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Personal Stories

International Wellness Coach Lisa La Nasa on Thriving with Diabetes 

Lisa La Nasa, Founder and CEO of diaVerge Diabetes LLC, inspires those battling rollercoaster highs and lows. After 13 years of diabetes drudgery, she took charge of her health, started her own education and coaching company, and became a voice for the T1D international community. Read on to discover how she achieved dreamy A1cs (4.4 in four months!) and reclaimed her life. 

International Wellness Coach Lisa La Nasa on Thriving with Diabetes 

About Lisa La Nasa

Featured on Nasdaq’s 2023, “48 Women to Watch on What They’re Doing Differently to Ensure Success,” Lisa La Nasa created an innovative diabetes management platform, diaVerge Diabetes

The entrepreneur is a success strategist and type 1 patient leader who has spoken at diabetes symposiums worldwide. La Nasa’s short film, Small Numbers, depicts her transformative health journey after her diagnosis.

La Nasa holds a Diabetes Paraprofessional Level II Certificate through the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (ADCES) and a Diabetes Educator Certificate through the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). Today, La Nasa runs her company from Valencia, Spain, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.

T1D Family History

La Nasa was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) in 2002 at age 24. Initially from Minnesota, her family history includes a mother and brother with T1D. “I grew up with type 1 diabetes around me. I was five years old when my mom was diagnosed at the age of 40, and my brother was diagnosed at the age of 13.”

In the early 90s, La Nasa participated in a T1D sibling study at the University of Minnesota. “At that point, they could tell I had a diminished phase 1 insulin response. So, they knew that it was probably coming for me at some point.”

When La Nasa was in her twenties, she experienced recurring yeast infections. “This is something that’s not talked about. It’s one of those things that, yes, it’s embarrassing. It wasn’t on my radar, and my doctors weren’t paying attention to my charts saying I have a really strong type 1 connection, and so this went on for months and was terrible.”

Fortunately, another doctor ran a glucose test revealing her blood sugar level was 600.

Interesting Fact: Research shows there is a significant link between type 1 diabetes and vaginal yeast infections.

The Early Years

La Nasa grappled with her diagnosis, experiencing complications for years (clinical depression, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and the beginning stages of kidney disease). She realized something had to give.

“I was living in Argentina with my husband and three-year-old daughter, having the wildest blood sugar excursions of my life. I was struggling more than I ever had, and to be honest, I was suicidal—that was rock bottom. I said, ‘I can’t go on like this. I have to make a choice: either I’m going to die, or I’m going to figure this out.' And thank goodness, I decided to figure it out.”

“I always felt like I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, what my doctor told me to do, and I was achieving what they considered good control. Even though I’d talk to them about my frustrating symptoms, they’d say, ‘Oh no, you’re doing fine.’ I don’t feel like I received a decent diabetes education when I was first diagnosed. They said ask your mother and brother.”

“Ten years into it, I got to the point where I thought, is this really what it’s going to be like for the rest of my life – the slew of medical conditions, plus whatever else might develop?”

The Diabetes Quest

Exhausted from the switchback blood sugar highs and lows, La Nasa searched for answers. “I started reading and researching everything I could. I joined a bunch of groups on Facebook and just started asking questions. I saw someone post a beautiful CGM (continuous glucose monitor) reading with near-perfect blood sugar levels and wanted to know how they achieved this.”

The answer was Dr. Richard K. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solutions. Initially published in 1997, Diabetes Solutions is a guidebook for adults and children attempting to stabilize blood glucose levels. Bernstein explains how to reverse insulin resistance permanently in type 1, type 1.5, type 2, prediabetes and gestational diabetes. 

“I read it and put it aside, thinking it was way too strict for me. It’s considered quite low carb, eliminating grains, sweet fruits and anything starchy because if you take those things out of your diet, then blood sugar levels are much easier to control," La Nasa said. "This worked in theory, but I just thought I couldn’t do that. I loved my pasta, I loved my bread, I loved my scones. I loved sweet treats and baking, and there was no way I was going to be able to do that.”

It took La Nasa about a year to pick up the book again. In between, she tried the Whole30 program, the Paleo diet, and a vegan cleanse. “I knew that food had something to do with it, but I didn’t know how it all fit in.”

New Year’s Resolutions

La Nasa decided to give Bernstein’s book one more try. “It was New Year’s Day, 2015, and within the first couple of days, I was shocked at how well it was working, so I thought if it’s working this well, and I’m already reducing my insulin, and feeling good, what would happen if I do this a week or two weeks.”

“And then it extended to a month, and my insulin needs went down, my blood sugar levels were much more predictable, my A1c went down, I didn’t have any crashing lows or unexpected highs, my blood work was beautiful, and within the first year, no more depression, no more IBS, it all went away," said La Nasa.

