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Chelsea - Interview 28

Age at interview: 17
Brief Outline: Chelsea is 17 years old and a student. Over the last two years she has lost six and half stone after she joined SHINE; a program designed to help obese and overweight teenagers to lose weight. Now Chelsea works at SHINE as a volunteer sharing her experience with other young people. Ethnic background: White British.
Background: See 'brief outline'.

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Chelsea is 17 years old and studies child care full time. Over the last two years she has lost six and half stone after she joined SHINE; a program that provides advice and support to obese and overweight teenagers. Chelsea works with them as a volunteer encouraging and sharing her experience with other young people.
 
Things have not always been easy for Chelsea. When she was at school she was verbally and physically bullied. She has always suffered from stomach acidity and every time she ate she got bloated. It was this situation which prompted the bullying and in turn, the bullying became the caused of her overeating and overweight problem.
 
Her education was affected by the bullying. Chelsea recalled not wanting to go to school and missed a lot of schooling. She missed her mock exams and ended up taking GCSE’s in Maths and Art only. In total she took two out of seven GCSE’s exams.
 
She tried dieting and reducing portions but it didn’t make her lose any weight. She thinks that what was lacking was support – apart from her mother and father no one else was encouraging or advising her on what to do. Her GP gave her a food diary in an effort to help her but she thinks it wasn’t near enough but it was the GP who suggested her to join a programme called SHINE that helps overweight and obese young people who want to lose weight.
 
But before joining SHINE Chelsea had stomach surgery to try and improved her stomach acidity and the consultant told her that it would also help her to lose weight. In the beginning she lost weight because she was unable to eat properly but later she started to put the weight back on again. The acidity was worse before surgery and when she was overweight but it has now improved although she still needs to take Omeprazole to keep it under control.
 
Chelsea very much wanted to change her body shape and lifestyle but initially it wasn’t easy. When she first joined SHINE she had such a low confidence that she sat in a corner and didn’t join in at all. It took her about six weeks to start getting involved in the programme activities. Gradually she started joining in the activities and discussions.
 
Chelsea has turned her lifestyle up around and from someone who didn’t do any activity at all she now does about four days and a total of 12 hours a week. She swims, does exercises and works as a volunteer in SHINE. She thinks it is important to share her experience and support other young people. Chelsea described herself before joining the SHINE programme as a shy, withdraw teenager who lacked confidence. She herself is a bit surprised as to how much she has changed as a person. She never imagined back then that she would be speaking at conferences about her experience and encouraging other teenagers to achieve their goal.
 
Chelsea set herself a goal to go down from size 18/20 to size 12 or 14. She has exceeded her own expectations and is now size 10. She has achieved this over two years. The main changes she has made to her lifestyle were a significant reduction of portion sizes, eating more healthily and exercising regularly. Her main motivation for wanting to lose weight was the group itself; at SHINE she was with teenagers who were as she put it' ‘in the same boat at me’, who understood how each other felt and encouraged one another to succeed and work towards achieving their own set goal.
 

Chelsea talks about her experience of joining a weight management programme for young people.

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Well I’m Chelsea and I’m age seventeen now. I’ve lost six and half stone up to now. Before I lost all my weight I was nearly seventeen stone.
 
And I didn’t feel comfortable with my weight. I didn’t do any exercise at all. I didn’t … wasn’t eating the right foods in right portion sizes. I was just really overweight.
 
And then I just … I was just getting bullied all the time and nobody wanted to be with me. I was always on my own in my bedroom doing my own thing.
 
And then I found… then I just really started to pick up, went to a group called SHINE (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise) that really built up my confidence. I started to lose weight. At first when I started, it started coming off of me slowly. And I thought, “Well it’s never going to come off me”.
 
“I’m just going to lose a couple of pounds and that’s it. It’s just going to stay on me”. And then it just carried on coming off and off. And I just gradually lost it. It’s took me two years to lose the six and half stone. But it has really helped me a lot.
 
I’ve made a whole range of new friends. I’ve started doing more exercise, whereas I never used to any at all. I, now I can talk in front of people that I never used to be able to do before.
 
I used to do a lot of things that I don’t do now. I help out at certain gyms.
 
Certain swimming baths if anything needs doing I’m like there to help and things like that. I missed a couple of, like a year out of school well on and off at school …
 
Right.
 
… because of being bullied. I got pushed down concrete steps before I lost all my weight.
 
And then when I started to lose my weight, everybody was realising that I was changing and no, no one could stop me from changing who I were to like I am now. And now people on the street look at me and say, “Aren’t you changed?”
 
And I just think I’m right proud of myself. I just think well if I didn’t change my life style, then I wouldn’t have been here now. If I’d carried on the way I was going I’d have not been here now. I’d have just done something.
 
So. That’s it really.
 
So there’s been a lot of positive changes for you lately?
 
Yes there has.
 
Yes.
 
I got up from being low confidence. I… when I first started SHINE (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise) I just used, used to sit, for six weeks of the program I just sat in a corner, didn’t talk to anybody. I wouldn’t even talk to any of the friends that I’d made. I just sat in the corner.
 
And then after my six weeks, I just thought to myself, I’ve got to start getting involved otherwise it’s not going to change.
 
Right.
 
So I started talking to people, getting involved with other things. And I never used to do any activity. I never used to go the sports, the gym. I never used to do anything. I thought it would, if I just went to that that place, that program that helps you, then it would all of just come off of me. But we all had to work as, so I had to work as well as that program working for me.
 

Since she lost some weight, Chelsea says that boys no longer call her names.

