Liz first attempted to lose weight at 18, and has tried many diets since then. Liz’ weight has increased over the years, as she tends to lose a little weight, but put on more than she lost. Liz eats healthily and leads a fairly active lifestyle, and finds her difficulty in losing weight to be frustrating, upsetting and demotivating. Liz continues to follow a weight loss support program, and hopes to lose weight in the future, to improve her health and self-esteem. Liz suffers from osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, and feels that these health issues, as well as her general energy levels, would improve with weight loss.
Liz is 54, and works as a highway inspector. She lives with her husband and is white British.
More about me...
Liz started dieting at 18. She has been on a “yo-yo diet” ever since, losing a little weight, but gradually putting on more than she lost, which has seen her weight increase over the years. Liz describes managing her weight as a “constant battle”. She has “tried and failed at nearly every diet there is out there”. When Liz has successfully lost weight, it has been pushed by “desperation”. An example of this was when she lost 2 stone before her hip replacement surgery. To do this, she followed a meal replacement diet, consuming only 600 calories a day. However, Liz found this diet unsustainable in the long term, as the calorie restrictions affected her energy levels. Liz spoke of the impact of strict dieting, “it just messes with your whole life”.
Recently, Liz has been attending a weight loss support group. She follows aspects of the diet plan, cooking from scratch with lean meat and vegetables. Although she has “the odd treat”, Liz tries to avoid high-carbohydrate and processed foods, as well as alcohol. Alongside this, she leads an active lifestyle, walking her dogs twice daily and spending lots of time on her feet at work. However, Liz has had limited success with this diet, losing 2 pounds in 14 weeks. Nonetheless, Liz feels that continuing this program is “better than nothing”.
Liz speaks of her limited weight loss as “soul destroying”. Maintaining a diet in the absence of seeing results is a challenge, “I'm struggling with the willpower and the dedication because the only thing that gives you that is seeing the results. It's a very unhappy self-fulfilling prophecy”. As well as taking time and effort, Liz finds the emotional impact of sustained dieting tiring, “it makes your whole life more complicated, and I think you just get to a stage where you're sick to death of thinking about it”. In spite of this, Liz feels she will never eat “like everybody else”, or she would continue to gain weight. Liz feels a sense of injustice over her weight gain, given her food and lifestyle choices, and is uncertain as to the reasons behind it. She questions whether dieting from a young age could have “messed my metabolism up”. Liz is also awaiting blood results to see if she has an underlying medical condition that could explain her difficulty in losing weight. She hopes these tests will reveal something that can be treated.
Liz has approached her weight with her doctor, but has found “they’re not particularly interested”. Liz finds this surprising, given the health complications that can develop with weight gain, which put “a strain on the system”. Whilst Liz feels a gastric bypass is too extreme, she has considered having a gastric balloon, despite the risks it carries.
Liz is unhappy with her weight, and feels that her weight gain has let herself and her husband down. Her weight has an impact on her emotional health “...it eats you up inside, and that’s how bad it makes you feel – ashamed, sad, worthless”. Liz hopes to lose weight in the future. Liz suffers from osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, and feels that these health issues, as well as her general energy levels, would improve with weight loss. Liz believes that losing weight would be good for her mental health and self-esteem, yet also acknowledges that another motivation she has is “vanity”, “I don’t want to be the fat one”. She would like to be able to go shopping and fit into the clothes she likes.
Liz dreads the idea of having to wear a flimsy dress at a wedding in a hot country. She says that people need to know how much unhappiness is due to being overweight.
The only thing that mattered with that whole event was the fact that she was slim and I'm fat. I cannot tell you how much... I look... hunted round my wardrobe looking for something that would make me look three stone lighter. You know, there must be something in this wardrobe full of clothes that will make me look three stone... there wasn’t, obviously. The best I could do was put on sort of high heels and black trousers; that was my best effort. But that whole thing... none of the other stuff mattered; just the fact that I was fat and she wasn’t.
And, you know, there's going to be a wedding in the not too distant future; next year or two, and I'm guessing that they’ll probably want to go abroad. So, this is like [husband] and her son and to be daughter-in-law, and the thought of that, having to spend several days, probably somewhere hot, which ain’t great when you're fat, or fair; dressed in clothes... because at least this do that I went to I could wear black trousers, high heeled black boots, you know something... a scarf that gives you a bit of length, a nice jacket, tailored look is always more flattering. So, I'm thinking, 'Well, this is just going to be marvellous isn't it. We're going to be somewhere hot where you can't cover up.' I can't wear a smart suit; I'll have to wear a flimsy frock, and just the thought of that is enough to make me feel sick. And again, you know, there’ll be probably a hotel, a pool – how am I going to wear swimsuit? How am I going to be... ah, I can't tell you... I can't tell you how that makes me feel. I'm so ashamed.
