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Local man changes his life through health trainer service – you can too

A local man has changed his lifestyle and dramatically improved his health, thanks to help from a Wiltshire Council health trainer.

Graham Laurenson, aged 50 from Melksham, decided to seek help from the free council service following an eye opening visit to his GP for his NHS Health Check.

Graham explains, “I knew I had been lazy for a while, and eating and drinking whatever I wanted, but stepping on the scales with a bit of trepidation, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was about 20 Kg more than I had guessed, and even that was a bit of an over-estimate. My cholesterol and blood pressure weren’t too bad, but personally, inside I was cringing.”

Keen to make changes but not sure where to start, Graham remembered previously reading information about Wiltshire Council’s health trainer service online. Graham filled out the simple online self-referral form and a few days later Emily Edwards, one of the council’s health trainers, set up an initial appointment with him.

Graham recalls the appointment, “It wasn’t what I expected – she didn’t criticise me, and listened intently to my concerns and needs. I registered, and we made a date for two weeks’ time, during which, I’d fill out a food diary, to see where I was going wrong – or right. I also bought some scales.”

Emily analysed Graham’s food diary and was able to advise on what changes could be made to his diet and set some achievable targets.

During that week Graham also found out, through the results of a blood test, that he was Type 2 Diabetic, with an HbA1C reading of 52 which added to his determination to make lifestyle changes.

Graham explains what changes he made to his diet, “I now have some fruit for breakfast, either at home, or as soon as I get to my desk. Drink more water throughout the day, and eat smaller portions, with more fruit as snacks. I had, and still do have my ‘treats’, but they are more sustainable, now that I am being good for most of the rest of the week. It isn’t a diet, but just a combination of mostly healthy eating combined with an increase in exercise: no magic formulas, or counting points.”

Graham had six appointments over 12 weeks with Emily and during that time he lost two and a half stone. As a result of his change of eating habits and doing more exercise Graham also found out his diabetic HbA1C eventually dropped to 36 – back to normal and pre-diabetic levels.

Graham sums up the positive difference it has made to him, “It’s a way of life now, not a diet.”

Emily Edwards, Graham’s health trainer, said, “I’m really proud at what he achieved, and the fact that it’s a lifestyle now, not a fad diet. If only more people would take the slow and steady approach like he has I’m sure they would see the same positive results.”

Wiltshire Council cabinet member for public health, Jerry Wickham said: “Graham’s story is a fantastic example of what can be achieved through our health trainer programme. All we ask is that people are committed and determined to make those positive changes and our health trainers will work with them every step of the way to help them achieve what they want to. I hope Graham proves to be an inspiration to others.”

If people want to find out more about health trainers and self-refer to the service, they should visit www.wiltshire.gov .uk/public-health-trainers or call 0300 003 4566. The service is free and available for people aged 18 and over.