Body

‘How I lost 84kg and finally started living’

Jo Bowden is a mum-of-one from Mangawhai, who turned her life around after every day became a constant struggle due to her weight.

By Ellie Hooper
Jo Bowden
“By March 2016, I was tired of life. My body had become so large that by 10AM each day I was physically exhausted, my feet ached and I was in constant pain.
What saddened me the most was that my son was missing out on a normal life too, because I was too ashamed to do physical things with him. I wouldn’t take him to the park because I knew I couldn’t chase after him, and I could feel people judging me for my unhealthy lifestyle.
After years of comfort eating, exacerbated partly by my son’s severe health issues (Ashar, 5, has non verbal autism and has been in and out of hospital), I decided enough was enough.
At 174kg, time with my son was running out.
Jo wearing an old outfit that used to fit this time last year
I signed up to my local gym, and was approached by one of the new owners, personal trainer Natasha Smith, to try the ‘30kg in 3 months’ challenge. I nervously accepted, thinking this might motivate me to get into gear. With the help Natasha, I revolutionised my diet and exercise regime.
I tried boxing classes, circuits, and learnt about proper nutrition.
Lo and behold, after three months I had completed the challenge and won a free membership to the gym for a year. I’d also gained some wonderful friends along the way. My long term friend Chris Cunningham, who is also a personal trainer, came up to check in on me too and train with me.
By August 2016, I had lost 50kg through sheer determination, and as it stands I’ve lost an incredible 84kg.
What I’m most proud of is the fact that when my son became very ill in June and almost died, I didn’t turn to food.
Jo's amazing transformation
The old me would have immediately started to comfort eat, piling the pounds back on I had fought so hard to lose.
If anything I finally realised I never wanted my son to go through what I had to – watching a loved one struggle for life. I was more determined than ever about being healthy.
My next challenge is the loose skin that I’ve been left with. As with lots of people who experience dramatic weightloss, sometimes no matter what you do – that skin will not spring back into place.
I hope one day to get surgery on this area, and for now I’m trying to keep on getting healthier still.”
Natasha, the owner of Coastal Fitness, Mangawhai, told us: “Jo is seriously transformed and I can honestly say is one of the fittest in the Box Fit class. She truly amazes everyone with her determination and attitude to continuously strive to be better and we love the fact that it has made a lot of people feel like if Jo can do it then they can do it too.”
Jo’s mum has set up a Give A Little page here to help her get surgery one day after her dramatic weight loss.
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