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Alex - Interview 30

Age at interview: 14
Brief Outline: Alex, 14, says her health ' particularly her asthma ' has improved since she lost weight.

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Alex, 14, has lost weight since she joined a weight management programme' she describes herself as overweight - whereas she says she would have been in the obese category before. She says she’s not far off her target weight, which is the ideal weight for her height according to the charts.
 
Alex joined the programme because she had a problem with her weight and wanted to change her lifestyle and get healthier. She’s found the programme has helped her to make a lot of changes. Now, Alex takes part in lots of different activities, such as trampolining, cheerleading, basketball and dancing. She thinks these activities have made her feel better in herself and helped in her everyday life, with things like climbing the stairs. Alex’s asthma has also improved since she lost weight.
 
Alex believes she lost the weight by reducing her portion sizes (she says she’s learned this is the most important thing for weight loss), but she has also started replacing some of the things she eats for healthier versions. Alex finds it difficult sometimes, and says if she eats a chocolate biscuit it makes her feel really guilty, so she has to try to be more active the following day. She says she’s looking forward to the day when she can eat normal foods like her friends.
 
One of the reasons Alex wanted to lose weight was because she used to get upset about not being able to fit into the same kinds of clothes as her friends, who she says are smaller than her, although they’re not skinny. When they went shopping, she would worry about them finding out her size. Since she’s lost weight, picking clothes has gotten much easier. Since she attended the programme, Alex says she’s also found it easier to make friends at school, and is more confident and less self-conscious. She now takes part in musicals at school and enjoys going to parties more. For Alex, one of the best things about the group has been meeting new friends and sharing experiences.
 
Alex had also tried to lose weight in the past, for example, she went to WeightWatchers with her mum, but she said she found it embarrassing being there with much older women and any weight she lost, she just put back on.
 
Alex doesn’t think she could have lost weight without the help of her friends, her mum and dad and sister. Now, Alex thinks it’s not so important what you weigh, and she’s much happier with her body and accepts it when people pay her a compliment about how she looks.
 
 

Alex started put on weight at the age of ten, having been quite small before, and doesn't know why. (Animated clip).

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Did you say that you’d had a problem with your weight for quite a long time?
 
Not really. I know. I used to be, I were premature. So I was little for my age and size. And then like when I got to about 10 like I started putting weight on. And I always, like quite a lot of studies and stuff of all the universities and things like that for like your weight, because I were premature, and bones and things. So like, I don’t know, I just started putting weight on when I was like 10 years old. And then it just… I used to be able to drop my weight and one month, and then the next month I’d put it back on. And it were just weird and things. But I don’t know really. Then I just stayed the one size and then I noticed, realised that I did have a problem.
 
And do you know why you started to gain that weight when you were about 10?
 
No. Because I just used to think, “I eat the same as my mum and dad, and I eat the same as my friends. So why have I got, why am I putting weight on?” Then I come to SHINE and realised about like metabolisms and how everybody’s different, and things like that. So it’s helped to realise that.


 

 

Alex enjoys going to school because people always side with the person being bullied. (Animated...

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Because there’s like people that are quite big in my school. But our school’s like, it’s right good because like everybody’s friends with everyone. And if one person sees another person being bullied or anything, everyone will just like, we’ll all sort it out, and we’ll all be friends with the person who’s being bullied. And we’ll tell the bullies that it’s wrong and that they shouldn’t do it because everybody’s the same inside and it don’t matter. So it’s really good and I just enjoy going to school.
 
Well, that sounds like a really nice school, doesn’t it? So that, so bullying does sometimes happen at your school?
 
Yes.
 
It gets sorted out, does it?
 
Yes. And most of the time we don’t have to get teachers involved and things like that. And it’s just really good and no one like leaves anybody out, and it’s just really nice.
 

Alex used to feel insecure when she went shopping with her friends. (Animated clip).

