Shannon – Patient Profile

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I wanted to share an email I received from Shannon, a reader. He writes:

As Hans and Franz used to say, “Hear me now and believe me later.” Never let yourself get out of shape.  I included a picture from last November at an ICON 39 book signing–as you can see, I barely fit in the chair. At that point, I weighed 390 pounds–by January, I would at 395.

ShannonRyanBefore

Shannon – Before

So, not long after that picture was taken, January 2015, I decided that I needed to make a change in my life. I was 40 years old, severely overweight, and diabetic. The problem was, I didn’t know how to change in a way that would work for me.

First a little history: I think I went on my first diet when I was 12 years old. My mother could tell I was too big and enjoyed food. She tried to get me to eat less, got me hooked on diet soda, and even had me try low carb for a while. I shaped up a little in my teens, between farm work and marching in Drum and Bugle Corps, and by the time I got to college, I wasn’t in bad shape, just a little heavyset, but I let my weight slide and I was up to 280 by my senior year. I managed to take off a few pounds that year and graduated at 250.

During the next two decades, my weight was slowly climbing. I’d try dieting here and there, and I’d fail. I managed to take off a few pounds here and there, but after the holidays, I always weighed more. A few pounds a year doesn’t seem like much but it adds up.

By 2013, with my weight sitting at 380, I was diagnosed diabetic. I think my fasting blood sugar was around 250 when they did that metabolic panel on me. Before that diagnosis, I hadn’t learned a whole lot about diabetes. I knew I’d had a cousin who’d lost a leg to it, and my mother had been diagnosed a few years earlier and was controlling hers with a low carb diet.

During 2014, I tried the product Soylent, a mostly tasteless food substitute as a way of trying to give up food. I thought that, like any addict, I could try to quit “cold turkey.” I found I couldn’t sustain it for more than a week at a time. Worse than that, it seemed to have a negative effect on my blood sugars.

By January of 2015, I topped the scale at 395 first thing in the morning, which meant that by the end of the day, I weighed 400 pounds. That’s just a lot of weight to carry around–doing anything physical makes you miserable. When I was younger, I could say, “I’m big, but I’m in good shape,” but at this point, I knew I wasn’t in good shape. I could tell going up a flight of stairs was harder than it should be, and my blood sugar was out of control, requiring my medication to be changed.

I felt helpless. I’d read all the studies, and I knew the basics of nutrition, but whenever I tried to eat right, I’d just start craving my old favorites. I’d spent vast portions of my life doing diets, which made me feel awful. I’d struggle just to take off a few pounds, and when I stopped, I would gain the weight back.

Being diabetic, I wanted to learn as much about the disease as I could. I went to diabetic education classes. I watched medical lectures and Ted Talks. I read forums and blogs. I found much of the information contradictory, but one thing was certain. No one really understood what was causing metabolic syndrome (a variety to diseases of which obesity and diabetes are grouped) so no one had a clear view of the solution.

I was reading comments on an internet post in a diabetic forum when someone recommended this video: The Two Big Lies of Type 2 Diabetes by Dr. Jason Fung. For the first time in my life, I felt like someone really understood what was going on with my body.

Because Dr. Fung’s clinic was in Canada, I decided to take the ideas from his lectures (I watched everything he had online) and treat myself as a test subject. I designed a regimen for myself–a cyclical fast, 4 1/2 days of not eating followed by a weekend of eating. I even went as far as telling my doctor that I was discontinuing Glucotrol, because it raised insulin levels, Glucotrol’s main effect.

When I told my doctor I was doing this, he was less than thrilled, but he said as long as I was careful, monitored my blood sugar, and came back to him if it seemed things weren’t working, he wasn’t going to try to talk me out of it.

My first week of fasting was scary. I didn’t know what to expect. On the first day, I didn’t feel too bad, but on the second day, I started feeling hungry, really hungry. I did my best to ignore it and went to bed early–something I still have to do on the 2nd day of a fast.

