Type 2 diabetes affects 4.7 million people in the UK, the number of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has doubled in the last 20 years. Diabetes costs the NHS £192 million every week.
There are numerous complications linked with poorly controlled diabetes which can lead to disability and premature death. Obesity is the single biggest cause of type 2 diabetes. Most causes of diabetes can be eliminated by leading a healthy lifestyle and it follows that diabetes can be put into remission by reducing the risks. Mel is one person who has successfully managed to do this.
In 2014 Mel was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, her HbA1c was over 50. A healthy level for HbA1c is under 41. At that point she was also taking medication for other health issues, she was given oral medication to control her blood glucose levels.
She carried on taking her medication and living as she had previously for a full year before she accepted what was happening. At the end of the year she realised that she was putting her life at risk and could make the necessary changes.
She started with the basics, looking at her diet and cutting out fizzy drinks, chocolate, crisps and fried food. That was, and still is, a battle to resist the cravings. After a year of eating better she decided to introduce some exercise. She has a personal trainer to guide her through this. Karen was not the first personal trainer she used but she had the courage to move on if she did not get on with them. In the gym, Karen puts Mel through her paces using weights and focusing on a different area of the body at each session.
I first met Mel a couple of years ago at Lakers, she had been running some weeks at parkrun but work restricted the number of times that she could attend. Lakers on a Tuesday evening fits well and she has been able to attend most weeks. She even won an award at the Christmas party for best attendance.
At that first meeting she was so quiet I had to literally drag any conversation out of her. When she ran, she kept her head down and avoided eye contact with most people. She was self conscious about not being able to keep up.
Fast forward to now. She has lost over 12kg and her HbA1c is now a very respectable 41. She has been able to stop taking her diabetes medication. She is currently running a race a month to raise money for diabetes research. So far, the longest has been 10 miles but she is in training for a half marathon.
Her self confidence has increased so much, you wouldn’t believe it was the same person. She runs with her head held high, chatting and laughing all the way.
Recently, we were running up a hill together, having a chat and a laugh. I looked up and realised that this was the furthest I had ever been up this hill without walking. At that point, I knew that I could get to the top with Mel’s help. I told her to keep talking and distracting me and yes, I made it. Two years ago, I would not have thought that the quiet, shy newby would ever talk me up a hill.
All statistics taken from Diabetes UK.