Throughout my career as a machinist, I’ve been on my feet for the better part of every work day. About 6 years ago, I started noticing that my feet would hurt after work. At first, I tried to shrug it off. Wearing steel-toed shoes are not the most comfortable to begin with. However, after a few months, the pain got so bad that I had to take my shoes off in the car before I even got home.
I’m the kind of guy who avoids doctor’s appointments whenever I can, but this pain in my feet was so unbearable that I had to see someone. At the appointment, my doctor ran a series of labs and referred me to a neurologist. I found out that I had this painful condition called neuropathy in my feet, which was brought on by type 2 diabetes. Both diagnoses were a surprise to me. However, my doctor just prescribed metformin twice a day and sent me on my way.
I tried to increase my activity and pay attention to my diet, but I struggled to make lasting changes. My weight would vary quite a bit, swinging between 210 pounds at my heaviest down to 172, but I would always gain most of it back. I knew that my diet was key, but I didn’t know how to make adjustments to my eating habits that would consistently keep my weight in check.
Around the beginning of 2020, my employer, Timken, sent a company-wide email announcing Virta, a new benefit that was fully paid by the company for people with type 2 diabetes, claiming that it helps patients with weight loss and getting off diabetes medication. At the time, I was on metformin for diabetes, and losartan for high blood pressure. I thought if I could just cut my prescriptions in half and lose some weight, that alone would be such a win for me.
I was never much of a junk food eater, so for the most part, making dietary changes didn’t come as too much of a surprise. I never used to watch my carb intake, though, and I certainly didn’t focus on vegetables as much as I do now. Those were the biggest adjustments I had to get used to in the first few weeks of treatment. But I was committed to doing whatever was asked of me in order to reach the goals I set for myself.
While it took some work, reaching those goals was easier with Virta than it had been in the past when I tried to do it on my own. Just within the first few weeks, I lost 10 pounds. Then more time passed, and I lost another 10 pounds. I went from my starting weight of 190 pounds to now, weighing in at 160 pounds 6 months after starting Virta. The tingling neuropathy in my feet has improved, and my Virta doctor also stopped both of my prescriptions for metformin and losartan. I am now completely medication free!
There were also some pleasant surprises along the way on top of these health benefits. For example, I discovered that pork rinds, which I love, are a Virta-friendly food. And through the patient community on the Virta app, I discovered a recipe for stuffed peppers that I make for myself every Sunday as a treat: just hamburger, Italian sausage, and some seasoning baked inside a bell pepper with cheese on top. I never thought losing weight could taste so good!
Through it all, my Virta health coach, Liz, has been awesome. She is my daily support system, especially back in the beginning when I had a ton of questions and felt frustrated about not making as much progress as I would have liked. She gave me personal attention when I needed it, space when I was doing well, and let me know that she was always just a chat away through the app. The next step in my Virta journey is to work with Liz to add in different foods to my diet while maintaining my weight loss.
Very soon, I will be able to buy smaller-sized pants, which I will do as a reward for myself. Best of all, though, I just know that I am living a healthier life, and I can feel it in the energy I have every day. When I don’t get to go outside for whatever reason, I find myself getting antsy because of all the extra energy I have. Even coworkers have seen the difference, and I’ve had teammates come up and tell me that I look healthier than ever. I always tell them that Virta is my answer, and it has completely changed my life. I am so grateful to Timken for caring about their employees, being so generous, and paying for the Virta treatment.
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