How I Lost 65 Pounds and Reversed Prediabetes

Abigail Roaquin
Dec 7, 2017 · 6 min read

In the summer of 2012 I was 8 weeks pregnant when I got a call from my nurse-midwife.

“Your Hemoglobin A1C is 6.1, you have Gestational [pregnancy] Diabetes.”

It’s not the first time I’ve come face to face with this disease.

My grandparents, aunts, and uncles succumb to premature deaths from complications of Type 2 Diabetes. My mom has Type 2 Diabetes, my dad has Prediabetes, and I’ve struggled with Obesity since my early 20s.

But this was different.

The diagnosis is mine. Yet it wasn’t about me.

My baby could have seizures, suffer physical injuries, or stop breathing at birth.

So my story begins as a mother whose unborn child is in danger.

Like a bear with a cub surrounded by hungry predators… I would fight to protect my young.

The​ ​unexpected​ ​adversary

My blood was toxic to the baby. I had abnormally high blood sugars.

“We want to mimic a normal womb environment so your baby can be safe until ready,” the perinatologist said. “You can do this by having normal blood sugars through eating low carb.”

Well that’s easy. Why would I want to deliberately poison my own child?

But I find an unexpected adversary: Conventional Medicine.

  • Eat 15–45 grams of carbs per meal. 6 times a day.
  • Snack between breakfast, lunch, and right before bedtime.
  • And if that doesn’t work we will put you on medication.

Well it didn’t work.

My blood sugars skyrocketed. It didn’t matter that the bread was whole wheat, whole grain, or “low carb”. Brown rice was no different.

I woke up to high fasting blood sugars. The bedtime snack was supposed to fix it. But it didn’t.

Why don’t I just quit eating bread and quit snacking so I won’t have to take medication?” I asked.

I never got a satisfactory answer.

So I did…

And in the Spring of 2013 I gave birth to a beautiful and healthy 6-pound baby girl named Reagan.

She was okay. She was safe.

But I, on the other hand, wasn’t out of the woods yet.

Robbed​ ​of​ ​my​ ​freedom

I definitely had Prediabetes.

But did I have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes incidentally discovered during pregnancy?

My results were high for someone who hadn’t been eating for weeks due to early pregnancy nausea and vomiting.

I knew what I had to do.

But more importantly, I knew what I don’t want to do.

  • I don’t want to prick my fingers and test my blood sugars 4 times a day.
  • I don’t want to write down every single thing I eat on a food diary 6 times a day.
  • I don’t want to enter my blood sugar readings and food intake into a computer so I could get a weekly blessing from my diabetes educator.

I did this for the next 7 months every single day until the end of my pregnancy.

But now it’s my fight.

And I don’t want to live like that for the rest of my life.

Diet​ ​change​ ​was​ ​not​ ​enough

1.​ ​The​ ​gadgets​ ​were​ ​the​ ​first​ ​to​ ​go

Blood glucose meter, food log, weighing scale. I wanted my freedom back.

I already have the tools I need. An oven, a grill, a stove, pots, pans, and a large cookie sheet (for roasting my favorite above-the-ground vegetables).

Important: Some of you need to use blood glucose or ketone meters for medical necessity. Please ask your doctor (I did).

2.​ ​I​ ​didn’t​ ​focus​ ​on​ ​my​ ​goal(s),​ ​I​ ​focused​ ​on​ ​my​ ​process

Whether I’d lose weight or escape Type 2 diabetes was not in my control.

What I can control is my daily consistent action to make those results inevitable.

So I became a fan of habits.

Habits make you do things on autopilot. No motivation or willpower required.

Like having a meal prep ritual (not the woo woo kind).

The kind that gave me a natural tendency to fall into a regular pattern of preparing meals for fat loss — without brute force of willpower.

3.​ ​I​ ​ditched​ ​the​ ​failed​ ​strategies​ ​of​ ​my​ ​past

All-or-nothing.​ ​I’d lose steam and flame out. It wasn’t sustainable for something I had to do forever.

So what if I had a potato chip? I’m not going to eat the entire bag now because… what-the-hell, right? Nope, I haven’t ruined it all.

