"I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis"
Michelle's weight loss story
Name: Michelle McGregor
Weight loss: 16.2kg
How long it took: 6 months
How she did it: Group coaching at New Lynn Community Centre, Auckland, NZ, with Coach Joanne Woodward
“ I pushed myself a little more every day, setting new goals, determined not to give in. As I lost more weight and became stronger, I started jogging, then running, and then I ran a half marathon. ”
Before & Now
A few years ago, I had a niggling pain in my ankle. At first I thought it was due to a skateboarding accident, but then I started experiencing stiffness in my fingers when I woke up in the mornings, and soon began having incredible pain in my hands and feet. Turns out it was rheumatoid arthritis – I was diagnosed at the age of 39. It was a terrible shock and it wore me down. Where I used to be able to exercise for up to two hours at a time – aerobics, weights, power walking and bushwalking – now it was a struggle to take 40 steps or exercise for longer than 10 minutes. I was on pretty heavy medication too, and because of that and the inactivity, my weight ballooned. The extra weight put terrible strain on my knees. My self-confidence plummeted and I became very depressed. I went to my GP for help and burst into tears. But I listened to her and realised it was time to stop hiding myself away and to come out fighting and take back control of my life.
Turning over a new leaf
Joining Weight Watchers was the start of big changes for me. The Program was working well, but my progress towards fitness happened very slowly. I pushed myself a little more every day, setting new goals, determined not to give in to the arthritis. As I lost more weight and became stronger, I started jogging, then running, and set a half marathon as my goal. On 17 February 2013, with the support of my sister Monique, I fulfilled that goal. It was one of the proudest moments of my life. I still have arthritis, but Weight Watchers has taught me to manage my weight and believe in myself, too. I’ve become stronger and now I know that no matter what gets thrown in my way or how tough things get, I can do it – and kick that rheumatoid arthritis in the guts!
Michelle’s favourite ways to stay motivated:
Positive thinking: Whenever it seemed hard and my progress seemed small, I’d say to myself, ‘No matter how slow I go, I’m still lapping everyone on the couch’.
Bush tracks: I was too shy to go to the gym. Running outdoors – seeing the trees and hearing the birds – works so much better for me.
Michelle get-fit tips:
Try something new: Sometimes it’s easier when you mix it up and introduce new challenges.
Like your exercise: You’re more likely to stick with fitness when you enjoy it. And it has to be manageable for you – when my symptoms are bad, I know I can always just walk around the house.
Be competitive with yourself: Don’t worry about what anyone else is achieving. Even if your goal is to walk around the living room for five minutes, and then six minutes, all the way to a half marathon – it’s a personal and positive achievement.