I Struggled With the Side Effects of Non-Insulin Drugs

Leila Finn, 46, an artist in Atlanta, was diagnosed with prediabetes six years ago. Though she made a point to lose weight, she still developed type 2 diabetes. She struggled with the side effects of medication after medication, until starting insulin. Along the way she developed a love of exercise and is now a certified personal trainer who helps other people with type 2 diabetes.

Leila says she had nightmares when taking metformin, and Byetta made her feel nauseated.
About six years ago, when I was 40, I had sinus surgery. Around the same time, I started having some problems. I was really thirsty and I was peeing a lot, so I mentioned it to my doctor. She tested me and I was just shy of being diabetic, a condition known as prediabetes.

I was shocked. I'd never really thought about having diabetes. I didn't know anything about it and I didn't know what it meant. I just knew it meant you could get really sick. Then my doctor told me I could do a lot with diet and exercise. I thought, Whew! I'd started running in my 30s and I was a regular runner at that point. I'd just done my first 10K the summer before, and I'd done a little bit of biking.

For the first year or so, diet and exercise did help control my blood sugar. My doctor had put me on the Atkins diet for the first couple of weeks, then had me go to a nutritionist, and told me to lose five pounds in that first month.

I wasn't grossly overweight—I weighed 187 pounds and was 5 feet 5 inches tall. However, I'd gained a few pounds every year when I was in my 30s, and I was having a really hard time losing it. After I was diagnosed with prediabetes, I started watching my carbs and the weight just came off. I lost about 45 pounds over the course of a year, at a rate of about a pound a week.

The nutritionist helped me to understand the difference between simple and complex carbs, so that was my first major dietary change.

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As told to: Kate Ashford
Last Updated: April 11, 2008

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