Round the Bridges spotlight

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David Bollond

Mental Health Awareness Week took place recently (October 5-11) so what better time to share David Bollond’s story – a Hamilton psychiatric nurse running for a cause which means a lot to him both personally and professionally – The Mental Health Foundation.

“The Mental Health Foundation focuses upon raising awareness around mental illness – something which I feel is incredibly important.”

With a history of both clinical and psychiatric nursing, David is now working at He Puna Waiora and despite his dedicated approach to his field, he still believes there is more he can do help raise awareness around mental health issues.

“Significant progress has been made over recent years in terms of awareness but there is so much more that needs to be achieved. Round the Bridges’ new fundraising programme has provided a wonderful way for me to contribute.”

A keen runner in his younger years, David recently began running again this year to support his own mental health.

“I have suffered with depression in the past. Running provides energy and motivation which definitely helps create resilience to deal with what life throws at you.

“I hope that through my participation in Round the Bridges, I can inspire others to support the Mental Health Foundation and increase awareness of people with experience of mental illness.”

David originally had a $700 fundraising goal but since his story has been shared in local newspapers he has reached $945.97 and has now made his goal $1000.

To find out more about supporting the Mental Health Foundation at Round the Bridges, visit mentalhealth.org.nz

GraemeDr Graeme Bain

A doctor in the Waikato Hospital Emergency Department, Graeme was determined to conquer his obesity and set a positive example for his patients.

During the last 12 months, he has lost an amazing 40kg, improved his health and found a new enthusiasm for life. Graeme is now targeting the Round the Bridges 12km, aiming to finish the event in 60 – 70 minutes. Read his personal account of this inspirational journey below.

My story is about realising that sometimes, the best medicine is the hardest. I’ve learnt that in order to succeed in life you have to be prepared to challenge yourself.

I used to consider myself to be an active person. I had always been overweight but never thought of it as a ‘big problem’. At high school I propped up the first XV. I had tramped through the bush up and down the country and across mountainous countries overseas. I ran sporadically and even competed in a half marathon. However, that was all in the past.

Similarly to lots of other people, I found myself in a situation where life had got on top of me. I stopped challenging myself as much as I should and before I knew it, the weight had piled onto my already oversized frame. Suddenly I was a size XXL and was left wondering where I would buy clothes from should I get any bigger. Being heavy was becoming cumbersome and I could not move as fast as I used to. My joints were starting to hurt and climbing stairs and hills was a chore – even sitting up out of a chair was difficult. I was becoming very unhappy.

One day in November last year, I decided to make a change. I visited my GP for a health check, which included tests of blood pressure, cholesterol, lipids, diabetes, etc. Without going into details, it was all bad.

As a doctor in the Waikato Hospital Emergency Department I encounter obesity-related illness every day. It dawned on me that I was quickly becoming one of my patients and I was concerned about the likelihood of having to take preventative medication for cardiovascular disease. I like to believe I am still too young to be on this sort of medication.

I needed a plan. I decided that if I was to conquer my obesity, I would do it the best way – the hard way – through exercise and aggressive, yet sustainable nutrition (a story in itself).

When starting to exercise for the first time after such a long hiatus, you cannot do much. I started off on a cross trainer, slowly working up my endurance and intensity. I combined this with a few long walks which in the beginning almost killed me. I persevered, trying to do something every day.

When combined with dietary changes, I found that in the first month I managed to lose 10kg. The second month, I lost another 8kg. The trouble was that the long walks were becoming tedious. The cross trainer became boring and I was sick of looking at the same four walls. It was at this point that I stepped it up and started running. It was slow and painful at first – my feet regularly sore and aching. But, you have to keep going – you have to keep challenging yourself.

I found it pleasantly surprising that it only took a few weeks to be able to run solidly for an hour and not feel sore the next day. The more I ran the more weight I continued to lose. As I got lighter the running became more enjoyable. I started to develop a sense of freedom – freedom from being confined to the couch.

Now, running is a tool I use to challenge myself. I want to run further and faster. I have entered the Round the Bridges not because I want to complete the 12km, but to see how fast I can do it in. Last year running the distance would have been a dream. Now it is a reality. It’s surreal to think I am candid enough to think I have a time goal.

​Approximately three months ago I achieved my weight loss goal. I have lost more than 40kg and I’m now in the healthy weight range for the first time in my life. I have since had another health check and everything is normal. I achieved this through diet and exercise alone with no medication. I did it the hard way, but it was the best way.

My life has improved exponentially by being fitter, healthier and lighter. I have more confidence in myself, more ‘get up and go’ and more enthusiasm for life. If running is the drug to keep me this feeling way, then I will take it!

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