Maria Masterantonio swapped a ‘work hard, play hard’ lifestyle for healthier choices and is now well on her to way to reversing her type 2 diabetes. 

 

By Maria Masterantonio, PerKure Health Coach student

I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2015 at the age of 44, which is quite a young age for type 2 diabetes. It is in our family but, really, the cause of my getting it at 44 was more due to my behaviours and my very bad metabolic health.

When I was first diagnosed, I was told to cut down on sugar and start exercising. I did that. I went hard and fast for the first three months and went from HbA1c (average blood sugar level for the past 2-3 months) readings of 65 mmol/mol down into the 50s. But then my blood sugar levels, and my weight, yo-yoed up and down over a couple of years.   

I think stress management had a huge amount to do with it. Over the last four years, I’ve learnt that when I get stressed, that will trigger me to eat foods that are not good for me, and definitely not good for my diabetes. In October 2019 my reading was at 75 mmol/mol. I needed to learn more and do things differently.

 

I wish I had known in my 20s what I know today, and I could have understood what the lack of care was going to do for me in 20 years’ time.

 

Off medications ultimate goal

I take the standard medication for diabetes – Metformin – and I take the standard cholesterol medication as well. In the past year, I’ve managed to keep my HbA1c to the 50 mmol/mol range, and in the last six months, I’ve managed to get it to 48 mmol/mol. My doctor and I have talked about my continuing lifestyle changes to the point where if my HbA1c reading is in the 30s, we’ll take the medication off. She knows that’s my ultimate goal and she encourages me to keep finding new levels of consistency.

I’ve done quite a few things to manage my diabetes. I’ve done most of PreKure’s 21-day health challenges and as part of those, I’ve been doing the low-carb, healthy fat diet. I have actually managed to maintain the changes in weight and in my HbA1c levels even after the programmes have finished. The 21-day challenges definitely put me back into the routine of eating well, exercising well, sleeping well, and just reminding me to put myself first when it comes to my health and wellbeing.

 

I realised that the cost of a nutritionist was actually more than doing the Health Coach Certificate and learning about this myself.

 

Training to be a Health Coach

My absolute aim is to be off my medication. After four years of the yo-yoing, I realised that I was doing the majority of things right but I just didn’t understand food. I certainly had no idea about metabolic health. I already had a personal trainer and now I started looking at getting a nutritionist to help me. But then I realised that the cost of a nutritionist was actually more than doing the Health Coach Certificate and learning about this myself, so I thought I’d give that a go.

I must admit, health and wellbeing was not my area. I’ve always worked in law. It’s been really interesting to learn alongside people who are already in the health profession. Becoming a Health Coach for them is just an extension of something that they already do, whereas it is a whole new world to me. The terminology and the science have been interesting and incredibly challenging.

 

Addiction recovery

The other part of my story is that I’m in active addiction recovery. When I look back, I can see that I was a workaholic. I worked in an industry that is full of great food and great wine and the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality. High levels of stress and working around the clock was normal. I entered that industry in my late teens and so this has been my working environment my whole career. Being a single parent for the past 18 years has brought its own lot of trials and tribulations. There was financial stress. There was emotional stress, which kind of made it easy to just have a drink. I’d also been a smoker since I was 16 – a packet a day.

I’ll never forget when I first looked at the top five measurements to determine metabolic health (blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar and waist circumference) and thought, “Oh, I think you’re 100% on those, Maria – I’m surprised you’re still alive”. And maybe my doctor was too. When she diagnosed me with diabetes and high cholesterol she warned me that I was very close to heart disease too. 

 

Rewarding lifestyle change

What have I done differently in the past year? The biggest influence to change in the last year has been the PreKure challenges and the Health Coach Certificate learning. I have a clean, healthy lifestyle, with a high level of exercise in it, and I’ve also learned to have a more balanced life. I hire more people in my business so that if I’m getting to a level in my work life where things are too busy, that is now my indicator that I need to employ somebody else. That’s actually been really rewarding and that’s probably the biggest thing about getting healthy.

I have done the low carb, healthy fat way of eating for nine months and it’s made a huge difference. I’ve lost five or six kgs this year. I’ve come down 23 kgs since I was diagnosed in 2015. So quite a bit. And there’s still a little bit to go. My HbA1c has gone from diabetic range to pre-diabetic range over this time.

 

Help business people become healthier

I run a virtual legal PA  and LE business and I also have a consulting practice where I do business management, business coaching and team coaching. What I really want to do, and have already started in some of my training, is to bring in the health coaching component as well. I like to combine those two things and help people become healthier in business.

I would like to be completely clean, as far as the medication is concerned, and have learned enough to be able to keep my body just doing what it needs to do and just be healthy. If I could achieve that by the end of the year, I’d be really happy.

I’ll see you around in the PreKure community.


 

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