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Duncan - Interview 04

Brief Outline: Duncan, 18, is an A-level student and has lost over 4 stone over the past year. He puts his weight loss down to a change of routine which involves exercising more and eating less. Ethnic background: White British.
Background: See 'brief outline'.

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Duncan, 18, is an A-level student and has lost over 4 stone over the past year. He puts his weight loss down to a change of routine which involves exercising more and eating less. Duncan says he was ready to start losing weight when his dad encouraged him to join WeightWatchers out of concern for his health. Although he found the change routine really difficult at first, his dad gave him a lot of support – going to the gym and WeightWatchers with him – and he soon got used to it. Duncan found WeightWatchers particularly helpful because of the motivation and support you get from the rest of the group – even though he was sometimes the only man there! Duncan has also had a lot of support from his friends.
 
In the past, Duncan has found diets difficult to stick to, especially if he’d had a busy week at school and felt like eating “rubbish”. This time, he tried different ways of dieting until he found one that worked. He also still has treats now and then to help keep him motivated.
 
Although Duncan was a rugby player, he was feeling unhappy about his size because it was slowing him down and he was also worried about the health risks his father told him about. Duncan now goes to the gym for 2 hours, 3 times a week and manages to fit this in around his schoolwork. Since he’s lost weight, he feels much fitter and has gained a lot of confidence and self-esteem. He says he’s been more outgoing and feels more comfortable talking to people and also asking questions in class. Duncan even says he’s doing better in his schoolwork, because his concentration has improved.
 
Duncan’s dad, a GP, worked out Duncan’s Body Mass Index and they used this to help set a healthy target weight for Duncan. Duncan says he’s more influenced by this than by images of men in the media – but he thinks that women are more influenced by unhealthy, super skinny images.
 
Duncan thinks there are only good things about losing weight and feels much happier for doing it. He recommends that people trying to lose weight should keep trying different things and get support from a group because it’s easier than doing it by yourself.
 
 

Duncan thinks that the 'starved' look of models in the media puts pressure on women.

Duncan thinks that the 'starved' look of models in the media puts pressure on women.

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Do you think the pressures are the same for men and women to lose weight or to be a certain weight?
 
 
There’s more pressure on women to be a certain weight because if, you know, the size zero super models and they’ve got to be as super skinny as attractive type the media image that gets put out which I don’t really believe in, you know, super skinny is too skinny. so I mean that’s the sort of pressure that is, well more on females than it is on males so, you know, because sports men tend to be more, well sports men tend to be more ideal idols for men whereas super models seems to be what women tend to sort of aim for. Sort of the sports man for men is sort of the more muscular one than skinny. Whereas you know super models are stick thin. Sort of quite boney really, sort of that ‘starved look’ really rather than the ‘healthy look’.
 

Losing weight helped Duncan'’s concentration and confidence in school.

Losing weight helped Duncan'’s concentration and confidence in school.

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I’m not really sure, it’s one of those things that I kind of explain in my head and I can sort of explain in my head but I can’t explain out loud. It’s just because there are so many emotions that you go through sort of from beginning to end and when you feel down you put on weight, and when you feel pretty good with yourself when you’ve reached the first sort of half stone, or whatever, so it’s all sort of… well it’s a general sort of increase of happiness sort of thing. It’s just, well it’s a general increase of good things, is still probably the best way I could describe it, you know, everything seems to turn out good.
 
Everything?
 
Yes pretty much it’s sort of, you know, there’s all the health, the social, the psychology, the sort of mind things that sort of go in, sort of all those reasons, sort of are cumulative and, you know, if you think, well if people think that they need to lose weight then, you know, it’s only a good thing. I mean there aren’t any bad things at all that I can think of about losing weight. I mean, well, apart from sometimes it’s a bit of a struggle but you know apart from that thing, there’s nothing wrong at all with it.
 
And you said there were social aspects?
 
Yes that sort of came with the increase in confidence. As my confidence increased I sort of spoke to more people, I was more outgoing and I made more friends, became sort of, I wouldn’t say popular but I was more popular, well sort of you know. I speak to more people than I would do if I was heavier still and I think I interact with more people now than I’ve ever done.
 
So, I don’t know, it sort of got me a lot more confidence to speak my opinion when the time comes. It’s also helped in school as I tend to ask more questions now as I feel more confident about speaking up in front of others, so sort of. And it’s helped my concentration. That I've noticed.
 
Really?
 
Yes, it’s sort of, because I’m not as heavy, so I’m not as tired all the time so I’m more awake, therefore I concentrating more in lessons.
 
So has it affected your school work, would you say?
 
I hope, yes, I think so, I mean, I’ve been, well I was told by my, I think it was my physics teacher the other week, that he’s noticed quite a bit of improvement over the last year or so. So that was another thing to help my confidence and, so it just sort of comes together really.
 

Duncan's weight fluctuated during the year that he was on a weight management programme.

Duncan's weight fluctuated during the year that he was on a weight management programme.

