Who: Charlette Plinneke, 64
Where: Pismo Beach, California
Time with Levels: 9 months (since September 2021)
Most Useful Takeaway: Charlette says she initially had to follow a very restrictive diet, but as she regained blood sugar control over time, she was able to add back in some of her favorite foods.
1. What was your health like before using Levels?
I thought I was incredibly healthy. I live at the beach, I played tennis five to seven times per week, and I was thin. I went to see a new doctor and my fasting blood glucose came back high: 120 mg/dL. My doctor agreed it is was high, but was certain it was a mistake—he told me I was the healthiest person he’d seen all week! We retested and my numbers came back at 108 mg/dL. He told me that was perfect. I didn’t think so.
I shared with him that my blood sugar had been silently creeping up over the last five to eight years. His response was “You’re 64, that’s what it’s supposed to do. When it gets too high, we’ll just put you on metformin and you’ll be fine.” I walked out feeling confused and uncertain of next steps, yet absolutely certain I was not going to just sit back and watch my health deteriorate.
2. What made you want to put a CGM on your arm?
I was a science teacher for 20 years, so I immediately went into experiment mode. My doctor was unwilling to retest my blood sugar, saying it was something you do only once per year. As I was looking into other ways to get my blood sugar checked on my own, I came across an Instagram post from Kelly LeVeque (@bewellbykelly) and she had just put a CGM on her arm. Immediately, I signed up for Levels and began using a CGM.
3. What did you learn about your diet when using the CGM?
Initially, my fasting blood sugar was over 100 mg/dL every day. It seemed as if everything I ate spiked my blood sugar! I had to mostly eat leafy greens and lean protein, but even that wasn’t perfect.
I struggled. I had to follow a very restrictive diet initially, and it was a bit unnerving that my favorite foods were causing large glucose spikes and were seemingly unhealthy for me. But over time, as my body began to heal and respond more positively, the door was opened to food experimentation with my CGM. Although the foods I tested did not always generate the greatest metabolic scores, I was ecstatic that I was not seeing the crazy spikes like I had when I started. Today, I can have raspberries, blueberries, tangerines, or even a piece of pizza without a spike. And maybe most importantly, for me: I can eat dark chocolate again.
4. What non-diet things did you learn?
If I have a day of two or three spikes—maybe I have a little too much fruit or cocktails and appetizers with friends—I wake up several times during the night. On the other hand, if I remain level throughout the day, I can sleep eight or nine hours straight. As soon as you make those connections, the easier it is to keep up the healthy habits you’ve started.
5. What results have you seen after wearing the CGM?
My fasting blood sugar is now 78 mg/dL, which is perfect. I got a full blood panel done through the Levels Metabolic Health Panel. Two days after ordering the test online, I had a phlebotomist in my home. Two days after that, I was looking at my results on the app. Another favorite part about this service is that when the results are ready on the app, Levels also includes insights from their medical advisors on what the healthy ranges are for each metric and important details about each test.
Over my nine months with Levels, I lost 16 pounds and 8 inches off my waistline. The extra inches around my waist were due to visceral fat caused by insulin resistance. I was, honestly, surprised that I had that much to lose! My son recently got married in the Maldives, and I wore a bikini for the first time in 15 years. I wasn’t aiming for weight loss when I started wearing a CGM, but I can’t argue with how much better I feel these days.
The most important takeaway for me is that this isn’t an overnight process. It’s a trend toward health that requires patience and hard work, but the payoff is incredible and it was 100% worth the effort for me.