Early this year, Tooele resident Kim Lane’s case of diabetes was out of control. She experienced frightening heart problems, and her liver was in trouble.
Now, when she’s not sleeping (she works nights at ARUP, a nationally recognized reference lab owned by University of Utah), you might find her working out at Gold’s Gym, volunteering at the animal shelter or spending time with her family.
Getting to this point challenged Lane in ways she never believed she could handle before.
Lane worked on health issues slowly after being diagnosed with diabetes in February 2013. In spite of that, her health became a true crisis early this year as her daughter Courtnie prepared for marriage and her son Jared inched up on high school graduation.
“Finding a new way of eating gave me purpose in life,” Lane said. “Exercise has also benefited me.”
Through the rough times, she got encouragement and help from Jennifer Heiner, the physician assistant with ARUP Family Health Clinic, which provides complete medical services at no cost to employees of ARUP.
“Kim did not make all her changes at one time,” Heiner said. “She started with small steps that over time added up and made a big difference.”
Heiner said Lane cut out soda, began making her recipes at home more nutritious, included her family in the changes as much as possible, and began working out, first at a gym and then also at home.
“This process has been going on for two years and she has had her setbacks, most notably a broken foot that made it very hard to exercise,” Heiner said, “But what makes Kim unique is she was able to deal with these setbacks and stick to her health lifestyle changes.”
A trip to the emergency room for chest pain in early January and some uncomfortable test results at her check-up in February were wake-up calls for Lane.
Lane said she was already on the highest dose of blood pressure medication she could be on, and she didn’t want to have to take Metformin for her diabetes, too.
She chose to forgo most of the foods she loved, dropping salt, sugar, red meats, yellow cheeses and all processed foods completely. Lane was also told she shouldn’t eat any wheat.
“Not even whole wheat,” Lane said. “She wanted me to stay away from the carbs in breads. Anything with flour has a lot of carbs. She also wanted me to stay away from gluten.”
Lane began juicing. She made her own concoctions from carrots, tomatoes, kale, spinach, garlic and other vegetables. She drank juice for every meal. As time went on, she began experimenting with lentil recipes to add more substance to her diet.
“Then I was introduced to quinoa,” she said. “Quinoa changed my life.”
Lane eats quinoa for breakfast.
She makes a rich hot cereal with it using chocolate-flavored almond milk, cocoa powder and bananas. She uses quinoa in the place of rice, and most recently, she’s learned to make vegetarian burgers using quinoa and black beans.
Then there’s the quinoa chocolate cake.
“It’s like a chocolate pudding cake,” Lane said.
For Lane, surviving the challenge meant finding substitutes for her favorite foods. Wheat flour was replaced with flours made from quinoa, coconuts, spelt, and rye.
Ground turkey mixed with quinoa replaced ground beef, especially in Lane’s taco meat and burgers. Homemade seasonings took the place of high-sodium seasoning mixes.
Lane also exchanged sugar for one hundred percent maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, and coconut sugar.
“Dried fruit is my candy,” she said.
Lane’s kitchen has seen plenty of experiments in the past five months. She searches out new recipes, tries them and tweaks them to fit her personal tastes. Lane often combines a couple of recipes into one recipe she knows she’ll use repeatedly.
“I put my own twist to them,” she said.
During her eating-habits transition, Lane also began taking exercise more seriously. She rearranged a room in her basement to hold a stationary bicycle and other exercise equipment.
“I call it my woman cave,” she said.
For the first few months of 2014, Lane exercised in the mornings when she got home from work. Lately she’s also been working out at Gold’s Gym with her son, Jared, when she wakes up in the afternoon.
“I really like getting my heart rate up,” she said. “I like the abdominal exercises, too.”
One day, she completed a mile on an elliptical machine in less than twelve minutes.
“I loved the way I felt after that,” she said. “I enjoyed the feeling that I was actually doing something good for my body.”
When Lane started this process in February, she weighed 264 pounds. By the end of June, she was down to 228 pounds and had lost two pant sizes.
“It’s exciting to see that some of these things I’m doing for myself are finally starting to pay off,” she said.
The results outweigh even the pounds she lost.
“To save my liver, I really had to make a dramatic change in my life,” Lane said. “In February, my levels were close to 500. When I went in for my check up in May, they were down to 184. I was out of the danger zone, and there were no signs of diabetes.”
Lane said this doesn’t mean that she can go back to the way she lived before. While she might occasionally vary a teensy bit from her eating plan, she’s made a lifestyle change she intends to keep.
“I want to be around to see my grandkids,” she said. “I want to be able to enjoy my grandkids.”
“What I have been struck by the most is how these changes have helped improve her confidence and self-esteem,” Heiner said. “It was less about the numbers and more about being successful with changes that made her healthy. It has given her a boost and that has led to continued effort to stay healthy.”