Joining Joslin Diabetes Center’s inaugural WhyWAIT program back in 2007 was a life-changing experience for Ervin Guzman.
Prior to coming to Joslin, Ervin managed his type 2 diabetes with medication, including 110 to 120 units of insulin per day, diet and regular visits to his primary care physician. Despite these measures, Ervin still struggled to control his weight.
During one of his annual visits at the Joslin Clinic, Dr. James Rosenzweig, a former Joslin physician, recommended that Ervin enroll in WhyWAIT, Joslin’s new weight management program specially tailored for people with diabetes. The WhyWAIT program is a 12-week multidisciplinary program for weight control and intensive diabetes management that is offered to people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
“About the third time I saw Dr. Rozenweig, he said to me, ‘Erv I like you and you are a nice guy, but you are too young to be over 300 pounds, and there is nothing that a doctor or the clinic can do for you if you are not willing to take the steps to stop it now.’ I took that advice heart,” commented Ervin.
After that visit with Dr. Rosenzweig, Ervin immediately enrolled in the WhyWAIT program, using the mantra that there is no time like the present to take control of his health, and more importantly, his diabetes.
“For the first time in my life, I said I’ll take the help and really try, we always say I’ll do it tomorrow and my thing is don’t – today is tomorrow,” he explained.
During the first WhyWAIT meeting, the participants went around the room and shared their reason for joining the program. Unable to think of any other reason, Ervin stated, “I am here for me.”
Following the session, Dr. Ann Goebel-Fabbri, Clinical Psychologist at Joslin, told Ervin that his response was the best answer she had heard for joining the program. Dr. Goebel-Fabbri’s kind words remained a sense of inspiration for Ervin throughout the program.
Other members of the WhyWAIT staff also played integral roles in Ervin’s success, especially Gillian Arathuzik, R.D., L.D.N., CDE and Nutrition Educator, who gave him the tools to approach any situation with confidence.
“I remember going up to Gillian and telling her it was my wife’s birthday and that I had already bought tickets for Nantucket so I wasn’t going to have food prepared for me,” said Ervin. “And Gillian just said you can do it; she made an incredible impact on me.”
Gillian helped Ervin and other members of the WhyWAIT program become reacquainted with important nutritional tools, such as portion control and how to construct a balanced meal. To this day, Ervin displays the handouts from Gillian in his home and office, which serve as a constant reminder to make smart and healthy choices.
Ervin also uses the pedometer given to him during the program, which he says help prompt him to carve out time during the day for exercise.
In addition, Ervin met with Osama Hamdy, M.D., Ph.D., FACE, Medical Director of the Obesity Clinical Program Joslin, for weekly weigh-ins to help monitor his progress during the program.
“I was doing the program for myself, but I wanted the WhyWAIT team to see that their help meant a lot to me and there couldn’t be a reason I didn’t give a 100 percent,” explained Ervin. “It was little things I heard during the program that really made a big impact on me and it was all from the WhyWAIT team.”
Ervin’s hard work paid off and by the end of the program he had lost 67 pounds with his final weigh-in totaling at 239 pounds, a significant decrease from his starting weight of 306 pounds.
Aside from losing weight, Ervin saw improvements in his diabetes with his A1C decreasing from an eight percent to a five percent. Ervin also decreased his insulin dosage from 100 units per day to 20 units per day. Other significant changes for Ervin included having more energy and feeling happier, eating less and being more mindful about what he ate, eliminating his knee pain and being able to feel like a regular person.
This past fall, Ervin experienced another milestone – his doctors took him off insulin completely.
“At the end of program, I remember Dr. Hamdy saying that if I walked into a doctor’s office who didn’t know me, they wouldn’t even think I was a diabetic,” recalled Ervin.
Ervin has come a long way since joining the first WhyWAIT class, and despite completing the program several years ago, he continues to apply the lessons he learned during the program into his everyday life. Currently, Ervin is training for a triathlon, where he hopes to be able to give back to the Joslin Clinic and the WhyWAIT program by raising funds for the people who helped him to live a healthier life.
For more information about Ervin’s next triathlon or to make a donation, click here.
To learn more about the Why WAIT program click here.