May Client of the Month - Jess Taberner

Published: 12 May 2021

woman  making smoothie in blender

Jess received guidance based on the NHS Eatwell guide.

26-year-old Jess Taberner from Derby carries the faulty gene for Huntington’s disease (HD), an incurable condition that stops parts of the brain working properly over time.  It’s passed on from a person’s parents and Jess’s mum, two aunties and grandad are all affected.

Although it can’t be cured, leading a healthy lifestyle, particularly exercise, is believed to influence the onset and progression of HD which usually develops in men and women between the ages of 30 and 50.

Currently Jess isn’t showing any signs of the disease but she’s determined to be as healthy as she can be to potentially reduce her risks and control its influence.

Here she explains how Livewell changed her life: 

“I’ve struggled with my weight since being at University in Manchester.  Working 12 hour shifts in a bookmakers, I got into some bad habits and constantly snacked instead of eating proper meals.

I’d had poor experiences of using diet groups in the past, the weight didn’t stay off for more than two weeks and the advice seemed inconsistent with my ideas of eating a balanced diet, especially cutting out food groups. 

Returning to Derby after six years, I was determined to improve my health for my long-term outlook so I looked up local services and stumbled upon Livewell. 

From the moment I started my 12-month programme, I learned so much.  The team gave me solid lifestyle guidance that made so much sense, revolving around the NHS Eatwell Guide and regular exercise.  Luckily I joined before the pandemic started so I benefitted from the real-life sessions where volunteers who had been on the programme themselves shared their experiences and helped new clients feel at ease.  They assured us that like them, we could lose weight and successfully keep it off. 

My advisor, Andy gave me tailored advice and encouraged me to pop along to the weekly weigh-ins where we’d discuss my progress and have a chat.  I also started the Livewell Boxwell class which I really enjoyed and the welcoming staff at Springwood Leisure Centre boosted my confidence in using the gym and trying out spin classes. 

My weight loss was slow at the start and I got a bit disheartened but Andy reassured me that dropping 1-2 pounds per week is best for long term success.

When the country locked down, the Livewell team were still there to support me, sending weekly emails, offering virtual support sessions and giving me helpful tips on how to keep going with my goals. I felt I couldn’t give up or let myself down.  Swapping the gym workouts for home workouts kept me motivated and I even created my own circuits session.  I cut out snacking and ate proper balanced meals with the right amounts of foods from each group – things I picked up on the Lose Weight Feel Great course.

When my BMI dropped below 30 I was elated.  No longer considered to be obese, I’d lost 16% of my body weight and dropped from a size 16 to a size 12.  I had the nice but costly problem of buying a whole new wardrobe!

With one goal achieved, I felt ready to tackle my smoking.  With Andy’s support, I set my quit date at the start of 2021 and he suggested ways to handle my cravings. Unfortunately, I had a reaction to Nicotine patches so Andy suggested Champix - a prescription medication that reduced my withdrawal symptoms.  This worked better but I can’t say it was easy, it’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But now I’m over three months smoke free I know I won’t go back and I feel so much better for giving up.

My family love the new me, particularly my grandma who is my harshest critic.  This journey has taught me so much and has changed my life completely.  I feel fitter, happier and more positive about living with a disease I know I’ll get in the future. 

I’ve recommended the service to so many people and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Andy and the rest of the Livewell team.”

Livewell advisor Andy says:

Jess has more reasons that most to live a healthy lifestyle and it’s been a pleasure to be part of her journey and see her confidence grow. Her unwavering determination to stick to her plan, adopt a healthy balanced diet and keep exercising throughout this uncertain time has helped her to reach her goals.  Jess, like many of our clients has discovered that maintaining healthy habits doesn’t have to be boring and can help us feel so much better mentally and physically.  Well done Jess!

People can find out more and sign up for stop smoking and weight loss support on the Livewell website.

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