A couple of things about diabetes and then I’ll talk about weight and image and exercise. This may end up being a huge comment…or not, depends upon my day I guess.
Although the dr didn’t talk about my case in this way I’ve kind of figured it out after talking to others and reading and stuff, I’ve been caught very early. Or I have a moderate case. I’ve figured this out because of some of my friends that have the big D and their sugar levels and averages were significantly higher and yet they’re still on drugs and diet for control. The longer you wait to diagnose this sort of thing the more damage that gets done and the harder it is to come back from it. With two of my uncles and my father, they have started on either diet only or drugs and diet and have had such a hard time holding to what they needed that they have ended up on needles. This is one of the big things that hits you…it’s hard to follow a good healthy diet for 90% of the time for the rest of your life. It’s a long time, it’s hard. It’s easy to be good for a month or two, short term dedication is pretty easy but in the end, the lifelong formed cravings may take over. That’s what happened to them all. I think it’s especially bad if you’ve dieted before and fallen off and then on again. it builds a sense of no real bad effect from falling off the wagon into your psyche.
But as a reassurance I have more than one person, (and a lot of people have reached out to me after I posted about getting it, diabetes is an extremely common affliction), who started out diagnosed and on diet and drugs and after weight loss and exercise are back off drugs. I’m not sure if this is accurate, but even though they say they’re not diabetic, I’m sort of running on the notion that it’s the same as alcohol addiction, once you’ve got it, you’ve got it forever. If you lose the weight and come off drugs and process sugar ok again…that doesn’t mean that you can gain weight again, cause then you have it again.
Since I’ve started dealing with my own Diabetes I’ve learned some stuff, for sure. When you consume too many carbs, then your blood sugar goes up, obviously, but the insulin tolerance means that it’s going to stay high for quite a while. The only thing that I know about that will bring that down nicely if you have the intolerance is exercise. This is one of the tools that I’ve implemented in my arsenal and I have another friend on needles that uses running for the same thing. High blood sugar plus extended activity = low blood sugar.
The big thing about the changing to eating healthier is basically cutting out free sugars from your diet. Oh, and I should preface, most of this information isn’t even 2nd hand from official source yet as my actual diabetes training isn’t until nov. it’s been gathered through numerous sources and my own regimine of blood testing. Free sugars means more than just lollipops and coca cola, it’s all the, as they say, the white stuff. White bread, white rice, pasta, potatoes, etc. Those things have such easy to process carbs that they count as much the same thing as a spoon full of sugar helping the medicine go down. Coming into these changes in the past few weeks I’ve found that I am VERY lucky that I’ve done atkins before. It really introduced me to the notion of a low/no carb diet and tought me the tricks and tips that I would personally need to get through it. In some ways, in comparison, the diabetic diet is a lot easier…I’m allowed a piece of whole grain toast as a diabetic, no such luck on atkins. You still have to count carbs, your count is just different. In others it’s harder, on atkins you can’t have insane fat but because it’s atkins you’re actually processing fat way more efficiently than normal and need a certain amount of fat, as a diabetic, one should be low fat. Things like dropping potatos and pizza from your diet (for atkins) or reducing them (well, to zero for pizza) is really tough – things like that that can make or break a person’s ability to conform to the need.
But all that’s kind of bonus info, you’re not diabetic yet, you just have to be aware of this shit going down and start eating healthier and then boom, never an issue. But it’s even harder to think that you’re eating like a diabetic so you don’t become a diabetic. If I go to dinner at someone’s house I get to say, ‘I can’t eat that, I’m diabetic,’ you get to say, ‘I can’t eat that, I’m worried about becoming diabetic.’ It’s tough. Even the people in your life who say, ‘come on, just onnnnnnne mini doughnut…’ it’s tough. that happend to me as recently as sunday
Ok, so exercise.
One of the big things coming out of this is that I have to exercise. My bad cholesterol is ok (I think I can actually thank atkins for that cause otherwise it boggles my mind that it would be ok) and my good cholesterol is a touch low but the dr said that exercise would help that. and then there’s the whole controlling sugar levels thing and just general health and losing weight so I’m not diabetic anymore. And I have other reasons, my weight is also a contribiting factor to lung problems. Ok, so lots of reasons to exercise.
