A-Z

Weight change & associated health problems

Messages to others interested in controlling their weight

The people we spoke with had been through many experiences themselves relating to weight gain and loss, and accessing different services for their long-term illnesses. We asked them what messages or advice they had for other people in a similar situation.

Understand your weight issue

The first step in the weight loss journey that people identified was facing up to the fact that they had a problem with their weight. Maxine Mary advised getting help to do this if necessary, including counselling, help from a doctor or from a support group. Hilary also advised people not to be frightened of facing up to their weight issue and not to put off doing something about it. For David, the important thing was wanting to change. He said, “If you want to change, want to change your lifestyle, you’ve got to believe that you must. You’ve got to really want to, otherwise all the gimmicks and all the rest of it doesn’t work”.
 

For Maxine Mary, who had felt out of control with her weight, the crucial thing was understanding the root causes and seeking help.

View full profile
Age at interview: 63
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

So based on your own experience do you think that one of the messages to other people who are trying to lose weight, who are overweight or obese would be to try to understand or to give answers to the why they are overeating?
 
Yes definitely. I think it you can get to the bottom of the reason why, why you are seeking to fill this hole in your soul with [ha] pasta, [laugh] Just recognising that certain triggers will lead you to self-destruct. is really crucial, a crucial part of this I really do.
 
Is understanding that bit isn’t it?
 
I think so. I think it is understanding that. I mean nobody want to be fat, nobody. And for a lot of people they feel out of control. I certainly did. It was beyond my control. So I would say get help. Get every kind of help you can. Take every bit of help that’s available to you. Go for psychiatric counselling. Go for [ah] physical help from your doctor, dietary help from a group of people. I hate that Weight Watchers where you get weighed. I hate that in public. So I would. So my groups are online. And they are anonymous. The people are living in the States most of them. So I know I will never meet them but it’s good honest advice from them how they’ve coped. So yeah take all the advice and help you can get because it’s difficult.
 
What would you advise people based on your own experience?
 
[whoosh]
 
What do you think is important for them to…?
 
Well you know, what I would say, “Get some counselling if you can.” Get support from a trained person because you don’t, you don’t really want to expose yourself if you are vulnerable. Psychologically if you’re in a difficult space in your life you don’t want to be exposed to anybody who is not really professional in what they are saying. And somebody who can give you good advice and find out the root cause and help you to love yourself again. Because a lot of overeating is self-harm. And so yeah that’s what I would say. I’d try, I’d say try, try and get the root cause of this sorted, sorted out.

 

Hilary says it’s important to face up to weight issues and be honest with yourself.

View full profile
Age at interview: 62
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

I would say, don’t be frightened about facing it. I think people put off and perhaps I did, in that respect. I put off, although I knew there was an issue. I put it off that there was an issue because I was fine. ‘I’m fine. I don’t feel ill. I don’t, I don’t look awful. I don’t.’ So, it’s something that you can do another time perhaps, if you do at all. So, I think sometimes you’ve just got to be honest with yourself and to accept people’s advice, you know, when you go to somebody like your GP, you’ve got, if they’re, if they man up to telling you that there is an issue, then they’re not doing it to be horrible. They’re not sitting there saying, “Oh gosh, aren’t you fat?” they’re saying, “You’re overweight and it’s going to affect your health.”

But I think if you look round, you’ve only got to turn the news on and I look at people and I actually said to my husband, “Do I look like that?” and he went, “No, but you did.” So, I think sometimes that can come as a shock because I thought, ‘Gosh, that woman looks really overweight. Really overweight.’ And that’s when I said, “I don’t look like that, do I?” and he said, “No, not now,” but he said, “but you did.” And I think sometimes you’ve got to come up front, you’ve got to face it really ad I think sometimes that’s a difficult thing is actually facing you’ve got to do something about it. That does mean stopping doing the things you like, or eating the things you like and requires you to do a little bit more….

Ask for help

Losing weight can be hard. A key message from the people we spoke with was to ask for help and take up as many opportunities for support as possible. Shirley and Christine both suggested having a chat with a doctor or nurse to see what help is available locally. Others suggested joining a support group – either online or in person – and turning to friends or family, if possible. Support could be practical (such as identifying relevant professionals to see or diet and exercise plans to follow) or emotional (such as help to stay on track and keep positive).
 

