Can diet and exercise treat type 2 diabetes? How did one woman beat him?

As President Joe Biden signaled on the steps of the White House when he declared November’s National Diabetes Month, disease—particularly type 2 diabetes—is an American problem that persists.

According to statistics from the American Diabetes Association, nearly 5,000 people are diagnosed with type 2 each day, adding to the 34 million Americans — about 1 in 10 — who are currently battling the disease.

“I appeal to all Americans to join in activities that raise awareness of diabetes and help prevent, treat, and manage this disease,” the president urged.

Or, in Judy’s case, reverse it.

* * *

merlin_2949723.jpg

Judy Reed, a mother of three who has reversed her type 2 diabetes through exercise and diet, right, runs with her daughter Kailyn, 13, during a fitness class at Roy CrossFit in Roy on Wednesday, November 9, 2022.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Judy Reed is a 36-year-old mom of three with several relatives with diabetes, a sweet tooth, an IRS office worker — and a Roy CrossFit gym membership.

All of these factors contribute to her story. One that begins in despair and ends up joining the rare club of people who once had diabetes and now don’t.

Unbeknownst to her, Jodi’s battle with diabetes began when she was born. A long line of aunts, uncles, and grandparents, on both sides, had type 2 diabetes before her, indicating a strong genetic predisposition to the disease.

Then there is her passion for sweets. As she puts it, given the choice between kale and KitKat, “I’ll take KitKat every time.”

Add to that the job you’ve held at the IRS since 2006 that requires you to sit at a desk for eight hours a day.

If that sounds like a prescription looking for a diabetes diagnosis…well, it was in the case of Judy.

She was just 31 when doctors warned her she had prediabetes—a risk zone where your sugar level numbers are heading in the wrong direction (94 million Americans are estimated to have diabetes).

In response, Judy joined the gym. She chose a gym near her home—CrossFit workouts feature high-intensity interval training, usually in groups—because her sister, Jenny, joined a CrossFit gym and “lost quite a bit of weight.”

“I thought I’d be able to work my way out of it,” says Judy. Plus, she’ll lose a few pounds in the process.

Instead, the exact opposite happened.

Upon someone accidentally advising her, “If you’re CrossFitting you can eat whatever you want,” before and after her workouts she kept sniffing at candy and chocolate she kept stashed in her car console.

I gained weight.

Even worse, at the beginning of 2019, blood tests revealed that she had crossed the line from diabetes to type 2 diabetes. The doctor sent her home with metformin, the starter medication often given to new diabetics.

She came to the gym that day crying. She finds a lot of sympathy, but also a stern warning from her trainer, Van Aston, who is also a physician’s assistant.

“I get emotional talking about it,” Jody says, “but he just looked at me and said, ‘You have to take this seriously.'” This disease kills people every day.

“It scared me. No one had called it that cruel, and I needed it to rock my world. I was in denial, avoiding the truth, because it was a hard pill to swallow for myself.”

Shortly thereafter, the gym sponsored a nutrition challenge. Judy signed. It was committed to the capital of c. She cut out junk food, educated herself about proper nutrition and added healthy food to her diet. She was drinking 100 ounces of water a day. You have taken 10,000 steps. I attended CrossFit classes six days a week.

Her weight is down to 160 pounds (she was 220 when she joined the gym two years ago). Her energy returned. She can tie her shoes without having to take a break. When she got into the car there was a huge gap between her belly and the steering wheel.

And those were just appetizers.

In July, she went back to the doctor for a six-month check-up.

“They take your blood work and tell you they’ll call the next day if there’s anything to report,” she explains.

The next day, her phone rang.

This cute little nurse said, “Your numbers are great. You’ve reversed type 2 diabetes. They’re so good you don’t even have diabetes anymore.”

After partying with her husband and kids, Judy heads back to the gym, sobbing again. But this time, instead of sympathy, she received “hugs, tears.” The same people who sympathized with her in January celebrated with her in July.

“We did the happy dance,” gym owner Kevin Lundell recalled. “It was a big wonder deal.”

* * *

merlin_2949729.jpg

Judy Reed, a mother of three who has reversed her type 2 diabetes through exercise and diet, takes part in a fitness class at Roy CrossFit in Roy on Wednesday November 9, 2022.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Three years have passed and gone since Judy treated her diabetes. You continue to eat better. She admits she has her lapses. “I’m still addicted to sweets,” she says, acknowledging what she calls the “bender” she went to during last year’s holidays.

I was relieved when my blood test numbers were still OK afterward. “I thought I was doing poorly but overall I think my habits are much better than the behavior that led to my type 2 diabetes. The changes and choices I made influence my choices today.

“I’m not perfect, but now I know something about nutrition and what I need to do to stay healthy. It’s hard work. It’s not always up, it’s not always downhill, but it’s never a straight line.”

Her CrossFit classes remain a daily staple.

“How great this CrossFit community is,” she says, “to be surrounded by people who want to be healthier, who want you to be healthier, who encourage you to do hard things. I’m healthier in my 30s than I was in my 20s, and happier.” It’s easier to live life when you feel better.”

merlin_2949725.jpg

Judy Reid, a mother of three who has reversed her type 2 diabetes through exercise and diet, is pictured at Roy CrossFit in Roy on Wednesday November 9, 2022.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Leave a Comment