Easter week.  It's the bits in between and the alcohol accompanying that's not been so great.  I suppose it just goes to show, though, how important it is to food optimise those three main meals that we eat.

My whole mindset has altered now when it comes to food and drink.  I actually feel like I have some level of self-control, for the first time ever.

Don't get me wrong, I still love going out for meals and going out for drinks.  I would never ever go out for a meal and not order a pudding afterwards.  Especially not if it was sticky toffee pudding.  I'd hate for my life to be so revolved around counting syns that I didn't let myself enjoy food and drink.

But I am more mindful about my choices throughout the rest of the week, which then allow me to have a "cheat day" or a day off plan.

Before I reached target I had weeks where I lost four pounds and had eaten an Indian takeaway, drank prosecco, and eaten chocolate brownie.  It's all about moderation.

For now, I'm super happy where I am.  I'm learning how to maintain where I am whilst learning to enjoy all the best things in moderation.

Being at target isn't easy, not by any means, but for now I am happy working my way through it and learning each day.

You may also like: Confessions of a Slimming World target member


Prosecco prices apparently could soar if we leave the EU.

Politics is not something I ever really blog about.  There are two reasons for that:
  1. It creates too much debate and invites those who don't agree with you to comment daft things and instantly shut down your argument without even listening to your side. (I'm not saying that everyone should agree with me, that would be boring.  But at least be interested in entering into a debate not just taking the "I'm right, you're wrong" stance.)
  2. It can be a bit boring. 
But the EU referendum is something I feel that people my age should really get involved in and look into.  I have tried, and am still struggling to find something the is easy to understand and sets out each argument in a readable, comprehensive manner.  I'm thinking like a table, with the issue - e.g. immigration or trade - then the for and against arguments.  I've scoured Google and found one site which has this.  ONE!

No wonder people my age represent the age bracket with the lowest voter turnout - information is so difficult to access and understand that none of us have a clue what's going on!

I'm not going to pretend I am fully informed of all the pros and cons to leaving or staying in the EU, because I honestly am not.  I have absolutely no idea how I will vote in the referendum, as I don't feel I comprehensively understand the arguments put forward by either side.

I feel that both are guilty of scaremongering and honestly don't know which route would be better.  In true style, I constantly change my mind.

What has alarmed me most about the consequences of leaving, though, is learning that the price of wine and everyone's favourite tipple prosecco will go through the roof if we leave the EU.

You didn't honestly think I was going to write a serious political piece, did you? :)

If we left the EU, the cost of an imported bottle of wine would instantly jump by a third.  Holy hell.

That means the cheap £7.50 bottle of prosecco will be a not-so-cheap £10!!  Okay, it doesn't sound bad if you're just buying one bottle.  But it will very quickly add up.

Given that some of the most popular alcoholic beverages consumed by Brits are imported from the EU, our favourite tipples might start breaking the bank.  At least that's one way to cut binge drinking?

In fact, all trade imports would be hit.  All our existing trade deals were made via the EU at the World Trade Organisation.   Living costs would soar.  So much of what we depend on in our everyday lives is imported from the EU.  My strawberries and raspberries that I have at work today, for example, have come from Spain.

Any car bought from overseas would also apparently become 10 per cent more expensive straight away.

And what about fuel duty?!  We pay enough for petrol and diesel anyway - I dread to think what that would soar to.

Then there's exports.  More than 50 per cent of British exports go to other EU countries.  What would that mean?

Like I said before, I'm no expert in this area.  Part of my degree was in politics but whenever Europe came up, I stopped listening.  I just didn't understand, it was so confusing!  I do wish I'd paid a bit more attention now, but even then I don't think it would help me decide what was best.

There's a lot of uncertainty around what will happen if we leave.  This is the first time we've ever been given the chance to have our say on whether we are members of the EU or not.

One thing is for sure, I think a lot more could be done to better inform everyone of the pros and cons - and not just focussing on immigration - ahead of the vote in June.  Everyone thinks that leaving the EU will automatically fix immigration, but it's really not as simple as that.  There is far more to this referendum than just immigration.

Some of the leave arguments are very strong.  For example, many of the laws that affect us are made overseas.  A lot of people don't realise that.

Then there's really annoying things like the 'tampon tax'.  What a lot of people don't realise is that Britain has no control over the VAT rates applied to goods.  The power lies within the EU.  Even if we wanted to change it, we'd have no chance.

