When things got tough, Gary Miller enjoyed the ride.
How Gary Miller went from weekend warrior to avid cyclist
For 12 years, Gary Miller tried to ignore his prediabetes. “I blew it off and figured I could make little changes and it would go away,” he says. He tried several diets, including Atkins and Weight Watchers, but had little success. Even though he was active on weekends—he loved to ride his bike on logging roads with his wife—his weight continued to creep up. He was still in denial when his A1C hit an all-time high of 9.2 percent and he received an official diabetes diagnosis in January 2018.
Miller’s doctor put him on metformin and asked him to meet with a CDE to prepare for an insulin prescription. This was his wake-up call. He realized: “If I didn’t do something at this point, I was just going to give up and be on drugs the rest of my life.”
He ditched alcohol and refined carbs and stopped eating lunch at the Chinese restaurant near work, where he had been going up to three times per week. Instead, Miller filled his plate with whole grains, vegetables, and protein to keep hunger pangs at bay. He cut out second helpings and all snacks that weren’t fruit, vegetables, or yogurt. He packed leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day.
He also fell in love with interval training when he started using a bike trainer that had been sitting (quite lonely) in his basement for several years. “I knew I liked biking outside, so I thought I’d like biking inside,” he says. Soon, he was riding every night after work. It wasn’t always easy, but even after his typical 10-hour workdays at the hardware store, Miller enjoyed putting on music and finding his rhythm on the bike. “I might be 65 years old, but I still like hard rock,” he says. His go-to interval? Thirty seconds of hard pedaling, followed by 30 seconds of easier riding, working up to a minute of each.
In roughly six months, Miller went from 274 to 209 pounds and slashed his A1C by 3.7 percentage points. He was able to come off of metformin and avoid starting insulin. “I consider the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes to be the best thing that could have happened to me, as it caused me to change my lifestyle—I feel better and have more stamina,” he says. “I know that I’m not ‘cured’ of type 2 diabetes, because if I ever go back to my old lifestyle it will return. I don’t intend to let that happen. The key is to realize it’s a lifestyle change, not a diet.”
Make simple swaps. “We made zucchini noodles to replace the noodles in lasagna, and they actually were so good that I didn’t miss the real thing.”
Listen to your body. “I found out that in order to keep my morning blood sugar at a normal level, I had to have a snack at night.” His go-to: a clementine or small apple to cap it at 100 calories.
Push yourself. The first time he hopped on his bike trainer, Miller could only do 15 very sweaty minutes. He added a few minutes each day, working up to 45-minute sessions five days a week.
Seek support. “I would have failed without the support of my doctor and CDE,” Miller says. He also credits the support of his wife, who got on board with healthy eating and adapted her recipes to swap out sugar for unsweetened applesauce.
the problem You’re active on the weekends, but you can’t seem to make exercise a daily habit.the remake Use this man’s approach to find an activity that you enjoy making part of your routine.