I’ve tried a number of different ways to just exercise. a few years ago I became a gym rat - 6 times a week guy, alternating my days between cardio and weights. I figured out that there were different times of the day that were better for me. That first thing in the morning was awful for me, made me feel like crap all day, that the evening was ok but was hard to overcome the whole ‘home now’ aspect and get out to do it. I made a deal with my boss at the time, I came in a bit earlier and did ½ an hour at the gym every day at 10 a.m.. This worked pretty well for me. But really…I hate working out at the gym. Once you make it a habit, you can do it, but I always had to force it. I think I did that program for about 6 months and then it dropped at xmas and never came back.
Organized activties is another way to go. If you join a volleyball league, or a mountain biking club, or something like that. something that schedules normal regular meetings, it becomes a good part of a habit. I hate that kind of thing too, for the most part. Not sure why. Probably cause I don’t really like strangers much and don’t like over-competetiveness and have never been especially talented at any particular sport. So, not for me, but really works for some of my friends.
I’ve never used a personal trainer but know a bunch and the motivation can obviously be a super powerful tool to keep things moving.
I read a comment about the push-ups…just a story about something I used to do. When I was finishing high school, I was already pretty big and decided one day that my arms were really flabby and I wasn’t strong enough. I didn’t want to start lifting weights because then my family would have ribbed me about it. So I started doing pushups. Well, I did my first pushup from the floor and that was about the only one I could do, I think. I didn’t see how collapsing after one pushup a day was going to get me very far but what I did learn was that pushups are easier when you do them at an angle, so I started doing them against the side of my bedframe. I could do about 20 there when I started and within a month I was up to 100 and a month after that I was doing 50 on the floor. A year later I won a bet because no one believed I could do 100 pushups. That’s all well and good though, now I’m probably back to 1.
So how am I conquering the exercise bug? I’ve always loved walking. I used to walk a lot more. When I had nothing better to do on a Saturday I’d leave my house in the morning and come back to it 4 hours later or 8 hours later and all i did was just pick a direction and walk. It was also a defense I adopted when I was staying with my grandmother in guelph during holiday season. it was middle of the winter but when her ‘stories’ came on in the daytime, I’d pick a direction and walk for 3 hours and learn more about guelph.
The very night that I got my second confirming diagnosis of diabetes the wife and I started walking. We’re doing an hour or so about 5 nights a week. I’ve also started taking the skytrain only halfway to work so that I get an extra 20 mins in the morning. There’s a trick to making walking exercise though…it has to be fast enough or hard enough to get your heart rate up. I like to include hills in my walk so that I get heart rate spikes coupled with the notion that I walk fast enough to keep it up there. The same would be true about biking. If it’s easy for you it’s not doing as much good. I’ve heard some people say that walking isn’t any sort of exercise but that’s not true, it’s all about the heart rate. In the 3 weeks we’ve been walking we’ve increased our average speeds quite a bit and hills that were hard before are a lot easier. It’s really a very good time to spend with the wife, although sometimes, you’re short of breath and really energetic conversations are harder. (imagine finding something to talk to audra about...) In addition to that, walking is a lot quieter than a lot of other excercises and listening to podcasts, music, radio etc is a lot easier. CBC has definitely been my friend in this for a lot of my life.
And to tell you the truth, I’ve always been completely in love with picking a direction in a city and walking for an hour turning right, walking a half hour and then turning towards home. You can cover a heck of a lot of distance in that amount of time and it’s a marvelous way to learn your city inside and out.
Will I increase my exercise from these levels? I dunno, maybe as I get in better shape, for sure. Or the rains are going to come here soon and it’s going to be less likely that I will walk. The wife and I are considering our options and they will likely include a gym just for the lack of rain. I’m not looking forward to that part, but I really do want to keep this condition under control so it’s going to be a must.
