By Shirin Nargis Fatima Ahmad
Changing our lifelong habits may seem like climbing a steep mountain. But just as one doesn’t climb a mountain without preparation, making changes to your lifestyle is easily done with the right support. Our clients have overcome great challenges on their journey to reach their health goals. So, let’s take peak at their story.
The path to mindfulness – Zahida’s journey
“I knew for the benefit of my health I had to make certain changes to my lifestyle but was unsure where to start. After a discussion with my doctor, they referred me to ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea. I have suffered from high blood pressure for a long time, and this would get worse any time I was stressed. This was something important for me to address and the breakthrough came during the mindfulness sessions in the virtual ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea club.
It is such a hot topic, and you hear about it often, but no one told me how to practice mindfulness until I attended the session. It’s been life-changing. I learned that the most important thing about mindfulness is to stay in the present and appreciate what is in front of you. I love nature, it fascinates me. So, I made it part of my mindfulness routine. Every day I take a 10-minute break. I gaze outside of my window as I sip on my green tea and appreciate the beauty that is outside: the sky, the trees, and the birds. It is peaceful. I am less stressed and more relaxed, and it has certainly done wonders for my blood pressure, which is now much lower.
There are so many activities to take part in with ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea which taught me so much. I always saw the traffic lights on the food packaging whenever I went grocery shopping, but I didn’t understand what that meant or how it fits into my meals. It was through the ONE YOU clubs that I understood how to read them and truly understand the eat well guide. I have made big changes to my diet. I have reduced my sugar intake; I am more mindful of my portion sizes and have started eating porridge for the first time.
These changes in my diet, in health, and my wellbeing are possible because of the ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea team, who were encouraging, supportive, and knowledgeable, answering all of my questions and concerns.”
Counting calories – Aimee’s journey
“I joined ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea just after lockdown, which was really helpful as it made my lockdown much easier. I was always looking forward to going back to the weekly ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea club sessions, as there was always the knowledge that someone is there to support you.
These last few weeks were very difficult, as I was homeschooling my daughter, which meant that my routine had completely changed. Trying to adjust to my new normal was stressful but talking to my ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea Healthy Lifestyle advisor about the stress I was experiencing was extremely helpful. She leant a listening ear and gave me some practical advice on how to manage the stress I was experiencing, making me feel much better.
I initially heard about ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea at my local library. I was very interested to learn about nutrition, but it was an added benefit that they could support me with exercise and stress as well.
For a long time, I had been dealing with chronic tiredness. Every check-up said I was fine, but that would just leave me with the question, “why am I tired?” It was during a ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea session on counting calories that I finally solved the mystery. I had calculated that my calorie intake was much lower than what is recommended. I never considered my diet to be a factor as I eat quite healthy. I eat plenty of vegetables that I steam or boil, so I was just so surprised that this was the reason for my tiredness.
I started keeping a food diary and noticed a pattern. My tiredness was linked to the number of calories I consumed that day. I sent an email to both my advisors, Jeanann and Kate, and they gave me many helpful tips on how to increase my calories with simple changes likes adding a bit of olive oil to my salad. It is amazing how simple and easy this is to do.
I don’t eat meat so I joined the virtual Cook and Eat sessions to learn how I can get more protein in my diet. It was exciting learning some new recipes during the lockdown period. It kept me occupied practising these at home as they were simple and easy to follow; I especially love the chickpea soup. I really hope in the future I can join the Cook and Eat sessions in person, I think it would be lots of fun to cook all together.
Having the sessions virtually meant that my daughter could join in and we could learn together. We had a quiz on which food had the highest content of fat, fish and chips or pizza. I said fish and chips, my daughter said pizza. My daughter was right. We started talking more about diet and healthy eating in my family, now we are more mindful about what we eat.
I am thankful to ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea for supporting me with an issue that has affected me for so long. This is such a good service, and I hope more people can benefit from the support.”
