Health and weight

Anaan - Interview 36

Female
Age at interview: 18

Brief outline: Anaan says she was always big but two years ago she decided to lose weight and lost two stones. She did not diet but says that she simply changed her eating habits like replacing chocolate for a piece of fruit and reducing her food portions. She joined a weight management programme for young people because she is interested in doing more physical activities. Ethnic background: Somali.

Background: See 'brief outline'.

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Anaan says she was always big even as a baby but two years ago she decided to lose weight and lost two stones. She did not diet but says that she simply changed her eating habits like replacing chocolate for a piece of fruit and reducing her food portions. She also had exams at that time so may be stress helped as well. She has put some of the weight back on but feels confident she will lose it again and is working towards going back to size 10/12.
 
She joined SHINE three months ago and said that she has become more aware of the role of exercise in weight management. She already knew about healthy eating but was interested in the physical activities side of the programme. She has always walked everywhere but now in addition she is doing more exercise like playing badminton once or twice a week. Anaan is Muslim and would like to do kickboxing but hasn’t been able to find a women’s only session.
 
At school she was the brightest in her class and she used to be bullied not so much because of her size but for wearing a headscarf or because of her name. Her way of coping with it was to beat up the bullies. She developed a reputation for being aggressive that followed her into secondary school. She remembers she was angry all the time partly because she was bigger than most of the people her age. Non-uniform days were particularly hard because her peers would tend to talk more about their appearance and complement one another and she just didn’t want to discuss body image at all.
 
Anaan says that Somali girls tend to be slim and tall and her friends were mostly size 6 or 8 and she was always the biggest one in the group. But she found that a motivation rather than an obstacle to lose weight because she realised that being big wasn’t good for her.
 
Regarding body image she is happy with herself and thinks that there are always going to be people who are bigger and smaller than you. That the important thing is to do something about weight that may harm your health.
 
In her experience accepting you have a problem and taking responsibility for your lifestyle are important steps to take to lose weight. Having the relevant information and the support from those around you also helps. Anaan thinks that it is important to tell people that you are trying to lose weight so they can help you.
 
Her advice to other young people that are thinking about losing weight is to set realistic targets for themselves like losing a pound a week and finding a young people’s programme like SHINE. Anaan says that the group makes it more possible to accomplish the targets you set for yourself.
 

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