WeightWatchers vs Slimming World: A Game of Two Halves


Weightwatchers is weird.

That’s what Patsy Kensit should really be saying as she purrs her way through that ridiculous tv ad. As if that woman ever had problems with her weight! Being a Slimming World head, the transition to WW was not an entirely happy one. I have compiled a list of pros and cons of the WeightWatchers points counting plan.


  • No food is off limits. If you want to have a KitKat Chunky for your breakfast – happy days, work away
  • You get to eat BREAD. I have regained a taste for bread/bread products during my 14 days of WeightWatchers
  • You aren’t a slave to the stove. It is entirely possible to stick to the plan without having to cook. Between WW’s own range of ready meals, and the fact that Sainsburys and M&S carry ProPoints values on their ‘healthy range’; you’re never really stuck for a quick meal
  • Most fruit and veg are now free – they used to carry points back in the day, but now they don’t.
  • The 49 extra Weekly Points – means you can essentially eat whatever you want on one day of the week. Feels like a day off, but you’re still on plan. Or you can spread them out during the week, whatever.
  • The mobile app is fantastic. Easily navigated and quite comprehensive, it takes the guesswork out of shopping/eating out.


  • With no food being off limits, it’s a dangerous plan for someone who is experiencing food addiction. That sounds very conspiracy theorist, but I believe there’s an element of truth in it. The fact that you can have a KitKat for breakfast if you want is great – if you can stop at that. If WW had been my first choice of plan to try at 21 stone, I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t have been able to control myself! I would spend all my daily points on crap, promising myself that I’d eat only fruit and veg for the rest of the day – which would inevitably not happen.
  • While not having to cook is great, there are times when only a baked potato will do; but at 8 points for a medium baked potato, it feels like you are being penalised for wanting real food! A typical WW ready meal is anywhere between 7 and 10 points, so it feels more prudent to opt for the ready meal. A typical Slimming World baked potato feast (for me) would consist of at least two potatoes and a Heinz snap pot. This would work out at 20 points! Leaving me eight points for the rest of the day. If I added bacon into the mix, that would further erode my balance. It’s a big change having to weigh foods that you previously ate freely, and it’s a bit of a stumbling block to be honest.
  • The mobile app is great, but it doesn’t have all the values all the time. You can use the points calculator, but prepare yourself to get lots of dirty looks from fellow shoppers if you’re clogging up the aisle as you tap away on your smartphone.
  • Eating out is fine, only if you’re in a chain – ie Costa, Starbucks, Burger King, Wagamama etc. Independent cafes and delis are great if you’re doing Slimming World, as you can get yourself an ‘on plan’ meal quite easily, baked potatoes, salads, lean meats and so on all being free. With WW, I can go to a deli and get these things, but am I really going to ask the server what weight the potatoes are? Or exactly how much chicken they are putting in my tortilla wrap? Or, for that matter, what size is that wrap? It would be easier in terms of counting to go to a Poundland and load up on WW biscuits. That’s not a healthy approach to anything!

So all pros and cons considered, how have I enjoyed my (almost) two weeks of Weightwatching? It’s hard to know. Like I said at the start, it’s weird. The first week, I didn’t lose anything, so I thought I’d give it another week. Since I weighed in on Monday morning, I have lost 4.5 pounds! I weighed 12st 8.5lb yesterday morning, so I decided to change my weigh in day to Saturday as it makes more sense – I can then enjoy my Weekly Points on Saturday night with even less guilt than normal. I went out last night and used them with great gusto!

I will say though, I am experiencing quite a bit of hunger on this plan. McCooey likes to eat, and I am missing my big feeds of pasta, potatoes, beans, cooked breakfasts etc. But maybe that’s not a bad thing? Maybe I am at the stage now where portion control needs to be looked at? Who knows. All I know is that I do seem to be eating smaller meals more often. I’m not feeling entirely satisfied, but then that is allayed by being able to have some chocolate later in the evening. Though how WW work out their ProPoints values is beyond me. A 200g portion of Heinz Beans (a snap pot) is 4 ProPoints – as is a Malteser Bunny. A three egg omelette made with three large eggs equals 8 ProPoints, before you add any ham, bacon, cheese, whatever. A Pot Noodle has 7 points. See the disparity? I’m not even going to get into the issue of ready meals and their salt content etc, but I can’t ever see how food from a packet can be preferable to actual proper food.