Do you want me to stop?
It's OK. It doesn’t matter, does it? People need to know. They need to know that however happy fat people come across as, it's not all that... it eats you up inside, and that’s how bad it makes you feel – ashamed, sad, worthless.
Liz says losing four or five stone would help improve her arthritis and fibromyalgia symptoms. The other reason she wants to lose weight is out of “vanity”.
And it's so depressing; it really is depressing. I mean, you know, for me it's more about my health. I struggle with my joints. I've got arthritis in my ankles and my feet. I've got fibromyalgia as well, which I don’t let it affect me; I don’t let it stop me doing anything, but it does make life a little bit difficult. And I know very well if I could lose four or five stone I could help my joints, fibromyalgia would be helped, you know the stress incontinence would be helped; everything would be so much better. My mental health would be better as well because, you know.
At the beginning you mentioned that your main reason for wanting to lose weight is for health reasons?
It is, yeh.
Would you like to add something else?
Oh, it's vanity as well. It's vanity, I'm sorry. But it's so vanity as well [laughs]. Yeah, I'd love to say...you know I'd love to say, "Oh yeh, you know, it's for my health." It's because I'm vain as well. I don’t want to be the fat one; I don’t want to...I don’t want to not go to things and do things and not be able to wear things. You know, the question, does my bum look big in this is completely irrelevant – of course it looks big in this. One day I would like it not to look big; I would like to just wear what everybody else wears. I'd like to shop where everyone else shops. Yeh, health wise it would improve my life a lot, but I'm vain as well; I'm vain.
We all are.
We all are. Anybody who says they're not is lying.
Liz did not like going to classes and particularly disliked the aspect of group accountability.
They're all doing a lot better than me. Every pound they lose I find [laughs]. So, you know it's...
Maybe you need another group.
Well yeh, maybe I do.
To be honest, I don’t particularly enjoy… I don’t enjoy the classes. I don’t like going, I don’t... but then of course, if I was being successful, if I was the one sat there going, you know, "Well I've lost four pounds this week," then I would love it, wouldn’t I? But of course, because I'm not, I hate it, and I hate listening to them all talking about how great it is, and how well they're doing. And I hate... I'm sitting... I sit there every week and I'm watching them shrinking, and I'm thinking, 'Oh well, never mind.' Perhaps if I didn’t come I'd be even fatter than I am; that’s my consolation. You know, if I didn’t come here I'd be fatter than I am now – great. Yeh, not quite what I was hoping for but there you go.
They weighed you when you go?
How do you feel about that? I mean obviously, you don’t feel sort of kind of...
You're not going to feel very enthusiastic are you when you look and say, "Oh great, I've stayed the same," or, "Ooh, look I've put weight on, great. OK, I'll just slink off." And then they...then you sit down, and they go round the room and go, "Well, you know..." and that...I mean that is just mortifying isn’t it you know. When they go round and saying, you know, "OK, well you know you’ve put weight on this week, and why is that?" You know, it's just like that bloody...was it the Peter Kay sketch, you know, with Margery Dawes – 'Bit of a dust, I ate a bit of dust and I've put on a pound,' you know. And I can't bear that going round the room clapping. I mean I'm really pleased for the people who have lost weight, but do you have to go round every single person and clap? Can you not just go, "Right, who lost weight, put your hands up. Great, yay." One clap. No, we have to go round it, ooh. So, I sit there cringing inside wanting to just a) punch the people who have lost weight, b) go home because I don’t want to be there, and it's just all horrifically cringe-worthy; it's horrific. It is just like that bloody Margery Dawes thing. That comedy sketch sums it up; just sums it all up.
What I can't work out is why, if I'm being pretty good, not perfect, but pretty good, why I can't lose weight. Why on those six hundred calorie meal replacement diets I still struggled to lose two pound a week. Why, at a roughly a thousand calories a day, I should be losing two or three pound a week, but I'm not. That’s what I can't deal with. That’s what I can't find the answer to.
So, that’s what I need the answer to. That’s why… I need to know... yes, if there was somebody I could speak to who would say to me, "Well, the reason that you're not losing weight on a thousand calories a day is because of..." or, "You could do this and that would mean you would," that’s the person I need to talk to.
Liz says her husband “would do anything” to help her but he doesn’t know what to do.
I'm such a lucky girl – I've got a lovely life, I've got a fantastic husband, and I feel like I've let myself and him down you know. He loves me despite... I mean I was... what am I, fourteen and a half... sixteen and a half.. .I was two and a half stone lighter when we met. He still loves me. I keep telling him there's more of me to love now, but hey.
But he's six foot five and at some points in our life together in the last five years, there has been less than half a stone between us. I mean that’s just, you know, he's a big strapping bloke, and that is so depressing. And we had occasion to meet up with some of his family, and his ex-wife was there, a few weeks ago, and I cannot tell you how awful I felt. I felt like I'd let him down because I was fat. And I try so hard.
