Nancy's weight loss journey

Last updated 05:00 18/07/2013
Nancy McNoe
INSPIRATIONAL STORY: Lifestyle and diet changes helped Nancy McNoe to lose 40kgs.

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Discovering that she was pre-diabetic in her early 50s and coming from a whanau with known health risks put Nancy McNoe, her whanau and her friends on a new path to health and fitness.

Nancy's 'weight journey' started after she had her first child. As a newly-married teenage mum the weight "started to pile on" and at her heaviest she tipped the scales at a level that would make a Crusaders prop proud.

One of the masking factors for the weight was the fact that Nancy was active, into team sports and supported her children with their sports. As a young mum she was constantly running around keeping the family happy and healthy.

But she wasn't really keeping herself healthy. Food was her comfort and while she yearned to lose the weight, she took solace in food.

She was forever cooking for her family and food was an ever present issue. Besides, her family loved her for who she was, not for her size.

She was aware of family health concerns though. Her father died when she was 40 and he was 63. He had his first heart attack at 43, and a quadruple bypass at 45.

In his early 50s he developed type 2 diabetes and then became insulin dependent in his 60s.

He wasn't too overweight and he increased his exercise after his first heart attack. However, the diabetes took its toll on his body, including cataracts and numb toes.

When she turned 45, Nancy's doctor suggested getting a free health WOF, including a cardiovascular risk assessment.

The results were a little shocking for a person who thought she was healthy enough, just a little overweight. Not only did she have anaemia, she also had high cholesterol.

She started to take iron tablets, and went on to a statin for the cholesterol. This brought her blood test results back into a more acceptable range and Nancy breathed a sigh of relief, believing she was now healthy.

However one of her regular and routine blood tests showed an escalation in blood sugars and the start of pre-diabetes. This was scary - she was heading down the same path as her dad.

In addition to this she developed grade 2 osteoarthritis in her right knee, which was constantly painful.

According to her physio, this was the result of playing sport, tramping, and skiing while carrying the extra weight.

The turning point on her road to health came from her family. Her eldest daughter came home from Australia with her grandchildren for a month and said 'Mum it's time for me to look after you'.

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For the entire month she prepared all the meals, including snacks and Nancy was surprised to lose some weight and to be learning from her children about healthy food, a role reversal she never imagined.

Every day her daughter talked to her about food, what to eat, when to eat it and how often to eat. To be fair, Nancy had heard a lot of it before but the difference was she was now doing it .

A mention must also go to Nancy's mum Leone, who helped her lose 40kgs (which has now been kept off for over 18 months).

Nancy said there were two reasons she was able to lose the weight.

"Firstly, having the scare of becoming pre-diabetic and heading down the same path as my father and secondly, my beautiful daughter. She gave me all the love, support, understanding and courage to, for once, look after myself," she said. 

Life is now so much better. Her knee no longer aches. Movement is easy now. Simple things like getting up off the floor after playing with grandchildren, or the pets isn't an issue, whereas it used to be painful and exhausting.

Other unexpected benefits include:

- Wanting to be involved in more activities with family.

- a new attitude to stress.

- a new understanding and tolerance of family and friends and their issues.

- a new appreciation of her appearance, a new love of shopping for clothes and improved sleep patterns. 

- Goal setting and being able to inspire other people, including friends and family who have themselves lost weight in a healthy way.

The last words in this story need to go to Nancy:

"I am so pleased to be feeling and looking better and for once to be in control of what I eat, and knowing how to keep myself healthy for years to come.

"If I can do it, so can others, and then they too can enjoy what I have enjoyed, a new attitude, a new outlook and a new direction.

"I have set up a group of whanau and friends who meet once a week to support each other with exercise and weight loss. Everyone has lost weight in this group. We are a mixed ethnicity crowd having fun being healthy. And no diabetes or sore knees."

Ka pakeke to haere kaua e hemo. 

When things are difficult don't give up. 

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