Diabetes Prevention is Possible

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This story is modified from Larry’s original story that appeared in PRIDE News, Summer 2007 issue

larryYears ago if you had asked me what my chances were of getting diabetes, I would have said, “None.” That, of course, was before I saw a newspaper advertisement about the Diabetes Prevention Program at the University of Pittsburgh. The advertisement included information about the risk factors for diabetes. To my surprise and chagrin, I had most of them! 

Calling the Diabetes Prevention Program was one of the best decisions I ever made. I found out that not only was I at risk for diabetes, but my blood glucose level classified me as having pre-diabetes. The lifestyle intervention group included altering eating habits, increasing physical activity, and losing 7 percent body weight. 

My first thought was, “Oh no, I’m gonna have to exercise.” I had been hoping that I would only have to pop a pill in the morning and then go about my day as usual. As it turned out, I was lucky. The behavior changes presented in the lifestyle group proved to be the most effective method of preventing diabetes.

As part of the program I had the opportunity to learn about nutrition, portion sizes, reading food labels, and physical activity. As an adult, I thought I already knew about these things. I was wrong! I learned that if I had continued with my “old” diet and low level of physical activity, then I may have developed diabetes. 

It is funny how one’s attitude toward healthy eating and exercising can change. I started the program with reluctance, but now I don’t feel right about missing one day of exercise. I’m presently involved in competitive weightlifting. Recently, I earned second place when I competed in the World Dead Lifting Championship. In addition, I hold the current Pennsylvania state record for dead lifting. 

I have the opportunity to show my appreciation and give back to the community. I was a guest on a WQED–TV program, “Diabetes: Epidemic of Our Time.” 

If I had not made that telephone call years ago, who knows where I would be today. Maybe I would have been lucky and avoided developing diabetes. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t take that risk. There is still a lot I want to accomplish, and thanks to the Diabetes Prevention Program, I will get the chance. 

By Larry Pusateri, Diabetes Prevention Program Participant