That said, the weightloss from this week is very pleasant to see, and makes me want to continue with the plan for that reason. The weightloss. Whether or not it’s sustainable remains to be seen, but I’m enjoying my break from Slimming World – despite missing most elements of it. Maybe there’s a way to combine the two? One week of Food Optimising followed by one of Weight Watching maybe? Or if there’s a period of time coming up where you know you’re going to be out a lot, or on holiday etc, maybe you can take time off Slimming World but stay ‘on plan’ with WeightWatchers? Even if only to maintain? I’m going to give it another week and see what happens next Saturday. I may wean myself back onto SW but keep an eye on my portion sizes, and literally Watch my Weight.




Christ only knows.


Egg, beans and toast = 13 points
Ready meal = 12 points


Chicken HotPot. Does what it says on the tin. Or pot in this case.


Slimming With The Enemy


So! I’ve been threatening to do this for ages, but after yet another weekend of not being able to keep my grubby fat paws off all things synful, I decided to join WeightWatchers on Monday. Yes. WeightWatchers. I dallied with this idea back in June, but took one look at the points system and wanted to throw the laptop out the window. Counting EVERYTHING felt so foreign and scary to me, after the luxury of Slimming World’s all-you-can-eat ethos. So what’s changed?

I’m finding food to be hard work at the minute. Maybe it’s the excesses of Christmas still lingering with me, but putting down the pies is proving difficult. I haven’t seen 12st 5lb since the 22nd of December, and instead am floating anywhere between 12st 10lb and 13st 2lb. Not exactly where I want to be. I think I’m getting lazy too. I’m finding it hard to get motivated to cook the yummy dishes I used to, just because it is time consuming and it creates a lot of dishes! I feel a bit guilty saying this, because Slimming World has been so good to me and I recommend it so highly; but I’ve always said that it isn’t for the faint hearted, and you need to either have a keen interest in cooking, or be prepared to develop one. I’ve been falling off the wagon too regularly, and I’m getting disheartened with the whole thing. So there was no better time to try something completely new.

I signed up to WeightWatchers online yesterday, and am tentatively making my way around ProPoints and the daily tracker. It’s a big change, as you have to keep an eye on your portion sizes, and you can eat an awful lot of stuff that would be taboo on SW. I also find it weird how things stack up against each other points wise – example – 1 x Heinz Beans Snap Pot is four ProPoints, yet 1 x Creme Egg is five. For a chocoholic, that would be a pure no-brainer! I’m not quite sure that it encourages healthy decision making. Anyway, I’m trying not to overthink things and am just putting my faith in the plan. I weighed in yesterday at 12st fucking 13lb, so I am going to try and dodge the scales til next Monday. I will keep you updated.

I’ve always slabbered on about how the secret to losing weight is finding the plan that suits you best. That was Slimmimg World for me, but I’m a very different person than I was almost four years ago, so maybe my go-to plan has changed. Have I outgrown Slimming World? Or does the thought of ‘allowed’ sweeties just tempt me more at the minute? I’d say the latter is more likely.

Anyone else swing both ways in terms of Slimming? Are you #bi-slimming? Tell me how you do it!



P.S. Patsy Kensit losing a stone in four months is the most uninspiring weightloss success story I’ve ever heard.

Selling Out


A busy week for Big Fat Marathon, it seems like ages since I did a new post. Apologies regular readers! Anyway, needless to say, I abandoned Janathon on the 3rd and I don’t feel one bit guilty about it. It would appear that last year’s marathon training did not stoke an obsessive fire for exercise in me after all, though that was never the plan. Rather than berate myself for being a bit of a sloth; I’ve decided just to let it wash over me and know that, at some stage, the desire will return – possibly when the weather picks up a bit!

