Matt coaxes good habits, and changes lives

Matt Wratten, exercise physiologist, made a big impression on the crowd and Diabetes Queensland health professionals when he presented at the Gold Coast EXPOsing Diabetes (now Live Your Life) late last year on the Gold Coast.


He makes an even bigger impression when you speak to him one-on-one. Friendly, easy going, and with an easy laugh. That's Matt.


"A lot of people came into the gym after EXPOsing," said Matt. "There was one lady in particular who's had great success in the past four months.


"She's over the moon about what she's achieved with her fitness levels, and the difference being fitter and stronger has made to her.


"If she can do it, so can other people with diabetes."


Matt completed his Human Movement degree, majoring in Exercise Management, at the University of Queensland in 1996.


He's been employed as a consultant exercise physiologist since then, and currently works at the Milon Premium Health Club in Main Beach on the Gold Coast.


"The name of the gym sounds expensive but for $17.50 a week you can get unlimited access to a full-service gym. It's not very much to invest in good health," Matt said.


"I see clients with diabetes, who are overweight, with high cholesterol and blood pressure, plus various injuries."


"If you exercise when you have diabetes, exercise causes your muscles to use more glucose.  It lowers your BGLs. It's as simple as that."


Matt has always been sporty, playing cricket, football and anything else that was possible in the backyard. He and his brother would jump over backyard fences to get to neighbourhood friends, wherever the next game was on.


"It was a different era," Matt said. "I can't imagine letting my kids walk on fences to get to someone else's house today!"


Matt is refreshingly honest when asked about his own exercise routine.


"I'm not doing very much at the moment," he admitted with a laugh. "I've got a two-year-old and a seven-month-old. We're sleep deprived at my house, and I'm falling asleep in my chair at 6.30pm."


Matt sees this period as typical of one of life's curveballs that throws people off their exercise routine.


"Everyone has times when exercise falls off the radar. It's just a part of life. I know I'll get back to it and I'll feel better when I do.


"I'm 43. I don't want to look like I'm the kids' grandad, or walk like an old man when they're teenagers."


Matt's usual routine is daily cycling, doing a gym session three or more times a week, surfing, and walking.


"I think the most important thing for people to understand who are starting exercise or trying to get back into it is that you have to establish a habit.


"Find something that you enjoy. Look forward to it. Commit to doing it for a realistic time period that you know you'll achieve.


"If someone tells me they want to do a moderate walk for 20 minutes three times a week, that's a great place to start. It's much better than telling themselves they'll walk for 40 minutes six times a week and keep disappointing themselves.


"Establish the habit of exercise first with something you enjoy and will achieve. Then we'll focus on building intensity and increased frequency. It will happen."  


Matt regularly sees people start out with high ambitions for their fitness levels who try to get there at a sprint.


"I see a lot of people burn out and give up after three weeks because they go out too hard," he said.


"It's about establishing a new routine you enjoy that becomes part of your lifestyle.


"Look at me. Exercise and being fit is part of my life so even though I'm not on track at the moment, I know I'll get back to it.


"It's part of my life."


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