I'm in control of my Type 2 diabetes
Nearing 40, Amanda Hey from Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester was given a frightening diagnosis. Now she’s almost 7st* slimmer and is managing her condition medication-free.
"As the doctor spoke, my head swam while I tried to take it all in. It felt like a bad dream, but the diagnosis was real enough: Type 2 diabetes. There I was, aged 39, with a potentially life-threatening medical condition. Was this really the way I was about to start my 40s?
"My weight had been creeping up steadily for years. I spent most of my 20s and 30s on some fad diet or another, always putting the weight back on – and more. Now, at over 17st, I was covering myself up in black, baggy size-22 clothes and actively avoiding mirrors.
"My husband, David, and two children, Lauren and Thomas, could see that my horizons were shrinking, though they were much too kind-hearted to say anything. They just got used to me saying no to everything from nights out to walks in the countryside. Family get-togethers were out of the question – what if somebody brought out a camera? I’d have sworn blind that I actually preferred to stay at home, but I wasn’t fooling anyone. And now here I was, newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and with my 40th birthday on the horizon. How could I celebrate when I was so unhealthy, overweight and unhappy?
"After the initial shock, I started wondering how I could turn my life around. The doctor had told me that I was at a crossroads: if my blood-sugar levels got any higher, I’d need to take medication; if I lost weight, I could manage my condition without any at all. Then I remembered Slimming World. I’d joined a group briefly a few years before – I hadn’t really wanted to make changes at that time, though, so I’d given up, returned to my takeaways, chips and chocolate, and gained back every single pound I’d lost. This time, I vowed things would be different.
In my new frame of mind, Food Optimising was the ideal fit for me. I knew my best chance of succeeding would be to start cooking wholesome family meals from scratch.
"I discovered all sorts of delicious recipes we could enjoy together, from chicken curry and rice to pasta with a meaty ragù-style sauce. Because I was eating proper, hearty platefuls of food, I found I was snacking much less during my days working in the hospital, particularly on the chocolates we’d often receive as gifts from grateful patients. If I did get peckish between meals, I’d have a Free or low-Syn snack like chopped fresh fruit stirred into plain quark.
"A week later, I stepped on the scales to find I’d lost 6lbs. And the losses continued, week after week – I was on a roll! I loved IMAGE Therapy, and even when I’d had a gain and I felt like getting straight off the scales and fleeing out of the door, I’d convince myself to stay to group. As well as helping me look forward to the week ahead, sharing my experiences with other members reminded me that I was changing my habits for life, not just to reach target.
"Gradually, I began to walk with a bit more energy. And soon I was fizzing with it! I found some toning exercises online and did them regularly at home. I also plucked up the courage to join an aqua aerobics class at my local pool – and I was surprised at how much fun it was.
After a few months of losing weight and increasing my activity levels, I was starting to feel like a new woman. I stopped making excuses whenever the family suggested an outing – instead, I was striding along with the kids in the countryside in a way I hadn’t done for years.
"After a while, people started commenting on how much slimmer I was becoming. And, as I was changing on the outside, inside my blood-sugar levels were dropping. At my first six-month check-up with the diabetes nurse, after losing 3st, they’d already fallen to a near-normal level. And by the time I returned six months later, weighing 10st 7lbs, I was completely symptom-free. The nurse was absolutely delighted and said I was her star pupil! I felt so proud.
"In November 2015, when I was just a couple of pounds off my target weight, I headed out of the house to celebrate my 40th birthday, wearing size-8 leather-look trousers and a trendy fitted shirt. On the way, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Gone was the woman who used to wish she was invisible and would rather stay at home than go out and socialise. Instead, I saw someone who loves to hit the town, usually wearing something from Topshop, which amuses me. Here I am at 41, down with the kids!"
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose
You'll find more delicious recipe and menu ideas at your local group, along with all the help you need to get started and reach your target weight.