When Barry was told by his doctor that he would not be considered as a kidney donor for his son because of his weight, he decided to take action.
The determined dad joined our Central Lancashire service and, now four and a half stone lighter, he is well on his way to achieving his health goal.
He said: “This has changed my life. If I wasn’t able to donate my kidney because of my weight and something happened to my son I just couldn’t live with that.”
Barry’s son Alan had a rare cancer as a teenager and the chemotherapy he had to undertake as part of his treatment left his kidneys damaged. Now aged 30, he has been told that he is likely to need a transplant in the next 12 months.
Barry said: “We were told that the best donors are family members and usually the father. However, the doctor said that even if I was compatible, they would not take my kidney because at 20 stone I was too fat, and that I would need to lose six-eight stone.
“I used to be 12 stone but had put weight on over the past 10 years through comfort eating due to anxiety and stress. I was happy but would get out of breath going upstairs and did no exercise at all.
“I tried various ways to diet but nothing worked and I couldn’t focus and stick to it. Then in January, my doctor referred me to the ABL service and everything changed. I was amongst people in the same boat as me, the camaraderie and friendship was great and I looked forward to each week – we all felt part of a community. All the classes went at our own pace and I never got embarrassed. I wasn’t going because I had to, I was going because I wanted to – it became infectious.
“I took strength from my lifestyle coach, Sarah and listened to her advice and direction. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.”
Barry was so motivated, he also encouraged his wife Irene to join the scheme, where she has lost over a stone. The couple also signed up for and regularly attend the local gym at West View Leisure Centre.
Barry said: “I’ve lost eight inches off my waist and two inches from my collar and recently filled nine bin bags full of my old clothes! I’ve got more energy and am just going to keep on going.
“We’ve also agreed to come back to the ABL group as peer supporters to help other people who are on the programme. I was the laziest person which proves that anyone can do this – everyone just needs a place to start and a bit of encouragement.”
“I was struggling with my blood pressure and fitness so had started to make changes to my lifestyle but it didn’t seem to be making any difference. I had a lightbulb moment and thought ‘I need to take this seriously now’. I joined the council’s Couch to 5k running group in September which was great – I started off walking and running for a couple of minutes and built up to doing 5k in nine weeks – and then I started ABL Health’s programme.
“My lifestyle coach James has been absolutely brilliant – he is a real guru! He’s knowledgeable and encouraging and the ideal person for me to work with, and it is great to tap into that expertise that otherwise wouldn’t be available to you. It’s also good being in a group and helping each other keep our motivation; it’s important to have that mutual support and to be comfortable with other people especially when you’re doing exercise as it can be a bit sensitive.
“As a result of going on the programme, I joined a gym and do about four or five sessions every week. I’ve now got a much stronger mindset about how I should approach my eating and make good quality choices about food, and how to build in exercise as part of my lifestyle – not just going to the gym but things I can do at home at a relatively low level to supplement my daily activity and routine.
“I’m the fittest now that I have ever been and am motivated to keep going. I also feel really healthy – I’ve watched people drop like flies with chest infections, coughs and colds this winter and I haven’t even had a sniffle!
“It’s very difficult to go down the route of changing your lifestyle without having this kind of support. What’s ideal about this programme is it gives you the tools to enable you to make a real difference to your life.”
“My name is Kate and I joined the EnABLe group last July following a referral by my GP. Due to illness and medication I had gradually gained weight and was the heaviest I had ever been – (weighing nearly as much as when I was 9 months pregnant!)
“I was fed up of being overweight and had made enough excuses so I was ready to change my eating habits. I went to my first session and was determined to give it my best shot. My tutors were very helpful and explained what the programme would deliver over the 12 weeks – a session on healthy eating followed by some exercise.
“I felt positive after the first session and had also met other people who were in a similar situation with their weight. During the first week I gradually altered my diet and started to shop for healthy alternatives to my usual chocolate bars and crisps.
“I returned the next week and was relieved to find I had lost some weight! I just kept going – there were days when I did struggle but I tried to look at it as a long term change and just started again the next day. Without the support of the lifestyle coaches I would probably have just slipped back into my old habits but knowing that I had to go each week and get weighed spurred me on.
“I started to feel much better after about four weeks and noticed I had a lot more energy – because I was eating the right things. Once I felt I was going the right way it was much easier to keep going.
“Once I started to get back into smaller sized clothes I felt much better and just kept eating healthily. For me this was a big motivator and made me keep going.
“I have just been back for my six month review and I have maintained my weight but more importantly to me I am wearing clothes that are three sizes smaller than when I joined! I know that I would not have done it on my own and needed the support of a group programme.
“I have been to other slimming clubs before but I realise I was only reducing my calorie intake rather than eating the right foods. I did lose weight but felt constantly tired and then fed up and just put it all back on.
“The Enable programme has re-educated my eating habits and kept me going!”
“I decided to join the service as I wanted to change my lifestyle and thought it would be a good start to the new year. Having Simon teach us the way he did was great – he has helped me see life differently and I feel so much better in myself and a lot more confident.
“I’ve discovered that I can lose weight through eating a healthy diet and I also think more about what I eat. I eat a lot more fruit and veg and walk a lot more now.
“My diabetes is under control and my cholesterol has lowered so my doctor is pleased too!
“I would recommend trying this programme. If you try hard, you can change your lifestyle. I’ve enjoyed the challenge and it’s certainly changed my life for the better.”