Thursday, February 13, 2014

One Year With Diabetes

About a week ago I had a doctor appointment.  It was my routine diabetes checkup.

My weight wasn't quite as low as I would have liked.  During the months of November and December I took somewhat of a break from dieting and consumed all sorts of holiday treats.  The net result of that was that I was only down 8 pounds from the last time I was at the doctor six months ago.

However, weight is only one way to measure success, and frankly it's the least important.  The most important test for a diabetic is A1C.  It's a measure of how saturated your blood cells are with sugar.  You are considered diabetic at 7%.  Pre-diabetic is 5.7%.  When I was diagnosed a year ago I was at 10.6%.

One year later, at my doctor appointment, my A1C came in at 5.4%.  Booya!
Just bask in that number for a moment.

That means my blood sugar is now in the normal range.  My new goal is 5.3%.  Not that I need to get any lower, but it would be cool to be half of where I was diagnosed at.

After seeing my A1C, my doctor asked if my blood sugar had ever gone too low.  I said there were a few times after exercise that I had felt lightheaded and when I tested my blood sugar it was in the 80s.  (The normal range is 90-120).  The 80s are not dangerously low, but the 70s are, so he was concerned that my blood sugar could potentially get too low, especially as I continue to lose weight.

Therefore, he instructed me to stop taking my medication.  My medication is designed to lower my blood sugar, but if it doesn't need lowering, then it can push me too low.

Of course, with that instruction came a speech.  He told me that this doesn't mean I'm cured.  It means that I'm controlling diabetes through diet and exercise.  He also said that without medication, the only thing controlling diabetes is diet and exercise.  So he just wanted to make sure I didn't quit, because that could be dangerous.

He also said that he's never had a patient turn diabetes around as quickly as I have.  Booya!  My health has never been about competing with anyone else.  But as soon as I knew I was winning the competition, then it was all about competing.

It's been a crazy year, but I've learned a few things.  I might share some other things I've learned later, but here's a big lesson I've come to know.

Nothing Is Impossible.

I know that's really cliche.  People like to say that nothing is impossible while secretly acknowledging that lots of things are impossible.  I too will acknowledge that you're bound by the laws of physics as well as the laws of the land you live in.  But what I'm trying to say is that there are things that you perceive as impossible, but they're not.

I want to show you what can happen in a year.

This picture was taken February 24, 2013.  Less than a year ago.

This picture was taken this morning, on my morning walk.

You'll notice a few things.  One, my head is less spherical.  Also, I'm wearing a hat.  It turns out I get cold sometimes now.  I'm missing 65 pounds of insulation.  But changing what I look like isn't what's impossible.

One year ago, I started walking on the treadmill and I would put it on 2 mph, with zero incline.  If I really wanted a workout, I'd put it on 3 mph, but I couldn't handle it for more than 2 or 3 minutes.  This morning, I did 3.5 miles in about an hour.  I didn't ever stop to rest, and along the way I saw this.

Of course, I saw it at the top of the hill after I had climbed it.
One year ago, climbing to the top of an 18% grade, would have been completely impossible.  For many of you, that's probably not a big deal.  But for me, I'm not exaggerating when I say it was completely impossible a year ago.

In 2014, I plan to do a number of things that were impossible a year ago.  I plan to hike to the summit of Mount Timpanogos at 11,000 feet.  I plan to hike to Havasu Falls (10 miles one way with a 2,000 foot elevation change) and I plan to go Scuba diving in Honduras.  I also want to ride a bike to my work (about 15 miles away) at least once, but hopefully more often if I actually enjoy it.

All of those things were impossible a year ago.  But now, they're not even going to be a big deal.  What was once impossible is reality today.

What impossible things will you do in your future?

I should be clear.  I'm not saying that things that you see as impossible will come easily to you, if you just decide they're not impossible.  There's a reason you think they're impossible.  It's because they're probably REALLY HARD.  But really hard is different from impossible.

It's been really hard to dramatically alter my body chemistry in one year.  It's been really hard to completely alter my eating habits.  It's been really hard to walk over 500 miles in the past year, and go to the gym 3 times a week.

But really hard is not impossible.  It just seems that way.  Whatever it is, you can do it.


  1. I love your perspective, Jeff. It's so true that we can do hard things...really hard things...once we decide they're worth the time and effort. :)

  2. Love love love this post. So proud of you my friend! Favorite line: " soon as I knew I was winning the competition, then it was all about competing."

  3. You're awesome! This is definitely inspiring, so thanks for the motivation.


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