Philip lost a stone and a half with 1:1 support and simple changes

One-to-one support, working with our coach Alex, resulted in Philip from the Forest of Dean losing almost 10kg - and his wife benefited too, losing a stone in weight, thanks to the new, simple eating habits they started. Here's Philip's story in his own words.

How did you hear about the Healthy Lifestyles Service?

I was receiving treatment from the Physiotherapy Team at the Dilke Memorial Hospital. They felt I would benefit from losing weight as it would reduce the strain on my joints. When told this, I actually thought it would be good to lose weight to help get rid of some fat from my stomach - I thought it might increase my confidence. The physio mentioned Slimming World but I didn’t like this idea as I am not a fan of groups and thought Slimming World was mainly for women, so they suggested one-to-one support through Healthy Lifestyles Gloucestershire.

Have you tried to lose weight before?

I have tried losing weight a few times before, but I got absolutely nowhere with it, so it only lasted a week or so.

Where there any particular challenges for you to overcome?

I didn’t actually think there was that much wrong with my diet but that was clearly wrong as I couldn’t get my weight down. On reflection, one of the biggest challenges was that I was quite fussy with things like salad and I ate quite a lot of chips. I also didn’t exercise much.

What did the support involve?

After referring into the service, I received a call from Alex within days and we met within a week at a community centre less than 5 minutes from my house. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but was really happy after meeting him. He just seemed like your average bloke that you could have a chat with - really laid back and didn’t take himself too seriously which made me feel comfortable.

He explained how the service worked and asked me to complete a food diary for a week. We met again the following week, went through the food diary, talked about my likes and dislikes, before discussing a few potential changes and how to go about making them.

I found it really useful to write down what I had eaten and I think doing that alone helped me lose a tiny bit of weight, but when we reviewed it I was surprised at how Alex was able to find a couple of ways to substantially reduce my calorie intake, without it feeling like a diet. We talked about reducing the size of portions and my intake of carbohydrates (like bread, potatoes and chips especially) in favour of vegetable and salad. But it didn’t stop there - we discussed how to do that. I wasn’t a fan of salad so I started off by having lots of the few things that I liked, then steadily introducing other items but in a subtle way. Alex pointed out the importance of taste, textures and temperatures of foods. A few things which resonated with me were to cut lettuce up into very small pieces, to have hot meats instead of cold meats so that the juices acted as a dressing. On the subject of dressings and sauces, I was worried about using them as I thought they were high in sugar and calories. Alex said I was right, but he also told me to look at the bigger picture. That by using 100 calories worth of dressing it got me eating salad, which I would otherwise not be eating, contained very few calories, is filling and very healthy. The carbohydrates I would normally have eaten contained more calories, might still be accompanied by dressing, butter and other sources of saturated fat like cooking oil. It was an easy change to make but made a huge impact!

After the second appointment we typically met once every couple of weeks, except when I came back from a holiday when we met for a couple of weeks on the trot to help keep me on track.

The other thing I liked was that we talked about weight management. Just as an example, I didn’t want to complete food diaries forever, so we had weeks where I didn’t do it. This was really worthwhile because it again made me feel I was changing habits rather than being on a diet.

What goals did you set yourself?

I set a short-term goal of losing half a stone. Once I achieved that, I set the same goal again. Now I am doing things on my own I would like to lose another stone by the summer.

How did you plan ahead?

Planning has been very important, particularly prior to going shopping. My wife and I think about our meals for the week and write a list. This has helped us focus on buying the healthy food we need for meals rather than what we fancied at the time. This helps us manage cravings as well - if I don’t buy treats, I’m not tempted by them, so we walk straight past the biscuit isle.

Did you use any technology or apps and did they help you?

I bought a Smart Watch which has helped motivate me to walk more.

How did you manage in social situations or eating out?

When I go out I generally make the same sort of choices as I would at home. Instead of having steak and chips, I will have steak and salad with some sweet chilli sauce. I am also drinking a lot less alcohol after Alex pointed out the number of calories in a pint.

How did you stay motivated?

I have never really lacked motivation but I found it difficult when my weight loss slowed down. That’s when Alex’s support was most important.

Did your support affect your home life?

I feel more confident and this has put me in a better mood generally, but my wife has also lost a stone by eating the same sorts of things as me.

Did you start exercising more? What advice would you give other people about this?

Do things you enjoy. I just went for walks in the wood but mixed up routes, added speed and gradients for increased intensity. This was something Alex could provide quite a lot of advice and input on as he lives locally and runs in the woods quite a lot. He is also a qualified Personal Trainer.

What have you personally achieved?

Alex supported me twice in 6 months and in that time I lost almost 10kg (around 1 and ½ stone in old money!). I have also gone from a 38" waist down to a 36.

How has achieving your goals changed you?

The changes I have made will be permanent - and I think it will be easy to make them permanent because they were so subtle in the first place.

Are you where you want to be or do you want to achieve more?

I want to lose another stone but want to try and do it on my own. If I struggle, I will ask HLS for further support.

What advice would you give others?

If you want to make changes to your lifestyle, get support from Healthy Lifestyles Gloucestershire. I found them to be really good at what they do. I’m sure their approach wouldn’t be for everyone but it’s free, so you haven’t lost anything by giving it a go.

Why should people choose support from Healthy Lifestyles Gloucestershire?

My experience with Alex was that he would be straight with you and get his points across, but you could have a laugh and a joke about it all. He wasn’t patronising either - he was there to support me, not to shame or tell me off.

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