Stories

Second Nature Stories: an interview with Alexis

Alexis was referred to the programme by his GP as part of the National Diabetes Prevention Programme, where Second Nature is one of four digital providers nationwide. Alexis’ journey through our programme was a remarkable one, so we decided to arrange a call with Alexis so he could tell us why he’s found the programme so beneficial. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I competed at a high level as a rower and represented Gibraltar at the 1986 Commonwealth Games. I’m a registered physiotherapist and previously worked in professional football.

With my work in physiotherapy and rehabilitation, I was familiar with the relevant information and guidance around health and wellness, but I didn’t tend to follow the principals around exercise and nutrition as the players I was working with did.

I like to scuba dive and I tried to keep more active but you never think ill health is going to happen to you.

What led you onto the programme?

I went for a check-up with my GP and my blood pressure was increasing and I was diagnosed as having pre-diabetes. I was not prepared to go on any medication and my GP suggested I join the National Diabetes Prevention Programme; I couldn’t attend the face-to-face sessions so I opted for Second Nature. I had reservations about doing an online programme as I didn’t want to get hooked into social media, but I thought I’d give it a go.

How have you found the programme?

To be honest, it’s been an eye-opener for me. Blood pressure, poor sleep, everything starts creeping up on you and Second Nature was a big wake-up call. The biggest benefit hasn’t been the content per se, it’s been the change in my behaviour. I’m not calorie counting, not feeling guilty about my choices, and I can even enjoy chocolate mindfully.

Being on the programme has given me choices, I feel informed and it’s not dictated things for me – it guides you. I like the fact that you drip feed information, there’s never any overload.

What are some of the main positives you’ve experienced?

One of the main things is not feeling guilty about my choices, my relationship with food is very different; it’s the most positive I’ve felt for years. My blood pressure is now within the normal range, I feel more positive physically and mentally – it’s only when I look back now that you notice the changes.

I’ve been doing spinning, body pump, and yoga every week for a year and a half and I must give credit to the other coaches. The programme is making me realise that if you’re tired or late for work, you should factor other things in. Think about your work-life balance; it’s given me the chance to reset a lot of things.

What’s the biggest thing that’s worked for you?

The focus on behaviour change, I’ve learnt a lot through the things my health coach Robbie spoke about, but it’s not enough to just plant the seed. You only get as much out of it as you put in. I can’t give enough credit to the behaviour change elements. We all know what we need to do, but we don’t always do it. We need a helping hand and the programme does that.

What has the programme taught you?

I’m now aware of the health impacts that our lifestyle can bring. The science, physiology and how the information is delivered is excellent. There is a difference between reading and knowing, and acting on it. It helped me act on it without thinking.

I’ve also learnt a lot about goal setting and looking at distorted thoughts.

How are you getting on now?

Everyone around me has noticed the changes I’ve made. Previously I would’ve gone by the physical measures; they’re the last things I would worry about right now, the most important thing is how I feel.

I’m doing a long distance 100km walk in the summer and this programme has changed me, I’m a different a person.

This is why I would recommend the programme. You can’t sit back and make excuses. If you have the desire, this gives you all the tools. Before I didn’t have the toolbox, but now I have the tools and how to use them.

You can read more Second Nature stories here.

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