A morbidly obese man who feared he wouldn’t live to see his 50th birthday revealed how he lost nearly half of his body weight and reversed his type 2 diabetes in just over a year.
Ian Atkinson, 48, from Brechin, Angus, who once tipped scales at more than 22 stone, shed ten stone after being told that his diet of around 5,000 calories a day would put him in hospital.
The father-of-two was regularly eating fry-ups in service stations, while travelling for work. He was given a reality check in September 2016, when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and dangerously high blood sugar levels.
Since losing nearly half his body weight, Ian has been running marathons in Scotland and abroad.
Ian Atkinson, 48, (pictured) from Brechin, Angus, who weighed over 22 stone at his heaviest, revealed how running helped him to shed excess weight and put his diabetes into remission
The 48-year-old (pictured before) saw his weight escalate from eating 5,000 calories a day, while relying on service stations for regular fry-ups
Ian imposed a strict diet, began seeing a personal trainer and started running to put his diabetes in remission – something doctors say is extremely rate.
His wife Charlie, 46, joked that people in their town thought she was having an affair when they saw the couple together, because Ian looks so different.
Ian said: ‘It is very rare to be able to reverse it – doctors do say it’s doable.It is total stubbornness.
‘I was 22-and-a-half stone, I had just been diagnosed with type 2 diabete and I had a blood sugar level of 26.
‘My levels were so high I could’ve been hospitalised and needed to do something about it straight away.
‘I travelled a lot working for a national company, spending time in hotels eating a lot of cooked breakfasts, service stations and entertaining.
‘It was a terrible diet, lots of nights out and eating with friends – lots of alcohol and crisps.
Ian (pictured before) arranged a consultation with a personal trainer in 2018, without telling his wife Charlie, 46, and their children Jacob, 19, and Alyssa, 17
Ian’s diet before…
Lunch: From local baker whilst at work, 2 x steak pies or sausage roll and crisps
Dinner: Large mixed kebab and chips from takeaway plus 3-4 beers and a bottle of wine
Snacks: Crisps, wine gums, pepperamis or snack salamis, nuts or biscuits
Average daily kcal 4500-5000 kcal
…Ian’s diet after
Breakfast: Low fat Greek yoghurt, granola, blueberries and raspberries (350kcal)
Lunch: Bowl of vegetable soup or rice cakes with lean ham or chicken and salad (500kcal)
Dinner: Grilled chicken breast, brown rice, roasted mix vegetables and tomatoes(750kcal)
Snacks: Rice cake with chicken breast, fruit especially apples and bananas
Drinks: Water or gin and diet tonics
Total average kcal intake approx 1850-2000 kcal. (Upped to 2400 kcal when marathon training)
‘I was consuming 4,000 to 5,000 calories a day, maybe more sometimes.’
Realising he couldn’t take much more, Ian decided to shed the excess weight.
In February 2018 he arranged a consultation with a personal trainer, without telling his wife or children Jacob, 19, and Alyssa, 17.
Ian said: ‘I had a lot of negative stuff going on in my life.
‘I was 46 and thought I wouldn’t get to 50.
‘The first time I went to the gym it was a disaster – I felt like I was going to pass out.
‘But I carried on and everyone was really good and helpful – it made such a difference.’
The fitness expert advised Ian to keep track of his calorie and nutritional intake and, with a mixture of a balanced diet and plenty of exercise, he was able to drop from a size 48-50 inch waist to 30 inch.
Since losing weight, Ian (pictured) no longer needs to take medication and is in remission for his diabetes
He also no longer needs to take medication and is in remission for his diabetes – meaning his blood sugar levels are back to normal.
Ian said: ‘I was on a drug for type 2 diabetes.
‘They told me to reduce the drugs but I have stopped taking them completely.
‘They can’t say I don’t have it but I’m in remission, which is basically as good as being diabetes free.’
In January 2019 Ian joined his local running club, the Brechin Road Runners, and now he competes in marathons and goes running most days – up to 70kms a week.
He said: ‘I started going to the gym to lose weight and getting on the treadmill and doing cardio was a big part of that.
‘When I first got on the treadmill I hated it.
‘I set myself targets to try and beat them and got into competition with myself.
Ian (pictured before) has swapped his diet of fried foods and cooked breakfasts for salads, low-fat yoghurt and fresh produce
‘Once I got into it I started really enjoying it and couldn’t stop.
‘Then I did my first outside run last January with a running group.
‘Where I live in Brechin there’s a lot of country roads with fresh air and not many cars.
‘Getting out the house is great for your mental attitude.
‘Last May I did the Edinburgh marathon then in the summer I did the Aberdeen half marathon, then another half marathon in Spain.’
By March 2019 Ian hit his target of 12-and-a-half stone.
Instead of fried foods, crisps and cooked breakfasts, Ian now eats salads, low-fat yoghurt, brown rice, fresh fruit and vegetables and gin and slimline tonic instead of beer.
Ian said: ‘Changing my diet changed my blood sugar levels massively.
Ian (pictured) advises others to join a running group, because diabetes has risks including blindness and loss of limbs
‘It can be done if you work hard enough and the rewards are massive.
‘It’s had some big effects and I can do a lot more with my kids that I couldn’t before.
‘There’s so many risks with diabetes, like blindness and losing limbs.
‘The best advice I can give anybody is join a running group – it makes a huge difference.’
Before the coronavirus lockdown was brought in, the family had been planning to move to Spain to start a holiday home management company.
Ian’s wife, Charlie, added: ‘It is incredible – for years he struggled and I tried to help him. He said he would do it for me, but I said ‘it has to be for you’.
‘Then something just clicked. It is like having a new husband, people who saw us walking around together thought I was having an affair.
‘He’s always said to the kids ‘never give up’ but now he can say he’s done it.’