Larry Smoothie

How to Reverse Diabetes Through Diet and Exercise – A Blueprint for Success

In this article, I’d like to share the story of another one of my diabetic clients, Larry Gershon, who reversed type 2 diabetes following my evidence-based whole foods nutrition and fitness coaching program.  Larry has an amazing story, and has made an incredible turn around by adopting powerful and extremely effective lifestyle habits.

Life Before January 2013

Prior to January 2013, Larry was overweight and he knew it.

At 5’8”, he weighed almost 200 pounds, more than 45 pounds over his target body weight of 155 pounds.  He had been prediabetic for many years, with a fasting blood sugar between 100-110 mg/dL (normal fasting blood sugars are be between 70-100mg/dL).

In addition, Larry had high blood pressure and an elevated cholesterol level of 200 mg/dL.

These 3 indicators were silent signs that Larry’s lifestyle needed a serious overhaul.

January 2013: Diagnosis with Lung Cancer

In January of 2013 after battling intense cold and flu-like symptoms, Larry checked himself into the urgent care unit at the local medical center.  The doctors took a chest X-ray as a safeguard against pneumonia, which instead revealed a tumor on his left lung.

chest x-ray

Follow up CAT scans and PET scans revealed that Larry had developed two tumors – one in his left lung and a second in an adjacent lymph node.  A surgical biopsy confirmed that both tumors were cancerous.  Two weeks later, a brain scan revealed that the cancer had metastasized to his brain.

Soon after, Larry was diagnosed with stage 4 adenocarcinoma.

Larry began chemotherapy immediately.  His chemo infusions occurred on Tuesdays, three weeks apart. His energy level was good on the days following his infusions until late Friday but by Saturday he was exhausted and it was nearly impossible to lift his head off of the pillow on the weekends following his infusions. Usually by Monday he was able to return to work.

Over the next 3 months of chemotherapy, sleep was his official weekend activity following chemotherapy infusions.

June 2013: Diagnosis with Type 2 Diabetes

Larry’s increasingly lethargic lifestyle during chemotherapy was causing a secondary problem – type 2 diabetes.  By June of 2013, his fasting blood sugar was almost double the normal range, between 150-170 mg/dL, with infrequent excursions to 200 mg/dL.

His doctors then performed a blood test called the Hemoglobin A1c, a blood marker of 3-month blood sugar control.  Larry’s HbA1c was 7.7%, well in excess of the 5.5% cutoff for normal individuals.  Based on these two metrics, the doctors diagnosed him as a type 2 diabetic.

When Larry heard the word “diabetes,” he instinctively knew that the condition was reversible if he took the right steps.  He remembers thinking:

“My reaction to this diagnosis was that I sure didn’t want to live with diabetes for the rest of my life.  I didn’t know how, but I was determined to deal with it effectively.  I wanted to beat diabetes if I could.”

A Struggle With the Traditional Nutrition Approach

Larry’s primary care doctor didn’t want to start him on insulin sensitizing medication or insulin, but rather control his blood sugar using an effective diet and increased exercise.  Unfortunately, his doctor didn’t explain exactly what the diet and exercise needed to be, so he made an appointment to speak with a nutritionist at the clinic.  He remembers thinking:

“The nutritionist gave me a glucose meter and some test strips, and showed me how to use it.  Because of a one hour time limitation for a one on one appointment she spent just a few minutes showing me the proper  portion size with food replicas and told me to eat more vegetables.

His consultation with the medical center nutritionist was less than inspiring, to say the least. Larry found this traditional approach to diabetes nutrition very discouraging.  He was scheduled to take a series of four group classes but he couldn’t get into the classes for 45 days. He didn’t learn any practical information, merely that vegetables were “good for long-term health.”

This is Where it Gets Ridiculous

To make matters worse, Larry was instructed not to worry about controlling diabetes in the short term.  He recounted a conversation with the nutritionist at the 1-on-1 appointment.

