Diabetes Bust

I keep plugging away with eating without sugar in my life.  The last blood test spiked a little bit from 99 to 103.  It was not enough to concern anyone and it was just after the July 4th weekend where I had eaten at a lot of restaurants.  I am never quite sure what is in the sauces they are using on their foods, but I imagine they have sugar in them.  I did recently take the AC1 blood test which looks at my blood sugar levels more deeply.  The results were lower than the first test, but I still have some work to do.  On March 12, my results were 6.2 but on July 14, my results dropped to 5.7.  I’m getting closer to being in a healthy zone.

According to the Mayo Clinic site:

” For someone who doesn’t have diabetes, a normal A1C level can range from 4.5 to 6 percent. Someone who’s had uncontrolled diabetes for a long time might have an A1C level above 8 percent.

“When the A1C test is used to diagnose diabetes, an A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates you have diabetes. A result between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is considered prediabetes, which indicates a high risk of developing diabetes.

“For most people who have previously diagnosed diabetes, an A1C level of 7 percent or less is a common treatment target. Higher targets may be chosen in some individuals. If your A1C level is above your target, your doctor may recommend a change in your diabetes treatment plan. Remember, the higher your A1C level, the higher your risk of diabetes complications.”

My doctor feels at this point that I am managing my blood sugar through diet and isn’t giving me any medication to take or home testing kits.   My doctor doesn’t say much about the way I’m eating and he barely listens to me when I excitedly try to explain it to him.  It was explained to me that MDs only have to take about 4 hours of nutrition in medical school.  I’m grateful for having a friend in Dr. JKF and even more grateful for her knowledge of how nutrition affects diet.  I am now a big believer in licensed medically trained NDs.

My doctor is so focused on weight loss and Dr. JKF is focused on my lab numbers.  JKF said, if you remember, that my weight loss would not be linear.  Remember that chart I posted in this blog entry: Weighing in on Weight?  It showed that my calorie counting applications and tools like MyFitnessPal and Weight Watchers were not working for me.  Their programs are seriously flawed.  Here’s a recap of how those programs were not successful.

ww chart

My doctor thinks weight loss is the entire key to my health, where Dr. JKF wants me to focus on my diet and those lab numbers.  She says my weight loss will take place, but don’t expect it to be linear.  I started off in the beginning of March weighing 305 pounds.  By changing my entire diet, by March 19, I had dropped below 300 pounds.

Mid March 2014

toe weight

 Dropped Below 300 pounds

 Today, I weighed myself and was pleased with the results.  I’ve been vigilant about my eating habits and keep sticking with the plan.  I’m very close to being 25 pounds down at 281.5 pounds, losing weight at a very healthy rate.

July 27, 2014

scale

25 pounds down

I will be honest.  I still want chips and dip, buffalo wings, a turkey sandwich with mayo on wheat bread, diet coke, ice cream and cake.  But, when life or death is the driving force, when having toes or losing them is my motivator, I keep on track.  I’m grateful that I am getting back to being healthier again.

Both Dr. JKF and my doc say that soon enough I will also be able to come off my blood pressure medicine.  At my last check up, my blood pressure was consistently healthy at 110/70, 110/65, 110 / 55.  My doc wants me stay on that medicine just a little longer, but sees the light at the end of the tunnel.

Eating right isn’t just smart, it’s a life saving concept.

Perspective

I have a long way to go to be that slim woman I once was. That’s not my overall goal, however. I do have another blood test scheduled for Tuesday and I’m more concerned about my sugar levels. This blood test will be the 16 week mark from the start of this madness. I am dropping weight slowly, however.  It’s a nice byproduct of eating well.

THE CHANGE
Before and After June 22 2014
BEFORE AND AFTER

Happy Independence Day, friends.

 

My Favorite Shirt

For the first time in about 16 months, I fit into my favorite shirt.  I cannot express to you how much I love this shirt!

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I dropped down to 287 pounds and that was after dinner weight.

Remember that Weight Watchers chart?

Yep, I am down 18 pounds.

