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Naz - Interview 35

Age at interview: 17
Brief Outline: Three months ago Naz joined a community-based weight management programme; SHINE. She says that this programme has provided her with important information and knowledge about healthy eating and healthy lifestyle. She has started to lose weight and feels more confident. She is going to study fashion design and photography. Ethnic background: Pakistani.
Background: See 'brief outline'.

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Three months ago Naz joined a community-based weight management programme SHINE. She says that this programme has educated her about portion size and the need to exercise regularly. She has started to lose weight and feels more confident. Her goal is to drop several dress sizes.
 
Her biggest motivation for wanting to lose weight is health. Naz describes herself as bigger than her siblings but says that her parents are overweight and there is a history of diabetes in her family. Naz has eczema due to nickel intolerance and has been told that it may improve if she loses weight. Moreover, doctors suspect that there may be a problem with one of her kidneys but she needs to lose weight before they can scan her again and able to do an accurate diagnosis. She was sent to see a dietician but her experience was not a positive one. Naz didn’t lose any weight then because she feels she didn’t get the help she needed namely a tailored made programme. All she got were leaflets, contact addresses and general suggestions but no one was interested to find out if she understood the information and advice given. Also she got quite infrequent appointments; every six or two months. Naz found the whole experience frustrating and deliberately started missing her appointments. Her advice to health professionals is to give education but in a manner that is possible for young people to understand and not to send them home with leaflets and booklets without much explanation.
 
Naz experience with the SHINE programme has been a more positive and supportive one and she attributes it to the facilitators’ ability to educate young people about healthy living and other subjects in a way that is easy to understand. She has already completed the induction course and after the summer will start the maintenance one. Since starting the programme Naz’s eating habits have changed' she has reduced her food portions, changed fizzy drink for water or juice and stopped skipping lunch. She also understands the importance of regular exercise. Both of Naz’s sisters are also losing weight and they do trampolining together. Naz has difficulties walking because the eczema affects her feet. As a Muslin girl she prefers to join women’s only exercise session but has found it hard to find such a facility apart from swimming.
 
Since starting the programme she feels more positive about her body image and has more confidence in her ability to lose weight but feels that you need the support of those around you in order to succeed.
 
Another motivation for wanting to lose weight and to drop a few clothes sizes is to be able to go shopping for clothes with her sisters.
 

Doctors suspect that Naz has kidney disease but she needs to lose weight before a proper diagnosis can be made. She feels let down by the lack of support from the hospital.

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Naz: My kidney, they said to me I might have an extra tube in it, so we have to scan to see that, and my scan wasn’t coming clean, clear because I had fat there, so she referred me to the dietician to say to her to help me lose weight, but all the dietician would do would basically, she would have a pen in her hand and go in and out, in and out, and just to see what I am doing and how was I losing weight and stuff. She didn’t refer me to anything at all, she just gave me a leaflet, here’s numbers, go and ring home, find out. And then she’ll go, “Come back in three months time and I want you to lose weight.” How can you do it like that though?
 
And then I ended up with my stomach pains, and then they found out it might be my kidney problem, and then its been in and out again, because I used to go in for the kidney, then come back out, go to the dietician, come back kidney. It used to just be like that. And then I had two year, sort of three, four year break and I thought thank God and then I’m back in for my eczema now.
 
What about your kidney?
 
Naz: That’s still there, because unless I don’t lose weight it’s still going to be there. Because that’s the only problem, unless I lose weight my scan is going to come clear for me to see that.
 
So you need to lose weight?
 
Naz: Yes.
 
In order for them to do the scan?

Naz: Yes, but the thing is, because this has got me thinking though, because if they were really worried about me, the hospital, if it was really bad, they would have helped me to lose weight properly, not just send me to a dietician and then say two months, three months and stuff. No. No. If it was a really bad issue, you know, the kidney was getting really bad and stuff, they would have sent me…

Anaan: But they don’t know, because they can’t see it.

Naz: Yes, but if they were worried about my overweight problem causing it not to be, you know, for the scan to not come clear they would have helped me, but they didn’t did they?
 
