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raydon gall: tackling diabetes with weight loss

         Raydon Gall and his wife Cindy are fighting weight together through the support of WHC, the Medical Weight Loss Specialist of Fargo, healthy diet, and exercise.“If you would have seen me when I was younger, I was built and in-shape,” says Raydon Gall, an athlete for Wishek High in the mid 70’s who went on to play football at Minot State.  Raydon found that after athletics slowed down, so did his metabolism and he started putting on weight.  The realization of the weight gain hit him in 1997 when he was looking at a picture of himself, nearly 315 pounds at the time“I said to myself, ‘I’ve got to do something about this,’” recalls Raydon.  Over the next 16 years, Raydon made efforts to drop the weight, but the cycle was not steady or easy.

         On top of his weight struggle, Raydon found out he had Type 2 diabetes in 2005 after a trip to the Wishek ER. Through the services of the Wishek Hospital and Clinics, he received education regarding blood sugars and diet.  After years of seeing providers in the Wishek Clinic, he was then referred to a diabetes specialist at St. Alexius.  On top of sugar intake regulations and checking his blood sugar levels four times a day, weight loss became an even higher priority for Raydon.  In January of this year, Raydon became a patient of the Medical Weight Loss Specialists of Fargo, and committed to their weight loss program.  With the help of three weight loss specialists, a rigorous diet plan, an exercise routine, and continued encouragement from the WHC staff, Raydon began to see results, but not without some discouragement at the beginning.  “It wasn’t going fast enough for me right away.  I didn’t think I could do all this stuff.  I would drive truck all day, come home late at night, and just feel drained.”

         Raydon puts in 2,500 to 3,000 miles a week hauling grain across North Dakota and South Dakota.  As a truck driver, the road presents a challenge to maintain healthy eating.  “It’s hard on the road,” says Raydon, whose sack lunches have changed drastically in the past few months.  “I used to pack a large cooler filled with food and drinks.”  Limited to 1,650 calories a day on his diet plan, Raydon’s lunches have shrunk to one diet coke, a ham or sausage sandwich, celery, cottage cheese, a boiled egg, water, lots of gum chewing, and his allotted ½ cup of sunflower seeds for the day.  “It helps to pack everything myself, but it’s hard to resist everything in (the convenience stores)…I still walk around and look at everything sweet.”

         Despite his doubts at the beginning, Raydon has seen his weight consistently drop compared to past attempts.  Attainable goals have helped him stay on track. “I’m hoping in the next two weeks to lose 20 pounds,” said Raydon who is aiming to get to a steady 195 in order to not only be healthy, but wean off medication for diabetes and high cholesterol and blood sugar levels.  So far, he has seen substantial changes in his blood sugars and cholesterol levels and has already eliminated several medications. Although he is seeing success, he is the first to admit the struggles through the process.  “I see a lot of people that have weight issues.  I don’t preach to them because I know I’m not any better, but when they ask me, I’ll say something.  I know how hard it is to lose weight.” 

         A changed diet has been one aid in helping Raydon lose weight. The second is exercise.  Raydon has a membership to Fun Fitness in Wishek where he makes it a priority to work out upon arriving home from his truck route.  “The tennies go on right away because as soon as I sit down, I’m in trouble,” says Raydon who says that the feeling after completing the workout is far worth the mental battle of getting to the gym.  Raydon also stops several times during his truck route to walk laps around his truck.  “It’s the little things every day,” says Raydon who quoted the founder of Medical Weight Loss Specialist, Spensor D. Berry MD, “It is easier to lose three pounds ten times than thirty pounds one time.”

         Having diabetes was a major blow to Raydon. He always saw himself as an athlete, never believing that this disease would hit him. For years, the WHC staff encouraged Raydon to better health even when he was in denial. “When it comes to diabetes and weight, don’t screw around.  I wished I would have kicked it into gear a lot sooner.”  Thankful for the intentional direction the Wishek Clinic staff has given him, Raydon is an advocate for the WHC midlevels and nurses.  For Raydon, other important factors keep him going when times get tough.  “Elk hunting really gets me motivated to work out, and looking at my granddaughter makes me want to stay healthy.”  Raydon gives credit to his wife, Cindy for keeping him on track with his diet.  Cindy joined the weight loss program shortly after Raydon.  “She looks great,” said Raydon, just as proud of his wife’s weight loss accomplishment as he is of his own. “Diabetes has been a battle for the entire family…but the battle can be won. Controlling weight and following your providers’ directives is the key,” says Raydon.  

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