For Kristen, a 53-year old Nielsen employee and a 6-month Virta veteran, the satisfaction lies in the many small victories. Yes, she’s lost 32 pounds, decreased her blood glucose from 142 to 114, and reduced her A1c from 7.7 to 5.7. But what about the non-scale victories?
“I celebrate the fact that I can walk straight through a doorway that I used to have to turn sideways for,” says the 53-year-old. “Or how about when your bath towel fits around your body!” Or most recently, being able to park at the ballpark and walk with her husband for the long distance to their seats — without needing to rest. “Prior to Virta we would have had to stop, but not this weekend! It’s exciting to see how Virta is helping,” Kristen says.
Kristen, a research executive for Nielsen’s media analytics department, started Virta with some wariness. “I think a lot of people hear about yet another program and think, ‘Been there, done that.’” Kristen herself had successfully lost weight through Weight Watchers a few years ago, which allowed her to stop the diabetes medications she had begun when diagnosed 7 years ago. But she quickly regained all the weight, and her metabolic health worsened, even beyond her own realization. “My A1c when I started Virta was 7.7 – I did not know it had gotten that high,” she says. Kristen credits her employer Nielsen’s encouragement and education around Virta with helping her make the decision to consider it. “I thought, if Nielsen is this serious about it, I’m going to do my part and give this a try.”
The key to her success, she says, is that Virta isn’t a weight loss plan. “This time it’s not about the weight, it’s about my overall health. Keeping that in mind helps me on the days that the scale doesn’t move.”
The other key to Kristen’s great results? Her Virta health coach. “The coaching piece has been amazing,” she says. “I had no idea going into it what a difference it would make. It really, really, really is true — my coach is there every single day. On the frustrating days where the glucose goes crazy, she can help me figure out what it could be. She’ll say, ‘Let’s think about how much protein you had yesterday,’ and I can think and say, ‘oh my gosh, I did go overboard, didn’t I?’”
Through the online community, Kristen has connected with several other Virtans at Nielsen, and they even get together for lunches. But it’s important for people who are thinking about joining Virta to know that the coaches and the community are only as involved as you want them to be, notes Kristen.
Kristen says, “My pain from arthritis inflammation is better. My energy is better. To people who aren’t sure if Virta is going to work for them, I’d say, ‘You are worth the effort it takes to get healthy.’”
So 6 months in, Kristen is happy to start reaping some rewards: “One thing I’m looking forward to is that I’m taking a plane trip soon and for the first time I won’t need a seatbelt extender!” Kristen also has her eye on a long-term prize. Although for this trip she has still booked three seats in order to have enough space for herself and her husband, she knows that this will soon also be a thing of the past. “I don’t want to put someone through the discomfort of sitting between us, but I know that a year from now, I don’t expect us to need three seats,” Kristen says. It will be just one more way to measure her personal victory through Virta.
Virta is a medically supervised treatment that uses individualized carbohydrate restriction, biomarker tracking and health coach support to reduce patients’ A1c, type 2 diabetes medications, and weight. In a clinical trial, patients lost an average of 12% bodyweight in 6 months¹ and 56% reduced their A1c to below the threshold for type 2 diabetes diagnosis in just 10 weeks.²
McKenzie A, Bhanpuri N, McCarter J. Clinical Trial Update: 6 month outcomes in patients with type 2 diabetes [white paper]. 2017. Virta Health. Retrieved from http://assets.virtahealth.com/docs/Virta_Clinic_6-month_outcomes.pdf2.