Lockdown Weight - Maggie's Story
31st May 2021
Let's call her Maggie*. I've known Maggie for quite a while and she has given me permission to tell her story.
Maggie is in, what she has allowed me to call, her late middle age. About 5 or 6 years ago she was at the highest weight she had ever been and was wearing size 18 clothes. When she had gotten married in her 20s her wedding dress had been a size 6, so she has seen her weight increase over a number of decades. And as she put it 'I've been through phases of weight loss but then gained it again and often the weight just went higher. At this stage 5 to 6 years ago I didn't like my weight but just accepted it as I liked eating what I wanted when I wanted it'. Then as she tells it, it all went wrong. During a routine medical visit her blood sugars were measured and the long and short of it was that she was diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes. At the same time, they found she had high cholesterol, a fatty liver and gall stones. Maggie was devastated. Her first thoughts were 'I don't want to go blind'.
Maggie got herself organised, getting a fitness tracker to wear and putting a food recording app on her phone. She increased her physical activity through walking regularly and going to a few activity classes with friends. She kept a faithful record of everything she ate. Her weight and blood sugars came down nicely. She lost over 3 stone (20kg). Her health improved but what she saw as even better was that she could get into to size 12 clothes. 'That was great and made me feel good, as well as my blood sugars coming way down. I bought a whole new wardrobe worth of clothes and gradually threw out the size 18s'. Over the next few years, the weight remained fairly staple, the size 12s fitted and the blood sugar level was very good. Then COVID and lockdown happened.
Like so many people during the last year and various lockdowns Maggie has found that she was eating more high energy snacks - yes even cakes and sweets. Her level of activity reduced, 'I stopped having the energy even to go out for walks'. Wearing elasticated waisted jogger type bottoms helped her to ignore the weight increase. So, she is now the heaviest weight since being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, her blood sugars have risen and she struggles to get into the size 12 trousers. Maggie tells me that she has been trying to get her weight 'under control but I keep going back to eating more than I should. I did it myself the last time but this time I need help to get this all under control.'
Here is what we suggest to Maggie -
- Consider what are her main reasons for wanting to get her weight under control - is it her health, her blood sugars, getting into her size 12 clothes or indeed all of these? Writing these down can help in keeping her long term goal in perspective
- Look back at what worked for her before - it sounds like using the fitness wearables and recording food intake were essential before
- Make small, measurable targets for change, such as going for a short 15 minute walks, changing a snack for vegetables or fruit once a day
- Find a good source of local support, family and friend support is crucial when changing any behaviour but she might also want to look at local NHS and commercial weight management programmes.
Good luck to Maggie. If you are concerned that you might have type 2 diabetes then visit Diabetes UK and check your risk score.
* This is a true story but names have been changed. The top picture is from the World Obesity image bank
Dr Laura Stewart