Seek advice on what to do from a doctor or nurse is Shirley’s recommendation.

View full profile
Age at interview: 56
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

What would you like to tell other people about kind of changing sort of weight maintenance or trying to reach a healthy weight?

Yeah, I think going back to what we were talking about earlier, finding the right plan for yourself is key. Not making it too restrictive. You’ve got to find the thing that suits you best. I think if I’ve learnt one thing from talking to you this morning is perhaps go and have a chat with your doctor and your local nurse and find out if there is something out there that might help you. Don’t perhaps go for Slimming World and Weight Watchers because you don’t know that they’re right for you. But perhaps have a chat with your doctor and see whether they could recommend something. I’m, I am going to go down and ask even though I’m doing Slimming World, I’m still going to go and find out if there’s something else that I could get some more information because if I can’t go in a few weeks when I’m not probably going to have the money, I’m going to want something else and I don’t want to fall back and hopefully they’ll be there but I would definitely go to your doctor first and your local nurse and see if there’s somebody you can have a chat with and just get some advice on what track to take first rather than jumping around from one thing to another, I think that’s, that’s probably been my worst thing I’ve done is jumping from one diet to another and not sticking with one thing and finding out what suits you. That’s got to be the key.

 

Christine says “you’ve got to be in the right frame of mind”. She thinks it’s a good idea to join a weight management group and seek advice from your doctor.

View full profile
Age at interview: 53
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Well, you’ve got to be in the right frame of mind. When you’re in the right frame of mind it is a good idea to join a group, Slimming World, Weight Watchers. Get advice from your doctor. See how much overweight you are and write things down. Write a daily diary of what you eat and drink every day to see what you’re actually taking in, and maybe have a goal or a focus, you know, something like an event coming up that you need to lose weight for or something you want to buy, some clothes or something and that sort of thing. But it’s just a very personal thing really. Nothing works the same for everybody. It’s all individual.

 

Myra suggests going to a group where you can get support from others who are going through the same thing as you.

View full profile
Age at interview: 65
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

What would you like to say to people who are interested in losing weight?

I think, I think I’d say you can’t do it on your own and that you really need to, most people I think would find going to some sort of group helpful because you get a huge amount of support and, not only from the leaders but from other people who are going through the same thing as you and you don’t feel quite such a freak, you know.

Okay.

And I think people are frightened that you’re going to be, your weight is going to be read out in front of everybody and you’re going to be harangued if you haven’t lost weight and it’s, it’s not like that at all.

No?

I know it’s not everybody’s thing, you know, but, you know, the lady who runs our group says that if you if you’ve, you know, if you’ve had a bad week, she won’t let you go home until she’s made you think positively and think what you can do to turn things round and I think that’s really important, you know.

Get motivated, make a plan and try things

Having understood the problem and sought help, the next piece of advice was to get motivated, make a plan and find what suits you. Trevor said, “Somehow, get motivated. You need to talk to somebody or get a family member to motivate you. You need a plan. You need a goal and it’s easier if there’s somebody helping you”. Lina also said it was important to gather motivation; if you can’t get this from others around you, try joining online forums where you can find others with the same mind-set. Christine suggested keeping a daily food diary and combining this with a goal or focus, “something like an event coming up that you need to lose weight for or something you want to buy, some clothes”.
 

June recommends trying things and if they don’t work out, don’t be put off trying other things.

View full profile
Age at interview: 60
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

I think I would mainly say, try, try things, if you haven’t tried something I don’t mean in a diet. I would say in a group or some sort of local offering of like the, ‘Keep it off for good’, try something and if it doesn’t work for you or you don’t like it, don’t be put off trying something else because I think in lots of other areas of life, if we don’t like something, we don’t blame ourselves, if we went to the cinema and it wasn’t a good film, we didn’t enjoy the film we wouldn’t say, ‘Oh, it’s my fault I didn’t enjoy the film.” So don’t say that about, you know, it could be that the group’s not got a great leader or it could be it’s too late in the day for you to be alert and taking in all the messages or but the only other thing I think is that I do think that cost is a big factor, you know, and one thing I try to say to myself is I tell myself, I can’t,’ at times, I’ve said, ‘I can’t afford to go to a group because it’s five pounds a week,’ and you have to be honest with yourself and say, ‘Am I spending five pounds a week on food that’s doing me harm?’ And if the answer to that is, ‘yes’ then you should go to the slimming group really.

