Many people with mental health issues take prescribed medications that can cause their weight to increase – sometimes dramatically. JESSICA, an employee from RichmondPRA’s Enterpraise at Penrith, put on 53 kilograms. Instead of despairing, she decided to get back to something a little below her former weight without stopping her medication, taking risks, or other drama.
BEFORE AND AFTER: Jess today at 78kg wearing the work clothes that fitted her when she was 123kg.
I came to work at Enterpraise because one of my goals was to get a job that had some exercise and was out in the sun. At first I did lawn mowing, but at the moment I am with the cleaning team. I like outdoor work such as landscaping.
I started here at Enterpraise in February 2013 and at that time I weighed 123 Kilograms. Since then, I have lost 45 kilograms and I am to lose 8 Kilograms more. That will bring me back down to my desired weight of 70 kilograms. Before I began taking Clozapine for a mental health issue, I weighed 75 kilograms.
I lost the 45 Kilograms gradually, most of it at the rate of three kilograms per month. So each month when I went to the clinic to have my Clozapine check-up, they would notice that I’d lost a bit more weight.
I wanted to do this without pressure. I did not want to lose the weight too fast – like on that show Australia’s Biggest Loser. I also didn’t do any extra exercise. I just concentrated on food alone.
I am just an ordinary person but I have shown that it can be done. It was a matter of educating myself. I first tried the Bodytrim program which uses meal substitute shakes. I lost a lot of weight but I really felt that I needed to eat food rather than shakes! Eventually I started on Lite ‘n’ Easy. This is not a diet; it is a lifestyle change that you commit to for good. I would recommend it to anyone. Jenny Craig is similar to Lite ‘n’ Easy in its approach.
Before I started I was eating a lot of food with high calories, like KFC, Chinese takeaway, and Indian takeaway. Because I travel out with the guys in the work crew and a lot of them eat that sort of food, I get quite a lot of temptation. At first, resisting the temptation was hard. Willpower won’t come at first, but after a while it kicks in. I began to find that it became easy to resist the temptation, it is almost automatic. I now find that I don’t WANT to eat those kinds of foods. They taste no good to me. I stopped eating lollies and chocolates, too.
I learned how many calories I needed and set a goal for 70 kilograms and I have taken baby steps to get there because I wanted to do it SAFELY.
It has only been in the last few weeks that I have started doing some extra exercise, but not to lose weight. I do that through my food intake, aiming to keep it within 1,200 Calories per day. The exercise that I have recently taken up is to tone myself up because of my new body shape.
I have been helped by a number of people including my occupational therapist Kirrily Warner. Also, my doctor, Dr Begin was so inspired that she is starting to work on her own goals too! Plus the guys at work are also starting to imitate me a bit. Some of them are going to the gym and our peer worker Jeanette is also inspired to act.
Just because we take medication does not mean we can’t lose the weight we need to stay healthy. I hope my experience inspires you too!
Jessica: still going strong
So you know how Jessica went from 123kg to a mere 78kg? That picture at the top of the post was from back in October, but Jess sent us a message with a newer picture:
“I just want to give many thanks for my story in the magazine and to let you know I weigh 66kg. I’m down to my goal weight and still going strong!”
The proof of the pudding (er, celery) is in the eating. Here’s the latest version of Jessica, showing yet again that we can take our meds AND keep on keeping the weight off!