Editor’s Note: I had the pleasure of “e-meeting” Thom through the diabetes online community. I could not believe his transformation photos. His story was even more compelling. I have no doubt that Thom will do great things for the type 2 community.
I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at age 37 after years of yo-yo dieting, working at large-chain restaurants, and growing up as a self-described “fat kid” in blue-collar Buffalo, New York.
My initial reaction to being type 2 was depression; at my lowest point, I even contemplated suicide. My next reaction was resolve, to find a way to take type 2 head-on and turn my health and my life around. As I began looking for ways to do this, however, I noticed two things:
First, there were surprisingly few products designed specifically for type 2 diabetics, aside from the medications prescribed by doctors. I went into the nutrition store and asked the guy working there what supplements and protein powders they had for type 2 diabetics, and he said, ‘We don’t have anything for you”.
Second, I found no voice for type 2, no role model to follow. When I decided I was going to take control of my type 2, I started looking for people who had done this before and been successful–some celebrity, some spokesperson, someone leading the charge for type 2s and telling us all what to do. But I couldn’t find anyone.
Through endless research, I took it upon myself to improve my condition while helping others do the same. I eventually got certified as a personal trainer, working with men and women of all ages and fitness levels at my local YMCA in Charlotte, North Carolina. I also began to experiment at home with ways to cook food that was both type 2-friendly and delicious.
I loved McDonald’s cheeseburgers. I still do. I wanted to make something that was healthy and would keep my blood sugar levels down that tasted just like a McDonald’s cheeseburger. And that’s when I came up with my cheeseburger spring rolls. The taste was spot-on – just like McDonald’s! From there, I just kept coming up with different meals that were healthy and tasted great. I even went on to create my own protein powder brand specifically made for type 2 diabetics.
In a matter of months, I reversed my condition from type 2 to “diabetic fit” through proper nutrition and exercise. It’s been 12 years since I last took doctor-prescribed type 2 medication – I still have a half-empty orange prescription medicine bottle from 2006 to prove it.
My mission is to start a conversation about type 2 diabetes that’s as large in scope as the disease itself and to start treating type 2s the way they deserve to be treated.
It’s time to start talking to the people who have been ignored for far too long and looked down upon as ‘those people.” One in three people in the United States is either type 2 or prediabetic, and the problem is even worse globally. We’re all affected by type 2 diabetes. If you’re not type 2 or pre-type 2, someone in your family is, you have friends who are, and even one of your kids could be someday.
This isn’t just another epidemic or another disease. This is a pandemic. It’s global. We’re focusing on all these other diseases like heart disease when so many of them are caused by type 2 diabetes in the first place. We’re ignoring the elephant in the room. Type 2 is the root cause of so many health problems, and it’s time to start talking about it and removing the shame from the disease.
Type 2 isn’t just a problem for some people and not others. It’s not just an obesity problem – skinny people also get type 2. It’s not just a matter of race or country or income levels. Whites, Blacks, Mexicans, Asians, Indians, all races and countries are getting hit by it. Type 2 has reached emergency levels in the UK, Mexico City, India, and China, in addition to the United States. It’s not just a problem for poor areas either. Rich people, celebrities, and professional athletes are type 2s.