When you realise that some of the most important decisions about our country are made by politicians from other nations, who we have never voted in or out and have no say on who represents us, it is quite irritating.

I'm still on the fence (despite the news about my beloved prosecco) and probably won't know which way I'm going to vote until I step into the booth on June 23.

For now, I'll just leave this here.

Like I said, I am not fully informed about either side of the argument.  So if any of my points are slightly inaccurate, blame the people who are supposed to be convincing us to vote one way or the other for not giving us all the information we need to make an informed, educated decision :)

Chicken liver pate and red onion marmalade - completely syn free on Slimming World!!

When I saw a recipe for syn-free chicken liver pate on an Instagram page I follow I could not wait to try it!

But what pate is complete without some red onion marmalade?  So I set out to find a Slimming World friendly recipe for that, too.

I found on the SW website a recipe for chicken liver parfait and red onion marmalade, but the pate sounded quite complicated to make, had syns in and had all sorts of stuff I hadn't bought.

The red onion marmalade, on the other hand, was simple.

So here's the finished article:

I haven't actually tried it yet (it might taste disgusting!) but the tiny taste I had when I finished making it was lovely, so I'm hopeful!

Here's the recipe for the pate:


Two pots of frozen chicken livers (I think they're about 225g a pot)
One white onion, sliced
Three garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and pepper
Mixed herbs
Three tablespoons of Quark


Pan-fry together the onion, chicken livers and garlic with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and the mixed herbs
Once cooked, put in a food processor with the Quark and blitz until smooth
Check the seasoning and spoon into dishes
Chill in the fridge until serving

Here's the SW recipe for the red onion marmalade:


Four red onions, peeled, halved and thickly sliced
300ml chicken stock
Four tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
Two tablespoons of sweetener


Place the onions in a saucepan with the stock, balsamic vinegar and sweetener.
Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low and cook for 20-25 minutes until tender.
Drain in a sieve if needed and serve/chill until serving.

Enjoy!!!! :)


Everyone needs to try this SYN-FREE macaroni cheese

Macaroni cheese was one of my absolute favourite meals to eat before I started Slimming World.  My mum makes the best ever (I'm actually salivating thinking about it!)

I've really struggled to find a recipe that sounds as nice as the one mum makes, but thought I'd give this one a go from the Slimming World website and it was delicious.  It wasn't up there with mum's, but it was soooo tasty and syn-free which is even better!!

I had to tweak the recipe slightly as I didn't have the roasted pepper from the jar, but everything else I did the same.

Apart from one of the best bits about mum's macaroni cheese which I could add into this without making it naughty - bacon!  I just chopped some bacon, fried it and then mixed it in at step three when mixing everything else all together. 

It serves four (even though I could have eaten it all) so we had it re-heated for lunch the next day.

If you don't use the reduced fat cheddar as your healthy extra for the day, you'd need to add 6 syns.


  • 300g dried macaroni
  • Low calorie cooking spray
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 roasted red pepper in brine from a jar, finely chopped
  • 1 courgette, coarsely grated
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • 4 tbsp tomato purée
  • 200g low-fat natural cottage cheese
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder mixed with 1 tsp water
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 160g reduced-fat Cheddar coarsely grated
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A salad of mixed leaves and thinly sliced yellow peppers, to serve


  1. Preheat your over to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas 6. Cook the macaroni according to the packet instructions, then drain well and tip into a wide mixing bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, place a large frying pan sprayed with low cooking spray over a high heat. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper and courgette, and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes. Add to the macaroni.
  3. Put the stock, tomato purée, cottage cheese, mustard and eggs in a jug and whisk until smooth. Pour this over the macaroni mixture, then stir in three-quarters of the Cheddar. Season and toss well.
  4. Transfer to a shallow, ovenproof dish. Sprinkle over the remaining Cheddar and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until bubbling and golden. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, then serve with the salad.

Tasty syn-free stuffed peppers

This was a Slimming World recipe from the website that I tweaked slightly.  It looked so summery when I was done with it, I was well chuffed!  And it tasted beaut.


A pack of lean beef mince (5% fat)
One red onion, chopped
One white onion, chopped
One tin of chopped tomatoes
One tablespoon of tomato puree
One beef stock cube
Three cloves of garlic, chopped finely
Five large peppers, halved


Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (180 fan)
Half the peppers, ensuring not to chop the tops off (like I did at first)
Spray a frying pan with Frylight and fry the onions and garlic together
Add the beef mince and brown
Mix in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and stock cube
Spray a baking tray with Frylight and line the pepper halves on the tray
Scoop in the mixture, filling each pepper evenly
Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 30 mins (removing the foil for the last 10 mins)
Serve with whatever you fancy and enjoy!

