Michelle, 51, from Havant, has recently completed Horizon Leisure’s 12-week weight management programme, FLOURISH.

Here, Michelle explains why FLOURISH has finally made the difference after a lifetime of yo-yo dieting.

Michelle, who is a Shared Lives Carer, providing 24-hour care for three disabled people in her own home, says: “I have a number of long term conditions, including arthritis, asthma and pre-diabetes, as well as having a dodgy foot and knee.  All my health complaints are made worse through being overweight.  Before I started the FLOURISH programme my BMI was over 40.

“My life is very hectic; being a full time carer doesn’t leave much time for me.  I knew I had to make a change, and although I’ve been on the waiting list for a gastric bypass since 2021, if I could avoid surgery and lose weight on my own terms, I’d be much happier.

“I started to go swimming at Havant Leisure Centre, just for 25 minutes, once or twice a week.  It was during a visit that I saw their FLOURISH Programme being advertised.  It seemed like the right sort of approach for me.  I applied to join and thankfully they took me on.”

Michelle came to Havant Leisure Centre, where she met with Horizon Leisure’s health and fitness experts,where she was shown around the gym and how the various exercise equipment works. 

Michelle didn’t miss a single session in the 12 weeks.  The programme includes information sessions, talks and advice, exercise classes and sessions at The Wellbeing Hub at the Meridien Shopping Centre. 

Michelle explains: “The sessions were so helpful, and I felt confident in the care and the advice that was provided. They were motivational and made me realise that I wasn’t on a diet, but that I was simply changing my lifestyle. The team helped me to set new habits and to not have that ‘all or nothing’ approach to food.  They explained how my health, and being a woman, can impact weight fluctuations and my mood.  I also started joining their gentle exercise circuit classes.

“However, for me, being in the pool was my happy place. So, alongside being more mindful about what I ate, I increased my swimming to five times a week, an hour each time.  I started to feel so much better, and although I sometimes feel I’m too tired to go swimming in the evening, I have never regretted making the effort to go. My partner  and family have been very supportive in order to make my regular swimming sessions possible.

“Swimming is so relaxing, it’s time for just me. My body doesn’t ache in the pool, I love the feeling of being weightless, and I almost go into a meditative trance whilst swimming.

“During the 12-week programme I started to lose weight and could see my body starting to change. On completing the programme I signed up for a monthly  membership with Horizon Leisure so I could keep up with the good work.

“The programme has brought my BMI down to 38.6 and my soon to be husband, who has been eating the same food as me, has also lost three stone.  My arms feel more toned and I am delighted with the sensible and steady changes.  Being more mindful of my food and moving more still allows me to socialise and to go out for dinner.  It’s not a diet, it’s a way of life. I’m hopeful that this new outlook will remain with me and will help me to avoid drastic gastric surgery. Losing the weight will also mean I can then have a knee replacement procedure, which will further help my mobility.

“It’s also been lovely to meet some new people on the programme and to help support them with their own wellbeing journey too.”

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