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My Health Journey

Losing Weight, Getting Healthy & Keeping Osteoarthritis at Bay.

First, let me introduce myself. I'm Suzanna, a Certified Health Coach and full member of the UK & International Health Coaches Association, Certified Clinical Weight Loss Practitioner plus an Advanced Functional Imagery Training Practitioner, and a Stress Management Trainer. I'm also a qualified Physiotherapist of 13 years.

I have to be honest, I haven’t always been the picture of health. When I was in my teens my weight started to pile on. I tried to put it down to ‘big-bones’, ‘slow-metabolism’ and ‘hormones’, however in reality I wasn't being honest with myself. I was eating really badly and although I was doing some exercise, my diet was doing me no favours. Also during my teenage years I suffered from a few sporting injuries to my knees, ankle and wrist, which leaves me more prone to osteoarthritis (OA) in those joints.

When I went to university for the first time to study my sport science and management degree my weight sky-rocketed! I was eating the worse foods imaginable and drinking alcohol far too frequently to fit-in with my peers. It was also a really stressful time and I wasn't managing this very well. Then, one day, I saw a photo of myself that made me cry. It was at that point I knew I needed to make a change and lose some weight. I started by myself but I found it hard to keep track of things, especially in a student house full of processed food and alcohol, but I was determined to get my life back on track and kick the peer-pressure to the kerb; I even became teetotal for four years! I also joined a local health club making the most of the included Pilates, Yoga and Circuits classes as well as ‘hitting the gym’ every so often, and of course partaking in the Jacuzzi and sauna on offer. I also found 'talking therapy' quite useful, especially the CBT aspect when I was in a place to be open to giving it a go.









At that point I joined a popular weekly weight loss group and helped out at the meetings to get more involved and motivate others on a similar weight loss journey. The only downside was that sometimes I wanted a more personalised way of reaching my goal and I didn’t feel that many of the foods that were recommended were that great for long term health, often containing chemical sugar substitutes, flavour enhancers, and high quantities of salt and sugar to make up for the lack of fat. There was a general ‘Calories in = Calories out’ mind-set, regardless of the nutritional value and health benefits (or not) of foods being consumed. Sometimes it felt more like a social club, with many people queuing up, excuses in hand and either made to feel guilty about their weight gain or lack of progress without any real support to explore their barriers to change or to harness their real motivations to change

I persevered and reached my goal, losing just an average of 1-2 lb a week with the help of exercise as well. I then decided to maintain this weight-loss on my own after I lost a total of about 4 stone. My energy levels soared, my skin felt better, my joints felt good and I was the fittest I had felt in my life. I was even questioned by my psychology lecturer about what had made me want to lose weight and how I managed it because the change was very visible having gone from the larger end of a size 16 down to a size 8/10.

16 years later and I’ve still kept the weight off, I’m a happy size 10 and my knees, ankle and wrist haven't started slowing me down yet!

I have to say, it wasn’t all plain sailing; it is hard work with the most difficult part being maintaining a new, healthy weight. I actually sailed past my goal and became a little obsessed with the weight loss, which wasn’t good for me,  before getting back to a more steady, healthy weight. If I’d had a health coach it would have made the whole process much easier, and also I would have learnt that it's not all about Calories in = Calories out, it's about the quality of those calories and not getting fixated on numbers. 

What I have learnt is it’s so much more than just the number of calories you consume; it’s also the quality of those calories and their benefits to your short and long term health. Also, it’s about learning to relax, managing stress, being mindful and getting active in whatever way is possible that works for you. It’s about setting realistic goals, exploring your own motivations and having the support you need along the way.

For myself, reducing the chance of developing osteoarthritis is of primary importance, so maintaining a healthy lifestyle and strong muscles is paramount. Extra weight not only increases the risk of OA, particularly to those with previous injuries, but it also increases your risk of back pain, kidney and liver disease, asthma, high blood pressure, sleep apnoea, GORD as well as many other issues, which I want to steer well clear of!

Everyone has things they can work on; even as a health professional helping others, I still have my own goals. No-one is perfect and striving for perfection is a sure-fire way to sabotage your efforts. I learnt this the hard way! Maintaining good health is a part of life which can be very enjoyable, rewarding and often not just benefits yourself but those around you. It's shouldn't end as a well intentioned New Years resolution to be forgotten by mid-January, or a bikini body blitz to go by the wayside come September....THINK BIG, THINK LIFE!

My Health Journey: About
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