My story is like many other stories out there, which in and of itself is a comfort – knowing others are going through a similar journey is a powerful thing. 4 years ago, my employer offered a Health Clinic. We got our cholesterol levels, our A1C levels, blood pressure tested… My health coach was pretty alarmed by one of my results – my blood sugars.
While admittedly I was a carb baby/toddler/child/adult, and I admit to having a serious weak spot for candy, other than these two things, my eating and life habits were very, very sensible. I had next to no interest in cakes, pies, cookies, ice cream, desserts, etc. There is a joke in my family about the year my mom asked me what kind of birthday cake I wanted, and being the veggie lover/cake hater that I was, I asked if we could have a veggie platter instead – and I was serious. I did almost everything right in my life, and still managed to get diagnosed as a Type II Diabetic at the age of 28. The slight mental meltdown that followed a very, very surprising diagnosis, is nothing I am proud of, but it was a crucial part of my journey – of that much I am positive.
I am short, but have almost always been fit, for the most part. There were periods in my life where my fitness was more of a priority, and I was leaner, and there were periods where it had not much priority, and I was what most people call “skinny fat” – thin but with no real muscle tone. The most I ever weighed was 117 lbs., back in my senior year of high school, on a 5’1 frame – not terribly overweight by any stretch. I have always been active, and luckily, I absolutely adore fruits and veggies and enjoy eating them. I am a carb baby, and a candy lover, but it would stand to reason that my eating habits were fairly balanced.
So when my health coach gave me my (admittedly ALARMING) results, I thought hmm, okay, time to get your candy snacking under control. My health coach urged me, with a notable sense of urgency, to get to my Primary Care Physician and have the full battery of tests to check for Diabetes, or something else that could explain my very high levels. I made my appointment, and then set out to find ways to lower my levels without completely sacrificing something I loved. My mom and I researched ways to bring your sugar levels down – I downed a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar every day for almost a month, because it was supposedly a way to rehab sugar levels. It was pretty disgusting, but I told myself if it worked, it would be worth it.
Fast forward to my appointment with my doctor. Now, it’s pretty important to know that Diabetes was not really present in my family history. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t start with me, but there really was no indication that this was a real risk – the general assumption on the part of me and my loved ones was that truly, I just needed to get my candy habit under control. It honestly NEVER even crossed my mind that I could be diagnosed as a diabetic.
So when she came back with all of my test results, I wasn’t really expecting to hear anything other than a casual “just get some things under control”. Like truly, I had not at all prepared myself to hear anything else. So when she hit me with my actual A1C, and whatever she said after that – I didn’t catch it all because I was truly dazed and confused – things just sort of stopped in my world for a minute. Like no, it’s not a terminal, fatal disease, but honestly, when your doctor is handing you non-favorable test results, that doesn’t matter. It is life-changing, all-encompassing news. And for me, it completely and utterly caught me off guard. To say I was shocked and thrown for a loop doesn’t even begin to cover the gamut of emotions I was feeling.
It doesn’t look like anything is “wrong” with me, which invited plenty of criticism from other shoppers when I dare read the nutritional values, or put healthy stuff (which I have always enjoyed) in my cart. And I kept getting frustrated when people would say “oh, you don’t need to worry about the nutritional information, you’re a tiny little thing!” But the problem is, as a diabetic whose future is definitely going to be determined in part by what I put in my body, I ABSOLUTELY have to pay attention to that stuff. And seeing all of the carbs and sugar counts in so many of the products was a REAL eye opener – but it was a depressing task, too. Finding something I could eat felt daunting in the beginning!
I worked my tail off to lower my A1c levels, and to get my diabetes under control, to change some of my lifestyle habits, to get used to taking medication daily (something I am loathe to do – and one of my goals is to make it so I DON’T need pharmacy meds), and to learn and educate myself about diabetes. I was overwhelmed, and stressed out – which didn’t help, obviously. But I did get it under control, and I have learned so much in the process. But I still wasn’t feeling satisfied with the quality of my life.
Knowing I face quite an uphill battle with a myriad of issues just due to being a diabetic, I’d decided to truly take the steps further to being healthy, happy, and vibrant. I don’t know what exactly I face, but I know that getting myself in the best shape to fight I can gives me a much better chance of keeping my waters smooth for sailing. I know I can do everything right and still face issues, but I will at least know I have done my best to get myself into ‘fighting shape’.
Enter Beachbody’s T-25, and soon after, Shakeology. Followed immediately by the 21 Day Fix. Life changers. An effective exercise program I didn’t hate that included subtitles for my poorly-functioning ears, and a shake filled with nutritional goodness. Turns out, when you treat your body with the love and respect it deserves, it responds in kind. My junk food cravings are seriously less frequent, and when the mood to indulge does strike, it’s a controlled, satisfied-with-a-few-pieces indulgence, not a whole-bag-of-Sour Patch Kids frenzy. I have more energy all day, and I am considerably more focused on all the many things I have to do. I feel better equipped to deal with the many curveballs life throws at me, and I am much happier with the quality of life I lead now – and it will only continue to get better from here.
I think back to that “why me?!” moment I had post-diagnosis, and I cringe a little – but I’m thankful for this little blessing in disguise – for without this, I may not have decided to turn my life and my health around. Now I am the captain of my ship, and I am navigating my waters. And I know how to course correct, if necessary. I will not let anything keep me from making the most out of my life.
I am healthier due to making lifestyle changes. My blood sugars are controlled.
When I was diagnosed as a Type II Diabetic in April of 2010, my A1c was 8.2… I definitely had some ups and downs, but I managed to bring it down a bit. Fast forward to now – 2016 – and in March of 2014 my A1c was 6.9, and in June of 2014 my A1c was 5.9! That was my first A1c test since starting my journey with cleaner living. To go down one whole point in the span of 3 months due commitment to exercise and living a little cleaner, and determination, is AWESOME. It is an AWESOME feeling, and an amazing, measurable achievement. Sometimes, opportunity to better living presents itself. If you are wise, you seize the opportunity! It has helped me feel way more confident in my journey to the healthiest, happiest me I can be!
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