Diet and Exercise Take Teacher from Diabetes to Marathons 

Shandra Martinez

| 2 min read

Ann Marie Wakula and Ira Goldberg.
Proper diet and exercise can make a world of difference in an individual’s life- just ask Ira Goldberg. In seven years, the Farmington Hills man has gone from weighing nearly 400 pounds and being an insulin-dependent type 2 diabetic to competing in marathons and Ironman races.
The secret to his dramatic transformation is taking one step at a time toward a healthier lifestyle.
“At 47, I found myself in a bit of a life crisis. It was very clear that, if I didn’t change my lifestyle, if I didn’t make drastic changes to how I live my life, there would be really dire consequences,” said Goldberg, now 55.
The high school teacher recently shared his story with Ann Marie Wakula, a certified trainer and an over-40 mother of three.
Wakula is the host of the Fitness Over 40 series, brought to you by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The three-minute videos feature tips and mini workouts people can incorporate into their daily lives, even at home.

Committed to a healthy lifestyle

Goldberg began by working with a weight loss doctor and, over the next year, transitioned to a vegan diet.
Ira Goldberg finishes a race.
Ira Goldberg finishes a race.
“I went from almost 400 pounds to about 225 pounds. My diabetes has completely resolved itself. I’m off of every single medication that I was on, with the exception of one. At the same time, I had committed myself to an active, healthy lifestyle,” Goldberg said.
When he began exercising, walking down the block was a challenge. Eventually, he was hitting the gym for 45 minutes every day. His first race was the San Francisco Marathon, where he ran across the famed Golden Gate Bridge.
“I had never run any race, and that race became a beacon on my horizon,” Goldberg said. “I had never given myself credit for having the ability to do something like that. I think that it starts with allowing yourself the ability to dream. To dream that there’s something that’s better out there for you.”
Goldberg says training for races keeps him accountable. There are lessons from Goldberg’s inspirational story for everyone, says Wakula. He put in the work and got results.
“I’ve seen many clients make remarkable transformations. The key for all of them is dedication,” she said.
Look for future Fitness Over 40 videos at

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
No Personal Healthcare Advice or Other Advice
This Web site provides general educational information on health-related issues and provides access to health-related resources for the convenience of our users. This site and its health-related information and resources are not a substitute for professional medical advice or for the care that patients receive from their physicians or other health care providers.
This site and its health-related information resources are not meant to be the practice of medicine, the practice of nursing, or to carry out any professional health care advice or service in the state where you live. Nothing in this Web site is to be used for medical or nursing diagnosis or professional treatment.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other licensed health care provider. Always consult your health care provider before beginning any new treatment, or if you have any questions regarding a health condition. You should not disregard medical advice, or delay seeking medical advice, because of something you read in this site.