The Count

May 28, 2014

It’s been ten weeks since I received the dreadful news that my blood sugar level was high above normal.  I was beyond pre-diabetic and in the diabetic range.  My blood sugar level registered a 129 on the Blood Sugar Richter Scale.  If you’ve been following along, you know that is not a real thing, the Blood Sugar Richter Scale, it’s just what I call it.

Panicked, I sent a text to my dear, old high school friend, Dr. JKF.  She offered to talk on the phone, but I was too scared and was crying.  I was in no mood for talking.  Instead, we texted back and forth.  She explained that in order for me to get better, I had to cut out sugar from my diet completely.  I also had to cut out sugar substitutes.  She told me that they would just fake my body into thinking there was sugar in it and send it spinning even harder.

Dr. JKF told me that the first weeks off sugar were going to be rough.  She didn’t sugar coat it at all.  (Can you blame me for the sugar pun?  It was just dangling out there begging to be used).  She sent me a new food plan, a new way of eating, something called The Anti-Inflammatory Diet.  Basically, it said that everything I was eating was going to kill me.  Everything.

She suggested I follow the bones of Paleo recipes, but to sub out the foods I could not eat.  No more grains.  No more pasta. No more dairy milk and cheese.  No more diet coke.  No more foods with added sugar, which meant no more pizzas, no more Breakfast sandwiches, no more fried foods, no more “good time in meal” party foods.  It meant that I was going to have to change and I was going to become even more boring.

That discussion was on a Friday evening, the day the dreaded news came in.  If you saw the video from my initial post, then you know how terrified I was.  By Sunday, Dr. JKF and I had talked.  By Sunday night, I was trying my new way of eating.

The first time I made a smoothie from organic peanut butter that had no sugar, I was a little worried.  Sure, it had cocoa powder, but it was bland as hell.  I gave some to my wife, J, to try and she gagged on it.  We were used to a sweet little concoction: Greek Yogurt smoothies with bananas, milk and frozen fruit.  A chia seed peanut butter cocoa smoothie… what the hell is a chia seed?!

My doctor wanted to retest my blood sugar levels in four weeks.  I had four weeks to change.  Not really, but I was determined to stop the insanity (thank you Susan Powter for the term), not the food plan) and reverse the direction of that Blood Sugar Richter Scale momentum.  I wanted to bring it down in four weeks.  My doctor, Doc Gordy, did tell me on the phone that I needed to lose weight.  It was time.  That’s all he said though.  We have had many discussions about my losing weight.  I was never afraid to talk about it with him.  I just couldn’t figure out how to do it.  I put a lot of this weight on grieving the loss of my two siblings.  I ate to deal with the emotions, but then it was just plain out of control.

Doc Gordy always said it was calories in, calories out.  He said I needed to count my calories and that it didn’t matter what I ate, but just to track them.  We had that discussion ad infinitum.  Weight Watchers wasn’t working for me.  My Fitness Pal wasn’t either.  See, it wasn’t just about the calories in, calories out, it was that I was eating the wrong foods.    With calories in and out, I could potentially eat all my calories in cookies and chips (and some days I did!) and not eat the healthy foods.  It is a flawed system friends.  Very flawed.  That’s why it didn’t work for me.

Dr. JKF was right.  The beginning was hard.  I felt horrible, like a crack addict detoxing without a methadone program.  I had sweats, nausea and headaches (Unrelenting Detox Post).  I was light headed, dizzy and tired.  It was absolutely awful.  Plus, I was eating a lot of new tasteless foods and a ton of salads.  It sucked.  The sugar detox is rough, no doubt.  But I didn’t want Diabetes so I pushed on.

Then one day, a week and a half in, something remarkable happened: the nausea dissipated and I was still awake at 10:30 pm, engaged in discussion.  For months, I was falling asleep at 7:30 pm on the couch.  That night, however, my wife realized I was still awake and peppy.  It was the strangest thing.  I had more energy than I had in a very long time and it was a welcome change.

After the first week and a half, I had figured out some cooking tricks and eating this new way became more manageable.  Crazier yet, the bland peanut butter became the sweetest thing I had ever tasted.  I found myself making smoothies every night and licking the spoon because I couldn’t get enough of that delectable organic peanut butter, once very bland and tasteless, now wonderful.  My taste buds were changing.  It was remarkable.

