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My four steps to stave off diabetes

I’ve always thought counting calories was ridiculous and that people who professed the awfulness of fast food were killjoys. Food is food, right? I also had a killer metabolism for years. Even working a desk job, I could eat just about anything and (seemingly) never gain weight. I thought I would never have to worry about diabetes or obesity.

Now that I’m approaching my mid-30s, I’ve come to understand that I was either naïve, ignorant or in denial. Whether or not it was one or two of those things — or a combination of all three — my terrible eating and exercise habits are catching up with me.

For the last three years, I opted to participate in a free blood screening through my employer, Via Christi, which checks A1C and fasting blood sugar levels. Much like the last two years, after I got my results this year, I took the passive approach when I received my screening results. I quickly glanced at them, saw that they were fine and I moved on. 

About a month later, I sat in on a presentation by an endocrinologist, Dany Zayour, MD, who began describing prediabetes and possible symptoms. According to the National Diabetes Education program, 86 million Americans age 20 years and older have it. Unless they make changes today, they likely will develop Type 2 diabetes within 10 years.

Then Dr. Zayour began talking about diabetes, including management and complications. According to a report by the Center for Disease Control, 29.1 million Americans have it. You can’t reverse it or be cured of it. You can only manage it with your doctor through diet changes, exercise and possibly medication.

As I sat there listening, something in the back of my mind prompted me to take another look at my results — so I did. My fasting blood sugar and A1C levels were up quite a bit from last year and in the high end of the “good” range. To be honest, being that close to the edge of prediabetes freaked me out and I decided I needed to take action.

So, what am I doing about it now?

  • Exercising. Right away, I began to actually use my YMCA membership and work out on a more frequent basis. Did you know 30 minutes of daily, moderate-intensity exercise can make a huge difference? 
  • Eating better. I’ve cut back on burgers and fries (they are less appetizing now) and increased my daily fruit and vegetable intake. I even count calories now to make sure I don’t exceed 2,000 a day. Did you know that a Big Mac value meal is more than 1000 calories—more than half of one day’s calorie intake?
  • Drinking water. I drink more water and less everything else.
  • Holding myself accountable. To help keep me accountable, I even joined a program to help me improve my lifestyle and stave off prediabetes.

I’ve managed to lose weight and exercise more. Overall, I feel better. Since it’s been several months since my last one, my next step is to schedule a visit with my doctor to have another blood screening and see if I have succeeded in lower my A1C and fasting blood sugar levels.

I know that it shouldn’t have taken me this this long to get healthy, but I can’t change the past. I can only make course corrections today and look to the (much healthier) future. 

So, what are you doing to live a healthier lifestyle?