Type 2 Diabetes is one of the shadows that lurks in the life of the fat man. It’s a disease we know plenty about, but tend to avoid out of fear of what we might find out. The inconvenient truth is that T2 Diabetes is closely linked to weight and that carrying extra weight massively increases your risk of getting the disease. Fortunately, the reverse is also true – lose weight and you can cure yourself of type 2 diabetes, just like #amazingloser Julian did.
In 2010 as part of a routine blood test to monitor my high cholesterol and high blood pressure, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I had heard of this disease of course, but I thought it was just a baby version of the serious diabetes where you have to inject insulin and stuff, and so I didn’t really think much of this news, especially as it wasn’t deemed developed enough for me to warrant taking any medication. What my GP did say, is that if I brought my weight back to a healthy level the disease might not develop further. At the time I was two and a half stone overweight at fifteen stones.
Six months later I was summoned back for my Diabetes health check. For any of you with this disease you will know this involves a blood test, a retinal check, and an enjoyable tickling of your feet. Bemused by the latter exercise I was worryingly told this was to check the nerves were working as they should, as so many people with type 2 diabetes catch a foot infection without knowing it and end up having to have one or both feet amputated. Not surprisingly I began to take type 2 diabetes a little more seriously.
For the next few months I took more exercise, swimming twice a week, and I tried to cut down on some fatty foods, especially cheese which I have always been addicted to. I did lose seven pounds in weight, but despite this my diabetes level remained the same. Then at the end of 2012 I quit alcohol. For those who have read my book you will know there are various reasons behind this drastic step, but enough to say I went from being an alcoholic to being completely sober overnight, and I have never had a drop of alcohol since.
Within a few short weeks my weight had dropped by two stone, and there are a few factors that contributed towards this. For one, I didn’t realise just how much sugar was in alcohol and so I had been busy guzzling at least the equivalent of a large bag of sugar every day. Instead, I was now replacing this with refreshing water, green tea or the occasional fruit juice. Secondly, I gave up some of the fatty foods I had been eating but especially sausages, which like cheese I had been addicted to. I always barbecued my sausages and as booze and barbecuing go so well together, when the drink went so did the barby. Thirdly, with so much extra time on my hands, with so much more energy to burn, and with the new found freedom that quitting alcohol gives you which meant I could do what I wanted when I wanted, I increased my exercise routine massively. This involved always walking to the local shops whereas I would have driven (or been driven if drunk), cycling purely for the pleasure of it, swimming a kilometre in the local pool every single day, and kayaking in the sea whenever the weather was kind enough.
When I had my next diabetes health check, to my delight I found that my blood pressure had returned to normal and I could come off the tablets I was taking. My cholesterol level had also returned to normal and I could throw away the statins, and my type 2 diabetes when taken as an average had effectively gone away. But when quizzed however, my GP said diabetes can never truly go away and so I was kept on the diabetes watch database, which really just meant more foot tickling every six months or so. I could live with that.
But now in 2015, after two and a half years of being completely alcohol free, this August I was once again summoned for my diabetes check. This time things were different. In the interim since the previous check-up I found that my GP surgery had merged with another practice and they had installed a specialist trained diabetes nurse. Sure enough she checked my blood, my feet, my blood pressure and like, and confirmed that not only had by diabetes ‘resolved’ itself and disappeared despite what the GP had said, she would make a point of taking me off the diabetes check list as being completely free of the disease. She would have taken me off the computer database there and then but the option to do that didn’t exist! Obviously whoever designed the programme wasn’t expecting anyone to be cured!
So yes you can cure your type 2 diabetes, I have that officially. I can’t say it’s all down to me stopping drinking, because I also lost the weight, changed my lifestyle and became massively fitter at the same time. But I know that I had still been drinking none of that would have happened, in fact I would probably be dead by now anyway, but that is another story for another day. What I can say to you is that if you have been diagnosed with type 2 or have been told you are at risk of developing it, but you catch it early enough, if you make the effort to become a healthy weight, and take a serious look at changing your lifestyle for the better, what I now know to be a horrible disease can be beaten. You can do it too!
Julian Kirkman-Page (speak to him directly if you’d like more information) is the author of ‘I Don’t Drink!’ – How to quit alcohol – a drinker’s tale. Available from Amazon, iTunes, Nook, Kobo and www.idontdrink.net. If you’d like support with losing weight then MAN v FAT runs free online weight loss groups over at Talk.