Folkestone Dad and former local chef, Ken South, got a shock wake-up call last year when he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
In March last year, 50-year old Ken was advised by a Diabetes Specialist Nurse at his local clinic that he risked serious complications unless he lost a significant amount of weight. He was 18 stone.
The thunderbolt struck - I had to change my lifestyle
Ken said: “I went home after my diagnosis and immediately started on the tablets – six a day every day. It was a shock for me and the family. My son, Charlie, was very upset watching me taking all these tablets and he was convinced I was going to die. At that moment, the thunderbolt struck and I knew I had to change my lifestyle – for my family’s sake. So that’s exactly what I did. I lost five stone in ten months (see him pictured today - and above in heavier days). More than a sack of potatoes in weight. That’s a lot of spuds! And now, amazingly, because I’ve lost so much weight I am tablet free!”
Type 2 diabetes is a serious, lifelong condition where your blood glucose level is too high. This is because your body doesn't make enough insulin or the insulin doesn't work properly. People with diabetes should always follow their GP’s advice and guidance on diet and exercise.
Changing 50 years of bad habits was hard
Ken said: “Changing 50 years of bad habits was hard. Eating healthy became my obsession and I consulted many different resources including Diabetes UK’s website. Then, I discovered cycling and that really changed my life. I had hated cycling or should I say pushing! Charlie and my wife Claire would often go for cycle rides whilst I sat at home but I had always secretly loved the idea of cycling and discovering new places. So I started following them and after I had had enough I would turn around and head home. However over the weeks my stamina improved and eventually we were all heading home together. It’s helped us bond as a family. I cycle everyday now and have created a lot of local different trails. The summer holidays saw us driving to Wales with our bikes and we went on our first ever mountain bike holiday.
Get serious about diabetes - it's a serious condition
“My friends and neighbours still can’t believe the transformation – I go to the park and I’m constantly having to reintroduce myself to people as Ken! My advice to people newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes is simple: Get serious about Diabetes – it’s a serious condition. Change your lifestyle, find something you enjoy and work hard at it. If I can do it, you can too. The reward is incredible. For me, it was seeing my son’s face light up when I told him I was off the tablets!”
Matt Hopkins, Improving Care Manager for Diabetes UK in Kent, said: “Ken’s story is incredible. He’s done such an amazing job. His story should inspire us all to get out there, eat healthy and get active. Simple lifestyle changes such as eating a balanced diet, eating more fruit and vegetables and getting more exercise are an important part of managing all types of diabetes and can reduce the risk of serious long term complications such as blindness, amputations and even early death.”