Nurse Jackie breaks the unhealthy cycle for a brighter future
SUCCESSFULLY losing weight has brought one Wicklow woman to tears. Thankfully, these were tears of joy as she saw her wedding ring slip back onto her finger for the first time in five years.
After 30 years of nursing, Jackie O’Toole from Kilcoole was well versed on the impact and dangers of being overweight and leading an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle. Despite this, the 58-year-old had watched the pounds steadily pile on. From the outside she appeared to be a happy and confident individual, inside she was embarrassed and ashamed.
A few years ago, Jackie had suffered a slipped disc in her lower back and, on her doctor’s advice, joined Slimming World to try lose weight as part of her recovery. Just four weeks later, she had lost a whole stone.
‘But once my back problems stopped being an issue, I lost my motivation and stopped attending or following the Slimming World plan,’ said Jackie. ‘Very soon that stone of weight was right back on my waistline!’
In the end, it was the sudden death of Jackie’s sister – just six weeks after an initial diagnosis – that prompted her to change her life. By the end of summer 2016, while still grieving her terrible loss, Jackie was four stone overweight.
‘I knew I wanted to go back to Slimming World, but it took me four weeks to decide to go for it because I was so embarrassed about going back,’ she said.
She needn’t have been worried; Jackie was welcomed by her consultant and given the support that helped her to lose 3.5lbs in her first week and a 4lbs in her second – was more than half a stone in two weeks. From there, she has gone on to lose three stone in 37 weeks.
‘I have changed my outlook on life as well as making incredible friends along the way,’ said an understandably delighted Jackie. ‘ The turning point for me was in week 16. After losing two stone I was able to wear my own wedding ring again after five years of it not fitting my finger. There were a few tears that day!’
Slimming World’s Food Optimising programme allowed Jackie the freedom to eat the foods she loved (including potatoes, pasta and rice), and enjoy a plate full of healthy food, ensuring she never felt hungry. A lover of Mediterranean style food, Jackie was able to make delicious Italian and Greek dishes the Slimming World way, which the whole family loved.
After ten years of sitting in the shed, Jackie has also begun to take to the roads on her ‘new’ bike. Her son adapted the bike to become an electric bike (although she only uses the ‘ turbo’ boost on the steepest hills) and now Jackie enjoys a daily cycles and feels the improvement in her overall fitness.
‘Cycling is great and the engine gives me the confidence that if I get tired it will assist me to get home – I am never daunted now by the prospect of a long cycle ride,’ she said.
In contrast with the many fad diets she tried over the years, Jackie feels the Slimming World experience really has changed her life: she instinctively makes healthy choices, she doesn’t feel restricted with her food choices and she’s got a new-found confidence that allows her to experience more of what life has to offer.
‘As a health professional heading into her later years, I know I should have listened to my GP three years ago,’ Jackie said. ‘ The new slimmer, healthier me has given my future self the best possible chance to lessen susceptibility to illnesses such diabetes, cardiac complications, dementia and stroke.’
Jackie will be hoping to help others to ditch the pounds at her Slimming World group in Kilcoole Primary School and a new Saturday morning group, which begins at 9.30 a.m. next Saturday, July 22.
Jackie O’Toole before losing the weight and (right) a slimmer Jackie heads out for a cycle.