Who: Susan Ward, 74
Where: New Jersey
Time with Levels: About 8 months
Most Useful Takeaway: During a stressful period, Susan recognized that her glucose was becoming prediabetic. Stress-reduction strategies, such as meditation, helped immensely.
What was your health like before connecting with Levels?
In December 2021, my A1C came back at 5.7%, the bottom tier of the pre-diabetic range. I said I have to do something about this. I bought a Peloton bike during the pandemic and began to ride it more. I also started intermittent fasting and was cooking my way through books by Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Steven Gundry, Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. William Davis, and Dr. William Li, among others. I didn’t have a specific plan, but I tracked calories in and out, macros, micronutrients, and water using the Cronometer app, and I lost some weight.
After I read Dr. Jason Fung’s book, The Obesity Code, I finally said to myself, I have to admit that I’m obese. I have to admit that I have a problem. When I read his theory that insulin resistance is a huge barrier to losing weight, it clicked for me. If I had trouble losing weight, it must be because I have insulin resistance. And what am I going to do about it?
What got you interested in Levels?
During my research, I listened to a summit about insulin resistance. Dr. Casey Means, Chief Medical Officer at Levels, was being interviewed. Her words resonated with me. When she said she wanted to be part of the solution to the obesity epidemic, I was totally on board. I ordered my CGM in October last year.
How did your eating habits change when you started wearing the CGM?
I come from an Italian background, so pasta was a big part of my life. As I started to see how my body responded to carbs, I started cutting them out. Many people might not be as strict as I was, but I’d watch my blood glucose go up, and then it never really came back to baseline, even if I got a score of 9 or 10 on a meal. After the postprandial period, my levels started to go back up. I knew that this was my insulin resistance at play. So I kept tinkering with what I ate and have gone toward a ketogenic diet. Altogether, I’ve lost 79 pounds. I strive to stay within the optimal 70-110 mg/dL range.
But I also know that other factors affect my blood glucose responses. Around Christmas 2022, my husband was very sick and had to be hospitalized. It was an emergency. I was fine while he was in the hospital, but when he came home, my stress levels jumped. And I was registering in the morning with diabetic numbers. My health coach, Megan Ramos, CEO of The Fasting Method, suggested using meditation as a tool, which helped me manage my stress and, therefore, glucose response.
How did working on your metabolic health impact your life?
My family has certainly benefited. I’m the cook, and my husband usually eats what I eat. He’s lost a bit of weight himself. My doctor is also really happy with me. He told me to step back and look at what I’ve done: You’ve really saved your own life. I was so scared during the first two years of the pandemic because I was overweight and worried that I could get sick and die.
Taking control of my metabolic health is what moved the needle for me. Although I was already losing weight when I started wearing the CGM, I could fine-tune things. I also wouldn’t get rid of my insulin resistance without this. At age 74, I feel much healthier than when I was 40. I have so much energy now, which is one of the great perks of my changes.
Throughout this journey, I was inspired to take a course with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and become a health coach. I’m working toward opening up my own company called Weighting4You LLC, which will focus on coaching seniors. I’d also like to build a program for children. I want to be part of the ripple effect by doing what I can to address the obesity epidemic.
A CGM is the surest way to look under the hood and see how you respond to food. I will recommend that people try this. It’s expensive, and I get that. But I think it’s a valuable tool, and I will continue to use it.
Ultimately, I want to build something that connects people working on their metabolic health. What I have is energy, commitment, and a love of life – and I want to continue to live my healthiest life until the day I die.