Older woman sitting at table
© Obesity Action Coalition

The author of this story chose to remain anonymous and the image does not depict the author.

I’m 65 now, and used to work as a nurse and midwife. I didn’t really have any problems with being overweight when I was younger. When I stopped nursing, and when I got to peri-menopause, that’s when I started to put on weight. 

I found that my medications increase my appetite and I found it difficult, I kept putting weight on and I didn’t really know what to do about it. It’s not a matter of knowledge. I’ve read a lot about healthy eating and losing weight, I used to be a nurse, I know what to do.

I had a friend refer me to the Robin Winkle Clinic at UWA (psychological treatment). I did start to lose some weight there but there was too much focus on exercise. I turned into an exercise machine, it was too extreme. I left because I didn’t want to keep doing it and I went over 100kgs, I don’t know how much over. I did go back there for other things but I decided I don’t want to feel like all I can do is exercise.

I joined a weight loss group, a peer support type group – Weigh to Go. I didn’t feel like I was losing very much weight with them, but at least I wasn’t putting on too much either. I had support from a dietician at Black Swan Health and they referred me to the Diabetes Educator. I did try the Pharmacy Triple 7 weight loss program. They said to me recently, “you’re doing really well’. I do a weekly weigh in, and with fibromyalgia the weather makes things really difficult, makes the pain difficult, and that affects my weight. When she said that it made me think I can do this, I can keep this up. And I’ve been much better this week since she said that. The pharmacist doesn’t judge me for eating a bit more or eating things that aren’t the best.

The pharmacy dietician gave me some good ideas for meals, things like healthy fats and what to add. I really like those ideas because they help me feel better. I tend to stick to doing the same things with food, curries and roasting meals, so having other ideas is good motivation. I can’t afford organic veggies and coconut yoghurt, but there are some things like yoghurt I can make myself. I go to the gym at Black Swan Health when I can, that’s good because all of the people who go there have a reason to go. It’s only a small group, and it’s run by a physio. I also go to mindful movement for chronic pain. All of my health problems would be much better if I lost weight.

If I can come off some medication it will help reduce my appetite. There’s one my rheumatologist wants me to try but it’s expensive. I’m on a lot of supplements from the pharmacy, I’m on a pension with NDIS – how can I afford it? I’m always trying to think of another way – some diets don’t work because my other conditions effect what I can and can’t eat.

My family took a photo of me recently and I said I look really fat and frumpy. They said don’t worry about that, but you do see it. I have used my weight as a kind of shield in the past, an excuse really, to hide away sometimes. But in a lot of ways it hasn’t stopped me. It was just something that I got used to. It was only after peri-menopause and menopause that I couldn’t stay slim.

The way I feel about it – I am very fat but I try and get nice clothes, dress nicely, so I look as good as I can, because that motivates me to keep moving and keep active. But I just don’t have that ability to stay slim, and I just have to accept it. When I was young I was too caught up in my weight. Who I am is more important than what I look like. Lots of other things change when you get older and you have to accept that. I have a lot of empathy and passion for talking about this. Being able to have a conversation with the consumer advisory group, the pharmacist, with friends – it’s a good thing to have and to hear other people’s experiences.