So if I didn’t spend my week sweating attractively in high viz, what was I up to? Well, getting slagged mostly. Why? For being on tv with a pair of jeans that Bernard Manning would have worn as a lounge pant. The story began last Thursday after a random tweet from Wendy Austin at Radio Ulster, which snowballed into me standing in front of a tv camera the next day; trying very hard not to swear as I talked about losing weight. It went ok! Apart from sounding VERY ‘Northern Ireland’ with echoes of culchie (Google it), it wasn’t a total shamefest. Normally I am the very person who would snigger at the cheeseyness of someone standing doing the ‘before and after fat trousers’ picture, but I figured that if it gives even one person a bit of hope that you can change your ways, it was worth it. Realistically, who’s going to remember it in a fortnights time anyway? The response so far has been great, lots of congratulations and well dones from people who only know me as a normal sized McCooey. “You must be so proud of yourself!” is also a common statement. Truth be told, not really! Don’t get me wrong, it’s great and all, but there are so many good news stories about weightloss that go unheard, I feel a bit of a fraud by sticking my chest out about it. Nine stone is fantastic, but I know people who have lost ten, twelve, thirteen stone; and that’s just at a local level! What about the Slimming World Men & Women of the Year? Collossal amounts of weight lost, without surgery! Gasp! Kinda flies in the face of the nonsense being spouted by certain bariatric surgeons on tv – Weightloss Ward anyone? That’s a rant for another day….

The one thing I would say about the piece was that I didn’t get to say HOW I lost the weight. That was a pity, as if it had been me four or five years ago watching, I’d want to know what the secret was! A few people have asked me during the week for this ‘secret’, themselves mooting suggestions as to what it could be. These myths, popularised by effervescent magazine articles and the media in general, really irk me. They are very often contradictory, misleading, and give false hope based on largely unfounded ‘research’. I’m talking about things like:

Only eat three square meals a day
Breakfast like a king, dinner like a pauper
No eating after six o clock
No carbs after three o clock
Carbs are the enemy
Potatoes are fattening
Grapefruit has negative calories, so if you eat it, it eats you and makes you thin

These annoy me, because I’ve tried them all out and I just ended up fatter and fed up! Don’t get me wrong, each myth has some truth in it, but everything in moderation etc etc. So what is my secret?

I eat about four to five meals a day -some big, some small
Sometimes I eat a big breakfast, sometimes I skip it
I eat before six o clock, after six o clock – whenever I want
I eat carbs in free amounts, all the time
Carbs are your friend
Potatoes are low fat and fricking fabulous
Grapefruit is MINGING

It’s hardly a secret. Low calorie foods are the way to go, be they lean meats, vegetables, potatoes, pasta or rice. Don’t spoil the fantasticness of them with high calorie sauces, spreads, or oils. Eat these foods when you’re hungry, regardless of what time it is. Have a little dairy each day to keep you healthy. Have a little bread or cereal each day to keep you regular! Then, have a little of what you fancy to keep you sane! Unless you have an addictive personality, then it’s only poor food choices that are making you overweight. Make better choices, see better results. For some of us, it’s not that easy, but there’s no harm in at least giving it a try. You never know, it might get you on the telly…


Slimming World Newbie’s Shopping List


So you’ve joined Slimming World. Well done for taking the biggest step! Now you know you’ve got the balls to try and lose weight, the hard work begins! The most important thing you can do to help you have a great first week is READ THE BOOKS. Read them properly, you’ve paid for them, and they contain all the information you need to start dropping weight. After my first weigh in, I read them whilst scoffing my last supper of a Chinese. It was epic. But before I went and got my takeaway, I went shopping for a few essentials to get me through the next morning as a hopeful Slimming World newbie. The next day came The Big Shop. I knew what I was going to be eating, and I knew what I needed. Off I went.

