I became a lifestyle coach to make a difference in people’s lives. The way the Changing Health programme works, assigning each user a personal coach and delivering ongoing one-to-one support over weeks and months, gives me the opportunity to do that. We can explore every client’s needs and tailor-make our behaviour change programme to suit them.

Many of the people we coach have already digested learning content on Type 2 diabetes and how to better manage the condition. However, they’re rarely equipped to put that knowledge into practice. That’s where we come in!

Changing Health user Pat, aged 71 and one of my clients, can vouch for this. She described her experience as “life-changing”.

For years, she struggled to keep her weight under control. She tried lots of approaches, like WeightWatchers and Slimming World. The problem she faced was not losing the weight; it was keeping it off once her initial diet phase was over. It’s something we see often, and the reason we only promote lifestyle changes that are sustainable over the long term.

Before she reached out to Changing Health for help, Pat was diagnosed as prediabetic after an annual check-up at her local GP surgery. She booked her first coaching appointment with me in January 2018.

We agreed on limiting her daily calorie intake to 1,200-1,600, and I asked Pat to write this goal down, and leave it on show around the house somewhere – since research shows this makes you 42% more likely to achieve success! She adopted the low-carb approach, replacing some of her carbs with vegetables and healthy fats and proteins, which keep her fuller for longer.

One of the most effective behaviour change techniques I’ve used with Pat has proved to be self-monitoring. I asked her to use the photo food diary in the Changing Health app, which I can then review. She told me it makes a big difference; not only can she keep a tab on her diet, but she knows I can see her meals, so she tries harder to keep up the good work. She finds the app’s weight tracker and step-counter helpful too, keeping her disciplined and focussed on her goals.

She loves baking, but as we know, this isn’t the healthiest hobby if it’s not enjoyed in moderation. So we agreed that a good way to overcome this and still continue with this hobby was to either halve the ingredients used or bake twice as much with her usual amounts. Perfect!

Three months on, she’s living her new, healthier lifestyle to the fullest. She’s more motivated than ever; since she’s lost weight, she’s feeling the cold more when she goes for a walk. But that’s not an excuse stay in; instead, she went out and bought a good pair of thermal socks and gloves!

Her blood sugar levels speak for themselves. Since beginning the Changing Health programme, Pat’s blood sugar has decreased by 14%, which means it has returned to healthy a level and she’s no longer on her way to Type 2 diabetes. She’s also lost 3.6 kgs, reaching her target weight, and crucially – is managing to maintain it. She’s reduced her BMI too: from 28 to 26, meaning she’s no longer classed as overweight.

She credited her success to having a lifestyle coach on hand for support. As she put it: “The fact that my lifestyle coach is keeping track of my meals and exercise on the Changing Health App is very encouraging and positive.’’

The lesson I’ve learnt from Pat, and many other of my former clients, is this: You’ve always got it in you to make a change for the better. You may just need a little help.

Find out how GP Practice Manager, Sheinaz, also managed to turn her life around with help from one of the Changing Health’s lifestyle coaches.

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