How I Became Unstoppable

Michelle Forst, a busy working mom, stopped letting type 2 diabetes stand in her way and started living life to the fullest. 

Health Monitor Staff
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Allison Tyler Jones Photography, Inc.

“There were times I couldn’t get my daughter a glass of milk from the fridge,” remembers 34-year-old Michelle Forst, an interior designer in Mesa, AZ. “I was so tired, I didn’t have a clue how I’d be able to drive to my appointments. That fatigue really got me down!” Being at the mercy of extreme blood sugar swings was taking a physical and emotional toll—and a few extra pounds weren’t helping. 

Michelle hated the way she looked and felt…every day. “I don’t know how I’m going to go through another 30 years of my life like this,” she confided in a friend.  The exhaustion wasn’t new; Michelle’s debilitating energy dips had only gotten worse since her diagnosis of gestational diabetes in 2006. During her pregnancy, Michelle was continually ravenous. “I craved food all the time—breads, potatoes, pizza and cupcakes.” So it didn’t come as a surprise when she failed two one-hour glucose challenge tests.

After her daughter Hallie’s birth, Michelle hoped her blood sugar would return to normal. It dropped only a little. “That’s where my journey with type 2 diabetes began,” she says. Unfortunately, her hectic lifestyle didn’t help matters. Like many busy moms with a home and a career to manage, Michelle took shortcuts. She relied on frozen entrées and sometimes skipped meals. “I wasn’t putting healthy foods into my body,” she admits, and the numbers on the scale crept up. As for exercise, well, that was on an “as needed” basis. Despite taking medication, Michelle’s blood sugar constantly swung from high to low. “My A1C was going higher and higher!”

Hitting bottom
Something had to change. “I have a beautiful, healthy child,” Michelle reflected back then. “Yet [she has] an unhealthy mother.”  She was terrified of the potential consequences of diabetes—heart, nerves, eye and kidney damage. “I was also embarrassed, I was sad, I was angry.” The time had come for Michelle to take a committed, active part in her diabetes-management plan.

She started reading everything she could find about nutrition and diabetes. Something about The Eat-Clean Diet, by Tosca Reno, with its emphasis on mini-meals of unprocessed foods combined with weight training and cardiovascular exercise, appealed to her. The goal? Well, it wasn’t just about “looking” better—but about getting healthy, energized and fit, too. “I am not fighting for my skinny jeans, my summer bikini or a size 0 life,” Michelle declared. “I am fighting for my longevity, a life minus health complications, and to see my future grandchildren.” And because she knew she couldn’t go it alone, Michelle told her husband, Nicholas, and the rest of her family she needed their support. 

Focusing on energy foods
Michelle stocked her kitchen with lean meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. She kept a tray of raw veggies in her fridge on a regular basis, along with hummus or homemade ranch dressing (using Greek yogurt). And so she wouldn’t be caught without a healthy option during on-the-go workdays, she filled her purse with snack bags of almonds, pistachios and peanuts and identified the supermarkets and convenience stores that stocked ready-to-drink, low-carb protein shakes.

April 2013