James turns life into a new picture of health
Two years ago, James Middleton Murray was overweight, his blood pressure was sky high and his cholesterol level was rising: years of running and football had wrecked his knees. He was also taking medication for depression and a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes was just around the corner.
At 67, he was looking his worst-case scenario for old age in the eye – ill, and ending his days in a nursing home, perhaps afflicted with the dementia that two of his close relatives had endured.
But two things were in James’ favour.
Firstly, he received bi-lateral knee replacement surgery and, secondly, he possessed the grit and determination to change his lifestyle.
Today, just two years later, James is trim, muscular and 23kg lighter.
He exercises regularly, no longer needs any medication and the threat of diabetes has receded.
He has also written a book, Ageing Well, to inspire and help other seniors to follow his example. James believes that anyone can become fitter, leaner and healthier if, like him, they are prepared to put in the work and have the grit to stay the course.
“I’d always played sport and lifted weights when I was younger,” he says. “But several years ago I started a business and it didn’t do well. I then took the plunge a second time and that also failed, this time leaving me bankrupt.
“During that intensely stressful period, I stopped looking after myself, quickly gained weight and became depressed.”
James was given medication to treat his depression and the high blood pressure and rising cholesterol levels that went with his weight gain.
Then, he visited an orthopaedic surgeon and in February 2014 made the radical choice to have both knees replaced in one round of surgery. It was the turning point for his return to the lean and muscular body he’d had in his younger days.
“The pain I experienced after surgery was dreadful and climbing the 12 steps up to my bedroom five days later took me an agonising 15 minutes,” he says.
Yet, only three weeks later, James was walking without crutches and had made the decision to get a grip on his weight and start walking his way back to health.
“My surgeon had given me the tools I needed to turn my life around – my new knees. I started by walking for 30 minutes each day and gradually built up to much longer walks. I also started to lift free weights again and within a month I had lost 4kg.”
It was just the beginning, and over the next 10 months muscle gradually replaced body fat and, with the help of his wife Angela’s healthy recipes — some of which are featured in his book — his weight continued to fall away.
Better still, he no longer needed his prescription medications, and by the time he saw his surgeon again he was a healthy 82kg.
“I cut out sugar and extra salt, reduced my alcohol intake and ate less dairy,” he says. “Gradually, I lost my taste for sweet and salty things but I enjoyed the freshly prepared meals and, as I grew fitter, I stopped worrying about ending up in a nursing home and burdening my children and grandchildren with expensive care bills.”
Today, James is an enthusiastic speaker to groups of seniors who are keen to hear how they too can improve their health through exercise and food and enjoy their later years for longer.
“I tell them that if they are prepared to get up and move then they’ll not only be a healthier version of themselves, they’ll also live longer and enjoy their remaining years.” he says.
James’ book, Ageing Well, is a complete guide to healthy eating and exercise for seniors. It is published by InHouse Publishing and is available from independent bookshops and online at jamesmiddletonmurray.com