“Why does nothing work for me?”
Feel like you’ve tried every diet and nothing has worked? You are not alone. Many people feel that they have tried a range of weight loss programmes that haven’t worked, or they have lost weight and then regained the weight that they lost. Many diets are often too drastic and unrealistic to maintain for a long period of time, making them successful in the short-term, but not very helpful in the long-term. Unfortunately for the majority of people, this can be very demotivating and losing weight can seem out of their control.
Weight loss is an individual journey, what might be right for one person may be wrong for another. Primarily, this is because the reasons people gain weight are different and therefore the way to tackle weight loss will need to be tailored to the individual.
The key is not to focus on losing weight. Instead, focus on changing behaviours that will result in weight loss. This means that you will only be focusing on your behaviours and influencing the bigger picture at the same time. At Morelife, behaviour change is a key principle across all of our weight management programmes.
“How can I get support?”
You have already made the first step towards improving the health and lifestyle of you and your family just by visiting the Morelife website.
Obesity affects individuals in many ways and therefore it’s important to recognise that you can gain support by exploring several options. It is vital to speak to your friends and family so they can support you and your family. If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, you could also speak to their school teacher, sports coaches and friends’ parents to ensure that they can support you – the more people that can reinforce the messages that come from you, the better.
A visit to your GP is always a good place to start to get support. They will be able to make you aware of what services are available to you in your area. Services will vary depending on where you are in the country, but all NHS trusts should have a range of weight management services to support families and individuals.
“How do I know if my child is overweight?”
It is completely normal (and completely healthy) for children to gain weight as they grow. Throughout their childhood there will be times when they temporarily gain weight and then quickly grow out of it in their next growth spurt. For these reasons, it can be quite difficult to tell if your child is overweight and, as you are with them everyday, it’s difficult to notice gradual weight gain.
To keep an eye on your child’s weight, weigh them regularly. Just like you may measure their height regularly, it’s important not to make weight a taboo subject. Once you have their height and weight, you can plot their Body Mass Index (BMI) or enter their measurements into a BMI Calculator. BMI provides an indicator to how healthy our weight is for our height. This is very similar to when they were babies and the health visitor would plot their weight and length in their book.
There are lots of BMI calculators on the internet. However, many don’t give information for children. Children’s BMI score should take into account their age and gender. The NHS BMI calculator will provide you with accurate information about your child’s weight.
“How do I speak to my child about their weight?”
Talking to your child about their weight can be challenging if it is not something you are used to talking about with them. Rather than sitting them down to have a serious chat about their weight, it is best to talk openly about healthy eating and keeping active as much as possible so it is a general theme within your household. Then, when given the opportunity, you can ask your child about how their weight makes them feel. It is likely that they will bring up the topic, which will allow you to open up the conversation e.g. clothing won’t fit or they may mention someone has said something to them.
It may be emotional for them, and you, but the key is to be open and honest about moving forward and leading a healthier lifestyle. It is important that your child feels that they are in control. Ask them how they want you to help. It is really important that you don’t lose sight of this.
It’s likely that your child’s motives to lose weight are different to your motives for them to lose weight. Children often want to lose a bit of weight so they look like their friends, so they can wear the clothes their friends do, so they get picked in PE classes – generally just fit in. Whilst parents are much more conscious about the health and wellbeing of their children. Both motives are very important and losing a little weight, or maintaining their weight whilst they grow taller, will achieve both.
“I’m a big parent too and also need help.”
It’s great that you have recognised that you could also improve your health and want to make changes to your lifestyle. We always recommend that improving health should be a family approach, not just focusing on one child. There’s no reason why the whole family shouldn’t be involved.
One key aspect is not to underestimate your power as a role model.
We know that parents have the biggest influence on a child’s behaviour and you should lead by example – for the good of your health and theirs. Morelife runs programmes for families, not just children. We recognise that it is essential to support parents to improve the health of their family.
“How do I speak to my parents about my weight concerns?”
As a young person, talking to your parents about personal matters is never very easy. However, if you don’t speak to your parents, or someone else close to you, then often you may not be getting the support you would benefit from.
Many children and young people we work with would like to improve their fitness and become a bit healthier. Many have tried to talk to their parents about it and often feel that their parents dismiss their concerns as being trivial. You must make that big step and tell them that you are concerned or unhappy with your weight, they will surprise you and be very supportive.
Speaking to your parents may make them have to face a few weight concerns themselves. If they are also overweight they may find it difficult to talk about weight with you. Weight is a very sensitive subject and it may take them a bit of time to understand how they can help you. Don’t give up though, it is important to you and your future.
“How do I know if I’m overweight?”
Being young it can be hard to understand what your body shape should look like. Young people grow and develop at different rates therefore it is not always best to compare yourselves to others the same age as you. The best indicator to check if you are a healthy weight for your height is to check your Body Mass Index (BMI). This is an indicator as to whether you may be carrying excess weight.
You may have had other things suggesting that you are overweight such as; you need to buy a larger clothes size because your current clothes have become tight; you think you look larger than you have done previously; or someone may have suggested that you have gained weight. The best thing to do is check your BMI to get a clear picture of your weight. Your school nurse, local doctor or your parents will be able to help weigh and measure you.
The important thing to remember is to focus on being healthy. If you are eating a healthy balanced diet in the right portion sizes and being active every day, then you should be on the right path to being a healthy weight. Some overweight young people may not need to lose weight, but instead, maintain their weight and grow taller, therefore spreading their weight out more across their height.