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Ruth's story: how the helpline helped me to get moving

Ruth smiling as she stands outside her local swimming pool

Ruth

Diagnosed with type 2 in 2019

Calling the helpline has helped me see that moving more is something I can do; that it’s totally within my control and that it doesn’t have to be anything big or extravagant.

In her story, Ruth recalls how spotting a post about our dedicated physical activity helpline service kickstarted her journey to move more.

Diagnosis

Finding support after my diagnosis

I was diagnosed just over two years ago with type 2 diabetes. It was actually two days before my birthday, so it was a bit of a headspin. I’ve been taking medication since then, and recently I’ve started having weekly injections too. 

I am very obese, and lockdown has definitely made that worse. I didn’t really do much because of my weight and my diabetes, and I was really nervous to go outside at all last year. Even though they said you could go out once a day for exercise, I wasn’t doing that because I was scared. And because I live on my own and work from home, it meant I didn’t really see that many people.

I dip in every now and then into the Diabetes UK Support Forum; I’ve always found it a really useful place to go if I’ve got a question or just to see what other people are chatting about more generally.

I just happened to log on one day earlier this year when Francesca, one of the Physical Activity Helpline Advisors, had posted about the service she offers. When I hear the word exercise, I often think of things like Joe Wicks’ workouts - and that’s just not me. But when I saw Francesca’s posts about introducing more movement and activity - rather than exercise - into your life, I thought ‘let’s give it a go!’.    

Activity

Starting my journey to move more

Before lockdown I was more active. One of my jobs was as a walking tour guide, so it involved a lot of steps and being on my feet. But then during the lockdown, I did nothing.

Where I live is also quite close to the beach, so where I would normally go for a walk was packed with other people as soon as the weather was nice. That made me feel uneasy, and when you live on your own - you don’t really have anyone to talk you out of that mindset. Once I had it in my mind that it was too scary to go outside, that was it - I wasn’t going out. 

I knew that I needed to do something to take control of my diabetes, so that pushed me to get help from Francesca. Back in January, I had received my latest HbA1c results which was the highest it had ever been. I know I’m not very good at doing things on my own and that I need a bit of support or help - so after seeing her post in the forum, I decided to reach out to the helpline. 

Rethinking 'exercise' 

The sessions were really good; Francesca was very good at listening to where I was coming from, but also at helping me to reframe things and just think about ‘movement’, rather than exercise.

I think there’s so much in the media and online about exercise and huge goals or milestones like running 10k or a marathon - but actually what Francesca was really good at helping me to think about was what counts as movement. Putting a song on and dancing? That’s moving. And that really helped me to see that any type of movement is good. 

Calling the helpline has helped me see that moving more is something I can do; that it’s totally within my control and that it doesn’t have to be anything big or extravagant - it can fit into my everyday life and it’s so much easier than I first thought. 

I’ve definitely incorporated dancing a bit more into my days, but through chatting to Francesca I’ve also remembered how much I enjoy swimming. In the last month I’ve been able to join my local leisure centre and I’m swimming twice a week at the moment - I absolutely love it.

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