After four weeks, Doc Gordy retested my blood sugar and it decreased 10 points on the Blood Sugar Richter Scale.  I was down to 119 from 129.  I was in awe.  This new way of life and eating was proving successful.  The only thing I measured my health by in the past was the scale.  Dr. JKF warned me not to get too obsessed with the numbers on the scale.  She said that my weight loss may not be linear and not to worry about that.  It was more important for that Blood Sugar Richter Scale number to come down.  I believe she used some important medical term, like levels.  I have lost about 15 pounds in 10 weeks so it’s slow and steady, but the level drop is dramatic in my own humble non-medical opinion.

During this next six week period, we moved.  I had to pack up my kitchen and figure out what to eat since I could not order a pizza, just get some wings or grab a hoagie.  We had become so accustomed to eating this new way, that my wife and I had stopped eating out as frequently.  We couldn’t figure out what to order at most places.   Moving forced us to make some choices.   Either we baled on all this hard work or we figured it out.  We figured it out.  J and I found some restaurants where we could get them to fix the food the way I needed it to be prepared.  Example: Bunless hamburger with mushrooms, bacon, avocado, tomato and spicy mustard on a bed of hearty romaine, with a side of broccoli.  It gave me more guts to go out and ask the wait staff to change up the menu.  And best of all, even though it would have been much easier to order a pizza, I stayed on track during a very hard time.

Six weeks after my last test, yesterday, Doc Gordy tested my blood sugar again.  Today I received the results.  I dropped down to 99 from 119 (previously 129).  Anything under 100 is considered normal.  I just made the cut.   Did you read that?  Ninety freaking nine!  YES.  Go on and cheer!  It’s a very happy day!  Today is brought to you by the number 9.

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I have to thank my dear friend Dr. JKF, the naturopathic genius, for helping to save my life.  She was always only a text or phone call away, day or night and even on vacation.  She gave me the tools, cheered me on, and answered every redundant question about food I had with the greatest of patience.  I have to thank my mom for believing that if anyone could commit to this and do it, it was me.  I have to thank my wife for joining me in this journey even though her blood sugar was fine.  Many spouses aren’t willing to give up foods they know and like but she said I was worth it.  In fact, she now attests that she hasn’t felt this well in a long time.  It truly is a blessing.

I have a long way to go.  I know in my heart that the numbers could climb back up as quickly as they dropped and I am not out of the woods yet.  But it feels good to know that I played a direct part in my health and changed around the direction of what could have been a very damaging disease.  It’s a precarious time.  I am not tooting my own horn and writing this because I am overly cocky.  I am just extraordinarily pleased with the results and I can see the fruits of my own choices, hard work and perseverance.   My doctor’s partner, Doc D. told me once that if a cancer patient had a choice to do this, they would jump on it, and encouraged me to keep it up.  Not all diseases give you a chance to change the course of it.  It’s amazing at how fortunate I am.

I am also blown away at how toxic sugar has been for me.  From seeing what eating so much of it did to my numbers, to seeing how quickly they dropped when I removed it from my diet, to realizing how terrible I felt when I detoxed off of it, I can see how dangerous it is for me.  If not having sugar for one and half weeks made me that horrifically sick, how bad was it for me?  Clearly, it was very bad.

I knew I was struggling but I didn’t know how to dig myself out of that hole.  Thanks to some great guidance, I am on a healthy journey again.  No words can express how blown away at how well this is working.

Thank you friends for your help.  Thank you for showing me a new path.  Thank you for saving my life.

Now, I’m off to make an organic peanut butter chia seed smoothie.  Peace.

 

 

The Test Results

Got my first blood test results back on Wednesday.
Here’s the scoop.
Prediabetic is 100-125.
I think we want my blood sugar numbers to be between 65-99 – probably around 75.
Four weeks ago, my blood sugar was 129.  The doc was testing to see which way the number was going.  After changing my diet, I dropped ten points to 119.  This is excellent news.  My nurse told my doc what I was doing and he said to keep it up.  He’s retesting in 6 weeks.
I’m out of the diabetic range and into prediabetic.  Still a long road ahead of me but now I finally know the path.
Woot Woot! I’m so thrilled.