Reaching goals and beyond - Anna’s journey
“I was sitting in the GP reception, waiting for my appointment when I noticed the really colourful and eye-catching ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea leaflets, detailing the range of services offered on nutrition and weight loss. This was something that I’ve been trying to achieve, so I decided to get in touch and see what they could do for me. I am glad I did. My first meeting with the health advisor was surprisingly good. I felt welcomed, supported and I could tell the advisor really wanted me to succeed; this was the first time in my life I experienced such a positive response
Club meetings in the evening at Chelsea Methodist church were extremely helpful. Though the group was small, and we all had different health goals, we were all supportive of each other and shared our experiences and advice to help each other reach our goals. There was such warmth in the club meetings which was encouraging and motivational. It was a great feeling to be part of a programme that wasn’t just helping me but empowering us to support each other.
As we moved into lockdown, I still got support from ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea through the weekly Zoom meetings. These motivated me to stay on track and maintain the lifestyle changes I had made. All the teachings of ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea are now part of who I am, and it’s changed the way I view food. I now know that there is a delay between what you eat and how it manifests itself in your body. This knowledge is helpful in keeping good habits in place and avoiding any slip-ups.
Being part of ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea has really changed my lifestyle in a positive way. I’ve now added running to my physical activity. I never believed this could happen. I wasn’t a runner, but by using the ONE YOU Couch to 5K app I can now run up to 25 kilometres, sometimes 30 kilometres. I’m so surprised. I still remember the moment I first used the app and thinking “how am I going to reach a running goal of 5 kilometres?” But I maintained the practice, and soon I could run continuously for 30 minutes and reached my 5-kilometre goal. Reaching this goal changed my mindset and motivated me to strive for more. One day in February I challenged myself to run 1 kilometre extra, and I easily did it. It only took six months, and I was running 10 kilometres, then 20, and then 30.
I have reached my goal of losing weight and maintaining the weight loss, and I’ve also noticed a big shift in my mood. I don’t feel a roller coaster of emotions of being tired, hungry, and angry. Instead, I feel balanced and happier. I wake up with energy, ready to start my day. I would like to say a huge thank you to ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea for the amazing programme they run. Getting support in all avenues, whether it be healthy eating, being physically active, or emotional support, wasn’t what I expected, but it was brilliant having this.”
Practising the facts - Milkha’s journey
“I’m so happy that I joined ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea and made all the sustainable changes to my lifestyle. I initially weighed 70 kilograms, and through the disciplined changes I made, I am now 65 kilograms. I can’t believe how quickly I’ve lost the weight.
I attended a health event with my friend at Chelsea Theatre, where ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea were taking everyone’s blood pressures. They spoke to me about my health, and I realised I was a little bit overweight, and as a result, I joined the service.
Through weekly encouragement from the advisors, I recognised the changes I needed to make to my lifestyle to be healthier. I eat a Mediterranean diet, it is part of my culture, but I didn’t realise I was eating a lot of it. My portion sizes were big, and I used a lot of olive oil in my food. I learnt that what I thought was healthy was in fact quite dangerous. I may have been eating the right types of food, but I was consuming more calories than is recommended. I am now much more vigilant about what I am eating and how much I am eating. I used to eat a whole box of grapes, but now I know the right portion for the day is a handful.
My routine before joining ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea wasn’t the best either. I did not eat breakfast and didn’t realise the importance of it. I would eat dinner much later, after eight in the evening. It was through the ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea sessions that I realised the body is a clock, and you should maintain a routine for good metabolism. This woke me up and I made the necessary changes. I started eating breakfast, stuck to regular timings for my meals and started eating from a smaller size plate to make sure I ate the right-sized portions.
During the lockdown period, the ONE YOU sessions were the highlight of my week and I would look forward to all the different zoom sessions they provided. It was a great way to stay connected to people and to continue learning new things. The staff at ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea really stepped up and made the service accessible to us digitally very quickly during this time. They didn’t just provide us with Zoom sessions but encouraged us to reach out to them should we feel stressed, anxious, or needed motivation, offering a helping hand to stay connected for a lot of people. I am so happy to join the service and grateful that this free service was available to me, especially during the time of the pandemic when it is important to be healthy.
It’s easy to dismiss the programme thinking “I know all of this” but there is actually so much more to learn. I know it’s up to us to make these changes in our life, but a programme like this is important to support us to make these changes sustainably.
I sometimes think if I didn’t join, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I am much more confident in myself, comfortable in my body, and feel great. I can’t thank the wonderful and knowledgeable staff at ONE YOU Kensington and Chelsea enough, all the changes I’ve made to my habits are due to their support and advice. This has been a blessing to me.”