As part of Diabetes Week 2021, a north Hampshire woman has shared her story of losing weight and reversing her Type Two diabetes.

Mari Webb lost four and a half stone, approaching 30kg, of weight after collapsing at work and being advised by doctors to lose weight. She managed to take off the pounds and keep them off, acting as an inspiration to others in her weight loss group.

“I feel so much more confident,” she told the Advertiser. “I love going to group and being an inspiration to others. That’s the most amazing thing, me being an inspiration to others to lose weight.”

64-year-old Mari said that she had always been overweight from childhood, and had found it hard to lose it.

She said: “I’m from a good Irish family so we ate a lot of potatoes and things like that so weight has always been an issue.”

However, after she collapsed at work and was rushed to hospital, she found out that she had developed Type Two Diabetes, the form of the condition where blood sugar rises dramatically due to resistance to insulin.

“I was pretty devastated at that point,” she said. “I had to take lots of medication. I went from taking no tablets at all to taking a cocktail of pills, some to enable me to take others even.”

Mari was told by doctors to lose weight, but found it difficult to do so without a plan.

“Diabetes changed my life completely,” she said. “I had to be really careful about everything that I ate and I felt like an old lady. I had to be really careful about the things I did and I had to explain I couldn’t have certain things when I went out and tell people at work.”

A former colleague then invited her to join her virtual slimming group, which wasn’t something she had considered before.

“I’ve never fancied going to slimming groups or anything, it’s always put me off,” she said. “But my friend persuaded me to join her virtual group, and she guided me through it and inspire me.

“That’s when I started on the journey. I’ve looked at it not as a diet but a lifestyle change and that’s really what’s happened.”

Mari joined Slimming World classes, which uses an ethos of ‘food optimisation’, where participants take a variety of steps to control what they eat.

“There’s nothing really that you can’t have, but there are some you have to weight and measure and others, like vegetables and fruit, which should make up three quarters of the plate,” she said. “You feel like you’re having a big meal but you’re filling up on the good stuff.”

Mari has also cut out processed foods and swapped higher calorie drinks for lower calorie alternatives, so she can keep enjoying her favourite dishes. The method also uses ‘sins’, where certain foods are allowed but only up to a certain amount, with Mari using hers on sauces like mayonnaise. Looking back on her weight loss, she’s proud of what she’s achieved.

“I’ve come down from a size 24 to a size 14,” she said, “and I went to have diabetes checks in the middle of last year and they told me I could come off medication because my diabetes was already showing as normal!

“I’ve managed to get to my goal and it’s been really easy because I don’t feel tempted, I make a plan and have something to eat when I get home, so I don’t go snacking on sandwiches or chips.

“I’ve managed to keep it off and I’m off all medication now. I feel brilliant, I’m going back to the gym and it’s been really successful. The only thing I really regret is that I didn’t try this years ago.”