Preventing Generation Bilateral Amputee: Steps to Manage Type 2 Diabetes
As I wrote last week, getting diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes hit me pretty hard. Two family members, my father, and grandmother lost their legs from diabetic complications. In spite of this history, I never worried much because, in complete disregard of all the visible evidence, I still thought of myself as that skinny guy in his twenties. The fifty-four year old in the mirror with a Body Mass Index (BMI) in the 30s was just some temporary aberration. Sure, I was getting a little heavy, but I would get around to doing something about it someday. Well, on October 28th, "someday" became today. I was not "pre-diabetic." I was not "living with risk factors." I was very sick and getting sicker. The difference that first dose of insulin made was nothing short of miraculous. I won't say it made me feel good, because I had forgotten what "good" felt like. Sick had become my new normal and just getting back to OK felt wonderful. It gave me hope that I could feel better still if I got my diet under control and started exercising.
Diet, surprisingly enough, has been the easier part. I guess my desire not to be a third generation bilateral amputee is greater than my love for enchiladas, egg foo young or a number two meal from the fast food menu board. I am signed up for nutrition classes next month, but in the meantime I have been following a few simple guidelines. First, eat breakfast. This is new for me, but the immediate advantage is that I am not starving by lunchtime and am happier with a lighter, healthier lunch. Breakfast is typically a bowl of oatmeal, plain or with a little milk. So far the carbohydrates in the oatmeal are not spiking my blood sugar unreasonably and I will find out at the next check up whether it has the advertised effect on my cholesterol. Second, eat a light healthy lunch. Lunch is typically a bowl of soup from a local coffee shop. This has three advantages: 1. The shop is close enough to walk to, but not too close. 2. The portions are reasonable and generally light on carbohydrates, or at least those without lots of fiber. 3. It is usually pretty tasty! If I'm going to go without white bread and potatoes, what I do eat needs to have some flavor to it. Third, eat dinner earlier and cook it at home with an accent on lean meats and fresh green vegetables. I have become reacquainted with fresh spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and turnip greens. My vegaphobic wife and sons are numb with horror at the sights and odors in the kitchen, but they will have to adjust.
Exercise has been tougher. I still have not darkened the door of the gym where we have a family membership. What I have been doing is walking more. I take advantage of working in a small town by walking to lunch, and make a point of taking the long route. I've started parking at the far end of the lot when shopping and walking the rest of the way. After all the goal here is to stay out of the reserved spots closest to the door! Last week I noted that Newton's laws applied to people as well as apples. Objects in motion stay in motion. Objects at rest stay at rest. The more movement I integrate into my day, the easier it is to move.
The results so far? My BMI has gone from obese to simply overweight. If you want the numbers, I started at around 220 this summer. Ten pounds dropped as a symptom of my runaway hyperglycemia, which I can assure you, is losing weight the hard way. This morning the scale read 188, which is a loss of a little more than 20 pounds in the last three months from the change in diet and a minimal amount of exercise. This is a good start, but so far I have been picking the low hanging fruit as it were. I've stopped some of my worst habits, but am still working on building good habits. My goal for the year is to get down to 165 and to have my blood sugar under control by diet and exercise. Right now, I'm looking for practical and motivational tips to get myself back in the gym. Any suggestions out there?