By Member of the Month
We are excited to introduce Darren as December’s Member of the Month. Darren started his incredible journey with us in 2013 and this year celebrated his 6 year anniversary with LIVE WELL. The LIVE WELL Community is cheering you on, Darren. We can’t wait to celebrate more of your wins alongside with you!
While in my thirties, I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes, but I never really understood what it meant or what I could do to prevent the disease from progressing.
As an adult, I was always heavy, but was active and played many sports such as basketball, hockey and soccer. In 2010, I injured my knee while playing soccer. My injury started a domino effect and I rarely left home and became very sedentary while waiting for surgery. I also had some personal challenges post-surgery and continued my adopted sedentary lifestyle. I became a couch potato and my eating habits became a fast food nightmare, which contributed to my continued weight increases.
During spring 2011, I was constantly sick and visited my doctor’s office on numerous occasions over a six to seven week period. Despite several lab tests, he could not initially figure out what was going on. At one visit, we discussed my health and I mentioned that my weight had quickly dropped from 290 pounds to 260 pounds. My doctor ordered an A1C blood test. Three days later, I received an urgent phone call to come into the office. It is never a good thing when you get an emergency call to come into your doctor’s office. I was informed that I had an A1C of 27% diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at only 45 years old.
The Doctor aggressively tried to lower my A1C, but after four days, I ended up in Surrey Memorial Hospital‘s emergency room dehydrated by side effects from the medication prescribed to lower my blood sugars. While at the hospital, an appointment was set up for diabetes classes. I returned to my doctor’s office that week, and he adjusted my medication so I could successfully manage my health. That month, I started taking eight diabetic pills per day.
At the diabetes classes, I learned how to manage this disease. I learned that once my blood sugars settled, the weight I had quickly lost would come back, and the hard work to manage my weight would have to begin.
Throughout the summer and fall of 2011 I tried to lose weight by adjusting my diet and doing more exercise, but nothing worked. During the following spring, my best friend’s wife talked to me about LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic. I went to the personal consultation and realized that this place was different, because one of the first things they wanted was a referral from my doctor. When I took the referral to my doctor, he wasn’t so sure about it at first, but he did sign it. At LIVE WELL’s baseline assessment, my weight more than 290 pounds.
I knew LIVE WELL was right for me when I noticed how the staff interacted with the members. I also loved that each member has a program that is theirs alone. The classes are small and each member received the attention needed to work on their specific challenges. The staff did not encourage diets, but focussed on changing habits. They helped me create small incremental lifestyle changes that I could maintain the rest of my life.
I also became a patient of Dr. Ali Zentner, a diabetes and obesity specialist. She reviewed my medications and food diary. She replaced some medications which hindered weight loss and added medication that helped weight loss. She also talked about making small changes. One example is my love of drinking Coke. Even as a diabetic, I could not seem to stop and I explained explained that I did not like the taste of Diet Coke or other options. Dr. Zentner asked how many sodas I was drinking a week and it was one per day, sometimes more. She suggested start with one Coke every other day and let’s go from there.
In the spring of 2013, I signed up to do the 10km Vancouver Sun Run. It just so happened that LIVE WELL wanted to set up a training program for any members who would be interested. I joined and that was my first attempt to complete in any kind of race.
I had talked with my doctor and complained that I seemed to be doing all this work at the clinic three days a week, running a couple times a week and making eating changes, but I was not losing any weight. I seemed to be constantly hovering around 290 pounds. She asked me, “If I had said when we first met that you would be doing all these activities what would you think of me?” Before I could answer, she said, “ You would probably think I was crazy.” She also said, “Let’s review some things. Your A1C is down, your blood pressure is normal, your cholesterol is normal. So you are not losing weight yet, and that will come with time. She was 100% correct.
The last five years have not been easy! Between 2014 and 2015, I continued to work on all aspects of my health and the weight started to come off. 2016 was a tough year for me and I lost all motivation to do anything. I kept going to LIVE WELL and doing my workouts, but most days I just went through the motions. The staff noticed and kept trying to talk to me but I was not letting them in. All the gains I made over 2014 and 2015 was going to be for nothing as the weight was slowly coming back. In late 2016, while discussing my health struggles, my doctor diagnosed me with depression.
The last two and a half years have been some of the best of my life because of the support of the LIVE WELL staff from multiple locations - from Martin Drive to Windsor Square and now at Guildford. I cannot say enough about the impact LIVE WELL has made on my life. I have gone from 290 pounds to 220 pounds. I have gone from barely exercising to completing a marathon, three half marathons and numerous 5 to 10km races. I have gone from being a participant in the Vancouver Sun Run clinics to being a Sun Run leader and helping other people reach their fitness goals.
None of this would have been possible without the support of the LIVE WELL team. So a very special thank you to Kelli, Stacy, Ryley, Kyla, Karl, Naomi, Raj and of course Dr. Zentner. I know I am missing some of the staff that have helped me reach my goals. A sincere thank you to all of the staff that have been a part of my health journey to date.
Since joining LIVE WELL my A1C has lowered from 27% to 5.3% and as of March 2019, my cholesterol is under control and I have reduced or discontinued a vast array of medications I was on. So far, I have attended well over 600 sessions at LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic and I am proud to be part of an elite LIVE WELL 6 star member group!
The best is yet to come.