Monday, March 28, 2011

Losing Weight

Since we came back from France a couple years ago, I became infatuated with making crepes.  With French Canadian roots, it was easy to enjoy all the flavors that you can infuse in these home made delicacies.   In addition to the crepes, I took on English Muffins, croissants, french bread, etc.  Then last October we exchanged homes with a family in New Zealand.  Our favorite place to eat was at a fish and chips place on the water.  First thing you know, I was 20 lbs heavier and all my pants were getting very hard to secure.  Not good!  I decided it was time to get back to my ideal weight of 200 lbs. ..but how?

I knew that the only way to do this was to cut out all carbs and force my body to burn off the fat for energy.   We all know that when you eat carbs, your body asks immediately, do I need this for quick energy?  When your body says "no", it immediately turns those calories into fat and neatly lays it around your belly (if you're a male), or around your butt (if you're a woman).  

So, the 1st of November, I decide that I'm done with all bread, pasta, fruit, etc--only protein, fat, veggies.  I came up with a breakfast made of 2 eggs in a bowl lined with olive oil, with pieces of ham/bacon/last night's leftover steak, pieces of green olives maybe, grated Parmesan cheese, and topped with a splash of heavy the microwave oven 1/2 power for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes (depending on how you like the eggs).  This and several cups of coffee, and I'm juice of course. 

After this kind of breakfast, I'm not anxious/hungry for lunch (as I use to be).  But if I want to eat, I usually enjoy a salad...lettuce, cukes, carrots, peppers, scallions, and a little cheese or ham on top with oil and vinegar type dressing.  It is amazing how the feeling of hunger doesn't claw at you as it does when you have pancakes, toasts, jelly, or nothing for breakfast. 

Dinner is, of course, the same, lacking in perceived carbs...any protein and fat with a couple glasses of wine (red or dry white) or martini,  or any other normal liquor with diet mixer.  Alcohol never effects my blood sugar...except occasionally to lower it. 

Why does this work?  As a diabetic, you are forcing your body to burn fat for energy.  A by-product of burning that fat is that you will give off some ketones if you test your urine.  That's not a problem, but your have to make sure your sugar doesn't get really high and you need to drink a lot more water.  It gives the ketones a vehicle for exiting your body.   Water is very important!!

The other thing you have to do is reduce your insulin(s).  In my case, I cut my Lantus by 1/3 and eliminated Humalog altogether.  Until you find the right level, you may experience some low's because of the lack of carb's.  The other side benefit is that if you can live off just the Lantus, you will eliminate the severe low's that Humalog can create.  (The Lantus lows aren't as acute). 

Anyway, three months later, I got to my 200 lb goal from 220.  I have since incorporated a little fresh fruit--usually as a dessert with the last half glass of red wine...delicious!

This diet is the only one that has ever worked for me, and I think is the only good one for any diabetic considering the other battles we have to fight successfully.  Hope this was helpful.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Flying Low....a little too low this Monday morning!

Got back from a great vacation over Super Bowl weekend with my three brothers in Key West and felt lousy for the following four weeks.  No matter what I did, my blood sugars ran between 300 and 400.  Each time I tested and saw those results, I took 4-5 units of Humalog...which is a lot for me since I usually only take 3-4 units per day over the Lantus long acting stuff.  Went to see my Doctor and she ordered a full panel of blood tests and nothing was wrong...I must have a viral infection which is the reason the prescription meds didn't do anything. 

It finally went away last Sunday after four weeks.  Monday at 4:30 am my wife can't wake me and she calls 911.  I wake up they tell me my sugar was at 27.  This is bad...I actually thought I wasn't going to make it when I first gained consciousness.  Of course, there were 6 emt's around the bed administering glucose intravenously.  I hate when that happens and thanked them profously for their service.

Since being on my low carb diet, I've been able to almost eliminate the Humalog which is the ultra fast acting stuff and usually the cause of low sugars, especially if you take some at night.  The transition from being sick and recovering created the super low sugar since I didn't need the extra to combat the infection. 

Once again, my main premise/philosophy that I now follow religiously is to minimize the carbs which let's me minimize the Humalog.  This insulin is like dynamite.  You have to watch it closely. 

Once again, diabetes is a matter of juggling three issues....four in this instance:  Food (carbs), exercise, insulin, and illness.  If one of those four are out of whack, you have to fix it. 

Till next time.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Diabetes--Sixty Six Years and Counting.

Diabetes can be a seriously debilitating, painful and ultimately deadly disease.  The quality of life you experience with this disease can be relatively normal or totally miserable.  The experience you have personally  is totally up to you.

I was a senior in college (1965) when I passed out moving into an apartment with my new roommates.  Turns out, my pancreas stopped working and shortly thereafter ended up in the Joslin Clinic in Boston to learn what I needed to know so as not to die or be severely incapacitated.  Man, I was scared and decided I had better pay attention to what had happened since I had a lot of plans for my life and did not want diabetes interfering with my goals. 

I am now 66 years old and quite active, but still pay close attention to diet, exercise, weight, and medical issues.  The purpose of this blog is to pass along comments on the things I did to get this far in one piece and share some of the struggles this disease can create. 

I believe the main thing you have to do when you learn of your illness is that your life has to balance three major things--Diet, Exercise and Insulin (or pills--if Type 2). 

Relative to Diet, you just plain have to decide that many of the foods you liked in the past have just become the enemy that has to be carefully measured.  I decided back in college that I was done with pastries (which I use to like a lot), desserts, starchy foods (pastas/potatoes/rice/baked beans/maple syrup) and dramatically reduced my bread intake.  That's the bad news, the good news was that I changed to protein, meats, fish, poultry, pork, fats, nuts, cheese, eggs, olive oil, butter, most all vegetables (except corn, etc). 

Relative to exercise, I began running (which I still do today-3 or 4 times/week on a treadmill) to burn a few calories, exercise my heart, and my feet (which can suffer from reduced circulation).  I also still snow ski, and use the machines in the gym to stay in shape. 

Finally, based on your Diet and Exercise program, your Blood Sugar Tests will determine the quantity of insulin or pills you take.  With today's technology, there is no reason not to test a couple of times per day to know where you stand.  Personally, I aim for a blood sugar between 80 and 180.  I am happy with that and if that's what I average, my A1c will be under 7 (6.8 last check).  If your A1c is significantly higher than that (7.5-8.5 or better), you are in trouble in that your small arteries (arterioles) are clogging by the day.  These arterioles are the ones in back of your eyes and in your kidneys, and when these get clogged, you loose your vision and end up in dialysis...not fun.  This clogging is not reversible.

The bottom line is that you have to balance each of these components (Diet, Exercise, & Insulin/pills) to avoid the complications.  This introductory overview is meant to have you share my experiences of 45 years of taking insulin and managing to live a relatively active and normal life.  If enough people are interested in this topic, I'll keep posting on a regular basis.

Maybe the next topic is how to deal with low blood sugars.