Research has shown that, if you come from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) background, you are more likely to develop diabetes, hypertension and other diseases. These conditions increase the risk of contracting COVID-19 coronavirus.
The possibility of developing diabetes and hypertension goes up if you are overweight. Therefore, one of the ways to reduce the risk of developing these conditions involves having a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Hypertension is known as the silent and deadly killer disease, as often there are no symptoms until it is really serious. You can purchase a blood pressure monitor from the local pharmacy, so you can regularly keep a check on your blood pressure reading. If you are on medication, it is only effective if taken regularly as prescribed – not just when you remember or feel like it. Speak to your GP if you have concerns.
I know people who have reversed their diabetes just by changing their diet and increasing their exercise. Two books I suggest you read, to encourage you in taking control of your diet and diabetes, are: The Inspired Diabetic by Lyndon Wissart www.theinspireddiabetic.com, who successfully reversed his diabetes in 105 days naturally, and the innovative ‘Managing Diabetes: A Whole Food Approach’ by Pauline Byers MBE, who received a Diversity Award and her honours from the Queen. The book has recipes and a daily exercise diary.
I decided at the beginning of 2020, after spending a week in Jamaica in all-inclusive hotel and enjoying the fattening Christmas food, that it was time I took control of my outsized body. If I needed any incentive, it was the holiday photos!
I was intentional. I started a new diet regime, which included reducing my carbohydrate intake. This meant I did not eat rice, potatoes, bread, yam, bananas, cakes, crisps, biscuits or ice cream for three months. I also replaced fizzy drinks with water, endeavouring to drink at least 2.5 litres of water a day.
I started slowly but surely to lose weight, and began looking forward to the weekly weigh-in. At the same time I got a personal trainer; it’s important to invest in ourselves. I know I need the incentive and motivation that comes from others encouraging me and holding me to account.
All one needs to do is have a plan, a goal, a desire, which can be developed into a lifestyle habit. I started at the beginning in January 2020 with my personal trainer, Coach Ron, who runs www.Lifebodyfittransformation.com.
I started in the gym until lockdown, then continued in the open gym, and then in the park whilst maintaining social distancing.
Coach Ron recommended intense workouts – High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – for me, as they work better for fat loss and muscle growth. Long duration cardio exercises, such as walking on the treadmill or using a cross trainer, may be good for others to do to increase their exercise level.
Everyone is different. You may just need to increase your mobility by walking a little more, but I wanted all round fitness, strength and suppleness as well as to lose excess weight. You may prefer to join the gym or go walking, jogging, cycling. Anything is good, as long as you are moving regularly and doing exercise that raises your heart rate, at least three times a week for 30 minutes. Always check with your General Practitioner (GP) before embarking on exercise.
Tips for getting fitter and staying healthy
- Keep a track of all the food you eat using a food tracker app or keeping a food diary.
- Reduce your portion sizes, fewer carbohydrates, fats and sugars, and increase vegetables and proteins.
- Find someone to hold you accountable, with whom you can share your weight loss plans.
- Get a personal trainer, if you find it challenging.
- Set achievable, realistic targets. It’s better to aim to lose 1-2lbs a week, rather than in trying to lose 2 stones in 4 weeks.
- Stay motivated by joining fitness classes, or using fitness apps.
- Drink lots of water – at least 8 glasses a day.
The church has an important part to play in helping the congregants to improve their overall fitness and health. The Black-Majority churches are more at risk. God is interested in our spirit, soul and body. Our bodies are the temple of Holy Spirit, so we should take control. My local church holds a Health Action Day every year, open to the local community also. We invite specialist doctors and nurses to teach us. We have covered topics, such as diabetes, hypertension, renal failure, menopause, prostate cancer, mental health and wellbeing.
Coach Ron is also a life coach who provides bootcamp sessions at my local church, currently done via Zoom. He offers one-to-one and group sessions online and now, with government approval, outdoors. Check him out on Instagram @lifebodyfitness and Facebook @lifebodytransformation.
Dr Joan Myers OBE has 35 years’ nursing experience. She is on the Royal College of Nursing Council, representing over 62,000 nurses in London. She is also a pastor at RICC in Croydon