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Well when I first started the programme… before I started the programme it was hard to find a boyfriend. Because they were … because of my weight problem nobody wanted to be with me. They were all ashamed to walk the streets with me. I had a lot of friends that were boys but it was just like none of … they all were ashamed to like walking, hold hands with me in street. They were all ashamed to kiss me in the street and things like that. And then when I started SHINE (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise), I go with a lad I’d called [name]. He were in the same position as me, the same boat. We’re both same age, and we’ve both lost the same amount of weight.
 
Oh right.
 
But it, but we split up now. We’ve both gone our separate ways.
 
How long were you with him?
 
I was with him for two years. And but now I’ve lost my weight it is a bit easier to find a boyfriend. I mean before I lost my weight I used to walk past lads that were nice looking and they used to say, “Move now you fat git.” “Fatty”. And call me ‘Tubsy’ and everything. But now I walk past the lads in the street that are nice and they don’t call me that, they just smile at me.
 

At first Chelsea lacked the confidence to get involved in the SHINE program, but things got better once she started talking to people.

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I got up from being low confidence. I… when I first started SHINE (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise) I just used, used to sit, for six weeks of the program I just sat in a corner, didn’t talk to anybody. I wouldn’t even talk to any of the friends that I’d made. I just sat in the corner.
 
And then after my six weeks, I just thought to myself, I’ve got to start getting involved otherwise it’s not going to change.
 
So I started talking to people, getting involved with other things. And I never used to do any activity. I never used to go the sports, the gym. I never used to do anything. I thought it would, if I just went to that that place, that program that helps you, then it would all of just come off of me. But we all had to work as, so I had to work as well as that program working for me.
 
So I had to give something to get something. So I started doing my exercise on a Tuesdays. I didn’t go to swimming for a bit because I was ashamed of who I was and how I was.
 
And then I started to go swimming. And then I started going to the gym. And now I do every activity going. I help other people who are like… share my experience of what I’ve been through with other people to help them.
 
So it’s all just been a big change for me. 
 

Chelsea describes her typical daily diet before she decided to change her lifestyle.

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So why don’t you tell me a bit about the kind of thing you were eating?
 
Well I’d get up in a morning and have, I could have a choice really. I could have beans on toast, two boiled eggs, or cereal. And I’d chose, I used to choose it every day, beans on toast. And it were like just repeating myself for my breakfast. Then I used to go to school and have a sausage roll. Then for my dinner at school I used to have chips, cheese flan and beans. Then I used to get home at three o’clock and I used to have some more chips. And then at six o’clock I used to have like two packets of crisps at once and a chocolate bar. And then before I went to bed I used to have beans on toast or a bowl of cereal. And it was like that every day. Until it got to the point where I was having two sausage rolls in a morning at school, and then one in my morning break, and one in my afternoon break.
So it were just getting worse and worse.
 
And the sorts of the things that you were eating, was that your that your choice? Were you saying, “Look this is what I want. I want beans on toast, and I want chips”?
 
It were like, I wanted to be my own person inside, but on the outside I used to do as my friends did. I used to copy what they had. What they did, I did. But on the inside I wanted to be myself. And it were just, I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed some support. To do it with me. And then it just got to point where I just needed to do something about my lifestyle.
 

It took Chelsea two years to lose six stone but now she is more confident.

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Well I’m Chelsea and I’m age seventeen now. I’ve lost six and half stone up to now. Before I lost all my weight I was nearly seventeen stone, and I didn’t feel comfortable with my weight. I didn’t do any exercise at all. I didn’t … wasn’t eating the right foods in right portion sizes. I was just really overweight. And then I just … I was just getting bullied all the time and nobody wanted to be with me. I was always on my own in my bedroom doing my own thing.
 
And then I found … then I just really started to pick up, went to a group called SHINE (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise) that really built up my confidence. I started to lose weight. At first when I started, it started coming off of me slowly. And I thought, “Well it’s never going to come off me”. “I’m just going to lose a couple of pounds and that’s it. It’s just going to stay on me”. And then it just carried on coming off and off. And I just gradually lost it. It’s took me two years to lose the six and half stone. But it has really helped me a lot.
 
I’ve made a whole range of new friends. I’ve started doing more exercise, whereas I never used to any at all. I, now I can talk in front of people that I never used to be able to do before. I used to do a lot of things that I don’t do now. I help out at certain gyms. Certain swimming baths if anything needs doing I’m like there to help and things like that.  I missed a couple of, like a year out of school well on and off at school …because of being bullied. I got pushed down concrete steps before I lost all my weight. And then when I started to lose my weight, everybody was realising that I was changing and no one could stop me from changing who I were to like I am now. And now people on the street look at me and say, “Aren’t, aren’t you changed?”
 
And I just think I’m right proud of myself. I just think well if I didn’t change my life style, then I wouldn’t have been here now. If I’d carried on the way I was going I’d have not been here now. I’d have just done something.
 

Chelsea feels a lot better about her body now but advises others to tone up while losing weight.

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And so how do you feel now about your body and your weight and that sort of thing?
 
I feel a lot better than I did. I feel a hundred times better than I did. But now I’ve just got to tone up because I’ve got a lot of loose skin.
 
You know like on my stomach it’s horrible. On my legs I can’t get like … when somebody’s like, somebody’s cuddling you, you just feel uncomfortable because you just think what I they feel my stomach now how it is.
 
What if they just look at me as if to say they’re just horrible?
 
It’s horrible the way it… I’d advise somebody to… if they’re to lose weight, to tone up as well as lose weight.
 
Not just lose weight on it’s own because once you’ve… if you don’t tone up while you’re losing weight, it will take you ages to tone up.  
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