Abdul’s diabetes prevention journey

What did you find useful about the group sessions? What stood out for you in your sessions?

There are a few things, the sessions were designed very well, and they were comprehensive. We got to see a variety of people from different backgrounds and this helped me to understand how other people cope. The people would share their experiences and this feedback helps when you make your own changes. You get to see what change others have made and it motivates you to try what they have tried. Also, group discussions are very important. The sessions were conducted by highly qualified professionals and it was clearly outlined: for example, some sessions focused on food, others on activities so it was balanced. We also had SMART goals at the end of each session which was very helpful. Everyone was given equal time and opportunity to speak up and that was very nice. Even with COVID-19 and having to change to phone sessions it was still interactive. 

What changes did you make to your lifestyle, e.g. exercise routine, dietary, habits…?

There were a lot of things that I changed.  It was more about how I moved forward after the sessions. I was walking for 10km every day when weather was nice. I weighed 92kg when I started the programme and at my last session, I was 84kg, so I had lost 8kg. 

Also, the programme suggested some ideas to help with diet changes, e.g. how to cut down on sugars. I stopped having sugar in my coffee and I stopped eating sweets unless I was at a party. Having black coffee without sugar was very difficult at first, but after a few days you realise that your taste buds get used to it. I also started portion control with my food.  I didn’t eat too much fruits that spiked my sugar levels e.g. watermelon and oranges. The watermelon had high GI so it spikes up sugar levels, so I reduced the amount I ate. I always checked how much I was eating. Also, I have light dinners at night, e.g. salads, boiled vegetables, grilled salmon or soup. This cut down on carbs at night time instead I was having carbs at lunchtime so I would eat brown rice or pitta bread. 

Have you accessed any local services (i.e. leisure centres, exercise on referral) due to this programme?

Yes, I used to be a member of a gym club in Milton Keynes, but I stopped after COVID-19. But I have an exercise bike at home, so I used that or went for walks. 

What was your favourite part of the programme, why?

They continuously make you aware of what is not so good for your health, they say prevention is better than cure. They help you make small changes; it can be minor changes that you don’t realise at first. 
If the NHS didn’t offer me this, I would have been all alone, so it was an opportunity to get the support that I needed. It was a collective effort rather than doing it yourself.  All the effort of constant monitoring and the sessions have all contributed to the changes I made. 

What challenges did you face with the programme, and how did you overcome them?

Well there were few challenges, you were on different diet and different lifestyle and the slow progress is challenging initially e.g. reducing sugar. But when you start doing it you will enjoy it. I live with my family and daughters and my spouse helped me a lot when I said I couldn’t eat certain food or don’t cook this. They supported me and when you have a companion to go with you for walks, that it something you need to set up in your mind. 

What changes have you seen in any measurements that have been taken? E.g. HBa1c, waist measurement, weight, clothes size etc…

I have not measured by waistline, but I used to wear 36 inches for trousers, but I now wear 34 inches which fits me perfectly. My HbA1c went down to 41mmol/l, I think it was 42-43mmol/l before.  I have lost 8kg. 

Would you, or have you, recommended the programme to others? Why? 

Yes definitely, if you have any symptoms e.g. getting tired. I would say get your blood test done.  It’s important to get this checked to see where you stand and look at options with your GP. I would recommend to anyone who is at risk of TYPE 2 diabetes to make use of this programme. 

What would you say to those who are thinking about joining the programme?

I would say take it seriously, the reason why you have been referred is that you are at risk of type 2 diabetes. Prevention is better than cure and if you take it seriously then your results will change. Also, it’s applicable to everyone, everything you learn will help you keep up a good health for the rest of your life and to maintain good habits. 

If you’re like Abdul and need support to change your lifestyle for the better, please book an appointment with your GP.