RECIPE: Slimming World Sausage Casserole

© Sarah Woodside

© Sarah Woodside

Ingredients:

Sausages of choice – I use heck chicken italia sausages 0.5 syns each –
300ml veg stock
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Punnet of button mushrooms
Punnet of chestnut mushrooms
3 large carrots
1 onion
1 tbsp sweetener
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp garlic – I use lazy garlic in vinegar –
Salt and pepper

For Mash: Potatoes, how ever much it takes to feed your family!

Method:

Prep all the veg and then put the potatoes on to boil. Meanwhile fry the onions and garlic in fry lite.

Place your sausages in the oven.

Once the onions are browned add everything else to the saucepan, let it boil then turn down to simmer for 20-25 minutes. You can come back to taste and tweak but I find it really it better left alone to work its magic.

To serve, mash your potato, top with the casserole and then sliced sausages.

You could add your sausages to the casserole, I cook mine separately so the man and I can have different sausages (he needs more calories/food in general than me.)

The only syns are the sausages you choose. Enjoy.

Finding my motivation

© Sarah Woodside

For years people told me that in order to succeed at weight loss I had to really want it and I used to get so upset and defensive, taking everyone’s comments as a personal attack. How did they know how much I wanted it? I was working hard and it felt like every comment was undermining my weight loss efforts. But in reality it is only this time around that I really understand what they truly meant.

My motivation is me. Now that may sound egotistical to some, but it’s true. I have spent years looking at other peoples weight loss and transformation pictures wishing it was me, but this time it will be. Of course I still take massive inspiration from everyone I come across, every Instagram account I stumble on and every blog I read, but the only person who can lose this weight is me.

Is it easy this time around? Of course not as I’ve said countless times before weight loss is hard work, if it was easy everyone would be the perfect weight. But this time I know I want to see the change. I want to feel comfortable in a sleeveless top more than I want a takeaway. I want to be healthy to start a family more than I want chocolate. I want to wake up feeling good about myself and not hating myself, more than I want full fat coca-cola.

Every day is difficult for me, I am 27-years-old and have spent a lifetime shovelling in food and damaging my body.  A lifetime of bad habits are hard to break, especially when you live with a man that is tall, skinny and can eat anything and everything he wants. Everyday I fight with myself to make the right choice, it’s a never ending battle, but one I am happily winning so far.

It isn’t easy sitting on the sofa next to the man, as he eats all the bad food I crave non-stop. I can smell the chocolate, practically taste the crisps and cakes and it’s safe to say I want it all! My hearing must perk up whenever he has something I want but can’t have, every chomp and slurp makes it harder. He’ll be the first to tell you that on occasion he has been at the receiving end of a torrent of abuse for chewing loudly or eating too much, he’s also been at the receiving end of, “it’s not fair, why am I fat and you’re skinny, you eat more than me,” but that’s the luck of the drawer, he can’t lose my weight for me.

Only I can motivate myself to make good choices, work hard, and push for the healthier life I so desperately want. So how do I do it?

Every day I look back at my Slimming World journey so far, looking at my progress inspires me to keep on going. I stay on plan, and when confronted with temptation I make a decision. Is this tempting item worth the guilt and my sadness when I step on the scales or shall I find an alternative and feel amazing on the scales. Nothing is more liberating than standing on those scales feeling confident and being rewarded with a loss. Of course weight loss isn’t all about the numbers on the scale, inches and non scale victories also play a massive part. But nothing compares to seeing numbers I haven’t seen in years flash up in front of me.

I am a competitive person at the best of times, I was the child who kicked the monopoly board, stormed off and slammed doors, I thrive on competition, but I don’t want to compare to others and push myself to compete, that sets me up for disappointment. I want to compete with myself so I write monthly goals.

Monthly goals allow me to push for something, to use my success so far as a tool to motivate myself to continue doing well or dare I say it, do better. It has helped me maintain the belief and  knowledge that I can do it because I already have. Mini goals may not work for everyone and if you are the type of person that makes themselves feel like a failure if you don’t meet your goals than I implore you to find something else to motivate you.

As all of you know there is no magic secret to weight loss, no matter how many wishes you make you won’t wake up ten stone lighter, but you can wake up half a pound lighter (or more!) Find the reason you are doing this, remember it and use it.

If you are slimming for a wedding think about how amazing you want to look in your dress, is that worth the family galaxy size bar of chocolate?

