- Name: Julian Porter (ask him anything on Talk)
- Height: 5’8″ (172 cm)
- Job: Photographer at www.julianporter.com
- Age: 53
- Location: Southampton
- Highest weight: 260 lbs (118 kg)
- Lowest weight: 148 lbs (67 kg)
So what did you know about diabetes before you got your diagnosis?
I didn’t know a lot about it. I was the same as most people, I just thought it was one of those illnesses where you have to take a few tablets and you’ll be fine. Just before I had my diagnosis though I did a portrait shoot with a guy for www.diabetes.co.uk and, sadly, he’d lost his leg because of complications around diabetes. That was the thing for me. It shocked me that you could have these side effects. Then just after that I was sat in my doctor’s surgery being told that I was Type 2 Diabetic. I’ll be honest – it really frightened me.
Let’s skip back a little bit, what had led to you being overweight?
I think it was wedding food if I’m honest! It’s not the same story for everyone but with the business we’d go to weddings a couple of times every week and we’d just eat and eat and eat all day long. As soon as you start in on the canapes and cake, you can’t stop. What I’ve seen is that if you’re in the mindset of bingeing – regardless of whether it’s Christmas or a birthday – then you want it the next day as well. It becomes the norm. So we’d do weddings on a Friday and a Saturday and then on Sunday we’d be knackered and we’d eat junk food then as well.
So when you were diagnosed did you get support to help you lose the weight?
We were referred to a diabetes clinic and they talked to us there about different tips and advice about losing weight. I’m very lucky because my diabetes nurse lives opposite us and she was brilliant. However, at the clinic they started talking about eating high fat food and not low fat yoghurts and that sort of thing. That completely baffled me because I thought it was all the other way! As you do I came home and did some research and found a website where I could track my food and used it as a food diary. So I logged my calories and put everything into that diary (if you’d like a premium tracking experience for free then sign up for a MVFIA group on TALK).
The other big change was that from that day to this me and my wife Sue cook everything from scratch, so we know exactly what’s in it. I didn’t cut anything out, I still have a cake when I’m out and about on the bike but it’s the frequency that’s changed. Before I’d think nothing of coming home from work and getting a four pack of beer and a couple of cakes. Now that’s the sort of thing on a special occasion.
What else did you change? I believe you got into your exercise as well?
I realised that I had to get more active and that was something that the diabetes nurses told us too. So I made a plan to walk five miles a day. But when I first started walking I was very conscious of myself. I could see that there were all these guys out there and we were wearing the same gear, we all had the same trainers and tracksuits on but they were running. They looked the part and I just felt like this big, fat floppy thing. To get around that I bought a treadmill so that I could walk any time I wanted and not feel out of place.
I was determined not to let a lack of confidence beat me. At first it was really tough. I’d walk but I would be puffed out most of the time. I was thinking, I walk all day long, why is this puffing me out? But it was because I was doing it faster and really putting effort into it. I wasn’t power walking as such but it was walking with intensity. For anyone who’s considering it then I’ll tell you the good news is that it became easier very quickly. After a month I’d say I was walking a lot faster and feeling good about it, the speed had picked up and I started to feel a bit more normal doing it!
You’re being modest because you went on further than that…
Well I started to get into running from there and I joined a site called www.runcamp.co.uk, which really helped me with my training. I started to run lots of races and in 2014 I decided to run my first marathon, which I completed in 3 hours 27 minutes well under my goal!
That’s incredible! What a difference losing half your body weight makes! What tip would you give to other guys who want to lose weight?
One of the things that my diabetes nurse said to me is that often when we eat it’s because we’re thirsty so she said to make sure I had a pint of water at all times and to keep drinking from that. I’ve got one in front of me now! For me that dealt with things where I was eating because I was bored or I was frustrated about something, or I was just thirsty! That was a saviour for me, I’d definitely suggest anyone can try that – it’s free too!
Presumably you’ve cracked how to survive social occasions without letting the food choices go to pot?
Yes, for me there are a few keys. For instance at weddings we cover now I take all my own food. I no longer rely on the venue to provide something that’s healthy. You obviously can’t do that if you’re going out for a meal, but you can if you’re out for the day. It puts things back within your control. If it’s a nice occasion then I’ll make sure that I take a lot of food too. I don’t know about anyone else but I hate it when I’m around someone who’s eating nice things and I’m having to hold back. So we’ll take some nice grilled chicken breasts with different flavourings and I’ll have them in some Tupperware in the car. That makes me feel like I’m not missing out because I’m not hungry. I’m also a firm believer that you shouldn’t try a little bit and then stop. Once you’ve had one canape you’ve had 30!
So you lost this incredible eight stone in less than a year – what did that do to your diabetes?
They don’t say that you’re cured, what they say is that you’ve reversed it. Basically, I’m no longer diabetic! To be honest the day that I heard that news was one of the greatest moments of my life so far. The reaction of the nurse and the doctor was hilarious. After the initial diagnosis I had blood tests every two or three months and it came time for me to have the big test (read more about diabetes testing here) and they did the tests and I went back for the results and my doctor said, “Look Jules, we’re really sorry we know it’s a pain doing these tests but the results are faulty so we need you to do it again.”
I said, fair enough and we did it again. Same thing next time, “Really sorry the results are faulty, we need to do it again!” I wasn’t happy but I did it again. The third time and the doctor says again that it’s faulty – and I asked what was wrong with it and he said that it’s because they can’t find any trace of diabetes and that my blood results are better than his. I said, “No, that’s right – that’s what walking and sorting your diet out will do for you!” They were in awe of it. The doctor loves me now, he tells me all the time that I saved the NHS thousands!
Other readers may be worried about diabetes, or they may have been diagnosed. What would you tell them?
This is beatable. You don’t need to lose eight stone like I did, or take up marathons. None of that. You just need to concentrate on what you’re eating, how you’re eating it and move more. My diabetes was gone before I started running. We can all spare some time to look at what we’re eating and make improvements and to move more, it doesn’t matter how busy you are. I can’t tell you how nice it is to buy nice clothes that fit me well, it’s so cool to go into any shop and pick up a medium top and know that I will look cool. Four years ago that was XXXL and I felt terrible – you can make that change too.
As with all our Amazing Losers and their weight loss before and after stories, you can find Julian on Talk, where he is happy to chat through anything you’d like to know. It’s all free and it makes up the world’s biggest social network of men who want to get and give support around weight loss.