Hutt at Heart

From the letterbox to the horizon

In September 2017 Paul Herd, Information Officer of 14 years at Hutt City Council, was told that if he didn’t make significant changes to the way he was living, he would die.

Paul had been admitted to Hutt Hospital with a bowel obstruction and told that, at 220kg, he would not survive an operation to clear the blockage.

Paul at 220kgs

“The doctors told me that I was too big for the operation and that I would have to wait and hope for the obstruction to clear itself. I was lucky that it did, but it took five days and during that time I was in agony” said Paul.

Paul’s bowel obstruction had been caused by a hernia and he was at risk of experiencing another one if he didn’t lose weight, so he was referred to a bariatric surgeon.

“The surgeon recommended a gastric bypass, but again I was too big for surgery, I needed to lose 80kg. I walked out of his office that day and decided I would take control of my life and lose weight so I could have the surgery.”

And that’s what he did. Over the next 16 months Paul dieted, counted calories, swapped sugary treats for healthy ones and limited his carbohydrate intake. He also started walking.

“I started slowly, from the letterbox and back again. At the beginning it was hard, I would be puffed after a few steps, but I kept pushing and by April, I’d lost 90kg.”

In April 2019 Paul had surgery. His stomach and about one metre of his small intestine were bypassed. This restricted his food intake and stimulated hormones that suppress hunger. And he kept walking.

“In the beginning the weight was falling off of me, but after a while it slowed down. I knew I had to incorporate more exercise into my routine, so I started walking to and from work. In the beginning it took me 45 minutes, now it takes me 25.

Paul at 105kg

“I walk anywhere from 10,000-12,000 steps a day and even more in the weekends. I walk during lunchtime and after dinner. I recently decided I was going to make my walks more challenging, so I walked Te Hikoi Ararewa (the Wainuiomata Hill Shared Path). It took me an hour and a half, I wasn’t that puffed and I even overtook some people!”

Since Paul begun his journey in September 2017 he has lost 115kg. His sleep apnea and diabetes have disappeared and his blood pressure is back to normal.

“I was taking four pills a day, now I take none. I feel so much better and I have so much more energy. In a weeks’ time I’m going to climb Mount Kaukau and after that Te Whiti Riser. The world is my oyster now.”

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