Bill started his health-journey in December of 2018, after struggling with high-blood sugar, cholesterol, and high-blood pressure for years. Bill was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 2011. In the months preceding his diagnosis, he had excessive weight loss. Bill dropped around fifty pounds, his eyesight got really bad, and he couldn’t remember how to do simple tasks, like sending an email. His mood was erratic, and he ached when he slept (if he even slept at all). His wife started getting worried, so she asked him to go to the doctor. While at the doctor, he did a blood test and then the doctor told him he would have the results back within a few days. But he never heard from him. He figured no call means everything’s good, right? Turns out, he was wrong! His doctor didn’t have his new number. Bill had replaced his landline with his new cellphone a little while ago, so the doctor had been calling his old number unsuccessfully for weeks. The doctor finally mailed an urgent letter to his address, imploring Bill to contact him. That Monday, he rushed to his office, where the doctor was overjoyed to see him. He took another blood test and explained he would have the lab results within hours. He asked him to go home and wait for his call. On the way home, Bill got a Wawa hoagie and pigged-out. Little did he realize how serious the situation was! While chowing down he got his call. The doctor told him to go to the ER immediately! He called his wife and she met him there. Once he checked-in, they did yet another blood test. As he waited for a doctor, a nurse began checking his vitals. Her first question to him was, “How long have you had diabetes?”. At first, he thought she had the wrong person. He responded, “oh, I don’t have diabetes”. She laughed hysterically at his response and said, “Well, you do now.”
He felt his stomach drop. His wife and himself sat shocked. Did he have diabetes!? A moment later the doctor came in. He looked at him in surprise and confirmed his worst fears. He said, “Oh wow! Based on your numbers, I thought there was a 700-pound man in here”. Bill was only about 175 pounds at the time. “What the heck have you been eating?” He told him just a Wawa hoagie for lunch. He laughed and explained, “No, not today. Your blood sugar is at a toxic level. It’s at 597. Your blood is like coffee creamer.” He had diabetes! They immediately put him on an insulin drip. Almost instantly he felt this tremendous wave of relief flowing through his body. It felt like cold water putting out a hot fire. He had been hurting for so long He hadn’t realized just how much pain he was really in. He spent the night in the hospital until his blood sugar returned to a normal range. His A1C was over 12. He was put on a regimen of metformin, insulin, and a night-time insulin as well as a few blood pressure and cholesterol medicines. Overnight, he became a pharmacy. And he was on this diet of medicine for about seven years. But Bill wasn’t willing to just sit around. He was determined to beat this disease. He started eating well, he walked, he took his meds. He did everything he could possibly do to improve his condition for a good six months. Then, life happened. His Mom had a stroke and later was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer. He had a terrible job situation and him and his family had to move as a result of the economy at the time. In the midst of it all, his mother lost her battle with cancer. The stress was overwhelming. He went into a depression. His blood sugar surged. He was back to eating bad again, and he was just eating to soothe himself. On top of that, he didn’t exercise at all. As a result of these lifestyle choices and the stress, Bill didn’t sleep much, and he gained at least fifty pounds. His doctor yelled at him because of his lifestyle. At one point, his fasting blood sugar (per his A1C test) hovered around 450. The doctor was not happy! Fortunately, Bill did not give up completely. Eventually he found a new job where he felt valued, his family moved to a new home filled with new opportunities, he made peace with everything that happened with his mother, and he realized that he needed to do better for himself and be a better example for his two sons Andrew and Adam. So, Bill joined a gym and he worked like hell to claw his way back to better health. His focus was strength training. He wanted to get strong and wanted some muscle. There was a wonderful group of gym-goers who would come to the gym at the crack of dawn every day that invited him into their group. Bill says that “it was the most awesome feeling in the world being part of this group.” With this newfound accountability and support, Bill had lost at least fifty pounds! He felt great, and his doctor was also really impressed by his results. The doctor agreed that because of his active lifestyle, he no longer needed to take insulin three times a day with his meals. He asked his doctor if it was possible to get off all diabetic medication completely. Always objective, his doctor basically said, “we will see”. So, he became determined to get off ALL the diabetic meds.
This was around December 2019. HE was ready to tackle the new year like a beast. Nothing was going to stop him from hitting his goal. In fact, he decided to take advantage of something his company offered and meet with a nutritionist via the phone once a month as part of his benefits.
She introduced him to counting macronutrients as well as the importance of building muscle mass, especially as a diabetic. It would make his body more insulin sensitive, which help him achieve his goal. Little did he (or anyone else) realize what 2020 had in store for us… COVID hit hard, which meant the gyms closed. Bill had no clue what to do! How would He went online and looked for ideas to work-out from home. What an eye-opener that was! He saw some amazing creativity. He ran down to the Home Depot and purchased about fifty dollars in anything heavy he could pick-up. His nutritionist gave him a list of exercises to do, eventually figuring out how he could modify them incorporating the stuff he got from Home Depot. He also added running to his regimen, doing regular HIIT routines outside at a nearby park once restrictions were eased. He also made it a point to walk everyday between 8,000-12,000 steps. He did this from March until December. He felt great! Bill continued to progress, and he even learned how to run a little better. In 2021, he returned to the gym. It felt great to be back. While he really enjoyed his home work-outs, he missed his gym. His group was not there anymore, and he missed that support. One of the IG-influencers he was following announced that he was doing a 12-week body transformation challenge. So, he decided to enter. He figured, why not? He joined his online support group and got to work. That turned out to be a very pivotal decision for him.
