For the Love of Toes

February 25, 2015

Almost a year ago I was given the dreadful news that my blood sugar levels were in the diabetic range.  Scared for my life, I called my dear friend in Portland, OR, a naturopathic physician, Dr. JKF for help.  I was terrified for my life and worried that I was going to lose my toes.  I had become rather attached to them.

Last year, I was tired all the time, falling asleep at 7:30 pm on the couch every night.  I was severely overweight.  All my attempts to lose the weight I gained through the grief of the loss of my siblings was to no avail.  In fact, with each attempt to lose weight, I gained more.  The information about my blood sugar levels was a crazy wake up call, and a very frightening one at that.

Dr. JKF told me that my blood sugar numbers weren’t in a place where I couldn’t turn it all around.  She said it was going to take a lot of hard work, it would be tough at times, but she promised me in her friendly and loving doctorly way that it would work.  As I accepted her help and dove completely into the food makeover, she stuck with me every step of the way, answering every single question I had about food and what I was doing.  She never let me down.  Not once.

A year later, a year of a complete dietary change, a year of staying vigilant and determined, and a year of many lifestyle changes, I am pleased to report that my blood sugar levels are normal again.  Yesterday, I had my A1C1 checked again (a comprehensive look at my blood sugar over a three month period) and it weighed in on the Blood Sugar Richter Scale (my made up name for this) at 5.4.  When I asked my doctor if that was in the normal range yet, she happily told me that my last report of 5.7 was in the normal range.  This level of 5.4, she said, was probably the same as her’s is now.  In her doctorly way, she told me I was kicking ass and taking names.

I’m so excited that in just one year I was able to change the direction of my health fate around with diet alone that I may just go out and splurge on cake, ice cream and Doritos.

mh bday cake

Nah, I’m not crazy enough to do that.  You can bet, though, that I am going to finally come out of the bad blood sugar closet and share my story with more of my friends.  I didn’t change my eating habits because I was bored.  It was a matter of life and death, and toes.  I think this calls for a celebratory pedicure.  I need to show off those ten little beauties, don’t you think?  They’ve earned it.

Eat well, my friends.

Peace.

Gaining Momentum, Losing Weight

Since last March, I’ve lost nearly 45 pounds and am feeling fantastic.  It seems I’m losing about one pound a week steadily.  I try hard to stay the course with my new way of eating.  It’s not that hard anymore.  Now that I’ve become accustomed to eating this way, I find those potentially tempting times where sweets galore are abundant not difficult to survive. I really like how I am feeling and the way my body is reforming.  I have so much more color in my skin now because, in the words of Dr. JKF, I’m feeding my body nutrients and no longer eating crap.

I bought this vest online over a year and a half ago for an event and couldn’t fit into it. This month, I was finally able to wear it, and wear it well. I was thrilled!

I did get a new doctor in the practice.  I just wanted to be heard, and when I found out a new doctor was joining the practice, I asked to see her.  Dr. R. is really invested in listening.  (I do love Doc Gordy, but he was rushing me too much and my anxiety was making me jump through the roof).  I was obsessing about my glucose numbers so much that Dr. R. decided to stop my fasting blood tests.  She determined that since I switched my diet so drastically, it didn’t make sense to test that.  The real test to look at is the A1C because it looks at my blood sugar levels more holistically.  I’m not explaining that well, but it gives a better look at the real numbers. Dr. R. told me just to make an appointment in the new year (around now) to get that tested again, along with my blood pressure.

If you remember, I also have funky blood pressure. There is a technical medical term for the way my blood pressure works and I don’t remember it, but it fluctuates.  It has been all over the place in the past.  Doc Gordy had put me on medicine to stabilize my blood pressure and it was working.  Dr. JKF said eventually it will even out on its own due to my dietary changes.  The last time I had it tested, it was pretty good and a lot lower than it used to be.  Doc Gordy is pretty conservative and wanted to wait to make sure it was stable before he took me off that medicine.  My hope is the next blood pressure test will prove to be the one that indicates I’m much healthier and ready to come off that medicine too.