If you think that Slimming World could work for you, then you must already be familiar with home cooking on some level, or have accepted the inevitability of having to become more familiar with it than you normally would be! You don’t need to be a Nigella or a Heston, but the more you experiment the less likely you are to get fed up with the plan. So here’s a rough list of the things you will need to get your kitchen into gear:


Stock cubes – chicken, beef, and vegetable (for soups, stews and sauces)
Chopped tomatoes – own brand is fine (for curries, pastas and chilli)
Potatoes – free, and fantastic. Bake them, boil them, chip them. It’s all good.
Chilli powder – own brand is fine, mild or hot is up to you, I use both!
Garlic – fresh is best, jars of purée can have syns. Even if you think you don’t like garlic, you more than likely consume it all the time without realising it. You need it for flavour.
Light soy sauce – for stir frying
Fry Light – the most important thing!
Eggs – learn to love eggs. Great for bulking up a breakfast or for making a kick-ass omelette. Eggs are free on all plans, providing they are cooked without adding butter or oil.


All lean meat is free on Extra Easy, including bacon. Trim all fat and skin prior to cooking. If you’re buying mince, always choose extra lean. Cheaper cuts of beef/steak are still good, you just need to cook them a little longer and keep them moist. Supermarket meat isn’t all bad, but if you can find yourself a good butcher it’s usually worth it!


Only buy the things you know you like. There’s no point spending lots of money on things you’ve never tried, or know you hate, in the hope that you’ll learn to love them. Chances are you won’t, and they’ll get thrown away. If you are seriously anti-veg, don’t worry about it, as you can still do very well at this plan! You could always try a blended veg soup – a great way of getting veg into your diet without realising it! Fruit is a big winner as it can satisfy a sweety craving, especially when teamed up with Mullerlight. If you are a lover of all things vegetably, happy days! Fill your boots! The more superfree foods you eat, the speedier the losses will be. Don’t forget though that sweetcorn and parsnips are not superfree, they are merely free – but a lot better than chips.


Dried pasta – any shape or size
Rice – NOT the microwave stuff! The dry stuff that you have to cook fresh. Basmati and Thai are all good, and are a great ‘takeaway replacement’.
Quickie hot snacks – Pasta n Sauce, Pasta Pot Shots, Noodle Pot Shots, Mug Shots, Batchlors Savoury Rice (be wary of these though, most varieties are free but some have a small amount of syns. Check this before you go buying, or bring your smartphone shopping too – you can Google syn values as you shop!)
Beans – on toast, on potatoes, with breakfast – beans are a Slimming Worlders best friend


Mullerlights – all varieties are free except the Greek, cheesecake, and layers versions
Milk – go for whole, you get less to use than if you choose semi-skimmed or skimmed.
Cheese – grated is good as it goes further. Ditch the mild stuff! The stronger a cheese is, the less you’ll need to use. Laughing Cow Light triangles are fab as you don’t need to weigh.


Nimble Granary/Wholegrain – great for toast or for sandwiches, this bread keeps well and is satisfying. The white version is no longer allowed as it has less fibre.
Ryvita – a great fibre booster and handy for lunch, but if you’re used to bread I would give this a miss for a while until you get used to smaller portions of bread

Cereals – this is where you’ll need your book! 30g of cereal is a very tiny amount, especially if (like me) you have a big appetite and are used to giant bowls. You are also a wee bit limited to the more fibre rich varieties. No Coco Pops! But if you’re happy to stick with the prescribed amounts, bulk the bowl out with some fresh berries and banana, so the portion doesn’t seem so paltry.

Cereal bars – Alpen Lights are the way to go, as they have a decent variety and you can have two of them! Great as a nippy breakfast, or as a traybake replacement when you’re having coffee. They can seem expensive when put beside other brands, but they are definitely worth it. They’re also a lot cheaper than a bar of chocolate!