La Nasa’s A1c went down to 4.4 within the first three months. “There were more lows, and I personally don’t feel my best under 5%; my happy place is between 5-5.3%. That’s sustainable, I feel good, I don’t feel deprived.”

When La Nasa first switched to low carb, she was pumping, but now she is using multiple daily injections (MDI). “I use a combination of Levemir, Humalog, and Actrapid insulin, and I use a Libre 3 sensor, and I also use Metformin as a complementary therapy.”

La Nasa said that she views diabetes management as an experiment every day. “Within the first year of changing how I ate, I was just so astonished by the physical and mental changes.”

Nine months later, La Nasa’s husband encouraged her to document her experience. She started a blog and was writing for Diabetes Daily at the time. People began contacting her, and that was really the catalyst for diaVerge Diabetes.

diaVerge Diabetes: An Alternative Path to Diabetes Management

In 2015, LaNasa launched diaVerge to share her personal discovery that helped her achieve her best glycemic control and optimal health. diaVerge offers a comprehensive, low-carb diabetes program and weekly courses. The lifetime membership includes one-on-one coaching with a guaranteed success rate. diaVerge’s participants and leaders are achieving A1c levels in the 4% to 5% range.

In 2022, Diabetes Center Berne selected diaVerge as one of the Top 20 Digital Diabetes Solutions. diaVerge has an international team of medical professionals and diabetes experts who address the daily challenges all T1Ds face and provide tips for low-carb eating, travel and cooking.

DiaVerge’s mission is to help individuals with type 1 diabetes improve their lives through low-carb eating and healthy living beyond food, exercise and insulin.

Diabetes Redesigned: A Modern Approach to Blood Sugar Control

The signature course, Diabetes Redesigned, includes weekly online support, calls, Q&A, and shared experiences with La Nasa’s instructors. “It’s a really valuable component, just having that community around you," said La Nasa. "We are not only helping people achieve more optimal blood sugar levels but also offering the support and the understanding they might not get from a ten-minute doctor’s appointment.”

diaVerge has a trained staff of accredited diabetes educators. On the US English-speaking side is diaVerge's lead educator, Allison Herschede, RN, CDCES, who authored the book, Grit Pregnancies: How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy and Normal Blood Sugars with Type 1 Diabetes. Herschede was diagnosed at 18 months old, and has lived with T1D for more than 40 years.

diaVerge's Spanish-speaking team member and patient rights specialist is Lucía Feito Allonca, and Carol Bosco works with Portuguese clients. “I’m excited we’re building a very international group,” La Nasa said. “Once you’re a member, you’re a member for life, and you can go through the program as many times as you’d like."

All diaVerge instructors either have T1D or a strong connection to type 1 diabetes. Registered nurse Carol Paiva is the mother of a T1D son diagnosed at age four.

Diabetes Solutions Book Study Group

Nutrition counselor and diabetes health coach Kory Seder runs diaVerge’s Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solutions study group for people who want to dive deeper into the book. The group provides monthly discussions, video chats, and a private Facebook community.

Not Just for Type 1s

With more and more individuals misdiagnosed as adults, La Nasa runs into people initially diagnosed as type 2. “It was really hard for them to get the right diagnostic test," La Nasa said. "There’s such a gray area between LADA (Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults), type 1.5 and type 1. We are really broadening our focus to include all people using insulin because once we’re using insulin, it doesn’t matter what our titles are."

La Nasa joined Breakthrough T1D’s (formerly JDRF) T1D Looks Like Me campaign.

The diaVerge Signature Method

diaVerge’s program explores all aspects of the disease (anxiety, burnout, depression, and stigma.). Since diabetes is so all-encompassing, La Nasa said, "We discuss things like, ‘How we show up in social situations. Situations with employers.’  And we talk about how to have conversations with medical professionals.”

Mindfulness Practices for Diabetes Management

Since the clinicians aren’t mental health professionals, they lead discussions from a patient/leader/mentor perspective. “We talk a lot about coping skills and the mental and emotional side of diabetes management,” said La Nasa. “Above all, I want people to feel supported in their diabetes management, no matter what method works for them.”

Also, caregiver burnout is a huge issue for parents of type 1 kids. La Nasa said around 50% of diaVerge clients are parents trying to find a balance in life managing the chronic condition.

Happy, Healthy, Empowered Living

La Nasa has people reach out to her from all over the world, telling her how she has impacted their lives and changed their outlook on food and diabetes care.

“Most of our clients achieve non-diabetic blood sugar levels-under 5.7 A1c. For all people who are using insulin, it’s incredible," La Nasa said. "We try to focus on creating a sustainable lifestyle because we feel that making changes to manage type 1 diabetes can help us lead longer and healthier lives in the long run.”

La Nasa advises newly diagnosed T1Ds: “It’s a big learning curve, but stay curious and learn as much as possible. It will take time.”

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