In a previous post, I mentioned that my life has been complicated in the past few months.
One of the complications was learning that my body has been in a pre-diabetes state for at least the last three months and probably the last 7-10 years.
Horror of horrors people because my father is diabetic. He gives himself insulin shots twice a day.
I am so serious when I say I am making strides toward moving my body to a substantially lower A1c. (For those unaware of the definition of "A1c", go here: A1c Test and Diabetes.)
Genetics is just one risk factor for diabetes and the only one that cannot be altered. The other risk factors are not set in stone and are relatively within my control.
To bypass the documentary version of this tale, a horrible headache (and vomiting) after hitting my head here in the house led me to seek medical attention.
In a panic, I recalled information I was given regarding a clinic in my community that provides medical care for affordable fees. I called the clinic and was given advice about my headache and an appointment for new-patient intake.
I am more than thankful for being led to the clinic. The phenomenal medical professionals and other staff members were instrumental in saving my health and possibly my life.
Unchecked diabetes is the seventh (7th) leading cause of death in the U.S. In addition to killing folk, it can have horrendous complications. Blindness, nerve damage, and lower-limb amputation are just a few.
After I got the diagnosis, I was set up with a nutritionist. I had one-on-one as well as group sessions with her. What I learned in those sessions blew my mind. Words like "insulin receptors", "insulin resistance", and "metabolic syndrome" are part of my new vocabulary. But I don't use these words often, as I don't want to be bogged down by the technical details.
More important to me is action.
The nutritionist covered a lot of information in those sessions. What she stressed in our one-on-one sessions was movement and diet modification.
My goal is 30 minutes of exercise per day and 30 grams of carbohydrates per meal. I am also to have three meals per day, with 4-5 hours between meals and no snacks.
I wasn't aware of how daunting this task would be until I began to plan meals.
I do NOT like to cook, one of the reasons I have been a big snacker. Not that all my snacking consisted of unhealthy foods. I love, love, love almonds, air-popped popcorn, oatmeal, and fruit.
But I have learned that most of the foods I love and was eating regularly are high carb foods. I still eat many of them, but in moderate amounts.
Thank God for Fatsecret.com, the website I found after much searching for help. Fatsecret helps one track weight, food intake, and exercise habits. There are also forums, places to share recipes, people to friend.
The best component for me is the food tracker. It has a huge database of information that can be used to determine carb amounts for a huge range of foods, from raw fruits and vegetables to meals at restaurants across the country.
I use the food tracker to plan my daily meals. It also allows me to save any meal or portion of it as a favorite so I can just pull the meal up any time I don't want to think too hard about what to eat.
I was surprised at how good I became at planning and cooking meals that were quick, tasty, and within my 30 gram limit.
The best part was that I initially saw improvements in my sleeping pattern as well as a small weight loss. Both were instrumental in keeping me centered for a while.
Eventually the inevitable happened: I got tired of the constant planning required to feed me three times per day.
First, sticking with the 4-5 hours required between meals requires me to eat my first meal almost as soon as I wake up. It's kinda hard because I'm usually not hungry when I wake and I have a tendency to get busy within an hour of waking. If I don't make myself eat in that first hour, before I know it, it's noon.
That first faux pas can throw off the rest of my day.
Second, the above habits require me to set an alarm for my lunch and dinner. It has to be set for at least 30 minutes in advance of mealtime to allow me to begin meal prep in time enough to stay with my "4-5 hours between meals" schedule.
I have to do this twice a day, every single day.
Third, one of the reasons I don't like to cook is that I'm forgetful. Anything that cooks without me having to stand over it will be forgotten if I don't set an alarm to check it at the appropriate time(s). (This resulted in a few burned items over several meals in the first few weeks. A few tear-y breakdowns too.)
Fourth, I feel like I'm tethered to my laptop in order to ensure access to Fatsecret. It feels like I can't eat correctly without being able to use the website to enter and retrieve data.
This is a problem because some days I run so many errands that I'm in the street almost all day. If I'm able to go out soon after breakfast, it may not be a big deal, depending. In an "emergency situation", I can have a delicious and filling meal (Chick-Fil-A's Grilled Market Salad, without fries and I take my own water) and stay within my allowed 30 grams of carbs.
But if I'm out at lunch time more than once a week, I'm literally eating into my food budget. Not good.
Fifth, I began eating more protein (after being told that I should always eat carbs and protein together), in the form of more meat and dairy, two food groups I had been eating very little of for the past several years.
Adding more meat and dairy to my diet caused a yucky disruption in my system. I won't detail the results here but let's just say the way my body reacted wasn't cute.
It got to be frustrating and a bit depressing.
I tried to compensate by substituting some meals with healthy smoothies (very much modified from their previous incarnations which contained massive amounts of carb-laden bananas, apples, and strawberries).
Which would have been fine except I began to miss some things I'd gotten used to eating.
I felt overwhelmed and decided I needed time to regroup, do more research, create effective strategies for eating away from home.
For added inspiration, I'm planning to write affirmations, print them on beautiful paper, and hang them using simple Dollar Tree frames.
I'm still working out the kinks but I'm optimistic. I have to be because this is my life.
Death is not the issue here. We're all heading for the grave (or crematorium) with every breath.
My goal is to move forward whole and healthy in spirit, mind, and body.