The third day was the most worrying. I had a 2-hour drive followed by an important meeting. Because I had heard so many horrible things about fasting, I was worried I was going to pass out from the combined stress from fasting and the meeting, especially while I was driving alone on the highway. I was able to make the drive and have the meeting without issue.

By the fifth day, the only thing that made me want to go back to eating was a psychological need. I’d made it. I’d fasted a week. It wasn’t as hard for me as other diets, and I lost weight. Even better, my blood sugar had dropped to a normal range.  Then, I just repeated.

Over the months, I didn’t always make all 4 1/2 days. Sometimes I ate breakfast or lunch with coworkers on Friday if it was someone’s birthday. Occasionally, I’d go out with family. But the entire time, I was monitoring my weight. I could plainly see the effects of eating or not eating, and every Friday morning, when I stepped on the scale and I was a couple pounds down from the week before, I knew I was doing something good.

Four months into my fasting, I had my first Hemoglobin A1C test. The normal range for these tests is between 4 and 5.6. Anything above this is considered at least pre-diabetic. My previous score–taken about the same time as the photo above–had been an 8.3, and I was thrilled to find out my new number: 5.3! My doctor’s comment was, “That’s better than mine, and I’m not diabetic.”

When I started fasting and saw how quickly the weight was coming off, I made a goal to lose 100 pounds in 2015. I met that goal in September, but October was a difficult month–it was time for the local Science Fiction convention, and hanging out with authors involves a lot of eating and drinking. Then, at the end of the month is Halloween, which puts candy easily within reach. Add in a couple cheat days, and some irresistible fall treats, and I didn’t manage more than a three day stretch in the whole month.

This is the confession paragraph: Even when I do fast, I do several things which are contraindicated by Dr. Fung, diet soda, sweetener in my coffee, and sugar free jello, essentially things that make me feel full and satisfy my sweet tooth. I also allow myself a light snack in the evening. I stick pretty well to my plan, most days trying to stay around 100-200 calories, but sometimes I binge on the weekends. My weaknesses are pizza, sweets, and red wine. Before I started fasting, eating like this would push my blood sugar levels over 300. October was so bad, I stopped checking my sugar on the weekends, not wanting to know. And I was afraid that I would never be writing this testimonial because I would have screwed up my A1C so badly.

Shannon - After

Shannon – After

I thought it was important to add those last two paragraphs to illustrate that this is not an easy process. Every diet treats every person differently–I know, I’ve tried them all. To me, fasting was the easier choice, but it still wasn’t easy. There are many days I’ve considered giving up. There are times family and social obligations made it impossible to stick to the plan. There are times I had to give up a meal in my favorite restaurant. But from the beginning, I decided not to treat this as a brief attempt to lose weight, but to see it as a lifestyle change. I’ve chosen to see any setbacks as learning experiences or inconveniences rather than defeats.

So, last Wednesday, when I had my blood taken for the second time since I started fasting, I was a little nervous. I told myself that I would take any A1C under a 6 as a victory, but I was honestly worried. I had to wait for 2 days to get the results, but they finally came in. I, again, was at a 5.3! Once again, my blood sugar was in the normal range.

Another great effect that this journey has had is my liver health. Let’s just say numbers that were way outside normal levels are now well within the normal range.

So, there it is: my story of how, with some good advice, I brought myself back from the brink of self-destruction. I still have a ways to go–I don’t want to keep flirting with weighing 300 pounds–but I’m healthier than I’ve been in years, and I have hope that I can continue on the path I am on and continue to have success.

-Shannon

Dr. Jason Fung: Terrific job, Shannon. If adding diet soda works for you, then by all means, go ahead. The most important thing is to stick to the plan and get results. If you are using sweeteners, but getting good results, then continue. However, if you do not see the results you want, then consider changing. In our clinic, we often allow a little cream in coffee, which is also technically not a fast. However, the difference is small enough that most people do well. Some will tolerate diet soda fine, but many will not.

