Will Nevin, 25, feared a frightening diagnosis by doctors so much that he went on a diet and exercise drive and lost 175 lbs in 11 months. He had been starting to have tingling sensations in his feet, which after an internet search made him wonder whether he might be pre-diabetic.
One day, in January 2010, while travelling with friends by car from Alabama to California, he felt a tightening in the chest and a racing heart. He assumed the worst and thought that perhaps he was having a heart attack. He kept quiet about his symptoms, saying nothing to his friends. Now, he realizes that was probably not a very wise thing to do.
The symptoms slowly went away and the road trip continued. He had not seen a doctor for three years. A fear lingered in the back of his mind that there might be something seriously wrong with his health. This fear grew and eventually pushed him into doing something about it.
Back in Alabama he continued wondering whether he had some serious and perhaps life-threatening condition. The worry sometimes overwhelmed him, but he kept it to himself. Today, on reflection, he says he was “wallowing in self pity.”
A month passed, the worries continued, but so did his lifestyle of eating and watching TV – a lifestyle of physical inaction and eating. And then, suddenly, for no clear reason that he can recall, he walked to his university gym.
During his walk he acknowledged to himself that at the age of 24 a human is usually at the peak of his/her physical condition. If he was unfit, unhealthy, and flabby and weak at that age, then that peak either passed a long time ago or would never occur, he thought.
He remembers that his first trip into the gym was like going into a strange and unfamiliar land, except of course, for the smoothie counter. He got onto a treadmill and managed to do a three-mile walk on it.
From that day on he did not miss one day at the gym. He also carried out some research and altered his eating habits, cutting down on red meat meals and increasing his intake of veggies and fruits.
He did not see a doctor, nutritionist, gym instructor or sports scientist for advice – something he says today he regrets. He believes he was lucky that everything turned out well.
There were moments in the gym when he would look around and see nothing but perfect bodies, and would feel despondent and lonely. Negative thoughts of never ever being able to look like them occasionally entered his mind.
He found himself becoming frustrated and upset when he weighed himself and was disappointed with the results. This is a common problem – individuals with high expectations becoming frustrated and upset on the scale.
However, he persevered and people and family started to notice. Such comments as “You look different..” gradually turned into “Wow! I cannot recognize you any more..”. Clothes starting becoming unwearable and he had to get new ones.
Nevin, who was studying law, felt a great sense of achievement when he managed to walk up the flight of stairs to his law class without panting. Today he says he can sprint up them with ease.
After 11 months Nevin weighed in at 175 pounds, a 50% drop in bodyweight. He had arrived, after many months, at that magic number – 175!
Even today he says he looks at himself in the mirror and still cannot believe it is him.
Now he was ready to see his doctor for a check-up, he thought. Whatever he was told he felt he could cope with. He passed with flying colors – he was fine, a healthy young man.
Prediabetes – this is when an individual’s blood sugar level is abnormally high, but not enough for a diagnosis of diabetes type two to be made. The person is nearly at the threshold, knocking on the diabetes door. If nothing is done, such as losing weight, changing diet, and doing more exercise, most likely the person will eventually develop diabetes. Even at the pre-diabetes stage, damage to some organs, such as the heart, may already be starting to happen.
People need to know that the progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes type 2 is not inevitable, it is preventable. In most cases, all you have to do is more exercise, lose weight, and eat healthy foods.
Obesity in the USA – obesity rates have been increasing progressively in America for the last thirty years. In most other industrialized nations, and many other countries rates have also been rising. However, the USA rates are among the highest in the world. In 1997 it was estimated that 19.4% of adults were obese, this rose to 24.5% in 2004, 26.6% in 2007, to 33.8% in 2008 (Source: CDC).
Written by Christian Nordqvist