A few years ago one of my running mentors had entered the Ironman Triathlon in Penticton. He was a real student of running and fitness. He had undergone a substantial lifestyle change several years earlier and is still a real inspirational person in our neck of the woods. Because of his extreme interest in triathlon he chose to go to Penticton a day early to attend a clinic that was conducted by several world class triathletes. I asked him for the most important thing he learned at the clinic. His answer was, “Be kind to yourself”. The advice came from World Champion Lisa Bentley. She said that the biggest mistake she sees among most “amateur” Ironman participants is that they are so hard on themselves that they forget to enjoy the experience.
The same advice can be so true for any of us who are in the fight to manage Type 2 Diabetes. The parallels between managing diabetes and training for an event like a marathon or a triathlon are striking:
- Both require you to develop an intimate understanding of your body.
- Both require planning.
- Both require a great deal of discipline.
- Both present obstacles and set backs that must be handled for you to meet your objectives.
- Both are demanding enough that you should celebrate your victories.
It can be pretty easy to get so caught up in the drive for lower BGs, solid control, and great A1c numbers that we forget that we are human. The human body is unpredictable. We don’t always understand why it reacts the way it does. Stress, illness, and fatigue are just a few of the things that give your body a hard time when trying to control BG.
Don’t get me wrong. Sure the goal is to be in control and continue to improve to ensure you live a long and happy life. Just remember that when life throws you a curve, sometimes you just have to take it, re-group, and move on.
Celebrate your life and be kind to yourself!
I had my quarterly check up with doctor and diabetes RN last week. This visit was significant as it was the first visit in four and a half years that my results were testing control with no insulin. I had previously stopped insulin injections after adjusting to zero on the Four Hour Body diet program. At my previous visit we had also agreed to reduce by half my doses of Crestor for cholesterol and Norvasc for blood pressure control.
My test results revealed a small increase in A1c from 6.6 to 6.8; an increase in LEL from 152 to 266. My blood pressure has been steadily decreasing, despite being higher than normal while I was there. Glad I check it often myself.
I was a little disappointed with the increase in A1c, but then I compared with my previous results and realized that my control without insulin was better than the previous year with insulin. My nurse is ecstatic that I can achieve these results with only a diet change. While the result is acceptable for the medical community it’s a lot higher than I am happy with. We agreed to continue without insulin and see if continued weight loss, the 4HB diet, and increased activity will lower this reading.
Cholesterol is something that we debate at every visit. I would prefer to not use any meds, but as I am at risk for heart disease I agreed to return to my previous Crestor dose. I will point out that my cholesterol is lower on Crestor and 4HB than it was on Crestor alone. Perhaps the diet is saving me from needing a larger dose.
Blood pressure was another story. The doctor thought that my own results – which had been verified at Canadian Blood Services while giving blood – were enough to discontinue the Norvasc altogether. She gave my a target to stay below and a prescription in case my blood pressure increases and I need to resume the med. My expectation is that I won’t. My blood pressure has dropped steadily since I started the 4HB program.
There you go. Hope it wasn’t too boring. There are readers who are following my progress so I have committed to report at these intervals, both the good and the
not-so-good results. It is impossible to do the planning part of diabetes management without having good information, and paying attention to it.
My blog’s been kind of silent lately. Partly because I haven’t had anything to say, partly because I’m busy, partly because I have had a friend building a new website and blog for me. Well, the website is coming along and I have something to say.
When I weigh-in and measure tomorrow and prepare for cheat day debauchery, it will mark the end of week 12 for me on the 4 Hour Body slow carb diet. I thought this would be a good time to reflect on my progress with regards to both my weight loss and my management of the disease.
If you’ve read my earlier blogs you will know that I discontinued the insulin injections that I had been taking for four years after only the fourth week on slow carbs. I’m still off the insulin and my blood glucose levels are very even and controlled. I hardly ever see a blood glucose test higher than 8.5 except for on cheat days. I’ve also not had a test lower than 5.o at any time in the last eight weeks. The last near-hypo episode I had was before I stopped the injections. As a result I have never felt the urge to binge or overeat, and there is no more yo-yo effect. I’m very interested in my next A1C number in five weeks. It’ll be the first complete quarter without insulin since January 2007.
The other major health risk that I measure regularly is my blood pressure. Pre-4HB results were in the 140/90 range. For the last 12 weeks my numbers tend to be closer to 115/70, and that’s after cutting my blood pressure meds in half. I’m looking forward to a negotiation with my doctor to further reduce this med at my next visit.
Weight loss on the program has also been steady. I have lost weight every single week without fail, and a total of 22 lbs to date. Most of the weight has come of of my belly – six inches at the waistline. I believe that the loss of belly fat is contributing a lot to my body’s insulin sensitivity, and helping keep those blood sugars in check. Even on cheat days my sugars don’t go wildly out of control.
There’s a big bonus that I did not expect. Gout and other arthritic tendencies run in my family – on both sides, and I was very active athletically when I was young. As a result my quality of life for the past 25 years has been hampered by every ache and pain imaginable. Sometimes I would know why I was in pain, sometimes I just hurt. I got used to taking ibuprofen and acetaminophen to maintain a level of pain killer in my system. Since starting the slow carb diet the aches and pains are gone and so is the need for pain management. There are those who say that this diet increases the potential for gout attacks. I have found exactly the opposite to be true. I just plain feel better.
Well there you have it. Kind of a mid-term report if you will. In five weeks I will see a new set of blood tests and I’ll know more definitively if this diet is as successful for a person with Type 2 diabetes as I think it is. I can’t wait!
Today is an exciting day for me! This morning I made the decision to discontinue insulin use for a trial period. This is the next big step towards my goal to manage my diabetes without medications.
This is not a snap decision on my part. Nearly six weeks ago I made a radical change in my diet by switching to a slow carb diet, a la Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Body. Almost from the start I found the need to reduce my insulin dosage in order to avoid low sugar results. For the last two days I have been injecting 3 units of rapid insulin with breakfast only, and 5 units of long acting insulin at bedtime. This is a remarkable change when you compare it to my pre-May 15 daily averages of 30 units of rapid and 40 units of long lasting insulin.
It’s time to try this.
This Tuesday I go see my doctor and diabetic nurse to discuss my progress over the last quarter and my lipids for the last year. My blood work was done four weeks after I changed the way I eat. Despite this short amount of influence I can tell you that my HgA1c is down by 0.4, my LDL is down significantly, my Chol/HDL ratio is down, and since May 15 my blood pressure is way down. Despite these changes, and the obvious shift in my body’s need for external insulin, I expect some resistance to the notion of cutting medications.
I’ll update you all on how this meeting went and let you know how my no-insulin trial is going in a blog next week.