A big birthday prompted Jacqui to re-evaluate her lifestyle and take charge of her painful osteoarthritis.

After taking up cycling and joining Livewell, Jacqui has lost 14% of her bodyweight going from barely being able to stand for long periods to riding and walking for hours, several times a week. As a result of a healthier lifestyle, she has not only significantly reduced her joint pain but she’s found love and a new job too. 

Here she explains how it all came about:

“It all started in early 2020 when my asthma nurse told me about Livewell at my annual review.  I was unhappy about being overweight which was contributing to my worsening knee pain and restricted mobility.  Turning 60 made me rethink my future and I felt ready to get into shape and embark on a new chapter.

Unfortunately my group meetings were cancelled due to the start of the Covid in March last year but whilst I waited for the service to re-open, I started using an e-bike my sons bought me for my birthday.  The battery assistance supported me to gradually up my distance and gave me the confidence to tackle more miles.  It was a god send during the first lockdown, a great way to enjoy the outdoors and build up fitness.  I soon found I could outpace my dog so I walked her first and then headed out on my bike, doubling up on my daily activity.

“Mindful eating is a revelation!”

I eventually had my first meeting with my advisor, Aimee on 1 October.  Talking to her, I soon realised that Livewell isn’t about dieting or quick fixes and that some simple changes can create lasting, easy-to-maintain results.  This was music to my ears as I knew I couldn’t do complex calorie crunching or restricted eating.

Livewell’s online healthy eating course made me think about food differently and mindful eating was a revelation.  It sounds simple but when you come from a generation encouraged to eat everything on their plate, it’s a big change of mind set.  But once I started to really appreciate my meals, take my time eating and stop when I felt full, I found I didn’t want the big portions I used to enjoy.

Breaking free of pain

Carrying out every day activities is difficult with chronic osteoarthritis so I was delighted when Aimee told me about Livewell’s virtual ESCAPE-pain course which supports sufferers to learn how to cope with pain better.  The intense five-week rehabilitation programme taught me exercises to reduce pain and improve my overall function. 

Cycling was already helping by this point but doing something as simple as putting on tights was a still a struggle, I couldn’t stand without using the arms of a chair and standing for longer than a few minutes was a challenge.  This made me feel older than my years. 

Since completing the course and continuing with the exercises, I can stand up freely and dress myself without thinking.  My legs feel so much stronger and my hips have more movement. 

My left knee was very weak at the start and I was disappointed initially that my regular steroid injection was cancelled due to the lockdown. But as my muscles strengthened, the pain eased so I no longer feel I need it or the pain killers I used to take which is fantastically liberating.

With my exercise increasing and my eating habits improving, the pounds really started to shift. It felt good to get some positive encouragement at Livewell’s weekly Weigh-In sessions in the Facebook support group.

A new woman

A couple of amazing things have come out of this transformation – firstly, I’ve gained the confidence to find love – my partner moved in with me last summer and together we’re enjoying an active and healthy lifestyle.  Secondly, I’ve come out of retirement to take on a part time job in retail.  I would never have had the strength or stamina to stand and walk around all day before but now I get a buzz from being active as I work.

I can’t quantify how much the changes I’ve made with Livewell’s support have improved my quality of life.  I’ve reinvented myself and feel years younger than I did before.”

Livewell advisor, Aimee nominated Jacqui and said:

“Jacqui has such a positive story to tell which I think is even more special given we are in the midst of a pandemic. She is a great example of how to be successful at losing weight, joining with lots of motivation and taking every opportunity offered to her.  Over the 4 week activation, Jacqui set herself a series of appropriate goals and despite the lockdowns and issues going on in her life (and sometimes feeling things weren’t going as well as they should) executed them well enough to lose 14% at her 3 month review. She wanted to move away from the dieting of her past and focus on how she can eat healthier and walk/cycle. It’s been lovely to see this inspiring story unfold.”

Image of Jacqui on her bike