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Like a lot of people, I feel as if I have spent my whole life trying to lose weight. Having struggled on my own for a long time, I finally decided I needed help and advice so decided to join Scottish Slimmers a couple of months ago. Scottish Slimmers, as the name suggests, are a Scottish company based in Aberdeen and hold classes throughout Scotland. They also used to have a presence in the rest of the UK where they went by the name of Weight Management. I am unsure if these classes still exist as I cannot find any reference to them either on the Scottish Slimmers website or on a general search of the internet. Classes are held weekly and last approximately 30 minutes. You have to pay a one- off enrolment fee when you join and thereafter just the weekly class fee. The standard joining fee is £15.90 but they always have offers on and you rarely have to pay this amount. Also, you can usually find vouchers in the newspapers, which if you take with you to class, enables you to join for free. The weekly class fee is £5.30 which is rather a lot, but I would advise anyone attending to buy prepaid vouchers as they usually reduce the weekly fee by at least £1. If you are a senior citizen, or spring chicken as they are known, you pay a reduced weekly fee of £4.30. At your first class you will be invited to sit through the class to see whether you want to join or not. Some people may decide it is not what they expected or just change their mind. If you do decide to join, at the end of the class you will be asked to complete a short form and then the class leader will take your measurements and weigh you. Depending on your height and age the class leader will advise you of your target weight. If you are over 45 you are allowed an extra 7 lbs - you see, age has some advantages! However, if you have a large amount to lose, you can choose not to have a target weight initially but go with small weight loss steps of 7lbs. Hopefully, this will prevent you from becoming too despondent if you have a lot to lose. The leader then sits with you and explains about the booklet you are given called the Positive Eating Plan (or PEP as it is known). They are keen to stress that you should not look on it as a diet but more of a healthy way to eat. There are two ways of following the plan. If you want the flexibility and freedom to eat what you want, obviously within reason, then they suggest you count checks. One check is the equivalent of 25 calories and the number of checks you are allowed is dependent on your current weight. For example if you weigh 12 stones you would be allowed 45 checks per day but if you weigh 10 stones your daily allowance would be 40 checks. (Men are allowed more checks than women, lucky them!) If you are not very organised or don't want to waste time counting all your checks, then you have the option of choosing a breakfast, a lunch and a main meal from the PEP. In addition to your 3 meals you are allowed a few checks for food or snacks of your choosing. Again the amount of checks is dependent on your current weight. It is important to remember that, as you lose weight, the amount of checks allowed will decrease. Every day you are also allowed bonus foods which do not need to be deducted from your daily checks. These fall into two categories namely fruit and calcium and you are given a list of suggestions to choose from. When you go to the weekly class you will be weighed and your weight gains or losses recorded in your membership card. The scales used resemble a black box and your weight is displayed on a screen that sits away from those queuing to be weighed so don't worry, no one but you and the class leader will see your weight. The class leader gives a short talk that hopefully motivates everyone to hang on in there. She will also show you some food that she has prepared, to give you inspiration to try new recipes from the PEP or the assorted recipes books that you can purchase. Scottish Slimmers also produce a quarterly magazine called Boost showing you lots of 'before and after' photographs and articles. Often included are money-off coupons for purchasing class vouchers at reduced rates, so it is worth the £2.40 price tag. For those who are unable to attend classes, or there are none where you live, you can sign up for their on-line classes. As I haven't used this option I cannot comment on it but I do wonder how it works. For instance do you have to weigh yourself which, if so, certainly wouldn't suit me. I find that the camaraderie of comparing how good/bad others have been that week definitely helps keep me motivated. So what are my overall thoughts? It can be expensive, especially if you have a lot to lose and are attending classes for a long time. However, balanced against the steady weigh loss I have experienced since joining, there is no comparison - give me the weight loss every time. You still need to put in the effort as no-one ever said losing weight was easy. However I rarely feel hungry as the recipes and suggested meals are tasty and filling. Obviously this is not for everyone, but for the moment it is working for me and will continue as long as I feel I am benefiting by attending classes. Wish me luck on getting to target!