Retired grandparent, John, knew he needed to do something about his weight and lifestyle following a diabetic review and the warning that, unless his tests improved, he would very soon need to start on insulin injections. John received a letter from MoreLife about the 14 week course and called the phone number. He says “I spoke to Sophie who answered all my questions and encouraged me to take part in the programme. A few days later my life change started.”
John recalls “I felt overweight. In fact, I was beginning to feel fat. I was embarrassed that my BMI showed me as obese. I was having more and more trouble with the arthritis in my left knee. I was having trouble keeping up with my 13month old grand-daughter and felt that a lack of mobility could result in me not being able to look after her properly. I looked after her twice a week so my ability to protect her was paramount.
“I wanted to be more active, look and feel better and try to reduce the possibility of being prescribed insulin. I also wanted to enjoy life more especially with my new grand-daughter. I needed to be alert and able to move quickly when umpiring cricket matches and knew my weight was restricting this movement.”
John had never tried any weight loss programmes, but his wife had. He appreciated from her the highs and lows of trying to lose weight, and the support and incentives needed to continue, and that a lot of personal effort would be needed from him. “I knew that I might have trouble with completing a programme that I had no faith in and that the right approach or right method was important.
MoreLife’s Programme Manager Sophie recalls “On first speaking with John, I realised that he was an independent and intelligent man who would not respond well to being told what to do. These characteristics suit the MoreLife programme perfectly and I ensured that he was encouraged to make his own decisions regarding how to lose weight. John very quickly grasped the concept of calorie counting and soon found his own way of keeping track of his daily intake.”
John says “At the first meeting our practitioner, Sophie, explained that there were several ways to lose weight and that everyone’s choice could be different. She encouraged us all to take on what suited us as individuals. What stuck in my mind was the fact that reducing calorie intake was the only proven sure way to lose weight. I decided that I would use bits of every method, but that calorie counting would be my main thrust throughout the programme.
“I started eating breakfast every day. Before then breakfast was only a weekend luxury.” John started a food diary. Although weight loss was John’s primary goal, the calorie counting had a knock on effect on his other health behaviours like alcohol consumption. “I noticed how many calories my favourite foods and drinks contained. Beer was about 200 calories for every pint and a measure of spirit 56 calories. Four whiskies for every pint. I have drunk very little beer since that discovery!” This meant that not only was he drinking fewer calories, he was drinking far fewer alcohol units too. “I also noticed take-away meals were very high in calories – they stopped but not totally as I still have tandoori chicken or chicken shashlik as a treat.
“I set up spread sheets to keep a permanent record of my food diary. My weekly weight and my weight loss were added, and then the number of daily steps I was taking recorded on the pedometer bought for me by my wife. The exercise has helped.”
John believes that his early successes encouraged him and the calorie counting has become part of his daily life. “If I know I’m going out, i.e. to a wedding, I appreciate that I will probably exceed my daily target, so I try to cut down the day before and the day after and the day after that if seriously over indulging.” Writing everything down has encouraged him not to cheat and he’s tried to target a 2 pound weight loss every week by calorie reduction. “It was difficult at first and I did feel hungry for the first few weeks but that quickly disappeared and now with lots of practice and advice from Sophie and the group I have a stock of snacks that keep me going.”
Sophie was sometimes concerned during the intensive phase of the programme that the changes John was making were not sustainable in the long term. “I challenged some of John’s rigid expectations of himself during this time and encouraged him to be a bit more flexible with his approach. This was particularly relevant during the maintenance phase when John reached his target weight. He found it difficult, at first, to allow himself more calories and to stay motivated without the ‘reward’ of a loss on the scales each month. With the support of myself and the group, however, he has made the transition and no longer finds it necessary to track his calorie intake each day and his relationship with food is now very healthy and relaxed.”
“I set myself a target at the outset to reach 15 stone. Over 3 stone weight loss which I am now 1 pound away from achieving! I will set myself another target then, but it must be manageable, and I am aware that the more weight I lose that harder it gets.
“I had a diabetic review last week and the 3month blood readings were the best since I was diagnosed as a diabetic 20 years ago.
“I feel so much better in myself both mentally and physically. I can walk for longer without too much pain in my knee, I rarely lose breath and then only when I make myself walk fast uphill to get the blood flowing. I am enjoying life more and in particular my new grand-daughter. I can’t wait for better weather, as she has just started to walk, when I can take her for walks in Epping Forest and show her the wild life like my grandfather did with me nearly 70 years ago.”