Case study #1 – weight loss via a virtual consultation
These are the words of my client Karen, she contacted me after seeing my blog on Mumsnet. Although she is based in Yorkshire we were able to conduct a series of virtual consultations via Skype, so I could help support her to achieve her weight loss goal
I made notes in my journal dated 28/09/15, about my dissatisfaction with my weight, body image and relationship with food. At that point I was totally and utterly fed up with myself.
I had been to the graduations of both my sons in the summer, having bought a very expensive Josef Ribkoff “ figure hugging dress for both occasions. I was dispirited when I saw the photos after, as the dress appeared to only accentuate the thickening around my middle section.
The main points were
- I was worrying constantly about my weight and body shape but could not motivate myself to make changes
- I hated the way I looked
- I hated the way I felt out of control around food
- I felt anxiety being “around food” all the time
- My home felt dominated by food, food choices, preparation and cooking
- My social life seemed to revolve around eating and drinking
- My eating patterns had become very erratic – I wasn’t eating full meals but lots of snacks – I felt overly full very quickly if I ate a “proper” meal
- My husband and son were at home a lot more than before (one semi-retired, one a student) so there seems to be food and cooking on the go constantly
- I don’t want to go on a diet – I’m a Slimming World veteran
- Female friends talk constantly about weight and diet
- My body details then were – height 5’9”, weight 11st 3lbs (would like to be 10st 7lbs)
- Size 14 top, size 12 bottom – upside down pear – no hips or bottom but a largish bust, long legs
- Tallness helps disguise “fat bits” and I’m highly skilled at dressing to hide them
On the plus side, I considered myself fairly active, swimming for 30 minutes three mornings a week. My diet includes many healthy options (I’m not a vegetarian but eat very little meat – red or white) I just ate too much of everything, too many snacks, too many coffees and teas and slightly more alcohol than I would like to, in an average week. I was generally very healthy with low blood pressure and plenty of energy.
However, I had got into a downward spiral and felt a strong need to talk to someone about all this, someone who would understand the psychology behind my problems and issues, but who would be able to help me formulate a healthier and more balanced eating plan.
Purely by chance, I found Susan whilst looking on Mumsnet Bloggers. Ideally I would have liked to have spoken to someone face to face but Susan appeared to have the skills and background to meet my needs. I confess, not being a wage earner, I was also drawn in by the offer of 3 sessions for £100!
Once I had hooked up with Susan, I wasn’t anxious in the least, although I had to put off our initial session due to holidays. I had used my “private” email address as I didn’t want my husband to see I was seeking help and using family money – I regarded the issues as a form of “weakness” and felt guilty about them – as though it was a problem an intelligent person should be able to solve on their own!
I felt embarrassed at home at having to secure some privacy to use my husband’s PC to use Skype, but made up my mind to tell him about the “project” and he was very understanding. I didn’t feel it mattered at all that Susan and I didn’t meet face to face – I found Skype absolutely fine.
I found Susan very understanding from the word “go”. She was “on my side”!! I had not looked for anyone else similar as I sensed she was a lady of possibly a similar age group to me and therefore might have a better understanding of the issues facing a “middle-aged” lady!!
Karen before and after
Karen before in the dress that made her realise things must change
Now in the same dress!!
I felt we connected very well. I think I really needed some psychological support around my issues, as much as advice and ideas around the practical side of nutrition and diet. I needed to get over to Susan how I felt aspects of my family life and day to day catering needs were affecting me and discuss “emotional eating”. For example, a student son in the house, who seemed to be constantly preparing or cooking food, often at odd times of the day and night, and a husband who eats very little fruit or vegetables, but lots of red meat; also how to cope with my large social circle where meet-ups almost always involve eating and drinking.
It was very helpful to receive a summary of the points we had discussed – the positives and the negatives – to set some small goals to work towards. Writing is my “thing” – so having it all set down in black and white was a huge help to me. I set up a proper folder and notebook to record my progress.
I was able to ask Susan for some menu ideas – including the really helpful one of “basic recipes” that could be adapted to suit all family members – her website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/blog/category/recipes/ was a treasure trove of ideas. I typed up my own sheet each week ready for the next session with Susan to help me remember positives and negatives, and to record success and questions.
It really helped to recap at the start of each new session what had gone before and for me the pace of change was just fine. It helped to not focus solely on losing weight, although I did lose some along the way.
What worked for me
I realised I really liked my swimming sessions and ensured they were almost in “tablets of stone” in my diary, and still do. They keep me energised and set me up for the day.
I had struggled with a rather sedentary husband who didn’t take much exercise, but managed to get him to join me on walks, and not encourage me into cafes and pubs as a “reward”. I learned tactics such as spotting my danger times – coming home late afternoon to an empty house, or one where other family members don’t greet or bother with me – and to find distractions – not head straight to the biscuit tin but to take time out for a little rest, a cup of herbal tea, read a book, take my DAB radio well away from the kitchen, listen to a podcast.
I became better at keeping a sense of perspective – which is hard, being an all or nothing type of person.
I established much better daily and weekly routines and tried to throw out the scattergun approach – I used printable diary sheets – these also helped me with meal planning.
The holistic approach was absolutely perfect for me as I already knew my problems were not just around food but my whole lifestyle as a semi-retired woman who spends a lot of time at home – and has a big living kitchen where a lot of family activity takes place.
Small permanent changes were exactly what I needed. The 80/20 rule was very helpful – especially as regards my tendency to see things as black and white – and I was only too aware I needed to get some balance back into my life. I became more confident and able to say to friends – let’s not go for coffee and cake, why don’t you come over and we’ll go for a walk (I became more appreciative of the rural area I live in!)
Whilst talking to Susan was like talking to a friend, she did challenge me and not let me get away with being “sloppy” or “airy fairy”. I felt answerable to her, which I liked – Slimming World had “worked” for me in the past because I responded to the pressure of the weekly documented weigh-in!
I have felt recently I could use the occasional “top up” session from time to time, just to keep me on track and stop me being complacent – like I do with my physiotherapist. Maybe such top-ups could form part of a slightly broader package than just the three sessions?