Battle of the bulge

Generation gap: Melanie Edgar, 47, is a Weight Watchers leader and lives with her husband and daughters, Michelle and Sally, in Kent. Michelle, 17, a business studies student, is overweight but is unconvinced by her mother's diet regime

Melanie

`I like to think I brought up the children eating right. I've tried to guide Michelle, not nag her when she's putting on weight'

Weight is a real family problem. When my dad came out of the army he was at nine and a half stone and now he weighs about 14. My sister has a real weight problem. My mum isn't alive any more but she had a weight problem too. I think this is what is behind Michelle's weight.

It was not until I got married and started experimenting with cooking that my weight went up and up. I've been in Weight Watchers for 24 years. I joined in 1972 and became a "leader" in 1977. For me this way of eating is normal. We eat lots of vegetables, plenty of fruit, not too much red meat, cut down on cheese and keep the sugar and alcohol to a minimum really. That is my life. That doesn't mean that I always like it but I do stick to it.

Sometimes I feel like rebelling. There are not many jobs where you lose your job if you are overweight. That creates an awful lot of pressure. You couldn't go on a binge for a week. The new programme (called "1, 2, 3 Success") lets you make it up one day if you overeat the day before.

When I joined Weight Watchers it was nothing like it is now. The children would have found it difficult. It was so strict. The new system is far more flexible. It cuts down on saturated fats as well as the calories because that is what causes the health problems.

I don't do lots of cooking because I'm often out. But over Christmas everything we ate was a Weight Watchers recipe and everyone enjoyed it. When Michelle was doing a GCSE in home economics she used a few of the recipes and she did pass - believe it or not! - though she hasn't been in the kitchen since.

I like to think I brought up the children eating right. I never tried to push it. I never said you can't have crisps, you mustn't have chocolate. That's not what we want in Weight Watchers. If I said to Michelle you're not going to eat this or that, she'll want it all the more. I've tried to guide her and not nag when I see her putting on weight.

Eleven-year-old Sally is a different kettle of fish. She likes cooking and adding up the points for the programme. I don't think she'll have such a weight problem. Some people say: "I don't know why Michelle has got a weight problem when you think of what you do." But she's got to want to lose weight. I'm not going to make her because that's when children rebel and go completely the other way.

I weigh myself every morning. Michelle weighs herself at weekends but she never tells me what she weighs. I hope that one day she really does want to lose weight bad enough to stick to it. Of course she might be happy as she is. Lots of the time I know she agrees with me but she just does not have the willpower

Michelle

`I don't think you should have to stick to a programme. You should just eat what you want, but only healthy foods'

Everything in the fridge and cupboard at home is low-fat, but at school most of my friends have burgers and chips and things. I try not to, but then I think, "I don't care, I'll have it." I'm not as bothered as Mum.

Mum was doing Weight Watchers before I was born. When I go round to my friends' houses and see some of the things they eat! I'm just not used to that. But you never see normal people weighing out their food. They just eat what they want. I used to weigh out an ounce of cereal, but that didn't last more than a couple of weeks. I did the new Weight Watchers programme for a day and gave up. I just eat when I'm hungry, and try not to eat too much chocolate and things like that.

When we go out to eat, say, for pizza, I order what I like. Mum won't have any cheese but I have what I want. Then she wants a dessert, but I don't because I'm full up.

I don't think it's silly to worry about your weight as long as people don't get obsessed. Ever since I turned 11, I've always worried about weight, and I don't think it's made it any better. It does bother me being overweight, but I don't know if this is because of Mum, or if I would be anyway. All the time I keep thinking, I really want to lose weight and I've got to get my act together and do it. But I don't want to do Weight Watchers.

I don't think you should have to stick to a programme. You should just eat what you want, but only healthy foods. I don't like the new programme where you can have chocolate bars. I think that if you're going to lose weight properly you shouldn't eat crisps and chocolate and things. You should cut them out.

The trouble starts when people begin to eat normally again. I've seen so many people who have reached their goal weight and then they've put it all back on again. That's why I think you should do it for yourself and find out what you like.

Mum is always saying I should stick to the programme. Every time something new comes up at Weight Watchers, she says, "This would be really good for you. Why don't you try this?" I say, "Might do!"

I don't have time for cooking because when I'm not at school, I'm working. I clerk for my mum and I work in a bakery and a video shop and I do ironing and Avon as well. Before I started clerking for Mum - I never tell anyone it is for Weight Watchers - I went to aerobics twice a week and swam once a week.

So really, perhaps it hasn't helped me working with her, because I've had to stop doing all the exercising I was doing

Interviews by Ann Treneman

Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
Arts & Entertainment
tvGrace Dent on TV
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
The exterior of a central London Angus Steakhouse
food + drink
Sport
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives in the rain during the qualifying session of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai
sport
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Arts & Entertainment
filmLife for Leslie Mann's can be challenging sometimes
Voices
For music lovers: John Cusack with his vinyl collection in 'High Fidelity'
voices...but don't forget rest of the year
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environment
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

NGO and Community Development in Cambodia

Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: There are many small development projects in ...

Business, Marketing and Tourism Volunteer Projects

Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: As part of an ongoing effort to support local...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit