Monday, August 29, 2011

Size Matters

I'm getting thinner -- and what's weird is that I didn't realize just how much I've been slimming down.

In the past, I'd start a new diet or eating plan, and then become obsessed with the number on the scale. Sometimes I'd weigh myself a few times a day and then let it dictate my mood. This time, though, I'm avoiding the scale and going by appearance/clothing size instead. I was weighed at the doctor's a few weeks ago, and will see her in a couple of weeks when I will get weighed again on the same scale. So far, this "experiment" is working; I at least have an idea of my size, but am not consumed by it.

I also haven't been obsessed with eating, at least not with calorie counting. I now have to be very conscious of what I put in my mouth because my diabetes limits what I can eat somewhat, and I am determined to keep my blood sugar down. I had an eye exam last week that thankfully went well and the doctor said that I have better than 20/20 vision. But -- and this is a big but -- he stressed that in order to keep my eyes healthy, I need to carefully monitor my blood sugar. I really, really don't want to lose my sight, so any cravings are tempered by the thought of the diabetes making me blind in the future.

That said, I'm eating a lot and I'm eating well. I basically cut out all junk, including diet sodas. I eat a large salad with most meals and lots of healthy, lean meats, veggies, fruits and good proteins. The few carbs I do eat are "brown," such as whole wheat bread or whole grain cereal. I snack on low-fat cheese, almonds, yogurt and if I really want something sweet, sugar free Jell-O. I eat whenever I'm hungry, but watch my portions. I don't feel deprived and my cravings for sugar, which I can no longer have in large quantities, have subsided.

I like this way of eating because my menu is free of junk. Whenever I followed plans that involved counting calories or points, or whatever, I'd "work" the system so that I could have sweets. I'd allow a certain number of calories for a cupcake or exercise for enough minutes so that I could splurge on a cookie. Yes, I was sticking to the number of alloted calories, but I was wasting them on foods that aren't nutritious. I believe that things should be done in moderation so if I go to, say, a wedding and indulge in a piece of cake, it won't be the end of the world. But I'm not going to eat cake just because it's available -- especially if I can make a better choice. In a way, I like having to keep track of my blood sugar because my meter tells me right then and there how healthy my meal was. If I ate something that caused a spike, I know right away and make sure that I'm more careful at my next meal. My meter keeps me accountable.

I've also been walking several times a week. I'm training for that 5-mile walk that we're doing in October, but I'm also falling back in love with walking on its own. I can comfortably do about 2 miles at the moment, but I'm working my way up.

I've been following this plan for about a month now and can already feel the differences. I'm sleeping so much better, which for this lifetime insomniac, is a welcome blessing. I have more energy and am in a better mood. I used to spend my weekends sleeping, but now I want to the movies or take a walk or see friends. I even cleaned our apartment this past weekend when we were hiding out from Hurricane Irene. It was a disaster area, mainly due to me not having energy for months on end, but I cleaned up a good portion of the clutter. It felt good to get rid of the crap and matched what I'm doing for my body: cleaning up the mess.

I've been so happy with the internal changes that I've been experiencing -- sleeping better, having more energy -- that I haven't really thought much about my appearance. But the other day at work, one of my colleages suddenly said to me, "You know, you've lost a lot of weight, like 30-40 pounds. I can see it all over." Of course, he said it in front of everyone so I was a bit embarrassed. Still, it was sweet and especially appreciated coming from him since he's had a gastric bypass. However, it was very unexpected. I really didn't think that I've reached a point where my weight loss is noticeable so I was completely taken aback by the compliment.

Then when I was cleaning out my closet this weekend, I came across a cute pair of denim capris that I'd purchased online at the beginning of the summer. I think I got them for the 4th of July because they have little stars embroidered on the pockets. Unfortunately, they hadn't fit me at the time, so I threw them onto my growing pile of clothes and planned to send them back. Yesterday, out of curiosity, I tried them on -- and they fit. Really fit, like they're comfortable and look nice on me. I couldn't believe it. Just last month, I could barely pull them up over my thighs and now I can wear them.

To be honest, my success scares me a little. I've been successful at losing weight before, but have always failed. Now I have this bigger thing hanging over my head -- my diabetes -- so I really have to concentrate on keeping my blood sugar at a good number. Maybe, in a weird way, my diagnosis will turn out to be a positive thing and will be what helps me get my health back on track. Wouldn't that be ironic?

By the way, check out my diabetes blog: How Not Sweet It Is

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Roll With It, Baby

First, the good news: my blood sugar was down to 89 this morning -- a new low! It would be great if it could settle in the 80s or 90s, and I can keep it there.

