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To Mario, reversing type 2 diabetes means playing basketball with his daughter again

April 1, 2021
April 6, 2021

By Mario, on Virta for 6 months

I come from a big family. I am one of five boys, and my wife and I have three beautiful girls of our own. Family gatherings at my house are always a celebration—and no one ever goes hungry. I never really concerned myself with what, or how much, I ate growing up. In my world, rice and beans were as much a part of my culture as my diet. I had no idea that some people react differently to food, and the damage what I was eating was doing to me. That is, until the summer of 2020.

I knew my weight was becoming an issue when I couldn’t keep up with my youngest daughter anymore. She is 16 and loves to play volleyball and basketball. I love to play too, but my knees really started to bother me. I was also getting winded more quickly and just didn’t feel like myself. I decided to talk to my doctor. After a few tests, he told me I had type 2 diabetes. He prescribed metformin for my blood sugar and gave me a few suggestions for losing weight. I tried to take care of it myself, but it was tough. I was careful about how much I ate, I stayed away from sweets, and I even tried to be more active, but nothing seemed to work. 

Mario before start Virta (left) and after 6 months of treatment (right)

I was at work one day when I received an email from BBVA, my employer, about Virta and how it was free for me to join. I had seen something about Virta before, which made me think about my mom who had been living with diabetes for 25 years. I never thought I would need it myself. But this reminder email really caught my attention. It said “Virta can help reverse type 2 diabetes.” I didn’t know if that was possible, but I really wanted to find out. I clicked the link and filled out the form right away. 

Shortly after applying to Virta, I met Breanna, my health coach. She walked me through the  treatment and explained that my type 2 diabetes was caused by my body’s reaction to the carbohydrates in everyday foods like potatoes and rice. She helped me understand that with Virta, it was less about how much I was eating and more about what I was eating. She also told me that unlike traditional weight-focused programs, Virta does not require calorie-counting or additional exercise to get results. I was in. Over the first few weeks, Breanna and I worked together to develop a game plan specifically for me. She even helped me figure out which foods I liked were Virta-friendly and shared recipes she thought I would enjoy. 

When I first started Virta, I weighed 220 pounds and had an A1c of 11.6%. After only six months of working with Breanna, I have been able to lose 40 pounds and get my A1c down to 5.1%—well within the normal range. And because of my success, I have been able to cut my metformin use in half and will most likely get off of it altogether very soon. It turns out, you really can reverse type 2 diabetes.  

Beyond Breanna—who has been amazing—I credit my success to my wife. She has been my #1 fan and keeps me on track. She has helped me with every step of my journey and proved healthy foods can be delicious and filling. She even makes me my favorite, pickled serrano peppers, even though she isn’t a fan of spice. 

Honestly, I didn’t know if I could live without rice and beans at first, but with all of the delicious low-carb options, and just how much better I feel on Virta, I never really minded. My whole family has benefited from eating better. 

Don’t get me wrong, when my family gets together, I still love to get behind the grill, but now instead of tortillas, I wrap my tacos with cabbage leaves, and I love it. More importantly, I love being there for my family. My knees feel better, I feel better, and I can finally keep up with my daughter again—on and off the court. Today, I am walking for 30 minutes on most days, I enjoy jogging with my daughters, and I love spending time woodworking without feeling tired all the time. I am so grateful to BBVA for offering Virta and helping me get my life back! 

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