The day after Iona Liddell had a heart attack, she was diagnosed with diabetes. It came to her as a huge shock, and sadly, her husband passed away just one week later, after suffering from a heart attack himself.

It dawned on Iona that she needed to make a change – and fast.

She was placed on a Green Prescription at Onehunga War Memorial Pool & Leisure Centre managed by YMCA. It was there she was offered the chance to join the Jumpstart programme in March 2015, and she has never looked back.

An eye-opening diagnosis

Iona had believed that she was living a fairly healthy life; eating leafy greens and vegetables, but indulging in too many of her favourite sugary treats and fruit juice - plus drinking wine a few times a week! She also walked her dog a few times a week too, so it was a surprise to her when she was diagnosed with diabetes. She had never stepped foot in a gym, and the thought of exercising in a gym was a terrifying thought.

Jumpstart gives Iona a boost

The 66 year old started her Jumpstart programme straight away, and found that it was exactly what she needed.

“It gave me the support I was needing at that stage, and I actually found myself going back to the gym in between the Jumpstart classes. Jumpstart is more than exercising, it’s changing patterns and changing how you react to things, as well as exercising.

“I found it really good because the groups are small and it’s really good meeting others who are in the same situation.”

She said while she had been afraid of exercising in a gym, she came to enjoy it despite her initial fears.

“The trainers encourage you to push yourself, but in a safe way, not a nasty way. I thought gyms were places that had people full with finely tuned muscles, and I said that to Julia (Jumpstart trainer), but you walk in, and immediately, you don’t feel out of place. The others in the group are really supportive.”

Through Jumpstart Iona learnt what kind of foods really are healthy, because there are a lot of misconceptions.

“I thought grapes were healthy, but I was told I could only have five grapes a day, because they have a lot of sugar. Jumpstart teaches you to be a bit more conscious of what your food choices are.”

Happier, healthier, and lighter

Iona has since lost 20kg after taking part in Jumpstart, and feels amazing.

“I feel a lot more confident in myself, and I feel a lot better. You notice that flab becomes muscle, and it really has changed the way I look at eating and the way I look at exercising.

“You hear so much about people going on diets and most of them put the weight back on. Jumpstart is really a kick off for you, and sets you up for that lifestyle change, and it doesn’t seem like a big change.”

She said for anyone thinking about taking part in the programme, she thoroughly recommended it.

“They are really welcoming, and the instructors make it easy. They make a few challenges, but they are really welcoming. I found that with exercise and diet combined, it wasn’t a struggle to reduce weight.”