'How I beat my family diabetes curse'

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Marlon has lost three family members to diabetes, while his brother is facing a possible leg amputation. He assumed he was the exception to the disease, it turns out he wasn't.

It was a warm and windy summer morning in 2014, and it felt really hard to scamper out of bed. Like any other family guy, I thought struggling to push myself to beat the morning rush was normal. My first ritual was to sip two or three mugs of brewed coffee with 3 tablespoons of white sugar. I stepped onto the digital scales and, no surprise, I was 95 kgs. Just a bit of a fat belly – overweight but not obese. I’m 40 - maybe it’s just dad bod.

I was about put on my trousers when my phone rang. An early morning call from my GP’s reception. I was told I had to see her because the result of my glucose tolerance test was available.

As I struggled to squeeze into my trousers, I knew it was going to be bad news. I had gained a significant amount of weight a year after changing work from the swine farm to basically a sedentary sales and marketing role in a training organisation.

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Around 11 million Australians have one of eight major chronic conditions – that’s almost half the population.
Around 11 million Australians have one of eight major chronic conditions – that’s almost half the population.

I went to my GP before going to work and was told that my glucose result was on the higher end. That also explains why I had been feeling so fatigued after lunch. I was also diagnosed with fatty liver.

Like my brother and my cousins, I would now have to take pills for type-2 diabetes.

It runs in our blood. My dad died from kidney failure as a complication of this dreadful metabolic disease. Two of my first cousins on my father’s side died of it too. My only surviving male first cousin has to take diabetes pills every day and has insulin shots regularly. Even worse – my only brother, who is four years younger than me, has had it since he is 25. His case is so severe that he may have to get one of his lower limbs amputated soon.

I had assumed that I was the exception to this disease in the family but maybe I was wrong. I had been too complacent.

I knew that I would have to take the medication for life and later would possibly have to inject insulin like my other family members do.

There had to be another way. My GP said the only thing she could recommend was to change my lifestyle – get some exercise, eat healthier and lose some weight.

"I look good, feel good and don’t have to take any medication."

I was referred to see an exercise physiologist. I would have to shed some weight, cut back most sugary food and limit my rice intake. I was given some aerobic exercises and was told to do at least 30 mins on a bike or run for 45 minutes for three times a week.

I joined a gym and got some help from a personal trainer to work with both aerobics and weights exercise routines.

By the second month I started to feel different. I felt more active and had enough energy to finish my day. By the third month, I lost 10kgs and my GP said my sugar was significantly lower than three months before. I was told there was no longer a need for diabetes pills.

After a year, I lost 25 kilos. I look good, feel good and don’t have to take any medication. I am clear of any blood sugar issues, my kidneys are functioning efficiently and I have no issues with fatty liver – all largely thanks to the natural medication of exercise, healthy nutrition – and moderation in drinking my pale ales.

Given my family history, I thought this would be a losing battle – but the results have been enough to motivate me to keep going. I know I’ve made the right choice. It’s been over three years now and I haven’t had any signs of diabetes. There have been some ups and downs in my weight battle but whenever I feel that I’m getting heavier I know I have to get back to exercise again or I will have to swallow those bitter pills forever.

Source Insight