Alex, 61 years old

Alex attended the programme in Chatham in 2015

How did you end up on the programme?
I had a referral from a diabetes nurse. I’d done a number of classes and one generates a referral to another. I had had levels my checked prior to course because I had already been living with type 2 diabetes. Even though I already had it I gained some really useful information to manage my diabetes.
What convinced you to sign up?
I was conscious that I needed to do something. I felt on a bit of a precipice at this time in my life. I’d lost my job and other things were happening in my life, it was a tough time, but now I am healthier I am much more able to meet these types of challenges. The job I had was at a desk from 7am - 10pm barely moving. I wanted to get the job done and to do it well! I can be a bit of a perfectionist. My health suffered after years of that. This may have contributed my diabetes.
How did you feel about it before you attended?
With any of these things you have preconceptions. At my age I’ve learnt don’t go with preconceptions - just give it a go - it might work for you. But it probably will surprise you. If you enjoy it. I was at a point where I really would have taken any help. I was at a point where I’d just go.
What's the main benefit of attending the programme?
It motivated me to go swimming and to go to the gym. I had preconceptions about body beautiful people, but it’s not like that, everyone if just trying to get healthy.The programme started me on this exercise path. It acted as a crossroads - I was wondering whether to give up and glide into obscurity, but this helped me to do something about it. I felt this was a really good chance to make a big change and have a long term impact. I’m still not perfect but I’m better and healthier for it. Something for me just clicked. I really enjoyed the walking too and I’ve never been athletic!
What was the most surprising or useful thing you learnt?
As an all round package to eat more healthily i was able to make more informed decisions for food using food labelling guidance. I slip off the bandwagon now and again, but there are some things I cut out completely now. I don’t eat cream crackers anymore because of the amount of fat, I assumed they were OK previously.
How did you find the pace of the programme?
The fact that it was weekly really helped to motivate me. Being a typical bloke, after a week or two when I try something I can slip back into bad habits, but the weekly structure really kept me going.
What was the most useful session and why?
The one about food labelling. I learnt a lot and it has changed the way I shop.
How easy or difficult was it to make changes?
It can be challenging because we are a family of two parents and two grown up children. I tend to do the cooking and shopping but they’ll want something that I would deem as unhealthy - this is a balancing act. It’s a slow process of buying leaner meats rather than fatty links - balancing costs. My daughter is veggie, I cook three different meals for four people but can do simple swap - I’ll have rice instead of their potatoes.
How would you describe it to others considering attending?
The camaraderie worked well for me. We all tried to help each other, the group was really supportive. I had diabetes already and could explain some of the problems associated with that. Everybody comes from a different angle and brings a different perspective to the table. Be open-minded. Enjoy it.
How would you describe the atmosphere at the group?
Friendly banter, enjoyable, we had a laugh with Jane who led the programme. It suited me down to the ground. The people in our group were all brilliant. Some of us still meet up. There were 7 or 8 of us in the group. I looked forward to it and got carried along. Don’t go along with any preconceptions.
What one word would you use to describe the 12 week programme?
Life saving! Although this might sound OTT. If you are at a crossroads in your life where you feel neglected, rejected and everything else then this is a good part of the process to start turning it around.