Client Stories - Annabelle
After 6 months, I am healthier, more active and more significantly for me, free from my medication.
Helping people reclaim themselves is such a rewarding part of my job. As their Health Coach, I get to share that journey with my clients and I love watching them take on life challenges with a plan and a purpose! Earlier this year, I was privileged to work with Annabelle (not her real name), where her focus and determination to take charge of her health was awe-inspiring!
Annabelle (55) is a busy secondary school teacher and mother, who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at the start of the year. The diagnoses came as a shock as she was fairly active, at an ideal weight and felt that she was pretty resilient. Annabelle was determined not to be on long term medication... especially if there were changes that she could make to get healthier and put the disease in remission!
As part of an integrated and holistic approach, Annabelle and I worked together to create a plan which would help her to build her knowledge about diabetes, review and implement diet and lifestyle changes to achieve her goal and help to embed habits that will last her a lifetime.
Having navigated a significant list of life stressing events over the last five years, all whilst undertaking a stressful job, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that my health was struggling. However, as is so often the way, we push ourselves by ‘adapting rather than dealing’, until we hit a major hurdle. For me, the hurdle was not passable and much to my total shock, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Even so, I felt that this was my opportunity to put myself first and to think in terms of beneficial life changes that would move me away from the pharmacological model to manage my diabetes. I felt that there needed to be a better, more natural way. This is where Adelle stepped in.
Her support encouraged me to think about how I could move forward.
As my Health Coach, she supplied me with information and suggested resources which allowed me to make significant decisions to improve my health, including changing from being a vegetarian to adopting a whole food plant-based vegan diet and finding ways to be more active, like cycling and yoga.
Her support encouraged me to think about how I could move forward and what steps I could take to incorporate these changes into my day. Adelle was also able to support me with any dietary challenges or lifestyle tweaks, as I fed back the status of my blood tests. As Adelle is vegan herself, I trusted her approach and felt confident that she was leading by example.
Now, this is the great part. After 6 months, I am healthier, more active and more significantly for me, free from my medication, as my diabetes is officially in remission! I was thoroughly praised by my NHS Diabetic Nurse for my hard work, acknowledging that the plan I had taken, had worked!
Annabelle, Client (2020)
A Holistic Approach
Like Annabelle, by making positive lifestyle changes, you too may be able to achieve remission of Type 2 diabetes, even if you’ve been suffering from the disease for a while. However, it's important to work with your doctor and health practitioners when it comes to finding out the right medical approach to suit you and your goals*.
As part of a holistic approach to managing life with Type 2 diabetes, here are a few things to consider:
Gen Up on the Facts - Prevention is always better than cure. However, if you are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, your GP and your Diabetic Nurse should be your first port of call for information or more specifically for information about YOUR diabetes. They can also signpost other credible resources such as support groups, refer you to programmes like DESMOND or diabetes charities which may be helpful. The NHS website also is a useful resource to learn more.
Make Healthy Food Choices - Losing weight, or maintaining a healthy weight, is one way you can prevent Type 2 diabetes. But whether you need to lose weight or not, it is still important to make healthier food choices. Eating whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and pulses, like beans and lentils, can help to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes (Diabetes UK).
As Annabelle discovered, whole food plant-based diets present an opportunity to reverse diabetes. Michael Greger M.D. FACLM from NutritionFacts.org shares an interesting video "Plant-Based Diets Recognized by Diabetes Associations" (June 2019), which shares how the US & Canada Diabetes Associations are now on board with listing plant-based diets as one of the dietary patterns acceptable for the management of the condition.
Going plant-based doesn't mean being boring!
There are some fantastic websites and cookbooks to help you whip up something wonderful, whilst still working on your health goals. I highly recommend the How Not to Die Cookbook and the Forks Over Knives website & app to my clients.
Keeping Active - When it comes to being active, it doesn’t matter whether it’s something small and new, or just a little bit more of something you already do. Some of the benefits of being active with diabetes include; helping your body use insulin better, look after your blood pressure (as high blood pressure means you’re more at risk of diabetes complications), improve your cholesterol and helps you to lose weight.
However, being active also benefits your mind! Exercise releases endorphins and is proven to reduce stress levels and improve low mood.
For people with Type 2 diabetes, like Annabelle, being active can help you improve your HbA1c. You can find out more about keeping active at Diabetes UK.
Reduce Stress - Stress is something everyone feels at times, and all kinds of stressful situations can be a part of our daily life. Our bodies natural reaction to stress is known as the 'fight or flight' response, where our body releases the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, so we can stand our ground to fight or run away from a threat.
This was helpful when we lived in a time where we had to run away from bears. But these days, our bodies are bombarded with lots of 'stressors', where we have become accustomed to accepting that it's just the norm (watch out for my next blog on stress). We 'adapt rather than deal' with things, as Annabelle put it. Unfortunately, our bodies can't tell the difference meaning we can be living with the 'fight or flight' switch constantly on!
Constant stress from long-term problems with blood glucose can also wear you down mentally and physically. This may make managing your diabetes difficult (Healthline, 2020).
Jennifer Purdie (2020) outlines some of the effects of stress concerning diabetes and shares a few things that you can do to help manage it in her article "Stress: How it Affects Diabetes and How to Decrease it" on Healthline.
Work with a Health Coach - Whether you've been recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or have been managing for a while, being armed with the facts, knowing who your health practitioners are and when & where you can access them is essential. But sometimes knowing what to do with all that information can feel overwhelming. Where do I start, what should I work on first or how will I fit that in with my family, my social circle or work?
A health coach bridges the gap between 'knowing and doing'.
Sometimes it takes someone from outside of your circle to help you take a deep breath, a step back and help you to look at what you want to achieve. Then work with you to build a plan to help you get there.
For Annabelle, her end goal was to reverse her diabetes. She chose to work with me as her Health Coach to help her keep that laser focus in between her medical appointments, stay motivated and be accountable for the choices she was going to make to get there... and boy did she get there!
If you're committed to regaining control of your health, make lasting changes to your lifestyle or simply need someone to help you get out of your own way, then let's talk!
Book your Free 30 Discovery Call with Adelle
*Adelle Adams CNM Dip.HC is a qualified Health Coach (College of Naturopathic Medicine) and a member of the UK Health Coaches Association. As a certified Health Coach and Wellness Specialist, Adelle primarily educates and motivates clients to assume more personal responsibility for their health by adopting a healthy attitude, lifestyle, and diet. Articles posted are not a substitute for professional medical or nutritional advice and treatment.