The other point I would emphasize is that fasting is not always easy. But it has the ability to make you healthier. My clinic is the Intensive Dietary Management Program, not the Easy Dietary Management program. Day 2 is usually the hardest day of fasting for most people. That is when the body begins switching to burning fat. Once you know that, you can prepare yourself.

Congratulations again, Shannon. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. I’ll write again in the New Year.

2017-09-02T11:54:11+00:00 34 Comments

About the Author:

Dr. Fung is a Toronto based kidney specialist, having graduated from the University of Toronto and finishing his medical specialty at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2001. He is the author of the bestsellers ‘The Obesity Code’ and ‘The Complete Guide to Fasting’. He has pioneered the use of therapeutic fasting for weight loss and type 2 diabetes reversal in his IDM clinic.

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34 Comments on "Shannon – Patient Profile"

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Roger
Guest

Great article

Barry
Guest

Awesome!!!! You’re an inspiration.

Jill
Guest

Thank you Dr Fung and Shannon. Merry Christmas!

DrCollins
Guest

Very encouraging testimonial. Thanks for sharing it, and Merry Christmas.

Hazel
Guest

Merry Christmas Shannon and Dr. Fung. This blog post is inspiring. Over 6 years I met my goal (to be healthy again), but I still love reading stories like this.

Lucylaw
Guest
Merry Christmas Shannon and Dr. Fung. I have lost 40+ pounds since late July, using LCHF and fasting, and I feel better than I have in I can’t even tell you how long. My goal, like Shannon’s, is to accept that there will be days where I am not compliant with my plan, and not let those days derail my happiness with my progress and my commitment. I avoid doctors like the plague (no pun intended), so I don’t know what my blood numbers are, but my blood pressure is back within normal range without meds, and my acid reflux… Read more »
Helen
Guest

Great job Shannon. You are an inspiration! I have only just discovered this information through dietdoctor.com I feel there is so much hope for the future thanks to Dr Fung. Merry Xmas.

Logan
Guest

Awesome job and thank you so much for sharing and using the Hans and Franz reference. LOL

Dr. Fung, you should create your own message board! I know that comes with certain costs, risks, and unknowns, but I think the benefits associated with communication velocity and community far outweigh them and I think you could succeed where others have failed or stagnated.

Dianna Holmes
Guest
After 11 years of using medications,for T2D, I was suffering more side effects the longer I used them, but was putting it down to old age. But the day when I could hardly walk a few steps, I made the decision I had to get off the medication called Diabex. Especially when my concerns were confirmed by other users of Diabex in a forum. Than I I found Dr Fungs on Youtube. He has changed my health and my life. I use Bitter Melon, chromium, cinnamon, intermitted fasting and exercise etc. ISince September 2015 i can feel that its reversing… Read more »
Francis
Guest

Shannon – Merry Christmas to you! Your Christmas present to the rest of us is how you are sticking to your program and getting results. You are rockin’ it out! Keep it up. Not much more to say, other than thank you for writing this well-crafted, humble article. No one is 100% perfect in their program, but you are making plays happen.

Sally
Guest

Awesome!

Soylent? Reminds me of the old Soylent Green movie. Had no idea there was actually a product on the market with the same name.

Continued good health to you!

Suzanne
Guest

Bravo Shannon!

Steve
Guest

As always thanks to Dr. Fung and Megan for their great work. Big thank you to Shannon for his “real world story”. His sharing, the tales from others, and the great work by IDM is changing the health of the world, one person at a time. Happy Holidays from South Korea and may 2016 be your best, and healthiest year yet!

Gaby
Guest

Thanks Shannon for sharing! Thanks Dr. Fung! Merry Christmas to all!

Alethea Campbell
Guest

If I live in Richmond Va. How may I get the information for Intensive Dietary Management?

Amberly
Guest

The information for joining the long distance program (since you aren’t in Toronto) is at https://intensivedietarymanagement.com/join/ (scroll down past the Local information).

