I have made a lot of lifestyle changes over the last several months. I eat a very strict diet, exercise regularly, check my blood sugar several times every day, adjust my insulin accordingly. Through taking notes and paying close attention to my body and actions I have learned a few things both good and bad.
1. The dawn phenomenon can go die in a fire. I can do so well and have the most perfect blood sugars, and then I go to bed and when I wake in the morning my blood sugar is around one hundred points higher than my calculations should have it at. I know my calculations are correct, I check my blood before bed, calculate my basal insulin dose according to the amount of time I intend to sleep. I even take any bolus that might be needed to even me out for the night. So why the high? WTF, man!
It's because of the dawn phenomenon. The liver, in anticipation of waking and needing energy to get going, releases glucose into the blood stream. Obviously this raises blood sugar. I have tried taking a higher basal dose of insulin before bed to try to counter this high, but have yet to find a dose that works. I don't want to be taking a massive basal dose at bed because one reason I am living the lifestyle I am living is to NOT have to take large amounts of any insulin. I can wake in the middle of the night and bolus for the anticipated high, but I have no reliable idea of when this high will happen, so a bolus can just as easily drop me too low. GAH! I am working on this and any tips or suggestions are appreciated.
2. My menstrual cycle can go jump in a vat of acid. I can be doing so well, my blood sugars are perfect and I couldn't be happier. Then Auntie Flo starts on her journey over to my house. Several days before she arrives my blood sugars begin to get all upity about her anticipated arrival and there is the biggest fight every frickin' month to get them to calm down. Finally, a few days in to Auntie's visit the blood sugar finally calms the hell down. I have to raise my basal AND my bolus' during this time, and it's no joke, my insulin needs skyrocket during this week to week and a half. Really?! I hate my body.
3. Carbs are the devil. I've always known this but it has become immensely clear now that I don't eat them. I am so very sensitive to the effects of carbs on my blood sugar, weight, and how I physically and emotionally feel. I have to take at least three times the amount of insulin to counter carbs than I do when I don't have hardly any in my diet. Carbs and the increased need for insulin pack on the pounds quickly and easily...and A LOT. Also, when I eat carbs and they raise my blood sugar, both make me feel bad: dehydration, cramps, achy joints, mood swings, blurred vision, lethargy, just to name a few.
On he flip side, when I don't have the carbs in my diet , I feel energized, happy, relaxed, and nearly pain-free (I have a lot of health issues that come with pain). My blood sugars are so much easier to control and I require much less insulin. I feel satiated with smaller portions of food that includes ample veggies (non-starchy) and plenty of protein. I feel good!
4. Change comes quickly. When I first decided to follow Dr. Bernstein's teachings on a very low carb diet I expected to eventually see a change. This is how it worked with all the other diets I've tried, you start doing what the diet teaches and a few weeks later you start to see the positive effects. With Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution I saw the positive results within 24 hours! This is one reason I have stuck to it, it works! And it works immediately! First my blood sugars dropped and stayed below 100 as long as I was eating right. Then my insulin needs fell to a fraction of what I was using before. Then I noticed I felt better all over both physically and emotionally...and mentally. My aches and pains and depression were melting away rapidly. I felt more energized and wanted to go for walks and work out and dance. Then I noticed the weight dropping. All of this began within 24 hours and by week two I was 100% a Bernstein believer.
There have been bumps in the road. It is easy to be pulled off track by life and a lack of will power. I spent December regressed into my old habits and hating myself for it. But I picked myself up and am back on track once more.
5. Food. Eating a very restricted diet is not bad at all. Part of this is because, well, you still have a lot to work with. Don’t look at what you can’t eat, look at ALL the wonderful things you can! And part of this is because there is a good reason the foods you are restricted from are restricted. Because they’re bad for you. I have no problem staying away from starchy foods, fruits, and all things carb and sugar filled because they make me feel bad. Some of them may taste like heaven, but they make me feel like hell. So I have no qualms about kicking them to the curb.
6. Exercise is heaven. It’s hard to get into an exercise routine when you’ve lived so sedentary for so long. Even though I’ve always loved to be active, I haven’t been able to move much over the last few years due to excruciating pain caused by a number of complications of diabetes. But once I started feeling so much better because of my new eating habits, I started trying out different workout programs. Of all the things I’ve tried, I’ve found two that I love and am sticking to.
- Xbox Fitness: A program offered on the Xbox One and Xbox 360 (found in the gaming center). I love it because you can choose from a ton of different workouts and you are given incentives and achievements that offer you an immediate sense of progress and motivation to keep working.
- DDP Yoga: This program is progressive and you work at your own pace. So starting out not being able to reach my left arm straight out to my side or above my head is OK. I can keep working at it at my own pace and eventually I’ll get there. I love this program because you get stretched out while strengthening your entire body and gaining balance. I love to stretch,and it is helping a lot to relieve my frozen shoulder and I can do it without aggravating the neuropathy pain in my legs.
I also walk a lot. I love going out and breathing fresh air and just walking around town. It’s relaxing and refreshing, and good for you! I don’t walk fast because of neuropathy, but at least I am walking. A quick note here: I found that walking in high heels keeps the neuropathy pain away. So I ditched the tennis shoes because I get terrible pain when walking in flats. Go figure.
A lot of changes. A lot of lessons learned. Still a long way to go. But I am getting there. I am trying.
Also, you can read all of my diabetes related blog posts at TamraKGarcia.wordpress.com