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Well my story sort of basically started in 2007 in about April, because that’s when I, that’s when I first started to lose weight. Started at 16 stone 13lbs, which is pretty much 17 stone and I’m now 12 stone 5, and I think I’ve pretty much maintained that for the last 2 or 3 months, since about May-ish, end of May beginning of June, so it’s a bit of a rollercoaster year ish. It sort of, it sort of went up and down and sort of stayed stable for a couple of weeks where it didn’t do anything and then it, then some weeks it came off more than others and then some weeks it would jump up, jump back up quite a bit. But got to target eventually. I mean I’ve been basically doing it because, well I‘ve been doing, going to the gym two or three times a week, I walk my dog everyday basically it’s just been a change of routine, so sort of from sort of eating quite a lot and exercising not a lot [laughs] [and sort of switching it over a little bit to exercising a lot and eating, well not really not eating a lot but not eating as much.
 
So sort of, it’s been a bit of a lesson really, sort of teaching me what’s good and bad some, yes well relatively. But yes it’s been, certainly the first month was interesting, certainly difficult but yes once I got into the routine it just sort of became second nature. And now I don’t think about it at all I just sort of go on auto pilot. So, yeah.
 
 

Duncan’'s dad helped get him started at the gym but now he’'s motivated to go on his own.

Duncan’'s dad helped get him started at the gym but now he’'s motivated to go on his own.

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How did you feel when your Dad said to you, ‘I think you need to do something’?
 
I mean initially I sort of… initially I did complain about it because it was sort of, it was like really adjusting my routine, which I’d sort of settled into. And then it was sort of like a bit of a wake-up call, sort of the first time I went to the gym, and then sort of, well yes, like I said after the first month it sort of, the ball was rolling by then so it just sort of, it started getting easier, and it sort of became more regular and it basically just kept on going from there.
 
And do you go to the gym with your Dad?
 
I did - well he doesn’t go as regular as I do - but occasionally he’ll go when I go, so, sort of like a team effort. Well at the beginning he went with me all of the time he would go with me as a sort of, just to keep me, keep me going, so he. And then, than after I’d sort of settled into that routine he would come less often, and then when I eventually sort of got to that stage where I didn’t really depend on him to motivate me, that’s when he eased off a little bit.
 

Duncan gained confidence as he lost weight.

Duncan gained confidence as he lost weight.

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Family and friends have been pretty good. I mean my friends especially well I changed schools in September, I was in a school in [town] so they sort of, they were there at the beginning of the weight loss with this campaign type thing, and then the friends from the school that I’m at now, which is the local college, have sort of seen the end of it and they’ve noticed the weight that I’ve lost, I mean they didn’t see me when I was at my heaviest so, but they’ve seen me sort of from half way and they’ve sort of kept me going.
 
You had their support?
 
Yes.
 
And was that important to you that people noticed that difference?
 
A little bit, it was sort of like the pick me up, it sort of it was like the thing that made me carry on going. The sort of “Oh they’ve noticed let’s keep, let’s keep on with this, let’s keep going” you know, when it sort of got harder and people were congratulating me on my weight loss then it sort of helped me get through. So yes it’s been nice to have friends sort of willing to compliment me when I needed it so.
 
I mean it sounds like you’ve been on quite a journey; you seemed to have gained quite a lot of different things really.
 
Yes. I mean fitness and confidence are pretty much the two that stand out so I, you know, I wasn’t particularly self confident or I wasn’t particularly outgoing, had low self esteem when I was heavier. But as I’ve lost weight, it sort of they’ve all sort of gone up, sort of like the inverse of the weight loss, sort of as the weight was going down the confidence and self esteem and the outgoingness sort of went up, so that’s it really, you know, more than just good health reasons to losing weight.
 
And how do you explain that?
 
I’m not really sure, it’s one of those things that I kind of explain in my head and I can sort of explain in my head but I can’t explain out loud. It’s just because there are so many emotions that you go through sort of from beginning to end and, you know, when you feel down when you put on weight and when you feel pretty good with yourself when you’ve reached the first sort of half stone, stone or whatever so it’s all sort of, well it’s a general sort of increase of happiness sort of thing - a general increase of good things - is still probably the best way I could describe it, you know, everything seems to turn out good.
 
Everything?
 
Yes pretty much it’s sort of, you know, there’s all the health, the social, the psychology, the sort of mind things that sort of go in, sort of all those reasons, sort of are cumulative and, you know, if you think, well if people think that they need to lose weight then, you know, it’s only a good thing, I mean there aren’t any bad things at all that I can think of about losing weight. I mean, well apart from sometimes it’s a bit of a struggle but, you know, there’s, apart from that thing, there’s nothing wrong at all with it.
 
And you said there about social aspects?
 
Yes that sort of came with the increase in confidence. As my confidence increased I sort of spoke to more people, I was more outgoing and I made more friends, became sort of - I wouldn’t say popular - but I was more popular well sort of thing, you know I speak to more people than I would do if I was heavier still, and I think I interact with more people now than I’ve ever done.
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