“I’m learn­ing to make my­self a pri­or­ity”

From di­a­betes can­di­date to a healthy, ac­tive grandma, Rachel is help­ing oth­ers im­prove their lifestyle and nu­tri­tion needs

Diabetic Living - - CONTENTS -

De­spite div­ing into a va­ri­ety of di­ets since her late teens, it was dis­cov­er­ing the holis­tic ap­proach – eat­ing as close to na­ture as pos­si­ble, in ad­di­tion to chang­ing her lifestyle – that res­onated with Rachel Wil­lis from Ho­bart.

“I had a choice. I could keep telling my­self and be­liev­ing I was al­ways on a diet or I could tell my­self ‘I am liv­ing a lifestyle change’,” says the now 55-yearold grand­mother. “It’s amaz­ing how much eas­ier it be­comes when you be­lieve you do have the choice.”

At the end of 2009, Rachel was over­weight, suf­fered chronic fa­tigue and low en­ergy lev­els, and had also started menopause.

“I re­mem­ber be­ing on all sorts of di­ets from my late teen years,” she says. “Some­times it was to lose a cou­ple of ki­los, some­times it was as much as 40kg. I al­ways man­aged to lose the weight, but I didn’t have the knowl­edge to keep it off.”

Her lifestyle habits – the weight, stress, eat­ing pro­cessed foods, not enough ex­er­cise and poor sleep – led to the doc­tor in­form­ing Rachel her blood glu­cose lev­els were ris­ing and she had pre-di­a­betes, bor­der­line type 2. It forced her to con­sider the shape of her fu­ture.

“I had a fear of hav­ing to rely on med­i­ca­tion to keep me well and the health com­pli­ca­tions that can go with hav­ing type 2,” she says. “It forced me to think about my fu­ture and what it would look like, es­pe­cially when grand­chil­dren came along. I knew I wanted to be a healthy, ac­tive grand­par­ent, and I wanted to en­joy life and have plenty of en­ergy.”

A few months later, Rachel joined a 12-week weight loss chal­lenge – which taught her how to read food la­bels, and un­der­stand the vi­ta­mins and nu­tri­ents the body needs daily – at Ho­bart Health Hub with her sis­ter. “I re­sisted at first be­cause I thought I could do it on my own,” she says. “I have al­ways been a pri­vate per­son and I was a bit scep­ti­cal, but af­ter a few weeks I was so glad I joined, and I was amazed at how much I thought I knew and didn’t.”

Sur­rounded by pos­i­tive sup­port, Rachel con­tin­ued with five con­sec­u­tive chal­lenges, los­ing 48kg in 16 months. Fol­low­ing a healthy nu­tri­tion plan, she also started walk­ing (see our walk­ing guide, on

I’m learn­ing how to make my­self a

pri­or­ity

page 120). At first it was for only 15 min­utes, but in a few months she worked up to 45-60 min­utes, five to six days a week.

Since 2009, Rachel has done things she once would never have tried. She has ab­seiled Tas­ma­nia’s Gor­don Dam, en­joyed ca­noe­ing and, just over three years ago, be­gan rid­ing a mo­tor­bike. “The change to my body af­ter six to eight weeks was amaz­ing,” she says. “I gained heaps of en­ergy, I was sleep­ing bet­ter and I was able to fo­cus bet­ter, which meant cook­ing and meal plan­ning be­came eas­ier and more doable.”

Through all of this, Rachel has kept the weight off. She brought her blood glu­cose lev­els back to nor­mal range in a few months, and now only vis­its the doc­tor for check-ups. “It is hard to be­lieve the dif­fer­ence I feel now,” she says. “When you start to no­tice the dif­fer­ence in how you feel, your en­ergy, your skin… I am rarely sick… your over­all health im­proves. It also makes you re­alise that as you age you don’t au­to­mat­i­cally have to start feel­ing old and like you’re go­ing down­hill, as they of­ten say.”

Rachel now works along­side her sis­ter at Ho­bart Health Hub, shar­ing her story and help­ing oth­ers to achieve their own health and well­ness goals.

RIGHT: Michelle in May 2017. FAR RIGHT: Michelle ab­seil­ing theGor­don Dam in April 2016.

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