The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - FRONT PAGE - Stacey Al­dous is owner of Free­dom Health & Well­ness. with Stacey Al­dous

THIS week is Women’s Health Week, ded­i­cated to help­ing women across Australia make good health a pri­or­ity.

The two big­gest bar­ri­ers for women not main­tain­ing a healthy life­style is “lack of time” and “health not be­ing a pri­or­ity”. Women’s Health Week is the time to put our­selves first and start mak­ing pos­i­tive changes that can last a life­time.

We know women are lead­ing busier lives than ever be­fore and we have a ten­dency to let our­selves slip low on our pri­or­ity lists. How­ever, the health of those we love starts with us. By in­vest­ing more time in our­selves, we are bet­ter able to look after the ones we love and care about.

As a busy mum of three chil­dren, Der­went Val­ley res­i­dent Su­san Na­tion’s health needs had not been a pri­or­ity for some time. She had be­come ac­cus­tomed to be­ing a “big mum” and hav­ing dif­fi­culty buy­ing any clothes that fit­ted her, let alone clothes that she gen­uinely liked.

Su­san’s weigh gain and her lack of mo­ti­va­tion to shift the in­creas­ing weight be­gan to af­fect her men­tal and emo­tional health and her self-worth was plum­met­ing. She felt dread­ful.

Su­san hit rock bot­tom while on a fam­ily hol­i­day in Jan­uary last year. She was not able to par­tic­i­pate in ac­tiv­i­ties with her fam­ily. Her legs sim­ply wouldn’t work and she didn’t recog­nise the per­son she had be­come. That was the moment that she knew she needed to make some changes. She re­alised how much she was miss­ing out on.

She knew she needed some­one to sup­port her, and her lov­ing part­ner Rod be­came that per­son. Rod had been pick­ing up the slack in the fam­ily due to Su­san be­ing un­able to do many things at home and he recog­nised that the fam­ily needed Su­san to be well — phys­i­cally, men­tally and emo­tion­ally.

Together, Su­san and Rod started walk­ing — ini­tially just as far as the let­ter­box, as that’s all Su­san could man­age. Then it was to the end of the street. Then around the block. Then around two blocks, in­creas­ing the dis­tance each time they walked.

There were tears of frus­tra­tion and pain. Her legs ached. She ques­tioned over and over how she had let this hap­pen to her. She felt guilty and ashamed. But with Rod’s help and hav­ing the sup­port of her kids and the rest of her fam­ily, she got fitter and stronger and the weight started to shift.

Eigh­teen months on, with lots of kilo­me­tres un­der her belt and 120kg lighter, Su­san started par­tic­i­pat­ing in some ex­er­cise of a higher in­ten­sity in con­junc­tion with her walks. She didn’t know if she would be able to get through a minute of a class let alone a full class. She started with one class a week and over a three month time pe­riod, in­creased her fre­quency to three or four classes per week. Each class she does a lit­tle bit bet­ter than the last.

Twelve months ago Su­san couldn’t even bend her knees — now in th­ese classes she cel­e­brates that she can get on the floor and get back up again. For the first time in her life, Su­san feels proud of her­self. She can sit on the floor with her son to play together. See­ing him with a huge grin on his face while they are play­ing warms her heart.

Since los­ing the weight, she is much more con­fi­dent, health­ier and her self­con­fi­dence has in­creased. Her de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety has de­creased and she can choose clothes from reg­u­lar shops. She is more ac­tive with her kids and is an amaz­ing role model for them. Su­san still has weak mo­ments but th­ese mo­ments no longer send her into a down­ward spi­ral like they did in the past. She lets them pass and moves on to the next day.

Su­san made her health her pri­or­ity. She knew that she needed to do it for the ones that she loves. She in­vested time in her­self so that she can look after the ones she loves and cares about. She is truly an in­spi­ra­tional women.

“We only get one life and for me I nearly lost my chance at life,” Su­san says.

“So never give up, give it all you’ve got. You will not look back once you take that first step.”

A FUNDRAIS­ING dance night to sup­port the Chilcott fam­ily, whose daugh­ter Janelle has been fight­ing cancer for 10 years, will be held on Fri­day night from 7pm. En­try is by do­na­tion and at­ten­dees are asked to bring a plate of food to share and their own drinks. The fundraiser will be held at Free­dom Health & Well­ness, 99 Ring Rd, New Nor­folk. For more in­for­ma­tion call Stacey on 0417 464 476.

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