Oct 8, 2014

On Diet, Exercise, and Being Healthy . . .

1) Rabbits hop all day, only eat vegetables, but only live 5 years
2) Whales swim all day, only eat fish, only drink water, but are fat
3) Tortoises do nothing energetic but live for 250 years
And you tell me to exercise? I don’t think so!

As you know, if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, I suffer from Type 2 Diabetes. And while some days, when the blood sugar is high, it really does feel like suffering, there are also days when I feel like the universe did me a favour. I'm living a healthier lifestyle now than I've ever lived in my life and I feel better for it.

I won't lie to you, it was hard at first. Especially when it came to giving up things that I loved, like white bread - French bread, Italian bread, baguettes . . . I could have quite easily lived on bread, which was probably one of the biggest contributing factors to ending up diabetic. However, I have learned to love whole grain and multigrain breads, and to read labels to see what these breads are made of.

And while I didn't have to go completely sugar-free - I think that's pretty much impossible in this day and age - I do pay attention to the amount of sugar, or carbs, that's in the food I eat. My body can't tolerate sugar substitutes, like Aspartame or Sucralose, so mostly I just do without things with a lot of sugar, even my coffee. I used to be a die-hard double/double girl when it came to my coffee, now I'm just double cream and I'm even working on that.

Another thing I've had to cut back on is salt. It's always been a running joke in our family about what a big salt-aholic I am. But one of the dangers of diabetes is high blood pressure and even though my blood pressure is fine, they want to lower it. However, I've reacted badly to every blood pressure medication they've tried to give me. So bye, bye salt. I don't add salt to the food I cook, and the only thing I use it on now is a plain egg.

Here's the thing: once you get used to doing without these things, they stop tasting as appealing as you remember them to be. I couldn't find a loaf of whole wheat Italian bread to go with supper one night, so I used a white loaf instead. And of course being the one slicing it, I saved the end piece for myself as a treat. Only it wasn't much of a treat after all. I found it very bland tasting. And sugar in my coffee now? Yuck! Salt's another thing altogether. I doubt I'll ever get over my love affair with salt, but I'll never go back to the salt-aholic I was.

Hand in hand with healthy eating goes exercise. At first I was trying to do it on my own - riding the exercise bike and working out with hand weights. In the beginning, when I could really feel the difference it made, it was easy to motivate myself to get moving. But I'm lazy by nature, and it's all too easy for me to make excuses not to work out. I lost 30 pounds and then hit a plateau. And after about a month on that plateau I was getting a little discouraged. So I upped the amount of weights I was working with and ended up hurting myself to the point where I was forced to stop.

But I was not ready to give up. After losing that initial 30 pounds, my blood sugar was down to where the medication I was on was reduced. And then the blood sugar started to rise again. I've been working with a nutritionist who told me there wasn't really anything else I could do food wise, I'd have to increase my activity. My arms were still hurting from the hand weights, and the stationary bike was really unappealing, so I started checking out the local classes and gyms and ended up joining a circuit gym.

Why a circuit gym? I've never really been one for exercise groups or classes, besides which these classes were only held two or three times a week and I wanted something daily, and the other gyms in town were, quite frankly, a little intimidating. The circuit gym is bright and cheerful, with loud, funky music and a variety of machines. The machines are laid out in a circle and it doesn't matter where you step in when you start, just so long as you follow along. When you've done however many circuits you want to do, there's a jungle-gym like device were you do your cool down stretching. It's a great way to start my day.

So, has it helped? I've only been going for a month so far, but I've found my posture is better and my clothing is looser - I haven't lost any weight, but I've lost inches. And on the days my blood sugar isn't acting up, I'm more alert and I get more accomplished. So, yeah. It's helping.

Let's hear it for being healthier! :-D

No comments: