It’s Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week 2019 this week and I wanted to share with you my recent experience of this condition.
Back in November
I left a routine doctor’s appointment after an over 40s health-check feeling a
bit glum. Since the age of 41 (I’m now
48), I’ve been classified as pre-diabetic, but I was told I’d crossed the
threshold into full-blown Type 2 diabetes.
I suspected I might be as I was showing classic symptoms – always
feeling tired and getting up more frequently in the night to go to the loo. I
left clutching my prescription for twice daily tablets – looking at a lifetime
of the same if things didn’t change.
I resolved there
and then to do something about it, and this meant losing weight. I weighed in
at 242lbs (just over 17 stone) at this point – clearly a tad over the wrong
side of the line of fat. I’ve always had issues with my weight, yo-yoing
between quite portly and reasonably *ahem* trim throughout my adult
So how had I
got here? I was still, or so I thought, reasonably active. However, life as a
councillor and more recently county council leader had clearly had an
impact. The really active stuff I used
to do such as maintaining my vineyards and orchard and country walking had been
relegated, and replaced with lots of meetings and being relatively physically inactive. Unhealthy lunches and snacking increased
too. I’d lost the necessary balance to
maintain my health with the excuse that I was `too busy’.
the problem ran even deeper than that. I’d
accepted being in the pre-diabetic range since my early 40s as my new norm and
failed to address it. Now, aged 48, I
was a full on Type 2 diabetic. I should
have seen it coming as it had been a family scourge for decades; my uncles
suffered it, my mum has it, my dad had it and now I had it. While there is a genetic component it isn’t
inevitable and I knew this was self-inflicted.
Even worse was
knowing that I was placing a burden on an already strained NHS. I was embarrassed, even ashamed, that I had
impacted on the service through my own unwillingness to look after myself and
that the NHS would pick up the pieces, and cost.
There are about
200,000 people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes every year and complications can
be devastating including losing your sight and limb amputations and a higher
risk of strokes and heart attacks. When I
received my diagnosis the cost of prescribing for diabetes was more than £1bn –
up by over £422 million in the last 10 years.
Factor in the cost of complications and diabetes costs the NHS over
£10bn a year.
I took personal
responsibility, decided to lose weight and do more exercise.
For me to
succeed I needed a weight loss plan to be simple and fit in with my life. I rejected anything complicated or faddy and
knew there was only one way – simply to eat and drink less and exercise more. The bit in the middle was perhaps my most
muesli for breakfast, a sandwich and crisps for lunch, then a sensible dinner
became the routine. Two to three puddings a week but in a very small bowl, two
scoops of ice cream is 150-200 calories – so not too bad. I reduced my wine intake a bit too. And that
was it. Gone were the extra bags of
crisps, the chocolate bars, biscuits, lattes and puddings.
I’m back to doing more vineyard work, I do press-ups and dumbbell workouts
three times a week and I’ve taken up fencing once a week. It’s great exercise
can be quite cathartic in my role!
And the result?
Since November I’ve lost nearly three stone and I’m still losing it. My last diabetes
check revealed I was in remission and was now back in the normal range. In about 7lbs I’ll be at my target weight and
at my next diabetes appointment I’ll hopefully come off the tablets and lead a
(new) normal life.
Type 2 diabetes
doesn’t have to be inevitable and I know that what I did won’t apply to
everyone for various reasons but for those it could apply to I hope I have
shown it doesn’t have to be complicated.
If you want to
give it a try but want a bit of support, there’s loads of help and advice out
there. The council’s healthy lifestyle service Live Life Better Derbyshire has a brilliant website and there’s free weight
management and healthy eating support available.
The council also supports two NHS diabetes programmes, Healthier You which is aimed at people over 18 who have been identified as being at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and X-PERT, a six-week education programme for people who already have type 2 diabetes.
Find out more