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I just felt like upset and stuff like in clothes shops because you think, “I’m not going to fit into that,” and you can’t wear the same stuff as your friends and things like that. But now it’s just a healthier lifestyle and things like that. And now it’s changed a right lot since I started SHINE (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise). And it’s helped me gain more confidence.
 
So I’ll just ask you about some of these things. So you think you were overweight before you came?
 
Yeah.
 
And when you say ‘overweight’ what do you mean?
 
Like just not massively overweight, but like I were in the ‘obese’ category to start off with. But now I think I’ve dropped down to ‘overweight’ category. So I’ve lost quite a bit. And it’s helped me a lot with like school and things, and friendship groups and things like that.
 
And so with the, because you said you were in the obese group, and what does that mean?
 
It means like, you’ve got your underweight, and then you’ve got like average, and then obese, and then morbidly obese. And I were like overweight, but I were just like in the obese category. But I’ve kept it going and so I’ve like lost it. So I’m maintaining on ‘overweight’ now. So if I carry on I should be average for my height.
 
And so, I mean can you tell me, because I think you said, did you say that you can’t wear, you, or before, you couldn’t like get the same clothes as your friends and things like that?
 
Yes.
 
So were you a different size from your friends then?
 
Yes. My friends, they’re not skinny, but they’re not obese. So it just made me think, “Oh, I wish I could wear things like that and fit into them clothes.” And when I went shopping and stuff with my friends, I used to be like right insecure about like what I were going to pick up and think, “Should I get it?” Because I’m with them and I don’t want them to know what size I were. Things like that.
 

Now Alex has lost weight she’ enjoys choosing clothes and wearing the same as her friends.

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Because you want to be up to date with like fashion things and you want your hair all the same. But like you just think sometimes, “If I wear this it might make me look bigger,” and things like that. But just ordinary daily life things have become much easier, like picking clothes in shops and things like that. And I can now wear the same as my friends and things like that. So it’s much happier to go shopping. I used to struggle before, if I went shopping with my mum I used to get upset, or if my mum like picked something out for me and it didn’t fit me, I used to get upset saying, “I’m not having a bigger size” and “I don’t want this,” and things like that. But now it’s just much easier because I can deal with it. If it don’t fit me I just think, “If it don’t fit me. I can get a bigger size. It don’t matter.”
 

Alex has asked her family not to give her boxes of sweets for Christmas and talks about the...

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Sometimes I think, find it hard, and I just think, “Why am I doing it?” But then, just like little things like Christmas, like selection boxes, I gave them like to my cousins and things, and I just told people not to buy them me. Because I think, “If they’re there, I’m going to want to eat them.” And like if my sister’s got one, my sister will not eat it in front of me. Or like if she, like if she’s got one, I’ll say, “Oh, it don’t matter, it don’t matter. You can eat it.” But then she’ll be like, “Are you sure?” And then she’ll like offer me one and I’ll say, “No.” And she, and then it makes her feel bad with like while she’s eating it. So just like, things like that. And for Easter, like people like say, “Do you want an Easter egg?” And I’ll say, “No, I’ll just like have money. Or whatever you’re going to spend on an Easter egg, just get, put towards something else,” or something like that. And it’s just made it a lot easier.
 
Because then, just like if you think like a biscuit barrel, we used to have like a big one and there used to always be like, just like odd chocolate bars and stuff like that for when people come round, and it used to be like on the kitchen side. So I just used to think, “Oh, I right want one.” But then, like now we don’t have it, because then it’s not there. And it’s just, just like, you just think, “Oh, what can I have to…?” Like when I come in from school I’m always hungry and think, “Oh, what can I have?” And then like, we just like, my mum just buys like Special K like snack bars and things like that, that are a lot better for me than like when I used to come I used to have crisps and things like that. So it’s changed a lot and it’s helped.
 
Before like things, like my mum used to just go to the supermarket and just buy things what we liked. But now she’s more like, she watches what she buys. Like, we don’t have fizzy pop any more. And that’s, I think that’s helped a lot as well. Because you don’t think about it when it’s just fizzy pop, but when you think all the sugar in it, it’s just, and then just like, instead of buying like Walkers crisps, she’ll buy Snack-a-Jacks and healthier versions of things.
 