 

Lesley says she will keep on trying and not give up and if something isn’t working she will try something different.

View full profile
Age at interview: 60
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Do you have any messages for other people who are interested in losing weight or people who might have gone through or might be going through a similar situation that you, that you are in?

I think just keep, keep trying. It’s not giving up. It’s keep trying to find the solution, you know, again it, it’s, it is just keep trying, I’m not going to give up. I had my little six months of rebellion that I’m not going to be like this, but I realised that was no good to anybody. I was, but I think I probably needed it to sort of do that and I will keep trying and it is frustrating. And then you get on the scales and think, ‘Oh.’ But, you know, even if I can get one kilo down then I’ll feel that’s great. I don’t want to put that back on and I just can keep trying with the doctor, keep trying different things, you know, slimming world online is, is something that will work but I’ll try that. If not, I’ll try something else. I, I will just keep trying.
 

Various people recommended seeing weight management as a long-term goal requiring a change in lifestyle – a ‘marathon, not a sprint’. John Y’s advice was to learn to eat well without spending a fortune, while Stuart recommended eating less, reducing drinking and smoking, and trying new foods. Tommy and Lina thought that exercise and diet together were the key. David wondered if making one big change, like giving up meat, might be the best way to manage weight.
 

David says that while it sounds simple to ‘use more energy and take in less energy’ changing habits is never easy. But the longer you work at it, the easier it gets.

View full profile
Age at interview: 71
Sex: Male
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Any kind of advice or, for people who are trying to, living with chronic, with weight related chronic conditions and are trying to lose weight? What do you think?

You’ve, you’ve got to you’ve got to change your lifestyle. That’s very easy to say that and it’s very difficult to do because we’re all, you know, our whole lives are formed of habits. We do things from habit and what you’re being asked to do is to change your habits and that’s not easy. You you’ve got to, I don’t know whether you’ve got to do it, different people do it in different ways.

You can do it gradually, you can do it suddenly. You could, some people you could get advice, you know, changing habits, stop smoking, one thing works for one person, a different thing works for a different person. The biggest thing I’d say is you’ve got to want to do it and it’s the same with changing any habits. If you if you’ve got to lose weight, whatever you’ve got to do, it’s not too difficult. You’ve got to use more energy and take in less energy. It’s a fairly simple relationship. Very easy to work out, very easy to say it, very difficult to change the habits and maybe the way to do it is to is to sort of make a big change and stick to it, you know. Cut out meat, if you want to, or cut out sugar or do, I, but you’ve got to you’ve got to change the habit and it’s, you’ve got to make the change for it to be any good. It’s no good saying you’re going to start tomorrow. You’ve got to start today and you’ve got to make a big enough change.

So, you’ve got to realise that changing a habit is difficult. If it was easy, everybody would do it. It’s difficult. You’ve really got to work at it but the longer you work at, the easier it gets.

 

In Ellie’s experience, you need to look at weight management as a lifelong thing, not a short-term goal.

View full profile
Age at interview: 69
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Based on your own experience, is there anything you would like to say or no?

To look on it as a lifestyle, lifestyle change, not just a few months change. It has to be lifestyle. It has to be a lifelong because I don’t think you’ll ever get, if you’re the type of person who is prone to putting on weight, there is nothing you can do to change it. So, it’s your lifestyle that’s got to change. I mean, we’ve got friends, she’s eighty something and she still diets because she’s had to do it all her life and she can’t, you think when you get to eighty you think, you can have a wee treat now and again. But, no, she is rigid, and I just think, ‘What a life you’ve had. None.’ [Laughs].

