“I’m starting 2024 lighter, fitter and healthier than I’ve been in years.”

  • 17kg lighter
  • Down a size in shirts and tops (3XL to 2XL)
  • Down two sizes bottoms and belts (2XL to Large)
  • Shoes from a 10 to an 8 (water loss)
  • “But the thing that reminds me every day of what I have achieved is the extra four notches on my watch strap!”

55-year-old, Mark Sutton from Sinfin could barely walk six months ago, now he’s almost smoke free, shed three stone and exercises most days.

Find out how he took control to improve his quality of life:

“I’d piled on the weight in the last seven years partly due to lack of movement and balance difficulties from spinal cord compression.

I didn’t know Livewell existed when I was contacted by the team at the start of 2023.  The sleep apnoea clinic referred me but being mostly chair bound, I was convinced Livewell couldn’t help me. 

Pivotal moment

Fast forward three months and my health took a turn for the worse, with a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and blood oxygen diagnoses to add to the condition list, I realized it was time to change. 

Desperate to give anything a go, I contacted Livewell and their customer team encouraged me to give the weight loss programme a try.  I started at the Sinfin activation group in June and Casey was assigned as my advisor.

Apprehensive at first, I took part in the weekly exercise sessions, doing very little really but having a go.  Casey and Stuart encouraged me to build up gradually and adapted moves I could do safely in and out of a chair depending on my balance that day.

At the end of the six weeks, I felt confident enough to try other Livewell sessions like Stuart’s Chairfit class which has done wonders for my balance and strength and is something I continue to do weekly. 

The right time to prepare to quit

With the pounds starting to drop, I felt ready to tackle my smoking habit. Casey supported me using the free nicotine replacement patches Livewell offers alongside regular check ins to help manage cravings.  Although I haven’t quit completely, I’ve reduced from over 30 cigarettes to two a day, and my COPD symptoms have thankfully eased.  Stopping smoking is one of the most difficult things to do but having the right support and treatments has made a big difference in me drastically cutting down with a view to quitting completely soon.

Support to manage pain

The opportunity to better manage my back pain was too good to miss. I completed the ESCAPE-pain for backs course which involves circuit style moves to strengthen your back alongside tips and discussions about ways to manage pain and exercise safely.  The 5-week course is jointly run by Livewell and Moorways Sports Village.  It’s great to meet other people with similar challenges and on their recommendation, I started Moorway’s Forever Fit classes which are separate to Livewell but widened my exercise options at that time. 

The power of exercise

With the confidence and knowledge to adapt exercises to suit me, I took the plunge to try the Weekend Workout class.  Despite being happy to do my own thing, Joe suggested new exercises to try, pushed me to use heavier weights and constantly checked in on me.  It was tough but I felt great afterwards and I realized my potential. 

Having been restricted in what I could do in the gym, I’ve been encouraged by advisor, Andy to give new machines I didn’t have the strength to use before another go, such as the lateral bike.  To my surprise, I’ve discovered I can use it now.  I’m determined to explore more equipment during my remaining time with Livewell.

My weekly routine incorporates daily physical activity whether it’s an exercise class or a bit of dog walking – I’ve never been so active!  The difference in my strength, balance, coordination and fitness has boosted my weight loss and has eased my pain and symptoms.

Better eating habits

The healthy eating guidance provided by Livewell has led to me making changes to how and when I eat.  I used to skip breakfast and snack constantly. Now I have three regular meals a day, all with sensible portion sizes.  I’ve swapped biscuits, cakes and crips for fruit but if I want a treat, I don’t deprive myself, but instead of a packet of biscuits, I’ll just have one or a treat size chocolate bar.  I’ve also replaced fizzy drinks for water and squash.

Seeing the weight drop off at the weekly drop-ins combined with Casey’s ongoing support has pushed me to keep going even during the tougher weeks. And I can’t fault the rest of the advisors in the delivery of sessions, the encouragement they give everyone and the time they make to help adapt things so everyone can join in.  They’ve given me so many good ideas.

A good bill of health

Feeling the benefits of good habits is one thing but being told your cholesterol, blood pressure and other measures of heart related health are looking up is another.

I had an NHS Health Check with Livewell at the end of November and it was great to see the positive impact of eating healthily, exercising regularly and losing a bit of weight.  Advisor, Aimee explained how I was reducing my chances of having cardiovascular disease by leading a healthier lifestyle.

It’s fantastic to witness all the changes add up into something that’s worth celebrating.  I still have some way to go but I didn’t give myself enough credit for what I’ve achieved until I won this award!”

Livewell advisor, Casey Baxter said:

“Mark’s story demonstrates that anyone can change their life to a healthier, more positive one. He’s gone from using a walking stick and doing his exercise seated to exercising standing and ditching his stick. He has pushed himself a bit more every week to improve his activity and has realised his capabilities are more than he thought. Engaged from the beginning, Mark consistently comes to drop-ins, talks through things, and keeps himself accountable to progress his healthy changes. The transformation in him, his confidence and what he is now able to do is amazing. Well done Mark!’”

Mark’s top tips

Craving chocolate – I find a treat size bar or even a 40-calorie hot chocolate is usually enough to satisfy the fix.

Treat yourself – don’t deprive yourself of the things you enjoy, just be more mindful about it.  Have a two-finger kit kat instead of a four-finger one or just one glass of fizzy drink in place of a large bottle.

Don’t be afraid to try – exercise is for everyone and all Livewell session offer alternatives if you have a health condition or restricted movement.  The advisors, volunteers and other clients will all welcome you.

Knowledge is power – ask questions or get advice at the weekly weigh-ins.  The advisors have some helpful ideas to keep you motivated.

Seize every opportunity – the enewsletter and Facebook group promote all the courses, sessions and challenges you can get involved in during your year with Livewell.  Make the most of the time you have.

Be prepared for the ups and downs – sometimes the scales don’t move in the right direction or things happen in life that prevent us from keeping on track.  Don’t suffer in silence, seek advice from your advisor and know that you’re on a journey - weight loss isn’t easy.

Talk to other clients and volunteers – I’ve enjoyed meeting new people on the programme and you can learn from others’ experiences. 

Small changes all add up – don’t feel overwhelmed to make big changes all in one go.  I built up my exercise stamina gradually and started adding more changes once I felt confident.

 January Client of the Month Mark with advisor, Casey