John made life changes so he can have his cookies – and cream


After 33 years of playing sport, in particular hockey, John’s body caught up with him.

Diagnosed with osteoarthritis, he’d already had three ankle reconstructions, a hip replacement, spinal fusion, surgery to his left thumb, and is now recovering from a knee replacement.

And it was this knee replacement that John credits with giving him a new lease on life. After the surgery, Bupa asked if he’d like to take part in the Osteoarthritis Healthy Weight for Life program, which blends weight loss, muscle strengthening and pain management, to help for a healthier recovery.

John, who lost 12kg (12% of original body weight) in three months, admits the program hasn’t always been easy especially as his wife Joanne is a great cook and he’d always enjoyed beers with his mates after golf.

The first six weeks of John’s program included two meal replacement shakes. He was also given a plate ring to help him work out ideal portion sizes for vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates for his dinners.

“That was a big thing for Joanne because she likes to fill the plate. And then says, ‘if you don't like it, just leave it’ and you don't leave good foods,” he says.

“None of it's easy, particularly the first three weeks. But you just got to be firm. You'll get to the point where you'll begin to enjoy meals that are a lot smaller, then choosing the right foods on top of that.”

John admits he has a sweet tooth and that snacking throughout the day was his downfall but says the program has given him some new tools to help him get healthier.

“Even though we don't eat a lot - I do like my cakes, my chocolate and cream.  So yes, they went by the wayside for first six weeks. But I'm starting to enjoy some of those again, but now in moderation,” he says.

John Smith

I hope I can get that balance right, so I can have my cookies and cream.

John Smith

John doesn’t describe the program as a diet, but more about learning what’s good for you.

“Everyone is going to have slip ups, but you’ve just got to keep it in balance. And perhaps next time, eat less,” he says.

“I share a cake now with my wife, rather than saying ‘no, no, one for me, you can get your own’. So just those little things make a big difference. It's never too late to change.”

After his experience, John is encouraging others with painful knee and hip osteoarthritis to take control of their recovery, pain and mobility, and consider talking with the Healthy Weight for Life team to see if the program may be suitable for them.

“I'm 69 now so if you’ve got the will and the need, by all means, have a go,” he says.

“I have to say that Bupa’s assistance with this program was greatly appreciated.”

Prima Health Solutions CEO Luke Lawler says the Osteoarthritis Healthy Weight for Life program had been delivered in Australia for more than 12 years to bridge a gap in care, helping more than 10,000 people nationally.

“The Australian treatment guidelines for people with painful knee and hip osteoarthritis strongly recommend a minimum weight loss target of five to seven per cent for people who are overweight, muscle strengthening and gentle exercise, however most people don’t actually access this recommended care,” he says