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Diagnosis: Type 2 Diabetes. Solution: Lifestyle Change

Liz McCulloch is the Director of Underwriting at Pacific Blue Cross. She has worked with the organization for seven years.

In 2011, Liz was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. It was a major shock. Liz left the doctor's office feeling a mix of disbelief and regret, but within days, she decided to commit to a healthier future.

Since then Liz has lost 40 lbs. She is still dependent on the medication but her blood sugar levels are now well controlled.

We asked Liz how she succeeded in losing so much weight in one year. Not surprisingly, she described it as a combination of diet and exercise.

She cut back on carbs, eliminated sugar and milk from her coffee, cut her piece of the regular office cake in half, removed the chocolate bars from her fridge and started to pay attention to the amount of veggies on her plate. It wasn't really a diet, but more of a renewed sense of focus. And she admits the first few weeks were "really, really hard."

The other thing Liz dedicated herself to was exercise. She began exercising at least five times a week, and took advantage of the many classes available at Pacific Blue Cross. Today, she participates in the lunchtime yoga and meditation classes, and boot camp and Pilates sessions held after work.

"For me, once I am home I find it much more difficult to find the energy to go out again. So, if I can do it during the day then when I get home I can relax and be a big couch potato."

Like many Pacific Blue Cross employees, Liz is a commuter. Having so many programs on site allows Liz to diversify her exercise routine without having to add another outing to her long work day.

Throughout the weight loss journey, it was uplifting to have coworkers offering words of support. "I actually have people I don't know come up to me and say: ‘You've lost a lot of weight, haven't you?' It's almost always followed by a compliment, so that makes you feel fabulous. There's no question about it."

In addition to lowering her sugar levels, the weight loss has reduced the pain Liz used to experience: "I used to carry a lot of stress in my neck and shoulders so I would get extremely uncomfortable and had to take ibuprofen. Now I find I don't have as much of that anymore."

The changes to her diet and the addition of a mid-afternoon snack, usually fruit and almonds, mean she actually has energy to make it through the day without resorting to an afternoon sugar rush.

Liz has always been an exemplary leader and well-liked by her colleagues and direct reports, so losing weight and changing her lifestyle hasn't changed her personality. She is also reluctant to say she's a role model, but she does hope her weight loss has an impact on others:

"I believe it's important to look after yourself. Otherwise, you can't be the best you can be for your employer, your family, or your friends."

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