One GP has had a taste of his own medicine…and is much healthier thanks to making lifestyle changes and improve his health.
Dr Donal Collins, is a GP at The Highlands Practice, which has been inviting eligible people to have a free 12-week membership to the health solutions scheme run by WW (formerly Weight Watchers).
Participating GP surgeries write to patients that they feel would benefit from the free membership to encourage them to lose weight by living a healthier lifestyle.
The surgery also encourages its staff and patients to take part in the free 5k Saturday morning Parkruns.
Often the pressures of juggling a busy work and family life can lead to unhealthy life choices – something Dr Collins found started happening to him.
He said: “About 18 months ago I was involved heavily in a lot of work, which was professionally rewarding. A key bit of the work was about preventing disease.
“However during this time my personal activity reduced, my diet was poor – I would eat between meetings or on the go.
“Wonderful patients would regularly leave boxes of biscuits and sweets as gifts of thanks which I would dutifully have with each cup of tea during the working day.
“A time came when I noticed increasing lethargy, I was really looking forward to resting and going to bed a bit earlier than before which I put down to ageing and working hard.”
Recognising he wasn’t feeling 100 per cent, Dr Collins had some blood tests done and to his horror was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
“I was mortified - how could I have let this happen?” added Dr Collins.
“A GP telling others how not to get ill, managed to do it to myself. So I decided I had to change my work life and diet and activity.”
Dr Collins gradually left some leadership positions, and with the practice started taking part in Parkrun and WW.
These changes have led not only to Dr Collins losing 12kg of weight, but more importantly has helped lower his blood sugar levels and manage his diabetes.
He added: “I feel more alive, have made new real friends and look forward with hope. My family have embraced the change and join me on the journey every day.”
And other patients have also found benefits wider than just losing weight.
Linda Spurgeon, 67, was unable to walk too far due to painful knee joints and always felt breathless.
Since joining WW she has gone from no exercise a week to two to three hours of walking and up to two hours of swimming.
She said: “As well as losing weight, it has improved my mental wellbeing and I feel so much happier in myself and much more confident.”
Ian Whitefoot, 51, joined with wife Elaine. He has been a member for 26 weeks and has lost 4st 3lb to date.
He said: “The greatest challenge was changing bad habits into good habits – and not just for me but for my whole family.
“We are benefitting from having a healthy relationship with food and gone from less than 15 minutes a day movement to 60 to 90minutes daily.”
The Highlands Practice initiative is supported by Hampshire County Council who funds the WW programme as part of a county wide project to encourage healthy living.
Each week WW advisors talk with members about food, activity and mindset.
In addition to group support, WW offer digital tools to help individuals to achieve the weight loss they need to improve their health and to reduce the risk of long-term health conditions.