It’s been six weeks

When it comes to your own health, you really do have to take it into your own hands. I’m reflecting on my last visit with my doctor and the dietician he recommended I see for my new diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

Did he recommend losing weight? He recommended I exercise but didn’t go much deeper than that. He mentioned that managing diabetes is important because “It can lead to heart attacks, blindness, kidney failure, etc.” A few words among an entire conversation. His written instructions were just as terse. Apart from medications, one line simply says, “Encouraged to do daily exercises.”

Then he had a nurse show me how to use a blood glucose meter. She did a great job and was very patient with me. Yet, that’s all she did.

The dietician showed me a diagram representing a plate of food and how half should be a nutrient-rich vegetable like broccoli, a quarter should be a protein like fish or chicken, and the last quarter a starch like sweet potatoes or brown rice. A “balanced meal”. It was similar to the picture in the paperwork my doctor provided.

We chatted a bit and she was content with how I told her I was altering my diet already. She just said, “Keep doing that.”

A little disappointed

At the time I was kinda of deer-in-the-headlights with all this stuff. Looking back, I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t get the the country doctor treatment — the one you see on TV where you know each other by first name and the doctor drives home how important just taking care of yourself really is.

The country doctor would’ve also recommended a fitness routine and healthy ways to eat. Again, all I got was a one-line “Encouraged to do daily exercises” as a note from our discussion that wasn’t much more than a sentence. And the dietician saying, “Keep doing that” along with some hyperlinks I’d already found online from some research.

I feel like I was a clinical visitor run through a routine as efficiently as possible.

Adjusting what I eat

Within the first week of my diagnosis, I’d already started changing my diet. Unfortunately, when you’ve allowed non-healthy food options onto your plate, everything healthy looks like a salad. I do eat a lot more salads and I throw on what I can to make them more interesting (in healthy ways). But still, lots of salads.

I’ve tried finding take-out options that are healthy for those times I don’t feel like cooking a meal. Everything from a Jimmy John’s Unwich to a Chipotlé chicken bowl to taco salads from a few places. But they’re all just different types of salads after a while. And what’s worse, I’m discovering they still aren’t great choices.

Currently, I’m reading Joel Fhurman, M.D.’s The End of Diabetes — The Eat to Live Plan to Prevent and Reverse Diabetes. I appreciate what it’s saying and how there has to be a lifestyle change that includes eating differently (high in nutritious vegetables, beans, berries, and seeds).

Still sounds an awful lot like salads, but he makes a few interesting comments. Humans are primates and this is our natural diet unlike lions or other meat-eaters. And he says the right foods will not only help lose weight, but they’ll also help prevent hunger. That’s encouraging.

I’m only about a quarter through the book, and the science he’s referencing and his reasoning are having an attitude adjustment on me. That’s good.

Adding workouts

I have to admit that ever since watching House of Cards and watching how Francis Underwood took to his WaterRower not only to work out his frustrations late at night but also seethe in his evil schemes, I’ve wanted one myself. So, I made an expensive purchase.

Frank Underwood on his WaterRower — House of Cards

I’ve used it three times so far and love it! A rowing machine utilizes about 85 percent of the body’s muscles, but it’s low impact. And it’s something I can do when I can’t go outside for a walk.

And I’ve started walking more too. The past couple of years, we’ve signed up for Carpenter Nature Center’s Frosty Forty, which is a wintertime challenge to get outside and walk, ski, or show shoe 40 miles in 40 days. I enjoyed that and found it was a great way to just move. So, on days I’m not using my rower, I’m exploring the neighborhood, which is mostly within the Battle Creek Regional Park. I can’t ask for a better place to encourage outdoor exercise.

Battle Creek Regional Park

Motivating myself

Since starting to change my health lifestyle, I’ve lost about 10 pounds. over a month, my blood glucose readings are steadily within the range my doctor has indicated, and I’m definitely feeling the positive effects of everything I’m doing.

I’ve also appreciated learning about how my body works and keeping track of how to manipulate it for the better. Studying and having my Zettelkästen is slowing down my thought process, and I’ve noticed I’m not jumping from one thought to another looking for solutions or ideas. I’ve never really been more focused on something.

But it’s all been on me to motivate myself. I guess that’s how it should be. To be effective, I need to own this. If I had to pick something I’m working toward, it would be I want to keep my love of reading. I don’t want to lose my eyesight. Audiobooks aren’t for me. It sounds trivial compared to potential heart attacks or strokes, but it’s the one thing I have for myself apart from friends and family.

In about six more weeks I go in for a three-month follow-up visit. Hoping to see lab readings, including A1C moving in the right direction. ◼︎