Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes was a bit of a surprise for me. What did it mean? What do I do? Is that it?
"Mr. Wyborn, how do you manage your diabetes?"
That was the first question my doctor asked me at my bedside the morning after I was admitted to hospital having experienced the fun of seven—seven—transient ischemic attacks (mini strokes) in the preceding 24 hours.
I informed him, that he was a little 'ahead of the curve' on that one, as I had no idea that I was diabetic. A short discussion about symptoms, lifestyle, diet (ha!) and we agreed that it was likely I had been Diabetic for at least 7 years and this episode was just waiting patiently in the sidelines to make an appearance.
Fifty-four, obese, sedentary lifestyle and a love of food and wine, were the perfect ingredients for me to cook up my own diabetes. The only surprise was that it had taken so long to appear.
I am sure you all have a similar story of when you were diagnosed. Often it's a routine medical check-up, or you have told your GP of other conditions you can't explain away. You have to get up and wee a lot in the night, but hey, you drink a lot of water so that's 'obvious.' However, you are always thirsty. Or your feet and fingers get cold, so you assume a lack of circulation. You have probably justified all those symptoms with 'getting old,' and most of the time, you just accept it and put up with it.
Then they tell you the truth—either as a result of blood test or a more serious episode, such as a stroke or TIA (see above). When they told you, what was your first reaction? What? How? Me? When? - What drugs do I need to get shot of this? There can be a lot of confusion, denial and as you mostly 'feel OK' it can't be that serious, surely? Anyway, it's all over the news, everyone has it!
You'll scan the leaflets that your medical professional hands you and you'll collect your prescription and start to get familiar with those drugs. You've learned that your blood sugar levels are higher than they should be, your HBA1C scores above the acceptable line and quite possibly, you're advised to buy a blood pressure monitor, as you'll need to keep a good eye on that - oh yes! that'll mean more drugs.
You have been told to lose some weight, get some exercise, give up the bad foods, start eating properly and generally, adopt a far healthier lifestyle. If you do this, then you can minimise the effects of diabetes, you may just keep your limbs and eyesight a bit longer and even reduce the risk of heart failure. It's all good.
Then, a few months later, your check shows that your scores are coming down, that's good, but you still need to lose weight, that's bad. Bottom line, you know the drugs are working, so why should you?
This was how I felt, until the day I left my check-up. I was told that if I didn't do something serious about my lifestyle, then diabetes and I were soon to get a lot more intimate. I would have to start injecting insulin. Things were about to get a lot worse.
That was the trigger for me. Yours may have come a lot sooner, or maybe you're still fooling yourself that everything will be 'fine'. It won't.
There is no nice way to say this but... It's. All. Your. Fault. You have been responsible for every mouthful, every pint, every walk you didn't go on, every sport you didn't take up, every hour sat in your chair in your sedentary job, or at home in front of the TV. It's all been down to you. No one else. Nobody else made you eat that biscuit or cake, take the extra slice of pizza, or have that 'one for the road'—it was you. Had you invested in a crystal ball, then you could have seen the future, you could have done something about it. This was not down to your parents, your job, your social circle, your council or government, your kids. It was all down to you—it was all your fault—but that is a good thing, I promise.
Now the Good Stuff
The tone of this article is now changing, I have battered you with tough stuff, now it's time to get busy, not it's time to reverse your diabetes and eventually stop taking the drugs - it's time to take control. If you really want to!
Read More From Patientslounge
#1 You're in Control
From this point on, this is all down to you, you are in total control. You are in control of every mouthful of food that you take, every drink you consume and every step that you take. You've got this. Even though have been in control all this time, now you KNOW you're in control and you KNOW that you can make a significant difference to your life.
#2 It's All About You
This is not selfish, it's about the self. This is where you need to focus on the most important person in your life, you. You got yourself into this mess, and only you can get yourself out of it. The answer is simple. You WANT to do it. You WANT to do it so badly, you're not going to let anything get in your way, your determination will be your wrecking ball, if you can't knock it down, you'll navigate your way around it.
