'Fixing Dad' documentary tells how cycling saved this 20-stone diabetic 62-year old's life

Geoff Whitington's story about how his sons & cycling saved his life is set to air in 'Fixing Dad' documentary on BBC 2 this weekend...

If you have a family member or loved one for whom you harbour concerns about their health get ready to tune in to 'Fixing Dad,' the documentary story of Geoff Whitington's journey from type two diabetes to taking on a 100-mile bike ride on BBC 2 this Sunday night.

The documentary, which airs at 10pm on Sunday, explains in detail how a stubborn 62-year old went from takeaways and lethargy to preparing to take the Prudential RideLondon on July 31.

The filmmakers, Mr Whitington's sons, also want to tell the world that "if there's someone you love who is in a bad way, don't put it off, act now to help them."

Mr Whitington was an "extremely stubborn" 20-stone 62-year old when a podiatrist's diagnosis revealed the terrifying toll the type two diabetes the Kent man had been living with since 2003 was having on his body. The doctor explained that without treatment, Mr Whitington was facing a very real chance of amputation.

Mr Whittington's sons, Anthony and Ian Whitington - who are also the filmmakers behind 'Fixing Dad - seized this opportunity to change their dad's life via a complete lifestyle overhaul. An overhaul which included large doses of cycling and a total dietary change.

They say it was met with plenty of resistance, but the endeavour was a huge success.

One year after the now 63-year old's diagnosis Geoff Whitington was declared diabetes free.

In an interview with the Huffington Post Anthony Whitington explained where his and his brother's motivation for changing their dad's lifestyle came from, and how the film got off the ground.

"A few things led to us starting the project," Anthony said. "The first was dad’s realisation that he might need to have his foot amputated if he continued on the same path. So fear played a big part.

"The second was that dad had seemed to become a different person - not his usual bubbly self, but withdrawing from conversations and generally very depressed.

"And thirdly, we felt guilty, being honest, that for so long our own careers, ambitions and our own family pressures had stopped us from really knowing the man who made us who we are today."

The three Whitingtons are not only in the throws of preparing for the 100-mile Prudential RideLondon next weekend, they're talking about their experience in front of corporate groups and at medical conferences and diabetes clinics.

They don't suggest it was an easy journey. They say a lot had to change, and that much will be clear in the documentary.

"There was lots of resistance. Dad is extremely stubborn,” Anthony said.

“We instinctively knew we would need to change his environment. He was surrounded by his favourite fast food restaurants, his sofas, his bad habits.

“To families everywhere we’d like to say: if there’s someone you love who is in a bad way, don’t put it off, act now to help them. Don’t have regrets later.

“However busy you are, there’s no one formula, just do something different, remind them how much they mean to you, give them goals and regular contact, and above all be positive that you can beat it and enjoy life together.”

The Whitingtons' story is also going to be available in a book - you can preorder it on their website.

Their website also lays out the 6 ingredients the Whitingtons say was crucial to their success in revolutionising the health of Geoff. Here they are in their own words:

  1. Motivation. Dad got a shock in the hospital and was open to change, my brother Ian and I realised this was our one chance to fix our dad’s health before it was too late.
  2. Learning about a completely new approach to food and diet, and making it stick in dad’s everyday life.
  3. Exercise. The cycling has done wonders for dad’s health, has given him goals, and is a great bonding experience for us as a family.
  4. Focusing on dad’s mind not just his body. We needed to change habits and really believe in what we were doing.
  5. The help of experts. There is no substitute for experts in nutrition & health, and also people who could coach dad and coach us as his sons – helping us to help him.
  6. Loved ones who wouldn’t give up, and wouldn’t let dad give up.

If you want to know more about the dangers of, and how to tackle, diabetes, head over to diabetes.co.uk.

Elliot joined team road.cc bright eyed, bushy tailed, and straight out of university.

Raised in front of cathode ray tube screens bearing the images of Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong, Elliot's always had cycling in his veins.
His balance was found on a Y-framed mountain bike around South London suburbs in the 90s, while his first taste of freedom came when he claimed his father's Giant hybrid as his own at age 16.

When Elliot's not writing for road.cc about two-wheeled sustainable transportation, he's focussing on business sustainability and the challenges facing our planet in the years to come.