Labour heavyweight Tom Watson on how he lost 8 stone and reversed Type-2 diabetes – Mirror Online

January 16th, 2020 8:43 am

When a stranger at a party told Tom Watson he thought he had diabetes, he was horrified.

But even after being officially diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, it took years for Tommy Two-Dinners to change his life.

A landmark birthday was the final straw for the former MP and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and the start of a new regime which led to him losing a whopping eight stone.

Here, in an exclusive extract from his new book Downsizing, he reveals how...

I celebrated my 50th birthday on January 8, 2017 with a huge knees-up.

I booked brilliant covers band Rockaoke, laid on a free bar for the first hour or so and put on a giant buffet of my favourite sweet and savoury treats - the centrepiece an enormous cake in the shape of a large grey robot sporting my signature black-framed glasses.

The following morning I woke nursing the mother of all hangovers. Half of me felt elated because the party had gone so well but the other half felt sad and solemn.

The reality of my midlife milestone had finally started to sink in.

All my fifty-something contemporaries at the party, to a man and a woman, looked fitter, slimmer and younger than me. FIFTY AND FAB! proclaimed a birthday card. FIFTY AND FAT, more like, Id thought as Id opened it.

A voice seemed to float up from my subconscious. I dont want to die. I really dont want to die.

At well over 22 stone - the heaviest Id ever been perhaps premature death was an inevitability though.

Morbid thoughts began to swirl around my head the prospect of leaving my beloved kids fatherless; being unable to see Malachy and Saoirse grow up; never meeting my grandchildren and I felt my eyes brimming with tears.

Its time, Tom, continued the voice. Enough is enough. If you dont address your weight, you are actually going to die...

I reached for a notebook and pen and wrote three words: Project Weight Loss.

Monday August 7, 2017 was Day One. It was, at last, time for me to regain control.

I turned up a few minutes early for my first appointment with personal trainer Clayton, feeling anxious and self-conscious. I looked colossal in my new sports gear even the XXXL kit was a pretty snug fit.

First of all, Clayton asked me to do as many press-ups as I could. I could barely manage one the utter shame and collapsed in a pathetic heap.

But my desire to get healthy superseded any sense of indignity, and as I virtually crawled back home I felt a genuine feeling of elation.

Claytons session had almost killed me but I was going to return for more of the same. The switch had been flicked.

Determined to curb my long-term sugar addiction, I made a concerted effort to omit sugary carbohydrates from my diet (so no cakes, biscuits or chocolates) and I tried my best to limit starchy carbs like bread, rice, pasta and potatoes. I endeavoured to drink more water and eat more vegetables, and try to make more home-cooked meals.

The morning after my inaugural workout, I tackled a job that had desperately needed doing for months: a wholesale clear-out of my little kitchen.

This meant bidding farewell to sweet snacks (goodbye, my beloved KitKats) as well as my favourite breakfast cereals and muesli bars. Nothing remotely sugary was spared the cull.

Even many of the supposedly savoury convenience foods were laden with sugar (61.2g in a supermarket sweet n sour chicken, no less), so into the bin went a stack of microwaveable meals, shrink-wrapped frozen pizzas, tubs of instant noodles and jars of cooking sauces.

Then it was time to clear the fridge of Guinness and Coca-Cola: the drinks Id swigged more than any other in my lifetime, but which had no doubt contributed to my health problems.

I returned to Westminster in early September, following the parliamentary recess, eating more healthily, exercising more regularly and sleeping more soundly.

Then I was introduced to the low-carb, high-fat philosophy of so-called ketogenic nutrition which comprised meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, oils and vegetables. All manner of starchy carbohydrates (pasta, rice, grains and potatoes, for example) were strictly forbidden, as were sugary carbs in all their many guises.

In the first week of October I decided to fully embrace a ketogenic diet.

Id restrict starchy carbohydrates to around 20g per day and opt instead for protein-rich foods plenty of red meat, poultry, fish and dairy in addition to low-sugar fruits and vegetables like blueberries and broccoli.

To combat sugar withdrawal cravings and stop myself feeling hungry, Id increase the amount of saturated fat in my diet (including butter, cheese and double cream).

Alcohol would be strictly limited to the occasional glass of dry white wine or a vodka and low-sugar tonic.

I remember sitting down and formulating a meal plan for the week before heading off to Tesco.

Into the trolley went lamb chops, salmon steaks, chicken thighs, leafy greens and mixed salad for my main dishes. Then, for desserts, I grabbed punnets of blackberries and raspberries (both had lower fructose levels) as well as tubs of full-fat Greek yoghurt and double cream.

For snacking, I stocked up on my favourite hard and soft cheeses, and threw in a few large bags of unsalted walnuts and macadamia nuts.

My first day on the diet was Monday October 9 2017. For breakfast, I ate a two-egg omelette, with two rashers of fried bacon cooked in butter. Lunch comprised scrambled egg, again with two rashers of bacon (I still couldnt quite believe that two of my favourite foodstuffs were part of a diet).

My snack quota comprised a small handful of nuts and, when I felt a serious hunger pang, a few blackberries with double cream.

Later that day I went out for dinner with friends. That evening I eschewed my regular order of chicken dhansak, tarka dhal and peshwari naan, instead opting for tandoori chicken and a small serving of saag paneer (a tasty dish of Indian cheese with spinach puree).

As my first day on keto came to a close, my stomach felt pleasantly full. I hadnt suffered any energy slumps and had genuinely enjoyed the food Id eaten.

On days four, five and six I did experience some cravings, yet I always managed, somehow, to quell the hunger pangs by gulping down a big dollop of thick double cream. I would be lying, though, if I said this felt like a normal thing to do.

By the beginning of Keto Week Two I was waking up feeling absolutely bloody brilliant. The general malaise that used to greet me when my alarm went off aching joints, sore back, banging head, breathlessness simply disappeared.

Initially I had shed nearly two stone in two months. But when I applied strict ketogenic nutrition principles I began to see remarkable results.

After just one week, I lost seven pounds. I was totally and utterly elated. This may sound melodramatic but, apart from the birth of my kids, it was the best week of my life.

Technically, once the NHS tells you youre a type 2 diabetic, youre always a type 2 diabetic. But in January 2018, a blood test indicated Id put my type 2 diabetes into remission.

On Monday 10 June, 2019 I hit my eight-stone weight-loss target, just under two years after commencing my diet and fitness plan.

Though delighted to have shed every one of those 112 pounds I found myself being dogged by a deeper question.

If I hadnt lost that eight stone, would I still be alive today?

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Labour heavyweight Tom Watson on how he lost 8 stone and reversed Type-2 diabetes - Mirror Online

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