Wow! I had no idea so many of you would be interested in reading about my adventures in trying to smite the diabetes. Oh, the responsibility. Thank you for all the comments you guys left. And many thanks to Ryan for directing you over here!
Diabetes Sucks, Part 2
I really wanted to call my blog "Diabetes Sucks" but it turns out that someone had beat me to it and when you Google on that phrase it's really obvious I'm not the only one who feels this way about having diabetes—doesn't matter if it's type 1 or type 2.
Diabetes is one of those diseases that really can’t be managed for you by someone else—no matter how good their intentions. My partner Ryan tried for years to get me to eat better, to pay more attention to the diabetes, to gently remind me that I do, in fact, have diabetes—but it usually ended in arguments and pouting because I’ve never liked being told what to do. And I didn't want to be reminded about it while I was eating a piece of cake, or a big bowl of ice cream or seconds on mashed potatoes. I was happy living in my little bubble of denial.
It's a really personal disease because it affects so many parts of your life. It can affect how you socialize—whether friends invite you to food-related things or not, whether you participate in potlucks, how far from home you can get without a snack, whether you can have a glass of wine with dinner or not, staying away from the goodies that people bring to the workplace, food gifts from vendors, trying not to hurt your host's feelings when you don't eat something they've prepared, etc. Your fingers are always sore from the blood testing which makes it hard to do things you may enjoy like playing the guitar, crafts, or doing anything that requires fingertips. If you have squeamish friends, you have to go find someplace to test* and/or give yourself a shot of insulin. So you end up missing out on fun and conversation. You can see why it's a lot easier to just ignore the diabetes—it's just a heck of a lot more fun to pretend you don't have it.
Carbs are the enemy for diabetics. Most people know this. The more carbs you eat, the harder it is for your body to use the glucose, the higher your blood sugar goes, and the more exhausted your pancreas gets. So why the hell do doctors and nutritionists tell a type 2 diabetic to eat 200 grams of carbs a day without the benefit of injected insulin?
I did this for years. Guess what? My blood sugar averages were around 140 mg/dL which does NOT keep you out of the "bad things will happen to you later" level of the game.
My friend and fitness coach Kristn and I had been talking about eating for diabetes and the fact that what I'd been told to do wasn't working, so she sent me a link to Mark's Daily Apple where he pretty much laid out why type 2 happens and why eating all those carbs everyday is probably not a good idea. It’s written in laymen’s terms and talks about how the process works and how the excess carbs we eat contribute to type 2 diabetes. I learned more in this five or six minutes of reading than from my doctor, from the nutritionist, or from the 8 or 9 books I wasted money on about managing diabetes.
This got me thinking—I’d already been weightlifting hard for several months with measurable results (albeit no weight loss), but some definite rearrangement of fat. What if I tried to reduce my carb intake and packed on as much muscle as I could in order to increase my insulin sensitivity?
So that’s what started this sort of crazy journey. My initial goal really wasn’t to lose weight but to increase my insulin sensitivity so that my blood sugars would be more level—and lower—throughout the day and to eventually cut down on the amount of metformin I was taking. I figured if I snuck up on the diabetes from a different direction maybe I could beat it into submission.
And honestly, I'd given up on losing weight years ago.
*Personally, I test my blood sugar in the kitchen because that's where I am when I get ready to eat and I'm more likely to test if the meter's sitting there looking at me while I'm prepping a meal. Some people might think this is really gross but we're talking about a drop of blood slightly larger than the head of a pin.