Patients kick the insulin habit through diet, exercise
Counting calories -- and miles walked -- helped these people control their diabetes.
Aaron Snyder of San Diego bench presses to control his diabetes through diet and strength and conditioning at his home on October 20, 2009 in the Mission Bay area. Snyder was diagnosed 10 years ago, he lost 50 pounds the first year and 10 more later. Now He sticks to a low-carb diet and works out everyday without taking medication. (Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times)
"I'm controlled, not cured, but I'm not going back."
Aaron Snyder, San Diego
Occupation: Commodities analyst for Shell Oil
Diagnosed: 10 years ago. (Diabetes is diagnosed by a fasting blood sugar of higher than 126 and an A1C of 6.5 or higher.)
Weight then: 220 pounds
Height: 5 feet 6
Background: "I was a math major at UC Berkeley and the pressure was enormous. I solved a lot of problems with food." One evening, after he went out to dinner with a diabetic friend, she tested his blood sugar out of curiosity. It was 215. His A1C was in the 7s. "I had a long family history of diabetes; I just never thought I'd be part of it."
Lifestyle changes: Over the next year he lost 50 pounds on a low-carb diet, and 10 more pounds the year after that. His doctor put him on insulin and metformin, a non-insulin medication that decreases the liver's output of sugar and boosts cells' ability to metabolize insulin. He began exercising daily.
Today: He still weighs 160 pounds, and sticks to his low-carb diet. Two years ago, he stopped taking all his diabetes medications, and his blood pressure and cholesterol are normal. He works out every day, lifting weights four days a week, and riding a stationary bike 30 minutes three days a week.
Advice: "I wish people understood that what you eat now influences what you want to eat next. A low-carb diet is the best way to curb your appetite and maintain your weight."
What keeps him on track: His great grandmother had a stroke and lost a leg to diabetes, and his grandfather went blind and died of kidney disease, also due to diabetes. Besides, he adds, "I like how I look now, and more important, how I feel."
"I went from eating frequently from the vending machine to knowing where all the yoga classes and running trails are around town and shopping at the farmers market."
Occupation: Cable consultant for Time Warner Cable
Diagnosed: Six years ago