I knew within a month of starting that I would not be going back to the way the things used to be. So here I am, almost 15 months done an dusted and I have no regrets. I am constantly learning about my body and how it reacts to food, stress, sleeping patterns and exercise. I am fascinated! So what have I learnt:
Food and exercise
As a person living with diabetes I definitely have to control my carb consumption. No surprises there. The biggest no-no has been baked goods although I still treat myself from time to time. I only live once after all. What lockdown has taught me is that the 8 hour eating window is to be treated with respect at all times. My home is pretty small. I found myself stuck at my desk in back-to-back Teams meetings every day and the only time I moved away from it was to go to the bathroom or to get something to snack on. Most of those snacks were pretty unhealthy too. My son also used the time at home to teach himself to cook so he kept me supplied with tasty goodies. Naturally, I gained 4 of the 6kgs I had lost in the first 3 months of fasting and I found that the odd trip to the mall left me exhausted. My blood glucose readings were slowly creeping up again as well. I needed to make some changes. I started in October by ensuring that there was at least a 2 hr gap between anything that I ate within the 8 hr window, which helped stop the constant snacking. I began working out with a personal trainer 3 times a week at the beginning of November. By the end of November I could see that a lot of the inflammation that I was seeing in my ankles had disappeared and I just felt more energised! My blood glucose average also started dropping so I knew I was on the right track. The only thing that hasn’t changed is my weight. It has see-sawed within a 1kg range since November and I have no idea why. If you do know please share the reason in the comments. I have lost a few (much needed) centimetres around my tummy and waist thankfully but just a few. One thing I must add about exercise is that walking makes a difference. On the days after I get in 10 000 steps, I see a difference in my blood glucose levels. Walking is definitely something I need to do more of.
The power of sleep and the devastating effect of stress
My exercise sessions are done at home via Zoom as my personal trainer is in Johannesburg and I live in Durban. I chose to schedule them during my lunch hour so that I least got the circulation going during the course of the day. My friend had joined me half way through November and in December, she needed earlier sessions as she was travelling and didn’t want to miss out. This is where the lesson kicked in for me. I am an owl. She is a lark and so is my personal trainer. Getting up to exercise at 6am was the worst kind of torture for me. The two of them were positively buzzing at that hour of the morning. Initially I was fine with it as it meant I got it out of the way early and I started the day feeling pretty good. I made the mistake of continuing with 6am sessions during my leave in January. Worst mistake ever! I was miserable! My blood sugar levels started rising in the morning and by the time I went back to work, I felt like I hadn’t had any leave at all. We immediately went back to 12pm sessions. To make matters worse, I hit the ground running at the end of my leave. I was exhausted by the end of my 2nd week being back at work. I am not a sickly person. Suddenly I was getting migraines every weekend. (I haven’t had a migraine for years) Then my face became swollen on one side. I had to change my eating patterns for that week so that I could take the medication in the morning and at night. Within about 3 days the head fuzz was back. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. As soon as I started fasting again, the head fuzz disappeared. What a relief! That was not the end though. About a week later, a shingles rash appeared. It has taken 4 weeks for all the scabs to fall off! Fortunately I did not feel the pain that everyone talks about and the itching was only unbearable (at 3am!) in the last week. Needless to say, these days I rest more and I am feeling way better. One of the mornings last week I had my lowest reading ever in the morning. It was below 6. I was so excited! I am making progress! Slowly but surely I will get off my meds. The lesson here though is to work within your natural biorhythms, and set boundaries for yourself. I was so busy trying accommodate everyone’s needs that I forgot to look after myself.
On the plus side, I did end the year lighter than I started it. My HBA1c levels dropped and were in a good place and, my optician was very impressed that my eye health was still very good despite the diabetes. All of this serves as excellent motivation to keep on working on my health.
Let me know how your journey is going. Any tips and tricks to help me on mine are welcome too.
Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to wear your mask and sanitise your hands (often) when out in public. Stay safe.