Coronavirus, an update from Active Cornwall

Louise's Story

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My change started as part of a Healthy Workplace Initiative run by Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly NHS working with business' through Cornwall. As the Human Resources Manager driving the changes through our organisation, I realised I needed to lead by example, taking on board the things I was trying to educate the staff about. Although I knew a lot about healthy eating already, I started to embrace and practice what I was preaching. I was also spurred on by seeing programmes and reading about the devastating effects of diabetes. I knew I didn't want to end up with this, but could see that it was where I was heading despite being in good health.

I had undergone an operation in 2006 after which I was told to do nothing while I recovered. I was a model patient and literally did nothing which became a habit, leading to a large weight gain and I continued doing very little in the way of exercise.

However under the Healthy Workplace Initiative, one of the things I did was introduce a pedometer challenge (based on the recommended 10000 steps per day) trying to increase exercise and team cohesion within the workplace and this saw me walking during my lunch break round a 2.5 mile circuit come wind, rain, sun or hail (mainly rain!). I continued after the challenge had finished and lost a stone without really trying!

The next year in the challenge, the competition between the pedometer teams really kicked off and I added a cross trainer to my routine regularly using it for 50 minutes at a time, four times a week in addition to the walking during my lunch break.  Feeling really motivated, I made some minor changes to my diet and downloaded a free app on my Smartphone called 'MyFitnessPal' to record my food and exercise (which I still use today); this saw me lose a further three and a half stone in seven months bringing me into the normal weight category for the first time in a number of years. 

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Meanwhile, exercise became a habit, and I now miss it if I can't carry out a session. Exercise helps me 'pay' for some of the additional treats that I may want to eat and this has helped me maintain my weight with a set range. I am still prone to adding a few pounds at Christmas and special occasions - I'm not perfect - but I am a lot fitter in my fifties than I was in my thirties and I know my risk of getting diabetes has reduced massively. My husband was extremely supportive and bought me a 'Fitbit' - a wearable device which tracks my steps and again links to another app on my Smartphone. By using this I can join challenges with other users of the app and we spur each other on. Currently my daily average is around 15000-16000 steps a day. I also link it to another free app which rewards people for exercise by linking your tracking device and setting its own challenges.

I am now training for the Urban Survivor Tuff-Enuff Challenge in Falmouth and I have taken up skipping recently which is a lot harder than you think as you get older! I have also introduced regular running to my workout which was done through the free NHS app 'Couch to 5K' which was an excellent starting point. There really is a difference to my mental health after a run when the endorphins kick in and I always feel I have achieved something worthwhile.

As someone who had become a hardened 'couch potato', I feel that if I can do it, anyone can. There are lots of free resources for the 'teckies' out there to support you and, if you can't afford the gym or don't have a Smartphone, then a skipping rope is cheap and the great outdoors is free for either a walk or a run!


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