Judith Can, You Can, Newcastle Can

Judith Can, You Can, Newcastle Can

"I've been overweight all of my life, and it never used to bother me. I used to think that "I'm not the one that has got to look at it", so I wasn't really bothered about changing. Also being overweight did not particularly restrict my day-to-day activities.

However, last year I tore a meniscus (a bit of cartilage) in my knee, and was diagnosed with polymyalgia, a condition that causes a lot of pain and stiffness throughout the body. I was already on medication for high blood pressure and was additionally diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It was at this point that I realised that I needed to do something about my health and my weight - I want to retire next year and I don't want to become a poorly old lady sat at home.

I decided to join a local weight loss group and connecting with lots of other people wanting to achieve the same thing has been really inspirational for me. At the same time, I spoke to my GP about referral programmes to further help and was referred to a 10-week programme at the Newburn Activity Centre. The Centre supports referred patients to get gradually more active, by offering help, training and expert advice. I've finished the official programme now, but I still get to go to its gym at a reduced rate, have a catch-up at least once a month and get a formal review of my health and fitness every six months. 

Pushing myself to use a gym was a big deal for me. I'd always been nervous about signing-up, worrying that it would be full of 'gym bunnies' in crop tops! But I've found this to be nonsense! Gyms are actually a real mix of people, of all different fitness and strength levels. 

I am now healthier than I have ever been. A mixture of tackling what I'm eating and getting more active has been really good for me. In just 10 weeks, I lost 12 inches from my body measurements (chest, waist, hips combined), decreased my body fat by 8% and dropped 2 dress sizes. My knee pain is now much better and I find that the days that I go to the gym in the morning, the pain from my polymyalgia is much less. I'd been told before that exercise was a pain killer, but never believed it until now. I have reduced my medication requirements considerably, in particular I no longer require steroids to control the polymyalgia. I hope to be able to come off my blood pressure tablets in the near future.

My more active lifestyle has definitely given me a new vigour for life and I feel both mentally and physically more energetic than ever.  The fatigue and “fibro fog” that accompanies my diagnosis of fibromyalgia are considerably less troublesome.

I log my weight loss on the Newcastle Can website which helps me keep on track of it, and it's great to feel connected to people all across the county who are trying to achieve weight loss and better health just like me.

As you get older and you start to see the end of your life, you want to prolong it as much as possible and you want to be as healthy as possible. That's certainly been the case with me. I still have a long journey ahead of me to reach an ideal weight but I am determined never to return to my previous bad habits.

My advice to others would be - don't wait until your health is affected before you adopt a healthier lifestyle. Do it now and reap the physical and mental benefits of being active."

- Judith Campbell, Throckley, Newcastle

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