I served in the Missouri National Guard and was deployed to Iraq under the 42nd Infantry Division in 2005. Being a Veteran provided me with healthcare benefits through the VA, which became very important in 2011 when my doctor diagnosed me with type 2 diabetes. I remember feeling a lot of guilt for not taking better care of myself. It seemed like I was at fault for getting diabetes, which really depressed me.
I also didn’t know how to get better. I knew I had to stop eating as much sugar, but the nutritional advice I got felt incomplete. Doctors prescribed me metformin and said I could still eat whatever I want, as long as I did it in moderation. They never said how much was too much.
As my diabetes progressed, I began taking Victoza injections every day, along with pioglitazone and lisinopril. My metformin dose also doubled to twice a day. All these meds combined caused a bunch of negative side effects, the worst of which was gaining 30 pounds in just a couple of months. If you haven’t experienced this kind of weight gain personally, you may not realize how much this can slow you down.
I have nothing against medication. I think it works great for some things. For diabetes, however, I’m just not sure if it will ever be as effective as eating healthier and in a way that works with your body. I was absolutely prepared to make changes to my lifestyle, but the solutions I found were very “one-size-fits-all,” which didn’t fit me. I have tried and given up on so many things because I never knew if it was the right thing for me.
I found out about Virta in June of 2019 through a VA newsletter. I was stunned to read that Virta’s treatment could reverse type 2 diabetes. I’ll admit that I was skeptical, having thought that I had heard it all before, but I couldn’t bear the side effects from my daily mountain of medications any longer. I could get Virta for free through their partnership with the VA, so I decided to at least give it a chance.
When I applied and started talking to my Virta enrollment advisor, we discussed my personal goals, and right then, I knew that this would be a different experience than other diabetes treatment I’d tried in the past. Yes, I want to lose weight and get healthier and feel better, but ultimately, I was doing this to be around for my family. That is my number one goal. To say it out loud and use it as my reason for starting and continuing the Virta treatment has been great motivation.
It also helped that I saw results almost immediately. Within the first two days, my blood glucose levels decreased, and my weight started dropping in the first week. I was amazed at the results, and it made me realize that traditional diabetes treatments really just treated the symptoms of high blood sugar. Virta addresses the actual problem within my body.
After 3 months on the treatment, I eliminated the Victoza injections, along with the pioglitazone. Even without these meds, my A1c is currently sitting at 5.3%, well below the threshold for even prediabetes and down from 6.6% prior to starting Virta. I sleep better, have more energy, and feel more motivated to be active. Just the other day, I realized that the knee pain I’ve been living with for years was gone. I’ve lost 15 pounds since I’ve started on Virta, and that’s 15 pounds I won’t be carrying with me on my vacation as I hike up Red Rock Canyon in Nevada this fall!
For anyone who wants to reverse their diabetes, my advice would be to start the Virta treatment right away and give it 100%. It really does work, and in a sustainable way using personalized guidance and real food choices. I know weight loss is not the primary goal of the treatment, but it has made such a world of difference for me that I have to keep mentioning it!
What made it so easy was my fantastic Virta health coach, who took the time to really understand my personal health goals and gave expert answers to all of my questions. Virta has given me the power to take control of my health, using the right strategies, the right information, and the right team. I look forward to getting back to doing the things I love but haven’t been able to because of diabetes.
Soon enough, you’ll see me out there again, mountain biking, working up a sweat, and NOT worrying about my blood sugar.