And so why has she started buying different things?
 
Because I think she’s realised as well that they’re not like good for you and things like that. And it helps as well at home, ‘cause my sister, she’s younger, so it like gets my sister into the habit of not eating such bad things as well.
 
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Alex was obese but now describes herself as overweight. Her aim is to go down to a weight that is healthy for her age and height.

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So you think you were overweight before you came?
 
Yeah.
 
And when you say overweight, what do you mean?
 
Like just, not massively overweight, but like I were in the obese category to start off with. But now I think I’ve dropped down to overweight category. So I’ve lost quite a bit. And it’s helped me a lot with like school and things, and friendship groups and things like that.
 
Because you said you were in the obese group, and what does that mean?
 
It means like, you’ve got your underweight, and then you’ve got like average, and then obese, and then morbidly obese. And I were, I were like overweight, but it like, just, I were just like in the obese category. But I’ve kept it going and so I’ve like lost it. So I’m maintaining on overweight now. So if I carry on I should be average for my height.
 

Alex explains how the weight management programme SHINE has helped her confidence. (Animated clip).

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Like before I never used to like get involved with any like drama things or anything like that at school. But since SHINE (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise) I’ve like tried to like get myself involved more and go to more things like musicals and things like that. And just like going to parties with my friends has become easier because, just things to wear. And I’m not like as self-conscious when, like if I wore a vest top or a dress or something I’d think…and like it’s helped a lot with my friends saying, “Oh, you look nice” and things like that. Whereas before I’d just think, if they said it I just thought, it just went in one ear and come out the other and I just thought, “They’re just making it up.” But now I actually think, “Yes, I can look nice.” And I don’t, I don’t have to put a downer on myself all the time.
 
And before what was difficult about going to parties?
 
It were just like, if it were a sleepover you just thought oh, I don’t want to get changed in front of them and they might laugh at me. But it’s something to do with friends as well, because you think if they are, they’re not really your true friends, because they should like you for who you are and not what you look like and things like that.
 
And like holidays, and if you’re on holiday you’re thinking, I don’t want to wear a bikini, or things like that. But like we go with my family quite a lot, so I’m not right fussed any more. And it’s helped me to lose weight. And like swimming, I used to think oh I don’t want to go swimming because… and like I don’t want to wear a costume and I want to wear my shorts, and things like that. But being with SHINE it’s made me think well if I can do it, it’s building my confidence and it’s just making me a better person.
 
And how do you think, because a lot of people have said that SHINE has helped them feel more confident, how do you think they do that?
 
I don’t know. It’s just because, I think it’s because when, like before I come to SHINE I were like shy and wouldn’t make new friends because of what I thought they might think of me, and just things like that. But now I just think, ‘No I’m all right. I can make friends and I’m happy.’ And I just think I can do things. I believe in myself more now.
 

When the SHINE bus came to Alex'’s school she didn't want to be weighed at first. ( Animated clip).

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And I just felt like it weren’t that good. But then SHINE (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise), the SHINE bus came to my school. And I were really worried and thinking, “Oh, I don’t want to be weighed” and, “I don’t want to go on it.” But then I went on it and I, and then I got weighed. And everyone like from the school like, “Oh, it’s all right. You don’t have to show it anybody.” Because they print you a receipt off. “You don’t have to show it anybody. You’ll be fine. We’ll all do it together. Come on.” So I went on and I just really enjoyed it, all the exercise things upstairs. And then I went home and told my mum. And they give you like a leaflet about it, and I asked my mum if I could join. And we went to see Kath and she just said, “Yes, it would be good to have you.” And so I just come and it’s just enjoyable to come.
 
 
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Without your support your child won’t be able to change. Praise them to boost their confidence.

