We catch up with reader Ann Smith six months on from making some simple yet significant changes to her lifestyle – and find out how much impact they have had on her health, life and managing her type 2 diabetes.
We first met Ann Smith when she volunteered to participate in a consultation with HFG dietitian Zoe Wilson six months ago. The aim was to show Ann, and others with type 2 diabetes, how to make simple, yet valuable, changes to better manage the condition.
At their first meeting, Zoe and Ann went through Ann’s exercise and eating habits and set a few small goals for Ann to focus on until they met next time. We caught up with Ann to find out how she was going with her goals and the changes she has seen and felt. “She has done amazingly well,“ says Zoe.
Ann has lost 5kg on the scales – that's just over 5% of her previous body weight! She now weighs 98kg and has a BMI of 36. She is also wearing clothes two sizes smaller.
By reducing her weight by 5% she has drastically improved her blood sugar levels (BSLs). She now has a long term average BSL (or HbA1c) of 6.5% and her fasting BSL, taken in the morning is about 5mmol/L. (The goal for people with diabetes is an HbA1c of less than 7% and 'normal' BSL is 4–6mmol/L.) She'll visit her endocrinologist in the next month to discuss the possibility of reducing her insulin.
Her total and LDL cholesterol have also come down.
Ann had knee surgery and has been recovering for the past four months. She's now able to walk, but feels pain when she sits or lies down for too long.
Ann still isn’t sleeping well due to her sleep apnoea and pain from her surgery. She's getting around six hours of broken sleep each night.
Anne’s typical daily diet and exercise
SIX MONTHS AGO
Nothing (3 days a week) or Special K Advantage with skim milk and low-fat yoghurt or 1–2 slices café-style raisin toast
Porridge or natural muesli with berries, LSA and low-fat yoghurt and a cup of instant coffee made with skim milk
Large full cream flat white
Piece of fruit and a small skim flat white
Nothing or a chocolate bar (3 days a week) or a large multigrain sandwich with cheese or ham & pickle
Vegetable and lentil soup or leftovers from dinner and a cup of tea
Tea and a scone with jam and cream or lemon tart
Fruit or baked mushrooms and tomatoes or occasionally cheese and crackers
A lean meat dish with carbohydrate and vegetables (vegies about 1/4 plate)
Lean meat, carbohydrates and vegetables in balanced proportions (1/4 lower-GI carbs, 1/4 lean protein, 1/2 vegetables/salad)
1.5L water, 1–2 cups tea, 1–2 cups of coffee (sometimes from café)
1 hour cardio and weights 3 days a week
40 minutes walking every day
In Ann’s own words
During her follow-up session, Ann described the change in her outlook over the past six months. She now feels she has more control over her health, she has much more energy and is feeling fitter than ever.
“I feel so much more confident – I'm feeling proud of myself and am taking more pride in my appearance”, she says. She’s now taking her blood sugar readings every day and says that watching them stay low is one of her greatest motivators. “I don’t want to see them creep back up and ruin all of my hard work!"
“With my blood sugars more stable throughout the day, I also feel more stable – and that’s both my energy levels and my mood.” Ann is also enjoying her food much more than she was before, and says now, there’s no guilt involved.
“If I could give others in my situation one piece of advice, it would be to take it one small step at a time. That’s what I’ve done – just pick a few small things to work on and they’ll combine to make a big difference!”
“I couldn’t be more proud of the changes Ann has made to her lifestyle. She took my advice and put it into practice by focusing on the six small goals we set in that first meeting. She’s now getting a good balance of all of the five food groups and is meeting the recommended daily serves for fruit, vegetables, protein and dairy. She’s eating regularly and has improved the quality of her meals and snacks. She’s also drastically reduced the amount of kilojoules she is taking in over the day through her drinks. By making these changes she has evened out her carbohydrate intake over the day, and is generally eating low-GI carbohydrates, which is helping her blood sugar levels stay more stable. Walking daily is great and she tells me she is really enjoying it – so much so that she has stopped her gym membership!”
Ann’s six goals
Try not to skip meals
Before eating – ask, am I really hungry?
Slow down! Take at least 20 minutes to enjoy a meal
Have a balanced plate at lunch and dinner
Try to walk twice a week (in addition to current gym sessions)
Try to drink less kilojoules – choose water first!
Zoe and Ann discussed the things that Ann would like to work on until their next session. The goals they set together were:
To include protein in her afternoon snack. For example: cheese and crackers, reduced-fat yoghurt and fruit, vegie sticks and hommous or a slice of toast with peanut butter, ricotta or hommous. “This will help with the hunger Ann was feeling in the afternoon if she has only eaten a piece of fruit or her baked vegies“, Zoe says.
To include intervals and hills in her daily walks a few times a week. While Ann is feeling fit at the moment, she wants to improve further and intervals (such as alternating speed between power poles) and hills will help her to improve and also provide some variety.
Keep up the good work! Ann needs to continue with the changes she’s already made so they turn into life-long habits!
Did you know?
700,000 Australians are estimated to be living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is Australia’s fastest-growing disease, with up to 275 Aussies developing it every day.
Type 2 diabetes accounts for 85–90% of diabetes cases in Australia.