Jerry has a message for everyone who is diagnosed with
"Take it seriously," he says. "Of all the chronic
diseases you can have, this one is really influenced by the choices you
That wasn't how Jerry felt when he first learned he had
prediabetes. His doctor told him to lose weight and get more exercise or else
run the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Jerry was angry and frustrated.
"I thought, 'What's the point? I might still get diabetes,'" Jerry says.
"I felt like I was stuck either way."
He also didn't see how he
could fit exercise into his day. Four days a week he works 12-hour shifts as an
engineer at a computer company. The other days he catches up on household
chores and yard work.
So for a few months, Jerry did nothing. At 54,
he figured it was too late for him to make any big changes in his life anyway.
On his 18th wedding anniversary, Jerry's wife, Laura, gave him a
present that changed his attitude. It was a scrapbook of photos from camping
trips they'd taken during their marriage. One showed Jerry and Laura atop Half
Dome in Yosemite National Park, smiling like crazy.
With the book
came a note from Laura. It said, "Let's still be doing this 18 years from now."
"I looked at those pictures and thought about the future," he
says. "I realized I wanted to get healthy so I could keep doing all those
things I enjoy so much."
Jerry went to a prediabetes class that
his doctor prescribed. During the 2-hour class, Jerry learned about how being
overweight and inactive makes it harder for the body to keep blood sugar levels
normal. And he finally understood why making lifestyle changes is so important.
"I met a lot of other people who felt the same way I did at first
about prediabetes. Like, how can I fight it? But it turns out there's a lot you
signed up for a weight-loss program, and he started keeping a daily food diary
to track what and when he ate. He added walks around the neighborhood and
visits to the gym to his routine.
He also uses a pedometer, and he tries to think up ways to get more steps.
park my car at the back of the lot and take the stairs when I can," he says.
"On my break, I walk around the outside of the building a few times."
In 7 months, Jerry dropped 25 pounds—about 10% of his body weight.
"It hasn't been easy. I've had some ups and downs, especially over
the holidays. Hey, I love to eat. Sometimes it's hard to stay focused on the
long-term goal. But tracking what, when, and why I eat helps me to eat less,"
Jerry's wife, Laura, has been a big help, he says. She
joined the weight-loss program too. They plan and cook meals together on
weekends. That way, Jerry has healthy food ready to take for his long shifts at
When he went back to his doctor for another blood test, Jerry's blood
sugar had dropped below the prediabetes range. He still needs to get tested on
a regular basis. But that motivates him to keep up his routine.
"Taking care of yourself can make a huge difference in your health," he
says. "It's possible I might still get type 2 diabetes at some point. But I
know that even if I do, I'm way ahead in terms of managing it. So don't sit around
and wait for it to happen. Get up and move!"
This story is based on information gathered from many people living with prediabetes.
For more information, see the topic
June 20, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
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