Claire, 45 years old

Claire attended the programme in Lordswood Health Centre in January 2016

How did you end up on the programme? What was the process?
I don’t have diabetes and am slightly overweight, I asked at my doctor’s surgery to be referred to a 1:1 support programme called Tipping the Balance but then spaces came up on this group programme.
What convinced you to sign up? What was your biggest motivation?
I wanted to lose some weight and be healthier, I hoped that it would encourage me to do this.
How did you feel about it before you attended?
At the time I didn’t think of it as diabetes. They did run me through the risk questions to see if I might be at risk. I just thought it would be a helpful thing to do though. When I joined the group they looked at my BMI and then did a sugar test to check my pancreas health. I didn’t think of it as diabetes just a means to lose weight.
How did it compare to what you expected?
As soon as I met the group and Jane I felt at ease, the camaraderie was so good. It was a really friendly and supportive group.When we first went we got a pack of info to work through, some of it I had seen before, but the anecdotal discussions each week were very helpful. There was a guy who had a heart problem and he could tell us as a group that cream crackers are full of fat. The emphasis is on losing weight for health - not just for the sake of it, it’s aimed at helping with your whole body - not looking at weight or for a bikini body. We’re helped to develop long term good habits.
Was there anything you would have liked to know beforehand that you weren’t told?
Some people might feel shy or weight conscious, they just need to know that they’ll be with a group of people who are all aiming for the same thing in a non judgmental way. The weigh-in is very discreet. No-one asks about each other’s results.
What's the main benefit of attending the programme?
The info and the people I met, we continued after to exercise together as a group. A very good group of people and we all got on particularly well. I’m still in touch with a few members of the group. You become friendly because you have a shared goal. I was at risk and it has helped me. A lot of people could do with this sort of support.
What was the most surprising or useful thing you learnt?
The obesogenic environment - I didn’t know how supermarkets place food; firms pay to put food on the end of aisles and at different heights to catch your eye.
How did you find the pace of the programme?
I attended a mid morning session during the week. There are different timings to suit a broad range of people. I thought the pace was fine, it enabled people to listen to everybody in the group. Jane helped everyone to feel involved, she really knew what she was talking about. Jane would go away and bring back stuff relating to things we asked about. I had confidence she really knew what she was talking about.
What was the most useful session and why?
The cycle of change was very interesting - where you contemplate and begin actions to make changes to behaviour. The stress management was very interesting - the fact that the fight or flight - if you get stressed you lay down sugars in your body. The details about diabetes was good. The Eat Well plate was good too.
How easy or difficult was it to make the suggested changes?
It was easy. The hardest thing depends on your own metabolism, the hardest thing is to kick a sugar habit because it is addictive. We learnt all the places where sugar is hidden in ingredients lists. The group encouraged exercise, I have neighbours now who join me walking, they’ve been doing it ever since, it’s not only with the people you meet but with others you know. It’s not exclusive to the group.
How would you describe it to others considering attending?
An interesting programme that you’ll definitely come away with some info. It’s not too taxing and there will be bits that you’ll find interesting it will be supplemented by the members of the group. It’s not just a question of reading it. The group is confidential, what happens in the group stays in the group.
How would you describe the atmosphere at the group?
It was like a social gathering, we laughed like drains every week! The person running it was very personable, well-trained, helped us all gel and always gave support and useful, credible information.
What one word would you use to describe the 12 week programme?