If you are losing weight for your children, think about them, think of how proud you are making them, think of all the good habits they are picking up from your weight loss, maybe that will stop them entering a life of yo yo dieting and sadness related to their weight, is that worth jeopardising for a takeaway and a bottle or two of wine?

I’m not saying deprive yourself but make good choices for you. Only you can lose the extra weight. If you want the wine have it, but count the syns and stay in control, if you want chocolate have it, but in moderation, do you really want the sharing bar more than a loss on weigh day?

The last thing I want is for this post to sound cruel, or even preaching, as you all know my history of weight loss and it certainly hasn’t been a smooth ride. But I want you to realise your self worth, you are worth more than binge eating because you didn’t do as well as you wanted, or stress eating because everything is on top of you and food is your comfort, you can do this. Every time I choose not too have something I shouldn’t it gets easier, I don’t feel like i’m missing out and it’s a win for my will power, this can happen for you to, you just have to believe that you can do it.

You can be your biggest motivation if only you let yourself.

RECIPE: Cheesy Chilli Wedges

© Sarah Woodside

© Sarah Woodside

Cheesy Chilli Wedges suitable for Slimming World, and syn free if using the cheese as your healthy extra allowance.

Serves 4 – Ingredients:

For the chilli:

500g 5% fat beef mince
2 Onions
2 Peppers
Button Mushrooms
1 Tin of kidney beans
1 Tin of button beans
3 tbsp Tomato puree
1 tsp chilli powder
3 tsp cumin
2 tsp finely chopped garlic (I use ‘Lazy Garlic’ in vinegar)
200ml Beef stock
1 oxo cube
Splash of lea & perrins
1 carton chopped tomatoes with herbs
Salt & Pepper

For the wedges:

Potatoes (however much to feed your family!)
Fry Lite – Olive Oil one is best for roasting
Salt & Pepper

And cheese for on top!

Method:

Brown the mince with a crumbled oxo cube, garlic and chopped onion.
Whilst that is browning, prep your wedges and parboil for 12 minutes.

Once the mince is browned add everything else give it a good stir and then turn down to simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Drain the parboiled potatoes and then transfer to a baking tray (too close together and they won’t crisp up nicely so spread them out) spray with fry lite and top with cracked salt and pepper, the pop into a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes at 200 degrees.

Once the wedges are cooked top with the chilli and cheese and place back in the oven until the cheese has melted.

Serve straight away with a side salad.

Look at that fat girl eating

Maybe I am alone in this but have you ever eaten something in public and convinced yourself that people are judging you?Taunting yourself that people are watching the ‘fat girl’ shovel in food.

For years it stopped me eating in public, more so if it was a crowded place. I couldn’t just grab something quickly from the shop and eat it walking down the road, I didn’t like sitting in restaurants in full view or near a window, and if the worst happened and I was placed near a window I had to have my back to it. I was ashamed and convinced that everyone was either watching me or laughing at me.

My first holiday away with the man was last year, we spontaneously booked a last minute trip away to Amsterdam, literally booking it then leaving a few days later. The trip was fantastic from start to finish and filled with some amazing memories, but I can’t tell you much about the Dutch food because to be honest I barely ate.

Holidays are times for creating memories, having fun, letting your hair down and relaxing, but here I was too concerned that people would be laughing at me eating. Maybe that sounds ridiculous to some people but it was a genuine fear and still to a certain extent is. I have spent years feeling so ashamed of myself, catching sight of my reflection and thinking, “how did I let myself get this big”, convinced that everyone else must look at me and think the same thing.

Over the course of the 3 day break, the man ate constantly, I however did not. The first night we grabbed a slice of pizza near the Red Light District (casual) we sat down and the entire front of the restaurant was made of glass, the streets were so busy and I felt awful. Everyone that walked past looked in and I felt all their eyes burn into me as I tried to eat my pizza.

Of course I realise now that the chances of all of them staring into the restaurant for the sole purpose of watching me eat like an animal in a zoo is unlikely and the reality is they were probably looking at the amazing pizza in the window. But that doesn’t change the way I felt that night. It shaped how I ate on the holiday and apart from breakfast in a cafe I didn’t eat unless I was in the hotel.

People often assume that overweight people stuff their faces non stop, but this wasn’t the case for me. I have always had a love hate relationship with food. I used it as a treat and as punishment, switching from binge eating to starving myself. This is no way to live. I would spend days not eating partly because I was out and didn’t want people to see me eat, only to spend those evenings surrounded by food making up for lost time and missed meals.

