My name is Andree, but I’ve gone by Muffy for 73 of my 76 years. This is my story of battling cancer, a crummy heart, and diabetes… and winning!
I was born in Portland, Maine, and am the second of seven children.
Growing up, we lived on a family farm on the coast with pastures, cows, and lots of space to roam and swim. Everyone in the neighbourhood was related, so we couldn’t get into much trouble!
To understand WHY this program—or, in my opinion, way of LIFE—works for me, you might need to know how I got here.
I was never a ‘thin girl’, but I was always an ‘athletic’. I was an excellent swimmer, which I still teach to this day.
However, the time in-between then and now brought me here.
I began my career as a teacher, later becoming a principal. Almost immediately, I became a workaholic working 60–70-hour weeks for decades. My husband of 51 years was the same.
He coached athletics and kept in pretty good shape. In my case, however, I did a lot of not-athletic stuff. Between us, we didn’t have much time to cook, prepare meals, or do much conscientious shopping. Luckily, we only had one child. She became a gym rat and an excellent track and field thrower of heavy things.
Fast forward a few decades, and I was overweight, tired, and depressed. This sparked me to try Nutrisystem, where I lost weight. But I wanted to try something new after a while, so I tried Weight Watchers. However, it did not work for me, and I did not get the same results. Instead, I got bigger and bigger.
In 1981, my dad died from complications of a stroke. Unfortunately, I was ‘blessed’ with his faulty aortic valve. Not long after, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and died in 1986. I was also ‘blessed’ with her breasts.
Despite being motivated to get healthy as an at-risk person for developing these deadly diseases, I could not find a way to lose weight and care for my health. Eventually, I was diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes and was put on metformin. But because I was working out at the gym, I could go off the metformin and keep my HbA1c in a reasonable range.
In 2009, I found a personal trainer and was determined to get ‘in shape’. I got very strong but still weighed well over 200 lbs. I wanted to compete—I’m pretty competitive—so I started training for powerlifting to get myself ready to compete. All my lifting numbers were well above our state records for women 65+, and everyone was sure I would set new records.
In October of that year, I went in for my regularly scheduled mammogram, which came out clean. But two weeks before the competition, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and told I needed treatment immediately. Sadly, there was no competing!
For the next year, I had chemo, radiation, and surgery. I continued lifting heavy things, but I developed atrial fibrillation (A-fib), my Hb1Ac took a turn for the worst, I had to go back on metformin, and I ruptured a disk and had to have back surgery.
After my active cancer treatments, I went for my annual echocardiogram because of my faulty valve (thanks, Dad!). I was told I needed open heart surgery to fix an aneurysm that was growing. Sadly, I had to do a full stop on all my lifting. I was depressed, scared, and I lost myself.
Fast forward again to 2019, and I had knee and shoulder surgery, a valve replacement, 25 more biopsies, a diagnosis of PTSD, and a double mastectomy. Here, I made a conscious decision that I was done with all that and got serious about my weight and life, hopefully for the rest of it! I had a wonderful personal trainer who encouraged me to try intermittent fasting (IF). I did it, lost 20+ lbs and weighed the least I had weighed in decades! However, I hated it. I do not have the personality to be dictated by a clock. And still, I was right around 200 lbs.
One day while recovering from another surgery (Dec 2020), I was surfing the web and found a post about Data-Driven Fasting. I started reading, and it was a successful testimonial of someone who nearly matched my description!
I had type II, my A1c was 7.2, I was definitely overweight, and I read I could lose weight by using my glucometer in a way specific to me and maybe get rid of my Type-2 Diabetes while still eating real food!
I was hooked and joined the April 2021 DDF challenge. The rest is history! I’ve done every DDF challenge since. My A1c is 4.9, and I’ve lost 70+ additional lbs. Today, I weigh 133 lbs.
Eventually, my body drained the excess glucose and found the level it was comfortable with while it chewed away at my excess body fat.
As I chased a lower premeal glucose, my waking glucose followed. When I started, my waking glucose was knocking on the door of Type 2 diabetes, but now, it’s very comfortably in the normal, healthy range.
Can you guess what happened to my weight? Pretty cool, huh? As I continued using my glucose to guide when and what to eat, the weight continued to come off until I finally reached my goal!
My body fat fell from 39% to 27%.
And my waist-to-height ratio has dropped from 0.72 to a very healthy 0.5!
I’ve learned so much about my body in the last two years. I’ve found my routine of testing, eating, exercising, and being physical that works for ME, and I found the I lost back in December 2012.
Of this whole experience, I’ve learned most importantly that we ALL have stories that got us to a place where we may not have liked ourselves too much, but with knowledge, persistence, and support (AKA, asking for help), it is possible to live a great life!
My family needed me to stick around, but my body was giving me scary messages.
I was so scared, but I’m not anymore! I am grateful for every day. I live a full life.
I teach swimming, I have an excellent trainer, I am having fun, and most importantly, all my numbers are great! I am still a woman in progress.
My doctors (I have a few) are amazed and want to know how I have turned my life around. So, I tell them as much as I can about this program in the time they give me in hopes of helping others in similar situations.
I still have health goals, but I’m thriving with my ‘slow but steady’ pace throughout this journey!
I sometimes think we need to adjust the expectations that we have for ourselves. It may be a small thing, but when I discovered that I was the one in control of my success, I was relieved!
When you have a lot of health and physical issues, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds with this one telling you to do this or that and someone else saying something different. It’s also easy to just give up and be a ‘sick person’.
I continue to learn little things about how my body reacts to food, physical activity, and sleep. My wins are simple, I think. I’ve been teaching children (and parents) for a long time but only began to take my own advice recently.
When we are little, we count on others to advocate for us and tell us what we should or shouldn’t do. However, the power comes when we learn to advocate for ourselves and stop giving our control to others.
While I cannot tell anyone else what to do, I can be a role model, cheerleader, and advocate for them, and I can celebrate the lightbulb moments that others have about themselves.
Marty, Alex, and all the smart podcasters, DDFers, and Optimisers are hooked on the science of these programs, but my brain just doesn’t ‘get it’. I can only talk about how this affected me, but I’m sure others out there don’t have a scientific brain. If you do, then I’m very jealous! I just had to stick to my slow-and-steady approach and not worry about the science. This approach was all I could manage at that time of my life.
My advice would be to not worry about anyone but you and your body, take it all in as you can, process it at your own rate, and then use what makes sense to you.
Go as deep as you want into all the data and charts, ask your questions, share your lightbulb moments, and just DO YOU. Just DO IT!
If you’re ready to take back your health and make progress on your goals, sign up today! Our Welcome checklist will help you navigate all the free resources and courses. Join Muffy and many other incredible Optimisers who are optimising their health one day at a time. See you on the other side!