Losing almost a quarter of his body weight in nine months is paying dividends for 68-year-old grandad, Gordon Lunn who was nominated by his advisor, Niamh. He has reduced his BMI from 30.7 to 24 and has lost 6 inches from his waist, reducing his risks of developing a range of health problems by lowering his blood pressure and improving his cholesterol. Incredibly, Gordon has also managed to get fitter despite having a hernia, and the 20 kilos (3 stone) of weight he's shed has significantly improved his symptoms.
Here’s how his journey started…..
When Gordon’s doctor suggested losing weight could help him manage his hernia symptoms, he searched online for local support and was surprised when Derby City Council’s Livewell service came up.
The retired customer service professional from Normanton had battled with his weight for most of his adult life. After piling on more pounds at the end of last year, Gordon’s waistline grew to 40 inches and abdominal problems led him to consult his GP. His doctor explained that obesity is a risk factor for developing a hernia and recommended he lose excess weight to reduce the pressure inside his abdomen and therefore avoid complications and potentially surgery.
“I was content with being overweight until I developed a hernia. Like most mature men, I carried my weight around my middle and my waist size put me at a higher risk of developing serious health problems like coronary heart disease.
Having worked at the Council, I’d heard of Livewell but didn’t realise how much the service offered. I was pleasantly surprised to discover lots of opportunities including free exercise sessions, healthy eating workshops and drop-ins to get weighed.
Signing up was easy. Coming from a customer service background, I was impressed with the excellent knowledge and understanding of Livewell’s contact team. I spoke to their apprentice, Alfie who answered all my questions and explained the 6-week new starter meetings and 12-month process in a lot of detail. I came away motivated and ready to start my activation group at Springwood Leisure Centre.
Concerned about exercising with my hernia, I asked my doctor’s advice, he advocated gentle physical activity but suggested I avoid any abdominal moves like sit ups.
Whilst waiting to start I joined a couple of Livewell’s led walks in Alvaston and Darley Park, which are run by their volunteers and are available for anyone.
Walking through the doors of the first session was daunting but I was reassured to find that the other participants were just like me, we had a lot in common and were there for the same reasons. The discussions were interesting and helpful and the exercise section, which I was most worried about, turned out to be fine. I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, but the advisors make the workout manageable and fun, with gentler options for those who want them.
As it turns out, exercise classes are my thing! My aim was to try all the Livewell classes before moving onto the leisure centre ones and my confidence grew with every session.
I highly rate Chairfit with advisor, Stu, which is harder than it sounds. I thought my balance was OK but it’s not something I routinely work on, and it can worsen with age. Knowing people who’ve had major injuries from falls, I can see the merit in prevention by improving balance, strength and stamina at this weekly class.
Before Livewell I walked once a week in the countryside but didn’t do much else. Now I take part in Livewell and leisure centre classes five days a week including Low Impact Circuits, Chairfit, Weekend Workout, Active Living classes, Step Aerobics, Move and Tone and Clubbercise at Derby Arena - the 1980s club anthems make the time fly by!
The Move It Month challenge earlier this year incentivised me to walk more, and I’ve not stopped! We don’t have a car, so I walk either one way or some of the way to Springwood Leisure Centre and Derby Arena from home which adds to my activity and calorie burn.
My wife and I have always eaten fresh, home-cooked meals but we tucked into big amounts, eating too much meat and starchy foods like potatoes, pasta and rice.
Niamh, like all the Livewell team, is approachable and a great source of information. She encouraged me to eat from a smaller plate and substitute larger portions of meat or potatoes with more vegetables or salad. We also enjoy more fruit and this leaves less room for other unhealthy snacks.
I used the portion controlled calorie guidance, sticking to 1800 calories a day which combined with the activity, led to the pounds dropping off every week.
Getting weighed at the Normanton Library drop in on Thursday is convenient for me. It’s a chance to have a chat with advisors, Joe and Shaun, get advice and update my journey book.
Nine months after I started with Livewell, I’m feeling fitter and healthier than I have in years. My high blood pressure is now normal and my cholesterol level is healthy. Because much of my weight loss is from my stomach, the pressure in my abdominal area has eased, meaning I’m free of the abdominal problems that I had back at the start of the year.
As a slimmer man, I need a whole new wardrobe, but rather than shop for new clothes, I’m replacing my oversized trousers and shirts with smaller ones from my local charity shop. It’s cheaper, helps to reduce waste and the money goes to a good cause – it’s a win win for everyone!
My top tip for people just joining Livewell is to keep in regular contact with the team. They are passionate about supporting people to live healthier and improve their quality of life. Their enthusiasm and knowledge are contagious in a good way so if you’re a client just starting out, really make the most of your year and get involved in as much as possible!”
Livewell advisor, Niamh Cripps added:
“I’ve been so impressed by Gordon’s perseverance and enthusiasm throughout his time on the Livewell programme. He took on board all the advice at the activation sessions and started to make changes straight away. His success shows how much time and effort he’s put in, and he’s a real inspiration to all! Gordon is a regular friendly face at the Livewell sessions and is always happy to chat to and support other clients based on his own experiences.”
Gordon with grandson, Wilfred before his weight loss.