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Claire's Story

Claire's lost five stone, started daily walks and quit smoking.

Meet 47-year-old Claire. Through lockdown, Claire’s lost five stone; started a new daily routine of physical activity and has quit smoking. This is her story:

“More than a decade ago, I had major surgery which lead to early-onset menopause and my weight crept up. I led a sedentary lifestyle, with a busy home and work life while coping with fibromyalgia. My entire life had changed overnight when I adopted my son through a long and stressful process.

My size and my lifestyle were not good. My diet was terrible; milky sugary coffees during the day followed by binging during the evening. This was my norm. Being a single parent, I became quite isolated, it was difficult to get out and do anything. I got into a rut. Taking care of my own health was my lowest priority.

A game-changer was when my son settled into school. I still had a way to go, but now had more time for me. I recall a moment when traveling abroad for work; it was a struggle to move down the aeroplane aisle and I felt I took up too much space in my seat. “Gosh, what has happened?” I thought to myself. I wanted to make a change but didn’t know where to start.

LiveWell had been recommended to me 12-months earlier by a friend when I wanted to quit smoking. I’d watched their posts on social media and when the coronavirus pandemic arrived, with it came the motivation to change.

I walk 10km most days

I made some drastic changes to my diet and the weight started to shift which led to having more energy to be active. Now, I’m up and out first thing in the morning for a walk or bike ride. Living in the countryside, it’s wonderful to spend time in nature, good for my mental health. Once I’m in the zone, I’m off! At the weekends, I’ve been known to clock up 20-25 kilometres! I’ve gone back to swimming too which I enjoy. I feel stronger and healthier than ever.

At my heaviest, I was nearly 17 stone. Now, I’m 11.5 stone. I’ve lost six dress sizes. Never did I ever dream that this was possible.

I bumped into a friend recently who I hadn’t seen for some time – he stopped, did a double-take and said: “Oh my gosh! It’s you!”. It’s nice when people notice! My colleagues have even noticed during video calls.

Smoking next

First weight loss, then activity, and now smoking. For me, it had to be that way round. Previously, I’ve tried to go cold turkey. This time, I contacted LiveWell for support and they’ve been great. They sent me a pack of NRT, gum and patches, which I hadn’t tried previously. Now I’m eight days in and going steady. It’s encouraging to read other peoples’ success stories in Our LiveWell Facebook Group. The gum helps – use it when I have a significant craving. Everyday habits and routines are hard to break, I would usually pop out for a cuppa tea and a cigarette. I don’t like smoking. I want it gone. With LiveWell’s support and the NRT, it’s working.

Previously, I’d use meds to help me sleep through my fibromyalgia pain overnight. But now, perhaps because I’m more physically tired due to my walking, I sleep deeper and don’t need meds at all. It’s strange but keeping active actually improves my fibromyalgia. While I do still get some aches and pains, I feel better for getting out for a walk. When I have a less active day, it’s more uncomfortable.

Six months ago, the thought of getting up and out the door at 5:30am for a walk was a non-starter. Now it’s just normal, I don’t even think about it. In fact, I miss it if I don’t do it. It’s amazing how quickly it’s become an everyday part of my lifestyle.

Up-hill struggle

Previously, when walking up a local hill, I would have to stop a few times due to the tar and mucus in my lungs. But four days into my quit attempt and it was remarkably easier. Eight days in, and I can complete it without stopping! I’m now on 39 days smoke-free!

My confidence has come on in leaps and bounds – I feel I could conquer the world now! I’m optimistic about the future. With the return to school and darker mornings, I found myself with less time to walk the distance that I would like, so I started running. I started running in September… six weeks later can run 8km!

Just do it

“Just do it” is what I would say to anyone thinking about making a change. Do it in your own time. Do it for yourself. Do it because you want to do it. Find activity and movement that works for you and enjoy it.

Claire

Just do it! Do it for yourself. Do it because you want to do it.

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The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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