Most ‘diet’ drinks are free, but make sure and check the nutritional info anyway, as some products that appear healthy and diet friendly really aren’t! Coffee and teas, without added sugar, are free. Make sure and drink lots your first week, as this will help to flush all the nasties out of you!


If you are the type of person who can cope with naughty things in the house, then good for you. There are loads of low-syn treats you can keep in your cupboards, but I personally couldn’t cope. Not at first anyway. If you have a sweet tooth, it’s probably best not to keep that kind of stuff in the house at first – never underestimate how addictive chocolate is! However, you should still have a treat everyday. Use your syns! But perhaps just buy what you want each day, and consume it there and then. Great low/med syn treats include:

Cadbury Buttons – 8.5
Cadbury Curly Wurly – 6
Milky Way Crispy Rolls – 6.5
Quavers (25g bag) – 6.5
Snack a Jacks Salt&Vinegar (26g bag) – 5.5
Fun Size Twix – 5
Fun Size Maltesers – 5.5
Costa Coffee Iced Peach Tea (medio) – 4.5
Galaxy Ripple – 8.5
Kit Kat (2 finger) – 5.5
Walkers Baked Stars – 4.5
Jaffa Cakes (each) – 2.5

See? Loads of stuff, all well under the 10 syn threshold. If you have a lot of weight to lose, it’s possible that you can have up to 15 syns a day to begin with; your consultant will give you advice on this.

If you have all this stuff as part of your first shop, there’s no reason why you won’t lose weight, as long as you follow the rules of the plan of course. Have a wee think of what you’d like to eat over your first week, and make a note of it if you can. Writing stuff out seems very childish in ways, like you’re doing a study plan or something, but it helps you make sense of things in your head! It also means you’re less likely to go off track. The main rule is: EAT EAT EAT. Don’t go hungry at any stage. This is not a diet. It’s a lifestyle change! Fill up on free and superfree foods. Make sure you eat one serving of bread or cereal, and make sure you have a portion of dairy as well. Then, if you fancy it, treat yourself to some syns as a reward for having a great day of being a fully fledged Slimming Worlder! Yes, your initial shop may seem expensive, but your herbs and spices etc will last a while. Your first shop is an investment. After that, it will become second nature, and you’ll begin to enjoy forraging for the best deals on your favourite free foods! Not to mention the hunt for the elusive £1 Alpen Light Bar offer………It comes maybe once or twice a year. Make use of it when it does!

That’s all for now! Best of luck on your first week!



Scratching the Surface of Janathon


So after all my yapping back in June about how I’d never do Juneathon again, here I am doing it again – just in January instead. I figured I would appreciate the structure of it all as a way back into running, given I literally haven’t engaged in any form of exercise since November 4th! I have missed it a little, though was quite content to do nothing for a while. 2012 was just a sportsfest for me, how the hell I ever managed to source the energy for it all I’ll never know! But my epic weight gain over Christmas means that I need to employ all resources to get back to normal, so back to the sportswear I go.

Needless to say, Day One of Janathon was a physically muted affair. I was crashing badly after a weeks worth of shameless eating, which culminated in the destruction of a giant Dark Chocolate Toblerone and a quart of Christmas Spiced Fudge from Lidl (which was spectacular) ; and I knew my time would be better spent preparing meals for the next day to keep me from falling off the wagon. So I did ten sit ups and ten press ups before bed, and that was that. Today however, I got ready for the road as soon as I got in from work. A pleasant two miles, one walked, one jogged. I’m determined not to overthinkthe running I do from now on, as it’s obvious that I cannot deal with statistics rationally, so instead of Nike Plussing I used the stopwatch function on my phone. The time was fine, and not a million miles away from what I was used to during my training for New York, so I can’t complain too much. Day Two done. For motivation, I am going to start crossing off the days on my Tom Daley calendar! I know it’s wrong……. Don’t judge me. Doesn’t matter what way you swing, we can all appreciate beautiful things!