Jerry has a message for everyone who is diagnosed with prediabetes.
"Take it seriously," he says. "Of all the chronic diseases you can have, this one is really influenced by the choices you make."
That wasn't how Jerry felt when he first learned he had prediabetes. His doctor told him to lose weight and get more exercise or else run the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Jerry was angry and frustrated.
"I thought, 'What's the point? I might still get diabetes,'" Jerry says. "I felt like I was stuck either way."
He also didn't see how he could fit exercise into his day. Four days a week he works 12-hour shifts as an engineer at a computer company. The other days he catches up on household chores and yard work.
So for a few months, Jerry did nothing. At 54, he figured it was too late for him to make any big changes in his life anyway.
On his 18th wedding anniversary, Jerry's wife, Laura, gave him a present that changed his attitude. It was a scrapbook of photos from camping trips they'd taken during their marriage. One showed Jerry and Laura atop Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, smiling like crazy.
With the book came a note from Laura. It said, "Let's still be doing this 18 years from now."
"I looked at those pictures and thought about the future," he says. "I realized I wanted to get healthy so I could keep doing all those things I enjoy so much."
Jerry went to a prediabetes class that his doctor prescribed. During the 2-hour class, Jerry learned about how being overweight and inactive makes it harder for the body to keep blood sugar levels normal. And he finally understood why making lifestyle changes is so important.
"I met a lot of other people who felt the same way I did at first about prediabetes. Like, how can I fight it? But it turns out there's a lot you can do."
Jerry signed up for a weight-loss program, and he started keeping a daily food diary to track what and when he ate. He added walks around the neighborhood and visits to the gym to his routine.
He also uses a pedometer, and he tries to think up ways to get more steps.
"I park my car at the back of the lot and take the stairs when I can," he says. "On my break, I walk around the outside of the building a few times."
In 7 months, Jerry dropped 25 pounds—about 10% of his body weight.
"It hasn't been easy. I've had some ups and downs, especially over the holidays. Hey, I love to eat. Sometimes it's hard to stay focused on the long-term goal. But tracking what, when, and why I eat helps me to eat less," he says.
Jerry's wife, Laura, has been a big help, he says. She joined the weight-loss program too. They plan and cook meals together on weekends. That way, Jerry has healthy food ready to take for his long shifts at work.
When he went back to his doctor for another blood test, Jerry's blood sugar had dropped below the prediabetes range. He still needs to get tested on a regular basis. But that motivates him to keep up his routine.
"Taking care of yourself can make a huge difference in your health," he says. "It's possible I might still get type 2 diabetes at some point. But I know that even if I do, I'm way ahead in terms of managing it. So don't sit around and wait for it to happen. Get up and move!"
This story is based on information gathered from many people living with prediabetes.
For more information, see the topic Prediabetes.