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Sara Duffy on Losing 15 Pounds with the Help of the CGM Program

Sara Duffy on Losing 15 Pounds with the Help of the CGM Program
"For me, the best part was having agency again over my health. Being able to visualize and see in real-time what my diet, lifestyle, and exercise habits were doing gave me such a sense of healthy control."
Sara Duffy on Losing 15 Pounds with the Help of the CGM Program

Hi Sara! Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I'm Sara, and I have a pretty interesting job. I do a 1-to-1 with an adult with developmental disabilities, like a therapy behavior specialist.

I have been struggling with health issues for the last five years. Now that I know more, it's probably been ten or 15 years that I've had these issues. I just didn't know. Recently, I was diagnosed with a few conditions, including PCOS and Hashimoto’s.  

I've done every elimination diet—I cut out gluten, dairy, soy, and processed foods. And while gluten helped with my thyroid issues, it didn’t seem like anything else was making a notable difference.

By accident, looking at my bloodwork, I happened to notice that my A1C was 5.67. But I had no idea what that meant then; I had to look it up. And around the same time, I started seeing more mentions of blood glucose levels and continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), and I got curious.

I started researching, learning from Glucose Goddess on Instagram, and suddenly, it felt like a lightbulb moment; I was asking myself—is this the missing link?

And how did you find out about Nutrisense?

January 2022 was the first time I'd heard of Nutrisense through my friend Katie Olsen [VP of Operations]. I had seen continuous glucose monitors before, but I had no idea what they were. After I got that bloodwork back, something clicked—I’d seen Katie wearing a sensor! That’s what led me to the company.

I may have found it because of Katie, but I stuck with it because I really like it! I also love the interface better than other companies I’d looked at, even just as far as how you see the graphs and data in there. 

So, you’d never used a CGM before… 

No, I had no idea about it! When I was diagnosed with PCOS, I was told to take birth control and lose weight. And I thought, well, I’m trying the weight loss, and it’s not happening.

So even having information and doing a lot of research on my own, for whatever reason, I couldn’t lose weight for years. 

It was not until recently that I had any idea what insulin resistance was or how useful looking at blood sugar was beyond its relation to diabetes.  

And what were those first two weeks with the CGM like? 

I love research and data because of my background in behavioral sciences. And I did a ton of research myself in those two weeks, as my interest piqued. 

I felt pretty confident in the subject matter, but it was still very helpful working with my dietitian, Katrina. She alerted me to certain things and pointed out some things that I wouldn’t have initially made the connection with myself. So, it was very helpful to have that dietitian support

What were some of the things you learned?

My diet was very restrictive two weeks before using my first CGM. And it ended up being so much higher carb than I realized. I didn't eat bread, but so many other things are also carbs. I drank a lot of fresh juice, for example. 

And if I had been hungry in the past, I would have had a granola bar because I was so afraid to have anything with dairy or use butter. So, the most significant thing I noticed in the first two weeks was that I shifted my diet entirely to big breakfasts, high-protein, higher fat, and low-carb meals.

And the first thing I noticed was my overall energy and ability to get up in the morning feeling better. I stopped drinking so much coffee; I just forgot about it, which was cool! 

In the past five years, I had, in fact, gained 30, 35, maybe close to 40 pounds. Within the first month of using the CGM, I lost maybe five pounds. And I hadn’t been able to do that before. From February to June, I lost over 15 pounds! 

What do you think helped most with shifting that stubborn weight?  

I stopped exercising super intensely just to exercise. Over three to four months, I walked five to seven miles a day and did some light weight training. It was so interesting that it wasn’t the intense exercise that made any difference for me. It was a combination of everything working together.

And using the CGM, I didn’t have to go on restrictive diets or cut out any foods. Previously I’d done a complete elimination diet with a costly health coach, but cutting everything out did not work. 

And when I started the CGM program with Nutrisense, I realized it might be what I’m eating to an extent, but it’s also more about how I’m eating it.

I began eating more because I was tracking all my food and realized I wasn’t eating enough. That was a wake-up call—everything I was doing in the past wasn’t working for me, it was working against me, and I could be more flexible.

Within the first month, I was sold; I noticed such a difference. And other people noticed, too, that I looked lighter and healthier. And it helped me refine my diet.

Tell us a little about that.

Well, on paper, for example, fresh organic juice looks super healthy, but it spiked my blood sugar like crazy. And I think cutting everything out was not working, but I began to be able to pinpoint things that didn’t work for me.

I used to have a lot of oat milk because I didn’t like almond milk or soy milk as much, but it spiked my blood sugar.

I still avoid gluten, but I could almost add everything else back in. I can eat absolutely everything.

Nutrisense member Sara Duffy wearing a CGM outdoors

Has what you’ve learned about how your body responds to certain foods changed your eating habits? 

Oh, yes. In the past, I would have had a small breakfast or no breakfast or a smoothie, a small lunch, and then a huge dinner. And then I’d snack all night.

Now it’s shifted to a big protein-heavy breakfast, and I’m trying to stick to a schedule, so I don’t eat past seven or eight. Sometimes it’s as late as 10 p.m., but I’ve also learned to follow the 80/20 rule: as long as everything's on point 80 percent of the time, I feel good about it. I do not worry about the other 20 percent.

I also make sure there are at least 12 hours between my dinner and my breakfast, and in the past, I couldn't have done without eating every two hours or less. I also learned a lot about exercising after eating and things that helped me not stress so much about my eating.

Yes, stress is another significant factor.

So much so! I was so afraid of so many foods it was so stressful. And then there was a time when I used to work with younger kids with severe behavioral and emotional issues, and it was chaos at work too.

I was so stressed, but it didn’t occur to me when I sat down to eat lunch, and I would bloat so much; I was in so much pain.

I just pinned that down to my eating and cut those foods out. With the CGM, I learned much more about stress and blood glucose and how it can be purely the stress and not what I’m eating causing my issues.

You’re not currently wearing a CGM… 

I haven’t had it on for a bit through the summer, and I have separation anxiety! I think I’ll pick back up in the fall, and I’d especially want to get extra support during the holidays.

It's hard for me, and I’m sure many other people too, to connect the consequences of my habits. For example, I’m not typically thinking, “Oh, my blood sugar is spiking,” when eating something because I’m not feeling that.

And if you do feel it, it’s months, years down the line which can be challenging to address or fix. I mean, looking at it from a behavioral perspective, we learn best from the immediate consequences of our actions.

My behavior changed because I could do something and immediately see the consequences versus waiting a month or two or a few years to see it. 

That’s amazing. And what else would you say you’ve learned from or loved from your experience with Nutrisense so far? 

For me, the best part was having agency again over my health. Being able to visualize and see in real-time what my diet, lifestyle, and exercise habits were doing gave me such a sense of healthy control. 

I struggle with disordered eating; in the past, every food became a fear food. I was worried this would become something I would obsess over and be restrictive with, but it was the opposite. I felt a sense of peace. I knew what would happen and that it wasn't all bad even if my blood sugar levels did spike; I just had to follow the trends. 

When you don’t know what the food will do to you, all you can think is how bad it can be. But being able to try different things is so much healthier.  

I've loved it. I tell everybody about it. And my health journey with Nutrisense has inspired me to go back to school to be a registered dietitian!

#joinnutrisense

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