Sophia, a 55-year-old mother of two, was surprised when a routine health check showed that her blood sugar levels had gone beyond the normal range. “I thought I led a reasonably healthy life. For several years, I’d swum twice a week and also did Pilates twice a week.

“My doctor was surprised too, and offered me medication; but I wanted to see what I could achieve through my own efforts before resorting to chemical assistance. My employer was offering staff the opportunity to attend Diabetes Victoria diabetes prevention sessions, so I went along. I filled in a risk assessment, which showed that I was at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. At the end of the assessment I was asked if I would like to be contacted; I said yes, and that’s how I got onto the Life! program.

“I chose the Telephone Health Coaching option, and my Coach patiently supported me through my sessions.”

Setting goals was important to Sophia. “My first goal was to eliminate my high blood sugar level – I absolutely believed I could change it and my coach supported me in that process. The fact that she was there, on the phone every month, really encouraged me. Making a commitment to my Coach that I would try my hardest made me even more serious about achieving my goals. To me, that person-to-person commitment is vital.”

Sophia found that her Coach’s expertise was helpful in discerning credible information. “I like to do my own research, and there’s a great deal of information on the net. It was useful to have Helen’s guidance on what advice was worth following and what wasn’t. The information in the program workbook was extremely useful too. It really forced me to think about my eating habits, and during my time on the program I significantly changed my lifestyle and choice of food.

“Christmas was approaching, so I set myself a goal to avoid all sweet desserts, and I kept to it. By the time you get to dessert, you’re usually full and don’t need to eat anything else – but the eyes are greedy, aren’t they? Also, I work in the city, where there are so many cheap eats, which are yummy… and bad for you! I was going out to those places for my lunch almost every day, so I limited myself to one lunch out each week.”

Being on the Life! program also prompted Sophia to think about the amount of exercise she was getting. “I thought I was doing enough with my evening swimming and Pilates, but I was hardly walking during the day. I was actually quite sedentary. So I rallied the people who sit near me at work to my cause and we started walking at lunch times. I also started getting off the bus or tram a few stops earlier.”

Her participation in the Life! program combined with her imaginative tactics produced the results Sophia wanted. “My blood sugar level dropped down to normal pretty quickly, and my weight came tumbling down, even though I hadn’t actually been focusing on losing weight. Actually, I got down to my pre-having-children weight, which is a real bonus!”