How not to start a diet

Picture of a WeightWatchers Smart Start booklet of mix and match menu plans, to start a frugal diet plan and lose weight

Going back to basics


There’s nothing like being asked your clothes size to focus your mind on dieting.

A cheerful email popped up in my inbox at the end of last week.

After carelessly entering a competition to win a place on a half marathon, the nice lady from the Great East Run asked for my clothes size (top and bottom) so they could send me some Great Run Training Kit.

So many cheers for free clothes, but eek I’m not sure if fitness apparel comes in size huge.

Also, there’s the small matter of a work event next week with the worrying words “cocktail dress” on the invite.

Here in Hadleigh, there’s not much call for cocktail dresses on the school run or in the Co-op. I’m reluctant to shell out a fortune on a one-night-only frock, especially when I’ve got assorted elderly styles and sizes at the back of the wardrobe.

Last year, for example, I was able to choose between two contrasting looks: “funereal ocean liner” or “sparkly stuffed sausage”. Both at the cutting edge of chic, I’m sure you’ll agree.

[And for anyone on tenterhooks about my choice, I went for the black tent, and attempted to style it out with a mini top hat and ‘no photos below the neck’ policy]

This year, I was hoping to get as far as “vaguely flattering”. However, due to general indolence and greed, there’s a nasty possibility my options may be limited to “floral duvet cover”.

As I am also close to an emergency trousers situation, with my current comfy pair about to give up the ghost, it is clear that Something Must Be Done.


Fired with enthusiasm on Saturday, I dug out a booklet I was given by WeightWatchers back in (ahem) January.

Unfortunately it turns out that merely paying for WeightWatchers, and showing up at meetings for a chat, does not automatically result in weight loss. Shame, that.

However, I do know that if I actually follow it, I will indeed lose weight. Oh yes. I’m yet another statistic whose weight chart is less smooth downward slope, more heart rate monitor. Hard won descent,  followed by oops rapid regain. And repeat.

But hey, with just over a week to go, I can surely shed a few pounds.

I’ll just eat what it says in the booklet, record it all on the fancy smartphone app and magically keep to my 30 SmartPoints a day allowance (think calories but more complicated). I’ll stick to cheap and cheerful ingredients, so I won’t break the bank to avoid bursting out of my zip. Heck, I can even take lovingly styled photographs of all my delicious home-made meals. Oh yes. I will emerge smug with success, beaming with health and brimming with energy.

What could possibly go wrong?



With no time to waste, I thought I’d get started straight away. Using food already in the house had the advantage of saving both time and money.


Picture of couple of Morrisons Savers Wheat biscuits, value range equivalent of Weetabix, in a bowl with a chopped banana and skimmed milk in a measuring jug, as my first breakfast on a frugal WeightWatchers diet

Perfect cheap and cheerful WeightWatchers breakfast. #nailedit



Value range Weetabix with chopped banana and skimmed milk. 6 SmartPoints, 33p

I virtuously ate a breakfast straight from the Smart Start booklet, ignoring my husband and children scarfing down Saturday morning croissants.

Budget ingredients? Tick. Lovingly photographed? Tick. I tweeted, totted up costs and added all the foods to the WeightWatchers app. This was going to be good.


Picture of a bowl of squash and pepper soup in a bowl, with ham salad sandwich thins on a plate, as the first day of my WeightWatchers frugal weight loss diet

Virtuous straight-by-the-book budget lunch. Winning!



Home-made squash and pepper soup with ham salad sandwich thins, 4 SmartPoints, 63p

By lunch time, I was on a roll. I made soup from loads of veg hiding at the back of the fridge. I also raided yellow-stickered ingredients bought from the reduced shelves – a sandwich thin, tomatoes, little gem lettuce, ham.

I was nourishing my family with healthy but low cost vegetables. I was cutting food waste. I hardly even ate a sliver of cheese when preparing their non-slimming sandwiches. I was snacking on delicious cherry tomatoes and an apple instead.

OK, so my daughter wouldn’t eat soup and my son only tried a bit. But hey – this dieting malarkey? #Nailedit


Picture of a bowl of low-fat natural yogurt and blackberries next to a glass of gin and tonic with a slice of lemon. Slimming weight-loss friendly on the first day of my WeightWatchers diet.

That would not be iced water. That would be gin.


Low fat natural yogurt with blackberries plus gin and slimline tonic, 4 SmartPoints, £1.09

Now mid afternoon is normally a crunch time for me, when my natural inclination is to eat half the kitchen. More, if there has been child-related chaos.

But no, today I would glide through on a new wave of motivation. I carefully weighed value range low fat natural yogurt with the last of some yellow-stickered blackberries.

