Hector is 11 years old and lives with his mum (Helen), Papa (Stephane) and 9 year old sister, Lucie by the sea in Hove.
A few months ago, he had his weights and measures done at school as part of the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP), and, like 1 in 3 children his age, he was deemed overweight. His mum and dad were sent a letter inviting them to join BeeZee Families, but at first they decided against it, fearing that it may be harmful to get Hector concerned with his weight at such a young age. Lots of parents feel this way and it’s totally understandable. That’s why at BeeZee Families the focus isn’t on weight at all, instead we focus on discovering enjoyable exercise, learning about healthy foods and running ‘experiments’ to create new routines and habits.
But when Hector started secondary school and began to have more autonomy over what he ate, often snacking on cookies and cakes, his parents wanted Hector to be informed about his food choices and what those choices did to him and his body so that he could make smart decisions. Helen and Stephane were no strangers to BeeZee Bodies, having previously taken part in our adults course, so they already knew that we do weight loss differently. No diets, no restrictions, just an education in food and fitness, and support making healthy lifestyle changes. They knew that BeeZee Families would be the perfect place to help Hector get clued up on healthy living, with a healthy mindset. So a few weeks later, Helen and Hector arrived together for their first BeeZee Families session…
The first thing they tackled was breakfast; a “tricky” mealtime in their household, according to Helen. “Breakfast was the biggest change we made. Just a few recipes, that were quick and easy to make, made a huge difference. Also thinking about the variety on his plate was great too – now he makes sure he has bits from every food group, or at least a good mix!”
They learnt about portion sizes and snacking too. Helen said “Snacks at school were a huge sticking point. But what I found great was that there was no pressure from BeeZees. Change could start with one snack swap a week, and then grow from there. This made it much more achievable, and Hector’s snacking at school has improved.”
Hector has always enjoyed being active, he loves to ride his bike and swim. However, moving schools meant that he lost his daily walk to and from school, and so he was getting less activity than he used to and needed to replace it with another form of exercise… at BeeZee Families he was introduced to lots of different sports to help him find a new active hobby. Helen said “this was a great way to inspire new choices. A boxing class has come up as an after school club, and because he’d experienced a bit of boxing at BeeZee Families, he could relate and he has signed up!”
We asked Hector and his mum what the most valuable thing they learnt on the BeeZee Families programme was. They said:
“Change doesn’t have to be big to be beneficial. Small changes give confidence to move to bigger ones.”
We asked Hector what his favourite thing about coming to BeeZee Families was. He said:
“Doing something just me and mum together. And I loved the snacks!”
And for Helen, she said:
“It was great to have someone other than yourself as a parent to talk about healthy eating, and not in a preachy way, but in a way that was more about finding things out together, seeing what everyone knows and piecing it together. The advice was never dictated, but more about finding what could work for you and you family. Changes were encouraged, but also sharing things that didn’t work out with other families was great too, and great for the children to see it’s hard for others too.
I also felt supported as a parent, and never made to feel bad. When your child is overweight, you look at yourself, it’s your fault, and what you have done to contribute to this. It’s an awful feeling! It was great not be made to feel bad about that, we are all different shapes and sizes, and come at life from many different situations. The focus at BeeZee Families is on being healthy and making better choices – the weight side of things was not focused on at all.”