‘Diet Doctor saved my life’
Calvin has told his keto diet success story twice before and now he’s back to update Diet Doctor readers on even more of his incredible progress.
In 2017, Calvin was our most popular success story. He described how within two weeks of starting a keto diet he came off all insulin for his type 2 diabetes and soon had normalized his blood sugar.
In 2018 he was back with another update, describing how he had lost 140 pounds (63.5 kg) but then stalled. He told how he got the scale moving again with information from Diet Doctor and by more closely tracking his food intake.
In this interview, Calvin summarizes his entire 3.5-year keto journey and shares how, so far, he has lost more than 160 pounds, reversed his diabetes, as well as come off all medications, including most recently both his high blood pressure medications. He feels better than ever.
“I honestly think that if I had not found Diet Doctor when I did, I would be dead by now. Diet Doctor saved my life and I thank God for leading me to it.”
His story has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s your name, age, and where do you live?
I’m Calvin, age 64. I live in Chesapeake, Virginia. I’ve now been three and a half years on the keto diet and I am doing better than ever.
How did you discover keto or low carb?
In October 2017 I got the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. My blood sugar was so high, 519 mg/dl (28.5 mmol/L), that it was a medical emergency. The lab doing my blood test called me at work and told me I needed to go to my doctor immediately. My endocrinologist said he had never seen blood sugar that high in someone who was not in a diabetic coma.
I started insulin injections that day and was faced with at least four injections a day into my abdomen. I was put on all these medications. I felt shocked and overwhelmed. I did not want to take insulin shots for the rest of my life.
I am a Pastor so I prayed to God to show me another way. I prayed for him to give me an answer, to give me a path.
The next day I was searching the internet and I found Diet Doctor. And it truly was the answer to my prayers.
Did you have any health or weight struggles before going low carb or keto?
I had been feeling unwell for years, but I thought that was just a normal part of aging. I had steadily put on weight over the years. When I was diagnosed with diabetes I was 383 pounds (174 kilos).
My feet hurt, a real deep pain, and were numb and tingly. My knees hurt and I found it hard to walk or stand for long. I was sleeping poorly. I was constantly thirsty and always needing to urinate. I had no energy. I had brain fog.
I was on two medications for high blood pressure, and then drugs for diabetes. I didn’t know how sick I was or how horrible I felt until I adopted keto and began to feel so much better.
It wasn’t a normal part of aging at all, it was my diet. I had been sick for so long I didn’t know what it felt like to feel good. Now I do!
What were you eating before making this lifestyle change?
I had heard that I should cut out sugar, so in previous years I had stopped drinking any pop or eating any fast food and I had managed to lose some weight by doing that.
But I had heard fruit and grains were healthy so I was eating a ton of fresh fruit every day, and lots of grains and low-fat food.
When did you start low carb or keto?
I started in October 2017, right after I found the Diet Doctor website.
I watched all the videos, read the success stories. I learned everything I could. I explored all the Diet Doctor recipes.
My wife and I loved dishes like the Tex Mex casserole. I couldn’t believe how delicious and filling all the food was. It wasn’t like diet food. And before long I was making my own recipes
In what ways has your health improved?
It is incredible. Within two weeks of starting keto I was off the insulin. And over the last three-and-a-half years I have come off more and more medication. I am off all diabetes medication. I just don’t have diabetes anymore. My blood sugar is great.
This spring, I finally came off my two blood pressure medications — my blood pressure had become too low on the drugs! Now my blood pressure is always in the normal range without any drugs at all.
I had set the target of getting to a weight of 240 pounds (109 kilos). When I was 383 pounds (174 kilos) that seemed like an impossible target to reach. But now I am at 220 pounds (100 kilos), which is lighter than when I got married more than 30 years ago. I can fit into a shirt I wore 30 years ago.
I don’t know if this will now be my final weight or if I will continue losing. I am 5’10” (178 cm) so who knows, I might go even lower. I will just see what happens.
But apart from getting off all medications and losing so much weight, I just feel fantastic. As soon as I started keto I felt this burst of energy come over me. I now have energy to do whatever I need to do. I’ve got a couple of new grandchildren so it is really nice to actually have energy to interact with them.
