Don't wait until the new year to make healthy changes. November is Diabetes Awareness Month, so now is the time to reduce the odds of getting this disease. Doctors say simple changes can start turning your health around before you can say Happy New year.
"I was at 330 pounds at the time," said Brandon Landry of Los Angeles.
His struggle with type 2 diabetes started 30 years ago.
"I had tingling in my feet. I had to go to the restroom more often," he said.
His average three-month blood sugar levels were through the roof.
"I was at an A1C level over 11," Landry said.
Meds like metformin helped bring his weight and glucose levels under control.
"I felt better. So, I kind of tapered off," he said.
But his up and down dance with diabetes and medications continued for decades. Before long, he lost all feeling in his feet. He was in step for complications such as blindness, nerve damage and kidney failure.
"If I could tell you anything about diabetes, for most people it is preventable," said Dr. Branden Turner with Kaiser Permanente in Baldwin Hills.
He said 40% of U.S. adults are likely to develop Type 2 diabetes over their lifetime, but the risk is even higher among Black people.
"African Americans are 60% more likely to get diabetes than our Caucasian counterparts. So these numbers are extreme," Turner said.
He tells his patients not to rely solely on diabetes drugs.
"It's the lifestyle stuff that gives you the long game," he said.
The key to making lifestyle changes stick, he says, is culturally competent care - giving patients options that resonate in their community.
"I would not tell you to go for a walk. I would ask you where you live, and we'd come up with a park that you could go walk at," he said.
Landry lives in the Crenshaw area, where finding healthier foods isn't always easy, but he's learned to make better choices
"There are ways to get healthier food options no matter where you are. There's a farmers market at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall," said Turner.
Landy exercises for 30 minutes, four times a week. He cut sugar, rice and pasta and eats more colorful veggies and fruits. He says nothing tastes better than feeling healthy, and soon he may not need any diabetes medications at all.
"Always keep in mind that this is helping you live a longer, more productive life," Landry said.