Andy’s story - living with diabetes

“You’ve got to make it easy for yourself. It’s about a change of lifestyle really.”

Andy, aged 57

“Four years ago, I got tested for diabetes. They told me my blood sugar level was 62. I
thought that sounded ok. So, I asked what the reading should be. They said a normal
reading is around 40 – and pre-diabetic is 47. That’s when I knew I was in trouble.

“After 3 months, I went back for a check-up. My blood sugar level was just 39. The doctors
were gobsmacked. How did I do it?

“Well, I’m an engineer to trade. So, I wanted to know how diabetes worked. I took a
notepad with me and asked the medical staff lots of questions.

“I’d been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and prescribed a bunch of drugs. Type 2 Diabetes
often comes with being heavier than you used to be. And I was carrying quite a bit of
weight. To be honest, I was pretty tired most of the time. After dinner, I’d just fall asleep in
front of the telly.

“By chance, I saw a documentary called “Fixing Dad” about a man who lived with Diabetes
and put it into remission be eating real food. I thought if he could do it, so could I. You could
see that you’d have to sort out your eating habits first. Like most people, I’d go for quick
easy meals. So, I started to eat real food. I just swapped out starchy foods like bread and
pasta for fresh veg. Slowly, I learned to cook a bit. It’s not as hard as you might think. For
example, grated cauliflower makes great ‘rice’!

Andy's advice
"Start easy. Look at your breakfast first. How much sugar is hidden in your cereal? Just swap it out for a quick breakfast omelette. It’s simple and won’t spike your blood sugar. You can build from there. It’s the same with getting active. No-one is asking you to do a park run tomorrow. Start easy with a 10 minute walk each day at your own pace. Then you can think about your next steps – whether that’s a bit of yoga or ‘couch to 5k’. You’ll feel better for it."

“Once I’d lost a bit of weight, I felt more energetic. My mind was clearer too. I started out
easy. Just a bit of walking. I took up gardening too. That’s a nice thing to do. Then I heard
about the park run. It’s a 5-kilometre run through parks. There’s 4 or 5 park runs in different
parts of Liverpool on Saturday mornings. All-sorts take part: old, young, parents with
buggies, kids. Nobody cares how fast or fit you are. I started off at a stroll, just jogged a bit
when I could.

“Since then, I’ve done over 50 park runs. I’ve done a few fundraisers – like the Santa Dash in
Liverpool. That was a great laugh and raised money for the Stroke Association as my mum
had passed away from a stroke a few years back.

“The best thing was going out to buy a suit for my niece’s wedding. My waistline had shrunk
from 42 to a slim-fitting 34. I was even able to get into a waistcoat.

“So, it’s worth getting into a more active lifestyle too. My diabetes is in remission. I feel better than I have in years. And if I can do it, so can you.”