The Fast and the Slow

Tonight, I’m fasting for my blood test tomorrow.  Doc Gordy is going to test me to see which way the numbers are moving.  In the meantime, the fasting seems to take forever.

 I’m Ready

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Bring It On!

Should I take pictures of the blood test tomorrow for all of you?  You know you want to see it.

Creative Dining: Turkey BLT

Yesterday, I roasted a small turkey breast and ate some of it for dinner last night with spicy mustard.  I cannot eat processed food, like deli turkey.  So, if I want turkey, I have to roast it myself.

Today, I needed a quick lunch, but I was getting over having a salad for lunch EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  Salad is easy enough.  I make a big tupperware of it and it lasts for both J and me for a few days.  Today, I couldn’t eat one more salad bite.  I was craving something heartier.

So, I got creative and made a turkey BLT with avocado.  “Without bread?,” you ask.  YES.

 TURKEY BLT WITH AVOCADO

 Turkey BLT 1 Turkey BLT 5

SO DANGED GOOD

I used the lettuce in place of the bread.  The avocado was so delicious that I didn’t miss mayonnaise.  And the turkey bacon was so salty and crunchy, I didn’t miss my rye toast.  This sandwich was fantastic.

Score one for thinking outside the bun.

Tempted by the Nachos, Buffalo Wings and Blue Cheese of Another

Take a good look.  These are the aisles that I don’t stroll down anymore, although sometimes I really want to hang out there.  I’m afraid at this point, high blood sugar levels aside, this food would now make me really sick.

GROCERY STORE DANGER ZONES

Candy Ailse     Sugar Aisle     Cereal Aisle

TEMPTING I KNOW

Some of those cereals look like they could be healthy.  They are certainly advertised that way.  But don’t be fooled.  That stuff will kill you.  We do live in a society that emphasizes grainy breakfast foods: cereal, bagels, donuts, pop tarts, breakfast sandwiches, waffles, pancakes, and damn it, now I’m hungry.  Hey, I may be preaching the goodness of eating healthy, but I’m only a few weeks in myself.  I’m a human who has been eating these foods for the past 40 years, or so. Last night, I was craving nachos and a bacon cheese burger like it was my job.  I think that’s natural.  I’ve only stopped eating sugar a few weeks ago.  The physical detoxification is over but the mental turmoil still exists from time to time.  It takes a lot of planning to eat healthy.  I can’t be left at the end of the day trying to figure out what I am going to have for dinner or I may leave myself susceptible to ordering a pizza like I used to do.  I certainly can’t wake up in the morning and have nothing healthy to eat.  Then you may see me driving through the Taco Bell drive thru trying out their new breakfast foods, so called breakfast foods, and maybe a grande nacho supreme to boot.

TACO BELL BREAKFAST SIGN

Taco Bell BFast Sign

 BREAKFAST CERTAINLY WOULD NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN

 Oh, I know, your mouth is watering now.  Relax, I’m joking. That looks disgusting. I did go to the CoOp Store to see if they had foods I can eat.  They did have a lot of foods that work for my new food plan, but I was surprised.  They also had a lot of foods that I should stay away from too.  Just because it’s made with wheat flour or brown rice, that doesn’t mean I should be partaking in it.  I had to read the ingredients, check the labels, and figure out what was okay to purchase and eat.  Have I made some mistakes along the way?  Yes.  The wasabi peas I bought had added sugar.  I didn’t read the label until I got home.  I just presumed that natural meant natural.  It doesn’t always.  The point is I need to be an informed shopper and consumer, and I cannot be afraid to ask my friend, Dr. JKF questions.

CoOp FOOD AISLE

Photo Mar 22, 5 19 43 PM

 DON’T BE FOOLED

 When we were at the CoOp, we decided to try something really disgusting looking.  We figured if we were in a health food, vegan type store, we might as well try some of the foods that the natives eat.  We studied the shelves and found the fake bread made from vegetables.  We thought we were being funny when we picked it out and filmed ourselves in the store.  There were many onlookers wondering what our problem was, as you will see I was being obnoxious.  We figured this was going to be the grossest thing we were going to try.

