The phone rings. I am still in bed, but very much awake. I look at the clock. 10am. My second lie-in this week. God, I love school holidays.
Hi Sarah, this is Bee, from the Life! Program?
Oh damn, I had forgotten about this. I meant to phone and cancel.
Oh yes. How are you?
I’m fine, thank you. Is now still a good time to go through the questionnaire?
Well, no not really. I don’t want to do this anymore. I know I’m a candidate for diabetes. I don’t need you to tell me that.
Sure, of course it is.
We go through the questions. A lot of questions. I know from my answers what I have known for the past 20 years – my salt intake is too high, I don’t make healthy food choices, I don’t exercise enough (read, at all!). I feel crap. After an hour, the questions are finished.
Now, Sarah, the first part of this questioning process was actually to gauge your levels of anxiety and depression. Just adding up the scores, you have, in fact scored quite highly for both. Are you aware of any issues with these.
Where do I begin, lady, and how long have you got? I fight back tears. I am trying not ruminate, I’m trying to move forward. I give her a very brief story of our family situation – the autism, the teenage pregnancy, my depression, my obesity. She ums and ahs in sympathy. No-one understands, they just don’t. And I am trying to remain upbeat here.
So, what is it that you do for yourself?
Her question catches me off-guard. She obviously senses my lack of understanding.
I mean, what is that you do on a daily basis that is just for you?
I have no idea what she means.
Well, I’m a stay at home mum, so I don’t really do anything other than clean, cook and stuff. I surf the internet a lot, am on facebook a lot, I guess that’s just for me.
Yes, yes, I understand.
I don’t think she does.
You see, that is not really doing something for yourself. That is a form of escapism and we know that it doesn’t help with anxiety and depression, it in fact enhances it. I know it makes you feel connected in some way, but it doesn’t really help you. So, I’m wondering if there is anything that you enjoy doing, that you could do just for yourself. Today.
Tears are welling up in my eyes. I don’t know this woman from a bar of soap. I enrolled on the course through uni because I knew I was a candidate for diabetes if I didn’t get my weight in check. I thought I would get a meal plan and that would be it. Now, I feel like it is a terrible idea. I stumble on my words.
Er, I don’t know. I like scrap booking, but I have to admit that I haven’t the energy for it right now.
I look at my laptop placed next to me. My fingers itch to clank away at the keyboard.
I’m going to leave it with you to think about what it is you can do, just for yourself, no-one else, every day. Something small.
Inwardly I laugh. I have no idea what she means. Anything for myself seems at once ridiculously indulgent. I am looking, have always looked, into starting a business from home, but something inside of me suspects she will see that as doing something for my family. She would be right. As a stay at home mum, I have largely felt inadequate, a drain, on the financial resources of our family. Scrapbooking just seems selfish. I agree to think about it.
Now, what is it that you can do to improve the lifestyle areas that we have identified in the questionnaires?
I confidently rattle off the areas – less salt, more fruit and veg, more exercise. I hope I’m getting brownie points for this.
Hmm, yes, that is a very long list.
No, it isn’t. It’s a list of three.
Let’s get a lot more focused. I want you to narrow it down to one thing, that you can do for the next two weeks.
I think about it. I love salt and I hate exercise.
I can increase my fruit and vegetable intake.
Bugger it, this lady never gives up.
Well, I already eat at least two serves of fruit a day. I do love my fruit.
So, we are looking at increasing your vegetable intake. How can you do that, and be specific.
I know what she is doing. She is facilitating me to come up with a plan because studies have shown that with the participants’ buy-in, success of any given program is much more likely to succeed. I play along. I give various scenarios of how I can improve – preparation, one-pot meals and the like. She suggests batch-making but my freezer space won’t allow it. Within five minutes, we have a plan.
How are you going to monitor your progress, Sarah.
Ah, this is the accountability bit.
I can write down what I have written.
Yes, but will you.
She was right. I’m depressed, there is no way I’m writing down what vegetables I eat.
I could take a photo. I have my phone on me all the time.
That is an excellent idea. I feel like I have just got the answer to a really difficult question.
The conversation ends. My plan is to eat up to five serves of vegetables a day. A serve, I am told, is a small potato or a half cup of vegetables. I have to take photos of said vegetables.
I get the feeling that the road to Mecca (sexy and slim for me) is going to be a long one.