Type 2 Diabetes – Reversal with Lifestyle Change

MEET DAMIEN – (2004 – 2013) Doing no exercise, 19 stone in weight, a smoker, on medication for gout and blood pressure, diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and  taking Diabetes medication to reduce the damage caused by high blood glucose to his eyes, heart, kidneys, limbs in fact, the entire body. Damien’s diabetes consultant was not a happy man. Damien needed to change and admits not being happy with himself.


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Damien tells us “In March of 2014 my company had a bonding day.  The after-dinner speaker was a guy called Gerry Duffy who had completed 32 marathons in 32 days. He showed us pictures of himself before he started running.  What I was looking at was a slim athlete who told us that anyone could do it.  The following day, I said to myself ‘if Gerry can, I can’.  I started out on the Killala Road and built up to 3 miles.  It wasn’t easy but it was pleasing when I ran 3 miles without having to stop. Within 4 months, I ran my first half marathon. By the end of the year I had ran another half marathon and generally was running 4 times a week. The weight started to fall off and I was noticing it big time in my clothes”

“2015 brought more half marathons, a few 10 mile races and numerous 10k’s, I had joined Ballina AC at this stage and met a great bunch of running buddies and motivators.

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Damien 54 mins

“Health wise my blood sugars had levelled off, my consultant told me because of the exercise and weight loss I was heading towards reversing the diabetes”. My Diabetes consultant was a happy man and he was impressed.


Background on Reversal of Type 2 Diabetes: A research team at Newcastle University have  shown that type 2 diabetes is not inevitably progressive and life-long. They have demonstrated that in many people who have had type 2 diabetes for up to 10 years, major weight loss returns insulin secretion to normal. It has been possible to work out the basic mechanisms which lead to type 2 diabetes. Too much fat within the liver and pancreas prevents normal insulin action and prevents normal insulin secretion. Both defects are reversible by substantial weight loss. Studies have yet to be published/completed as to whether the reversal is permanent when lifestyle changes are maintained.

Damien continues “In 2016, I started the year by joining the local Parkrun and was still getting out 4 to 5 times a week. By now I was off all medication for diabetes.  In March,  I had a check-up and was removed from the Diabetes Programme. I had reversed Type 2 Diabetes and am conscious that I will need to maintain my current lifestyle to try and keep Type 2 reversed.  By July, I began a club training programme with a great bunch of people for the Dublin City Marathon….in October we crossed the line in Merrion Square, first Marathon complete….Everest was climbed……or was it ???….is there more ??

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    I have lost circa 6 stone to date since starting my journey. I said once that one of the perks of losing a lot of weight is being called Jesus… you meet someone who hasn’t seen you in a while .. they say “Jesus.. where is the rest of you”!

“This story does not fully echo the journey I went through, the people I met and the inspiration I received from family and friends.

“There is a point I would really like to get across.  You don’t have to run or go at it like I did”

“The weight started to fall off me when I was doing 3 to 5 miles a day, four times a week. My Marathon training actually didn’t contribute in a big way as I had to take in carbohydrates and sugars to cover my long runs”

Here are my top tips if you are starting walking, jogging, running for a better & healthier life:

  • Get yourself checked by your GP before embarking on anything that will increase the heart beat or make you breathless
  • Get fitted for a proper pair of runners, these will be €100 plus, but will be important in the long run for preventing injuries to your knees & hips
  • Get comfortable breathable clothes that will take sweat built up in your training – it’s good to sweat!
  • Get a wearable fitness device that you wear like a watch that will record your pace/steps. People start off sometimes thinking they want to represent their country in the next Olympics so inevitably there will be an immediate burn out and you end up disappointed in yourself. Take your time – it took time to put on the weight so it will take time to lose it. There are plenty of options on the market and the most expensive one is not necessary. If you don’t want to go down this road, the rule of thumb is, you must be able to carry a conversation, if you are gasping for breath you are going to fast. Continual training will increase your fitness level naturally.
  • If you have a local Athletic Club, I would really recommend you join up. You will have access to training programmes, physiotherapists and most important the option to join fitforlife groups where you will meet new and old friends who will motivate each other. When I started I was on my own, I really developed when I joined Ballina AC 8 months later. If you want to go alone, this is not a problem.
  • There are 8 week couch to 5K programmes which are brilliant, for me the most important week is week 9, this means you are going to continue. If you get to 5K, why not go for 10K, if you get comfortable, a half marathon.

“It is really important to enjoy what you are doing and if there is a day you feel bad but you have a jog/walk/run planned, don’t let the negative win over, go for it, when you are finished you will feel all the better”.

“Don’t let the weather phase you unless it is unsafe. Remember, you are going to have a shower anyways”

“One last thing, take the compliments when people say you look great….remember… you are inspiring someone else”

Diabetes Ireland work to  raise awareness of all forms of Diabetes and thank Damien for his wonderful inspiration and evidence that it can be done.

January 20th 2017 – Damien appeared on TV3 Morning Ireland with Anna Clarke, Diabetes Ireland, to inspire those who have Type 2 diabetes and who need to lose weight or get fit to make a start. Weight-loss and fitness can reverse Type 2 diabetes in about 80% of diagnosed Type 2’s.  However there that about 20% of people who have Type 2 diabetes not linked to lifestyle factors – other factors are at play such as genetics and complications from other illnesses or medications. Therefore you can have Type 2 diabetes, be slim, fit and eat healthy and therefore are unable to reverse it through dietary change, weight-loss and activity. Type 1 Diabetes is auto-immune, is a lifelong condition and cannot be reversed BUT research is looking for a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.

View the live TV3 Ireland AM interview here

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tv 3 team