Diabetes Controlled in 3 Months with Diet and Exercise

Since my last health/fitness related post I have continued to eat right and go to the gym and am down about 33 pounds since this journey started. During the 3-month follow-up session with my doctor, he said that my diabetes and cholesterol were controlled. My glucose average went from a 166 to 91 which is in the very normal range. Normal is great.

I thought I would share some of the specifics for releasing the weight and improving my diet to combat diabetes. Many of the ideas for the diet and health hacks came from Tim Ferriss’s book The 4-Hour Body¬†and I’ve also been doing a lot of other research along the way.

“Theory of Change”
My Theory of Change has been that if I consistently eat more nutrient foods that have a low glycemic index and stay on my anti-diabetes medication that I will be able to manage my glucose levels and start to lose weight. The second part of the theory of change is that moderate cardio-based exercise will help drop the weight. Obesity is found to be a big contributor to the onset of diabetes. In order to properly evaluate this theory of change, I had to be very consistent and I tracked a lot of factors including daily glucose levels, how I felt during different parts of the day and I occasionally tracked calories.

Eating better also means pushing out foods that don’t serve my health goals. For me that means not eating mass quantities of cookies every day. It also means not living off of fast food burgers or ginormous pizzas. It does include increasing the amount of greens that I eat especially spinach.

A Typical Day
These are my food and exercise choices on a typical day:

Morning
* Eat two Brazil nuts within 30 minutes of waking up. If I check my blood and find that my glucose level is below 100 then I might also have a sip of a protein drink to get my blood sugar level up a bit. That keeps me from getting light-headed during morning exercise if I don’t have a full breakfast before the workout.
* Go on a brisk one-mile walk with my Labrador, Ivory. On my last walk we were out for over 18 minutes and my heart rate was at 101 beats per minute.
* A typical breakfast is three eggs (at least one egg will not include the yolk), maybe some more protein like chicken or turkey, black beans, spinach, and some salsa. I have one or two cups of coffee with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Once or twice a week I’ll add almond milk to vary the taste. I used to love waking up and having several huge cups of coffee with flavored creamer but that has way too much sugar and the milk slows down weight loss.

Mid-morning
* I’ll take a small packet of raw unsalted almonds with me to work and I usually snack on them around 10-10:30 a.m.

Lunch
* I’ll head to a Chipotle restaurant and have a burrito bowl (burrito contents in a bowl, without a tortilla) with black beans, extra chicken or chicken plus steak, medium salsa, guacamole, and lettuce. The guacamole has some good fats in it and avocados are high in potassium. I don’t have any rice, sour cream or cheese. Cheese has also been found to slow down weight loss.

Mid-afternoon
* I’m usually ready for a snack around 3 p.m. If I have a night meeting at work I’ll have a protein bar which adds more calories than I want but it will keep me going through the meeting and allow me to graze on the nutrient parts of whatever we have for dinner. If I’ll be going home for dinner then the 3 p.m. snack will be more almonds, a Brazil nut or pumpkin seeds which are high in iron.

After work
* If I don’t have a night meeting I may go to the gym at this time and make sure to have had a snack beforehand like a protein bar and also a portion of a sports drink to get the sugar up some. It’s important to get your blood sugar at least to 100 before working out to avoid getting light-headed during or just after exercising.

Dinner
* A typical dinner will consist of chicken, black beans, plus either broccoli, spinach or a salad with a dollop of salsa. The salsa usually has enough flavor that I don’t need dressing for my salad but if we’re out of salsa and I want dressing then I’ll have a balsamic vinegar dressing.

Notes on portions.
I eat until I’m full. This keeps me from eating then wondering what else I should eat. If I do think of something else I will most assuredly think of something that is not on my diet like that awesome looking loaf of banana bread that is sitting on my kitchen counter.

Notes on time.
During the last month and a half my weight loss has plateaued. I was working on a very intensive campaign, was working late hours and have been down to one or two gym visits per week and one or two morning doggy walks per week. In addition, I’ve been having a few more morning lattes and that has been enough flatten out my weight loss. All of the meals that I cook are fast. For breakfast the eggs, turkey, beans and spinach meal is often a quick scramble and I can cook that in 4 minutes.

Cheat Day
I’ve mentioned eating more nutrient foods in this post but I’ve also mentioned cookies, pizza, and yummy banana bread. I do set aside one 24-hour period per week as a cheat day. This serves two purposes – it helps me deal with cravings by knowing that if I really think I want something I can have it on my cheat day and there is also evidence that a cheat day help with overall weight loss. That’s hard to believe but once the body starts eating nutrient whole foods and the weight loss takes off then the body naturally tries to avoid too much weight loss and certain systems start to work differently to actually increase fat and fluid storage. The cheat day helps convince the body that things aren’t going completely haywire and that there is some fat coming in. But be careful, it is possible to overdo a cheat day.

Next phase
As I mentioned, my weight loss is starting to plateau so I’ve decided to take the next step and create some new goals including training for a triathlon. If you would have mentioned a triathlon to me in January I would have laughed out loud but now I have some serious workout time under my belt and feel confident that I can meet the challenge after a couple of months of further training.