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I’d just say to like parents that like all your child needs is support. And without you, you won’t be, your child won’t be able to do it. And you’ve got to help them as much as they’re helping themself. And just, if you don’t help them, they’ll think, “Well, nobody’s bothered,” and, “I do try but nobody sees difference.” And so if you just like say to your child, “Oh well done. You’re looking great and that, you look lovely in that outfit,” and things like that, it does boost their confidence a lot. And they’ll,  they’ll like think a lot more of you for saying that than just like ignoring them and just thinking, “Oh, they’re doing all right.”
 

Alex eats less using the portion plate that she was given at SHINE. (Animated...

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Why do you think, how have you lost it [weight]?
 
By like portion sizes. Because SHINE (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise) taught us that that was the m-, most important thing. And you could eat what you want, just in moderation. So, and they give me like a portion plate. And it, that’s helped a right, a right lot. Because you think, now if I go to my friend’s house and I don’t have it, they’ll like put so much on your, on your plate, and you think, “That’s a right lot to eat.” Whereas before I thought, “Oh, there’s not that much there,” before I used that. But now you just think, and by the time you’ve finished eating like half of it, you think, “Oh, I’m full,” because you’ve been used to the portion sizes.
 
 

Alex has noticed that everyday activities are easier and, because she sleeps better at night, she wakes up feeling more energetic and positive.

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You said that it’s really helped your health generally and your fitness and things. And I mean do you think that it’s important to be healthy?
 
Yes. Because like everyday tasks like going upstairs and just like going for a walk, taking the dog out, like things like that just seem a lot easier and don’t seem like a chore any more. It just seems like, say if my dad says, “Will you just go and get me this from my room?” “I’ll just say, “Yes,” whereas before I used to think, “Oh, I don’t want to run upstairs.” But just everyday things really have just come a lot easier and things like that. And just like, you just like, you just think, in a morning like when I used to wake up I used to think, “Oh, I’m tired. I don’t want to get up and go to school.” But now I think, now I’m just like up and awake and want to go to school all the time, and it’s just good fun.
 
So what kind of things did you want to change?
 
I wanted to be like more active and just lead a healthier life and things like that.
 
And what do you mean by a healthier life?
 
To be more ac-, to like join in more exercise and go out on more walks and things like that.
 
And were you not doing things like that before then?
 
No. I used, I like, I trampoline. And I go, still go once a week, but I’m thinking it’s not enough. So I like joined clubs after school and they set up programmes before school. So it helped quite a lot.
 
So what sort of things do you do then?
 
I cheerlead.
 
Wow.
 
Trampoline, basketball, dance, just ordinary things. But like if you keep them going like every week, you benefit from it.
 
How do you benefit?
 
You just feel better in yourself. Like you feel like you can do more things. Like before, getting to the top of the school by the stairs used to be like a st-, well, not a struggle, but I used to feel, “Oh, I’m out of breath.” But now you just think, I just think, “Oh, I’m, it’s fine. I can get up to the top of the stairs.” And just ordinary like daily life things have become a lot easier. 
 

Alex no longer needs her inhaler and in PE Health and Fitness tests she performs much better than...

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You were saying you also have asthma?
 
It’s, because, I think it’s because more exercise and things. And because I’ve lost the weight, it’s made my asthma better. And like at school in PE we do like health and fitness. And like before I used to, like the bleep test, I used to get like 4s and things like that.
 
What’s that sorry?
 
That’s the bleep test. And it’s like, you have a room and it’s measured out and you have to run from one wall to another before the beep. And then it ge-, the beep gets quicker, so you have to run quicker. And it, there’s like ten beeps in a level, and so like I used to get to like level 4. So that’s like forty times. But now I’m like, we did one last week and I got up to level 7, like level 7, so.
 
Wow.
 
It’s like improved my health as, a lot. And like I don’t, need my inhaler like. I used to have to take it everywhere because I thought, if I’m walking or anything. But now I don’t really need it that much. Because I just think, “No, I’m all right. I don’t need it.”
 
That’s good.
 
So that’s helped a lot. 
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