Who Knew – Diet and Exercise for a Long Life

The Miracle of Walking

I just returned from my annual Medicare physical. My doctor worried me. She told me my A1C glucose was 6.7 and I’m pre-diabetic.

“If you don’t watch out, you’ll end up with diabetes and all the issues that come with it,” she said.

“Is there a cure?” I asked.

“There are drugs if it gets worse.” She glanced up from my chart. “But you don’t need them yet. For most people, diet and exercise will keep you healthy.”

“What do you mean?” My stomach is knotting up. “I eat well and I’m active.”

“You need to limit your carbohydrates, sugars and fruit.” I catch her eyes roll over me. “Would you like me to refer you to a nutritionist?”

“Let me see what I can do first.”

I Google diabetes as soon as I get home. Every article explains how eating the right mix of carbohydrates, protein and greens and getting outside for a walk will fix it. It can’t be that easy.

The first day, I test my glucose after eating and its 158. Not bad but not good. I take a 30-minute walk and retest. My glucose dropped to 118. Wow!

The next day, I count my carbs and protein. My glucose is 145. After my 30-minute walk, it’s 108. It can’t be that easy!

On the third day, I add some extra fruit and honey to my oatmeal. Glucose 175! What! After my 30-minute walk, it’s down to 135. Not what I wanted but it confirms the exercise benefit.

I decide to try portion control and check the protein, carbs, and sugar in everything I eat. It’s a pain but a distant memory of my daughter’s diabetic friend in the hospital after a diabetes related surgery scares me into it. I also force myself to take a 30-minute walk at least five times a week.

Three months later, I put up with another A1C glucose test. I don’t like needles. I check for my online results every 20 minutes until finally, the next morning, they are there. 6.1. Much better, but ideally it would be under 5.7.

I am sleeping better; and my stomach no longer hardens after each meal. I begin wearing a belt to hold my pants up. Watching what I eat and taking walks are working.

When I allow myself to eat the way I used to I discover sweet desserts no longer excite me.  I’m now looking forward to getting out of the house and joining the regular neighborhood walkers.

The first three months were difficult. I took a lot of time reading labels and testing glucose to see how different foods worked for me or against me. Making my outdoor walks regular in rain, sun, and cold took discipline.

The funny thing is, I now look forward to walking in the rain… almost like being a teenager again.

Diabetes Diet, Eating, & Physical Activity | NIDDK (nih.gov)

Diabetes and exercise: When to monitor your blood sugar – Mayo Clinic

The importance of exercise when you have diabetes – Harvard Health

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