My name is Julie and I am 53 years old. In 2004 I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.
I have always carried a lot of weight from being very young and had suffered bullying at school. I spent a lot of my younger years attending dieting classes – my first class was when I was 9. I can remember taking my piece of fruit and going with my younger sister who was 6 at the time. That’s was the start of some horrendous years.
In my early twenties I lost 7 stone on the Slimming World diet and was one of ten people in the country invited to go to a hotel to celebrate our weight loss, but I could never keep it off. My weight yo-yoed up and down through my twenties, then at age 28 my son Luke came along and I put on 4 stone. In 1993 I had my daughter Eve by Caesarean and had been warned then that I was susceptible to Diabetes as I had developed Gestational Diabetes. After Eve was born things went back to normal; I guess I just put it out of my mind and continued on the same path of dieting then putting the weight back on. I think at my largest I weighed about 20 stone.
In 2004 I had an emergency back operation as two discs were sticking into my spinal cord and I was told I might end up in a wheelchair. I spent 6 months off work and had to learn to walk again but I bounced back and went back to work. However in 2007 the same thing happened again and two discs at the same level on the other side crumbled. I had a 7 hour operation to put 6 bolts and titanium caging in my back and again I had 6 months off work and had to learn to walk again, so I have faced some difficult times which had made me a bit sedentary.
As time has gone on at each diabetic appointment I have lost some weight, got a reprieve, then put some back on. In November 2015 the nurse told me that I was heading towards insulin so I lost a bit of weight again but then over the next few months it gradually crept back on. In January 2016 I was just under 17 stone. I felt totally lost and became very depressed, disillusioned and not sure what to do. I was put on antidepressants.
Sometime in January 2016 I went home one day to find a letter from my GP practice offering me an eight week Weight Management Course. I knew this was my lifeline so I rang up and asked to do the course. I was advised that the course was a discussion with a dietician and then exercise at one of a number of venues, however a few dieticians had left so I was asked if I still wanted to continue. To be honest the exercise was what I needed so I confirmed I wanted to go ahead and that I would like to attend the gym at John Smeaton Leisure Centre. I was given Carole’s telephone number and worked out a start date of the 5 February 2016. I discussed leaving work early on Friday’s with my Manager, who was very supportive and agreed. In conjunction with the weight management course I also received a letter offering me assistance from a dietician; I now see Jon at Halton Clinic every six weeks.
I felt so much better as I knew I had made the first step towards a change in my life.
I have now finished the eight weeks and I’m feeling on top of the world! I have lost around a stone in weight but more importantly I feel so much healthier. I have joined Bodyline and use the gym three times a week. In between gym visits I have a Wii which I use to top up my exercise. For Mother’s Day my family bought me a Fitbit which tells me how many steps, miles and calories I have done each day. At the beginning I only did about 6000 steps but I am now on 27,000 steps a day, which is 14 miles a day. I try to do this most days, which can be hard as I work in an office so I’m at my desk all day, but I am determined to keep this up as I feel so much fitter. I now also have a grandson and he spurs me on as I want to see him grow up and be able to play with him. Next week I start Zumba classes with Carole too.
My life has changed immeasurably and this has impacted on my work life too as I feel so much better in myself; I volunteer for things I would never have done before, such as joining a group in our office who are doing a step challenge set by Leeds Beckett University. When I told my Manager (our team leader) how many steps I was doing a day he actually said he was glad I was on his team which made me feel fantastic – I thought I might be the weak link but I’m actually doing more steps than quite a few other people!
My life is changing for the better and having had my latest diabetic appointment, which was going to be a discussion about me going on insulin, I have now been given a reprieve for three months as the nurse could see I had lost weight.
All of this change could not have happened had it not been for the letter that arrived and the help I have had from Carole, who has really been my saviour. She has been so patient with me and without her guidance and knowledge I could not have done this, she has given me the confidence I needed to walk into a gym on my own and not worry about what other people think of me and for this I cannot thank her enough. I am really looking forward to doing Zumba with her.
I would also like to thank Tzon at John Smeaton too as he wrote me a full exercise programme and talked me through the various equipment. This has really helped me as I would never have envisaged that I would be leaving work to call at the gym on my way home – I was a bit of a couch potato. My energy levels are now so high and I am always planning in my head what I can do next and how I will fit my exercise in and make the most of my Bodyline membership.
I still have a long way to go but my determination has never been so high and my Manager who has known me 28 years says he has never seen me so focused. My friend even asked what I had done with Julie!
I would recommend the Weigh Ahead programme to anyone who is offered it as it’s a lifeline to better quality of life…
Thank you to Carole, Jon (Dietician) and Tzon.