"I'm controlled, not cured, but I'm not going back."
Aaron Snyder, San Diego
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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