North Yorkshire’s adult weight management service has continued to support residents to achieve their weight loss goals throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

The free 24-week programme is designed to improve physical and mental health by helping you eat well and get moving. There are six adult weight management service providers covering the county and the teams all provide online, telephone and face-to-face support.

Simon Bailey, 68, signed up for the programme after picking up a leaflet at his local doctor’s surgery.

During his working life, Simon spent the majority of his days at a desk doing very little exercise. Having retired recently, he decided it was time to make some positive lifestyle changes.

“There’s no doubt that it has enabled me to lose weight and lead a healthier and fitter lifestyle,” said Simon. “Even minor tasks, working in the garden or around the house are easier now. People that know me say I have a new zest for life.

“The online courses couldn’t have worked better for me. After our workout, we take part in a discussion, which during the pandemic had been a great way to socialise and get to know the other group members.

“We are all committed to losing weight together and play a small part in encouraging each other.”

Having invested in an e-bike, Simon regularly enjoys rides up to 35 miles at a time exploring the lesser known lanes and bridleways near to his home in the Dales.

“I can’t believe how much I look forward to exercising every day,” said Simon. ”I now meet friends and family for a walk and feel much better for it. It makes you more energised.”

He added: “The main thing to remember is that we are all in the same boat. There’s never any embarrassment when it comes to the weigh-in, which is what some people dread.

“We don’t have to share our weight loss or gain with the group if we don’t want to and there’s no pressure if you haven’t lost weight that week. We all have weeks where we put some on. It’s just part of the process.

“It’s not just about the weight loss, it’s about the incredible journey we have been on together and what we have achieved as a group.”

The free programme is available to over-18s with a BMI of 30 or over, or anyone with a BMI of 25 or above who is also in a black or minority ethnic group, or has conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease or hypertension.

Find more information and how to sign up.

Natalie Read spent her mid-20s feeling depressed about her fluctuating weight and health problems. The mother-of-one began the programme in 2019 as a size 20 and weighing 17 stone.

29-year-old Natalie is now a fitness model and is qualifying to become a personal trainer.

“At the beginning I didn’t have faith in the programme as I’d tried losing weight so many times before,” said Natalie. “I was suffering from anxiety and depression, so at the time I was in a rut and it was hard to imagine much progression.

“I soon began exercising, which had a positive impact on my mental health. It wasn’t just about the weight loss for me, it was feeling better about myself.”

After losing eight stone, Natalie has continued to exercise since finishing the programme at the beginning of last year. She bought a bike in the first lockdown and now makes it a regular routine to cycle on Scarborough seafront.

Even a health scare last year, which saw her undergo three brain surgeries and spend time in intensive care, hasn’t set her back. She is keener than ever to seize every day and inspire others.

“I enjoy inspiring other people as I needed somebody to do that for me,” added Natalie. “I want to show young people that they can turn their lives around and that support is out there.

Louise Wallace, North Yorkshire’s Director of Public Health, said: “We are extremely proud that the North Yorkshire adult weight management service, funded from our Public Health Grant, has continued to support people who need help and specialist advice to improve their health and wellbeing despite the challenges and restrictions of Covid-19.

“We’re delighted that more than 400 people have started on their weight loss journey since May this year, four times as many as the same period last year. Providers in each district have worked tirelessly to review and adapt the service offered to ensure it is safe so they are able to meet the needs of everyone requiring support through these challenging times.”