Jeffery Lewis had been creeping toward a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes for several years before his blood glucose levels finally topped the cut point in 2004. His healthcare provider has been recommending changes in diet and exercise, and he had made some — but not enough to slow the disease’s progression.
“They told me I needed to do some exercise, but nobody ever defined what some was,” says Lewis. And so ten years and several providers later, he still hadn’t made enough changes to make a substantial difference in his health.
That final changed two years ago, when two very important things happened. Lewis found a new provider, who took the time to better explain his condition to him. And he started to take exercising seriously.
Today, Lewis, 63, cycles seven to ten miles, four to five times per week in the area around his home in Turlock, CA, where he runs a charitable, nonprofit health organization.
He sticks to a more healthful diet — high in fruits and vegetables and low in sugar. “I make sure I have healthy alternatives all day, every day, and in the evenings,” he says. “If I have a treat, it’s some kind of sorbet with fresh fruit. If I get hungry late at night, I have a hardboiled egg white.”
He gave up — for the most part — favorite foods such as fried potatoes and extra portions of his wife’s homemade baked goods. “If we have guests coming and she makes a pie or a cake, I taste it,” he says. “But I don’t eat it later that night or the next morning for breakfast.”
The result? So far he has shed 20 pounds and lowered his A1C from 7.3 percent to 5.9 percent. “I feel better,” he says. “I depend on the exercise. If I don’t ride a bike five times a week, I have to do something.”
What keeps him going, says Lewis, is knowing that what he’s doing is working. “It’s a combination of need and guilt,” he says, adding that while he has a lot of support from his wife, the drive to change hat to come from within.
“It’s a path you have to blaze yourself. It’s lonely. It’s frustrating. But the important part is to just make sure you do it,” says Lewis.
“If you’re sixty-three like me and you want to be ninety-three one day and still be smiling, you make sure you do it.”
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