James, 69 years old

James attended the programme in Lordswood Health Centre in 2016

How did you end up on the programme?
I got a letter asking me if I was willing to attend. Not sure who it was from. I got diagnosed with heart problems in 2015 and attended exercise classes, I also have a lung problem.
What convinced you to sign up?
It was a bit of a shock when it said diabetes. My sister has diabetes. I was borderline, level of prediabetes. I just went along as I had been invited. I used to exercise a lot when I worked. I retired 6 years ago and so no longer have this exercise and also have the time and opportunity to eat more. I’m slightly overweight, not much though. If you compare me to others perhaps I am slightly overweight.
How did you feel about it before you attended?
I felt a bit apprehensive before i first went, I didn’t know I was at risk. It was very good. You don’t realise until you are into it until it’s all connected and how the weight is part and parcel of how you eat, exercise - this is all connected to diabetes. You don’t realise how all these aspects can help you to help yourself. I didn’t know the difference between type 1 and type 2. The course helped with this.
How did it compare to what you expected?
Before you go you are apprehensive. People who are overweight know they are. It does bring home where you are with your health. Everyone thinks it is all about sugars, but it’s a lot of other things, like eating smaller meals - you get simple little tips that are really easy to follow: like use a smaller plate. I do watch what I eat now, but I didn’t before.
Was there anything you would have liked to know beforehand that you weren’t told?
It’s very hard to tell people to change the way they’re living. Everybody is different and has different ways of doing things and we all have different responsibilities. You don’t look at yourself or think about what you eat. When you go to the class you realise how many things affect health; not just what you eat - but how and when! Working people have their biggest meal in the evening, but then you don’t burn it off.
What's the main benefit of attending the programme?
Changing the way I look at myself - what I eat and how I eat. I look at packets more now in the supermarket. It’s easy to just look at price, now I read the small print and how much sugar it contains. I understand the packaging much more now.
How did you find the pace of the programme?
It was laid out really well, it eases you into it. When you first get there and they explain why you’re there (real reason - make this more apparent in letter).
What was the most useful session and why?
Very good - all of the weeks, very informative.
How easy or difficult was it to make changes?
Everything is hard to begin with when you’re making a life change. It gets easier quickly. I love chocolate. I tend to eat dark chocolate. Giving up snacking is difficult to begin with. Having willpower, it gets easier. What you don’t have, you can’t miss. It’s about getting in the mindset that you don’t actually need it. I eat smaller meals and I don’t eat as often or much. The hardest thing at the beginning is when you go to the supermarket and you realise how clever the manufacturers are at hiding all the additives to make things taste good. As long as you eat vegetables, fruit and just change things slowly. I don’t like salad, my worst nightmare would be a tuna salad.
How would you describe it to others considering attending?
It’ll be the best thing you did. Even if you’re perfect (which nobody is) you’ll learn something! You’ll understand the risks we’re all at because of what’s hidden in foods we buy. They may say no sugar added, but that just refers to cane sugar there are loads of other words for sugar!
How would you describe the atmosphere at the group?
Very good, very two-way and interactive. Everyone gets the chance to talk.
What one word would you use to describe the 12 week programme?