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.
Gift of motivation
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.