Anaan' They probably thought they were helping you.
 
Naz: Oh yes. Come back in two months time. Come back in three…
 
Anaan: I know that they probably thought, you know, sending her to the dietician is the right step.
 
Naz: Because like they never…
 
So what do you think they should have done?
 
Naz: They should have helped me in a bit better way.
 
How?
 
Naz: You know, come and support me a bit more, not you know, send me home for two months. That’s just taking the mick. Go home for two months and eat less and stuff. I think it should have been every week or something. See how I’m going throughout the week. Not two months. Because that was just taking the mick. Because I remember my first ever appointment was six months. They go to me “Come back in six months. Because we’re going to see you then.”
 

Naz and Anaan talk about the health problems affecting their immediate families and the importance of losing weight to improve their health.

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Do they have any health problems?
 
Naz' Me Dad’s had a by pass operation two years ago. He had I think ten years ago first, but this is another one what he had two years ago. And Mum’s got migraine really, that’s it. But they both got diabetes which is the main issue for me not to get it as well. Because my Gran’s even got diabetes. So the three adults in the house have got diabetes. I might be the next one in the house getting it. That’s one thing that I do not want at all. Because none of my brothers and sisters had got it so far, its just Mother, Dad and Gran.
 
Anaan' Yes. They do all have weigh issues, no question about that they do, my Mum does, my Dad did. My Dad when he died, he died, he had so many things, there was like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease. He had the lot. Everything but diabetes I think. I mean, and that was one thing that also made me want to join, partly because seeing the way he, you know, all the medication and things that he had to take. Really, really, sort of like terrified me against having to live my last few years of life like that. Its, its quite frightening when you’ve seen it happen in someone else, you don’t really want that for yourself. 
 
So one of your concerns is the health?
 
Anaan' Yes, I really… I don’t want anything.
 
Naz' I think that’s the main one.
 
The health issue’s the main one though. Because when you come to name, name tells you everything about it, what you can end up with if you don’t lose weight and stuff. High blood pressure, breathing can stop at night time.
 

Naz and Anaan admire the singer Beth Ditto because she’s confident and funny and makes being big...

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Naz' On the news the other day, they say there’s a new singer, who’s made it think….
 
Anaan' Beth Ditto, oh she’s fantastic. I love Beth Ditto because she’s so funny.
 
Naz' Exactly. You know what she’s actually made fat look actually normal, obesity. And they are saying now that’s not good what she’s done. Being fat is not a good thing. And for her to go on the news, I mean with her band and stuff being fat. Showing, that, you know, she’s fat and she’s a celebrity and stuff now. Its, for her it will be good, but for the rest of them it isn’t good. It is not a good thing being fat, the way she’s supporting it.
 
Anaan' I mean she is big, she’s like fifteen stone or something. She’s, she’s massive. But its not about her being big that makes people attract her so much. It’s that fact that seems so confident with it and she seems so comfortable in being the size she is, the way she is. She just doesn’t seem to care. And that, I think, is that people latch on to the fact that she’s got this brazen ‘I don’t care’ attitude. Whereas all the skinnier celebrities or whatever, always seem like, you know, they exercise too much, always dieting, they’re always not eating something, they always look really, some of the look really ill sometimes. But her, she just seems to not care and that’s the bit that appeals. The fact that she doesn’t care and I think for people to, you know, to say that, oh she’s a bigger role model and it’s not good blah blah blah. I think that’s really narrow minded and negative, because oh yeah, she might have weight issues, but at the end of the day that’s her business. Do you know what I mean? It’s not for other people to comment on. And I don’t know, I find that really horrible. That other people, I don’t care if they are medical professionals or whatever. At the end of the day if she has weight issues, that’s for her to talk about, or for her deal with. Not for some moron in the news to point it out in a newspaper article and say she’s not good, because she’s making bigger people think it’s okay to be bigger. I mean what’s his problem, it’s nothing to do with him.
 

Naz worked hard in some lessons and ignored the nasty comments.