Blood Sugar Bust: That Disgusting Vegan Bread Video

BS Video Coop Shot Click on the picture above to go to the video.

As you can see, the joke was on me.  That bad boy costs about $9.00 and now we are hooked.  It’s like crack for carb junkies who have turned their lives around. Like I said, I plan out my meals and snacks more mindfully now.  In future posts, I will write about some of the foods I have made and the success I have had with these choices, like crustless mini quiches and stuffed peppers made with cauliflower rice instead of brown rice.  What amazes me is that I am now daring enough to try my hand at making these foods. Again I stress that weight loss is not the goal, blood sugar and hormone levels balancing out is.  This is just a nice by product.  Look at what happened when I was on Weight Watchers.  Check out the grid below.  I could not maintain weight loss or figure it out to save my life.

 WEIGHT WATCHERS

ww chart

 NOTHING TO LOSE.  LITERALLY.

 Now my weight is still fluctuating, but when two thirds of your meal is vegetables, you are bound to lose a little, as I have.  I’m around 297 at this point.  That’s a nice side effect of eating right to save your life. My blood test is in about two weeks.  That is when I will see Doc Gordy again.  I’m eager to share this exciting news with him.  In the meantime, I need to keep on trying to stay the course, no matter how badly those nachos call me.  As my friend Dr. JKF reminded me, I can always have a nice burger with bacon and tomato with spicy mustard on two hearty pieces of lettuce instead of the bun.  Think that sounds ridiculous?  I dare you to go a few weeks off sugar and faux sugar products and then give it a whirl.  After that, let’s talk. The first time I tried the smoothie with natural peanut butter and all products that did not have added sugar, I almost got sick.  It was so bland.  After drinking it for a few weeks and eating without all this added sugar, I find it is perfectly sweet and delicious, like me.  Not only is my appetite changing but so are my taste buds.  It’s the weirdest thing that ever happened to me.

GROCERY STORE DANGER ZONES

Candy Ailse     Sugar Aisle     Cereal Aisle

NOT SO TEMPTING AFTER ALL

I think about these food aisles and I’m afraid if I do try these foods again that they will make me so sick.  I’m afraid it will bring a new definition to sugar coma.  When I started this process, I thought I would be empty without these foods.  This is absolutely not the case.  The new energy I feel, along with my newfound excitement for life is astonishing. I don’t know what will come when I take that blood test in a couple of weeks, but I realize that I can’t turn back.  Is it tempting?  Yes.  Does buffalo chicken wing dip sound delicious?  Yes and no.  It sounds like something I would really enjoy but it also sounds like something that would make me hurl.  Would it be worth it in the end?  I don’t think so.   But go on; enjoy your wings and blue cheese.  Don’t mind me.

Danger: Sugar Ahead

It’s been a heck of a week and a half, but, finally, I am up to the task of explaining the food changes that I have made and why.  I’m not a doctor and only half understand it, so I will do my best.  What I don’t know, I will probably fake.  So, if you want the facts, go ask a doctor.  If you want the facts spiced up with entertainment, then read on my friends.   Read on.

I was diagnosed with a blood sugar level of 129, that’s 4 points (I’m not sure that is a real thing – points) on the Blood Sugar Richter Scale (that is definitely not a real thing) above pre-diabetic.  That means I am officially in the diabetic range.  My doctor gave me the grave news and told me that I had no choice now but to lose weight.  He was very serious.  He is going to test my fasting blood sugar one month from the date he told me (give or take a day) on April 15th, my birthday.  I was going to have my blood tested on April 14th, but that would have meant I would receive the results on my birthday and we just cannot have that.  He wants to know which way that number is moving.

I know I need to lose weight.  I’m not a complete idiot.  It’s just not as easy as one thinks.  My doctor always says it’s about calories.  I’m finding now, that’s not necessarily the case.  I love Doctor Gordy, but this time, I needed more education and action then just another lecture about calories.  I needed to learn about the dangers of hidden sugars and where those bad boys hide.  I needed to shed light on those sneaky little bastards.

