HomeHealthFitnessCan diet, exercise cure Type 2 diabetes? How one woman beat it

Can diet, exercise cure Type 2 diabetes? How one woman beat it

As President Joe Biden noted on the steps of the White House when he declared November’s National Diabetes Month, the disease — specifically type 2 diabetes — is an American problem that won’t go away.

According to statistics from the American Diabetes Association, nearly 5,000 people are diagnosed with type 2 each day, representing 34 million Americans — about 1 in 10 — who are currently battling the disease.

“I call on all Americans to participate in activities that will raise awareness about diabetes and help prevent, treat and control this disease,” the president urged.

Or, in Jody’s case, turn it around.

* * *

Jody Reid, a mother of three who reversed her type 2 diabetes through exercise and diet, walks with daughter Kaylyn, 13, during a fitness class at Roy CrossFit in Roy on Wednesday, November 9, 2022.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Jody Reid is a 36-year-old mother of three with many diabetic relatives, a sweet tooth, a desk job with the IRS – and a membership in the Roy CrossFit gym.

All of these factors add up to her story. One that begins in desperation and ends in her joining a rare club of people who once had diabetes and now don’t.

Unbeknownst to her, Jody’s battle with diabetes began when she was born. A long line of aunts, uncles and grandparents, on both sides, had contracted type 2 diabetes before her, suggesting a strong genetic predisposition to the disease.

Then there’s her affection for sweets. As she puts it, if given the choice between kale and a KitKat, “I’ll take the KitKat every time.”

Add to that the job she has had with the IRS since 2006, which requires her to sit at a desk for eight hours a day.

If that sounds like a prescription for seeking a diabetes diagnosis… well, it was in Jody’s case.

She was only 31 when the doctors warned her she was prediabetic—a danger zone where your sugar levels go the wrong way (it’s estimated that 94 million Americans are prediabetic).

In response, Jody joined a gym. She chose a CrossFit gym near her home — CrossFit workouts provide high-intensity interval training, usually in groups — because her sister, Jenny, had joined a CrossFit gym and “lost a ton of weight.”

“I thought I could train my way out of it,” says Jody. Plus, she would drop some pounds in the process.

Instead, the exact opposite happened.

Based on someone falsely advising her, “If you do CrossFitting, you can eat whatever you want,” before and after workouts, she continued to inhale the candies and chocolates she kept in her car’s console.

She arrived.

Even worse, in early 2019 her blood work revealed she had crossed the line from prediabetic to full-blown type 2 diabetes. The doctor sent her home with Metformin, the starting medication often given to new diabetics.

She came to the gym that day sobbing. She found a lot of sympathy, but also found a stern warning from her coach, Van Aston, who is also a resident physician.

“I get emotional when I talk about it,” says Jody, “but he just looked at me and said, ‘You have to take this seriously. This disease kills people every day.’

“That scared me. No one had put it that hard, and I needed it to turn my world upside down. I had been in denial, avoiding the truth, because it was hard to swallow the pill I did to myself.

Soon after, the gym sponsored a nutrition challenge. Jodie signed up. She was committed with a capital C. She cut out the junk food, taught herself about proper nutrition, and added healthy foods to her diet. She drank 100 ounces of water a day. She took her 10,000 steps. She took CrossFit classes six days a week.

Her weight dropped to 160 pounds (she was 220 when she started going to the gym two years earlier). Her energy returned. She could tie her shoelaces without taking a break. When she got into the car, there was a big gap between her belly and the steering wheel.

And those were just the hors d’oeuvres.

In July she went back to the doctor for her semi-annual check-up.

“They’ll take your blood work and tell you they’ll call the next day if there’s anything to report,” she explains.

The next day her phone rang.

“This cute little nurse said, ‘Your numbers are great. You’ve reversed type 2 diabetes. They’re so good you’re not even prediabetic anymore.'”

After celebrating with her husband and kids, Jody was back at the gym sobbing. But this time, instead of sympathy, she received “high-fives, hugs, tears.” The same people who felt sorry for her in January celebrated with her in July.

“We did the happy dance,” recalls gym owner Kevin Lundell. “It was a big deal.”

* * *

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Jody Reid, a mother of three who reversed her type 2 diabetes through exercise and diet, will be participating in a fitness class at Roy CrossFit in Roy on Wednesday, November 9, 2022.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Three years have passed since Jody reversed her diabetes. She continues to eat better. She admits she has her shortcomings. “I’m still addicted to sweets,” she says, confessing to being “a bender” she had over the holidays last year.

She was relieved when her blood counts were still fine afterwards. “I thought I was doing terrible, but I think overall my habits are significantly better than the behaviors that led to type 2 diabetes. The changes and choices I made then influence the choices I make now.

“I’m not perfect, but now I know what nutrition is and what I need to do to stay healthy. It’s hard work. It’s not always uphill, it’s not always downhill, but it’s never a straight line.”

Her CrossFit classes remain a daily staple.

“How wonderful this CrossFit community is,” she says, “to be surrounded by people who want to be healthier, who want you to get healthier, who encourage you to do hard things. I’m much healthier in my 30s than when I was in my twenties, and happier. It’s easier to live when you feel better.”

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Jody Reid, a mother of three who reversed her type 2 diabetes through exercise and diet, is pictured at Roy CrossFit in Roy on Wednesday, November 9, 2022.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

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