Something had to change. I didn’t and don’t want to be ruled by food.
I can’t avoid it, you need food to survive so something had to happen!!

Then the prospect of another holiday came up, I was a mix of emotions pure excitement, then fear all at once. I didn’t want another holiday ruled by my insecurities, ruled by food, embarrassed and feeling that I was the entertainment for everyone nearby.  So I made a change.

For the people that have followed me from the beginning you’ll know all about my on again, off again ride on the diet wagon but this time I’m in it for the long haul, this time I am determined it will be different.  I don’t want it to be like every other time I’ve told people “I’m going to do it this time, I really want it for me,” only to end up heavier then before. I got myself to this size and only I can lose the weight.

I would spend hours scrolling through Instagram looking at all the amazing transformation pictures and I always started well and with good intentions but they soon spiralled and I ended putting the weight back on again! But now I take as many pictures as I can because I know one day I will have amazing transformation pictures and I cannot wait to share them with everyone!

My relationship with food is a work in progress and since joining Slimming World I cannot say that my fear of public eating is gone, but what I can say is that it’s improved!! Not only that but with every pound I lose I feel so much healthier, literally. Seeing the numbers creep down on the scales to numbers I haven’t seen for years is an amazing feeling and hearing people say they can see I’ve lost weight will never get old (no matter how embarrassed I get!)

I can’t pin point why it seems to have clicked this time I’m just happy that it has! It isn’t without difficulty and I work hard every day to stay on track and on plan but this time it doesn’t feel like a chore it feels like the start of something great (pure cheese but true.)

 

 

 

RECIPE: Slimming World Sweet and Sour Fanta Chicken

© Sarah Woodside

© Sarah Woodside

Serves 4 – Ingredients:

Chicken Breast –  I use one per person, cut into strips or chunks
Onion – slice it fairly thick
3 peppers – cut into chunky strips
Can of zero fanta/ diet orange
A vegetable oxo cube (chicken will work too)
3 tbsp passata
1 tsp vinegar
A shake of dried chilli flakes (add more if you like spice!)
Fresh Pineapple

Method:

Cook the chicken and onions until they’ve browned, then add everything else except the pineapple.

Stir and let simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the sauce thickens up and gets a ‘sticky’ texture.

At the last minute take off the heat and stir in the pineapple and serve immediately. I DO NOT syn my pineapple as I literally throw it in and serve, if you COOK the pineapple you NEED to syn it.

RECIPE: Slimming World Campfire Stew

© Sarah Woodside

© Sarah Woodside

Serves 4 – Ingredients:

1 small gammon joint with all visible fat removed
2 chopped onions
3 chopped garlic cloves
2 tins of baked beans
mushrooms for extra speed!!
2 chopped peppers
6tbsp tomato puree/ a tin of chopped tomatoes will also work
1tbsp smoked paprika
1tsp chilli powder
A shake of chilli flakes (optional)

Method: Put it all in the slow cooker and forget about it while you go and get some body magic in!!! I cook it on low for 6-8 hours and high 4-6 hours.

Once the gammon is cooked, shred it and stir it back in. Serve with a mash of your choice and extra veg. I served with a sweet potato and butternut squash mash. The stew itself is really filling and syn free!

© Sarah Woodside

© Sarah Woodside

Why now? What’s my secret?

As you all know by now I am a converted Slimming World lover. I always knew the plan worked, having previously tried it in my teens, however as I got older the excuses just got bigger.

Two main reasons kept me from joining sooner, the first was time. I convinced myself that I didn’t have the time to go to group. A full-time student with a part time job, plus just spending time with my family and the man left not a lot of free time! But in reality this was just an excuse.

There are so many Slimming World groups out there, morning, evening, mid week, weekend, you name it there is a group nearby. I was also naive to assume there wasn’t an online option, of course there is! So if you really don’t have free time this may be the route for you.

A work in progress, size 26 dress on the left and size 20/18 on the right. © Sarah Woodside

A work in progress, size 26 dress on the left and size 20/18 on the right. © Sarah Woodside

I chose the Monday morning group near my home, firstly because it was nearby, I knew I’d be more likely to attend if it was close to my house! Secondly because one of my downfalls with eating is the weekend, having group on Monday morning is an incentive to stay on plan, I don’t want to let my hard work all week go to waste by being ‘off plan’ at the weekend. If I weighed in on a Saturday morning I know I would be more likely to have a ‘treat’!!