Look at all the successful people you have heard of. All of the elite athletes and sports people that have finely tuned their physique to help them perform at the highest level. They all have one thing in common. They are determined to succeed and not let anything get in their way.
So you know you need to improve your lifestyle, for some this will mean tweaking a few bits of your diet and maybe walking to work instead of driving. For others, it could mean turning your life on its head. You're going to start designing the new you. A healthier, fitter and happier you.
You're doing this because you WANT to do it.
This is all done with one thing - your mind. All you're going to need to do is change the way you think. Start rearranging your thought processes. You're going to need a few tools to help you along the way. These are the tools that I discovered during my journey and found them to be essential in all areas of my life.
Tool #1 POSITIVITY
Start switching all those switches up there in your control panel (mind) from negative to positive. When you're faced with a negative situation, immediately look at the positive possibilities. No seat on the train? Does your car fail the MOT test? Did your boss have a go at you? Stop! Don't react in a negative way, take a breath and find a positive response. When you work hard at finding the positive, you can handle any situation without it doing any harm to yourself. You can stop those Custard Cream Binges.
Tool #2 TINY STEPS
A mountaineer needs to take a single step towards the summit, then a lot more single steps. You need these too. You are not going to reverse your diabetes today, tomorrow or next week. You are going to make slow, meaningful and positive progress. With weight-loss, losing half a pound a week, seems like nothing, but this time next year you can be two stones lighter, a pound a week, then it's over four stone in 12 months—that is amazing and the most amazing thing is you will do it. You just have to WANT to do it
Why do we eat badly or excessively? Why is it so attached to our mood and emotions? That may need a far longer article. We're not dogs - we don't need food as a treat for doing something well. Food is fuel. If you've had a good or bad day, do you treat/punish yourself by putting more fuel in your car that it can handle?
I joined a well known slimming club, with weekly meetings in a cold church hall, full of like-minded people, I learned that ANY loss is a GREAT loss. Some weeks, even just maintaining your weight, is a real positive.
You Lose Weight in The Kitchen - Not in the Gym
This is a great mantra from the above slimming club. Eat enough of the good and less of the bad and the weight will fall off. If you think you can lose weight in the gym without changing your eating habits, you are going to be sorely disappointed, with the emphasis on 'sore'!
Of course, combining exercise and a great diet really can accelerate your progress. I managed this by getting out and walking, we're told we should be trying to manage 10,000 steps a day. If you have don't any serious exercise (and you haven't), then this can sound daunting. Fear not, don't beat yourself up. Get out, do what you can, then get out again tomorrow and do a little more.
Top Tip: Get a step counter and a good pair of walking boots. Your feet will thank you!
Tool #3 Get Better Every Day
You have heard many 'gurus' tell you, in some form or another, to 'be the best version of yourself' or some other motivational garbage. I hate this. It's just a useless chant that doesn't challenge or question. Let's change this. From now on, ask yourself this.
Can I be a little better today than I was yesterday?
This is sustainable and can be used every day, in every aspect of your life.
Can I be a little—kinder, considerate, more polite, more forgiving, calmer, respectful—than I was yesterday?
Can I make some better food choices than I did yesterday? Can I have one more piece of fruit and one less biscuit?
Can I take a few more steps than I did yesterday? Can I take the stairs rather than the escalator or lift? Can I park further away from the supermarket front door? Can I carry a basket and not push a trolley?
Can I have just one pint not two? Can I leave some wine in the bottle?
These are just examples of how many tiny steps can have a huge effect. If we all do a little, we can all achieve a lot
Whilst this stuff is really simple (it's just changing the way we think) it's not easy. But the more you do it, the easier it gets. Waking up with a positive mindset, trying to be a little better than you were yesterday and appreciate the positive progress you are making every day. You really can do this. When you start designing the way you think, you start designing the way you live.
It's all good.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.