Jo Loses 50 Kilograms

Jo Spurge
Friday, 12 December 2014
After losing nearly 50 kilograms in a little over a year, some people don’t recognise Jo Spurge as the same person.

The new-look Ms Spurge doesn’t mind that lack of recognition; in fact she takes it as a compliment.

However, she's happy to have her achievements recognised and hopes her example can inspire others in the community to follow her healthy life change.

Eighteen months ago Ms Spurge, 39, weighed 123.5 kilograms. She's now 75 kilograms.

I June I saw photos of myself at the birthday parties for my girls Hailey and Katie. I couldn't believe it was me. I looked at the photos and I was horrified, she admitted.

The thing that horrified me the most was that I look at my two gorgeous and healthy children and I wanted to be a happy healthy role model for my kids.

The Portland District Health nurse consultant for community palliative care and nurse unit manager for the district nursing service said she blamed the death of her mother, having children and giving up smoking for her weight gain over the previous six years.

In hindsight they're all just excuses, she said.

In June 2013 she decided to stop making excuses.

Everyone knows what they should and shouldn't eat and so I looked at options and decided on a free app on my iPhone called My Fitness Pal, she said.

The app allows users to log their food and Ms Spurge linked to another app to tell how many calories she'd burned when walking. I had accurate records and I followed it religiously for 12 months, she said.

Initially it wasn' easy. At the start it was really hard, Ms Spurge admitted. I could only eat 1680 calories a day and I really struggled. I didn't realise how much I ate until I started logging it. It wasn' that it was unhealthy food; I just ate way too much food. It's about portion control.

Another big change was in good food planning.

Ms Spurge and her partner Adrian Pitts and their girls have a big magnet on the fridge and each weekend sit down as a family to choose meals for the week.

Whatever we want we get, but I cook it so it's healthy and we watch the portion size and eat as a family. I still love food but I love it in a lot smaller quantities, she said.

Ms Spurge had stopped exercise due to her weight.

When I started I did no exercise at all. I had lost who I was. Everything I used to do I couldn't do any more, she said.

She started by doing Pilates at home and then aimed to walk around Fawthrop Lagoon once a week. As I got fitter I had to keep beating my time. I was my own competition, she said.

Ms Spurge was soon fit enough to do some jogging and can now run a four kilometre course in 30 minutes.

Ms Spurge hopes her example with inspire others to follow the Portland SEA Change (Sustainable Eating and Activity Change) program that aims to bring together the community to find the best way to change the eating and exercise habits of local people.

She is part of a group that meets each Friday for a weigh-in. One of her friends has lost 20 kilograms.

I' definitely encourage people to become part of SEA Change. Until you take the journey you don't realise how much your physical and emotional and mental wellbeing changes from losing weight,she said.

As a society we need to have healthy eating options readily available for people.

Ms Spurge says she is happy with her current weight and doesn' want to lose any more.

I never wanted it to be about weight for the kids. I just want them to recognise that I'm healthy. I do everything with them now. I wanted to be able to chase my kids across the lawn, jump on the trampoline, ride a pony or ride a bike. I wanted to do whatever they wanted to do but I couldn't do anything.

I'm a different person. My happiness is completely different. Food was my greatest comfort, now my family is my greatest comfort or going for a horse ride or a run.

Ms Spurge encourages people to compliment those who take the challenge to lose weight.

Some people might be worried about saying something but I'm really proud of the fact I've lost weight and hope to be an inspiration to people. If you have something positive to say, say it. Praise keeps you going. When my kids say mum you look so healthy, that's enough to keep me inspired. When people say they don't recognise me, I like hearing that.

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