Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ralph Norris interview

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Mr Ralph Norris (CEO of the Commonwealth Bank) for my book. Ralph was diagnosed with Diabetes a few years ago and has done an amazing job of controlling his condition. The reason I wanted to interview him is that the most common reason for not exercising or eating a healthy diet, is that people don’t have enough time. Well let me tell you Ralph is one of the busiest people in Australia (the guy runs a bank!!!!!!!) and travels for work extensively. With this busy schedule he would certainly have a lot of reasons why he couldn’t stick to a healthy lifestyle, yet Ralph’s diet and exercise would rate 5 stars with any health professional

Below are some of the keys I took from him on how a busy person manages their diabetes.

Outlook : His attitude was one of simplicity. So often we have internal conflict between our ears as to weather we should stick to our diet and exercise plan. Ralph looked at it so simply. I asked him how he keeps his motivation. He replied “Well I know that with Diabetes if I don’t eat right and exercise each day I run the risk of having heart disease, nerve damage, eye problems, and possible amputations. I don’t want those things to happen so I don’t even consider for a moment not sticking to my exercise and diet”. He went on to say “The whole thing is very simple, the problem is that most people over complicate it”.

Priority: For him his exercise takes priority in his day and is scheduled in before anything else. It is non negotiable.

Practical: Ralph stressed that any lifestyle change has to be practical. “I exercise first thing in the morning so that nothing will get in the way. If I leave it til the afternoon something will always take my attention away. Also when I am travelling I ensure that the place I stay in has a gym”.

No Excuses: Ralph went on to say “I eat out a lot and am on planes a lot, yet no matter where I go I can always find a Diabetes friendly meal to have. People often use these things as an excuse but at the end of the day there are always healthy choices. Its about making a firm decision to stick to a healthy diet”.

Not a Victim: Many people with glucose control problems complain that they are different to other people in the way that they have to eat and exercise. The bottom line is that a healthy diet and exercise routine for a person with diabetes is no different to the average person. Ralph’s comments backed this up, “My wife and I follow the same eating and exercise plan! Since I was diagnosed with Diabetes I have never been so fit and healthy and the quality of my life has never been better”.

Thanks Ralph for the words of wisdom.


The latest group to make it to the 3 month mark of the Glucose Club program that was sponsored by a very proactive corporate health fund, GU Health, have shown some amazing results. Over the 3 months the group lost 7kg in body weight and had a 0.8% reduction in their long term glucose levels (HbA1c). This is not bad for 3 months work considering that a 0.9% drop has been shown to reduce diabetic complications (eye problems, heart disease, amputations etc) by 20-50%.