I was also keen to celebrate my success at slimming for oooooh almost an entire day. My evening looked up when I discovered that a measure of my “Happy Mother’s Day to me” gin, with slimline tonic, would cost a mere 2 SmartPoints.

Everyone deserves a treat, right?


Blurry and dark picture of four slices of pizza on a plate, none of which is remotely Weightwatchers diet friendly

Tricky business, food photography with a glass in one hand



Cheese, ham and olive pizza, 12.5 SmartPoints, not all that much money

Dinner was all going to be fine. OK, so pre-diet we’d been planning a home-made pizza and movie night, which isn’t exactly slimming friendly. However, I asked my husband to bring back reduced-fat cheddar and wraps when he nipped out to get his hair cut. I would craft my own WeightWatchers friendly speedy tortilla pizza, to eat alongside the pizza for the rest of the family.

The only problem as I swigged gin was that I was running little late. All that planning, cooking, tracking, tweeting, photographing and cost calculating didn’t half take some time. Sod the speedy tortilla pizza. I had plenty of SmartPoints remaining for the day. I would just snaffle a measured portion of the family pizza instead. I would exercise choice! I would control my portion sizes! It would all be great.

Just to make sure though, I skulked in the kitchen while the rest of the family got started with the DVD and pizzas, so they could eat most of it without me. Cunning eh?

Only my husband waited politely until I joined them. Damn. Plenty of pizza left.

I spent half the film laboriously entering ingredients to calculate the SmartPoints for the entire recipe, then dividing the total up by slice. End result: I could eat just over a quarter of a pizza, and stick within my daily SmartPoints allowance! Five squares for me. Sod food photography – I’d eaten one square before I remembered to take a quick snap. Sod wine matching. Gin and pizza goes well together. Yum.


Snack 2 – another slice of pizza, 2.5 SmartPoints, even less money

In fact the pizza was so nice, I could have another piece, and only use up another 2.5 SmartPoints.


Snack 3 – yet another slice of pizza, another 2.5 SmartPoints, few pennies really

Ah, another slice wouldn’t hurt, so long as I track the extra points. Would be a shame to let good pizza go to waste. But just in case, I asked my husband to move the pizza across the room from me, and encouraged the children to eat more. In a not-at-all snappy voice. Oh no.

When the film ended, I looked longingly while my husband took the leftovers to the kitchen, but manfully resisted. Instead I took the children upstairs, so we could all get ready for bed. The day had gone so well! I was crushing this dieting business! I wasn’t really hungry, it was all in my head.

Then I nipped downstairs to get my book, and ended up in front of the fridge, gobbling leftover pizza. #ohcrap

Hey ho. Guess I used up rather more of my weekly allowance of extra points than intended.

Still, tomorrow is another day. When we’re invited out for a boozy barbecue. Ah.

Maybe Monday? I will shed pounds! I will fit into the freebie training kit!

But if you live locally, and see someone jogging past, red in the face and a dressed like a funereal ocean liner – maybe I didn’t quite manage it.


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  1. 12th May 2017 / 5:03 pm

    This post is brilliant Faith! Love it. Also, I happen to think you look lovely, from the photos I’ve seen at least!

  2. sue cuthbert
    12th May 2017 / 6:25 pm

    Don’t worry ………when you get to 62 you won’t worry any more about dieting!!! Or is that just me?

    • Eloise
      27th May 2017 / 9:54 pm

      What on earth happens at 62 that stops us being concerned about the way we look or considering the health benefits of losing weight? I’m not far off so just wondering!

  3. Alice
    12th May 2017 / 8:44 pm

    This has made me laugh out loud.
    I here mini top hats have amazing slimming effect

    • Alice
      12th May 2017 / 8:44 pm

      Hear!! Not here!

  4. 13th May 2017 / 8:52 am

    Hahahaha, love this! I so recognise that day. Dieting is a never ending monumental pain in the bum

  5. 13th May 2017 / 2:38 pm

    Love this post. X

  6. sadie
    13th May 2017 / 6:45 pm

    fantastic! Brilliantly written, and very honest. Favourite photo is the slightly hazy gin filtered one!

    Good luck!

  7. 20th May 2017 / 11:09 pm

    Spluttered Bailey’s all over the laptop screen reading this. So funny! Good luck with the rest of it, and I can see how much you enjoyed writing it. x

  8. Misty
    22nd August 2017 / 10:28 am

    Yeap, this post is really funny – and it shows a real, behind the scenes look, at how difficult it is to start a diet. As they say, the diet always begins tomorrow!

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