Daniel Rossi is 20 pounds lighter. His key numbers are looking much better. But he says the biggest change is in his mindset, and that’s what makes him optimistic.
Last fall, GeekWire’s chief business officer began an effort to transform his health with help from the latest in science and technology, including fitness tracking, workout apps, high-tech body scanning, plus genetic analysis and personalized coaching from a Seattle-based startup, Arivale, that specializes in scientific wellness.
Eight months later, he’s still going strong. Daniel lifts weights three days a week, boxes and walks for exercise, and eats with a much better understanding of the specific impact of food on his body.
GeekWire is documenting Daniel’s quest in this year-long series, and the results of his latest blood tests are providing new insights into his gradual transformation.
The most encouraging number is Daniel’s blood-glucose level, which has dropped as low as 113 mg/dL and hovered around 120 mg/dL based on his latest daily tests. That’s a major improvement from its level of more than 143 mg/dL when he started eight months ago. The number was much higher when he was originally diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, a condition that influences the way the body metabolizes sugar, with significant implications for long-term health.
“This is the big one,” he says of his blood glucose level.
At the same time, his weight has dropped from 261 pounds in November to 239 pounds as of earlier this week. At more than 20 pounds lost, that amounts to steady, noticeable progress, but it’s more gradual than he might have expected.
“It’s pretty slow. I would have thought I would have been 40 pounds down by now,” he said. “Frankly, in the past, I lost weight fast, but I gained it fast.”
That’s where the change in mindset comes into play. Daniel talks about rewiring his brain and “looking long,” a phrase he picked up from his Arivale coach, registered dietitian and nutritionist Ginger Hultin, aka “Coach Ginger.”
“I’m starting to see it now,” he says. “Before, I would have been the guy who lost weight fast and then just gained it back fast. That’s not what this is all about. Do it slow. Change your behavior. Change your mindset.”
Another encouraging sign is his progress in reducing chronic inflammation, which is hard on the arteries, associated with cardiovascular disease and tissue damage from high glucose levels. Daniel’s latest blood tests show an improvement in many of those indications of inflammation, including one known as high-sensitivity CRP.
Related to that, he has been working with his Arivale coach on changing his diet to improve his intake of Vitamin D and the levels of Omega 3 fatty acids in his blood, through changes in diet (including eating more fish) and supplements. Increasing those levels helps reduce chronic inflammation. Those efforts are also visible in his Arivale results.
Not good: His total cholesterol and triglycerides also went up in his latest blood tests. Daniel says he made the mistake of having his blood drawn after an epic birthday weekend, which likely resulted in these elevated levels.
But overall, the results are encouraging, especially the decline in blood glucose, said Dr. Jennifer Lovejoy, Arivale’s chief translational science officer.
“He is really making a lot of very difficult, comprehensive behavior changes, and he’s been grappling with that,” she said. “Behavior changes are rarely, if ever, a linear kind of thing, but the key to success is that you stay engaged with it, and when you hit those struggles and you hit those stumbling blocks, instead of saying, ‘Forget about it, it’s too hard, I’m not going to do it,’ that you double-down and say, ‘OK, what can I do here?’ and he’s really been doing that like a champ.”
She added, “I think these clinical indicators are good, but even more is what I hear about his attitude and his perseverance and the things that he’s engaging with. That’s really the sign of someone who is going to be successful and is really dedicated to this.”
So what’s next? Daniel is working on reducing those lipid levels (cholesterol and triglycerides) and aiming to keep steadily dropping weight. Getting back to his primary goal in this quest, Daniel says it’s especially encouraging to see the impact of exercise on his regular glucose readings, but his goal is to get the number to less than 100 mg/dL.
Meanwhile, this process has surfaced another possible issue, this time with Daniel’s sleep patterns, and he’s planning to undergo tests to find out more. Stay tuned for more on that in our next installment.