Went to the doctor today for my quarterly blood test results. This is the first one since having my big initial diabetes blood test. I don’t check my blood sugar levels with a fingertip prick test or need insulin or anything; the doctor said that I’m not at the stage where I need to do that. But it’s been weird the last few months trying to work out where I’m at, not knowing whether the medication, exercise and food adjustments have been having enough of an effect. I mean, they’ve definitely been good changes to make, but it’s all been a bit unknown.
And hurrah, the results were all good! Cholesterol, liver and blood sugar readings all vastly improved, and I’ve lost about 10% of my starting body weight. Mum’s results were likewise good.
Next is going to the dentist and the physio. Ugh. I’m feeling like my body is falling apart, but I suppose I’m at the age where you need to start getting things checked on and fixed and tuned up. I keep forgetting this. I’ve always suspected that the reason older folk seem to talk about nothing but their health and what’s going wrong is the sheer indignation of having a body that won’t do what it’s meant to do, the bewilderment at the whole thing starting to break down. I hope I don’t become a medical bore, but it’s probably worth sharing my experiences in case anyone else faces the same thing and wants a bit of solidarity.
I’m reasonably young to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, although with a fairly thorough history of it on both sides of my family, and having some Chinese blood, I didn’t really have a chance [risk factors]. My love of sweet food and lack of exercise didn’t help matters, of course, but if anyone was going to be predisposed, it was me. My relative youth is also why my doctor says he’s trying an ‘aggressive’ approach to treating me (when I questioned why I was on medication but mum’s doctor didn’t prescribe her any), because I’m going to have longer to deal with it and we want to slow down the effects as much as we can.
It did take a while to come to terms with the diagnosis of having diabetes. I was angry with myself, angry with my genetics, angry in general. Which wasn’t really of much use, because it was a fact, there was no reversing it or erasing it. All I could do was try to slow it down by trying to lower and stabilise my blood sugar levels, and to factor it in to my thinking about food and exercise from now on.
The thing that has surprised me is that losing weight has been easier than any other time I’ve deliberately tried to lose weight. Before, it was a vanity thing, wanting to be smaller. Even though I could have said it was for health reasons, it really wasn’t. But this time I’m on the other side of doing some thinking through body image, health at every size and all that stuff, and so the motivation is completely different. Now I need to make changes because I have a health issue I need to address. Not because I want to fit into a size 0 dress (which will never happen) but because I want my body to work as best it can, so it can do the things I want it to do.
I try to go for walks fairly regularly (which is quite pleasurable as there are so many scenic spots to walk around here) and do yoga (Body Positive Yoga is wonderful), or if I haven’t left the house, I do some riding on mum’s exercise bike. As far as food goes, we’re not really on any sort of diet, we just made small, simple adjustments like making sure we included lots more vegies in all our cooking, served smaller portion sizes, and generally ate much less everyday sweet food and baked goods. Less fries too.
Most mornings for breakfast, mum and I have a delicious bowl of porridge with coconut, almonds, dried apricot and chia seeds, topped with homemade yoghurt. It really sets you up for the day and I find the desire for snacks is much less (snacking was always my weakest point). Also, we have noted that you might pay $9-10 dollars for such a fancy bowl at a cafe but it’s so easy and cheap to have at home.
And it’s not to say that I don’t have the occasional tasty treat. It’s just that those things are occasional rather than daily and when I have them, I give myself over to enjoying them as fully as possible. Like the other week, we decided to try Timbre Kitchen, a restaurant at a vineyard we pass every day on our way in to town. For dessert I had miso semifreddo, with brown butter, peanut butter, honey and it was one of the most sensational things I had ever eaten. I wondered whether my tastebuds had become more sensitive, having had less sweet stuff for a while. I savoured each mouthful, each new texture, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
So even though it was an unwelcome alarm bell to force me to look after my health, so far the upside of having diabetes it that it has made me slow down with food a bit more, has made me appreciate the best, freshest ingredients more, has made me enjoy good food more, without the privation or restrictions that I used to feel when dieting purely for weight loss. I don’t have to count calories or points. I don’t have to weigh out the number of almonds I can have for a snack. There’s the occasional frustration with not being able to just bake a glorious cake without thinking about sugar substitutes and eventually giving up altogether (because even stevia just isn’t the same). There are the nights when I just want a big bowl of Connoisseur ice cream. There are the times when I just long for sugary, fatty comfort food. But not being able to indulge all the time is not really that big a deal in the scheme of things. I’ve always needed to work on my self-control.
And oh it’s only been three months. I’m going to have to work on this for the rest of my life…but at least it’s good to know it’s not as terrible as it felt like it was going to be, and there have already been some positive results. When discussing it with me today, my doctor laughed and said “It’s not a competition, you know! You can relax!” but it actually hasn’t felt like it’s taken much effort to get this far, for which I am grateful.