"I learned so much and didn't find it challenging at all to stick to my individual plan."
Valerie heralds a much healthier future
A Leeds woman, who has lived with the risk of diabetes for the past 25 years, was finally prompted to take action after she signed up for the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme in the city.
Valerie Bailey, 56, was first informed that she had a higher probability of Type 2 diabetes when, aged 31, she was expecting her first child. During a more recent health check, the risk was highlighted once again and, this time, Valerie decided she was going to do something about it.
"I willingly signed up for the programme because I knew that not doing anything meant a higher chance my health would suffer and that this would have a significant impact on my life," said Valerie.
Her Caribbean parents and grandmother all had diabetes and she saw first-hand how their lives were affected by the disease. "While I had previously put off the decision to take action, my doctor's advice kept ringing in my ears and I knew the time was right to do something about it."
Valerie enrolled on the 10-month Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, run by health services provider Ingeus, which helps participants understand how simple, achievable actions can make all the difference.
"It was an excellent programme. I learned so much and didn't find it challenging at all to stick to my individual plan," added Valerie. "Mine was to take more exercise, know what to look for on food labels and be more careful in what I eat. They were positive, achievable things I could do to bring down my risk.
"The group really helped. I got a lot of encouragement and we shared some practical ideas for making changes to our diet and physical activity, like walking up and down the stairs twice, it all adds up."
Once the programme was completed, Valerie was delighted to have dropped two dress sizes.
"I feel so much better in myself. Plus, losing weight as given me an incentive to keep it off."
As a mother of two now grown-up children, and a grandmother to a five-year-old grandson, Valerie is particularly proud of the fact she has been able to pass on her newfound knowledge.
"With diabetes in the family, it was important to me to share what I learned. Now we cook with less fat, cut back on portions and bring in healthier alternatives. I'm always scrutinising the fat content on labels now."
Ingeus educator, Tasha Youngman led the programme Valerie attended. She added, "The first question we ask our participants is whether they want to change their lifestyles to remain healthy. That's our objective. Valerie fully committed to this, and she's a great illustration of how the course has made a real difference, to herself and to her family."