Our journey began in April 2013 on the day Cherise came home from school and started to question me about any health issues that our family had. We have a history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Cancer and type1 Diabetes in our family. It was then that she told me that she needed to lose some weight or she would be suffering from type 2 Diabetes in the very near future. I was shocked. Cherise had always been on the large side compared to her brother and sister and we just accepted that that was how she was, it had never been a problem or health issue in our eyes. Cherise then told me that she had joined the plate club at school and started to insist that we changed our eating habits. We did start to change some of our meals but didn’t take it too seriously.
When the opportunity arose for Cherise to join Steps for Life we knew that this was what she needed to really get her going. Wayne and I have always got right behind our children in everything that they do and we knew that we had to back Cherise if she was going to make a real go of it. Little did we know just how much Steps was going to affect our whole family.
From the first meeting to the last, it is a journey I would definitely recommend. It certainly was not an easy journey but worth it. We learnt a lot about ourselves. How strong were we mentally? Were we prepared to change? The importance of being organised and in particular how bad our eating habits were, and how we should and could change them so easily.
One of the most shocking things at the beginning was learning about the amount of fat in every day foods and realising just how much we really needed to eat. Learning about it is easy but, putting it into practice when you get home is the key. That is where we found we all had to be on board. I have to admit, to start off with it was easier said than done. Old habits were hard to break, particularly when you have favourite meals. But we learnt how to make healthier versions of some of them which actually taste better, others if we couldn’t change them then they went into the ‘maybe as a last resort pile’ until we got strong enough to say no to them altogether.
To stop any lapses to our unhealthy menus we have a white board stuck to the fridge that says what we are having for each night so there is no excuse. It also makes it easier if there is a change of plans for any of us. The supermarket visit is a great help here when planning healthier choices, it certainly is an eye opener. Clearing out the snacks we had in the pantry eg. potato chips, chocolate biscuits, crackers etc, without eating it ourselves was a challenge. Let’s just say we had a lot of socialization going on. Stepping back and watching our friends eat the chips etc I had mixed emotions, do I tell them to stop or not.
Another big thing we found hard was not getting complacent as we started to see the weight drop. We all had to remind ourselves not to give in. Even now we will tutt tutt at each other, pat our stomachs and shake our heads as a signal to stop, reminding each other that we are not respecting all our hard work. Yes, it was hard to start off with to break old habits but, as we found if you support each other you can get through it. I found end of year break ups and functions are always a challenge. This is where the rules really helped. I would often take a snack from home to eat instead and then get asked “That looks yum, where did you get that? “. For me living with an autoimmune disease Steps gave me a new appreciation of food. By changing the way we eat I have more strength, energy and a new set of rules. Steps made me look into the way food maybe affecting me and why.
Both Wayne and I really admire Cherise, as she has had such determination to change our family for the better. As a result we have all had to get a new wardrobe, Cherise was so happy when she bought a size 12 pair of jeans. Wayne has managed to loose 26kg. As an engineer his knees are very thankful and he is back playing football (Soccer) and lasting a full game. This year everyone in our family except me did Round the Bays, something they would never have thought of doing before steps. We as a family are grateful to Steps for showing us how to live a healthy life.
Wayne and Karen Barry - parents