Amberly
Guest

What a great story. Thank you for sharing!

Nate
Guest

Good job, Shannon!! For me, feeling more healthy and seeing good test results are great motivators to stick to my guns. I think that you too have a good shot at sticking to your life style.

Shannon Ryan
Guest

Thanks for your kind words everyone.

john
Guest

Way to go, Shannon. I aim to follow in your footsteps to drop my extra 60 pounds, as well as my hypertension and pre-diabetes. And thank you, Dr. Fung, for putting in the time and energy to help us fix ourselves.

Troy
Guest

Well done Shannon! Look forward to another report (from you) in about 6 months. I am sure you have/will inspire others, and they too will enjoy the life changing benefits!!

Diane
Guest
Awesome story Shannon! It’s nice to read about someone who is succeeding despite the struggles! I’m just now starting to see A1C numbers in the diabetic range so I have realized I need to go back to LCHF and have started the IT fasting with just an 8 hours window for eating each day. I used to be a diet cola person too but a few years ago I switched from diet cola to herbal tea (celestial seasonings – orange zinger is the best for me) sweetened by liquid stevia. The caffeine in diet cola was keeping me awake at… Read more »
Shannon Ryan
Guest

I’ve thought about giving herbal tea a try. I too have trouble sleeping, and I tend to cut off my caffeine intake around 4PM.

Stella
Guest

I bet you can’t wait till Dec 2016!!? Praise the Lord!!

aziza
Guest

God bless you Dr J. Fung and a blessed New Year

Subra
Guest

HbA1c of 5.3 is unbelievably great! Very good achievement.

Madeline Winter
Guest

Great to hear of your story, Shannon. I am just beginning with fasting and I have only gone 22 hours before eating. I can only dream of doing a whole day. But maybe soon. It seems to grow, this ability. It seems to be a process of growth and change. I wish you luck, and I wish myself luck too.

janeel
Guest

Shannon, thanks so much for taking the time and sharing your journey with us! You inspired me to give it a try and I found your plan a perfect match for my lifestyle. After over 4 weeks on it I can say I love it. All the best in 2016!

Heidi
Guest

Thanks Shannon and Dr Fung. I’d love more stories about the difficulties (confession paragraph) because it helps me build my toolbox for when I am struggling. It’s nice to read a real testimonial with its glory and its hard parts.

LARRY K SIDERS
Guest

Some input from my fasting experience regarding the “Second Day Problem” of a fast… When I do HIIT type morning workouts (half hour of “wind sprints” on a stationary bike), I experience far fewer and less intense “Second Day” hunger spells.

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[…] Shannon – Male who is doing a four day fast weekly. Has lost approximately 100 pounds. […]

Schaef55
Guest
Shannon, first of all, Congratulations!!! YOU did it! You kept hunting for a solution to a problem you knew you couldn’t ignore. And, thankfully, you found it. And THANK YOU, for being honest about how hard this all is. For me, a 62 year old who just this Post Christmas, topped out at 326 lbs., and HATE my life being obese and out of shape, this is all a new discovery to me. I just read “The Obesity Code” by Dr. Fung and it describes my life history and frustration with dieting and dietary information which I have tried to… Read more »
The Intelligent Omnivore
Guest
The Intelligent Omnivore

They key thing to take away from this is…he never just gives up. If he has a setback, he gets right back on the horse. Consistency, over the long haul, is the key to success. As Jason says, low carb is great, but fasting is the hammer.

Bob Martin
Guest
Shannon’s story is such a mirror of my own! I got to a peak weight of 430 lb and between 2001 and 2008 I got down to about 300 lb. Last year I got started on Keto, and added IF and longer term fasts this year after finding Dr. Fung. In the past 16 years I have had a stroke, a heart attack, quadruple heart bypass surgery. I used to have diabetic ulcers on my legs almost all the time. Now my FBS is normal. My HBA1C is 5.3. I feel great, probably better than any time since I was… Read more »
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