Julie’s Story

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.

Julie_good news story

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.




Gemma’s Story

Have you ever got to that point where enough is enough and you know something has to change? I got to that point at the start of last year. I have been overweight all my life and I have struggled to find a way to manage it effectively. I had recently started a new job and I was fed up of having to make excuses as to why I couldn’t take the stairs or keep up with people when going to meetings. I decided to go to my doctor and ask to be referred to weight management. At the same time I was given a blood test and told that I was extremely close to a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes. That scared me as I knew it runs in the family and it is something I really wanted to avoid.

Walking into my first Weigh Ahead session at the John Charles Centre for Sport was the best decision I ever made. I was supported from day 1 and I was actually fearful of what would happen after I had completed my 8 week classroom and gym sessions. I was worried I would slip into old habits like I had done before. I was so relieved when I heard about the Moving On programme, knowing that the support wouldn’t  just disappear.

Gemma_good news story

Over this last year I have worked really hard and I can’t believe how far I have come. I now go to the gym at least 3 days a week and aqua aerobics once a week. I can keep up with friends and don’t feel like I am holding others back any more. In fact I am usually the one saying we should take the stairs instead of the lift.

Physically my health is much better. I have lost a total of 6st 2lb in just 12 months. I have also had a recent blood test and I am back in the normal ranges, meaning I am no longer at immediate risk of Type 2 Diabetes, although I will still have to have annual checks to monitor this. I feel like I have been given a new shot at life.

For those of you who have been following my progress you will know I did a 10km charity walk back in August. Now I want to push myself further and feel it only fitting that Diabetes UK should be my charity of choice. I have seen loved ones battle with this disease, both type 1 and type 2. There isn’t a day goes by that you can forget you are Diabetic, yet they never let it hold them back. They are my inspiration and help push me forward.

Because of this I have set myself a huge challenge, both personal and financial. On Saturday 7th May I will be completing a 50km challenge at the John  Charles Centre for Sport, where it all began for me. Over the course of between 3 and 4 hours I will cycle and use the crosstrainer to complete a distance further than a marathon. Never did I think I would be excited of that prospect, but I am.

To show your support please visit my just giving page at www.justgiving.com/gemma4diabetesuk or text GEMB62 and your donation amount to 70070. Every penny means more to me than you will know, as I never thought a year ago I could, or I would, ever be able to do something like this. Now I believe anything is possible.

Thank you each and every one of you for your support, financial and emotional. It is this that helps push me further, to become a better, lighter and healthier me.


Sport inspires community over Bonfire Night season

On the evenings of 4th and 5th November 2015 CATCH (Community Action to Change Harehills) and partners, including West Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Fire Service, Sport and Active Lifestyles, Leeds Youth Service and Leeds City Council Community Committee Team successfully engaged over 200 young people of Harehills into positive diversionary activities at a time that has traditionally seen an increase in anti-social behaviour.

The activities included a hugely popular 5- a-side football tournament, trampolining and refreshments.

Bonfire Project 2

On Wednesday 4th November the 5-a-side football tournament took place at The Hub in Harehills where there were over 110 children and young people taking part.

Through the Hub’s ‘Door Step Club’ we were also able to provide 12 young women with the opportunity to go to Gravity, a trampolining facility in Castleford.

On Thursday 5th November another football tournament took place at The MCS Bilal Centre in Harehills, where over 80 children and young people took part.

It was inspiring to see the cohesion between young people from very diverse communities and backgrounds coming together under the banner of sport and having such a good time. It was amazing to see such a great turnout of young people.

Bonfire Project

It was also rewarding for the agencies to work together with a common goal of keeping young people safe from harm and off the streets during the Bonfire Night period.

The football activities over the Bonfire period were generously funded by the Inner East Community Committee.

A massive thank you to all the staff and volunteers who made this event successful!

Bonfire Project 3

For further information on Active Sport opportunities in East North East Leeds please contact Jason on the below details:

E-mail: jason.minott@leeds.gov.uk

Tel: 0113 378 1990

André’s Story…

My name is André Kubas and, as of January 2015, I am 65 years young.

In 2009 I retired from work. My life plan was; to improve my Golf, and enjoy the additional leisure time with my wife and son.  After an extended period of ill health my wife died in 2011 my son has since gone on to University.

Weight Ahead

I initially joined the Weigh Ahead programme in November 2013. This was through an initiative through my GP practice to offer support to members who had a BMI over 30.  Some years previous I had lost a significant amount of weight with guidance from my GP, but later, I had lost some of the impetus.

I had always taken part in sport but was struggling with my weight and issues with my knee and lower back. The programme was an opportunity to improve my fitness and manage my ailments through weight control and a sensible fitness regime.

The theory sessions were useful to focus on the requirements of food management and diet. The circuit training was excellent. It was well tailored to the requirements of the mixed group, designed to work at several levels to suit the varied abilities of the individuals.  The fact the circuits were also available after the initial eight weeks was a major plus to maintain the focus after the formal part had been completed.

Helen delivered the “classroom” element. Carole and Cheryl led the circuit training and provided advice and encouragement. All were very professional and created an atmosphere that encouraged members to make good use of the time to maximise the benefits of the programme.

The advise, support and encouragement led me to explore further training opportunities. These included; Spin Class (probably a little too ambitious at the time); Bodyline (very good); Pilates (excellent); Yoga (shows up my lack of flexibility); Heart Watch (a great programme); Gentle Exercise Class (nor Gentle at all – but it is good).

Side effects were that I was able to get round the Golf Course easier, I play at Temple Newsam. Additionally, I was tempted to rekindle my footballing ambitions, 5-a-side, which I had previously “retired” from.  Whilst enjoyable, probable not my best idea.


Heart Watch

I would recommend this programme to anyone and everyone. Depending on the location, one is able mix circuit training with the Bodyline facilities.

Steve, Carole and Tzon have all helped me manage my issues and maximise my “potential”. Encouraging and providing advice to help maintain the enthusiasm to seek further improvements or maintain my wellbeing.

The nature of the classes means we are exercising within our peer group, which makes the whole experience more relevant and relaxed.

Whilst everybody running the sessions are excellent ambassadors for the programme, displaying professionalism, exceptional knowledge and understanding of the target audience, I would like to add a personal thank you to Carole. Her patience, support and advice have really helped me maintain the motivation to make the progress I feel I have achieved and hope to maintain.

André Kubas