Perfectionism. It got me stuck so I’d revert back to my old ways.

I don’t worry about hitting my perfect protein or fat macros.

I focus on not eating the foods that give me the best fat loss bang for my eating buck: added sugar, refined and processed carbs.

Setting​ ​big​ ​goals.​ It’s daunting. I was overwhelmed. My default was inaction.

Substituting rice with roasted vegetables is a lot easier to pull off than aiming for 4 days worth of low carb meals prepared by the afternoon.

Small steps may seem insignificant to make a difference.

But small wins perpetuate the good behavior. And before you know it you’re doing it more consistently with less effort.

Then it all adds up to produce remarkable results over time.

For years I’ve felt the demoralizing pains of repeatedly losing weight only to gain it all back plus a few more along the way.

Don’t make the same mistakes I did.

It’s not just about diet change… it’s about behavior change.

Judgement​ ​day,​ ​6​ ​months​ ​after​ ​delivery

I was tested for Diabetes.

I drank 100 grams of pure liquid sugar after having fasted overnight to see how my blood sugar would respond over 2 hours. It’s called an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test. (I call it gross.)

Results
0 minutes (89 mg/dl) normal
30 minutes (141 mg/dl) normal
1 hour (130 mg/dl) normal
2 hours (107 mg/dl) normal

Interpretation
No Prediabetes! No Type 2 diabetes! (Exclamation points mine.)

Today,​ ​5​ ​years​ ​later

I eat low carb-high fat meals 2 times a day inside a 4–6 hour window with no snacks in between meals. It’s called intermittent fasting.

  • No breakfast. I drink black coffee. (Peet’s.)
  • 12PM-2PM 1st meal
  • 5PM-6PM 2nd meal (With my family.)

Real, whole, unprocessed-minimally processed low carb family meals that have 3–5 ingredients… kid-approved.

Give me rib-eye, pork belly, or salmon, an above-the-ground veggie. Salt and pepper, real butter, or extra virgin olive oil plus 30 minutes in the kitchen. Sonic boom.

Once or twice a week I do an extended fast:

  • 24 hours
  • 42–48 hours
  • 72 hours (rarely)

I only drink black coffee, unsweetened tea, or plain sparkling water when fasting.

  • I don’t run. I walk.
  • I do yoga.
  • I (try) to meditate. (A work in progress.)

I just did my 2nd Wanderlust Mindful Triathlon (5k, 90-min yoga, 30-min meditation)… fasted. My stored fat was rocket fuel.

Why the choice of exercises? It’s to reduce the stress (fattening) hormone: cortisol. But in plain mom speak? It’s to keep my sanity.

My​ ​story,​ ​your​ ​journey

There’s nothing unique or special about me. I’m not an outlier.

I’m just like you, struggling to fit a healthy lifestyle amidst the stress, worries, and overwhelm of life.

After 21 years as a registered nurse and health coaching patients with Type 2 diabetes, I decide I could help more people by writing.

So I launch a part-time business writing about a habits and mindful approach to fat loss on a low carb-high fat lifestyle​, on top of my part-time job as faculty teaching Nursing at a local university.

I also have an (unpaid) part-time gig as an Uber driver after 2:30PM when I begin to pick up my girls ages 4 and 7 at two different schools then shuttle them to swimming and soccer.

My husband has to remind me to make sure I pick them up. Because I’ll forget. (It’s happened.)

Sometimes I feel like a disoriented small-town version of Hollywood’s Bad Moms. Where’s the ebook on How to Not be Over-committed?

The hectic day doesn’t end until my husband and I have brushed 2 sets of baby teeth, then it’s story time. Until finally we can tippy-toe back into the living room to binge-watch on Stranger Things on Netflix.

I’m simply on a journey to a healthier lifestyle where nothing is perfect and mistakes are made.

All I’ve done is make a solid commitment to stay on the path and be a little bit better each day.

So please take in the truth and sincerity when I say to you…

If I can do it, you can too.

Better Humans is a collection of the world's most trustworthy writing on human potential and self improvement by coaches, academics, and aggressive self-experimenters. Articles are based on deep personal experience, science, and research. No fluff, book reports, or listicles.

Abigail Roaquin

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