At 189kg, Ricky Tipene was heading down a path that he didn’t want to go. He’d had his blood tests done and the results showed that his sugar levels were in a diabetic range and not well controlled. A few other results weren’t looking good either.

Ricky’s doctor referred him to the Green Prescription programme (GRx) which is provided by Sport Waikato.

“The day after that visit was my first meeting with GRx coordinator Watene Hema,” says Ricky, “and that’s where the change really began.

“Good encouragement and knowing I had support was really the key to success. It’s been about changing habits, changing a lifestyle of eating and grazing.”

With a family history of men dying early from things like Type 2 Diabetes Ricky decided he needed to change his outlook – for his own sake, and that of his wife and four children. 

“It’s been a journey. The first month was really quite hard, just getting my head around what I needed to do, and the exercise thing.

“Weighing just under 190kg, the night after seeing Watene for the first time I decided to go for a walk to see if I could handle it.  And I could! It took me a while to get around and I had to stop a few times, but I carried on.”

Ricky found it useful being able to talk to someone like Watene face to face; working with someone he’d built a relationship with and who knew his journey. Being able to have in place that support - the gentle reminders, the texts, the “how you going?” messages - was the encouragement he needed.

“It’s been awesome,” says Ricky. “As the weight has dropped off I’ve even been putting my own Facebook posts up - of the trousers I used to wear. I bought some in December to go to a wedding and even those are too big now!”


As with all change, there were challenges. For Ricky it was based around learning to break some lifelong habits. He had to learn to eat sensibly and add exercise. 

“It’s not only medical, but emotional as well – the way you feel. I’m a lot happier, put it that way. My moods are a heck of a lot better. I seem to be a lot friendlier – apparently I’m not as grumpy as I used to be!”

Ricky says Green Prescription helped him take ownership of what he needed to do to make a change, and the programme being there to support, help and give ideas along the way.

“GRx has been a guide for me. The food resources really set me up in the right direction. And initially the (bloods) didn’t look too flash – I had them done again in November and it went from 57 down to 39. And when I read those results I thought wow, I’ve virtually excluded Type 2 Diabetes now.”

Learning to understand food has been really important - what he can eat plenty of and what he needs to eat in moderation. 

“It’s about learning to eat real food - things that I’ve never learned before. It may not be so much the kilojoules that can be bad for you, it can be the other stuff like how many grams of carbohydrates and how many grams of fat it contains, and all that stuff I never really took on board. I do a lot of label reading now. I know what to look for.“


Ricky believes you really only have two choices – keep going the way you’re going or you may end up in the ground.

“That’s where I was going to end up. If you can make it a lifestyle change then you’ll be around a heck of a lot longer. For me it’s about my kids, about my grandkids. Why should I leave them behind? You have to be ready to change.”

With his weight now at 147kg, Ricky has lost 42kg and plans to keep going.

“My goal now is to get to 110kg. One goal at a time, and then I’ll look at a new goal, perhaps 90kg. But I know I can get to 110kg. Then I’ll reevaluate how to get to that 90kg goal.”

To start your own journey on Green Prescription, fill out the form here and we'll be in touch. 

Green Prescription helps Ricky lose more than 40kg

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