Newport woman Suzy Ballantyne has had a life-changing lockdown tackling multiple health conditions and shedding an incredible five stone in weight.
Suzy is registered disabled and has battled numerous health issues since childhood.
Her incredible transformation has left her feeling like a new person and she admits: “For the first time in years I feel able, not disabled.”
Health chiefs warned last year that more must be done to tackle Tayside’s obesity problems, exacerbated by the pandemic.
Suzy turned to her new healthier lifestyle in August 2020, after going into anaphylactic shock three times in a six-week period.
It was the final straw for her after a catalogue of health conditions in her life including Cauda Equina syndrome, Graves’ disease, lymphedema and arthritis.
She said: “When I started out I wanted to reduce my weight, be able to look in the mirror and be happy with who I saw looking back.”
But her new regime – Feel Look Be, devised by Dundee fitness guru Shelley Booth – resulted in more than just an impressive weight loss.
“You get more than a personal trainer or health coach or a weight loss programme,” Suzy explained.
“Shelley doesn’t just tell us what to eat and do, she explains the theory behind it and enables you to make choices based on fact.”
Suzy was diagnosed with arthritis at the age of eight and had surgery to remove and fuse the joints in her big toes. Arthritis affects her hands, feet, hips and spine.
At age 24, an accident knocked a disc from Suzy’s lower spine out of alignment, causing pressure on her right leg, bladder and lower spine.
A lifetime of health concerns
After two failed surgeries, an MRI scan revealed Cauda Equina syndrome – a condition where the nerves in the lower back become severely compressed.
Despite a third operation to fuse Suzy’s lower spine, the nerve damage was irreversible and has left her with a weak right side and severe pain.
At age 26 Suzy developed Graves’ disease, an autoimmune condition whereby the immune system attacks the thyroid and causes it to become overactive.
In 2019 Suzy developed lymphedema, which caused unexplained swelling. The only way to treat this was to wear a compression stocking 23 hours a day.
Balance is a challenge and she walks with crutches.
In the first week, Suzy lost eight pounds in weight and noticed immediate health benefits.
She said: “The swelling in my right toe where my joint was fused was greatly reduced and much less painful. In fact, the arthritic pain in all my joints was much better.”
Within three months, her lymphedema was gone and she no longer needs to wear a compression stocking.
Nine months on, Suzy has lost five stone and recent blood tests have revealed that her thyroid function is normal.
Suzy said: “I am disabled and there are many exercises I can’t do but every part of the workout can be adapted to fit your capabilities.
“Shelley and the other ladies on the programme never make you feel inadequate.”
Shelley, who runs the Feel Look Be online programme, said she wanted to help Suzy when she learned about her through an existing client.
“When I heard about Suzy and the challenges she faces on a daily basis, I wanted to help because I knew I could improve the quality of her life.”
Shelley, who lost her father to lifestyle-related ill health at the age of 56, has made a vow to improve the health and wellbeing of others.