"I've had type 2 diabetes for 20 years – I'm proof you can change." ~ Alan's story
Weight loss: 11.2 kg in 5 months
HbA1c: 10.4 down to 6.8
In Remission: Not yet
Alan was 53 when he had his first heart attack. He had lived with type 2 diabetes for nearly 20 years, slowly getting sicker and more reliant on medication to manage his insulin resistance. His second heart attack was the last straw. He decided it was time to change his lifestyle and reclaim his health.
A public servant in Canberra for 28 years, Alan moved to the Sunshine Coast with his wife, Sue, and their English cocker spaniel Rosie, to take up a career in care work and prioritise his health. He began to exercise daily, alternating between swimming, walking and his real passion, cycling.
The results were coming, but not fast enough. Alan’s HbA1c had not changed and was still at 10.4; he felt he needed to do more. Scrolling through Facebook one afternoon, Alan discovered Defeat Diabetes - and has since transformed his understanding of his condition.
“I realised that despite living with this condition for 20 years, I didn’t know much about type 2 diabetes. My grandfather and father had the disease and eventually died from complications; my uncles also have type 2 diabetes. I did not want to go down the same path.
“I started the Defeat Diabetes Program to learn more about type 2 diabetes, and the more I read, the more I realised how little I knew! Then, learning more about insulin resistance was the lightbulb moment - I suddenly realised I could manage my blood glucose through diet. As someone with type 2 diabetes, I had always avoided foods that I knew contained lots of sugar, including fruits. However, the Defeat Diabetes traffic light system - with different foods listed as red (avoid), amber (eat a little) and green (eat plenty) - showed me a completely different perspective that focused on carbohydrates, not just sugar.
“Now my wife and I take turns to cook in our little kitchen, and thanks to the Defeat Diabetes shopping list generator, we do our shop once a week, and we don’t waste any food. And if I get hangry - hungry and angry - I just make myself a healthy snack.
“Since following the Defeat Diabetes Program for four months, my HbA1c has plummeted from 10.4 to 8.7. I’ve dropped four clothes sizes, going from a 4XL to a large. I’ve lost almost 16 kgs.
“Seeing my blood sugars reach manageable levels has been amazing. My wife and I have invented a game, “blood sugar bingo”, where we try to guess what my new reading will be each morning!
“I’m motivated to follow the Defeat Diabetes Program because I remember what happened to my grandfather and dad. It helps me get up every day and stick to the program. My HbA1c is coming down, and my waist measurements - now I want to reduce my medications with the help of my GP.
“It doesn’t matter how long you’ve had type 2 diabetes - I’m proof you can change. Join the program. Educate yourself, and understand what type 2 diabetes is and the way forward. Give it a go, do it slowly and don’t race into it. But I promise you, if you make an effort, it really is worth it.”