As he worked on his strength and mobility, his blood sugar results improved a lot. About a month into his training, he went to his doctor and they both agreed that he no longer needed metformin. His AIC was at a 5.9. He was stoked! He hit his goal! He went to his online support group and he told them all about it. People in the US, Australia, Europe and Asia celebrated with him via his post. It was wild! Eventually he finished the 12-Week challenge and submitted his results. He was leaner, gained some muscle mass, and was in the best shape of his life. He was sleeping well, and felt like he could manage his stress better, redirecting it into his running, walking, and lifting. A couple of weeks later, at 5am, he received a message from the influencer. He had won the 12-Week Challenge! He stared in disbelief at the message. He ran downstairs to his wife and told her! There was a congratulatory video posted on the virtual support group. It was so cool! Just after winning the 12-Week Challenge, his wife and one of her friends had a surprise for him. They entered him into a lottery system for the Broad Street Run, a semi-annual race in the Philadelphia area. During the pandemic, the race had been cancelled for the most part. But, in the Fall of 2021, the race was on! The friend had gotten in, and so had he.
He had about 10-weeks to prepare to run 10 whole miles. He had never run 10-miles before. This was going to be a test of endurance, especially with having diabetes. He started to wonder if his blood sugar would play a factor in his ability to finish the rate. This gave him considerable anxiety. Finishing the race was his focus. He had to finish. His two boys were so excited about his running so he had to complete it.
As it turned out, his gym goal worked well with his running goal. He was working on strength, and this complimented his goal of running farther.
He worked on strength 3 days a week and ran at least 3 days a week. HE started with running on a treadmill. He could barely hit five miles. Over time, he added more mileage He saw considerable gains in his endurance from adapting to the hills of a local park. Within four weeks of training, he could comfortably do 7.5 miles. Each week he tried to do a little more. he hit ten miles about three weeks before race. It was momentous! It took him nearly 2 hours, but he did it. When race day came, they made our way down to the city to run. All the participants gather together on Broad Street, which is divided in different sections for the race. Everyone gets to their designated section. Each section starts about ten to fifteen minutes after the section before them begins. HE was one of the first sections to go so he started immediately. Running down Broad Street was surreal. This is a main drag that runs right through the entire city, from North to Center, down to the South. It passes by Temple University, City Hall, and Lincoln Financial Center. On any given day, it is jammed full of people, cars, trucks, and buses. For the race, everything was closed off to allow the runners to run. It was also early morning, so the sun was just starting to rise. It was a sight to see.
As they passed City Hall, at the center of the city, they moved down into South Philadelphia. The small groups of people on the side of the road became much larger until the sidewalks on either side of the street were jam packed with people. There were music and fireworks and cheers. It was an energy he had never felt before. They made their way down to the stadiums, which was at the end of the race, and crossed the finish line. He did it!
The best part at the end of the race was seeing his boys. They were so amazed that he ran ten miles. He wasn’t sure if they really understood how far that was. But one day his wife drove them to the doctors for a check-up. Once they got there, his oldest son, Andrew, asked how far it was from house to the doctors. His wife told them ten miles. Both of his boys were like, “that’s how far Dad ran!” They came home from the doctors, excited again that he ran ten miles.
These days, Bill is continuing to run and strength train. He has a 5K coming up in mid-March, and he would love to be able to finish that run in less than 20-25 minutes.
Bill says, “If you had told me five years ago when I was at least fifty pounds overweight and taking a pharmacy of medicine that I would win a 12-Week Challenge, run 10 miles and eliminate my dependence on his diabetes medication, I would have laughed at you. I wouldn’t have believed a single word of it.”
“To anyone who is struggling, you would be amazed at the things that you can achieve, whatever that might be. Everyone’s journey is different. For me, it required being good to myself, which sometimes was tough. It’s hard to make a commitment to your health. It also required me asking for help. He would never have made it this far without the kindness of others. I mean, the support group I had when I began really kept me accountable. My nutritionist encouraged me! My family was always there to listen to him when I was frustrated and cheer me on with each milestone. Lastly, it is a willing to keep progressing. Consistency is not sexy but trying new things can be scary. I know. Running ten miles was scary. Have faith in yourself. Don’t give up! Progress is not measured in days. But every day you show-up you will get closer to your goal. Just don’t give-up! The key for me has been celebrating small victories and willing to try new things to progress.”
I have had the pleasure of working with Bill and seeing a snapshot of his fitness journey, and it is so incredibly inspiring! I would like to personally thank him for sharing his story with me to publish for everyone to see. I believe that Bill's story is a true testament that exercise is medicine!
If this story inspired you to get moving and exercise more, but you aren't sure where to start, schedule a free consultation with a personal trainer here.
If you would like to share your own fitness journey with me in order to motivate and inspire others, send me an email at email@example.com.