Stories

Kevin: “I sleep better and I feel more alert”

Kevin: “I sleep better and I feel more alert”

Kevin is the sole carer for his wife, and after attending his annual health check with his GP, he was advised to go on statins. He decided that he’d rather make a change to his lifestyle and came across an article referring to Second Nature as a good option for people looking for an alternative to traditional ‘diet plans’. Kevin is now sleeping better, has more energy, and feels he is able to provide better care for his wife.

A bit about you

I am 67, retired, and the sole carer for my wife who has Alzheimer’s. I used to be more active but as her condition has deteriorated, that has reduced. One of the “perks” of being a carer is you get a free annual health check. At the last one in November I knew the results would be going in the wrong direction. The doctor wanted me to go on statins. I said I’d prefer to improve my fitness and save the NHS the money.

The doctor said that in his experience, most people only improve their reading by 3 or 4%, though one person managed to achieve a 30% improvement. I said we could have another conversation about this in a year. I had just started getting carers in for a few hours a week which allowed me to get out walking again. In January I read an article about diets, which was critical of many of them, but recommended what was then Our Path – now Second Nature. It was run under the auspices of the NHS and provided an evidence-based programme for a way of living.

I sent off for the pack and registered to join. I was due to start on 13th January but the health box arrived on the 9th, so I started my new approach to food straight away!

Easy to adapt to

The proportions on the plate were really easy to understand. But the portion sizes of carbohydrates surprised me. I usually had muesli and yoghurt for breakfast but the proportions were the wrong way round. 2-3 servings of carbs a day were completely different, as was having protein with fruit and only a couple of portions of fruit a day. I try to have a carb-free meal in the evening with 2:1 non-starchy veg: protein. I was used to having alcohol every day and somewhat more than 21 (now revised to 14) units a week. Plus I would have several cups of tea and a 4 cup cafetière of coffee a day.

I now have alcohol at the weekends only and try to limit it to 14 units or fewer, a mug of green tea and a small cafetière of coffee in the morning, then water for the rest of the day. I usually don’t eat between meals. As I lost weight my belt went in a notch and then another!

Daily support from the health coach

The chat section of the app is a boon which provides mutual support and practical suggestions on recipe variations. You can raise issues with your health coach – Naomi is helpful and always offers guidance. I don’t have a Fitbit and don’t want one so Naomi provided a ready reckoner for various activities, e.g walking, so I can calculate the steps I have taken dependent on the time taken.

After a discussion with Naomi, she supported a third weight target but was careful to ensure I didn’t lose too much. I am aiming to get my BMI about mid-centre of the range. The articles are a mine of information and cover a wide range of issues. They provide an evidence base for the Second Nature approach and it is comforting to know that what is being advocated is backed up by good research.

The programme is easy to follow, and combined with the support of others in your group and your health coach, it makes a powerful combination to change for the better. The great thing is it’s sustainable as you are aiming to live it so it becomes Second Nature.

How do you feel now?

I sleep better than I did. I feel more alert and willing to do exercise. The discipline of recording your weight regularly and tracking your steps is motivating. It’s good to have a record of your progress, I have more energy which enables me to better care for my wife!

Any advice for your peers?

Just keep going! My meal planning is choosing the protein with the nearest use by date and having a load of veg to choose from. There’s no waste. Rice and pasta last much longer than they used to as the portions have reduced significantly. Give it go!

You can read more Second Nature stories here.

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Woman holding phone with Second Nature

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