I am 43 years old and have struggled with my weight since giving birth to my children almost 19 and 16 years ago. I don’t remember exactly when “pre-diabetes” started being discussed at doctors’ appointments, but I do remember not being given advice on how to prevent it. My doctor talked a lot about eating lots of fruits and vegetables and exercising 5 times per week for at least 20-30 minutes each time. I have also dealt with depression for about as long as I have been dealing with weight issues. I have been on up to 3 mental health medications at a time for a very long time. My husband has Type 2 Diabetes and, most recently, was on 3 medications for that. I guess I just assumed that at some point I would have to start taking meds to combat Type 2 Diabetes. I did take the Diabetes Education classes offered through Wellspan, locally. However, they recommended eating between 60-75 g of carbohydrates per meal plus 3 snacks of 15 g of carbohydrates. Eventually, I would discover how silly this is if I wanted to avoid/reverse Type 2 Diabetes.
I was eating a diet that was high in carbohydrates and sugar. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was definitely addicted to sugar. I knew that sugar was a neurotoxin, but I didn’t feel equipped to fight it. In February 2019, I got my blood test results back from my doctor. My A1C was 8.0%, the highest it had ever been. With that, came the prescription for Metformin. I refused to take Metformin because I already was dealing with gastric upset and didn’t want to deal with more. So, the doctor prescribed 100 mg of Januvia once/day. I hit rock bottom. I was terrified. I didn’t want to take meds for Diabetes, but I also didn’t want to deal with what I believed to be a disease that would eventually, no matter how I managed it, take my limbs one toe at a time. I didn’t want to lose my eyesight and eventually succumb to death due to what I believed was a horribly progressive, irreversible disease.
Prior to February 2019, a sorority sister of mine whom I have never met started a Facebook Group about Keto. I knew nothing about it. I just knew that the posts she was making on her personal Facebook page were very interesting, encouraging and that the food she was making and eating looked delicious. I decided to join her group just to get some recipes and watch her successes from afar. I have tried nutritional systems at least twice in the last several years. I drank shakes, ate bars, and had a reasonable 500-700 calorie dinner for many months. I lost weight, but never maintained that loss and eventually couldn’t stand the taste of those shakes and bars. I was also not able to sustain the cost of the shakes and bars for a lengthy period of time. I figured Keto was just something else I would be unsuccessful at.
Fast forward to getting those blood test results in February 2019.
I got to work early one morning and decided to a private message that sorority sister. My message was something to the effect of “I have to make a lifestyle change, but I have no idea where to start.” I poured my heart and soul out to her not even knowing if she was “active” on messenger at the time. Her response was quick and right on point. Eliminate carbs, processed, and packaged foods. Fill the house with WHOLE foods. Replace all carbs with veggies and salads and start cooking with healthy fats. Her advice was simple, detox from sugar first, worry about Keto later. I sent her a picture of what was in my lunchbox that day—way too much fruit. She recommended that until my A1C came down, I should eliminate most fruit. She told me what I didn’t know, sugar is sugar, whether it came from fruit or from some highly processed food. The body doesn’t know the difference and it behaves exactly the same way. I was sad to give up fruit, but I was also desperate to save my health. I learned to read labels, learned the 67 names for sugar (our food industry is very tricky), and kept my meals basic. I learned to track my food using My Fitness Pal with the macros set up correctly for Keto. Around the same time, I decided to stop all 3 of my mental health meds cold turkey (I don’t recommend this!). By Valentine’s Day, I was a mess! Crying, sad, hopeless and my emotions were all over the place. I took a shower at 7 p.m. and put myself to bed. Turns out that I had the “Keto Flu” but didn’t know it. By that Friday evening, I added Magnesium Citrate, Potassium, just one of my previous mental health meds, and Powerade Zero to my arsenal and was feeling 1000% better.
Around this time I also heard about some nutrition presentations going on at OSS, a local Orthopedic Practice I have frequented for sports injuries with my children and even for my own health issues. Dr. Brian Bixler was the doctor overseeing our daughter’s Scoliosis care, so I knew his name and in my mind, he had some “stature.” His presentations were FREE and he sold nothing. Just information. No supplements. No promises of quick weight loss if I bought $400/month of a product he was selling and would get rich off of. I immediately made arrangements to get off work early to attend my first presentation which I believe was “Show Me How To Keto.” My husband thankfully agreed to attend with me. We sat near the front. I took notes. Afterwards, I spent about 30 minutes talking to Dr. Bixler and his wife about what I believed was my hopeless situation. He promised me that if I worked on staying Keto, my A1C would come down quickly and I could reverse my Type 2 Diabetes. Reverse Type 2 Diabetes, a progressive, horrible disease that was sure to take my life, say WHAT???? Have Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis removed from my medical chart? Huh? Is this possible? He scheduled his next “Reversing Type 2 Diabetes” talk at 6 p.m. so that my husband and I could attend without taking vacation time from work. We sat in the front row this time. I took notes again. I ordered the book The Diabetes Code by Dr. Jason Fung from Amazon. Sadly, I have not started reading it yet. But I will!!!! Soon!!!! All this time, my husband and I continued our Keto journey. We even went on vacation in March/April and kept things Keto about 85% of the time.
Fast forward to June 2019.
It was time for my next round of bloodwork. My husband had his done in April and had lowered his A1C to 5.5% and had lost 25 pounds. His doctor removed Glipizide from his arsenal of diabetes meds, but gave him a script for a lower dose, just in case his numbers started creeping back up. So far, that prescription remains unfilled. I went for my bloodwork on 6/15/19. Got the results on 6/17/19. The nurse from my doctor’s office called me at the end of my workday. My A1C was 5.3% and my doctor was impressed but wanted me to continue all my meds as prescribed. I was confused. I immediately shared my results with Dr. Bixler via Facebook messenger. He responded the next day saying how happy he was and that doctors are not trained in how to remove meds from patients’ arsenals, but to keep staying the course. I emailed my doctor the next day requesting a lab slip for 3-4 months because my next appointment was not until October and I was going to show him that I no longer needed Januvia to manage my A1C or Type 2 Diabetes. He emailed me back the same day advising that my next bloodwork wouldn’t be until December 2019 and he would order it at my next appointment. He also advised that he forgot to tell the nurse to tell me to STOP the Januvia, but not to get rid of my supply. So, 6/19/19 was my first day in 4 months without taking Januvia and my evening blood glucose reading, after a dinner of bacon and eggs, was 86. My glucose meter has become my best friend in this journey. I test before meals, after meals and snacks, multiple times per day. I send my readings to my doctor monthly. I want to know how what I am eating is affecting my blood sugar constantly. Do I enjoy pricking my finger? No, absolutely not. But my fear of doing it is much less than my fear of continuing a negative journey with Type 2 Diabetes.
So, Keto is my Lifestyle.
I will never go back to eating whatever carbs I want. I see carbs for what they are—evil! I have found sweeteners that I can eat that do not affect my glycemic index. I have found restaurants and websites that are supportive of this lifestyle. I have joined groups on Facebook, located recipes on Pinterest, and have continued reading and studying to keep improving my lifestyle. I could not have done this without the support of my husband, Dr. Bixler, and my sorority sister who just decided to share what she was doing that was working!
Oh, and as a result I have lost between 18 and 20 pounds and believe that more weight loss is just around the corner since Keto seems to be healing me from the inside out!