Body image…that’s a tougher one. So I’ve been large since I was about 10. I had this one friend in elementary school that I had been chunky around the whole time we knew each other and he one day said that he’d made a discovery the night before. I had been on a little league team that his mom coached a few years before that neither of us remembered and I wasn’t chunky then. Something changed in between those times. Large wasn’t a shock to me though, my mom’s large, my dad’s large, my sister’s large (although mom and dad were thin until into their 30’s - although…my brother is quite skinny.) it’s always been tough for me to violently attack my weight, because I’ve always been pretty happy with me. Loving me. I’ve fought against not being in shape, I’ve fought against my clothes not fitting, but mostly, I’d always had a large problem picking a diet/exercise regime because I was just so happy with who I was. changing it…there was no overriding impetous to make it happen. There were a few lackadaisical attempts that lasted a few months at this that and other other thing but nothing that really lasted. I lost something like 40 lbs when I was wandering europe for 4 months and while I liked the smallerness, it didn’t matter that much to me.
The one thing that really made things stand out fo rme though happened a few years ago. I was in the second annual united way tug of war between our company and one a few floors from us. in this second year they made us weigh-in because the year before we had destroyed them. They had a really good scale out there but I hadnt’ weighed myself in years. The machine went to 350… but I was over that. not a lot but over. That opened my eyes.
At that point I’d been talking to my cubemate about atkins and his participation in it. My dubiousity was about the size of kilimanjaro about atkins at that point but I read the book and did some research and thought about it an awful lot and then did it. And lost 70 lbs in about 5 months. and atkins for me seemed to work without any need for exercise.
That was really cool…losing weight is so addictive…the feelings you get when your clothes get looser and you look forward to that next notch on your belt. Racks of clothes that you thought were closed to you were suddenly open. You get a spring in your step that had faded because you’d gained weight. Like a real and true tangible step. flights of stairs that really made you tired before, they become suddenly easier cause you're not carrying a giant backpack up them with you.
These factors become brilliant and addictive and etc. of course, so’s eating ice cream and pizza. Anyways, that lasted for 8 or 9 months and then I was off it and managed to maintain that weight for a year or so and then it started to drift back up again. I would go on atkins stints afer that until present that really just kept me from ballooning back up to the full original weight. Which brings us to present. To date I continued to be happy with myself, my body for the most part with these little concerns about health or being too big to do something that I wanted to do. Like parachuting…cant’ do that at this weight, I’m higher than the safety rating.
It’s always a mental struggle. Our society fills itself up to the freaking rim with stereotypes about almost every facet of people imaginable. Fat people quite a few of their own. If you’re fat you obviously never do anything active and only eat potato chips. That’s so untrue, I’ve known some amazingly active fat people that just don’t lose weight. On the other hand, there are somethings that do apply to myself. They have never really seemed to matter. I take it upon myself to make sure that I’m not sitting on rickity chairs and things like that but not really more than that. I dunno. Eventually it’s not just about society though, eventually it’s also about your health.
In some ways, for me, personal image, body image, they’re really difficult things to play with. My confidence comes from how much I love myself and while I love myself a lot in my head, there is still room in that for a pretty negative body image. I know that I have to work harder when I find a not obviously beautiful person to find the angle or the side that my photographic eye will find beautiful. There is always something that I am going to be able to find to take a picture of that I will find beauty in but it takes more work, more imagination, more creativity. that’s a very positive thing I think. The working harder part, maybe not, but I fully admit that’s a me thing, perhaps aided by society but totally coming out of my own head.
i've found myself trying to justify that in different ways over the year. the fit body, or not even a 'fit' body but a body with gentle curves is closer to the gentic, evolutionary perfection, why shouldn't my eye find their beauty easier. a lot of the time though that doesn't read as reasonable to me. really, i'm just happy, i guess that there are still many cases where i don't have to work at it for people who aren't in the perfect realm, that they are spontaneously beautiful. maybe for some i work that way too.
gosh, ok, this is a book already.
there's stuff still in my head percolating and maybe there will be another post.