Who: Carl Banks, 63
Where: Temecula, CA
Time with Levels: Almost two years
Most Useful Takeaway: Carl doesn’t sweat small increases in his blood sugar after eating. Instead, he focuses on long-term trends that show he is becoming metabolically healthier.
1. What was your health like before Levels?
When I was younger, I was a gym rat. In 2009 I retired, and I just stopped going to the gym. As a result, I gained a lot of weight. I called myself a perfect circle: 360 pounds. My doctor told me I had prediabetes. I knew I had to lose weight. I also knew exactly how to do it because I’d lost a lot of weight many times before. The problem was that I could always take it off but could not keep it off.
2. What made you want to put a CGM on your arm?
I was 60 and knew I had one more run left in me to lose weight—but this had to be sustainable. At this point, I was following a low-carb diet and practicing intermittent fasting. Then, two things happened: I read Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan, MD, and I listened to one of Dr. Casey’s podcasts. It was like I heard an entirely new sound. Wow. I knew I had to try Levels. Though I already had the behavioral changes down, I felt I needed a way to monitor my blood sugar level throughout the day so that I could have data to inform my journey and sustain my progress.
3. What is one thing that’s changed about your eating habits since using Levels?
I anticipate my blood sugar spikes. I know I’m going to eat a particular food, and there will be a spike, but that’s okay. I’m not concerned with the spike; I now pay more attention to the recovery. For example, if I have a cheat day, I look at how long it takes for my blood sugar to stabilize again. Before, I was living in the moment with my scores, but now it’s about the overall picture and longer-term trends. I’m “curve-watching”—if you will. And the trends are headed in the right direction. Bouncing back (blood sugar-wise) in April versus bouncing back now looks different. Now, my blood sugar is much quicker to stabilize. Watching the CGM has also shown me that stringing two or three cheat days together takes about a week for my glucose to return to normal. So, I ask myself if every cheat day is worth it. Often, that’s no.
4. How do non-food factors impact your blood sugar?
In addition to a CGM, I also have a Whoop to monitor my sleep. With that data, I realized I needed to increase my sleep and improve my sleep quality. Though I don’t yet have enough data to see how improving my sleep affects me metabolically, it is my new focus. Typically, I’m an early riser and get up to exercise. I’m trying hard to sleep from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
5. How do you hope to use Levels in the future?
I’ve seen family members who have Type 2 diabetes and have had limbs amputated or died due to complications of hyperinsulinemia. I realized that that didn’t have to be my fate. I believe Levels can change lives, especially in underserved communities where there is a lack of understanding about metabolic health. Right now, CGMs are for the privileged, but I hope we can find a way to get them into communities and people of color who could benefit from them.
I’m calling myself a “lifestyle member.” I look at my trends over long periods. I believe now that I could reach my goals without a CGM, but I don’t want to. My goal weight is 275 pounds, and I have no timetable to achieve that goal. I’ve made great progress over the last three years, so I know I’ll get there and beyond. I’m going to spend the rest of my life with the healthy changes I’ve made and preach the benefits of metabolic health.