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In 2002, Colin Minehart says he was pushing 375 pounds.
He also sat a lot, thanks to a job that kept him on the road. So, when he learned he had Type 2 diabetes, it wasn’t exactly an unexpected diagnosis. Excess weight and inactivity are risk factors for the condition.
Minehart, a 61-year-old resident of Albert Lea, Minnesota, was determined to improve his health. He listened to what his doctors told him; but, for some reason, he found it hard to follow their advice.
“I continued to eat the same way I always had,” he says. Unable to make lasting changes, Minehart began taking medication, including insulin injections, to keep his blood sugar level in check.
This pattern continued for years. “Doctors would say, ‘Do this, do that,’” he says. “But I didn’t learn why I should do those things.”
That changed in 2010 after Minehart had an appointment with Sumit Bhagra, M.B.B.S., an endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea. Finally, he discovered a doctor who spoke a language he understood.
“At my first appointment, Dr. Bhagra spent a lot of time with me,” Minehart says. “He wanted to learn about me and my life.”
Dr. Bhagra says that type of knowledge is critical for motivating people to make positive changes.
“We need to understand our patients’ lives,” Dr. Bhagra says. “I see my patients a few times a year, at most. I cannot attain for them in that short time what they can do for themselves 24/7/365. So, I try to get into people’s shoes to figure out how to help them help themselves.”
He discovered an effective way to motivate Minehart.
“I’m a consumer of information, and Dr. Bhagra took time to drill into material with me,” Minehart says. “He recommended articles and a book to read.”
Minehart devoured the information and gained an understanding of how carbohydrates affected blood sugar. He learned the big impact that little changes could have on his health, and he started making them.
“I gave up juice, soda and cereal, and began limiting the amount of bread I ate,” he says. “I wasn’t going on a diet, I was creating a new lifestyle.”
Slowly, that new lifestyle had the intended effect. By 2015, Minehart was down to around 310 pounds. Then, he began walking and weightlifting. Today, Minehart weighs around 230 pounds.
He’s lost more than just weight. He no longer injects insulin to manage his diabetes.
“I’ve been given a new lease on life,” he says. “I have more energy, and my whole outlook on life has improved.”
He’s quick to give credit for that to Dr. Bhagra.
“We’re so lucky to have him in Albert Lea,” Minehart says. “He could work anywhere he wanted, and he chooses to be here.”
Dr. Bhagra says it’s because he has the opportunity to really get to know — and help — his patients.
That’s something Minehart understands. It’s one reason he wanted to share his story.
“I want to help people, especially people who are overweight and struggling,” he says. “Dr. Bhagra gave me the tools I needed to improve my health, and now I’d like to share what I’ve learned with others.”