Norfolk women Mandy and Nola say “doing different” changed their lives

Two women who have taken part in an NHS health promotion say it has transformed their lives.

The Do Something Different (DSD) project is run by the West Norfolk Partnership and the University of Hertfordshire, and is part-funded by NHS Norfolk.

It runs a range of programmes to help people to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Mandy Orchard and Nola Huggins are two of the many people whose lives have been changed by taking part in the project.

Mandy, 55, of Fairstead, King's Lynn, has lost 1 stone 3lb in weight. She tipped the scales at 17st 8lb when she joined the DSD six-week Healthy Weight/Happy Life course six months ago. Today she weighs 16st 5lb – and has more confidence too.

'I am one of these people who are very shy, and it was a real life change for me to join the course,' she said.

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'I just felt at ease with it. I felt comfortable with the group on the course, everything was explained well and I knew I could get on with it, I knew I could do it.'

The course gave Mandy many tips for a healthier lifestyle. She increased her intake of fruit and vegetables, switched from white bread to granary, and now opts for healthier snacks.

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She also now walks a mile every day, and her growing confidence has led to her considering becoming a volunteer leader for a local walking group.

'I used to be very much in my own shell. I never used to talk to many people, and would never have joined a club or gone out on my own. I used to have to force myself to go for a walk and could not walk to the shop without getting puffed out,' she said.

Mandy, who is a full-time carer for her husband Steve, says that she found the advice on breaking habits particularly beneficial.

'I needed to start thinking about losing weight and doing something for me. It is now 'me' time, and I have come out of my shell too,' she added.

'The course is the best thing I could have done for my confidence – and for my weight loss.'

Nola Huggins, 41, of Terrington St John, is another DSD success story. She weighed 17.5 stone before starting her six-week course, and she has already lost 10lbs.

She decided to join DSD after her mother Suzanne saw the course advertised in a local newspaper.

'I wanted to do something different with my life and I thought it would be a challenge,' she said.'The course showed me how to retrain my brain so I didn't sit and comfort eat.'

Nola never used to eat breakfast, and used to snack on crisps, sweets and cakes. Today she makes sure she starts the day with a bowl of cereal, and eats more fruit and vegetables throughout the day. She has reduced the amount of TV she watches and instead is increasing the amount of craft work she does, walks much more, and keeps track of her steps with a pedometer.

Nola, who works as a pig farmer, estimates that she is losing 1lb to 2lbs a week. 'The course has really helped me. I thought I was never going to change, but I have,' she said.

'I realised there were other people out there just like me. It made me feel better, and my confidence has grown tremendously. It has been fantastic.'

Ronel Erasmus, DSD project manager, said: 'We congratulate Mandy and Nola on their success so far and hope their stories will encourage more people to do something different.'

To find out more about Do Something Different, call 01553 616659.

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