A two minute chat with TV director turned health educator Eddy Marshall about Type 2 diabetes and ‘Dia-Beat This!’, interviewed by his wife, Claire.
What’s ‘Dia-Beat This!’ about?
When I was diagnosed with Type 2 in January 2015, it seems ridiculous now but I wasn’t expecting it at all. I’d been quite overweight for years, around 17 stones but I was active and fairly fit. I have a pedometer (a device for measuring how many steps you take every day) and only a few weeks before I was diagnosed, we moved house. I did the move myself, did most of it on my own and I clocked up 33,000 steps on the big day, that’s about 15 miles, most of it going up and down stairs carrying stuff, some of it quite heavy. I felt absolutely fine the next day, so I wasn’t in terrible shape. So, when the doctor sat me down to tell me the results of a blood test, I really wasn’t expecting to be told I had Type 2 diabetes and it was quite advanced.
Immediately, we decided to read up on the disease and fortunately the first thing we came across was David Cavan’s excellent book ‘Reverse Your Diabetes’, which gave me a lot of hope. I realised I needed a big change to my diet and lifestyle but I accepted that, made the changes and the reversal was surprisingly easy. I lost 50lbs in five months and in February 2016 I was signed off the Diabetic Register.
After that, I’ve become a bit obsessed by the fact that there are a lot of people who don’t know that it’s both possible and necessary to reverse Type 2 diabetes. It’s a horrible disease with very unpleasant complications but for most people I reckon it’s reversible.
I’m a filmmaker, so obviously I want to make a film on the subject. I’ve already had the privilege of meeting some of the people who inspired me, particularly David Cavan and a health writer called David Hack, who wrote ‘The Back to Basics Diet.’
However, I struggled with the fact that diabetes reversal is potentially a fairly dry subject, lots of talking heads. So you, Mrs Marshall, who I refer to one-and-all as ‘the brains of the outfit’ said, “Why not form a reversal group and see if other people can do what you’ve done?”
The result is ‘Dia-Beat This!’ – a series of four talks this January, followed by a programme of reversal for people who seriously want give it a go and, ultimately, a film on the subject. I’m not one to do things by half measures, so I’m looking to set up four groups, each meeting once a week, in Barrow, Grange-over-Sands, Kendal and Morecambe/Lancaster. (See below for the full details).
Do people who do the course have to be in the film?
No, not if they don’t want. Initially, I’m doing it as a not-for-profit programme. I might ask participants to chip in a couple of quid each week towards venue costs but that’s it. I reckon the programme will be 16 weeks long, so those who join up and give it their best shot may be Type 2 reversed, or well on the way, by May. I’m saying 16 weeks because that’s roughly how long it took me to see a big change in my weight and health. I’ve broken the process down into three phases. I’m in it for the experience. And for people who are happy to be filmed, it’d be great to show their journey from illness to health.
Do you have to lose weight to reverse Type 2 diabetes?
Probably, yes. Some people don’t look overweight but can still be fat on the inside. Considering how common Type 2 diabetes is, there’s still a lot that’s not known about it. The science of reversal, such as it is, is even more obscure but it’s possible that a build up of fat around the internal organs, especially the liver and pancreas, is a big factor. Certainly, the right diet is essential. That said, not everyone has to lose the same amount of fat to reverse Type 2. Some people need to lose a lot, some less, it depends on their situation, on their metabolism and probably their genes. What do know that lots of people have reversed their Type 2, sometimes almost by accident. These people often set off just to lose weight, usually doing something low carb / high fat like the Atkins diet and lo and behold, no diabetes.
Have you done this kind of project before?
Sort of. I’ve always liked doing awareness-raising work. I did a great episode of Hollyoaks …
You did a lot of that, didn’t you?
93 episodes, man and boy! I won’t hear anything said against Hollyoaks. I directed this episode where Esther attempts to commit suicide. We had strict guidelines from The Samaritans on how to approach the subject, about how to represent the suicide attempt for what it was, as lonely, unpleasant and unglamourous. It really worked. The episode got huge viewing figures, the show’s fans were blown away by it and, more importantly The Samaritans told us that the average figures for suicides and suicide attempts after the show dropped. It’s not often you get to make something as a filmmaker when you know it might change someone’s life but that Hollyoaks episode was one. It’s a buzz. I also did a film for Basis, a Leeds-based charity, for Secondary school-age girls, warning them about being approached by slightly older blokes inviting them to party. It’s called ‘Sick Party’ and it’s done really well, been shown all over. Again, some pieces you make can definitely affect people’s lives. I’m hoping ‘Dia-Beat This!’ will be another.
If someone’s skeptical about coming along to ‘Dia-Beat This!’, what would you say to them?
Just come along to one of the talks. If you don’t like what I’m saying, no problem. I think there’s a logic to the argument I’m making, it’s all about the modern diet, about reversing the conditions that cause Type 2, about making it as easy as possible to achieve results and of course I’ve tested it out on myself! No quack ‘cures’, no nonsense. If you like it and decide to get involved, it could change your life. Again, it’s not often you get to say that … but in this case, I think it’s true.
Do you know if this has been done elsewhere, getting people together to reverse their Type 2 diabetes?
No, this is a world first, as far as I can tell. It’s never been done before. It feels right to doing it here, in the North West. The Industrial Revolution started in this part of the world and in a smaller but still very significant way, this could be another revolution.
Thank you Mrs Marshall!
For more information, contact Eddy on 07562 414643, on Facebook at diabeatthismovie, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check the website at www.diabeatthis.co.uk.