So how did it begin?
Take yourself back to May 2018, the BBC aired a show called Britain’s Fat Fight with Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall.
We watched as Hugh fought head on with our nations obesity crisis, tackling issues like marketing techniques by big brands, increasing activity and junk food. Throughout the series, Hugh and the team head to Newcastle, challenging the city to come together, changing the way people live and work together to improve health. Fast forward to June 2018 and Newcastle had done it! they collectively lost 100,000lb in weight. This was extremely refreshing to see and inspired by the series we set on a journey to do the same across the county of Cornwall.
So ..one week later we had emailed over 400 local business, set up a website and conquered social media. Our project went live on the 1st June 2018 and has gone from strength to strength. We have the support and backing of over 80 incredible businesses from across the county, ranging from personal trainers to charities. All of which are there to help as best they can with your weight loss journey. We have had a great response on social media and have been able to see some amazing stories unfold from weight loss, race success and even learning to cook. We even have the support from Newcastle Can and the lovely Hugh himself has sent us a video of support.
Who organises Cornwall Can?
Well that would be me (Laura) I am a nurse, with nearly ten years experience in the NHS. This project is extremely close to my heart. You see, growing up, I watched my mum struggle with her weight. She must have tried every single diet craze out there but often with no joy, despite working very hard. Whether it be playing football with my brother and I or eating healthy foods. At the time my mum would never admit it but her weight was an issue. We also never understood how the bullies could say hurtful things or make jibes. As kids you don’t see it, because lets face it your mum is the most beautiful, caring wonderful person out there. So wonderful in fact she just used to laugh it off. Now I look back and wonder how that must of felt… to be brave like that all the time and never let your kids know you are hurting.
My Mum has diabetes. At one point in her life, her blood sugar readings were continuously above 20 (yes this is dangerous). This is despite her best efforts to maintain a good diet and exercise, even the GP was completely baffled. Her blood sugars remained so uncontrolled for such a long that it has now left her permanent damage to her body including neuropathy. She has constant pain to her feet and walking is difficult. Now older, I wonder if we had just been a little bit more open and honest a lot earlier could we have helped prevent this from happening. To reassure my mum that its not because we are or were ever embarrassed about how she looked, we just wanted her to be healthier in the long run.
Fast forward a few more years later and my mum is taking the correct measures to move forward. She has lost weight, looks incredible (as always) and now speaks openly about her weight loss journey. Something to which I am very proud of her, because I know how difficult this journey has been.
So whilst watching Hugh’s show, I was intrigued to find out my risk of developing diabetes. I did the test online through Diabetes UK and was astonished to discover my score was 18/20. I scored 5 points just because my mum was also diabetic. I’m not sure why, but this was the biggest shock at all. I knew I could be at risk of developing type two diabetes due to family history but seeing it there in black and white hit a nerve. So Voila! Cornwall Can was born! I joined up with everyone else and my own weight loss journey began- losing 50lb in total. I’m not going to lie it has been a very difficult journey and it is still ongoing. I walked everywhere, if I had to go to the shops I walked. I made sure I ate well, swapping sugary snacks for healthier ones and used every opportunity to make exercising fun… even if it involved doing the housework. I had some very hard days and others were a breeze. I found my biggest downfall is snacking, whether it be at work, because of tiredness or because its Sunday. So I now carry fruit everywhere- but that’s something I will have to work on.
I wanted to create Cornwall Can to help as many people as possible, even if it just turns out to be one person. But I want everyone to look at the long term picture, don’t be offended if people talk to you about your weight. It’s not meant to be hurtful, its because they are trying to look after you for longer.
We would like to give a great big thank you to Hugh and the team at Newcastle Can (Alice and Jo), not only for the inspiration to do this project but also for showing continuous support throughout. It really does mean an awful lot for everyone involved and to those who are signed up.
Please watch out for the next instalment of Britain’s Fat Fight, on BBC 1.