The second was money, I couldn’t justify the weekly fee as a poor student, even working a part time job alongside my studies I didn’t have the disposable income to pay weekly.  I still don’t have the spare money but it’s worth the weekly fee. If we can afford Sky TV then I can afford the money spent on bettering my quality of life and health!!

So after convincing myself for so long that I didn’t have time or money to attend group, I gave myself some home truths, stopped making excuses and mustered up the courage to join a group and I have not looked back since.

I joined on the 2nd May this year, and now 14 weeks later I am 3 stone 6.5 pounds lighter. There are no tricks or secrets to my weight loss, I have simply worked hard and stayed on plan.

Naturally with a start weight of nearly 22 stone I expected the weight losses to be fairly substantial at the beginning of my journey, but they have stayed that way because I am determined and motivated and I work bloody hard. Apart from a few treats for my birthday I have spent every single day since walking into my first meeting on plan. I have spent so long being unhappy in my own skin [blog post about finding my motivation coming soon] and I don’t want that any more so I am determined to work hard and see results. Every pound that comes off is a pound I never want to see again!

The benefit of Slimming World is it really is a plan that can work for anyone, you just have to find your rhythm and find what works best for you.

© Sarah Woodside

Mini Smarties 3.5 syns, Beef Puft 3.5 syns, 50g of my favourite sweets 8 syns © Sarah Woodside

Prior to joining my food choices were always 99% good during the day, the evening has always been my downfall, I could eat a perfectly healthy and balanced breakfast, lunch and dinner and then ruin the day by consuming in excess of 1500 calories on sweets, chocolate and crisps in the space of a few hours before bed.

With Slimming World I can still be that little piggy in the evening, I simply save my syns.

 

I know my sweet tooth is my downfall, some people avoid them completely, one bite of a curly wurly and they are reaching for the family size dairy milk bar, if I avoid all the naughtiness I love I simply crave it more, making me more likely to binge.

By having a little of what I fancy within my syns each day I don’t feel like i’m missing out, I can still eat the things I want but this time I am in control. I spend my syns wisely and make every syn count and this helps me stay on plan. I don’t feel the need to binge because I get to enjoy the naughty food I love (hello chocolate) and still lose weight! Since starting I have always used 15 syns and most days I use all of them, it’s worked for me so far, further on down the line I may reduce them, but for now they are there to be spent and this girl is spending them!!

Caramel Freddo 4.5 syns, Buttons 4.5 syns, Milkybar 6 syns. © Sarah Woodside

Caramel Freddo 4.5 syns, Buttons 4.5 syns, Milkybar 6 syns. © Sarah Woodside

So what do I eat? I post ALL my main meals on my Instagram page – diaryofafatenglishgirl – so if you’re on Instagram head over for visual updates and meal ideas.

Brunch, I don’t tend to eat breakfast, if I have breakfast I am starving by lunchtime, if I have a big brunch then it keeps my nice and full until dinner. My go to is poached eggs, I love them!!! With ham and spinach or baked beans and mushrooms. I always follow them with a piece of fruit.

Snacks, I snack wisely I use my hifi’s if i’m feeling stressed or emotional and want to eat my feelings other than that I snack on fruit and veg.

Dinner, I cannot stress enough, variety is the spice of life. This is a lifestyle plan, you aren’t going to eat the same seven meals in rotation for the rest of your life, get experimenting and spice it up. We have some firm favourites in this house I admit; spaghetti bolognese, cottage pie, curry, but we also try new things weekly!

I don’t cook two meals either, the man has what I have I just tweak the meal for him if I need to. For example, if I’m doing a speed day then he’ll still have potatoes and if we have mash then we mash in separate bowls so he can add as much rubbish as he feels is necessary (which is usually far too much).

Attached below are some pictures of my daily entries from my food diary to give you an idea of what I eat on an average day, like I said earlier I post all my main meals on my Instagram page. Now I have finished university I am going to build up my recipe section on my blog with my favourite Slimming World friendly meals. If you are struggling talk to others, stalk some Instagram pages and read the books. Diets aren’t fun but a lifestyle change like Slimming World doesn’t have to feel as restrictive as a diet, have fun with it and enjoy the journey. Think of why you are doing it and remind yourself of how well you’ve done so far, I have said this time and time again but weight loss is hard work so be proud of your journey.

What would you like to see next on my blog? As always let me know your thoughts in the comments.