It's almost a year since I joined Slimming World and I still struggle to find my way through the maze that is 'target'

It's almost a year since I made one of the best decisions ever and joined Slimming World, and I can't begin to describe how it has changed my life for the better.

This time last year I remember feeling so incredibly fed up with how I looked.  We'd just celebrated my birthday and I felt disgusting in everything I wanted to wear.

Tom had taken me to Harrogate for a night away and booked a table at a restaurant nearby.  I'd taken a variety of outfits to wear - dresses, skirts etc. - but felt awful in them all.  I'd bought some jeans, hoping to wear them instead, but they didn't fit me when I got back to try them on.  I was so gutted.  I ended up wearing my work trousers (which when I originally bought I needed a belt, and by then were a snug fit) and a baggy top.

On my birthday itself, we had some friends round for drinks and nibbles.  Again, I had nothing to wear that I felt nice in and opted for leggings and a really big, floaty top.

When I look at the pictures from last year's birthday I feel sad.  Not because I look horrible, I think I dressed quite well to 'flatter' my figure rather than accentuate the bad parts.  That was one thing people always said to me when I first started Slimming World - "Ooh you don't need to go there, you're not fat."  Well, I maybe didn't look fat covered up in my baggy clothes but I certainly didn't look good in more fitting things.  And I certainly didn't feel great.

I digress.

I feel sad looking at last year's pictures because I was sad.  I felt sad in myself.  I didn't feel happy or confident about my body shape and size.  I had so many gorgeous clothes which didn't fit me anymore.  And so many lovely outfits that I no longer felt comfortable wearing.

Fast forward 12 months and I am like a new person.

Last year's birthday

This year's birthday

I know it's impossible to compare these two photos properly because I am wearing a coat in one, which isn't all too flattering, but coat aside I can still see a huge difference.  (That's probably just because I am overly critical of myself..!)

I reached my target at Slimming World in March, so over seven months ago now.  While I gave it all the chat upon reaching target that I would still keep going to group, it pains me to say I haven't been since about April time.

Initially I kept going every other week but that soon fizzled out.  Now, I wonder how I ever found the time to go!  I would love to go back to group again, I miss the people there so much!  I'm pretty sure if I did go back I wouldn't recognise some of them, I see on the Facebook group some have lost tremendous amounts of weight.  I feel so proud of them all when I see the updates.

Thankfully, though, not going to group hasn't hampered my weight loss and I haven't piled back on the two and a half stone that I lost in just over five months.  Which I think is quite rare for target members that bail on group.

My weight does fluctuate from the bottom of my target range, to the top, and just out of it.  I have good weeks and bad weeks, like any normal person.  Right now, for example, I am probably out of my target range after a heavy week of alcohol and food celebrating my birthday.  But that's ok, it was my birthday.  It wouldn't have been any sort of birthday if I'd just eaten salad and fruit.

This week, I am back on it again and I am confident that the pounds will shift as quickly as I put them on.

I really struggled being at target at first.  It's such a strange psychological barrier that only other target members will understand.  It sounds so stupid saying how hard it is, surely the hard part would be shifting all the weight in the first place.  But that's not so.  Maintaining and switching your mindset is really tough.

That's why I've struggled to get my bum back to group - because I'm not motivated every week to get a good weight loss.  Some weeks I let myself go and throw caution to the wind and just eat whatever I want.  Those weeks I'd hate going to group.  Standing on the scales and seeing I'd put on half a stone or whatever.  I know that's what group is there for - nobody judges and everyone is there to help.  But I'd judge me.  I am the worst person for being tough on myself and giving myself a hard time.

I know in myself after a week of eating foods which aren't necessarily the best when I've put a bit of weight on.  My jeans start to get a bit tight and I just generally feel a bit more sluggish.  But I don't beat myself up, or let myself "fall off the wagon" because I know I do not want to go back to where I was.

Food is everything to me.  When we're celebrating anything - a birthday, good news at work, Friday... - it's with food.  A meal out, a treat meal at home, cake... Similarly, when I'm sad, I turn to chocolate and sweet things.  So when I start to think "shit, I've put on some timber the last few weeks" I automatically want to eat more crap, because I'm sad and need a pick-me-up.  Switching out of that mindset is bloody difficult.  Especially when you're the kind of person who can't eat whatever they want and not put on any weight.

But I think I am finding my way through the maze that is target.  I have learnt to stop being so hard on myself and look at how far I have come.  I was never going to stop enjoying food and drink, that would not be a life I would enjoy.  I just need to remember that everything is fine in moderation.

I can have weekends/nights where I do treat myself and maybe have an extra bit of chocolate or order dessert when out for a meal.  Denying myself those things would just make me want them even more!

I know, though, that as long as I do revert back to 'plan' everything will be ok.

I said to Tom the other day I will probably start going back to group after Christmas to make sure I am in peak condition (lol, like I've ever been that!) ready for our wedding & Soph's wedding.  Knowing I will be going back to group to face my consultant's scales will be an even more daunting thought than my wedding dress fitting!

If that doesn't stop me shovelling in the chocolate yule log then I don't know what will!

I just have to keep looking at my 'before and after' comparison, and that is what keeps me going.

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