Working retail at Cabela’s (Bass Pro Shops), no two days are ever the same. That’s a big part of why I love it. I enjoy helping people find what they need and answering their questions. By the end of the day though, my thoughts would go from helping people to hoping I could give me feet and knees a rest. Even activities outside of work were becoming a chore, hopping on my motorcycle after work took more effort than it should. And spending time with my wife and kids outdoors was becoming more difficult because I got tired easily. I was feeling broken and did not like it.
I was not always big. I was a chunky kid but always highly active. By high school I had gotten taller and grown into my body adding muscle but not much weight. I played sports and had great stamina running distance. When I joined the Army one of my favorite times of the day was PT (physical training) and running with the “Greyhounds!" We were the fastest group of runners in our Company. After a tour in Saudi Arabia and Iraq during Desert Shield/Desert Storm I finished my enlistment. After a back injury while cross country skiing, I became less active. That is when the weight started creeping up… a little at first, then it got out of control.
As I gained weight, I had more health problems. High blood pressure, problems sleeping, and troublesome annual lab reports followed. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea many years ago and finally gave in to getting a CPAP. My doctor told me I should drop some weight to help with my medical issues. I was successful losing weight for short periods of time but always went back to my original weight—or higher. 2 years ago I was told I had diabetes and my heart sank. At my heaviest I had topped 345 pounds, and even as I say that number, I wonder how I let myself get to that point! I had lost hope as I shopped for the next jean size—50 inches. I refused to buy the next size! To quote one of my favorite movie lines, it was “Time to get busy living or get busy dying!” I started trying to behave and eat better. And I dropped some pounds, but I didn’t feel like I had a plan that would change my outcome to something sustainable—something I could keep doing for the rest of my life and maintain control of my weight/A1c long term.
About ten months ago I got a corporate email offering a new pilot program through Cabela’s for people with type 2 diabetes. The email said this program could “reverse type 2 diabetes.” I wasn’t sure what to think but I wanted to look at it further. So I answered the email to get more information. I saw that this Virta treatment was not a calorie-counting program as I read some of the supporting material. I thought, “I can do this!”
I took the next step and applied for the program. I was contacted quickly, and shortly after approved to start. I met my Virta coach and cheerleader (and sometimes voice of reason when I get down) Breanna. She explained how my body reacts to what I am eating and explained by changes to food habits, I could learn to heal myself. Not dieting, but learning to control what I put in my body and how these changes can “fix” my health issues! Breanna showed me that by teaching my body to use FAT for energy instead of carbs, I could eat till I was full, lose weight and reduce my A1c levels. She helped me plan for meals and helped keep me on track as I introduced different foods into my diet. It all started to make sense, and I was on my way! Breanna said that over time I could get to a place where I could get off my medications. That became one of my goals.
10 months ago, I weighed 328 pounds. This morning I weighed 233 pounds. 95 pounds in 10 months! My labs are amazing, A1c was 5.3% and I hope to come off some medications at my next doctor’s appointment. I am down 6 bowling balls in 10 months; think about carrying 6 bowling balls around with you all day. I had to have my CPAP adjusted from 12 to 6 and don't even need that much support—I can nap without the machine and feel great afterward.
As the weather warms up this spring, I feel like I have a new lease on life. Getting on my motorcycle is so much easier and riding has been a reminder of how great my life is. The only downside of losing 10” from my waist with Virta is I need to buy new riding gear that actually fits!
I am so grateful to Cabela’s for the opportunity, to Virta for the treatment, and for Breanna for helping me stay the course and get this far. There is more work to be done (30 more pounds) to reach my BIG GOALS, but with this support network I can get there! Virta is a life changer!
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