Natalie Akoorie

Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

DJ puts the right spin on health with rethink on life

Father of three drops 27kg and improves outlook with exercise and better diet
Paul Flynn's wake-up call was when his dad almost died after a series of heart attacks. Photo / Greg Bowker
Paul Flynn's wake-up call was when his dad almost died after a series of heart attacks. Photo / Greg Bowker

At his heaviest, Paul Flynn weighed in at 101kg.

The excess was too much for the 178cm frame of Mr Flynn, who is one half of The Jay and Flynny Show on The Radio Network's ZM station.

But it wasn't until Mr Flynn's father suffered a series of life-threatening heart attacks in 2012 that the then 32-year-old decided to do something about his unhealthy lifestyle.

By then, though, his heart had already been damaged, leaving Mr Flynn with a condition he must now manage for the rest of his life.

At 23, Mr Flynn was "drinking lots of beer, eating takeaways pretty much every meal, never doing exercise — just basically treating my body like a rubbish dump".

He made a half-hearted effort to lose weight by walking to work and switching to a low sugar soft drink, shedding 10kg.

His wife Natalie, a cardiac nurse, "nagged" him for years to see a doctor, eat better, drink less, lose weight and get fit.

But Mr Flynn ignored all the warning signs until his father almost died.

"He was on the brink of death and it wasn't looking good for a while but thankfully he's still here - he had a double bypass."

As the spitting image of his father, including physically, Mr Flynn "freaked out".

"Something just clicked inside me and I thought 'Man, I've got three kids, a beautiful wife, a mortgage ... '

I looked at myself and I thought 'What are you doing to yourself?'," he said.

Heart palpitations finally forced him to act on the wake-up call and Mr Flynn went to his GP who immediately referred him to a cardiologist.

He underwent a raft of tests and doctors discovered the beginning of heart disease in exactly the same spot as his father.

"If I'd carried on the way I was going my wife could have been a widow in her 40s. The part where my heart disease is located they call the widow-maker because if you have a heart attack you have a very high chance of not making it," Mr Flynn said.

"So I immediately started running. I couldn't even run for two minutes at the start. I started losing weight and took up running and exercise full time."

Mr Flynn radically altered his diet, cutting out processed and fatty foods, sugary drinks, ditching beer in favour of the occasional red wine, eating lean meat, fish and salads and drinking lots of water.

The hard work paid off and he dropped 27kg, maintaining a 74kg weight since.

"I feel heaps better and I look way better."

He is no longer constantly tired. He doesn't need half a dozen coffees each day to perk himself up and instead has enough energy to keep up with his children, Jack, 8, Leo, 6, and Michaela, 3.

Being fit and healthy, along with low cholesterol medication, means Mr Flynn's heart disease is under control and his cardiologist believes the radio host will have a long life if the diet and exercise are maintained.

On Monday he will tell his story at a breakfast kicking off Men's Health Week.

"Anyone can sort their life out. I was actually the most unfit person I've ever met and never did exercise in my life."

His advice to other men is heed the warnings.

"A lot of Kiwi men are metrosexual and modern now but still at the heart of it we're very stubborn and don't like to make a fuss.

"It'll take you one doctor's visit to go and get checked out. It could save your life so just do it, if not for yourself then for everyone else who loves you."


Paul told himself he needed a change.
Paul told himself he needed a change.

5 vital checks for men

1. Blood pressure — high blood pressure is a marker of poor health.

2. WHtR (waist to height ratio) — Keeping waist circumference less than half your height can significantly help increase life expectancy. A fat belly is a marker for metabolic syndrome, a harmful group of related issues for men.

3. Cholesterol measurement — Cholesterol is an important indicator of risk for heart disease.

4. Blood sugar test — Identifies a tendency to develop diabetes.

5. Prostate check — Symptoms of prostate disease and prostate cancer include passing urine in the night, having poor flow, delayed start of urination or decreasing flow during urination.

- NZ Herald

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