Confessions of a Slimming World target member

I now truly understand what people meant about the hard work really beginning when you reach your target weight.

Since I hit target three weeks ago I have, pretty much everyday, gone well over my 'syn allowance'.  My first week as a target member was ridiculous - how I only put one pound on I will never know.

My second week was much better on the whole, but still contained lots of alcohol and, with it being Easter, chocolate.  Chocolate has really become my downfall since I hit my target.  Easter hasn't helped because it has been everywhereeeee.

I didn't get weighed last week, so I don't know what damage week two did.  I was determined that week three I would be better, back to the SW ways and undo the damage.  But it didn't work out too well.

I was still shovelling the chocolate in and going over my syns.  I really need to learn some self-control.

But, in between beating myself up for being a 'failure', I realised something.  And it was important.  My Easter chocolate binges were not even worthy of being called binges.  Compare them to Easter last year, or the year before, when I'd have a whole large Easter egg for breakfast and chocolate all day, everyday, until I had none left.  This year has been tame.  The most I've eaten in one day was half a large Cadbury Easter egg.  That was the most naughty stuff that passed my lips in a whole day over Easter.  That's literally nothing!

The worst night for me was last weekend, when I sat and accidentally ate three-quarters of a chocolate orange.  Even so, that's probably up there syn-wise with the chocolate egg shell.

What I realised was that all of my meals have been super SW friendly and all syn free.  I've been 110% on it at meal times, still getting plenty of those vital speeds on my plate and, when I'm at work, choosing to snack on fruit instead of chocolate.

My chocolate cravings come on a night time, after tea, when I see all the Easter eggs lined up on the table.  But, I saw a small victory yesterday, when I didn't eat any chocolate.  Not just no chocolate, I had no syns!  A totally syn-free day for the first time in over three weeks and it felt fabulous!

I didn't set out to have a syn-free day, but doing it and seeing how good I felt at bedtime had spurred me on to go for another one today.

I also think I unintentionally did an SP day (for those who don't do Slimming World it's essentially where all your meals/snacks are speed and protein, no free food) which also spurred me on a bit.  I don't fully understand SP, though, and I'm not going to worry myself about it now.  If I did do it, fabulous.  If not, it's no hardship.

I am guilty of being too hard on myself, but I think we all are.  I know I've put weight on since I last went to group, but I am back in the right headspace now to get it off as quick as I put it on.

Being a target member is hard - the temptation is there even more and you feel fantastic so can always justify giving in.  I was saying to my best friend the other night that I will still eat chocolate, and enjoy cake and biscuits and crisps.  I would hate to live a life without them, it would be so boring.  But it's getting the balance right and making sure that I don't slip back into old habits.

I don't think I will, because I am so happy how I am now.  I'm feeling so much more confident and so excited about wedding dress and bridesmaid dress shopping for mine and my best friend's weddings next year.

As I've been writing this I've been tucking into my breakfast - porridge (35g oats HEB) with skimmed milk (200ml of 350ml HEA allowance) with lots of speedy berries mixed in.  Lunch today is chicken and bacon salad, with melon and strawberries to snack on throughout the day.  Then tea is chicken supreme at my parents house.  My mum is now cooking the Slimming World recipes so going to theirs doesn't mean I come off plan now, which is fab.

As a motivation to get me back into the right Slimming World mindset, I've been trying some new recipes (which I will post separately.)

I did some lovely stuffed peppers and an amazing syn-free macaroni cheese!!!  I'm also in the process of making syn-free chicken liver pate and red onion marmalade (would have made it last night but needed my chicken livers to deforest!)

If you're feeling like you've lost your motivation in your weight loss, whether you are following Slimming World or not, don't try and force yourself to get back on it.  The more you force it, the more you'll fall.  As soon as I tell myself I can't have something, I want it ten times more.

Don't beat yourself up about your 'failures' or falling off the wagon.  Chances are, you've achieved some pretty big things without even realising.  Like choosing skimmed milk instead of semi-skimmed, or making your own chips instead of using frozen, or using Frylight instead of oil.  All those little things make a very big difference.

Keep at it and remember how far you've come, you'll find your way back onto the right path in the end.