By Shelley, on Virta for 3 months
I wasn’t surprised when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in July of 2019. My dad, brothers, and multiple cousins all have type 2 diabetes. In fact, it would probably be harder for me to name family members who have not been diagnosed.
Still, when my doctor told me that my A1c was 6.6% and gave me a prescription for metformin, I couldn’t help but feel like I had failed myself somehow. I felt like I had caused this disease due to my diet or poor health choices. So at that moment, I vowed to make better health choices immediately.
My doctor in Redding, CA, referred me to a diabetes clinic, and though I contacted them right away, I never heard a response. I needed help, though, as symptoms of type 2 diabetes started affecting my life. It made me feel sleepy and exhausted all the time, made worse by itchy skin at night so I could not sleep well. The metformin I started also caused gastrointestinal issues.
Right when I was struggling with diabetes the most, feeling unsure of what my next steps should be, I received an email from my health insurance provider, Blue Shield of California. They announced a partnership with a company called Virta that claimed to be able to reverse diabetes without medications or surgery.
Though I wanted to try Virta right away, I was scared to sign up and start because I didn’t want to fail. Still, I knew that I had to do something because the standard diabetes treatments, like more medications and insulin, were a whole lot worse. Getting started was easy—in less than a week, I applied, got my labs, and spoke to a Virta provider. He assured me that my fears were normal, and I would be supported every step of the way. So I took the plunge.
The first few weeks were difficult as my body adapted to using fat for energy instead of carbs. Fortunately, I had my Virta health coach right alongside me every step of the way. She seemed to know just when to check in, right when I needed that extra boost. I never felt judged or monitored in a negative way—there was only ever support and information as I needed it.
Virta taught me valuable skills and habits that I now use daily to ensure my continued success. One of the most important habits that I’ve made is meal planning. It’s too easy to rely on old habits if you don’t have a plan in place, which is why I now plan my breakfast, lunch, and dinner in advance, sometimes for several days. Another habit I’ve made is tracking biomarkers, like blood sugar and ketones. Tracking my biomarkers every day is like a daily challenge to improve upon the previous day, and it motivates me to stick to the plan.
With the support of Virta, I’ve watched my numbers drop steadily, starting with my weight. Though I had been exercising for about a year, Virta has helped me continue my workout routine while on the treatment, all of which has resulted in a drop of 6 dress sizes! My A1c has decreased by half a point, down to 6.1%, which effectively moves me out of the diabetic range and reverses my type 2 diabetes. I fully intend for diabetes to fade into my distant past. All this is a far cry from the person I was three months ago, who wasn’t even sure she could start!
In fact, at 61 years old, I feel like I can start anything and do things I never thought possible. Since Virta came into my life, my joints no longer ache, and I have way more energy. Having recently started a new relationship, I feel younger than I have felt in years. Together, we go hiking, kayaking, and I even zip-lined for the first time last year. With Virta, I am hopeful for the future, confident in my ability to take on any challenge, and most excited to see what comes next.
Were it not for Blue Shield of California, I may never have heard of Virta, and I certainly would not be feeling the way I do. I am sharing my story because I want to help others in similar situations who are struggling with diabetes and unsure of where to turn. I want them to experience how amazing it feels to be healthy. The first step is to overcome those fears and get started on Virta. I am so grateful I did!