A Chester grandfather has lost a stone in weight after a diabetes awareness session encouraged him to get to grips with his diet.
Donald Wilson cut out his favourite sugary snacks and started going to the gym three times a week after attending a free Diabetes Essentials course in April 2016.
The 68-year-old’s friends and family have been left stunned by his transformation, with his renewed fitness recently enabling him to walk 75 miles of the South West Coast Path on holiday.
“My sister saw me for the first time in six months and said ‘gosh you’ve lost weight’ and you don’t feel as if you have but I’ve come down about four notches on my belt,” the retired airport duty manager said. “It was a bit of a novelty at first then the challenge kicked in.”
Donald was put forward for Diabetes Essentials by his GP after tests showed his high blood sugar levels meant he had prediabetes, which is a borderline category for people whose results are above normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Around seven million people are estimated to have prediabetes in the UK.
It is judged to be a critical stage in the development of diabetes, which is why dietitians from the Countess of Chester Hospital host regular borderline Diabetes Essentials sessions in the community.
These informal meetings are designed to give attendees advice and information to live healthier lifestyles and lose weight if necessary in a bid to help them avoid developing Type 2 diabetes, or improve control of the disease if they do already have it.
Watch Donald speak about his changed eating habits:
“Before I’d think nothing of eating a couple of doughnuts on the way home and I’m a glutton for Danish pastries, but I haven’t had one since so it’s been a big learning curve,” Donald said. “That morning straight after the session I went to Northgate Arena and enrolled in the gym there.”
He added: “It was inspirational, it really was. It put me on the right track to get to the right destination.”
People can be referred on to the sessions by their GP like Donald was, but anyone interested in attending one can also get in touch with the team via the Diabetes Essentials Facebook page and request a place.
There are bespoke versions for borderline, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes with sessions taking place at Beehive Healthcare on Northgate Avenue and at Ellesmere Port Hospital.
The Diabetes Essentials team also works with Halton Clinical Commissioning Group on its local education programme in Runcorn and Widnes.
Since 2014 more than 4,000 people have attended a Diabetes Essentials course and seeing transformations like Donald’s make it all worthwhile.
“It’s fantastic to hear how much of a difference our session made to Donald,” dietitian Ellen Mitchell, who has been involved with running the sessions for over a year, said.
“We encourage people to think about their own lifestyle and set small targets for sustained improvement. We have a great team that is dedicated to helping people make better choices in the long term and Donald really is an inspiration for others to follow.”
If you would like to attend one of the sessions please call Therapy Services at the Countess on 01244 365 234 or email Diabetes.firstname.lastname@example.org.