By Marcie, a Virta Patient
In 2009, my doctor told me that I had prediabetes. I had just given birth to our youngest child and was struggling to lose the “baby weight”. My doctor instructed me to lose weight through diet and exercise. At the time, I was already exercising three times a week and following the Weight Watchers diet, which is based on the national nutrition guidelines. I was very frustrated because my health problems seemed to be increasing despite my efforts.
I left my doctor’s office and tried lowering my calories but my weight kept rising. After meals, I often felt lethargic and hungry. I attributed these feelings to sleepless nights and the demands of child care but the problem persisted as my children grew. I struggled to keep up with them at the park. I often had rest or watch them play from a nearby bench.
We decided to purchase annual family passes to a local theme park. At the end of the day, my feet, knees, and back ached. One time, I even had to exit a ride because I didn’t fit in the seat. I was embarrassed but what upset me even more was the fact that I was missing out on making memories with my family.
In addition to being a mom, I also write for children. In 2015, as I was eagerly awaiting the publication of my first children’s picture book, I was told that I had failed my fasting blood glucose test. I had progressed to type 2 diabetes, and now had high blood pressure. I remember thinking that there was no hope for me, and that my future would be filled with the complications associated with diabetes: nerve damage, blindness, and possibly amputation. I was terrified that I wouldn't get to see my children grow up.
I had to take metformin to control high blood sugar and another medicine for high blood pressure. They all seemed like stop-gap measures. More prescription drugs, like insulin and statins, were probably in my future because I was only treating the symptoms of diabetes, not the underlying cause.
As a last resort, my primary care provider suggested weight-loss surgery. She referred me to an internist who recommended a shake-based, very low-calorie diet (VLCD). Surgery felt invasive and risky. And a VLCD shake-based diet did not seem sustainable. I needed to find a way of eating and living that I could sustain for the rest of my life.
I desperately searched online for information about how to treat diabetes. As expected, I came across information from the American Diabetes Association and the American Medical Association. Their advice to eat less and exercise more seemed very similar to what I was already doing.
I continued to read, and in my search, I stumbled across Dr. Sarah Hallberg's TED Talk. She made a compelling argument that reducing your carbohydrate intake can lower your blood sugar. Her expertise, plus the fact that she herself ate this way, convinced me to give it a try.
I started Virta early in 2017. After two years on the Virta Treatment, I've reduced my A1c from 6.1% to 4.8%, putting me well below the diagnostic threshold for prediabetes (5.7%). My primary care doctor told me that I have the A1c of a teenager! I told her that I have so much energy, I feel like a teenager. I've also lost 100 pounds and my blood pressure is now in the healthy range. Under my Virta provider’s guidance, I’ve been able to stop taking both my blood pressure and blood glucose medications. I felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders when I disposed of all of my old prescriptions.
I wish someone had taught me how to live this way 20 years ago. Before Virta, I was often exhausted and in pain. I couldn’t keep up with my family. Without the extra weight, now my family has trouble keeping up with me. I feel like I’m half my age. I have endless energy. My hunger is in check, and I have few cravings. I'm not sleepy after meals. My weight loss combined with my Pilates practice has even eliminated my back and knee pain.
I chose to join Virta because Virta patients have access to a groundbreaking, research-backed diabetes treatment developed by leading experts in the field. Their expertise gave me the peace of mind and the confidence to embark on this lifestyle change. Their medical supervision was critical for me because I was taking multiple medications. Since I am the only one in my family that eats this way, their coaches and community of like-minded people have helped me stay the course. My coach helps me make informed decisions when eating out or considering different food choices at the grocery store. She is supportive, knowledgeable, and encouraging. The Virta app has many great features and gives me recipes and nutritional guidelines at my fingertips. I can also text my coach or ask questions in the online community at any time, where I frequently learn about new Virta-friendly foods and new ways of making these dietary changes sustainable for life.
I consider Virta to be money, time, and effort very well spent. To me, it's an insurance policy that will help me stave off future health problems.