He admitted that he was frustrated because he didn’t know much about eating properly to treat diabetes, and he didn’t want to wait 6 weeks to go to class.  He was told the following:

“You know, you don’t really need to worry about waiting until your classes start.  People can live with diabetes for at least ten years before there’s any chance of losing a limb or anything going seriously wrong.”

At that point, Larry became irate.  He and his wife were discouraged, upset, and felt that the information being provided was not helping them understand what to do.

Seeking Outside Nutrition and Fitness Help

Larry sought my help for multiple reasons:

  • Because he wanted to feel more energy
  • Because he wanted to lose excess body weight
  • Because he was confused by what he read on the internet about diabetes management

In our first meeting, I emphasized the importance of a diet high in REAL carbohydrates in controlling blood sugar without medication.  I went into great detail about why the traditional carbohydrate-counting approach does not address the root cause of the problem – insulin resistance.  I covered the practical side of nutrition as well, and showed him what to stock in the cupboards and fridge, and what to eliminate altogether.

Larry started making smoothies on a daily basis as a way of integrating more fruits and vegetables into his diet.  He found this method very easy to do, and developed an addiction very quickly.  He recalls:

“When I started including shakes, I would usually move my monster salad to lunchtime.  I would then have a shake for dinner five to six days a week.  I still had my fruit breakfast and my snacks of fruit or vegetables.”

green smoothie with cocoa nibs

One smoothie per day as tasty as the one pictured here was Larry’s key to success. Packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and water, a fresh and well-crafted smoothie is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.

I encouraged him to make a smoothie after exercising, to use it as energy recovery formula.  Immediately, he began exercising at a high intensity level for an hour or two, prior to drinking my shake.

His fruit and vegetable smoothie was now a reward for exercising.  And boy was it a tasty reward.

Exercise

I also covered the importance of exercise, and demonstrated a bodyweight exercise routine that could be done in the comfort of his own home.  Since he was not a fan of the gym environment, it was important to teach him a routine that could be done in his living room.  And that’s why bodyweight exercises are so powerful, because they can be done literally anywhere.

The exercise routine consisted of three upper body, core and lower body exercises.  These exercises included modified pushups, curls with stretch bands, leg lifts, torso twists, bodyweight squats and bodyweight lunges.  I showed him how to modify the exercises to make them more or less challenging.  The exercises looked similar to the following:

supermans

oblique-right

I encouraged Larry to walk everyday at a fast pace, and to ensure two things:

  • To exercise at an intensity level that makes it difficult to talk
  • To exercise at an intensity level that induces sweat

Larry remembers the day he called me:

“It was the weekend after my chemo infusion. I was on the couch, really tired. Cyrus had inspired me to exercise and this was as good a time as any to start.  I decided to get up and walk around the house.  The first time I tried, I was able to walk around three or four rooms a couple of times…and then I was back on the couch.  I did that again a little bit later in the day.  That’s how my exercise began.  Step by step.”

Results

Blood Sugar

Similar to all of my clients, Larry saw quick, dramatic results.  Almost immediately, his fasting blood sugar began to fall, predictably and consistently.  For four months, Larry regularly tested his blood sugar, testing multiple times per day.

Before working together, Larry’s fasting blood sugars were: 160-178 mg/dL.

Within two weeks of working together Larry’s fasting blood sugars were: 119-130 mg/dL

Within four weeks of working together Larry’s fasting blood sugars were: 102-120 mg/dL

Within eight weeks of working together Larry’s fasting blood sugars were: 90-100 mg/dL

After 12 weeks of working together Larry as no longer considered a diabetic.

He stopped checking his blood sugar altogether, given that his fasting blood sugar values were consistently below 100 mg/dL.

Larry Fasting Blood GlucoseHemoglobin A1c

Within 3 months of working together, Larry’s HbA1c levels fell predictably, from a 7.7% to a 5.9%.  Readings in excess of 6.0% are an alarm bell for diabetes, and Larry now enjoys a consistent reading of 5.7%.