You said that you have a wonderful husband?
Is this something that you can talk about?
Oh yeah, he knows, he knows.
He knows how you feel?
Oh god yeh, he's seen me come back from my slimming class and he'll go, "How did you get on?" and I'll just burst into tears, and the poor bloke he doesn’t know what to do with me [laughs]. What's he supposed to do? You know, he's not great with women that cry; no men are. If you want anything from a man, just cry. He's ... you know he's... he would do anything to help me, but he doesn’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do really. Because whatever I'm doing isn't working, so perhaps I don’t know what to do either you know. He would do anything.
Liz finds it easy to access information about weight loss online but harder to put it into practice.
And regarding information, is there any information you would like or where you have found your information from?
Well, I would say I'm relatively intelligent. Well no, averagely bright. And so, you know, most of these days you can find out anything you want to know, can't you? Everything's...I mean Google is a wonderful thing. It's like having, you know the Encyclopaedia Britannica on speed in your pocket, because you can literally ask any question and find out an answer. So, I think all the knowledge is out there, and it's not that difficult to access. But putting it into practice and being successful at it is another thing.
Liz is in several Facebook groups, which she finds provide some light relief.
Well, I am sort of... I am on Facebook on a couple of groups there that are allied to Slimming World. One is a sort of a Slimming World site which is called a Pinch of Nom, which is a quite a... you know quite nice, quite supportive, and I do...oh, how do I love seeing the before and after pictures of people who were fat to now they're thin, and I'm thinking, 'Well done, I hate you.' And then there's another one which is a slightly more subversive group, which...I think it's called Two Chubby Cubs, and they kind of do the Slimming World thing. And they put some really good recipes on and, you know which I like because...ooh I'll take a screenshot of that; I'll do that for tea tonight, that kind of thing, so I do quite like the online stuff, and they are a bit more subversive. They're much more sweary and stuff, which I quite like because at least that makes you laugh, you know when people are having a rant; you can have a little giggle at that. So, it's not quite so self-righteous and self...full of self-praise, it's a bit more subversive. So, I do have a couple of groups online that I look at yeh.
OK. And how do you feel after you have ...especially the one that you can… the one that are more kind of fun.
Yeh [laughs], a bit more subversive. Yeh, I mean yeh, I do, I... you know, at least you're getting... at least you can have a smile with some of those. You know, you read some people's ...because a lot of people will use it as like a blogging site. So, they’ll put like a little... like a diary entry on there about what they’ve done or how they feel, and it can be very funny, very entertaining. And at least you do get some people out there who say, "Well, look you know, I'm trying really hard and nothing's happening," and I think, 'Yeh, you and me both.'
Liz is surprised that doctors don’t seem interested in tackling people’s weight before it leads on to more serious complications.
Have you talked to your doctor, or to any doctor about this?
Yeh. They're not particularly interested really. And it's a bit surprising in a way because it's like with the diabetes, with my husband, you know they're very conscious about getting that to the best they can, because they know that further down the line, if they don’t support him now with his diabetes, he could become quite a strain on the system because of all the things that come with diabetes. But being fat's not very good for you either. It leads to all sorts of things like, you know, joint problems, your arteries, strokes. It can lead to so many things that eventually will become a strain on the system. But they don’t seem very interested in helping you tackle it now while you're relatively fit.
You raised the issue with them or?
Yeh, yeh. I spoke to... I've literally, this morning been to the doctors, and she is going to test my thyroid for me, and she's going to check me for diabetes as well because obviously, being overweight can lead to being diabetic. But that’s fine, and if she comes back to me and says, "Oh well, your thyroid's OK, you're not diabetic," but that would be it. I know that that would be it; it'll be like, 'Go away and go and lose some weight.' And I don’t quite know how to do that really; I don’t know where to go now.
When Liz was in hospital with sepsis, there was no discussion of her weight, because it was not a priority.
I'm sort of interested to find out when you were diagnosed with osteoarthritis, did they talk to you about your weight and how to lose weight?
No. No, to be fair to them I think they were probably just more focused on keeping my alive because I was quite poorly. I was forty-eight hours from a coma and multiple organ failure, so I think they were probably more concerned about keeping me alive. And the antibiotics they were giving me were just so toxic – they have to test your blood every day to make sure that the antibiotics they're giving you aren't killing you [laughs]. How could this be, you're giving me something to make me better. Yeh, but it could make you really ill. Oh, OK, carry on then. The diagnosis on my ankles and my feet was just literally an aside from that. It was... but it did make me think, 'Well at least I know now why the tops of my feet are always painful,' and that’s why because of the wear and tear. So, it was very much an aside that no... but nobody ever sort of took it up. I think, as I say, they were more concerned about keeping me alive.