I'm still doing well with food. Jon cooked a diabetic lamb curry for me tonight. There ARE plenty of things that I can eat that are low in carbs and fat; it's just a matter of changing some ingredients. We got the recipe from a great Web site called D-Life

Meantime, I signed up for the Step Out Diabetes Walk, which is on October 23. It's five miles, so I need to begin training in earnest. I can do about two miles now, with some stops, but I want to be able to do the five miles in about two hours. Right now, it would take me about four, which is way too long. Jon and some friends are joining us, so it'll be like a little party as we cross the Brooklyn Bridge!

The bad news is that things are still shaky between myself and my parents. On the one hand, they jumped at the chance to take me to a doctor's appointment this week, which I appreciate. It's good to know that I can depend on them. But my mom and dad are still in freak out/lecture mode, respectively. My therapist is always urging me to let their comments roll off my back, but it's difficult when it's my parents. I feel like I'm confident in most areas of my life, but they still know how to push my buttons and make me crazy. I wish I knew a better way to deal with them without having to cut them out. I feel like half this blog is a rant against my parents and I hate that. Most of the time I manage to stay positive -- even after I broke my leg or got this latest diagnosis -- and most people will tell you that I'm a generally optimistic person. But my parents have this way of turning me into a blubbering, fucked up, 12-year-old mess. If I can ever get over that, that will be my biggest victory of all.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Be Prepared

When I was younger, I was a member of the Girl Scouts. Our motto was "Be prepared." It's been about 25 years since I was a part of that organization, but that sentiment holds true when it comes to a weight loss plan -- especially when you're a Type II diabetic like me.

I've now become obsessed with reading menus. I love Menu Pages (check it out online if you're in NYC) and enjoy checking out new, interesting restaurants. Now it's especially important for me to read through them because I can decide beforehand what I want to eat. Lately, I've been going through the menus of our favorite restaurants in the city to see which items are diabetes friendly. Happily, most have a few choices for me.

We spent last night at my in-laws so I made a point to be very prepared for the visit. I had my in-laws pick up some foods for me at the grocery store, then got the name of the restaurant where we'd be eating dinner. I then went online and checked out that diner's menu. Once there, I ordered a spinach salad with grilled chicken and an egg white omelet with spinach (no fries or bread). Everyone else ordered cake for dessert, but I had berries with cottage cheese and some herbal tea. I was pleased because I managed to keep my blood sugar low the entire day and I got to enjoy a nice, healthy meal with my family.

Today, I woke up with a nice, low blood sugar number: 97! We then relaxed and swam in my in-laws' pool. I'm not the greatest swimmer, but I treaded water for about a half hour. I actually feel this in my legs; they're a little sore from the pedaling motion. I like walking, but on a hot day like today, swimming is my favorite exercise.

I haven't weighed myself since my last doctor's visit a couple of weeks ago, but I can tell that I've lost weight. I see it in my face and my bathing suit has become huge on me! I always lose weight on top first, so the top part was hanging on me and I had to keep pulling up the straps. I'm debating whether I should buy a new suit before the season ends.

Tonight we had dinner in one of our favorite Afghan places, Bamiyan. I had a grilled chicken kabob, stewed pumpkin and brown rice. "Dessert" was then giner tea. I find it kind of amusing that my idea of dessert has changed from being chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate to fruit, sugar free Jell-O and tea. In fact, I haven't had anything chocolate in about three weeks. I think that's a record for me.

I was nervous about going away for the first time since getting my diagnosis, but being prepared definitely helped. So the next time you know that an activity is coming up, do what you can to control what you eat: brin snack to the movies or a party or make sure that there will be food that fits into your particular plan.

Oh, by the way, I have a new blog that focuses on my diabetes journey:

How Not Sweet It is: Type 2 Diabetes Blog:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thanks, And An Update

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who's shown me support as I deal with my diagnosis. I got some nice comments on this blog and have had a lot of help from friends and loved ones, as well as my doctors. It's made things easier to deal with and has given me a lot of hope.

The good news is, I'm doing pretty well. My blood sugar is now down in the 100s (it even hit 96 the other night) and my doctor is pleased with my progress. My vision is blurry, most likely from my bs dropping so far and so rapidly, but I'm seeing an eye specialist in a few days. I can function with some over the counter reading glasses, though. I'm no longer (literally) dying of thirst, I'm sleeping better and am less fatigued.

Meanwhile, I've completely overhauled my eating: I'm having a lot of whole grains, fruits, veggies, lean means and low-fat dairy. For snacks, I have hummus or sugar free Jell-O. I eat every couple of hours and I don't feel hungry or deprived. I don't even miss sweets that much. When you fear that eating a piece of cake will make you sick, it loses its appeal!

I've been walking a lot, too. I've recruited some friends to do a five-mile diabetes walk with me this October and am starting to train. I walked for two hours around Chinatown the other day and this past weekend, Jon and I walked to the movies. We used to do this route often, but hadn't in over a year. It felt good to be outside again and I realized how much I missed walking into town.

