Tony’s Story – Clare House

January 3, 2017

Lifting the weight from Tony’s shoulders

As a very articulate and caring young man Tony at just 23 was living with PWS and learning disability in his local community in his own flat.

Tony was working part-time and volunteering whilst also trying to exercise regularly and manage his weight. He was leading a full life also enjoying time with his friends, visiting local pubs and participating in local karaoke. To others, it may have seemed Tony was managing well on his own and achieving a level of independence that many others strive for when faced with similar personal challenges.

However Tony knew he was gaining weight faster than he would like and had been through all the usual diet plans, such as Weight Watchers, Slimming World and others advised for people in a similar situation. He was beginning to experience depression and anxiety caused by his decreasing mobility. The use of his scooter was proving problematic with pressure points causing pain and discomfort.

Having reached 33 stone 11lbs Tony reviewed his options with his family and care professionals. It was agreed that a period in a dedicated PWS service might help Tony get himself back on track and support him to reach a safer weight in a positive environment.

Tony over the last eight weeks has with the support of the team created a healthy eating plan which covers a week at a time. The team prepare the food and serve it so that Tony’s anxiety around food is reduced and he can focus on other areas that will improve his wellbeing.

Tony first began with some gentle exercise, walking with support to a local bus stop just a few metres up the road and back. He then extended this after a week walking to the local hotel and back. It doesn’t matter how long the walk takes the aim is to just complete it. By the end of the second week Tony was walking much further and extended again by the end of the first month to take in a walk round the local estate too. Tony’s confidence and mobility were improving much to his delight. At this point the team then encouraged him to join the local gym. It was a little further away so transport was offered and with the support of his key-worker Tony embarked on his first program in the gym which had been designed specifically for him. The first few sessions included one minute on the treadmill, twenty minutes on the static bike and a few free weights. Over the next few weeks Tony increased his goals little by little with marginal gains being made all the time.

Tony also loves swimming and used to complete an amazing 50 lengths in the pool at around a minute per length. He is now back in the pool and has reached five lengths per session. His next challenge however was one he hadn’t quite expected. Tony laughs as he describes what happened; with his changing physique, he found himself at risk of losing his shorts in the pool where he just could not secure them into his waist. So with a little careful thought he adapted his swimming style and switched from his preferred front crawl to breast stroke in the hope his shorts would hang on long enough to complete the lengths!

When asked whether the new healthy eating plan has been hard to adapt to he was very quick to share that the help of the menu planner had been a real life saver for him. It has allowed him to learn some foods to avoid. Whilst he has missed a few foods he has learned that there are many others he can enjoy that will not sabotage his progress. He is now baking at the weekends with support learning a few recipes for treats low in sugar.

Whilst Clare House is a little remote from the large city life, friends and family that Tony has been used to, his social life is improving once again. Tony is enjoying bowls, bingo and attending the local ‘Enable’ club. He also got to indulge his love of Karaoke at the home’s Christmas party recently entertaining around 60 guests with his voice.

Tony is full of praise for the support he receives at Clare House and knows they are very committed to supporting him to achieve his goals.

In his younger years Tony experienced persistent bullying both face to face and on social media. Whilst this experience was deeply hurtful it has shaped Tony into the man he is now. Tony is an advocate for People First Scotland, something of which he is rightly proud. He is passionate in his desire to ensure every person with learning disability has a voice and is given the opportunity to realise their dreams and aspirations.

He has also worked with Value Interaction Scotland in Glasgow, supporting people with learning disability to prepare themselves for employment on an ad hoc basis. Although his role with this organisation is on hold whilst he spends time at Clare House, Tony is totally committed to giving as much as he can back into his community. He hopes that everyone can be treated with dignity and respect and that they are enabled to realise their hopes, dreams and aspirations.

Tony has only been living at Clare house just eight weeks and he has already lost an incredible five stones in weight.

When asked about his amazing achievement Tony said;

“I honestly think I’m dreaming. I am ecstatic. Now there are no limits to my expectations. If you want something as much as I want this weight loss, you grab it with both hands. It’s almost like the key is in the ignition and set off that spark. I believe it’s in your mind-set. For you to succeed in life you need to want it bad enough. I believe every single one of us has the potential for their dreams to come true and everyone deserves to have the opportunity that I have had to spread your wings and fly. It’s like a new chapter, it’s like saying goodbye to how you were before, all the anxiety and the pressure. I still fill like I’m dreaming right now. It’s the best Christmas present of all. I feel like the weights being lifted of my shoulders and I suppose I am dreaming because all through my life I have been constantly put down which has given me the drive I have today. I’ve just used that as fuel, as a new use of energy. All the anger and frustration I have felt I have changed it into determination to succeed.”