from bad health to granfondo diabetes success story

Gearing up for the GranFondo


Successful CEO Dodges Type II Diabetes Thanks to the Personalized Care of Copeman Healthcare

“So how do you feel about becoming a Diabetic?” Dr. Bienert asked.


Garth Braun was stunned. He could feel the blood quickly draining from his face, had trouble finding the next words. He considered avoiding asking the question altogether.

“Do I have diabetes?”

“Well, according to the results of your assessment you’re on your way to developing it.”

The rest of the appointment whirled past. If he didn’t change the course he was on he would likely have diabetes in the near future. There was no time to waste.

“It was a wakeup call,” admits Braun, “One, I’m afraid, I wouldn’t have received anywhere else.”

Braun joined Copeman Healthcare for the comprehensive annual assessments and disease prevention programs—something he believed he couldn’t get anywhere else. Now his decision was about to pay dividends.

Led by Dr. Tasha Bienert and Dr. Olivia Kei, Braun’s team at Copeman Healthcare began tracking his health in 2006 when he first joined the clinic. Keeping a close eye on his results allowed them to warn him of what was looming on the horizon. With the early diagnosis there was still time for him to do something about it – but it would require do you feel about becoming diabetic

Braun’s medical chart was not uncommon. With 60,000 new cases of Diabetes in Canada each year and one in three diabetics living with the disease for an average of seven years before they’re diagnosed, many charts across the country tell a similar story. But what was uncommon was Braun’s personal resolve to do something about it. He immediately took ownership of his lifestyle choices, avoided excuses and embarked on a path to lasting change.

“I knew it was not going to be an easy fix,” say Braun, “But that’s why there’s a team working with you. It’s a collaborative effort. I think every clinic should function like Copeman.” Like many of us, Braun had succumbed to the modern diet, a diet rich in processed carbohydrates and simple sugars.

As a result, his blood glucose suffered wild swings; spiking with glycemic highs and then crashing with lethargic lows.

“I never considered myself overweight and I thought I was eating a pretty healthy diet. If anything, I thought maybe I needed some fine tuning.”

Until Dr. Bienert politely warned him, he hadn’t even considered Diabetes was a possibility.

“I guess I was just resigned to the fact that I was that weight,” recalls Braun, “I suppose I thought it was where I should be at that point in my life—and that I couldn’t change. But after that conversation I knew it was only going to get worse as I got older and I had to take ownership of my health.”

He started making changes to his eating habits and gradually getting back into cycling, a sport he had neglected while building his career. Early successes from eating well and a newfound enjoyment of the bike motivated him to continue. He was also helped along by the folks at Copeman Healthcare.

“Even the front desk staff would say, ‘Wow, we love what you’re doing,’ it’s feedback like that, that gives you an extra bit of drive and tells you that you’re on the right path.”

To really test himself, the 50 year old Braun signed up for the Gran Fondo, a 122km bike race from Vancouver to Whistler. Finishing that first race in an incredible 5 hours and 22 minutes prompted him to set a goal of shaving off almost a full hour to his time the next year. To do it, he’d have to log some long hours on the bike.

“Over the year training encompassed 6,700kms of riding and too many mountains to count,” says Braun.

Not only did his times improve, but according to Dr. Bienert he lost 35lbs of fat, gained lean muscle mass and is in the greatest shape she’s ever seen him in. But the best news was when he learned he is no longer pre-Diabetic.

“I feel like I’ve added another 15 years to my life,” says Braun, “I’m completely rejuvenated with more energy than I know what to do with. It’s such a great feeling.”

And as for the race? Well, Braun recalls it with great joy and accomplishment.

“With 20km to go I began to step up my pace. Over the last 12km I increased my tempo substantially with the goal of passing everyone in my sight. All the preparation during the year paid off with me crossing the finish line in 4 hours, 30 minutes and 46 seconds. Goal achieved!

Post-race I set a new goal of completing the 2013 GranFondo race in 4 hours, weather permitting!”

Dr. Bienert, Dr. Kei and Braun’s entire team at Copeman gave him just the push he needed. His immune system has also received a boost and now he rarely gets sick. He’s also happier and his mental acuity has never been sharper.

“It’s like I’m always on! A few years ago I would have joked that I got tired just driving 80kms. Now I cycle that distance on a regular basis because it’s something I love to do.”

Garth Braun is a true inspiration to anyone determined to make a lifestyle change. He encourages people to just take that first step; to get out and walk around the block.


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