240 is a big number. It’s a number that I’ve been living with for far too long now. But I’ve given 240 notice that we’re parting company. I’ve seen the light, and my new religion is a zealous guardianship of my own health.
I’ve been concerned about my health for four-and-a-half years now, since I went to see a doctor about an acute anxiety attack I was having at work. That was the first time I’d gone to a medical doctor since I had a physical for work in late 1993. The results were almost exactly what you might guess with a simple glance at me: I was overweight, had dangerously high blood pressure and was an out-of-control type 2 Diabetic. (I scored over 300 when they tested my blood-sugar level… an utterly horrible result.) I was not only anxious, but depressed as well. Well, wouldn’t you be?
Honestly, I’ve been fat and depressed most of my adult life. I might have some genetic markers that predispose me for those conditions, but the truth is my lifestyle choices were bad for me. My choices. I’ve known that for a long, long time. It’s not easy for people who aren’t either fat or depressed to fully comprehend how difficult it is to get up off my ass and get some simple exercise. Or lay-off the Cheetos. I don’t deserve or get a lot of sympathy for that. (And I’m not giving it out for smokers, alcoholics or addicts!)
The plan of action my new doctor put forth was simple. Losing weight through diet and exercise would bring my blood sugar back into line. It might also help alleviate the need for a blood pressure drug, and would certainly help me counter-act my depression. He prescribed three medications, one for blood pressure, one for diabetes and one for anxiety and depression.
The pharmaceutical results were initially very good. My blood pressure has been near perfect ever since. My A1c (a measurement of average daily blood-sugar levels over the course of weeks or months) improved dramatically. And I began to feel a lot more mellow. I stopped drinking fruit juice and regular sodas, and gave up my daily breakfast cereal (Oh, how I miss thee still, Golden Grahams). I even started to go to the gym more regularly.
But it wasn’t enough. My weight dropped to 225 after a year, but that didn’t last. My blood sugar wavered, with A1c reports between 8.5 and 9.5. (The recommended level is 7.0 or lower.) So, at the beginning of this year, I was taking seven prescription medications. My A1c, the best in years, was 8.2. And my weight was 240 pounds.
It was time to be serious about winning this battle, and regaining control over my own health.
And I am fighting back. As of this morning, I weigh 238. My fasting glucose was 85, well within normal levels. My blood pressure has been normal for four years, well regulated by my prescription. I have a plan, and I have a goal. The plan isn’t complicated:
- Consider sugar carbohydrates to be poison. Carbs aren’t necessarily bad, but if your body can quickly convert them to glucose and your body has developed a resistance to insulin (also known as type 2 diabetes), then you’ve got a problem. Processed foods, fast foods, refined foods, and anything with added sugar in any form… these are all evil and are trying to kill me.
- Oatmeal, or a couple of eggs with pumpernickel toast for breakfast. Vegetables, grains like barley or wild rice, and protein in the form of chicken, pork, lean beef, fish or tofu form are the ingredients I use for lunch and dinner. Olive oil, although I probably need to use less of it.
- If I go out for food, try to make it a salad, and one without so much dressing please. Apres Diem’s Caesar salad with seared tuna, you’re calling my name.
- Drink plenty of water during the day. Soda, of any type, is out. Research has shown that even no-calorie sodas are problematic for diabetics. I stick to coffee, tea, water or zero-calorie crystal light.
- Exercise. Get my heart rate up and sweat for about thirty minutes. Every day is the goal. Walking at a brisk pace in the neighborhood is my primary method.