Tag Archives: health

Porkies: Whatsapp healthy eating group

Ok, so you’ve heard me talking a LOT about wommen.org.uk  as an innovative way to use Social Media (SoMe) in #breast screening. But I’m not going to bang on about WoMMeN today.

Here’s a SoMe community with proven positive health outcomes; our Whatsapp group, PORKIES.Porky logo

About 4 years ago Lynn (my big sis) and me, we decided we’d had enough of constantly battling to get to our ‘ideal’ weight. It seemed it had been a lifelong struggle. Although neither of us was obese (well, ok, bordering) we never quite felt happy or healthy.

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Me and Lynn

We decided to have our very own group which we aptly name Porkies, and set up a Whatsapp group: she’s in Eastbourne and I’m in Manchester so we had to do it online. We also thought we’d have a bit of competitive fun; there’d be a prize and trophy for the winner at the end of 10 weeks. We invited some more family members and friends to join us. We thought it’d run for the 10 weeks. Well that was four years ago and now we’re hooked! It’s the only time I’ve ever managed to keep my weight constant at a healthy figure in my life.

Here’s how it works.

First we declare our target for the 10 week period. This could be to lose a lot, lose a little or to maintain (depending on each member’s starting point). Every week we have to either lose weight (if our overall aim is to lose) or keep the same (if we’re at target and need to maintain).

Every Friday we get weighed and take a picture of ourselves on the scales (up to the knees only!) and post it on the group.

weights final.jpg If we don’t achieve our goal for the week (i.e. we’ve stayed the same or put on weight if we’ve said we’ll lose) we get a dreaded penalty point for the week.

The coveted Porkies Trophy

The winner is the one who’s achieved their overall aim at the end of the 10 weeks with the fewest penalty points. Each member sends the winner £20 and, more importantly, the winner receives the coveted Porkies Trophy.

A graph from the early days of Porkies when there were just 5

The wonderful Shaz records it all on the spreadsheet and posts for all (in the group) to see!


So how have we done? Well, this last period (May – July, 10 weeks) we lost 6 stone 2lb between the 13 of us. That’s an average of 6lb.6 which doesn’t sound too much but a few of the group are on a maintaining regime so intentionally haven’t lost.

Some have lost more than a stone!

But Porkies works because we post much, much more than pictures of our scales; this is where the social media element adds that important dimension.

We support, share recipes, post hundreds of images and videos of food (and just about everything else) give advice, (e.g. one week the group solved one member’s dilemma about whether to wear a hat or fascinator to a wedding) and scrutinise the weekly chart.

The many recipes we’ve shared

meme 3.jpgAnd the funny thing is that apart from me and Lynn, we don’t know what most of the other 11 ladies who’ve joined along the way (friends of friends) look like except for their feet!

In these days when we hear so much bad press about social media we thought you’d like this light-hearted and very positive story about the benefits online communities can bring. It’s so easy to set up too and we’d encourage other groups to try the same.

Oh, and just because I can’t resist the opportunity to Make Every Contact Count I did post this along the way…the benefits of a healthy diet for reducing the risk of breast cancer!message 1



On June 22nd, two members of the #WOMMeN project team presented at the Patients’ Clinicians Digital Interaction – Living with and beyond Breast Cancer conference held at The University of Salford.

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In this blog, Jo Taylor and Julie Stein Hodgins share their experiences.

Jo: I was invited to talk at a conference today at Salford University “Patients’ Clinicians Digital Interaction – Living With and Beyond Breast Cancer ” #beyondcancer15

My presentation considered this topic from the patient’s perspective.

It was an interesting day starting with an intro from the Chair Prof Ziv Amir who looks at committees/networks for rehab for people affected by cancer. Prof Shahid Ali talked next who is a GP and Prof of Digital Health involved in empowering patients and leading patient centred care using technology (Vitrucare) http://www.dynamichealthsystems.co.uk/vitrucare-supported-selfcare.  Very refreshing information from a professional that is showing how we can use digital health to manage our own health and show that it does save time and money from the NHS point of view.

I talked next about my web site www.abcdiagnosis and how I created it, how I interact with people using social media and living with secondary breast cancer.  I also discussed #BCCWW – Breast Cancer Chat Worldwide – and how 4 of us created this. I talked about what I was trying to do with creating a breast reconstruction app and various other connections and collaborations, as well as the mammogram project I’m involved in – #WOMMeN with Salford University.

Jo conference

Julie Stein Hodgins and Dr Leslie Robinson discussed about social media and the #WOMMeN project to create on line networks. Sarah Bodell and Angela Hook also talked about their app Occubuzz an occupational therapy app and how to use this for patients to help empower them to feel better, exercise and all around health benefits. Dr Stephen Hague talked about a new blood test they have produced to look at cancer diagnosis and genetics and how this is helping to change cancer diagnosis and treatment. Prof Diana Kloss (MBE) talked about patient confidentiality, consent and duty of care. Break out sessions discussed how we were all going to help make these things happen in the NHS.

Ther are big changes afoot with social media and getting professionals interacting with each other AND with patients.  Exciting times ahead but changes that many will not like but will have to do to keep up with how social media is working in personal lives and in the workplace.

Jo Taylor

http://www.abcdiagnosis.co.uk Contact Jo on Twitter @abcdiagnosis

Julie: Did you ever get that cool buzz when something has gone really well and you are taking something good away?

Today this happened to me. My colleague, from the University of Salford Leslie Robinson put a few slides together, in her own modest way, and asked me to deliver a presentation at a conference…Patients’ Clinicians Digital Interaction – Living with and beyond cancer. You can follow the tweets posted on #beyondcancer15

Heard a really brilliant GP from Bradford (Prof Shahid Ali) share how he is engaging with patients living with long term illnesses. They have a website/App (Vitrucare) that they can record their medical info which shows on a dashboard for the GP practise to monitor, thus any glitches and the patient can be invited for a review…30mins or 45mins long as required! They also respond via secure email to queries within 24 hours so that the patient does not ‘Google it’…i.e. look elsewhere for the information. How good is that?

I followed Jo who told us about her journey and how she created www.abcdiagnosis.co.uk. My presentation was titled, ‘Using Social Media to support patients’. Turns out most of us in the room had a ‘social media’ account. Some use the same name on social media as their HCPC registration. Nothing wrong with that, I behave professionally all the time.

Julie Some

There are many peer support groups for patient to patient and also health professional to health professional on social media platforms. Only one or two health professional to patient sites; Macmillan and our own #WoMMeN project. Some professions have already got Social Media (SoMe) guidelines. The Royal College of GPs encourage the use of SoMe in innovative ways to engage patients! Social Media includes web based platforms that are easy to share content with others. Facebook is just one example. Also think Linkedin, Google Circles, Netflix and Mashups!

There are challenges to using SoMe with patients or clients but that is where people are so we have to go there. Overarching principles for good practice in the SoMe space would be…the intent is good; the consequences have been considered; potential for harm has been mitigated and remember no site is truly private.If you wouldn’t say it, don’t write it!

I have come away feeling that the WoMMeN project definitely has a place and I believe an App is the way to go, sticking with the asymptomatic woman. But can an App allow 2 way conversation?

Julie Stein Hodgins

Contact Julie on Twitter @JulieRSH

Thanks to both Jo and Julie for presenting at conference but also for these contributions to the #WOMMeN blog.

I have never had any interaction about my own health with a health professional online or on social media.

Have you talked to your GP, consultant or another health professional online or via social media? 

How did it go? 

Do you think that this is ‘the way to go’?