Initially my goal was to really focus on my Weight Watchers plan.  I had been on it for a bit, but it wasn’t working.  You might think I wasn’t working it.  But, as you will soon discover, it’s flawed.  I could technically eat anything I wanted to on the plan, just in moderation.  When you have blood sugar issues, this isn’t going to help you any.  When you need to lose weight, this really isn’t going to help you any.  I could in theory have a rocking piece of cake and some carrots, using all my points for the day.  You know what?  Yeah, you know.

That is why I called my dear friend, Dr. JKF.  I knew she knows where those little buggers hide.  Beware: Sugar Ahead.  She doesn’t have that sign, but I might make one for her.  She is like a food whisperer, she knows things.

She explained that I needed to cut out all of those hidden sugars: carbs, grain, and cow’s milk.  She explained how those things will make me sick.  They’ve already made me sick.  And, don’t be fooled by artificial sweeteners.  They will just tease my body into thinking it has sugar and send it spinning out of control.  Good bye my old friend, Diet Coke.

Can I have sweet potatoes?
No, it’s a carb.
Can I have granola?
No, it’s a grain.
Can I have the occasional wheat tortilla wrap for my breakfast burrito.
No, it’s a grain.  It’s a carb.  Nope.
Can I have tomato sauce in a jar?
No, that has so much sugar added.
Ketchup?
Not unless it’s organic or homemade.
Can I have oranges?
No citrus fruits except lemons and limes.
<Why would I eat a lime? Sigh>
Why can’t I have cow milk?
Because Bessie’s milk causes diabetes.
Can I get an Amen?
Amen!
Thank God for something!

In the past week, I have cut out all sugars.  Think of a food with hidden and not so hidden sugars and I have stopped eating it.  The goal, Dr. JKF says, is to regulate my blood sugar and hormone levels.  It is not to lose weight.  Though, by eating without all this garbage, I have lost five pounds.  Dr. JKF warns though, that I don’t focus on that as it won’t be linear weight loss.  I need to focus on those lab results in a month.

Granted, I have more than a month, I have a lifetime to work on this.  I would just like to see something change within this one month span.

If you read any of my passages before this, you will see that I had a heck of detoxification period.  I was nauseous and light headed a lot.  Dr. JKF promised during the first three weeks I would feel like crap.  She was right.   But something amazing is happening.

I’m starting to feel like I have more energy.  It’s crazy and it’s wonderful.  I used to fall asleep right after dinner at 7:30 pm.  Last night, I was wide awake until 11:15 pm.  I was an active participant in my life.

I’ve also noticed that my meals digest differently now.  I’m not bogged down right after eating them.  In the same vein, it takes a little longer for me to feel filled up, but if I eat the right foods, I do feel very satisfied.  My body is starting to crave good foods like vegetables, often.  And my insides smile when I feed them the goodness they are craving.

I know that the beginning of this documentary made it seem like I was going down for the count and that this was going to be a miserable way of living.  This is not true though.  I am starting to feel better.  I’m excited about my new food choices and the adventure I’m having of trying new things.  I’m starting to believe that this is going to make me feel so much better because it already has.

Also, there is something very hip about being in the know with healthy eating.  The other night, we made almond crusted baked chicken with roasted cauliflower and steamed broccoli.  Don’t I sound very fancy?

Go on, kick back your Doritos and act all smug about your food choices and your featherweight.  That’s okay.  I’ve had a wakeup call that I can’t ignore and now that I see this side of things, I’m not sure I want to go back.  I’m only a week into this but I’m already feeling better all around.

Besides, you look silly standing there with your orange covered fingers and your heinous nacho breath.

Unrelenting Detox

As I wean off the sugars, I find that the withdrawal can be unrelenting.  I feel all right most of the day, but when the nausea sets in, I feel like an addict in detox.  I keep tracking this so I can look back in the future when I think it’s okay to go back to eating sugar and remember how horrible I felt during this time that I am working so hard to get well.

Blood Sugar Bust Video: I’m Going to Vomit

Click on the picture above to go to the video.

This will pass.  This will pass.  This will pass.