When CJ Christiansen was diagnosed with diabetes this past January, he was taken by surprise. “I hadn’t been feeling well, so I went and saw Dr. Chelmo at KANA. He asked if I had ever been tested for diabetes. I didn’t think that was something I’d ever considered.”
The next day, CJ got confirmation that he was diabetic. “It was kind of a shock. I spent two days feeling sorry for myself. I just didn’t know what to do and then I made the decision that I wasn’t going to let it beat me.”
After his diagnosis, diet was CJ’s first lifestyle change. Sugar and bread were immediately eliminated. He spent the first weeks using a glucose monitor to read how different foods affected his blood sugar levels.
The next step was to develop a fitness plan. While he was physically active in his youth, he gradually became more sedentary with age. “You can lose weight when you’re a commercial fisherman, but when I became a sport fishing guy, I really started to see my weight climb. I was around 240 lbs. in 2003 when I quit commercial fishing. Last summer I weighed 297.”
CJ worked with the staff of the KANA Wellness Center to develop a routine. He started working out three days a week, but once he started seeing results, he came in more frequently—often six days a week! “I have a lot more energy now,” he said. “I’m a lot more motivated to get out of the house and do stuff. Before, I would run up the stairs and I’d be huffing and puffing. I’m a lot stronger now.”
“It feels good to be in better shape. I love coming to the gym. It’s difficult on some mornings, but once I’m here it’s great. I’m happy, I’m working out, and I know at the end I’ll be feeling great about myself.”
He’s thoughtful about his diet these days. He prepares low-calorie snacks and shakes to keep his blood glucose levels in check and avoids eating out.
He also cut sugary drinks out of his life. “I used to drink a 6-pack of Coke a day. I’d be drinking one, empty it, and go get another one. That kind of behavior is hard to change once you’ve fallen into it. For a while I drank diet soda, but I didn’t feel well after drinking those.”
His family has since switched to flavored seltzer water. “My kids drink them, and to them, those are almost like sodas. There’s no sugar. It’s just water with fizz in it.”
A few months after CJ’s diagnosis, he attended a diabetes Specialty Clinic at KANA. CJ’s blood test results improved significantly! “Someone asked why I was even there, if I even had diabetes. I told her, ‘Yeah, I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes and I’ve just been taking care of myself in the past few months.’ It was a pretty good feeling.”