Larry A1c

Achieving Ideal Body Weight

Achieving an ideal body weight was the single most powerful weapon that Larry possessed against further health complications.  I told him that if he achieved his ideal body weight, then most of his symptoms would disappear.

Since his cancer diagnosis, Larry has lost more than 40 pounds.  At his heaviest, Larry weighed 200 pounds, and when we started working together he was 186 pounds.  In 12 weeks, he was able to maintain his weight between 160 and 165 pounds.  Slow, consistent weight loss was the key to exceptional health.

Larry Body WeightBlood Pressure

Prior to working together, Larry’s blood pressure was 135/80.  His blood pressure is now consistently reduced to 115/65, and is considered very healthy.

He reduced his dosage of the ACE inhibitor Enalapril by a half.

He no longer takes Hydrochlorthiazide, a diuretic medication that reduces peripheral blood pressure.

Cholesterol

At the time Larry was diagnosed with diabetes, his cholesterol hovered around 250 mg/dL.  After losing weight, reversing type 2 diabetes and regaining metabolilc control, his cholesterol is now 170 mg/dL.

Discontinuing Chemotherapy

By May of 2013, follow up PET scans revealed that the lung and lymph tumors were receding, showing no signs of growth.  Even though the tumors were still visible, the chemotherapy had effectively eliminated all active cancer cells from the tumors in his chest.  In addition, a follow up MRI found no evidence of the previously detected brain tumor.  His body had responded very well to his chemotherapy regimen.

Larry met with his doctor in early February of 2014, and decided to stop chemotherapy.  Proliferating cancer cells were no longer detectable.

Energy Level

Larry’s energy level improved quickly and noticeably.  He recounts:

“I feel significantly better in many ways.  I have much more energy, I weigh less, my clothes fit well, and my ability to exercise is much improved.  The further I got into exercise and lifestyle, the better I felt.  I was not nearly as tired or limited on the weekends after my chemo infusion.  My physical energy and ability to do things following infusion definitely improved.”

Larry’s Reccomendations

Now that Larry is fully transformed, I asked him if he could provide others with a few nuggets of wisdom, to give others in need of help some valuable insight.  Here are his recommendations, in no particular order.

  • Type 2 diabetes is controllable and reversible if you put your mind to it. With a proper diet and ongoing exercise, you can reverse type 2 diabetes and live a completely normal life.
  • Go “cold turkey” from the beginning. Don’t ease into a new lifestyle; I think that allows for too much temptation to make lousy excuses. It makes it too easy to revert to your old habits.
  • There simply are no negatives to better health. It’s just that simple. At first I felt guilty when I chose to eat familiar foods that I knew were inherently unhealthy, but once I realized that those choices were conscious decisions, I started to take full responsibility for when things went wrong.
  • I highly recommend working with a coach. Particularly valuable is the explanation, before starting, of the importance of following the lifestyle and what works well. A good coach sets the tone at the beginning and gives benchmarks along the way.
  • I would also absolutely recommend doing food logs. Put your food down on paper. There’s a guilt factor associated with eating poorly. Food logs keep you honest, and prevent you from lying. Lying to yourself.

So there you have it, proof that overcoming a health condition as complicated as type 2 diabetes is possible using a 100% natural approach to diet and exercise.  All it takes is a dedication to succeed, and the willingness to achieve.

Watching Larry transform before my eyes is one of the most rewarding processes of my professional life.  Witnessing the positive impact that his turnaround has had on him and his family makes my job worth every minute.

Chest X-Ray

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pulmonary_pathology/5414485536/sizes/l/

Green Smoothie with Cocoa Nibs

http://www.flickr.com/photos/courtbean/11462793014/sizes/o/

About The Author

Cyrus Khambatta

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 22, I have spent over a decade learning the fundamentals of nutrition at the doctorate level. My goal is to share my knowledge of practical nutrition and fitness with people with prediabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is an OPPORTUNITY to attain excellent health. Reversing the effects of insulin resistance can be a fun and enjoyable process if the right system is in place. That's why I've spent over 10 years developing a rock solid system that can minimize blood glucose variability and insulin resistance.

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