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Naz' And then the thing was I got into education and stuff, and I got on with some of my subjects. I was really good in them and because I used to pay more attention than them I used to be known as teacher’s pet again, or the boffin of the class. And they used to just annoy me, because I used to pay more attention to them.
 
And then there was another girl that was fat as well, but they never used to say anything to her, because they knew she’d actually go to the head teacher and do that, but with me, they knew I would just stay there quiet and just take it in or whatever, forget it, ignore it. So I never used to just care about what they used to say, it was in one ear, out the other one then. Because I used to think I’m at school for education not to get teased, so just pay attention to the education that’s it.
 

Naz and Anaan hit back at bullies.

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Naz' Well actually I beat a boy up for that in school, once though, you know for wearing a wearing a scarf you say, because I was fat and all. I was wearing a head scarf as well. So that boy got on my nerves, he just pulled my scarf off one day whilst I was just like walking past. So I actually turned round and started beating him up, but it made me feel better afterwards because I beat him up myself, and number two all the class was with me, and so was my brother actually, he was all cheering on for me, “Yes go for him. Hit him. Hit him.” So at the end of it, I thought I can actually beat them up, there’s no point in me crying at the end, because there is another way for me to solve it, just by beating them up or saying something back to them which I did.
 
Anann' I think that was why I became aggressive because crying is something, personally for me, crying is always the very last option, it’s kind of like, I don’t know for other people it might be a release for them, but for me, it just makes me feel pathetic. And just..it makes me feel revolting really, I really don’t like crying. I’m not a crying kind of person, and it’s something that for me to cry I look upon in disgust. So for it, it was rather I just beat the hell out of them.
 
And that’s just what I used to do, just beat the hell out of them. And I never used to get into trouble for it, because the teachers always used to understand that they’d pushed me to sort of point where I couldn’t do anything but hit them, for me anyway. And I mean I did used to tell my Mum about it a bit. And Mum used to be like, “Oh tell your teacher.” And I’d tell me teacher, and then they’d still say it, and then right, but I told the teacher and nothing happened, and my Mum would always say, “If you tell the teacher, and nothing happens, and they say it again, then you can hit them. Because you tried, it didn’t work. So just deal with it however you want.” 
 

Naz and Anaan discuss the importance of setting realistic targets when trying to lose weight and...

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Naz' You have to set a goals that are possible.
 
Anaan' Yes positive goals.
 
Naz' Positive goals.
 
Anaan' That can happen.
 
Like? What are your goals?
 
Naz' Like now was drop a dress size by the end of, well drop a dress size by August and that is possible.
 
Anaan' Because that’s three months.
 
Naz' That’s three months. Was it you that said, you said eight pounds in how many weeks was it?
 
Anaan' 12. But that was possible, because for an adult, a healthy weight loss is a pound a week, so that was because eight pounds in twelve weeks is achievable.
 
Naz' Its like losing two stone in four weeks is impossible or…
 
Anaan' Yes.
 
Naz' It takes about a week is it, or a week and a half to lose a pound? So if you think about it takes you just 3lb to lose a month. That is possible but two stones in two months is not possible at all.
 
Anaan' To be honest, what I found with SHINE and what I learnt and everything was that what I was eating actually wasn’t that bad. My diet itself was actually quite healthy. Because I was having a bit of everything. I did usually have my eight glasses of water a day. I did usually have three to five portions of fruit and veg a day, and you know, I was doing all those things. It wasn’t what I was eating that was bad it was the fact that I’m just lazy. I don’t do enough exercise. That really was mostly my problem.
 
So SHINE, it has made me more aware of that, and its made me want to do more exercise, by, they help me find out a way that I could help get, like free sessions, so do different physical activities, through like the NHS and they also like made us more aware of different places you could go to get these kind, the help on these of things. And like how much physical activity you would, you need, you know, to balance out what you’re eating. So, for example, the more you ate, the more you need, exercise you needed to do. Or like if you eat a certain amount of calories a day, you’d need to do a certain amount of calories to burn some of that off. Whereas if you eat the same, you’re going to stay the same, but if you did less activities during the day than what you’re eating you are going to put more weight on. So it was just things like that that made me more aware that I did need to do more exercise rather than just sit around and just eat food.
 

