But that’s just what happened to John O’Reilly, 73, from Stoke Newington, after his high blood pressure returned to normal and pre-diabetic blood sugar levels to what the doctor described as “very good”.
It was all thanks to changes he had made with the help of health and wellbeing coach Francesca Giustetti.
“Before I started health and wellbeing coaching, I couldn’t even walk down the road with a shopping bag without an older person asking if I was all right,” jokes John, who volunteers three days a week in a care home, supporting both staff and residents with IT issues. “Now I walk 12km once a fortnight around Cheshunt North Park and I’m planning on retiring at 100.”
It was John’s GP who suggested in October 2021 he try health and wellbeing coaching as an alternative to a future of medication for blood pressure and, potentially, diabetes.
John, who already had the lung condition COPD and an irregular heartbeat, says: “I was a bit sceptical first off. Normally I would rather keep myself to myself. I’m pleased I agreed to do it now.”
Francesca talked to John about different aspects of his lifestyle – what he ate and drank, how he slept, and how much (or little) he exercised.
“She broke it up into bite sized chunks for me and I set myself small goals, improving bit by bit on the previous one,” he says. “If I had tried too much at once, that would have been a failure point.
“I’ve cut down from 10 to two coffees a day, I became more aware of food labels and avoiding salt, and I’ve reduced my intake of sugar as I was eating far too much fruit.”
His sessions with her ended in April 2022, and 12 months later, having lost the best part of a stone and dramatically increased his fitness and sleep, John is continuing to make improvements week by week thanks to what he has learned.
“Francesca taught me what I needed to do to make changes for myself,” he says. The proof of success came in the call from the medical centre in November 2022.
“The GP was so pleased with my blood results,” he says. “What’s more, my blood oxygen levels improved, thanks to the breathing exercises and meditation Francesca introduced me to. That wasn’t even what we were targeting – it was an unexpected bonus.”