Weighing myself was never my idea of a good time. Growing up as a heavy child, I still remember my 4th grade school nurse announcing to my classmates that I weighed 108 pounds. I never knew that was a problem until that very moment.
Thinking back, it is no surprise that I struggled with my weight. Carb-heavy foods were always available in my house growing up. Portions were out of control, and my family adhered to a strict “clean plate” rule for every meal. It was just what everyone believed to be true at the time.
Years later in 2007, my doctor told me that my blood work showed signs of prediabetes. He offered no additional education or information on what that meant for me and my future. So I didn’t give it much thought. After all, prediabetes is not yet type 2 diabetes, so I figured I would be alright.
3 years later, my doctor suggested that I see a nutritionist during a routine office visit. I was still struggling with my weight, and he had been nagging me about my diet for some time, so I agreed to give it a try.
In my first nutrition class, the nurse announced, “If you are in this class, it means you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.” There is no way to completely describe how I felt at that moment, but I do remember flashing back to my 9-year-old self, standing in front of my class and feeling embarrassed about my weight. And now, in this group of strangers who have all been told they have diabetes, the world stood still for a moment. Just for a moment while I tried to protect myself through denial. I thought, I don’t belong here. I don’t have diabetes. This nurse must have made a serious mistake with my records.
When it became clear that I was the one mistaken, I couldn’t help but cry, partly out of anger. My doctor never once told me how serious this was. But I also cried for my mother and grandmother, both of whom had diabetes, and I now saw myself in them. The worst of it came when the nutritionist weighed me as part of the program, and the scale read 303 pounds, the highest I had ever seen it.
Over the next few years, I tried everything: exercise, Atkins, Weight Watchers, diet pills, Slimfast shakes, the grapefruit and egg diet, you name it. Each time, I’d lose a bit of weight, but then gain it all back once I fell off the wagon. I probably lost and regained the same 10 pounds over a dozen times.
In 2012, my doctor started me on metformin, first at 500 MG a day, but it eventually reached 2,000 MG a day. Combined with my inability to lose all the weight I needed to, I grew frustrated and hopeless. I was essentially carrying the weight of an entire other person with me at all times. There was so much weight to lose that I convinced myself it was impossible.
In March of 2018, my doctor gave me the final ultimatum: get my A1c down, or start daily insulin injections. As luck would have it, my employer Nielsen hosted an inter-office lunch the next week, and I overheard two employees talking about Virta. I vaguely remember hearing about Virta through Nielsen’s benefit communications, but I shrugged it off as just another fad program. But after hearing the benefits these coworkers experienced firsthand, I decided to give Virta a try.
I am so glad I did. From the very first conversation I had with my Virta provider, Dr. Jeff Stanley, I knew I made the right decision. He took the time to provide me with so much information, not just about diabetes, but also about how my own body works. Together with my Virta health coach, Anna, they gave me the tools I needed to fully take the reins of my metabolic health. I was finally empowered to make truly healthy food choices, which is the first real step toward sustainable weight loss.
One of the first “assignments” from my Virta team was to clean out my cupboards and refrigerator of carb-loaded foods. This was the moment of truth, and it was tough! Though I was nervous, completing the carb purge gave me a sense of freedom from the foods that were making me sick and keeping my blood sugar high.
Since joining Virta, I have lost 73 pounds. I never had to go on those insulin injections, and I’ve eliminated all of my medications, including metformin, a statin, and those I was taking to lower my blood pressure. My A1c levels dropped from 7.9% to 5.5% in just four months on the Virta treatment, and have stayed outside of the diabetic level ever since. In fact, just a few weeks ago, my primary care doctor removed the diagnosis of diabetes from my medical record. Talk about reversal!
More importantly, I have more energy now than I think I’ve ever had in my life, which lets me be more active. I’ve never had to count calories, or exercise myself to exhaustion. No pills. No horrible-tasting shakes. Just amazing coaching and medical supervision to guide me along every step of the way. Whether it was words of wisdom and encouragement, or expert guidance on menu choices, my Virta care team empowered me to take full control of my life. The treatment also connected me with a community of fellow Virta patients all over the country, who I can lean on and celebrate with.
I have so much to be thankful for now. My life is so much better, and all because Nielsen brought coverage for Virta to its employees, and because my now-fellow Virta coworkers made me realize how much I could benefit. Virta has truly given me a new lease on life, and now I’ll forever be #virtastrong! For anyone even just considering Virta, I say try! I am forever grateful that I did.