An obese health expert who was ashamed of telling diabetic patients to lose weight has now conquered the condition himself thanks to a life-changing TV show – and been congratulated by his footballing hero.
Top radiographer Kevin Jones, 53, who hails from Dinas Dinlle near Caernarfon and lives in Ruthin, weighed in at more than 20 stone when S4C’s hit series FFIT Cymru began but by the end he lost 1st 13Ibs and became a lot fitter in the process.
Kevin, who regularly works at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor and the Wrexham Maelor hospital achieved his goal of reversing his own diabetes after completely changing his lifestyle.
The irony was that Kevin helped keep world class sportspeople including members of the British Olympic team in tip top condition while he was totally unfit himself.
Among the highlights of the series for the father-of-three who supports Everton Football Club was receiving a video message of congratulation from Toffees hero Duncan Ferguson.
The format of the series had to be completely changed as a result of the lockdown caused by the coronavirus crisis.
The show focused on improving the physical health and mental well-being of five leaders, including former chocoholic Kevin, who is now down to a relatively svelte 18st 7Ibs.
While Kevin’s character remains larger than life, he has vowed to continue with his new healthy lifestyle and lose even more weight.
Viewers were engrossed watching Kevin and the others tackle their demons throughout the third series made by Caernarfon-based independent TV company Cwmni Da.
He said: “It really has been life-changing. I was committed at the start seven weeks ago but I didn’t realise how much my life and that of my family would change. I took a holistic approach so it wasn’t just about food or cooking it was about exercise and mental health too.
“But following the food plan provided by series dietician Sioned Quirke made me aware of what the sugar content of every ingredient was.
“The amazing news is that after seven weeks I’m no longer taking the diabetic drug metformin and that for me is huge, it’s a massive deal. My blood sugar is now in normal ranges and has been for several weeks.
“My lung function has improved and is now equivalent to a fit 43 year old, my blood pressure is now normal too whereas it was bordering hypertension a few weeks ago.
“But you can’t forget the mental health benefits either. I used to hate the thought of walking but now Pam, my wife and I walk everyday with the family. I’ve become aware of what’s around me, the sights and sounds and it’s really therapeutic.”
Kevin, who works in hospitals around the country using lithotripsy, ultra-sound waves to break up kidney stones without the need for the patient to undergo surgery, says he and his family have taken the positives from the Covid-19 lockdown.
He said: “We have done things together as a family. My wife Pam engaged with the whole experience she has walked every mile with me and eaten the same food. Our shopping trolley has never been greener.
“We are just seven weeks into what is a lifelong journey thanks to FFIT Cymru. Being part of the show has been amazing. Everyone has played a part, from the three experts to the whole Cwmni Da team. There are people involved in the background that you never hear of but they all played a part.
“My days of chocolate bars and junk food are behind me and when I finally get back to work those long days will be easier as I won’t be hauling around the same amount of weight. I’m more alert and have much more energy.
“I work with diabetic people often and I used to feel like a hypocrite because I had to tell them to lose weight while I am myself was a Type 2 diabetic. I won’t be embarrassed in future and I can hold my head up high.
He added: “I can’t thank the Cwmni Da and the FFIT Cymru team enough. Everyone has been incredible. This was the third series and whoever is chosen for the fourth series is in for a life changing experience.
“Seven weeks ago I’d have laughed if anyone suggested I run 5K, now I’m doing it in less than 30 minutes.
Specialist weight management dietician, Sioned Quirke, who gave expert advice to the FFIT Cymru leaders on their diet plans says she can’t wait to give Kevin and the other leaders a big hug – eventually once the Covid-19 crisis is finally over.
She said: “I’ve been involved in all three series of FFIT Cymru. I was apprehensive as to how the programme would work out this time and how the leaders would respond while we have been in lockdown.
“But all of them have exceeded expectations. They have all been so upbeat and dedicated. They can be proud of themselves.
“Kevin has done incredibly well. I think one of his main concerns when I first met him was that as he worked in health care he should present as a role model and he wasn’t.
Assistant producer Mali Parry Jones worked remotely with the leaders acting as a coordinator throughout the series.
She said: “This was the third series but because of the coronavirus pandemic we had, as a TV production company, to put our thinking caps on. We had to come up with a new format. We gave all five leaders an iPhone so they could film themselves.
“Of course they had their individual eating and exercise plans and we had weekly video conferences where they could speak to the experts and discuss issues.
“We’ve had great feedback. Viewing figures have been amazing and there has been a massive social media response. I think the series has really struck a chord with viewers especially during the coronavirus lockdown.”
“Kevin has done particularly well, he’s an absolute star.”