Things are also okay between myself and my parents. Jon and I visited them last week, and I think that once they saw that I wasn't completely falling spart, they calmed down about my diagnosis. I explained how it can be controlled and how it was screwing with my metabolism. My mom has a weird idea of what I can and can't eat, but I explained that the eating plan isn't nearly as restrictive as she thinks. We then went for Persian food and I got a salad and chicken kabob with a little hummus on the side. My parents were like, "But it comes with rice!" I told them, "Just because you get rice on your plate doesn't mean you have to eat it. Duh." For the record, I didn't even get rice; I just asked them not to give it to me.

This weekend, we're going up to my in-laws so I called ahead and asked them to pick up some stuff at the grocery store. A key element in dealing with diabetes is planning ahead, I'm learning. So I always check menus ahead of time and make sure that there is food I can eat. I'm still figuring out what causes my bs to spike, but there are some great recipes online for diabetics.

Anyway, everything is okay here, if not perfect. I'm actually going to start a blog about my diabetes so you can follow me there, if you're interested. Thanks again for reading and for boosting me up during a tough time.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Truth Hurts

I just told my parents about my diagnosis. I wasn't planning to say anything, but then my mom specifically asked if I'd been to the doctor. I know them so well, they acted exactly like I expected: my mom broke down and my dad basically blamed me for making myself sick.

It's one thing for me to put the responsibility on myself, but I was hoping for more of a show of support, some, "I know you can beat this!" or "You're strong, it'll be OK," something like that. My in-laws were very cool and supportive, but they're both overweight, so they understand how tough it is to lose weight and deal with obesity.

Stress makes your blood sugar go up and mine's been lowering all day, so I really don't want to mess up the pattern. So know what? If my parents are going to lecture and weep over me, I'm just going to tune it out.

I'm Mrs. Thighs And I'm A Diabetic...

Okay, feel free to tell me, "I told you so," that my parents' cries for me to see an endocrinologist were valid. I just found out that I have Type II Diabetes.

To be fair, I made the appointment with the endo MONTHS ago, back in April. She was booked and I didn't feel sick. I didn't have any of the classic symptoms for diabetes so I wasn't too worried.

Once we got home from Greece, though, everything fell apart. I came down with back-to-back colds from hell and became ridiculously thirsty. We're talking unquenchable thirst. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I wanted to jump into a vat of strawberry smoothie because I was craving ice/fruit juice so badly. I'd drink and drink and drink, and still felt dehydrated.

Then, of course, I needed to go all the time. Urgently. And if a bathroom wasn't right there, I, well, came close to having some disasters.

Next, my vision went wonky. I've always had 20/20 vision, but it was blurry for a few days. I couldn't even watch TV because the picture was too blurry.

By now, I suspected that something was very wrong, but wasn't sure who to turn to. I knew I had this appointment coming up, plus, our job had been bought out by a new company so I was between insurances. Meanwhile, I was doing the exact wrong thing and drinking tons of fruit juices and sports drinks. I felt like I wanted to die. Finally, I asked for help from my friend who has diabetes, and he basically saved my life. He gave me a list of foods to eat and avoid, and I followed it for a few days ... and began to feel a little better. I could deal with my issues. I could function. We even went to the Poconos for a weekend, where I swam and went boating.

Still, I dreaded seeing the doctor because I knew my diagnosis was not going to be good. I just wondered how bad it would be.

It was bad. My blood sugar was over 400 and they considered me to be an emergency case. Therefore, I'm on insulin and various other meds, and I have to take my blood sugar four times a day. My bs is now down in the 200s, so the meds seem to be working.

They also told me that my metabolism is completely fucked up and that even if I don't eat, I won't lose weight efficiently. I liked my doctor because was wasn't judgmental about my weight, and was very encouraging about my future. The team hopes to have me off of the meds and insulin in two months.

Physically, I feel fine, though a little tired. Emotionally, I'm all over the place. I can't help blaming myself for making myself sick since my weight definitely plays a part. On the other hand, I'm trying to stay positive. That I don't actually feel sick is a plus and my bs is going down. All I can do is follow my doctors' orders and I'll hopefully be fine. Taking insulin and bs numbers really isn't bad; it doesn't hurt at all. And the meal plan seems reasonable.

I'm also planning to do a 4.8 miles walk for diabetes in October. That seems like the perfect thing to do for both my disease and my leg. The route goes over the Brooklyn Bridge so we'll get to see some awesome views of the NYC skyline.

What's really nice is that many friends have been so supportive. I've heard from a lot of people, who've cheered me on. Then again, I haven't heard from some people, which is disappointing. If I knew my friend was having a major health crisis, I'd make a point to reach her, but I can't change people's priorities.

I'm still trying to figure out how to tell my parents. I think they should know, but my mom is going to get all cry-y and freak out. I really don't want to deal with her blubbering. My dad will be more normal, I think.

Sorry for this slightly incoherent entry, but my mind is all over the place. I will keep everyone updated.