Using the Power of Diet and Exercise to Manage Type 2 Diabetes
Doctor J's office called this morning with the results of my cholesterol and metabolic panels. The local lab messed up the order before my last appointment at the end of January and had just run an HbA1c, so I went back for a second blood draw this weekend. My bad cholesterol was down from 190 at the end of October to 140. Not perfect by a long shot, but pretty good for four and a half months without medication. The news on my liver numbers were even better. Based on my blood tests in October and Dr. J's observations of my weight, I was told that I probably had fatty liver. The test numbers this week were normal. Needless to say, both my doctor and I are happy with the results and I am now a confirmed believer in the value of a good diet and regular exercise.
Speaking of exercise, this was the week I decided to get serious about putting together a balanced workout routine to replace the show up, sweat, play with dumbbells and try not to hurt yourself program I was using. Being a former English major, I tend to approach everything by reading a book first. These days that usually means looking at a dozen or so web pages, reading a bunch of reviews on Amazon, buying a couple of books, reading them and then trying to do whatever it is I've been reading about. Being a trial lawyer and a part-time sheep farmer, I've learned that for a lot of things books aren't enough. You need an experienced human there to help you get the hang of it. I figured I would try both approaches. I pulled out The Men's Health Big Book of Exercises (lots of pictures and simple instructions) and went to my wife who actually has a degree in commercial fitness. I showed her their suggested get-back-in-shape workout and asked if it seemed o.k. to her. She looked it over, gave her approval and then walked me through each exercise to make sure my form was correct. When she was satisfied that I wasn't going to hurt myself, I headed out to the gym. Some of the routines were easier than what I had been doing. The majority though hit muscles and muscle groups that I hadn't touched before. By the end of the workout my arms and legs felt like spaghetti and not even al dente spaghetti at that. I have been following the program for the last week and while it has been getting a little easier each time, I am still realizing just how out of shape I am. The dynamic stretching and warm-up component has been particularly helpful.
The new workout has not affected my weight particularly. This morning's weigh in was 177.4, only four tenths of a pound lower than last week. I have noticed though that in spite of the fact that the raw weight numbers are not dropping dramatically, the waist bands in my slacks are getting looser. It seems that I actually am trading abdominal fat for muscle. If this keeps up I can live with not seeing the needle on the scale move much for a while.
As I said above, I've become a believer in the power of diet and exercise. In the past four months, I have gone off insulin, dropped my A1c from 9.6 to 5.9, reduced my bad cholesterol by 50 points, brought my liver numbers back to normal and dropped 23 pounds since I started writing this column. There have been no magic tricks. I've cut back hard on carbohydrates, watched my portion sizes and eaten a lot of oatmeal, green vegetables and fiber. After a slow start I am finally exercising regularly with a combination of cardio and strength training. Guess what? It all works as advertised.