Your at the doctors office. Your sitting on the table, or maybe you want to call it a bench. The white paper is draped over it and it smells like….well, it just smells like all doctors offices smell. Musty.
Your waiting. Who isn’t waiting in the doctors office. You grab a magazine. One of those great gossip magazines (insert sly face) you know the one. It has the whole story of how Prince Harry and Megan are having a baby… and you sit and you wait. Good information in there isn’t there? Is her dad going to meet that baby??? Your buying time. Waiting for the doctor, or maybe its a PA to come in and give you the all clear.
You know its been a while since you really committed to being healthy, but what’s a few extra pounds. And please, its summer. EVERYONE indulges in ice cream or two. I promise when fall comes, I’ll get on track and life will be all good. Life’s all about balance right? So my balance is a little, we’ll say skewed.
You hear talking. Then foot steps. There’s a knock on the door and in walks this guy. He’s not young, but not old, just kind somewhere in the middle. He takes his fancy badge, logs onto the computer and clears his throat. Here it comes. You know he’s going to tell you something. Its just the way he clears his throat. There is so much more behind that noise. You take a deep breath. You look at your swinging feet, that can barely touch the step on the… yeah whatever its called. Your mind’s blank. What could it be? It can’t be anything that bad. I’m young. I do walk… sometimes. I had a salad yesterday. Despite my hopes, he speaks.
“So we got your results back. You know the ones for the diabetes test”.
Yes, I mean lets be real doc. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since you told me I really should be tested.
“Your results show that your A1C was 9.4”.
Your mind scrambles. 9.4, 9.4, 9.4 what the HELL does 9.4 mean????? You want to run but your glued to the… Bench…table… oh who cares what it is right now.
“Is he telling me what I think he’s telling me? Is he telling me that I tested positive for, diabetes— like sugar diabetes?”
And just like that, the stillness lingers. It feels like it’s a lifetime of silence, but then you find the words… “So what does that mean?”
Maybe this isn’t quite your story. Maybe you got a phone call at home, at the office or in that car. Maybe you already truly knew you had diabetes and it really didn’t come as a shock to you. Whatever your experience, having diabetes can be life changing.
~What is diabetes? The quick and dirty.~
Diabetes is when there is too much sugar in your blood. Easily stated. This can be a result of a couple of thing. Your bodies pancreas either 1.) does not produce insulin, 2.) it does not make enough insulin, OR 3.) the insulin it does make doesn’t quite work right.
Yup Ah-hah… Soooo, What is insulin??
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Its’ primary job is to allow for the sugar we eat to be used by our bodies for energy. It acts like a lock and key. The insulin, is the key. It binds to the small little building blocks of our bodies called cells and opens the door that allows the sugar to enter and be used for everything that we do!
When there is no insulin or not enough, the sugar that you eat is not able to get to where it needs to go, causing it to stay in your blood. More sugar consumed = more sugar in the blood.
Thinking of your blood and the pipes the blood travels through (arteries/veins) as if they are garden hoses can be very helpful. What would happen to your garden hose, if you got a lot of sediment or sludge in it. I imagine it wouldn’t flow very well and the water pressure you need isn’t quite what you get… you get the idea. Sugar makes you blood thick and sticky, sticking to the wall of the hoses in your body and blocking the smaller garden hoses all together. This commonly happens in areas such as the eyes, the kidneys and the legs. Have your feet been tingling lately? This might be why.
It is important to remember that there are two different types of diabetes. You likely have been diagnosed with Type II (we like to call this type adult onset). Type I diabetes, sometimes called Juvenile Diabetes often affects children, often is autoimmune in nature, and is NOT a result of lifestyle choices.
In Type II diabetes lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise play a significant role in your diagnosis and the management of your condition.
~Now That I have been diagnosed, What can I do about it??~
Beyond adhering to the medical regime that your provider has set for for you,
The best way to manage you nutritional and fitness needs is to seek the support of a certified individual whom is able to sit down and review a thorough plan that meets your specific needs.
The following recommendations are the same for healthy individuals looking to prevent the onset of diabetes and/or any other chronic medical conditions.
- Color your plate. If you plate does not look inviting you likely will not be entices to eat it. Try to pick an array of colors to complement your meal. It can be helpful to choose local foods from the season your are in.
- Mix and Match. Make sure your plate has a minimum of at least three food groups. This means, protein, vegetables, fruits, dairy and/or bread. Example: Barbecued chicken, coleslaw and watermelon; Snack — Almonds, carrots + hummus.
- Read labels. When “planning meals” read the labels of the foods you are considering. Monitor your carbohydrate intake. Try to choose whole grains. (i.e. wheat bread, brown rice, etc.) Many providers recommend 60 carbohydrates for meals and 30 carbohydrates for snacks. New labels, recently approved by the the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have required the addition of “ADDED SUGAR”, making it easier to identify your better food choices.
- Manage your portions. When starting on your new journey try measuring your
food. Doing so will allow you to eyeball what a portion size looks like and prevent you from consuming to much or to little of you daily nutritional needs. I like to call it to much of a good thing.
Exercise and Physical Fitness needs. If you are someone who is not physically active, the first thing to do is obtain clearance from you provider, that exercise is safe for you. Even when you are doing something that is perceived as “healthy”, there is the potential of doing more harm then good.
Once you have obtained clearance from your provider..
Start slow. Set up small incremental goals such as walking for 5-10 minutes (2-3x per day) this can be adjusted accordingly to you current exercise level.
Strength training. Using low weight, start doing basic weight training exercises that incorporate balance as a part of your routine. Balance is important for joint strengthening and for joint safety. Yoga is a great option for this because it uses your own body weight as the resistance. Do not compromise form for weight. Trying to lift to much weight compromises the movement of your joints and can result in injury. Nobody has time for that!
Consistency. Find your purpose. Whether you have had diabetes for years or are newly diagnosed, there is always room for improvement. Recognize your goal. Clearly identify all the reasons you want to manage your disease. Do you have children or grandchildren? Need more energy? Sick of running to the bathroom every half hour? Whatever your reason is write it down and put it someplace you will view it on a regular basis. Need a reminder, a puzzle doesn’t create a picture by one single piece, yet if the time is taken to put all of the pieces together you are able to clearly see the results.
Have questions? Needs more information and/or support? Please feel free to reach out!