Employee changes lifestyle after taking part in staff challenge

Posted: 05/08/22

A Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) employee has changed their lifestyle after taking part in a staff challenge.

Suzy McKeen has lost an incredible four and a half stone, going from a size 26 to size 14 over 12 months, thanks to a staff healthy living initiative.

Suzy works for AuditOne, an organisation hosted by CNTW, and found out about the A Weight off Your Mind challenge through the weekly staff bulletin.

A Weight off Your Mind is CNTW’s weight management programme. Part of the Trust’s commitment to ensure people have access to information to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, the programme has resources for both staff and service users to make positive changes towards a healthier lifestyle.

Suzy was contemplating making changes to her lifestyle last summer. Following a difficult period she had turned to food for comfort.

The challenge encouraged staff to get on a healthier path following the pandemic and included a four-week calendar with daily tasks to move more, eat healthier and improve wellbeing.

This proved to be the boost Suzy needed. Suzy was later diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and was recommended a diet plan – the need to make lifestyle changes was now even greater.

To keep active, Suzy took her dogs on more walks, downloaded the NHS Couch to 5K app and used online yoga sessions which are available to CNTW staff. Her partner, a keen chef, has also been cooking some of the programme’s recipes.

A Weight off Your Mind has not only helped Suzy but she has also sent the resources to her 76-year-old mum who now exercises regularly.

Suzy said: “You can’t change for anyone but yourself. Don’t put things off until tomorrow, start with something small and know that you can modify things to help you get to where you want to be.

“The changes I’ve made have resulted in my HbA1c lowering, which has helped my diabetes. I also have osteoarthritis due to being a competitive gymnast when I was younger, the weight loss has definitely helped that too!”

Suzy has given some of her top tips on how she improved her relationship with healthy eating:

  • Adding more vegetables to evening meals to bulk out the plate
  • Add more fruit to and use fruit as a snack
  • Switching to a slightly smaller plate to help with reducing portion sizes
  • Don’t deny yourself snacks and treats but have these in moderation – don’t beat yourself up if you have the odd snack or treat either!
  • Mix up your routine to stop you feeling bored
  • Use free apps to track what you eat and to give you exercise ideas – the AWOYM website has some great free apps! You can access them by clicking A Weight Off Your Mind
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Keep busy so you don’t always think about food – Suzy has some favourite activities for this such as crafting or taking a walk

The Trust is committed to tackling health inequalities; people with mental health conditions and people with learning disabilities are at an increased risk of premature morbidity, dying up to 20 years sooner than the general population. It is thought that two thirds of these early deaths are caused by avoidable physical illnesses that are linked with unhealthy lifestyles such as poor diet and low levels of physical activity.

A Weight off Your Mind is also available for staff to use, part of CNTW’s commitment to staff health and wellbeing.