Feb 6, 2020

Case Study: Chris, 44

Overview

A few years ago, Chris was diagnosed with pre-diabetes. He made a few small attempts to change some of his behaviors, but mostly he avoided thinking about it. He has four kids, manages a busy natural foods co-op and didn’t take the time to prioritize himself. He was working a job promoting a healthy lifestyle that he wasn’t adhering to.

In March 2019, Chris was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes with an A1c of 11.3%. Officially receiving this diagnosis was one of the hardest things he’s ever gone through. He had a long-history of diabetes in the family. His mom had it, his uncle died of diabetes related complications in his 40’s and his father had a significantly impaired quality of life as a result of complications from his diabetes. Chris did a fair amount of soul-searching and decided this couldn’t be his path too.

He spoke with his doctor, started on medication and began implementing some lifestyle changes— walking more, reducing alcohol intake and watching his portion sizes. He started to see immediate improvement in his weight and health numbers, but was afraid he wouldn’t be able to sustain these changes long-term, especially during his busiest times at the co-op.

In June 2019, Chris received an email from his insurance company about Better. He was somewhat skeptical-noting the lack of personalization and the reactionary approach of our modern day healthcare system— but he took the email seriously nonetheless and enrolled in Better.

Medications
  • Janumet 50mg/500 mg twice daily (diabetes)

Other Health Conditions & Concerns
  • Overweight

Family History

Chris has a long-history of diabetes in the family. His mom had it, his uncle died of diabetes-related complications in his 40’s and his father had a significantly impaired quality of life as a result of complications from his diabetes.

Behavioral Treatment

Challenges & Concerns
  • As a father of four and the manager of a busy food co-op, he was worried that managing his time and integrating new behaviors would be too challenging.

  • He travels frequently for work and was worried about how he could achieve his health goals on the road.

  • The initial fear and physical discomfort of getting back into an exercise routine was initially uncomfortable.

Behavior Changes
  • The skills and lessons in the app helped Chris reflect on the reason he started this journey in the first place and helped him to link his intentions to his long-term commitment.

  • Taking the time to review and learn from the lessons in the app and practice the skills helped him understand some of the misconceptions about his ability to treat and reverse diabetes. The lessons helped him remain positive and solution-oriented in his treatment. He no longer felt weighed down or hopeless as a result of his disease.

  • Chris used the Better app to set goals and track his biometric markers and behaviors on a daily basis, including fasting blood sugar, weight, the number of plant-based meals eaten, and amount of physical activity. He found self-monitoring to be an extremely helpful strategy for reinforcing new behaviors, providing immediate feedback that helped him connect his progress to changes in behavior.

  • He credits his health coach for helping him to keep an open-mind and try new things. These changes were at first challenging, but eventually became habits that are so routine he doesn’t even have to think about them anymore.

"Having the partnership of the app and my health coach is a constant through all the ups and downs that life has thrown at me over the last year. Looking back, I am incredibly grateful to have had Better as a partner in my health journey."

Results

  • Chris’ doctor discontinued his Janumet on 2/4/20. He is now off all medications

  • He has lost over 35 pounds after 8 months using Better.

  • His skin cleared up, he’s sleeping better, and all of his digestion issues have resolved.

  • He feels like a better father, husband and manager.

chris-a1c
chris-weight-loss

“After more than six months of using the app, I feel amazing. I feel healthy physically, I feel positive mentally, and I feel accomplished.”

Takeaways

  • He realized there is no risk in experimenting. Trying new things allowed him to approach behavior change as a series of experiments and an opportunity to learn how different choices impacted his health. The shift in mindset is something he can continue to embrace, learn from and enjoy. What initially felt overwhelming now feels exciting and fun.

  • Though the diagnosis of diabetes was very difficult, it allowed him to create a dialogue with his family. He recognized that he was creating a healthy lifestyle that we should all be living, regardless of whether or not there is an existing chronic disease diagnosis. He felt grateful for the opportunity to pass on to his kids an example of how to live a lifestyle that's self-aware, healthy and thoughtful. He wants to help his family live life to the fullest and is confident that he was able to break the cycle of diabetes in his family.

  • Chris consistently worked through challenges during the course of behavior change and as a result he is no longer thrown by small, temporary setbacks.