In Categories: Patient Voice

By Cheryl, a Virta patient

In 2011, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I was devastated, but I wasn’t surprised.

When I was diagnosed, I thought I’d just have to avoid sugar and watch what I ate. I was sent to a dietitian to tell me how I was supposed to eat. I only saw that dietitian one time. I tried to follow that eating plan and I was losing a little bit, but then Purdue University, my employer, offered a 12-week class on diabetes. Over that 12 weeks, I found out just how serious the disease really is—and I knew none of that going into it.

Over the next year, I lost 17 pounds because I got more serious about watching my carbs. But I still wasn’t following it closely enough, and I didn’t have the support and accountability I needed to get healthy and invest in myself.

Here’s what I want to tell people who are thinking about joining Virta: If you could experience what I have experienced, you wouldn’t hesitate. It is life-changing and life-saving.

Depression and Not Taking Care of Myself

But then, life happened. I had a business, and I had to close it. The landlords didn’t like that I had broken my lease, so they sued me, and I filed for bankruptcy. During that time, I became so depressed and I didn’t care about anything anymore.

I went off the deep end. I believe I was suicidal—not in the way that I would get a gun and kill myself, but I knew that if I didn’t take care of myself, the diabetes would kill me. And I was letting it kill me. I ate whatever I wanted—once I ate a dozen doughnuts. I got so much sicker. I gained back all the weight I had lost, and my blood pressure skyrocketed.

My husband helped me wake up. He understood that I was depressed, but he asked me to think about what I was doing to myself, how if I went on this way I could get heart disease, go blind, have to amputate a foot. My HbA1c was 9.5.

I found out about the study Dr. Hallberg was doing through another coworker who had lost 80 pounds, so I started researching Virta’s clinical trial. When I saw the results of that clinical trial, that 54% reversed their diabetes in ten weeks, I knew I wanted to join.

How Virta was different than making dietary changes on my own

I started, on my own, with some of the dietary changes Virta recommends. I started a ketogenic way of eating in January 2017. I had already taken off about 35 pounds. Then I heard Purdue was going to cover the Virta Treatment and I felt like I had won the lottery. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.

The only time I went off the treatment was when my husband got attacked by a dog. He was in the hospital. I was stressed out and went off of my eating plan for about 3 weeks, and I gained 10 pounds back and was feeling horrible. But I made the decision to get back on the horse, and I haven’t gone off plan since. I think it was good that I did that because it made me realize that that food didn’t actually taste that good anymore to me—and the shame that followed it wasn’t worth it.

Even though I started the eating plan on my own, joining Virta was completely different. My coach gave me accountability and support. So much of my eating was emotional—and I needed a real person to give me the support and accountability to help me.

When I was following a ketogenic diet on my own, I was following advice that wasn’t good, and getting that advice from people who didn’t really know what they were talking about. Now when I have a question, I go right to my coach, and I know she understands all the science behind it. Having that knowledge and that accountability made it completely different. And since it was covered by Purdue, I felt that there were expectations I should be living up to—this is something my workplace is providing so that I can get better, so I owe it to them to really try.

And now if anyone questions my food choices, I can tell them I’m under a doctor’s care. It’s all medically supervised.

I’ve been on Virta for 1 year, and I’m not looking back.

Gaining energy and losing weight

The biggest change I’ve seen is the unbelievable energy I have. I have 2 granddaughters that I watch every weekend. I used to have a very difficult time going up and down the steps, carrying my granddaughter, and now I can run up and down the stairs. I even ran down the street the other day.

When I was first diagnosed, I was 250 pounds. I got on the scale this morning and I’m 170. I only have 5 pounds left to lose, and I’ll be in the normal range for my BMI. I went from a size 20 to a size 12. My wedding ring falls off of me now.

I have a more positive outlook on life. My depression is gone. I don’t have to take pills every day.

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Great to hear this Cheryl… You’ve just encouraged me to get back on VIRTA and stay on it. Diana….

    Reply

  2. Avatar
    Cynthia Contreras June 5, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    That is terrific!! Thanks for sharing your story and Success!! Well done!! What an awesome accomplishment.

    Reply

  3. Avatar

    Please contact me. I’d love to talk, email, meet with you. I listened to your story at the last Virta meeting at the Lahr House.

    Reply

  4. Avatar

    I am considering entering the virtu program via the veterans administration health system. They will cover Virtua for one year. I am 65 years old I weigh 202 lb I’ve been on diabetic medications for 9 years my hemoglobin a1c was at 10 since I started ozempic in February it’s dropped is 6.9 and I’m also taking insulin every night. But I’ve come off glipizide and metformin. I am afraid of starting a ketogenic diet I’m afraid that it’s going to be too difficult for me. I have also suffered depression and take Prozac everyday. your story inspired me and gave me courage so I thought I would reach out to you thank you so much.
    I’m going to do the labs and talk with a physician later in the week.

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Ella, Thank you so much for bravely sharing your story and your fears. We are so happy that Cheryl’s story has inspired you and we are so proud of everything she has accomplished!

      Reply

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