No, I think you’ve got to accept it as your whole life, not for a few weeks. If you’ve got whatever it is that makes us fat. I’m not talking about there’s just two pounds for you to go to a do or something. I’m talking about real fat. If you, if you treat it as a short-term thing, it’s not going to work, which is what I’ve done.

Until now?

From now on, I’m going to be good.
 

 

Tommy emphasises the importance of exercising to lose weight, and being patient before expecting to see results.

View full profile
Age at interview: 85
Sex: Male
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Do you have any message for other people who are interested in losing weight or in maintaining a healthy weight? I mean you can direct the message to people your own age group?

Yeah. I think it’s, as well as dieting, I know that is the main thing, you must watch what you’re eating and the amount you’re eating and all like that, but I do think if I’ve got to choose between the two I would say exercise, I really would say exercise, whether it’s in the form of swimming as the elderly person or in the form of dancing. I would encourage people to exercise, even if it’s only chair based. You sit in a chair because of your problems and you do that and you do that [moves arms].

I would encourage that and then, I know it’s in close conjunction but do be very selective of what, what you’re eating and the amounts that you’re eating and they say to lose weight you’ve got to change your whole attitude to food. Well, yeah, they’re, they’re probably right but it’s a bit frightening that if you’ve been used to, I say to people that they want to lose weight, yes, you’ve got to eat sensibly but gradually. Overnight you’ve not got to dispense with all you sort of like and that. But it, to repeat what I said earlier, it’s taken a long while to come off and it takes, to come on and it takes a long, you mustn’t be too overly, like weighing yourself every time you go to the toilet type thing. You mustn’t get into that category but be patient and, and you will make mistakes and you will do the wrong thing but get over them.

Don’t let it say, ‘Oh well it’s too late now I’ve put half a stone, what’s the point?’ That’s another thing, and you just give up. Just say, ‘Right it’s another day, it’s another chapter.’ Try and get that attitude towards weight loss, you know, because it’s so easy to, to throw the towel in. It is, it’s so easy to throw the towel in. But yeah, exercise first and diet second but certainly in conjunction with each other. Where possible, the exercise.

Don’t give up

The people we spoke with acknowledged that “it’s easier said than done”. Weight loss takes time and there will be occasions when you fall down. Jane felt it was important to set realistic goals and to persevere: “sometimes you might think, ‘Oh no, I’m not going to reach my goal’, but I think if you persevere and making little changes, then you can”. Sue A emphasised how important it was to commit to losing or maintaining weight and not to give up if things went wrong. She said, “Don’t get disheartened if you go off the rails one week… Don’t just throw it all away just because of one, one bad day or two bad days.” She reminded people that “there’s nothing feels so good as actually getting to your target weight.”
 

Sue Y’s advice is to make a small goal and take small steps to reach it.

View full profile
Age at interview: 69
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Just take small steps to lose weight and to achieve a healthy status. To do small steps with exercise. To do small steps in maintaining stress levels. Just do things in small steps to achieve a positive conclusion to a goal that you want to reach. Doesn’t have to be a big goal. Make it a small goal and take small steps to reach it and be happy in the process. That’s all.

Lina’s advice was to be kind to yourself. Try to get enough sleep, “get the odd massage”, and consider complementary or alternative therapies such as acupuncture. June X’s message was to “stay as positive and as optimistic as you can”, while Carole said “keep battling” and remember that there are other people out there like you.
 

June says that losing weight is a positive step towards your own health. Stay optimistic because “It’s worth the effort.”

View full profile
Age at interview: 60
Sex: Female
SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Stay as positive and as optimistic as you can and know that it’s possible to make an improvement in your life. That is probably an absolute fact.

There’s a great deal all of us can’t change about our lives. One thing you can do is to take a few positive steps towards your own health and my experience and I’m still obviously working on it, on a daily basis, is that you can improve life and you can improve your experience of life that if you’re within a safe environment and you can become more active, absolutely do it. Get more fresh air, get more of the blood circulating round your veins. You’ll feel better and whatever positive steps you make towards your own health, you’ll feel better. You can have less indigestion. Less in the way of aches and pains and it’s worth the effort. Immensely worth the effort.
 

donate
Previous Page
Next Page