In January 2014, 220-lb Adam Thompson checked himself into the hospital. Years of living on fast food and boozing it up had finally caught up to him—he was severely dehydrated with a through-the-roof blood pressure, and his pancreas was so damaged it no longer produced insulin.

The prognosis wasn’t good. Doctors told him he was diabetic; in fact, he was on the edge of slipping into a diabetic coma. Thompson was admitted for three days, but it was only the beginning of his journey. 

Men's Fitness: How would you describe your diet before you learned you had diabetes?

Adam Thompson: Bad. I ate fast food four to five times a week—I could easily polish off a large pizza or a Chinese dinner for four—and no fruits or vegetables, unless you count the lettuce and tomato on a burger. Plus, I was a heavy drinker—12 to 24 beers a night, five nights a week.

So how did you start losing weight?

First I completely cut out alcohol. Then I swapped unhealthy fats, carbs, and proteins—white potatoes, breads, and pastas; sausages; cereal; soda; fast food—for chicken, fish, eggs, oatmeal, green tea, and lots of fruits and veggies. As a diabetic, I really had to watch portions: The more carbs I ate, the higher my blood sugar would go, and vice versa. That really helped keep me motivated. 

Any newfound favorite foods?

Lots—sweet potatoes, chickpeas, rye bread, coconut oil, avocados. And quinoa—my trainer got me into that. At first I didn’t even know how to pronounce it.

Did you work out?

Absolutely. I trained each muscle group with weights once a week. At first, abs were tough; it’s hard with a belly in the way. I did cardio one or two times a week.

What was the high point of the journey?

Finding out I’m no longer diabetic. That was the most exciting moment. I’ve been off diabetes meds almost two years now. 

Did all this take a toll on your personal life?

I lost a few friends when I stopped the party life—it’s been over six months since I last drank. But other than that, life has only gotten better.