STOP DIABETES: How to Succeed after 10 years?

The purpose of this blog is to inspire and motivate anyone who has been struggling to keep their Type 2 Diabetes in control. There are many people out there in a similar situation and feel frustrated unable to manage it.

Diabetes is a disability and is an invisible one. Not many people feel comfortable sharing about their experiences. Hence, I am taking this opportunity to educate my network.

Not everyone is capable of nipping Diabetes in the bud. As they say, 50% is due to your genetic disposition and other 50% is within your will power and control. Well it is not easy to control the other 50% as Life happens- you have career, family and other issues to juggle with.

I was diagnosed with Diabetes in Feb 2010 and ever since I have initiated different diets, exercise routines at various times only to see myself giving it up midway.

My diabetes was mostly uncontrolled until last year when I started experiencing Diabetes’ slow impacting complications- Neuropathy – nerve ending damage.

This was a wakeup call and I realized that I need to change.

First my results

 Normal RangeAug 2019Nov 2019Mar 2020 July 2020
Blood Sugar A1CBelow 6.09.66.87.45.8
Weight150-155 lbs175-180165-170160-165155-160
Results

Over the last one year, I have reduced my weight by 15 to 20 pounds (8-10kgs) and brought my Blood Sugar A1C levels to a normal range. The primarily reason for my success was my determination to make a change come what may the current life circumstances.

For the first time in my 10 years, my doctor told me “You can see me after 6 months.” This was a thrilling moment because I was always used to doctors telling me to see them in 3 months. My Doctor was smiling in the Zoom Call and said “You have done well”.

So what changed?

I had known about the South Asian Heart Center for nearly 5 years. I had called them a couple of times but never followed through.

South Asian Heart Center offers programs to address the twin epidemics of heart disease and diabetes in South Asians, who have a higher incidence, more severe presentation and earlier onset of disease compared to the general population, despite being mostly vegetarian, non-smoking and non-obese.

They offer remote virtual programs and it is available anywhere in the United States and rest of the world.

I enrolled in the STOP DIABETES Program that runs a year long, where you have access to a qualified Health Coach, online resources, webinars and access to team of specialized doctors for a nominal fee. The program is built on – MEDS platform

Meditate – daily practice of restful alertness

Exercise – regular, vigorous, varied

Diet – more greens than grains

Sleep – restful 7-8 hours daily

My cousin Shailesh, a senior multinational Diabetes drug pharmaceuticals executive, was visiting from India at that time. He intervened as well and recommended that I see a specialist- Endocrinologist and take a few medications that have been developed over the last few years that had terrific results.

How did I accomplish it?

I attribute my success due to the following reasons.

Accountability

My South Asian Heart Coach helped me in this endeavor. I met with my coach every week (Friday) for 30 minutes for the nearly 9 months without missing any appointment.

We discussed the progress made during the course of the week. I updated about my food intake, exercise, sleep and meditation schedule.

My coach kept motivating me and did not hesitate to admonish me when I slacked.

Journaling

I maintained a journal for the 1st nine months in a Google sheet and shared it with my coach. I kept track of the portion sizes of the various meals of the day. You are recommended to update the journal every day. I did it in once in 2-3 days and especially closer to Friday when I was meeting with my coach.

I felt like I had an assignment due and made sure that I turned it in time.

Diet Journal
Exercise, Sleep, Meditation Journal

Though journaling may not be fun, the best part is I was able to track the progress made over the year scrolling down the spreadsheet.  That is a motivation by itself.

Diet

The Stop Diabetes program does not restrict you to a specific diet. It is based scientifically on portion control and including more leafy vegetables and raw salads in your plate and lessen the intake of grain.

I gradually tweaked my diet, limiting my grain intake and at the same time increasing my vegetable intake. I slowly substituted my grains from white rice to quinoa to Steel Cut oats. I also limited my dairy intake by switching from coffee with milk to Black Coffee.

I was never militant about my diet. I indulged at times eating more during social gatherings/ festivals and also emotionally eating in times of stress. I am practiced Intermittent Fasting for a month and found it useful too.

My coach helped me with a few strategies to become more aware and not deny myself a treat when required.

Medication/ Glucose Monitoring Sensor

My medications played an important role in reducing my Blood Sugar numbers. I also recommend getting the FreeStyle Libre 14 days Sensor. This may be little expensive depending on your Insurance but definitely worth it.

You put a sensor in your arm for 14 days and you can track your Blood sugar readings using a Digital meter or app. I found this very beneficial as I could continuously monitor my Blood sugar readings through out the day and was able to manage my diet accordingly. It is a good alternative if you don’t like finger prick testing.

Exercising on my Peloton Bike

I have been one of those patrons who has made fitness companies richer paying my monthly dues on time and not showing up. I like exercising outdoors but never consistently kept it up- giving the excuses- blaming the weather or spending too much time commuting in Bay area traffic.

One of the best investments, I made last year was buying a Peloton Spin Bike. I have the bike right near my bed and there are no excuses to give. I have completed more than 4000 minutes of exercise this year.

You have different instructors and classes to select from and there are Leader boards if you want to compete with the riders who are online at the same time.  I have consistently come in last 10 to 20% of class in terms of speed/output. I rather High Five the fellow online participants than compete with them.

Initially it did hurt my ego but I always remember the quote from  Baz Luhrmann song – EveryBody wear SunScreen

“Sometimes you are ahead, sometimes you are behind, the race is long, but in the end it is only with yourself.”

Baz Luhrmann

I did make significant strides over the last 9 months.

Spin BikeDec 2019Feb 2019May 2020 Aug2020
Output (KJ)160183205214
Peloton Dashboard

I would like to thank my fellow USC Trojan Kendall Toole, my favorite instructor, who keeps me going with her motivation and excellent music soundtracks.

To sum up…

It feels good writing the blog as finally it has taken nearly 10 years to get my Diabetes in control and lose weight. I would recommend having a coach or teaming up with a friend who keeps you accountable and honest.

I realized that it worked better for me that I was answerable to a person.

Not everybody may drop weight or meet their goals. Over the year, I reduced my A1C in first 3 months and then it went up a few points. Ultimately, I did not give up and got it under control.

Every person’s journey and life circumstances are different, as long as you set a goal and make incremental steps, you will see light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully sooner rather than later.

Please feel free to comment, like or share the blog.

If you are interested, Read my 14 Week Half Marathon Training Journey Diary

You can learn more

South Asian Heart Center programs

https://southasianheartcenter.org/

https://southasianheartcenter.org/stop-d

Peloton

https://www.onepeloton.com/

Free Style Libre 14 day

https://www.freestylelibre.us/system-overview/freestyle-libre-2.html

Baz Luhrmann song- Everybody wears Sunscreen

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