Health and weight

Chelsea - Interview 28

Age at interview: 17

Brief outline: Chelsea is 17 years old and a student. Over the last two years she has lost six and half stone after she joined SHINE; a program designed to help obese and overweight teenagers to lose weight. Now Chelsea works at SHINE as a volunteer sharing her experience with other young people. Ethnic background: White British.

Background: See 'brief outline'.

Audio & video

Chelsea is 17 years old and studies child care full time. Over the last two years she has lost six and half stone after she joined SHINE; a program that provides advice and support to obese and overweight teenagers. Chelsea works with them as a volunteer encouraging and sharing her experience with other young people.
Things have not always been easy for Chelsea. When she was at school she was verbally and physically bullied. She has always suffered from stomach acidity and every time she ate she got bloated. It was this situation which prompted the bullying and in turn, the bullying became the caused of her overeating and overweight problem.
Her education was affected by the bullying. Chelsea recalled not wanting to go to school and missed a lot of schooling. She missed her mock exams and ended up taking GCSE’s in Maths and Art only. In total she took two out of seven GCSE’s exams.
She tried dieting and reducing portions but it didn’t make her lose any weight. She thinks that what was lacking was support – apart from her mother and father no one else was encouraging or advising her on what to do. Her GP gave her a food diary in an effort to help her but she thinks it wasn’t near enough but it was the GP who suggested her to join a programme called SHINE that helps overweight and obese young people who want to lose weight.
But before joining SHINE Chelsea had stomach surgery to try and improved her stomach acidity and the consultant told her that it would also help her to lose weight. In the beginning she lost weight because she was unable to eat properly but later she started to put the weight back on again. The acidity was worse before surgery and when she was overweight but it has now improved although she still needs to take Omeprazole to keep it under control.
Chelsea very much wanted to change her body shape and lifestyle but initially it wasn’t easy. When she first joined SHINE she had such a low confidence that she sat in a corner and didn’t join in at all. It took her about six weeks to start getting involved in the programme activities. Gradually she started joining in the activities and discussions.
Chelsea has turned her lifestyle up around and from someone who didn’t do any activity at all she now does about four days and a total of 12 hours a week. She swims, does exercises and works as a volunteer in SHINE. She thinks it is important to share her experience and support other young people. Chelsea described herself before joining the SHINE programme as a shy, withdraw teenager who lacked confidence. She herself is a bit surprised as to how much she has changed as a person. She never imagined back then that she would be speaking at conferences about her experience and encouraging other teenagers to achieve their goal.
Chelsea set herself a goal to go down from size 18/20 to size 12 or 14. She has exceeded her own expectations and is now size 10. She has achieved this over two years. The main changes she has made to her lifestyle were a significant reduction of portion sizes, eating more healthily and exercising regularly. Her main motivation for wanting to lose weight was the group itself; at SHINE she was with teenagers who were as she put it' ‘in the same boat at me’, who understood how each other felt and encouraged one another to succeed and work towards achieving their own set goal.


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