As a chef, Staci McDonald has made a career out of helping people unlock their potential through their diet. So in October 2019, when her doctor informed her that she would be dead from a heart attack or stroke in a matter of months if she didn’t make some changes, she was in shock.

“To do what I do for a living and to have allowed my health to get this bad was embarrassing," McDonald, 49, tells Health. “I was angry and confused. And in that moment, I was distraught. I thought, If this is what’s happened to me, what have I been doing to my clients?”

For two years, the Los Angeles-based mother of two was already experiencing what she now realizes are some of the tell-tale signs of diabetes. She was always hungry—eating every hour when she was awake—and constantly thirsty.

“I actually thought it was good because I was drinking so much more water, and that new habit just meant I had to go to the bathroom more,” she explains. “But I was also dealing with fatigue and blurry vision for over two years, and finally I decided it was time to go see the doctor.”

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