A Littleborough and Milnrow weight management programme has helped patients tone up, improve their diets, better manage long-term health conditions, beat depression and even gain the confidence to work again.

Run by the Littleborough Group Practice, the seven-month programme, which balanced fun but challenging circuit training with excellent nutritional advice, aided over 100 patients who were referred onto the programme by concerned doctors.

And amongst its successes is a local woman who went from being too fearful to leave her home to becoming confident enough to lead a training session on her own.

So depressed was Karen (not her real name) that she shut herself off in her bedroom for months and often went days without food. Doctors noted that she was underweight and so referred Karen to the programme when it began in January. Since then, her progress has been dazzling; with Karen now cooking nourishing recipes laden with fruit and vegetables and confident enough to stand up in front of her peers and lead them in a session. “If you’d told me at the beginning of the course I would have been able to do that, I wouldn’t have believed you” said Karen, “I feel so much better now.”

Like Karen, Littleborough based Nick Borrowicz believes the camaraderie and one-to-one support he received on the course suited him better than traditional – and often expensive – gyms. Nick, who is living with type 2 diabetes, said: “I didn’t go out too much and if I did, I didn’t go far. But the circuit training pushed me in a good way and I feel a lot stronger now and a lot more toned and confident.”

Held bi-weekly at the Littleborough Sports Centre, the sessions were split between cardiovascular exercise (including step-ups and weights) and dietary advice dished-up by former Bridgewater Hall chef, Mark York. Practice manager at Littleborough Group Practice Kelly Vines said: " The programme was originally set up to tackle obesity, but what made this programme unique is that we have been able to help people with serious mental health conditions and those people who had such low self-image that they wouldn't  come out in daylight."

Kelly also highlighted how the programme had had a positive impact on family life – as mum of two and patient Sian Carline confirmed. A former civil servant in South Wales, Sian now thinks carefully about the ingredients she uses at mealtimes. She has also recovered what she describes as her, “bubbliness” and is about to begin work again after four years. Said Sian: “I’ve got back my social skills, made new friends and my body shape has actually changed. It’s great here, it’s competitive – but we all work as a team.”

The programme was funded by NHS Heywood Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group (HMR CCG). Local GP and HMR Chief Clinical Officer, Dr Chris Duffy said: “The key to this programme’s success has been that patients have seen that healthy living can be rewarding, beneficial and fun. They all speak about the positive environment created and the personal one-to-one encouragement they have received. I am sure this will spur them on to continue to continue to care for themselves and each other and I congratulate the Littleborough and Milnrow Obesity Team for the positive impact they have made on their patients and their families and indeed the whole community.”

Kelly Vines concluded: “We have managed to lift the confidence of our patients and improve their life chances. We have also made huge improvements to over 100 peoples’ health at less than what it would have cost to fit six gastric bands!”

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