Joel has thrown himself into his Liveability programme, losing an impressive two stone since joining in February (most of that during lockdown) and quitting smoking.  Joel, who has Asperger’s syndrome, was nominated by his advisor, Mark.  He has transformed the way he eats, drinks and exercises to help him manage Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).

Before joining Livewell, Joel drank up to 40 cups of sweet tea a day, consuming around 80 teaspoons of sugar in just his drinks alone.  Tackling his sugar addiction was a priority for his long term health, so Mark supported Joel to reduce his sugar and caffeine consumption so that now he enjoys 10 cups of sugar-free, decaffeinated tea a day.

Joel said:

“The world can be a scary place when you’re autistic but Mark broke things down for me so I understood them.  He gave me simple goals to achieve.

When I do anything in life, I try to do it properly so I took Mark’s advice not just about sugar but on portion sizes, exercise, drinking water and eating more fruit and vegetables. 

Mark gave me an exercise plan to follow and he checks how I’m getting on and gives me new things to try.  It was difficult during lockdown as I couldn’t get to the gym but I’ve found other ways to get fitter.  My sister lent me a treadmill, I’ve joined an online martial arts class and I walk/jog outside. 

I’ve been meeting Mark for regular catch ups at Chaddesden Park to get weighed and chat about how I’m doing. It has helped keep me motivated. ”

Joel’s new love for fitness means he’s being active every day for an hour or longer and he’s noticing the difference, not just on his waistline but how he is feeling and what he’s now able to do. 

“I’m having some soil delivered to start a vegetable patch in the garden.  I probably would have struggled to dig and move soil before I lost weight but now I’m looking forward to it!”

Having lost 10% of his body weight, Joel’s also feeling in the best possible shape for dialysis treatment which he will start next year.

Advisor Mark added:

“Joel’s commitment to improve his health has been the driving force behind his success. Despite us normally recommending to clients that they tackle one lifestyle change at a time, Joel has managed to stop smoking whilst losing weight, which will help relieve the symptoms of CKD as well as lowering his blood pressure and cholesterol.”

Liveability is Livewell’s weight loss programme for people with learning disabilities.  Specialist advisor, Mark Dolman works with clients (and their carers) to develop a flexible plan which includes healthy eating and physical activity.  For more information visit:

Joel’s Top Tips

Replace sugar on your breakfast cereal with fruit which has natural sweetness.  I have strawberries and banana on my branflakes.

Make a plan and stick to it.  Put it somewhere where you can see it to remind you.

Get your family involved.  My wife and I are both on Livewell so we can support each other.

Take part in exercise you enjoy.  I used to do Aikido (a type of martial art) as a youngster so I’ve started doing it again.  It helps my mental health as well as keeping me fit.