Times are Changing

I was over the moon today when I went into my GP centre for the inaugural over eaters meeting and saw the big bold bright poster announcing the new eating disorder service that has been developed with patient input (nothing better than having a say and being listened to and I definitely had mine).

Not only was it an attractive eye catching well put together promotion which had people looking and talking, it also announced that the services at the centre would be holistic including a specialist eating disorder counsellor and therapist, a discussion and support group for over eaters which would meet one a week to start and would also become an online network of support and advice, designed and led by patients. Weighing and measuring services will be available on professionally calibrated scales which could be a DIY service or assisted by the practice nurse. A nutritionist will attend meetings giving advice on what food does to your body, how it tackles disease, repairs cells, rejuvenates and a whole host of other information to make food not just something to be savoured on the palette but to take in to make our bodies and minds feel better. A discount on organic fruits and veg has been negotiated with a local independent greengrocer and the same has pledged to provide a big bowl of produce to scoff at meetings.

One of my suggestions was to see if we could rent a couple of allotments which are situated behind the doctor surgery where members of the groups (there’s an overarching one and then specific ones for different types of eating disorder and it is amazing to see over eating/emotional eating included as a specific group with unique needs) can tend and grow organic vegetables and I’m delighted that we have been successful in securing two adjacent lots which my company is going to sponsor for the first two years in terms of rent, tools and the all important shed complete with deckchairs. I can not wait for a gang of us to decorate it out. We are going to have raised beds made from reclaimed sleepers as I have at home so that people who are less mobile or in wheelchairs can still get involved and more importantly get out in the fresh air and move more.

There are so many suggestions already including a simple exercise class for larger or previously larger people who don’t feel ‘right’ in gyms or committed enough to home work outs in solitude, recipe sharing and testing, telephone buddies for those moments when you’re just not coping, clothing swaps, fashion shows make overs all kinds of things as well as medical support and advice. One of the town’s swimming pools has already been approached and offered to open specifically for group members two mornings per week earlier than its regular opening hours so that self conscious folk can have a swim in private. That is so great, to see so many faces beaming at the prospect of being able to go for a swim again and not worry about what anyone thinks of them was so heart warming.  I know we should be able to just do it anyway but some people can’t and they are disabled by their weight, they become unhappy recluses who sit home and get fatter and fatter, something like this will get those people out, exercising safely and effectively and socialising. The boosts to mental health are going to be phenomenal and I’m just so excited about it.

This is a dream come true for me and something I’m so happy to see come to fruition at last. My personal trainer, Darren has offered free of charge to come and give advice on how our bodies use the calories we eat and what kinds of exercise will be useful to help shift fat and create nice strong lean muscles to burn fat more efficiently and effectively.

It’s all fabulous and I know so many of those who have agreed to opt into this have pound signs in their eyes with the new custom but I really do believe that isn’t their primary concern, those I’ve spoken to and my GP and nurse have spoken to have all been genuinely invested in creating places and giving something where people who are killing themselves with food and immobility might stand a chance to get better, live longer and have a healthy life ahead filled with all of the things all human beings need.. happiness, love, self esteem, fulfillment and a sense of validity.

I feel as if I’m going to be missing out as I don’t feel this is something I really need now but I’m so glad that it’s there for other people who need it and I will be an honorary member of course, encouraging and dropping lists of top tips in now and then and supervising the garden in the early days. I’m also going to host by invitation the group’s first social event at my home and show how you can lay on a party with delicious foods and drinks which are not going to pile on pounds. More than that just knowing that people who have been isolated for years are going to be amongst the guests is priceless. I guess they’ll all get to meet the paper poster verison of Tracey in my dining room too with all her body parts pinned at the side in various states of faded discoloration.

When asked to get involved in this I told my GPs that the most important thing in my opinion is to get people re-engaged with life, get them socialising, talking, sharing, caring about themselves by doing their hair, dressing nicely, giving them a purpose, getting them to talk to people about anything and everything and educating them, giving a safe place for them to explore their emotional issues and teaching them that it’s OK to be sad, hurt, angry, let down, upset, bitter, regretful, it’s all OK but more importantly being happy is OK too and also educating them about what their fat is doing to their health, what food can do for their health and starting to dig away at helping them find a way to change those bad habits to good ones.

I guess it’s all about that attention to all of the many issues, the ones in common and the ones that are distinctly personal, about giving options and letting people choose what’s good for them, what fits their needs and will best help them, about letting them/us know that we are not alone, the most embarrassing elements of being obese are not ours to bear the shame of alone, we all struggle and we can over come. It’s about re-creating in ‘real life’ what I’ve found here a rich network of help, support, information, advice, humour, spirituality, love, kindness and genuine will to see each other do the best we can to just feel happier and healthier, to buy ourselves a few more years to enjoy this life we’ve been gifted with, many of us have spent way too many years hating ourselves and the world and  hiding from it, it’s time to live, fat or not and hopefully get to know ourselves and make ourselves a little healthier along the way. I’ve done the ground work for me and I can’t even begin to put into words how much my enjoyment of life has improved, there is no comparison between then and now and even though I kidded myself I was happy then and living the life I wanted to I was lying to everybody and myself and it wasn’t fun, this is and the future is going to be even more so and now not just for me.

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