As the doctor spoke, my head swam while I tried to take it all in. It felt like a bad dream, but the diagnosis was real enough: type 2 diabetes. There I was, aged 39, with a potentially life-threatening medical condition. Was this really the way I was about to start my 40s?
My weight had been creeping up steadily for years. I spent most of my 20s and 30s on some fad diet or another. Now, at over 17st, I was covering myself up in black, baggy size-22 clothes and actively avoiding mirrors.
My husband, David, and two children, Lauren and Thomas, got used to me saying no to everything from nights out to walks in the countryside. Family get-togethers were out of the question – what if somebody brought out a camera?
And now here I was, newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and with my 40th birthday on the horizon. How could I celebrate when I was so unhealthy, overweight and unhappy?
After the initial shock, I started wondering how I could turn my life around. The doctor had told me that I was at a crossroads: if my blood-sugar levels got any higher, I’d need to take medication; if I lost weight, I could manage my condition without any at all.
Then I remembered Slimming World. I’d joined a group briefly a few years before – I hadn’t really wanted to make changes at that time, though, so I’d given up. This time, I vowed things would be different.
In my new frame of mind, Food Optimising was the ideal fit for me. I knew my best chance of succeeding would be to start cooking wholesome family meals from scratch.
I discovered all sorts of delicious recipes we could enjoy together, from chicken curry and rice to pasta with a meaty ragù-style sauce.
Because I was eating proper, hearty platefuls of food, I found I was snacking much less during my days at the hospital where I worked, particularly on the chocolates we’d often receive as gifts from grateful patients. If I did get peckish between meals, I’d have a Free or low-Syn snack like chopped fresh fruit stirred into plain quark.
A week later, I stepped on the scales to find I’d lost 6lbs. And the losses continued, week after week – I was on a roll!
Gradually, I began to walk with a bit more energy. And soon I was fizzing with it! I found some toning exercises online and did them regularly at home. I also plucked up the courage to join an aqua aerobics class at my local pool – and I was surprised at how much fun it was.
After a few months of losing weight and increasing my activity levels, I was starting to feel like a new woman. I stopped making excuses whenever the family suggested an outing – instead, I was striding along with the kids in the countryside in a way I hadn’t done for years.
As I was changing on the outside, inside my blood-sugar levels were dropping. At my first six-month check-up with the diabetes nurse, after losing 3st, they’d already fallen to a near-normal level. And by the time I returned six months later, weighing 10st 7lbs, I was completely symptom-free.
When I was just a couple of pounds off my target weight, I headed out of the house to celebrate my 40th birthday, wearing size-8 leather-look trousers and a fashionable fitted shirt. On the way, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Gone was the woman who used to wish she was invisible and would rather stay at home than go out and socialise. Instead, I saw someone who loves to hit the town, usually wearing something from Topshop, which amuses me. Here I am at 41, down with the kids!
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.