Naz and Anaan say it can be a struggle to find women only exercise classes.

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So the first step is to accept that you have a problem?
 
Anaan' Yes.
 
Or that you want to do something about it?
 
Anaan' Yes, I think that is really important. And then I think also people... information as well, getting information to help you change and accessibility, because sometimes you might want to change, like you might want to do more, I don’t know sports or whatever, or you might want to change your diet, but you know, it might be impossible for you. Right. Because we’re both muslims, so for us…
 
Naz' Ramadan is going to be hard for us innit?
 
Anaan' But I mean we prefer like to do ‘women only’ sessions for exercise and things. But sometimes you struggle to find them in the sports you want to do. Like I really wanted to do kick boxing, but I couldn’t find a women’s only class to do kick boxing.
 
Naz' I can help you there.
 
Anaan' And then there’s just things, so that is a big issue, accessibility. And also information I think. You need both those things. 
 

Tell family and friends that you are trying to lose weight; you need their support and...

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Anaan' But I think its also you need support from the people around you, because you know, if nobody else is helping you do these things, like you’re trying to eat healthier food, I hate to use the word diet, no offence. But I…
 
Naz' That’s what you, that’s what [name] said, you can’t say the word dieting in SHINE. We’re not dieting, we’re healthy eating.
 
Anaan' Yes. So if you are trying to eat healthier but then everyone else in your house is eating McVitie’s chocolate biscuits or whatever, that’s what makes it harder for you, because you’re going to have, you’re going to want to have one of them, but then you might be like, oh no, I don’t want to eat that. Well you can eat it, you just don’t eat loads of it, have one rather than 20.
 
But it makes it harder. Doesn’t it?
 
Anaan' Yes. So, I think, you know, telling people as well, because, you know, its embarrassing, you know, because sometimes people are saying ‘oh what do you want to diet for’. What are you doing this for. You don’t need to, you’re not huge, whatever, when really you’ve ….
 
Naz' Deep down they are saying it.
 
Anaan' If you want to do I think they just need to be okay with that and accept it. You know, I don’t know, I think, support is one of those things that you do really need.
 
Support from?
 
Anaan' Family, from friends.
 

Think about our feelings and don’'t patronise us.

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Anaan' Don’t be condescending. Don’t… the people you’re talking to…
 
Naz' Professionals.
 
Anaan' … you’re there to help them, not look down at them. And don’t view them as through a microscope. You know, like they are your subject for some, I don’t know, seminar or whatever, they’re real people. Yes, they might be bigger, but they still have feelings, so you need to be respectful of that, and don’t through information at them.
 
Naz' Thank you.
 
Anaan' Do you know what I mean. The people you’re talking to aren’t medical professionals themselves. They are not going to understand something that has all this, you know, medical jargon in it. You need to understand that the people you are talking to, you need to be basically more on their level. Because sometimes I found with doctors is, sometimes they’ve got to the point where they’re almost a little bit inhuman. Not in a bad way, but just they don’t relate to the people they’re talking to any more. I don’t know whether its through years and years of being a doctor but its sort of like they’re not as personal as they were before. So when you’re talking to them, you sometimes feel that they’re not really listening to what you’re saying, you’re just another person walking through the door with another issue and another problem, that they have to get sorted and I think that is really off putting sometimes.
 
And you?
 
Naz' As she said, do not chuck information in people’s faces because I don’t know how to take it in myself, the way they just chucked it in my face. Take time to listen to them properly. What they want to say and discuss it properly as well.
 
Anaan' Yes, listen to what they have to say is really important for a start.
 
Naz' Break, break the information down, bit by bit basically. That's the main thing.

 

 
Anaan' But don’t think you already know what they want, because sometimes you might think you know what they’re asking your help for, but really you don’t. That’s the kind of thing. Just listen. That’s the big, big one, listen to what they’re saying, and really listen, not pretend to listen, or act like you’re listening or anything else. Really listen to what they have to say, and don’t look down on them. 
 

Naz and Anaan explain why they joined the SHINE programme.

