By Jim, on Virta for 4 months
I like to say that I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2008 because I took my niece to a toy store. Of course that’s not true, but we were shopping for a teddy bear that day, and I was convinced that all of the “kid germs” at the store landed me in the hospital with some respiratory issues. While there, the battery of tests they did on me showed my blood sugar levels were higher than normal, and my A1c was 8.1%. This put me in the range for type 2 diabetes.
The doctor recommended that I watch my diet and prescribed medication, starting with metformin but very quickly adding injectable insulins including Humalog and Basaglar, and well as other injections like Trulicity and Jardiance. For the next 10 years, pills and needles became a part of my daily routine. I sometimes asked myself if this was really the only way to live my life and control my health.
Late in 2019, during open enrollment, I got an email from my benefits team at Cancer Treatment Centers of America about Virta and their approach to reversing type 2 diabetes. I had previously heard that type 2 diabetes could be reversed through dietary changes, but when I tried to do it on my own, I couldn’t figure it out. I wanted expert guidance and support, rather than just trying to do it all myself.
Since I hadn’t been able to reverse my diabetes before Virta, I wasn’t sure how Virta would be different. Even if it worked, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to stay with it for very long. But I had been looking for a better way to manage my diabetes for a while, and since my employer would generously cover the entire cost of Virta, I decided to give it a try.
Adjusting to the Virta lifestyle came with some initial challenges, but it didn’t take long before I started taking up new routines, planning meals, and eating to my personal carbohydrate tolerance level. And even though I’m eating less carbs, I don’t feel as hungry or tired as I used to. Virta taught me to burn fat for energy instead, which keeps my energy up and my hunger down. I now know how to substitute the foods that kept me sick and my blood sugars high with alternatives that not only keep my blood sugar in check, but also taste great. For example, in those moments when I have a sweet tooth and want a snack, I have a Virta-friendly fudge recipe that satisfies all of my chocolate cravings.
Through all of these changes, I was supported by my Virta health coach, Jenna. She has been the biggest difference between trying to control type 2 diabetes on my own and trying to reverse it with Virta. I simply don’t have to do it alone. I was a little hesitant to work with a health coach at first, as I don’t like to be closely monitored. I also did not want an overly enthusiastic cheerleader constantly telling me how well I am doing; I don’t need that in order to succeed. I simply wanted someone who can support the choices I would be making, and help me with answers and feedback so I stay on course.
Jenna has been that support system I was looking for. She checks in every so often, just to see how I am doing, but most importantly, she is available when I have questions. Just knowing that she is looking out for me, checking in on the numbers that I send to Virta through the app, is enough to keep me motivated.
In just 4 months after starting Virta, my body has changed tremendously. Most noticeably, I have lost 40 pounds, which eases a lot of the pressure and pain on the joints in my knees and hips. My blood sugar has dropped from around 140 mg/dL to an average of under 100 mg/dL. Best of all, my Virta doctor stopped my insulin injections altogether, and I am now only on a once-a-week Trulicity injection and metformin. Quite a difference that 4 months on Virta have made, especially since I had been on some of these prescriptions for over 10 years!
I still have more goals I’m reaching toward, such as getting off all of my diabetes medication and losing another 20 pounds. For anyone who is even thinking about joining, or is concerned about the changes that they would be making, I can tell you that the adjustment is not as hard as it seems, and the rewards are so much greater. I stuck with it, and within just a week or two, I started noticing that the “changes” I made simply became new habits. These new habits are allowing me to live a better life, all because I took a chance on Virta. I would never want to go back to how things were before I was on the path towards diabetes reversal. Thank you, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, for not just helping your patients overcome difficult diseases, but also helping your employees too.