I got a Virta tattoo to have a constant reminder of my lifestyle change
By Anne, a Virta patient
After just two and a half months on Virta, my A1c dropped from 10.2 to 8.4. Two years later, it’s down nearly another 2 points, not due to increased meds, but rather from making better food choices for my body. The last time my A1C was this low was 12 years ago! And I don’t even remember the last time I was this size—I think it was in high school!
Before Virta: More medications, more side effects
I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2002, while I was in my early 20’s. I maintained my diabetes with diet and exercise for a long time. Before I had kids, I was able to be on multiple soccer teams, play volleyball, and go hiking all the time. But when my wife and I started having children, finding the time to exercise became increasingly difficult, and I was not making good food choices for my body. My health declined to the point where my doctor suggested medication.
About 6 months after our first daughter was born, I started on Metformin, and after our second daughter was born, I began taking Glipizide. The Metformin was already hard on my stomach, and adding Glipizide hurt my stomach even more and dipped my glucose too low at times. When my youngest was 2 years old, my doctor said I had a 40% chance of stroke or heart attack due to the combination of my high A1C and high BMI. I was only 40 but with the stat that my doctor gave me and the fact that I had constant tingling in my hands and feet, I was severely concerned with my health.
My primary care physician wanted me to start on insulin and a statin right away. I did not think medications were an adequate solution anymore. I needed a more sustainable intervention and didn’t want additional side effects from more drugs. Luckily, my physician recommended Virta to help me reverse my diabetes without using more medication. I left her office and contacted Virta right away!
I had tried so many different things before Virta—Weight Watchers, Atkins, starving, etc. I actually had the most success when a friend of mine and I shared our food and exercise journals with one another and held each other accountable, but life took us in different directions and I was not able to achieve my goals. I realized that I was lacking the consistent discipline and knowledge to bring my A1C under control on my own.
Initially, I was very skeptical about Virta. It sounded too good to be true. I did not think it was possible to reverse my diabetes without medications, with just food. I also did not think I would ever have the will power to give up burritos, pasta, pizza, and sweets. After hearing my situation and my hopes to be off medication, the intake specialist told me that I was the perfect candidate for Virta. Her words were way more reassuring than my primary care physician’s, and I knew that I owed it to myself to at least give it a try!
Getting off my medications and improving my relationship with food
With the advice of my Virta doctor, I stopped taking Glipizide prior to beginning Virta, which was a liberating first step and a relief. I continue to take metformin with a vision of my body reaching a point in its healing journey where it no longer needs it. My coach has been phenomenal at helping me to stay strong through this journey. She really gets me, listens to me, challenges me, and she never judges me. More importantly, I trust her wholeheartedly. I can be honest with her and tell her anything, which has been vital to my success. I certainly could not have done this without her!
For many years, I had used food as an emotional crutch and I did not truly realize I was doing that until I started Virta and developed a better relationship with food. Virta has shown me that I do have that strength. Food and the genes that I was born with were my weaknesses, but now I know that I have the strength and the tools to combat them. Now, I can make it through stressful situations without turning to food. I have gone through some major life changes, all without turning to my previous “comfort foods.” In fact, I have not had a single meal in two years that was not Virta-friendly. I have made it so far and I am certain that I will never revert to my unhealthy habits. I have also learned so much about my body and what it needs. It has really been empowering!
Empowerment in all facets of my life
Undoubtedly, Virta has saved my life and changed my life in multiple capacities. Now that I look and feel better on the inside and outside, I have more self-confidence which has been apparent in my career, social situations, and my life in general. I have really been able to step up my soccer game as I am lighter on my feet, I can run without pain, and I have more confidence. My speed and stamina have also increased. It is amazing how much more energy that I have.
The empowerment that this lifestyle change has given me is truly incredible. I used to constantly feel guilt with every food choice I made, which was stressful for me mentally and physically. Since being diagnosed with diabetes, I felt like I was controlled by this disease and now I have finally been liberated, because of all that Virta has given me and how it has shown me what I can do.
I know I can sustain this for the rest of my life because I feel so much better, both physically and mentally. The changes that I have made have remedied the tingling in my hands and feet and will continue to heal my body, and help me live a longer, fuller life.
A Tribute to Myself and the Gift of Virta
When I began Virta, I had three previous tattoos, but had not been able to get any others in many years. If you have a high A1c, it is not recommended to get a tattoo as there is a much higher risk of infection. My tattoo artist was not comfortable giving me a tattoo until I got my A1c under control.
When my A1c went down more than 3 points after one year on Virta, I got a dragon tattoo as a gift to myself for all of my hard work and transformation. The tattoo represents courage and the power I have over my health and my body. It also represents me finally coming out from behind the dark cloud of my poor health.
A few weeks ago, I got another tattoo to mark my 2-year anniversary on Virta. This tattoo is a tribute to Virta (an organization and health philosophy that changed my life), as well as a constant reminder of my inner strength. I chose the Virta spark logo with the Buddhist symbol for inner strength. I have always had inner strength because that is what has gotten me through many life challenges, but I never thought I would have enough inner strength to combat my unhealthy relationship with food and reverse my diabetes. The image is also something bold that I can look down at and draw strength from when necessary. It is on my left forearm, so that it is closest to my heart, yet highly visible.
Spreading the Virta Word
The work that Virta is doing is so important and incredibly empowering. When I meet people who could benefit from joining Virta, I tell them that this program will really make them feel empowered, forever change their life for the better, and more importantly, give them control over their health. The results speak for themselves. There are no gimmicks, no company-made special food to buy, and no weight loss pills. I tell people that if they think they cannot do this, they’d be surprised what they can do when someone is holding them accountable and guiding them. It is also comforting that there is a doctor monitoring biomarkers and looking out for their safety. Not only will their body respond well with better food choices, but the knowledge that can be learned about their body is something that will be beneficial for the rest of their lives.
Sadly, I have family members who have lost their lives and lower limbs from this disease. I will NOT be added to that statistic! Also, I want to be a good example for my children and the rest of my family. If I can do it, anyone can! To be able to heal my body and reverse my diabetes with food and guidance—not drugs, is truly amazing. Thank you, Virta!