Fighting Diabetes with Diet and Exercise
I’m a very athletic person; I regularly enjoy tennis, racquetball, cycling, working out with weights and cardio routines. Like many athletes, I associated being athletic with replenishing electrolytes — so I kept my refrigerator stocked with Gatorade, and drank it often.
Approximately fifteen years ago, sometime in 1997, I began to notice some abnormal changes in my metabolism. I was urinating about every fifteen minutes, my mouth was often dry, and I was constantly drinking water or Gatorade.
After a few days of these symptoms I scheduled an appointment with my urologist, who sent me to obtain a full blood and urine panel. Much to my shock, concern and dismay I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes.
My glucose was off the charts: 427-mg/dL (the normal range is between 80-120-mg/dL). My physician wanted to start me on an insulin program immediately. When I refused this treatment, he suggested I begin a course of pharmaceuticals to normalize my blood glucose. I refused this idea as well. I told him that I was not going to take the medication. I felt that I could learn to control this myself with proper medical information on diabetes.
Initially, I harbored presuppositions about diabetes that definitely contributed to my concern about my diagnosis. I contacted a close family member to inquire if we had any diabetes in the family. He informed me that he, too, had diabetes and that there was evidence of diabetes in both the paternal and maternal branches of my parents. He also told me that all of my uncles on my father’s side of the family were diabetic. I decided to do some research in an attempt to further educate myself about this condition.
Later, I browsed a diabetic website which provided a wealth of information I felt I could make good use of. I also ordered Diabetes Magazine. My physician wrote a prescription for a tester and test strips so that I could monitor my blood glucose.
I set out with a plan to monitor my glucose three to six times daily, as well as to monitor my blood pressure. I used a large desk calendar to track and record everything I ate, tested my blood glucose after eating and while my glucose was up over the normal range I would exercise and test again within two hours.
I noticed an immediate drop in my glucose range after exercising. This was the beginning of understanding what I needed to do to keep my glucose in the normal range. I found reading product labels to be crucial in keeping my overall carbohydrate intake levels in check. I also noticed that the foods that I was eating in the past, like most people (diabetic or not) were processed foods — these contain the highest levels of carbohydrate (which converts to glucose when metabolized).
I began this process with a body weight of 190 lbs. When I started my program of diet and exercise, I lost a pound a day without even trying to lose weight. My goal was to control my glucose and in the process I was excited to see that I was naturally shedding pounds. I lost 31 lbs. In 35 days and my glucose was consistently in the normal range. I have maintained that plan and that weight for the last 15 years. A diabetic must learn the simple aspects of the language of food chemistry, and, armed with that knowledge, create a program of nutrition and physical activity that will return control over their metabolism while revitalizing their overall health. The choice to use the onset of this form of diabetes as a path to better nutrition and cardiovascular health represents a way to turn a challenge into a benefit. Needless to say, taking control of one’s health is a personal choice that must remain entirely in the hands of the individual.
There are many methods available to control diabetes and I will continue to blog about this topic in coming months. For now, keep in mind that the right perspectives magnify the value we can derive from the methods we select; a positive approach, awareness of diet, monitoring and exercise comprise the cornerstones of a winning strategy for living healthy with diabetes.