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East Aurora man fends off type 2 diabetes by losing 195 pounds over two years

November is National Diabetes Month. Doctors say with lifestyle changes, pre-diabetic patients can reverse the condition.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Two years ago this month, Robert Skutnik of East Aurora had an eye-opening experience at the cardiologist. 

"I got on the scale there I was 427 pounds," he recalled. Not long after, Robert lost his mother, who he was caring for at the time. 

"That was really hard for me, and part of getting through my grief I think, was focusing on taking care of myself," he said.  

Today, Robert weighs about half of what he weighed in at the cardiologist in November 2020. Not only did he shed close to 200 pounds, he also got rid of his high blood pressure and acid reflux and the medications he needed for them. His cholesterol has dropped, and he no longer has sleep apnea. Robert is also no longer pre-diabetic. 

"My A1C I believe was 6.4, and now it is 4.6," he said. "So it's totally, totally reversed." 

Robert largely credits a new Independent Health program called Brook+ for reaching these health milestones. After members enroll, they receive a scale and a Fit-Bit in the mail, that both link to a smart-phone app to automatically log data. Users also track their meals, water intake, and connect with coaches through the app. 

Medical Director Dr. Diedre Wheat of Independent Health says that while Robert's progress isn't the norm, in its first year, Brook+ has helped 10,000 Western New Yorkers lose a total of 60,000 pounds.

"Pre-diabetes to me is that opportunity to prevent diabetes," she said. 

"We have an opportunity for about 58% of the time to and then for those over 60 that even increases to about 71%."      

For Robert, life as a no-longer pre-diabetic means getting his steps in on the Buffalo State Campus where he works, and near his home in the village of East Aurora. He even hiked two mountains in the Adirondacks this year, and finished a 5K. 

"I'm amazed at how much success I've had and how good I feel," he said. "That's the best part of it is I just feel great. I feel the best I ever have."  

Robert also really thanks his late mother for inspiring him to take control of his health. He says it was one of her wishes before she passed away. He realized later that the day he signed up for Brook+ in March 2021, would have been her birthday. 

"I very easily could have gone the other way, but I chose to try to do something good for myself because I know that's what she wanted," he said. 

"It just was incredible the timing of it."

If you're interested in enrolling in Brook+, you must be an Independent Health member and meet certain qualifications. More information is available through their website

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