Diabetes Forecast

Autumn Reed Lost 101 lbs Making Small Changes

By Benjamin Page , , , ,

Current photo by Edward Linsmier

Autumn Reed

Age: 45
Hometown: Hudson, Florida
Secret to Success: Making small changes

Looking back, Autumn Reed recognizes she wasn’t always pleasant to be around. “I weighed almost 300 pounds,” she says. “I had aches and pains. I was always crabby and tired.” Even short walks—just to the car parked in the driveway—would lead to a loss of breath, making it difficult to leave the house. A 2016 diagnosis of type 2 diabetes helped Reed make sense of her health: The exhaustion and moodiness were a result of chronic high blood glucose. “Having diabetes could make you feel so miserable,” she says. “I finally realized that wasn’t who I really was.” With the cause identified, she decided to do something about it.

The day she was diagnosed, Reed went home and ransacked her kitchen, filling three large garbage bags with any food she deemed remotely unhealthy. It was a good start, but she soon realized it wasn’t a long-term solution. She could always go out and buy food if a craving struck, and she didn’t want to deprive her three young sons of their favorite snacks.

Instead, Reed joined a diabetes support group, where she learned that other members had found success by making a series of small lifestyle changes. “I thought maybe that’s what I needed to do,” she says. “Instead of throwing away every single thing in the house.”

Her first step: establish a designated “kids’ cabinet” to keep temptations out of sight. Next, she started exercising. Not much at first—“I could barely get to the end of our street,” Reed says of her after-dinner walks—but she pushed herself a little bit farther each time. Eventually she was logging up to 4 miles a day. In the three years since beginning her lifestyle changes, Reed has walked over 2,500 miles, a total of more than 6,500,000 steps, according to her Fitbit activity tracker.

The key change came with the help of her husband, Mike. Not having diabetes himself, he was initially hesitant to adjust his own eating habits. But as Reed began to lose weight, he started to reconsider. “He saw how much better I was feeling,” she says. “When I find a new recipe, he’s the first to want to try it.”

They now follow what’s known as the Plate Method, filling half their plates with nonstarchy vegetables, a quarter with grains or starchy veggies, and the final quarter with lean protein. Planning ahead is a big part of their strategy. On Sunday evenings, they measure their food and prep the week’s meals. “We just bought a new house where we can cook together in the kitchen,” says Reed.

The small changes added up. Reed lost 101 pounds in a seven-month period, her A1C went from 7.3 to 5 percent, and she was able to come off her diabetes medications completely. Best of all, she’s less interested in sitting around the house. “I feel like a different person—like the person who was inside all this time but couldn’t get out.”

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