I was asked the question yesterday, “How do you control your blood sugar with Type II Diabetes?” This is the response I gave:
1. If you are diagnosed with Type II Diabetes the first thing you have to do is listen to your primary care physician. Start taking whatever medications he prescribes and get whatever tests done that he orders. Understand that Type II Diabetes is not a death sentence, but is an extreme indicator that there are things going on in your body that are definitely out of balance. You may not have to stay on medication forever, but until you learn exactly what is going on inside your body those medications will assist you in keeping your blood sugars in a normal range.
2. Start using a glucose meter each day and monitoring your blood sugar. I can’t emphasis this enough and I know that your primary care physician will want to see these numbers. Get a notebook and keep a daily log of these numbers. When I was first diagnosed I tested first thing in the morning as soon as I got out of bed and then 2 hours after each meal. After several months of doing things to balance my blood sugar I was able to just test when I first woke up. This is called a fasting glucose test and it is the one that is most important and you will be doing it for the rest of your life.
3. Educate yourself on the foods that you put in your body each day. I try to stick to a regime of mostly whole foods each day. I have found that the foods that are produced by nature without the assistance of any type of manufacturing process are best. I eat freshly grown, organic vegetables that I find at my local farmers market when they are in season or the vegetables I grow in my own garden. I am very careful about the meats I eat and try to eat grass fed beef or free range chicken. Freshly hunted meats are best if you can. I keep my meat intake low while keeping my vegetable intake much higher.
Then there are carbohydrates and sugary foods that most of us eat each day which actually may be the culprit for us getting Type II Diabetes in the first place. Any type of manufactured sweet foods like soda, cookies, cakes and such are totally off limits. Fruits are wonderful natural resources for a healthy choice of something sweet, but be warned that even fruit contains a lot of sugar. I try to stay with berries whenever I reach for something sweet. Rice, pasta and potatoes are the 3 most popular foods that people make many mistakes with. If you do choose to eat these foods eat them only in small portions. I could go on forever about the relationship between food and Type II Diabetes, but I highly suggest doing your own research and reading books on this subject.
4. Start reducing the amount of stress in your life. I know this is a touchy subject as we have all created a life for ourselves that we feel is taking us to the next level, but sometimes we have to sit back and try to define exactly what that next level is. Learn about things like mindfulness and try to find joy in each day you live. If you feel that this is not possible figure out what it is that would bring joy to your life and go after it. I managed to do this with an early retirement and change in my career and moving 3000 miles to find a place that is less expensive and more in line with my desires to be closer to nature. I practice minimalism each day and have found a simpler life where I have greatly reduced that stress we face each day. I still have stress in my life but it is nothing compared to what it used to be. Don’t make other peoples problems your problems as we all have enough in our lives. Each time we are stressed we release certain chemicals in our bodies that are damaging. These chemicals are important as they trigger a fight or flight response and give us extra strength and quickness when we are in danger but understand that there is a huge difference between missing a phone call and being chased by a bear. Start spending more time outside close to nature, it will do wonders for the soul.
5. Exercise is another key factor in balancing blood sugars. The human body has beendeveloping over millions of years to do physical work. We hunted and gathered for foods, we built homes and villages and it was all in the form of using our strength and mobility. I walk a few miles on Monday, Wednesday and Friday while lifting heavy things of Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Sunday is my rest day where I do other things that may en-tale a little human strength like hiking, cycling or swimming. I am trying to work recreation into my schedule like basketball or tennis but have yet to find anything in my area in my age group. Cardio exercise works the heart along with other muscles in the body while strength training demands great energy which pulls sugar from the blood stream and turns it into energy. Probably the best option is find an educated trainer who understands Type II Diabetes and join a gym, but I have elected to to simply purchase a good treadmill and Bowflex machine and set them up in my garage. This allows me the flexibility and freedom of working out early in the morning to work around my busy daily work schedule.
6. Get a good nights sleep. Only recently has science made great strides in understanding the importance of sleep. There are things going on inside our bodies that are of grave importance while we get a good nights sleep. I currently sleep about 7 hours per night and wish I could take that up to 8 hours. I go to bed at the same time each night and sleep in complete darkness. I wake up without an alarm clock each morning feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. There are many people who have problems falling to sleep each night and for that I suggest simply reducing the amount of light in the room an our before we go to bed. Turn off the TV and listen to some soft music or engage in quiet conversation. Turn off or simply turn down the amount of light in the room. Before the invention of electric light we all tended to go to bed not too much later than after the sun set. It was a natural rhythm and we are a part of these cycles of nature.
7. Learn about your body. Most people know more about their cars than they do their very own bodies. We all respond differently to different things. I know that if I eat too much I feel a certain discomfort in my stomach that is a signal to not do that again. I never compare myself to anyone else as we are all different both is size, weight and levels of energy, but I do compare myself to the person I was yesterday. Take a course in Anatomy and Physiology and really get to understand those parts of your body that you cannot see as they are just as important if not more than the one’s you can see. You will never be closer to anyone in your life as you are to yourself. We try to understand other people all the time, but it is more important that we understand ourselves both physically and psychologically. If you are doing something that is hurting your body like drinking too much alcohol or smoking cigarettes you must put your best foot forward to change those destructive habits.
8. Keep a journal. Document, document, document. Get yourself a notebook and write down everything from your blood sugar readings to the food you eat to how you feel that day. I can’t tell you just how important this was to me in my journey. As things started to improve or get worse I was able to look back in my journal and make comparisons. It made it easier to make decisions about the right things and wrong things to do. It even led up to starting a blog that has become pretty popular (SimpleLivingOver50). And there is one more thing about that notebook that greatly helped me in that it made me accountable. I knew that if I ate something I shouldn’t eat during the day I would have to write it down in my journal. And with keeping a journal of this type you have to always be honest or you are just lying to yourself.
All of these things took many years for me to develop and got better with time. Start off slow and progress at a level that is comfortable. The most important thing is to be consistent. There will be times that you get sick and shouldn’t work out and there will other times where you are hungry and in a situation where there is no good food available for you to eat. Don’t stress out too much, but do get back on board with the program after the situation is gone. You cannot fix Type II Diabetes overnight but over the long term things will get better and you just may be able to discover that being the best you can be will lead you to astonishing levels of good health and good health is the place you want to be with or without Type II Diabetes.
Blood Sugar- 109, Weight- 181.6
Bowflex – LEGS & ABS
Squats- 310 lbs- 21
Calf Raises- 310 lbs- 20
Situps- 30, 30, 30