By: Joy Pape
Dennis Robinson, a University of Missouri economist, says, “Give me a challenge, make it make sense, and I can do almost anything. That’s how I could lose 60 pounds and keep it off, and even take insulin.”
Dennis was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes six years ago. “My doctor told me I had diabetes, told me what my blood glucose levels should be, gave me some pills and that’s about it.”
Dennis noticed that despite an improvement in his blood glucose, his other numbers went up. He gained weight and his blood pressure and cholesterol went up. He said he tried to learn more about his condition, but he kept getting conflicting information.
“I’m a researcher, I’m an economist, a thinker, a problem solver, but I couldn’t solve this one.”
Dennis’ wife, Kathryn, was just as discouraged, and she started to seek out information to share with him. Kathryn visited my diabetes education and support group. She then invited Dennis, who came with her to a meeting. We also introduced Dennis to a new doctor who helped teach Dennis how his diabetes medication worked and why he had gained weight. He was taking a sulfonylurea, which, if not balanced correctly with food and activity, usually does not stabilize blood glucose as well as some other medications. Some people release too much insulin, then go low, and they overeat just to bring up their blood glucose to feel better, which then can cause weight gain.
Dennis’ doctor stopped the sulfonylurea and started him on metformin. Dennis learned that carbohydrates affect blood glucose more than other types of foods. He made dietary changes and started counting carbs.
Dennis’ numbers improved. He started losing weight and his blood glucose stabilized, with fewer of the old ups and downs. He felt better and enjoyed the challenge.
Dennis’ blood glucose is now in his target range, and he has lost and kept off 60 pounds. Kathryn lost 40 pounds and has kept it off for over a year. For their 30th wedding anniversary, the Robinson’s received the gift of a 100-pound weight loss and better health for both of them.
Dennis was overweight because he ate too much and was not physically active enough. He didn’t realize that his medication was increasing his appetite.
Dennis’ motivation to change
Dennis loves a challenge. Dennis started to change to meet the challenge. Once he saw that he could succeed, his motivation became to improve his health.
What was in Dennis’ way?
Dennis needed information that made sense to him. He couldn’t follow a plan that didn’t make sense.
Lots of support. Working closely with his wife and making frequent visits early on with his new doctor, diabetes educator and his support group gave him the encouragement he needed to make lifelong changes and to feel less alone in the process.