Height: 5 feet 8
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Lifestyle changes: He took the six-week class "very seriously," he said. He made losing weight a priority, joined e-diets and downloaded hundreds of healthy recipes. "I learned to cook and shop at the local farmers market." He got on a strict schedule, and programmed his Palm Pilot to sound every time he was supposed to sleep, eat, check his blood or take his meds. He started walking 2 miles at lunch and after work. He eventually lost 65 pounds and started taking yoga.
Today: He's medication-free and weighs 175; his A1C is 5.2 and his blood sugar stays around 98. He eats and sleeps at the same time every day. He takes two to four yoga classes a week and walks or jogs 2 to 8 miles a day. Last December, his employer sponsored him to run the O.C. half-marathon. He ran the 13-mile race again in May.
Advice: "Make moving more [of] a habit. I park on the top floor of my office's parking structure . . . and I pick the farthest parking space at the shopping center."
What keeps him on the program: "I will do anything to avoid that terrible foot pain I had. I had uncles lose limbs to diabetes. I never want that to happen to me."
"Don't underestimate the body's potential to heal on its own."
John Burgess, Irvine
Diagnosed: 18 years ago
Weight then: 220 pounds
Height: 5 feet 11
Background: For a long time Burgess controlled his disease with diet and exercise, but eventually he needed medication. He started taking metformin and Actos, and ultimately, in July 2007, insulin, which caused weight gain. By December 2008, he weighed 250, had become more insulin resistant and needed medications to manage blood pressure and cholesterol. His sedentary job didn't help. He ultimately needed the strongest insulin available, five injections a day of U-500. In six months he gained 50 more pounds, peaking at 305. In July 2009, he saw Dr. Wei-An Lee.
Lifestyle changes: Lee put Burgess on a strict, 700-calorie-a-day diet. One week later he was off all insulin. After two weeks, he graduated to a 1,000-calorie diet, and added some exercise. He got a pedometer and aimed for 5,000 steps a day. He lost 84 pounds in 85 days. All his numbers, which he charts meticulously, have improved.
Today: He weighs 211 pounds, has dropped eight prescription meds in three months, including all his diabetes medications, two blood pressure medications, and medicine for his triglycerides. He's halved his cholesterol medication. He does 5 1/2 miles a day on the elliptical and sometimes runs an additional half a mile on the treadmill, for a total of 6 miles. He focuses on carb control and relies on Lean Cuisine. "Last summer I couldn't walk 100 steps; now I'm jogging."
Advice: Because taking clients to lunch is part of his job, he looks at the restaurant's menu online and when possible, the nutritional content of certain dishes, so he can decide in advance what to order. If he can't get the nutritional information, he orders meat and vegetables.
What keeps him on track: Results. "The program sounds drastic, but sticking with it is easy when you understand the payoffs."
"I've had plenty of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, plenty of cocktails; now I just want to live."