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Jez’s story: Exercise was a huge part of my journey to remission

Jez Joseph


Going into remission filled me with a level of power and an immense amount of pride



I have a family history of diabetes. My grandmother was a nurse and lived with type 2, however I was still caught off-guard by my diagnosis. At 6ft 2in and with a naturally broad frame, I didn’t notice myself gaining weight. I was always wearing baggy clothing and it’s only now when I look back at photos, I can see it.  
The passing of my grandfather had a great impact on me, as he was undiagnosed for many years with type 2 diabetes. Then in 2012 I received my own type 2 diagnosis, which felt really significant. After struggling to manage my condition for five years, I was in a bad place. I didn’t want to be prescribed so much medication and I just didn’t know how to deal with diabetes. I had a lot of misconceptions about the condition, and it felt like I was stumbling about in the dark.


Making changes

I’m an engineer by profession, so I’m always looking for ways to solve problems, and I knew I needed to make changes. Exercise was a huge part of my journey to remission, and it was an intervention from a friend that put me on the right path to a healthier lifestyle. My friend offered to help me train in the gym, and although the training was intense, it was lovely for someone to put themselves out like that – and I was prepared to do the hard work.  
Aside from overhauling my lifestyle, I also ran the London marathon for Diabetes UK, which was my biggest challenge to date. I worried that I wouldn’t have the physical capacity, so I started speaking to a running coach who talked me through the process of training. I built myself up to a point where maybe once a week I was committing 20 per cent of my day, maybe a little more, to training. There’s no greater motivation than knowing you did something that you set out to do. From what I’ve learned, Diabetes UK do phenomenal work funding much-needed research, so if I was going to run the London marathon, it was going to have to be for them.  


Remission of type 2 diabetes

Remission happened towards the end of 2017 into early 2018. I lost over 50 kilos in weight and was able to stop taking all of my diabetes medication. The truth is, if you want to improve your health, no-one is going to do it for you. You have to put your shoes on, get out there, and do whatever you can. For me, I realised that real and permanent change was absolutely necessary.   
Getting to that remission state filled me with a level of power and an immense amount of pride, as it wasn’t something that I was able to share with my granddad, and so in a sense I  continue down that path knowing how proud he would have been of me, given that he struggled with diabetes in his later life.   
Remission gave me self-awareness, and vigilance kicked in and you come to realise that you are in control no matter how hard it is. It’s that age old saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I took that first step into understanding myself and understanding what the main elements of the problem were for me, and just tried to make those changes, slowly but surely over time.  


My determination to change led to the reversal of my DVLA medical review licence, as I improved my blood sugar levels to the point whereby, I no longer needed insulin. This meant the questions on the DVLA form didn’t apply to me anymore and they requested an overview of my health from my doctor. 
My doctor was of the view that a person with type 2 diabetes would never get rid of it and that people don’t change. However, that very much depends on the mindset of the person and I had changed in terms of my approach to my diabetes – so it was only as a result of the DVLA requesting the health check that the doctor was able to see my turnaround. 
I believe I’m one of very few people who had a medical review licence revoked and my old licence returned to me. This keeps me on track and motivated and goes to show you can make long-term permanent change.

Staying focused

To date I feel great and I’m more in tune with my body now. I would say lockdown was a hard period, not being able to go out on the streets jogging or have the freedom to exercise in the gym. I had built up a routine of fitness so I had to really adapt, and I became a lot more aware of myself and did everything I could to keep on my path. 
I will do whatever it takes to maintain my remission – it’s something I never want to let go of. When I was diagnosed at 25, I said to the nurse, “how do I get rid of it?” and she said, “you don’t, you just manage it for the rest of your life.” I just couldn’t accept that was the truth and thankfully that appears not to be the case for many people with type 2 diabetes. I’m currently living free of type 2 and not taking diabetes medication, which is the greatest motivation and a reminder to myself, that anything is possible with the right mindset.  
These days I try and motivate others. I tell them my story and offer help to anybody that wishes to at least start down the road to improving their health. I’ll happily motivate anybody that wants to achieve what I’ve managed to do. 

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