Sue X

Age at interview: 61
Brief Outline: Sue X has struggled with her weight since her teenage years, and has tried many diets. Although Sue has lost weight in the past, she has found this unsustainable in the long-term. Recently, Sue lost 3 stone with a weight-loss support group, strictly following a diet program and finding support and advice through attending regular classes. Since losing weight, Sue’s confidence, energy, and health has improved, yet feeling in control of her eating is something she continues to work at.
Background: Sue X is 61 and is white British.

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Sue X has been “battling” with her weight since her teenage years. Since then, her weight has fluctuated, and Sue has tried “every diet under the sun”. In the past, Sue has lost weight, but has often found these diets too restrictive, and incompatible with her lifestyle, as she likes going out for meals and inviting friends for dinners at her house. Sue would put the weight she lost back on when she started eating “normal food”. Her was motivated to lose and maintain her weight long-term came after reading a magazine article by a TV personality, who said, “if I don’t do it now, when will I do it?” Having just turned 60, Sue realised that losing weight now may help her avoid health and mobility problems in the future.

Sue understood that in order to lose weight and keep it off, she needed to change her approach to weight loss, and “not just see it as a diet but really changing the way I ate”. Sue joined a weight loss support group. Although she had tried this program before, this time Sue was fully committed, attending weekly weigh-ins, following recipes, and finding support and information via her classes and through social media. She found that the hardest part of losing weight was disciplining herself, as there is an office culture of bringing cakes to work. Sometimes Sue would eat unhealthy food, and “feel cross with myself”. However, as she started losing weight, resisting these foods became easier.

Whilst Sue was “disheartened” at how slowly she was losing weight to start with, she lost 3 stone over a year. Sue describes the “lightbulb moment” as realising she could still eat food she likes, and even eat out, by choosing and recording what she ate carefully. Sue did not set a goal weight, but stopped trying to lose weight at a point where she was within health guidelines, and where losing more became difficult. Sue now feels more aware of nutrition and able to make informed choices on what she eats. Nonetheless, she still finds it hard to feel completely in control of her eating.

Sue feels her weight loss has health benefits, lowering her blood pressure and cholesterol. Sue also has more energy since losing weight, and has increased her exercise, walking at lunchtime and teaching Zumba 4 times a week. She attributes having the confidence to do this to her weight loss. Sue also feels more confident with her appearance. In turn, her self-esteem has “gone through the roof”, and she is more assertive at work.

Whilst Sue’s doctor has never mentioned her weight, she feels that healthcare professionals should have a “responsibility” to help people lose weight. Hearing that they are overweight from a doctor may be motivational for some, although Sue worries that it could make others “more depressed”. Sue suggests that the doctor’s role could be to signpost patients to weight management services. She also questions whether weigh-in clinics could help those who cannot afford to pay for private weight-loss support groups. Sue thinks another way to tackle obesity is to improve education around food, as early as antenatal classes. Schools should also be more involved in promoting healthy eating, giving advice to parents and banning vending machines with unhealthy snacks. However, Sue acknowledges that there are more complex “trigger points” that may impact weight gain, such as difficulties in peoples personal and professional lives, which may encourage them to turn to food or drink.

Sue X says that it is hard to avoid temptation when ‘rubbish’ food is so readily available.


Do you have any more general ideas about why more people are overweight these days?
I think it’s just simply because of the availability of food and in fact I think it’s worse now than when I was younger because I think with the coffee shop culture, you know, you walk through any city now and there’s loads of coffee shops and so many people sitting there with you know, lattes and with, you know, with caramel flavourings in and cakes and things and food is cheaper than it was and more readily available and there’s just more rubbish food about if you know what I mean.
I mean, you know, I, I love rubbish food but it’s so readily available, you know, you look there’s Cornish pasty shops, there’s pie shops, cake shops, sweet shops, fudge shops, you know they’re everywhere. It’s very hard to avoid temptation, very hard and it’s like, if I meet friends, you meet, you meet for a cup of coffee and nine times out of ten people will say, “Oh shall we have cake as well?” You know and that, you don’t just go for a cup of coffee, you go and have cake as well. So, it’s hard, it’s hard for people I think.


Sue X’s group leader has been through it all herself and supports the group without being at all judgmental.


But would you recommend Slimming World?
It’s, it’s worked for me, so I have to recommend it, you know, and I mean, I know we have, I think it makes a big difference actually who the leader is and we’re very lucky in that I mean she’s completely mad but I mean she’s, because she’s so like  the rest of us, her thoughts are very like the rest of us. Like, she’s done the, which, you know, a lot of us have done, gone shopping, bought a packet of biscuits and by the time you’ve got home, you’ve eaten the packet in the car. You know, she’s done all that sort of thing and, and, you know, so she’s, she’s very much in, in line with everybody else’s thinking. So she, she never, sort of like if somebody says, “Oh God I ate six bars of chocolate at the weekend.” She’ll come back with a story, “Oh yeah,” she said, “yeah, I’ve done that. I remember exactly when I did this.” And so she’s, she’s not kind of judging you. I don’t, I think, I think our group and I don’t know, I’ve not experienced any of the other groups round here but certainly our group, nobody judges you. Everybody is there to support you and help you. You can have as much help as you want or as little, if, you know, if you’re comfortable with doing it on your own because some ladies they just, because they’d never dieted before, they just come along and they just lose the weight. I mean it, it is phenomenal.


Sue X and her sister support each other by text messaging and sharing recipes.


Have you, have you sort of kind of experience of losing weight sort of maybe influencing your sisters or asking, or are they asking you for kind of advice?
Yeah, my, my middle sister who’s, who’s really pretty overweight, she’s doing Slimming World now. So, she’s just lost two stone now. She’s probably still got about another four or five to go. But, so last week she didn’t lose and she was quite disheartened. But so, I text her all the time to find out how she’s getting on and I keep motivating her and we send each other pictures of the meals that we’re cooking to kind of support each other, and if I come across a good recipe that I’ve tried, I’ll send it to her and she does the same back.

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