Diabetes Forecast

Weight-Loss Success: Stephen Jackson

By Gina Roberts-Grey , , ,

Color photography by Sheri Giblin

Stephen Jackson
71 lbs lost

Age: 61
Location: New York City
Occupation: Running coach and nutritional therapist
Diabetes: Type 2
Before: 298 pounds
Now: 227 pounds

When Stephen Jackson logged onto Facebook one day in 2011, he was hit with shock and then anger. “I was furious at a photographer who took and posted a picture of me because I saw how much weight I had gained,” Jackson says.

But he realized his anger was misplaced. It wasn’t long before the focus of his emotions shifted to himself. After all, he’d been advised to slim down when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2009. But though he weighed 298 pounds at the time, he didn’t do it. “I was mad that I had allowed myself to gain so much weight, because I knew better,” he says.

His emotions then took another turn. As he saw it, his family was at least partially to blame. “I lashed out at my family for not saying anything about how big I was getting,” he says.

After ruminating for a few months, he took action. In 2012, he began using the Wii Fit Balance Board, an interactive game that allows users to work through physical activity challenges shown on a television. When the weather permitted, he rode his bicycle around town. He also laced up his running shoes and started a running regimen, something he enjoyed so much he set a goal: to run in the 2013 New York City marathon. “I got a running coach and started going to the gym twice a week to not only get stronger and burn more calories but also to meet my goal of completing the marathon,” says Jackson. 

Along the way, he overhauled his eating habits, replacing high-carb, processed foods such as mac ’n’ cheese with fresh vegetables and lean proteins. He also learned to satisfy his sweet tooth with raisins, dried cranberries and blueberries, and honey-roasted cashews and almonds instead of cakes, pies, and ice cream.

Eight months after his weight-loss journey began, Jackson was down 71 pounds. His A1C was 5.5 percent, and he no longer needed medication to manage his blood glucose. 

Jackson’s transformation did more than send him shopping for smaller pants. Over the next few years, he founded the Run2LIVE running club, became a certified running coach, and expanded his practice, becoming a nutritional therapist. He also recorded his best time at the 2016 Brooklyn Half Marathon.

And he’s no longer angry.

Those negative emotions have gone the way of his excess weight. But he admits getting in shape was a struggle. “There were times I felt like not training for the marathon or had my doubts about being able to complete it,” Jackson says. “But I felt the benefits of running even before I noticed any significant weight loss, so I kept focusing on the natural high I felt after a run. That always got me out on the road.”

Safety Note:Check with your health care provider before starting or changing your exercise plan.



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