Recently, we caught up with Paul, 57, from Shropshire, about his experience on the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP):
“At the start of the programme, I was 16 stone 7lb (104.8kg) and when I weighed myself the other day, I was 13 stone 10lb (87.1kg). I had a suit measured for my daughter’s wedding two years ago and was measured for a 41-inch waist trousers, whereas I am now wearing 34 inch trousers. Thankfully I hadn’t thrown my old clothes away so still had clothes that I can fit into!
“My partner and I are both much fitter now. There is a local monument about three miles away from home and we try to walk there every weekend. It’s very rare if I don’t walk 10,000 steps every day now.
“My coach, Sandra, really drummed into us how exercise is important and I have more energy than I did before joining Healthier You. I have changed for the better.”
Paul’s experience has been echoed by other Healthier You participants from Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin with 95% of those surveyed saying that they would recommend the programme to others. 94% also said they were hopeful the programme would help them to reduce their risk of developing diabetes.
7 out of 10 adults who have joined the NDPP have progressed past the halfway stage of their intervention. Those who take the first step are likely to keep accessing support from their coach and peers to make positive lifestyle changes and reduce their diabetes risk level.
Millions of adults are at high risk of developing diabetes. To check your risk of Type 2 diabetes, please complete our free ‘Risk Calculator’ in five minutes at: https://buff.ly/3tn5N4h and register for free NHS support if you need it.
Read on to find out more about Paul’s time on the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP) and how his life has changed for the better.
How did you find out you had a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and how did you feel about it?
I found out about 4 years ago initially from the GP that my levels were getting high, and I didn’t really pay much attention to it. I thought that I could make some changes myself and be a bit healthier, but I was obviously not doing the right things. About 12 months ago, I was told again that my levels were high, but this time they suggested that I do the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme with Sandra, and the rest is history.
How did you feel when you found out that the programme was being delivered remotely?
I felt very safe as I knew I didn’t have to leave the house to attend. In this current climate, I thought it was a great option. This was the first time I had used a video conference service, and even though I forgot how to access the link a few times, I soon got used to it and it was fine.
What did you most enjoy about the programme?
It made me more positive about going forwards and not going backwards. It’s a part of life now, not a fad. It’s a big change that I have made, but I don’t feel like I have had to give up anything.
Before the programme I didn’t know about what I was eating, and I was eating the wrong things without realising it. It took being on the course to realise what we were doing. I have been doing the course with my partner and she has done really well too, she has lost 5 stone and is walking even more than me!
Was there anything about the programme you didn’t like?
No, it was really positive, it was hard to learn about the potential consequences of diabetes, but you need to know that and that you can do something about it. No downsides at all.
How much support was provided by your coach? Do you have any more feedback about your coach?
Sandra was very good. She knows everything about food and what it does to your body. She is a very pleasant and polite lady and is always very helpful. Well, she has sorted me out anyway! I asked Sandra a couple of questions outside of the group sessions and she was always helpful and provided information and recipes.
How did you get on with the other participants in the group?
I always had my camera on and always asked questions within the group. We also shared recipes and experiences. The ‘team’ I was with was great – all nice people and everyone wanted to improve themselves.
What positive changes have you made to your behaviour and lifestyle? Do you feel these changes are sustainable?
I used to drink a lot of beer, red meat, chips, pizza, the lot. I wasn’t greedy but I feel like I didn’t have a stop limit. I just didn’t really think about what I was eating – if I wanted it, I would have it. I used to do a bit of walking but not a great deal. Since I’ve been on this course, I know I can still have a nice steak but in a more controlled way. We have discovered celeriac and we love it – we have them as chips instead of potatoes and like them just as much. Sandra also gave us a tip to blend carrots and other vegetables to thicken up a curry and we make it from scratch instead of buying from a packet which is what we would have done previously.
We also just have smaller portions and I now have set meals. I work shifts so just used to pick during the day (of the wrong things) and then eat loads when I got home. But now I have porridge for breakfast, a wrap for lunch and have a proper tea. We have tried to write a menu for the week and we don’t always stick to it, but it helps us with planning the shopping so we know we always have healthy food in the house. We buy more fruit now and if I ever feel like I need a sugar fix, I have a piece of fruit. I never felt like I needed a sugar fix before as I was just eating what I wanted! But I don’t crave anything now and don’t miss anything.
I will still have a beer or a Guinness but it’s now more of a treat and have them less regularly, and now appreciate them a lot more when I have them.
Sandra drummed into us how exercise is important. My work is sometimes very physical but sometimes is sat in front of a computer, so I tried to incorporate more movement when I am at work by doing things like walking the long way to get something instead of getting it from the nearest place, or if I had 4 things to drop off somewhere else, I would drop them off one at a time instead of taking the 4 in one go. It’s small changes but it has made a really big difference and work no longer feels like a chore.
Have the changes you made affected your life?
At the start of the programme, I was 16 stone 7lb and when I weighed myself the other day, I was 13 stone 10lb. I had a suit measured for my daughter’s wedding 2 years ago and was measured for a 41 inch waist trousers, I am now wearing 34 inch trousers. Thankfully I hadn’t thrown my old clothes away so still had clothes that I can fit into!
I’ve not had a blood test yet so I’m not sure what has happened to my blood glucose, but I know my body has changed. We are both much fitter now. There is a local monument about 3 miles away and we try to walk there every weekend, and we try to do 10,000 steps every day. I hit that most days, it’s very rare if I don’t get to 10,000 steps now.
I have more energy. I enjoy the walking whereas I didn’t before, and I actually want to do it now. I am eating healthy and we are both enjoying the food. All round we have changed for the better.
My partner didn’t attend the sessions but took it all on board and she has done remarkably well. We helped each other through it, if she was just sat there eating pizza all the time, I don’t think I would have been tempted but it wouldn’t have been nice. We are both confident that we can carry on with this going forward because we are doing this together.
Are there any other changes you are hoping to make in the future?
We just want to keep on doing what we are doing – though I would like to lose a bit more off my tummy area. We have set a goal – I used to do a lot of fell walking when I was younger and as soon as lockdown eases and we are able to, we are planning to walk up Snowden. Last time I did this was 15 years ago and I know even 12 months ago, there is no way I would have been able to do it. My partner has never done it before but we are both confident we can get to the top!
Is there anything you can do now that you couldn’t do before?
I can touch my toes now, I have no struggles bending over. I have just realised that we both used to get out of breath going on walks but now we don’t get out of breath anywhere near as much, and the recovery is much quicker. I can now run up and down the stairs with no problems.
Would you recommend the programme to others?
Yes definitely. It’s a good programme. It made me change the way I think about living my life. We have both changed for the better and just waiting for lockdown to end so we can get out more. I’m very glad that the programme found me.