Let’s talk terminology

Let’s talk terms.

Dictionary - a list of terms and terminology?
Dictionary – or just a list of terms and their meanings

There’s all sorts of words/terms used to describe weight loss or weight management plans/journeys.

The first few I’ve just mentioned – “weight loss” or “weight management” . Then there’s the sometimes negative word “diet”. Then there’s plan specific terms such as “Syns” or “points”.

What on earth do they all mean? Here’s my opinions on them all.

(Please remember –  as per the disclaimer –  that I have no training/qualifications in nutrition and food science, etc. These are my own “definitions” (if you can call them that)).

“Weight Loss” Vs “Weight Management”?

Lots of people talk about their “weight loss” journey, but should we be instead talking about “weight management” journey? After all the “journey” doesn’t end once you get to your target weight but then you aren’t loosing weight (hopefully) so it’s no long about “weight loss” but about maintaining at your target weight and more about “weight management”? But “management” can be more than just maintaining at target. Management could include the work gone into getting to target in the first place.

I’ll be honest – I tend to use both terms with no reason behind using one or other. I prefer the term “weight management” but it’s not the more frequently used one, so often use “weight loss” to be on the same page.

“Syns” Vs “Points”

At the end of the day they’re the same thing. Just those of us who have chosen Slimming World over (using the most obvious example) Weight Watchers use the term “Syns” over the term “Points” because that’s how Slimming World refer to them.  Weight Watchers being perhaps more well-known and using the terms “points” or pro points”.

Now, I’m an out-and-out Slimming World person (bet you didn’t guess that). I work in “Syns” – except when talking to people who have no idea about Slimming World, then I’ll talk about “points” as they can understand that without any explanation. But as I said in the first paragraph, it doesn’t matter which of the terms you use – they mean the same thing. They are nowt but the unit of measurement used by whichever organisation to measure “extras”. How those values are worked out will vary from organisation to organisation, as will what food stuffs need to counted under those terms. But at the end of the day – they’re just an arbitrary term for a unit of measurement.

Side note “Syns” Vs “Sins” (Slimming World specific) – are they bad for you?

A long time ago (well maybe 15 or so years at any rate), on a planet very like this one, Slimming World did refer to their method of counting extras as “sins” rather than the current term of “syns”. One of the reasons I heard for this move (and I have no idea how true this was) was to break the link that “sins” were bad in terms of weight management, as after all “sins” are bad in terms of the Christian Faith. And considering a lot of Slimming World groups do meet in Church Halls (oddly though none of the ones in my immediate area do) – there could be the confusion there.

For whatever reason though, Slimming World made to decision to change the term from “sins” to “syns”. The idea as I understand it is that “syn” is short for SYNergy. Foods that work in SYNergy with the rest of the plan. Syns are by no means bad for you either. The body (and the mind) needs that little treat (small chocolate bar) in order to keep us on track. Maybe you want that dollop of HP sauce on your bacon butty? Or maybe you like avocado (horrible slimy things)?

Syns (and points depending on what your plan uses) gives us the means to count and yes limit these little “extras” that we may enjoy without feeling deprived or guilty about doing so. The minute you start feeling deprived is the minute you start asking yourself “that won’t hurt”. “That won’t hurt” can quickly lead to “oh f**k, I’m just going to write today off and eat what I like”.

“Diet”

Ahh. Leaving the worst of the terms till last.  The one term that can instantly mean so much to different people and even to the same person.

What does “diet” mean? Originally it just met what food stuffs a person, group of people, community, culture, region eats on a day-to-day basis. It’s since been usurped to also mean a way of loosing weight – as in “I’m going on a diet”. This has led to it being seen in some eyes as being a negative thing. It gets seen as only being able to eat a lettuce leaf and a cube of chicken. Or drinking soups. Or starving yourself, and maybe even worse things.

If, however, you are a Slimming World member, or about to join Slimming World – listen to the new members talk and count the number of times the consultant uses the word “diet”. It will hardly show up, if it shows up at all. I’ve listened to a fair number over the years (they do like to do it to the whole group from time to time). At least the last two times (from two different consultants) – I’ve not heard the word “diet” once.

I think it’s summed up even better in the picture below though.

Diet?? What Diet?
What does the word “Diet” mean to you?

(I do not know who created the above picture, I’m certain it was not an official Head Office produced picture (it doesn’t have the right look). If you did create the picture and can prove it and want it removing or wish to be credited), please contact me).

OK, the “No weighing” and “No Counting” isn’t strictly true when you start getting into Healthy Extras and Syns, but if your meals are made up of primarily (or only) free foods (not forgetting the third of the plate being speed foods where possible) then there is definitely “No weighing” and “No Counting”.

Did I miss anything out? What other terms have you seen and want my take on? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.


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