A man with a plan: update

Back in mid-April after my first visit to the diabetes clinic, I set myself weight and exercise targets to be achieved by the end of June, to help me control my diabetes. I’m now just about halfway there in terms of time, so I thought I’d record my progress to date.

Weight: Start point 16st 12lbs, target 16st 5lbs. Current weight 16st 10lbs. Not a great start. Going away on holiday for a week didn’t help (although I did avoid putting on any weight), but my weight has definitely plateaued over the past couple of weeks. More work to be done here.

Exercise: 33 sessions, totalling 10,000 calories’ expenditure. I’m bang on target here, having done 16 sessions and 5,085 calories. The glorious weather we’re enjoying at the moment helps, so I’m making hay while the sun (literally) shines.

More importantly, I am definitely feeling better physically than I was 5-6 weeks ago. Where I was suffering from heavy fatigue by mid-afternoon on a daily basis before, I’ve only had two or three drowsy afternoons since. And where I was previously hampered in my attempts to do any exercise by my body’s own diabetes-influenced chemical imbalances and generally having the fitness levels of an asthmatic couch potato, I can now feel some basic stamina returning. So that’s all heading in the right direction, even if I’m not seeing as much benefit in terms of weight loss as I had been hoping for.

Eating-wise, I could probably be better – I’ve eased off a bit the last couple of weeks in terms of portion control, which hasn’t helped with the weight loss – but I’m not going to beat myself up about it. The aim has always been to move myself to a diet which is sustainable in the long-term, and although my motivation has been a bit up and down, I’ve done quite well in terms of sticking to some basic principles:

  • Chocolate and other sweets: Almost completely eliminated. In the past, I could have chomped half a large Green & Black’s bar without thinking about it. Now, I’ll allow myself a sliver or two at most, and even then it’s now just an occasional treat. Surprisingly, for someone who has a very sweet tooth, I haven’t missed it that much at all.
  • Salt: I used to automatically add a mountain – or, at least, a small hillock – of salt to everything I ate. To start with, I focussed on halving added salt; increasingly, I now won’t add any salt to a lot of what.
  • Fat: Easy to eliminate/reduce in many different food sources. Definitely much better than I was here.
  • Cooked lunches at work: I used to do this probably 3-4 times a week in the office; now it’s more like once a week (and when I do there are lots of vegetables and no chips). My default lunch now tends to be some cold meat, pasta and a plateful of salad, to which I treat myself by adding dressing. And absolutely no stodgy desserts, although I will have the occasional fruit and yoghurt.

I could certainly be doing a few extra things in terms of losing weight, as I am still eating plenty of carbs (starchy rather than sugary), but in terms of the primary objective of controlling my blood sugar levels, I’m doing okay – and by not agonising too much over the odd slap-up meal or small luxuries such as salad dressings, I’m actually quite enjoying it.

Of course, it’s my sugar level that is the most important measurement. I’ve got one of those clever little prick-test things, which can give you a reading in seconds from a small drop of blood. Sugar levels vary considerably depending on how long it is since I last ate – it should be at its highest around two hours after a big meal – but I should be looking for less than 7 mmol/L first thing in the morning, and a peak reading of no more than 10. When I was first tested at the clinic (about 90 minutes after breakfast), it was 14.8 (i.e. very high indeed), but tests this week have been more encouraging: a high of 11.7 and a low of 8.4. A step in the right direction.

I will need to demonstrate that I can consistently maintain a lower level through diet management alone if I am to avoid having to take medication, but it’s progress nonetheless. It has lifted my spirits somewhat, just as they were beginning to flag in the face of stagnating weight loss.

So, it’s onwards to the end of June, with my next clinic appointment a couple of weeks after that. We’ll see where I go from there.