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“I learned that comparing yourself to other people doesn’t really matter.”

How a 16 year-old brain-tumour survivor changed her life after doing the Think Eat and Move program.

Here’s her story.
I personally struggle with mental health and how I think about myself” says Rezna, a 16-year-old from Sydney. And she’s not alone. Despite a recent push towards body positivity, Mission Australia’s National Youth Service in 2021 reported 1 in 4 Australian young people still report to have serious body image concerns. 

 

After battling a brain tumour 4 years ago, Rezna experienced unexpected, gradual weight gain during her early teenage years after being prescribed life-long hormone replacement medications. She would often compare herself to others and feel self-conscious, about her change in appearance. But then one day at an appointment with her endocrinologist at Sydney Children’s Hospital, she was given a flyer about the Think Eat and Move (TEAM) program. “It was amazing!”Rezna said. There is always a “really, really long waitlist” to see the endocrinologist so Rezna was grateful to have immediate, weekly support from the program. 

Rezna says that while doing the TEAM program she thought about (herself) in ways (she’s) never thought about before. “Body positivity is something I struggled with, but TEAM helped me understand that healthy bodies come in different shapes and sizes.” Rezna particularly found the weekly telehealth appointments with her health coach, an Accredited Practicing Dietitian, very helpful, and helped her understand that “comparing (herself) to other people doesn’t really matter”.  

Focusing on establishing healthy eating and activity habits helped Rezna become the healthiest version of herself, rather than concentrating on her appearance. Rezna says TEAM helps you make small changes to the way you do things to improve your overall health”. Small changes like eating more wholemeal foods instead of white bread and pasta, using avocado instead of butter and incorporating exercise into (her) day to day life by tracking steps on the Garmin fitness tracker, (provided as a free resource on the program), were what she was most proud of achieving. “Even though these were small changes, it really did affect me dramatically”. 

There are fun, interactive online sessions focused on new health topics each week on the 8-week program. Rezna says “the online sessions were very handy; I could just go online and do them on my phone” at a time that was convenient for her. Her favourite session, titled Mind and Body, taught Rezna how to practice mindful eating and gratitude through journaling which she said helped not only boost her self-esteem but her body-esteem too.  

Weekly goals are included on the program, to help people make small, sustainable changes that are easy to maintain in the long term. Rezna told us the weekly goals really helped her make significant health changes. “I got through the targets quicker than I thought I would.  I could talk with my coach and ask her questions if I needed to if I didn’t understand something. She was very motivating.”  

When we asked Rezna to describe TEAM in three words, she said “it’s convenient, it’s achievable, and it’s fun.” 

If you want to get out of your comfort zone, and make a big change in your life definitely do the Think Eat and Move ProgramIt really helped me! 

Think Eat and Move (TEAM) is a healthy lifestyle program for young people. Since the pilot program in late 2018, TEAM has been funded by Central and Eastern Sydney PHN (CESPHN) so eligible teenagers in the area can join the program at no cost. The program runs for 8-weeks, completely online via the TEAM website, and includes weekly phone calls with a health professional coach.

With new programs starting each month, we accept ongoing registrations from families and referrals from health professionals. To register for the program or to send us a health professional referral, please visit us via:  

Website: www.thinkeatandmove.org
Email: info@betterhealthcomapyn.org
Phone: 1300 899 736 

References:
Mission Australia (2021). Mission Australia Youth Survey Report 2021.
https://www.missionaustralia.com.au/publications/youth-survey/2087-mission-australia-youth-survey-report-2021/file 

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