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Anaan' Basically we join SHINE (Self Help Independence, Nutrition and Exercise) because one of the girls across the road from [friend’s name], who’s also on the project, she heard about it before we did. And  her Mum came to us and said, “Oh there’s this  weight thing going on at [name] School and  would you like to take part. They do activities. And they teach you about like how to cook healthy meals and things like that.  And I have to admit it was like the physical activity side that really pushed me into doing it. Mostly because I did know quite a bit about healthy eating, and for me personally that is not the aspect that I struggle with. Its more, actually, you know, the physical exercise bit that I find harder to do. So the fact that it would be a guarantee of every week at least doing some form of physical exercise, was really what sort of pushed me into doing it. And, basically that’s how I got into SHINE.
 
Okay and you?
 
Naz' With me, though, because  half of my family, on my Dad’s side, they’ve all got problems with the heart basically and basically another thing is that my Dad’s side of the family, half of them are really fat, really fat, and  I got really worried because I looked in the mirror and I could say to myself that I really look ugly compared to my sisters. Many of them have thought I’m older than my sister, but I’m the youngest and I actually went to the doctor to say that I want some tablets to help me lose weight. But then the doctor said for me to, “There’s a group called SHINE.” But I had heard of SHINE a couple of years ago, but I could never find it, and the doctor referred to SHINE, which actually has been really good help for me.
 

Naz and Anaan found that the SHINE programme helped them deal with aggression and helps them feel...

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Naz' Every week we had a target.
 
Anaan' Not just that, but it helped on things like body image, we did stuff on body image. We did stuff on confidence and self esteem. And we did stuff on like how to deal with aggression which I found really useful.
 
Naz' That was true.
 
Anaan' Things like that. And in fact that aggressive stuff we did on aggression actually has helped me calm down a lot more, like at home, because at home I used to find that I’d always get really, I was very quick to snap. And it helped me deal with that a lot more, so now I’m a lot more calmer at home. And I think that was a really good thing, because that helped me to lose weight as well, because I was being calm and I wasn’t getting stressed, because like you say, that you eat more when you’re stressed. I don’t. I don’t eat anything at all. I go off food.
 
That also happens to me when I’m stressed. I eat more when I’m bored.
 
And I think that’s what, it helped me calm down in that I was still eating healthily. I wasn’t not eating and I was just eating okay. Because I was calm, I wasn’t angry at anything. And I think I found that really useful. 
 
 
 

Anaan and Naz felt more confident and have both lost weight since joining the SHINE programme.

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So how do you feel about your appearance now?
 
Anaan' I think I’ve got a lot more positive about it. Because when I did start to lose the weight was slowly coming back on. And first I was really, oh my God, but then after a while I sort of got used to the idea that it was okay - as long as it never went back to being what it was before it was fine. And I think nowadays I’m more, you know, I mean I always, I have a thing about mirrors, I don’t like looking in mirrors. Not because I’m like repulsed by what I see looking back but more just because I’m not that obsessive about my appearance kind of thing, that I don’t want to look at a mirror. I don’t need to look at a mirror. I don’t want it. Do you know what I mean? I would rather there were no mirrors in the world, because then I think people would get less obsessed about themselves. But, yes, it just made me more positive and now I feel more like I can do things. It’s not such an issue really. And that, you know, that I am big but you know, what some people are bigger than me, some people are smaller than me. Some people are the same size as me. It really, it’s not a massive, massive thing, as long as it doesn’t lead to me dying or whatever, then I’m not bothered.
 
Naz' I used to look in the mirror and I used to think I’m really ugly and stuff, but since, you know, ever since I’ve been told I’ve lost weight and I’ve even felt I’ve lost weight, I’ve actually looked in the mirror and I’ve actually said to myself I look a bit better. And always think ‘oh my God, look at me man’, you know? ‘Look at me, what am I doing to myself?’ I’ve got like a positive thing inside me saying I can lose weight and I’m losing weight and I’ve lost weight. So there’s nothing … you know, I don’t say anything bad about myself any more that much now. I’m actually saying, I’m actually saying good things about myself now. 
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