We’ve put it off for 18 months now – but now is the time for some of us to tackle our pandemic pounds.
There aren’t many people who didn’t gain weight during the lockdown, as we sat in our homes and consoled ourselves from overeating and drinking.
But now that the restrictions are lifted and we can re-enter the world again, many people find their clothes a little too tight.
READ MORE: Man Who Lost 4th Explains Why Slimming World Isn’t Just For Women
But what to do? One way to lose weight is to join a slimming club like Slimming World. Established in 1969, it is the big hitter in the weight loss world, with thousands of groups and members and a proven track record in weight loss.
Traditionally, January is the peak period for new members. But this year, it looks like September and October will be their busiest months as we return from our summer vacation and find that we now have the weight of the holidays on top of our lockdown pounds.
Although more of us are overweight than ever before, weight loss clubs still have an image problem. Programs like Fat Friends and Little Britain describe them as full of miserable and extremely obese people – being lectured and laughed at by an arrogant arrogant leader.
But how accurate is this? WorcestershireLive accompanied a group to Lickey End, Bromsgrove, to lift the veil and see what is really going on in a classroom and how that has changed due to the pandemic.
It is run by 48-year-old mum-of-two Paula Hooper who served as a Slimming World consultant for 18 years after losing three stones with the company itself.
The group meets every Wednesday at 9:30 am at the Lickey End Social Club in Alcester Road. Paula also hosts groups on Mondays and Tuesdays in Rubery and Northfield.
What happened to classes during the lockdown?
Paula said: “We had to stop all the groups in person and go completely online.
“I set up Zoom sessions for each group and members were asked to weigh themselves at home, send in their weight and it would be recorded as usual.
“It was tough, but we got there and it kept the members going on their weight loss journey.”
Are the groups operational again?
Yes, all groups are open and welcome members again without the need to book – just show up.
Where do the lessons take place?
Sessions take place in places such as church halls, schools and community centers all over the West Midlands.
What happens when you walk through the door for the first time?
You can either call the consultant first and tell them you want to join us, or you can just introduce yourself.
Paula said: “We know how intimidating it is to come for the first time, so we have someone at the door to greet you.
“You will be asked your name, offered a hot or cold drink, and then you will be made to feel very welcome.”
Beginners then receive a personal introduction from Paula, which gives them all the documentation, explains how it works and answers all questions.
You will then be weighed and decide how much weight you want to lose. After that, you can either leave or stay for the consultant’s interview.
What happens in a group?
After the weigh-in, the consultant gives a lecture – officially known as image therapy – lasting 40 minutes where he will give advice on healthy eating and weight loss.
Each week there is a theme. During the summer it is quite often how to avoid gaining weight on vacation, in December and January it will be Christmas traps.
The consultant will then answer members’ questions and also discuss the group’s weight loss, going around and praising (or sympathizing) with individual members.
If you don’t want your weight discussed at this session, you can tell the consultant and he won’t mention you.
During my visit to Lickey End there was a detailed discussion about bread, after several members said it was the downfall of their diet. Group members offered solutions and tips on how to eat bread without gaining too much weight.
How much does it cost?
There is a membership fee of £ 10.95 and you also pay a weekly course fee of £ 5.95 (£ 5.65 for over 60s). There are also regular countdown offers where you can buy in bulk. It is currently £ 34.75 which includes your registration fee and six courses.
You can pay by card or cash.
How am I weighed?
The first half hour of the course is devoted to weighing.
You go to one of the weigh-in counters, take your shoes off, step on the scale and – on your first date – your weight appears in front of you.
The person weighing you does not announce it, but simply notes it on your card. It’s totally confidential.
In subsequent meetings, you are not told your weight, you are simply told how much you have gained, lost or stayed the same.
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How many people will be there?
Depending on the group, this may vary. But on Wednesday at 9:30 am at Lickey End there were about 50 people.
I work in shifts, can I still go in a group?
Yes, once you have signed up for a group you can go and get weighed in any group in the UK.
All you will need is your season ticket, so even if you are on holiday in Devon you can still get weighed down!
Will I be pressured to lose a lot of weight?
Paula said: “I discuss with all new members how much weight they would like to lose. I leave it up to them entirely – if they want to lose a lot, that’s fine, but if they only want to lose, let’s say a half. -stone, that’s good too.
“As their Slimming World journey continues, this goal can be adjusted by them, depending on how they feel.”
Will I have to wear a mask?
This is an entirely personal choice – some people wear face coverings and some don’t. Whatever you choose to do, no one will judge you.
Should I be doubly vaccinated?
No, the group does not ask for any proof of vaccination.
Paula said: “We leave it entirely to the members whether they are vaccinated and I am not asking them for those details.”
What if I join and then we enter another lockdown?
In the last two lockdowns, Slimming World meetings have continued through Zoom and that will be if there are any restrictions later in the year.
Paula said: “We have managed to keep going through the blockages by going virtual and we will do it again if we have to – we are all set and ready to do it.
“But we’re going to go on and have face-to-face meetings until we’re told we can’t.”
How safe is it in these days of Covid?
Paula said: “We are strict on cleanliness and hygiene during Covid.
“There is hand sanitizer at the entrance, everything is cleaned and all chairs and tables are socially distanced.”
How can I register?
For more details on Slimming World, click here.
To find out more about Paula Hooper’s groups, give her a call or text or WhatsApp on 07900 997303, or contact her on Facebook.
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