Five years ago, my GP warned me that I was pre-diabetic and I needed to act. I had just accepted that I was big; it hasn't held me back or stopped me from doing anything.
Two years later, my partner and I experienced a stressful time when we relocated to Poole and I started a new job. This brought on a shock episode where I had a panic attack and a high heart rate. I was on the wrong side of 50 and things had started to catch up. My GP advised that I got in contact with LiveWell which I did. I joined Our LiveWell Facebook group and made a half-hearted attempt to change... but life got busy and I switched back to my old ways.
Then the inevitable came and I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Cue all sorts of medication which I didn't want or get on with. I went back to my GP to see what else could work... yet I hadn't lost any weight. It was tough love; there was an alternate medicine I could try, but it was only available if I lost weight.
I started to use an app to start calorie counting. I set my daily calorie limit to 1,500 and I was amazed when the first two stone quickly came off. I soon became aware of the calorie count of different foods - no more sausages! I cut sugar and started counting my steps. People started to notice. I'd lost nearly four stone in five months, but reached a plateau when lockdown started.
The pandemic worried me, as being overweight with type two diabetes - I ticked all the wrong boxes. But it was a turning point for me, as I started to exercise more. Weight loss isn't just about counting the calories, you've got to count the exercise too. By the end of lockdown, I increased my total weight loss to six stone.
My exercise regime starts with a daily dog walk, I'm up and out at the crack of dawn for an hour-long walk and finish the day with the same. There are four blocks of steps near to where I live and I walk up and down them twice while my dog, Panda. Now when I say "Steps?", Panda’s up and waiting by the door!
I cycle regularly using the Beryl Bikes; for a couple of quid, it's a great way to take some gentle exercise without the need to store a bike of my own. And then Joe Wicks happened! I found myself doing regular home workouts and progressed onto a programme called The Body Project which has low-impact plans to start with followed by and a whole host of fat loss and muscle gain workouts. There's one where you can do a mile in your front room in 20 minutes! Focused on fat-loss and muscle gain, I've built up my stamina and core strength.
“At my heaviest, I was almost 24 stone. I'm now just under 17 stone and have a way to go, but am feeling much more positive about the future.”
I'd heard of couch to 5k before, but never thought I could do it myself until a colleague at work completed it and I thought why not try. ‘I can't run’, was something I'd always believed, but I was willing to give it a try. It's not a race, and you don't have to finish it in nine weeks. I chose Sarah Millican as my coach and her jolly accent has me bouncing along! If I find a week too hard, I go back to the previous week and try again. It's my race; I'm halfway there, and hopefully, by the autumn, I will have completed it. And it's free!
My family gifted me a blow-up hot tub for my 60th and I've created my own programme of water-resistance exercises I can do form the comfort of the tub! I make cycle motions with my legs and get my arms moving with the help of a couple of hand weights.
I've lost 6.5 stone and 8 inches from my waist in just under a year. Rather than weigh myself every week, I go to my local Boots and complete a monthly body composite and blood pressure test. I think it's important to take all your measurements and much prefer to measure loss in inches rather than weight.
I still like cake! But now I choose moderation and healthy options. For me, it's not about dieting, but moderation. Together with my partner, we eat fresh, home-cooked meals; lots of veg, soups and salads. We don't eat anything processed any more. I soon learnt what's good and bad, and what sets me back. No more cookies! It's fresh food all the way.
I used to feel so ill, but I'm making progress. I'm proud of what I've achieved. I'm due to visit my son in New Zealand and had been dreading the thought of needing to request an extension belt on the aeroplane. But now, I'm looking forward to it. My son takes part in triathlons and I'm looking forward to going for a swim with him - perhaps I'll be able to keep up!
It's great to be able to keep up with my grandchildren! I chase and keep up with my four-year-old grandson on a hill close to our home, something I would never have thought possible previously. We recently went for a walk on the Jurassic coast down to Dancing Ledge - getting back up the steep hill was a test, but I made it!
What would I say to others thinking about making a change? Just do it. We've all got bad habits - lifestyle change is about being single-minded in your pursuit of new habits, which take time to become normal. My new habits are normal habits."
Jilly from Poole
LiveWell Dorset has been a great source of advice and support. Age is not a barrier - just do it!