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Diabetes Basics

My Motivation

Motivating people with diabetes to control this disease is my goal in life. For most of my life I consciously took in information, but now what gives me the greatest joy is to share it.

But what motivated me to control my own diabetes?

Yesterday afternoon I gave my chiropractor a copy of the article that I wrote here on Chia Seeds, mentioning that many people had read and commented on it. While he was treating me, he said that my articles must help many people to control their diabetes.

Maybe, I acknowledged.  But I’m trying to help just one person at a time.

Just as my chiropractor works every day to help the individuals he treats, I think often of the wisdom of the Talmud, which says that, “To save one life is as if you have saved the world.” I told him that I seek to motivate just one more person at a time to control his or her diabetes.

Then he asked me a question that I couldn’t answer immediately: “What motivated you to control your diabetes?”

Finally, I told him that it was when I finally knew that could lose the weight that I had known for years that I had to lose.

While I knew that I wasn’t controlling my weight, I had long assumed that I was controlling my blood glucose levels and therefore my diabetes. My A1C was 14.4 when I doctor told me more than 15 years ago that I have diabetes. But with a sulfonylurea drug and then metformin and lots of exercise I was able to reduce my A1C to below 7.0 within six months. In the last 15 years it’s never been higher than that.

For years the American Diabetes Association has set 7.0 as our A1C goal. So my assumption that an A1C under 7.0 was reasonable. But I was wrong, and I wasn’t controlling my diabetes.

Only by controlling my weight have I been able in the past 2 1/2 years to bring my A1C level consistently below 6.0.

Only when we bring our A1C below 6.0 is it in the range that people without diabetes have. This normal level minimizes our chance of complications.

Before that moment I didn’t think it was possible. And I remember the precise moment when I knew it that I could do it.

I had just helped Dr. Joe Prendergast, a leading endocrinologist in Palo Alto, California, by editing his book An Uncommon Doctor. In a phone conversation he mentioned that the 200 patients he had put on Byetta lost an average of 35 pounds.

Even though I knew about Byetta long before it became available, the reason I didn’t start on Byetta earlier was that the official “Prescribing Information” documented an average weight loss of just about six pounds in 30-week clinical trials. That didn’t get me motivated.

Later I realized that the researchers running clinical trials tell participants not to make any other changes in their lives, including not eating less. And that’s also the reason why so many people in the trials suffered nausea.

After that conversation with Dr. Joe, I started taking Byetta as soon as I could get it. As a result of 2 and 1/2 years on Byetta and subsequently on a very low-carb diet I lost 160 pounds and kept them all off. My BMI dropped from 40 to 19.

Soon after starting Byetta my A1C also dropped below 6.0 for the first time. Since then it’s never been higher, and my most recent test was 4.8.

Full disclosure: I own stock in Amylin, which developed and sells Byetta.

For me, knowing that I could control my A1C, my weight, and therefore my diabetes was the key to motivating me to do what I knew I had to do. When I had thought that it was too hard for me to control my weight, I made only short-lived efforts. I needed this positive motivation to get on track.

Are you controlling your diabetes too? If you are, what motivated you?

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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  • Berni at

    I also have been trying to help people take control of their diabetes. One of my major ways is to guide them to this site. It has been extremely helpful to me. I have an A1C of 5.7 and I think largely due to the information I have found here. Keep up the good work.

  • Andrew at

    I’m 34, diagnosed with T1 last year. What motivates me? “I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”