Even cognitive functions seemed easier. My brain is clear – it is like I have mental superpowers.
My feet no longer hurt and all the numbness and tingling are gone. My knees feel great. And, this is odd, but I have really noticed that my skin is so much better, it’s soft and supple – it was like it was all dried out before. It is amazing.
I will turn 65 in the fall but I feel 20 years younger.
What does a typical day of eating and/or fasting look like for you now?
I usually just eat two meals a day. I will usually have breakfast of something like eggs and bacon with a cup of coffee with a bit of heavy cream. That will keep me all day.
I usually skip lunch and just eat a keto dinner, one of the Diet Doctor recipes or some recipe that I have created myself. It usually features a meat protein with lots of vegetables.
I no longer eat any fruits or grains – that was killing me and making my blood sugar so high. I eat a lot of eggs, cheese, meats, and above-ground vegetables. I find the food very satisfying and easy to do. I will eat this way for the rest of my life.
Have you made any mistakes on your journey (which you’ve learned from)?
My mother died in the winter of 2019 and that was hard. It wasn’t like a full depression or anything, but I was just really sad. And at times like that you want what you think are comfort foods. I was grieving and I turned to my old comfort food. So I went off the diet for a few months.
I understood why it was happening. But soon I was gaining weight and feeling very unwell again. And after a few months I realized I didn’t want those foods anymore. So I decided to go back to keto. When I started again the weight came off and I felt better.
I want to be honest with people about this kind of thing. It takes a while to get healthy habits going and we can slip back into unhealthy habits. And there is usually a reason. And then when you are honest about it, you know why it is happening, you can get back to the healthy habit.
Sometimes, especially at a church function, I will now have something high carb that someone has made – a piece of cake or pie. I’ll just have a bite. I really don’t want it. A bite is enough and then it’s right back to keto eating. I have tested my blood sugar at those times and my blood sugar returns to normal very fast, so that is great. But I don’t want to eat that way for long.
I really enjoy tracking everything. I test my blood sugar a few times a day because it is fun for me to see where I’m at. I track all my lab tests so I can show my doctors my progress too.
Do you think exercise is necessary for success on low carb?
When I started in October 2017 I felt too unwell to do any exercise.
As you start feeling so much better and losing all the extra weight, you just feel so much more comfortable moving and doing things.
I lost all the weight without going to the gym or doing heavy exercise – it was all my diet – so it is not necessary to exercise to lose weight.
But I now walk a lot with my wife in a local botanical garden, which I really love to do. I am also trying to do a little bit of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) – nothing too much, but just doing bursts of activity. When you feel good, you want to move.
What are your top three tips for people starting low carb?
Well, my top tip is to go to Diet Doctor, join it, and follow everything it says.
I honestly think that if I had not found Diet Doctor when I did, I would be dead by now. Diet Doctor saved my life and I thank God for leading me to it. I will be a Diet Doctor member for life!
I often get texts and emails from people who say “Your weight loss has really inspired me, can you give me some tips?” And I always say: “Go to dietdoctor.com, join the Two-Week Challenge. That’s where to start. Then follow the recipes, the meal plans. Diet Doctor makes it easy.
My second tip is also about Diet Doctor: If you need motivation or inspiration, read the success stories because everyone can find someone who is just like them. I hope that some people see themselves in my story. I want older people, those in their 60s like me, who have had years of bad health and weight gain, to know that it is not too late. You can still have amazing results. It is not medications that will fix you, it is food that fixes you.
My third tip is to keep track of all your health metrics like blood sugar, blood pressure, lab test results. That really helps you measure your progress and keep you inspired, at least it does for me. It also makes it easy to show your doctor and to get them on board. My endocrinologist was so amazed at my progress that he actually went to Diet Doctor to learn more.
Congrats on your amazing success, Calvin! I am thrilled that Diet Doctor played a role in transforming your health and giving you your life back. Keep up the great work, and keep sharing your story as an example of the power of a healthy lifestyle.
/ Dr. Bret Scher
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