We bought another Paleo cookbook and love it.  My wife, J, has made bread and bagels from almond and coconut flours and I love it.  It’s fun to see the new creations we are adventurous enough to make.  Eating this way could seem boring, but when you find the right resources, you can have a lot of fun.

Our Second Paleo Cookbook Has Bread Recipes and Ice Cream in it! Wonderful Chicken and Shepherd’s Pie Recipes as well.

     

Homemade Bread

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Homemade Mini Bagels

Breakfast at Work Eggs with green peppers and onions Turkey Bacon Broccoli

If you are starting out, just hang in there.  It’s worth it in the end.  A year ago, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to drop all that weight.  I was baffled.  A year ago, I was feeling stymied and very tired.  Now, I feel like I’m finding the old me and that is an amazing thing. It’s great to be back and active participant in life!

The Climb

I took an actual vacation day last Friday; you know, one where you actually go away for the day.  And, it was fabulous.  I went for a hike in a state park that was a couple hours away from where I live. I was able to clear the cobwebs and challenge myself on a nice two hour hike up the mountain.

On my hike, which was three quarters the way up hill on the first half, I learned some valuable lessons.  I went looking for a lesson, and in searching for one, I couldn’t see it.  About half way up the hill, the climb became so challenging, I stopped looking for my lesson and just tried to climb.  I had to be mindful of my steps because I had a terrible ankle injury this winter, three actually.  Also, I was having a hard time pushing through mentally.  I was out of shape and sucking wind.  My mind was saying that I had walked enough and could stop.  I wanted to just quit.

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It was all a mental game at that point.  I had to talk myself through the hike.  What if there was a beautiful vista point at the top?  I might miss it.  I had driven two hours to go hike there, that was a huge commitment, was I going to just give up?  I pushed on.

 

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Eventually, it flattened out a bit and the roots evened out too.  My climb was still up hill, but it became more manageable.  I could just take my time and climb the rest of the way.  I was pleased with myself that I hadn’t caved in so quickly.

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When I got to the top of the path, there was no vista point.  There was only a roadblock separating the woods from the road.  It was almost anti-climactic and very comical.  Then it hit me.  My lessons.

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Life is an uphill battle and when we have dedicated so much time to something, we can’t quit.  It’s not about the destination, but the journey.  Enjoy the quiet.  There were more lessons, but that will suffice for now.

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As I carefully made my way back down the mountain, I realized I liked going uphill better.  My legs were so tired on the descent and I had to be extra careful that I didn’t take a spill on the wet rocks.

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Before March, the last time I hiked like that was twenty years ago.  This new way of eating, this new way of life, gave me the courage to get out into nature and be with me.  It was quite healing.  Mother Nature was good to me that day.

I weighed myself before I left and weighed in at 273.5.  When I got home, I had lost two more pounds on that hike.  I’m steadily at 273.5 now, which is a far cry from my 305 in March.

scale

It’s amazing how much my diet is affecting my life and I am just plain grateful.

 

 

Feeling Groovy

Friends. My last fasting blood test was 104. Neither Doc Gordy nor Dr JKF are concerned. JKF reminded me how long it took me to get here with all those years of horrible eating. She suggests I start walking a half hour a day five days a week. As much as I disliked natural peanut butter the first week is how much I don’t love to walk. I’d rather ride my bike to which she rebutted that I can so that in addition to walking. Dr JKF said that walking is proven to help with blood sugar and in biking the bike does most of the work. Busted. Yes. I do like to coast. JKF hasn’t been wrong yet so I’m going to have to buck up. My doc wants me to keep losing weight. Good thing I’m down thirty pounds since March. :-D. This is all good news. Keep fighting the good fight friends. Peace.

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.