Navigating Life with Diabetes: Tips from Coaches Jeri and Ty

Monday, Feb 5, 2024 Coaches, Featured, Lifestyle

Navigating Life with Diabetes: Tips from Coaches Jeri and Ty

Hey, it’s Coach Jeri! Diabetes affects millions, with the prevalence of type 2 on the rise. It’s not only a widespread issue but also the most expensive illness to treat, with potentially devastating effects like blindness, kidney problems, heart complications, and limb loss. The silver lining is that with proper treatment and lifestyle changes, a long and healthy life is possible. Given the prevalence of this diagnosis among Healthi members, Coach Ty and I want to share our personal journeys.

 

Coach Jeri’s Story

I got my first taste of diabetes during gestation with my first child, with a warning that it might return later in life. It wasn’t on my radar, especially after it skipped the next two pregnancies. However, my perspective shifted when my son was diagnosed with Type 1 at the age of 6, experiencing a critical situation with a blood sugar level over 750. Unlike Type 2, Type 1 is insulin-dependent, not influenced by diet or exercise, and irreversible.

Armed with insights from my son’s condition, I received a wake-up call when routine blood work revealed I was borderline diabetic, with an A1c of 6.3 (diabetic threshold is 6.4). Despite having no symptoms and being at my goal weight, the doctor mentioned the possibility of medication. I requested a chance to make lifestyle changes first, committing to return in three months. The years of unhealthy eating had taken a toll on my body.

Implementing a slightly increased exercise routine and watching my carb intake, I made changes to my diet. Prioritizing fiber-rich foods and identifying which carbs I could live without became crucial. I adopted a simple rule: one carb per meal.

Here are my tips:

  1. Check nutrition labels for carbs, not just sugar.
  2. Opt for higher fiber content.
  3. Prioritize which carbs you can eliminate from your diet.

Upon my return, my A1c dropped to 5.8. Over the years, I managed to lower it further, with my last check at 5.7. I achieved my goal of staying off medication, although this is a personal experience and not medical advice. My hope is that by sharing this, I can encourage others to take a proactive approach to their health and, most importantly, undergo regular check-ups.

 

Coach Ty’s Story

Hey, Coach Ty here! Getting diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in January 2023 felt like a sudden halt to my world, a sense of betrayal to my own body. The doctor, while kind, didn’t hold back on the harsh realities of the illness, adding to the challenging situation. Fast forward a year, and I’ve turned things around—improved my A1C from over 11 to 5.3, become more active, and rediscovered the joy in the foods I eat.

In the early stages, I believed I had to eliminate entire food groups from my shopping list. However, a game-changer for me was learning about food pairing. This approach involves combining high-sugar-response foods with proteins, fiber, or fats to prevent or reduce sugar spikes. It allowed me to still enjoy favorites like ice cream but in a smarter way. Now, when I indulge in ice cream a couple of times a week, I pair it with proteins like hard-boiled eggs or beans and lentils.

This shift to food pairing has transformed my meals and snacks into something that feels natural and sustainable. Taking the time to understand the health benefits of my choices has been key. Every time I have berries, I see the prebiotics and vitamin C I’m providing to my body. Integrating this knowledge across all food groups makes me feel more confident about my food choices.

Throughout this journey, I’ve monitored my sugar levels to identify foods causing blood sugar spikes. Knowing this has empowered me to make informed choices, contributing to the long-term goal of lowering my A1C.

 

Coach Jeri sits down with Coach Ty for a Q&A:

Coach Jeri: Are you currently on medication, and if so, are you still taking meds?

Coach Ty: I’ve been on 2000mg of Metformin since my diagnosis in 2023. We initially tried Trulicity, but I developed hives and constant nausea, so we discontinued it after a month.

 

Coach Jeri: How about exercise?

Coach Ty: I got the green light to start working out in December last year. I’ve been dealing with a bulging disc injury since 2019, and I still go for physical therapy to manage it.

 

Coach Jeri: Are you using a CGM (continuous glucose monitor)?

Coach Ty: I signed up for a Dexcom G7, but my doctor denied my request until our next appointment in February. I’m eager to try it since I check my sugar four times a day, and it would be helpful to monitor night sugar levels.

 

Coach Jeri: Did your family make any adjustments to their habits as well?

Coach Ty: While my family verbally supports my health improvements, they often tempt me with foods that could spike my sugar. They jokingly call me the rabbit because I’m always snacking on cucumbers and nuts. My mom, who is also type 2, has been moderating her food choices for 34 years. Her last A1C was 4.3, but the doctor wanted it higher. She aims to get off medication, so we’ve become accountability buddies, and her support has been invaluable.

 

Coach Jeri: Did you experience any symptoms before diagnosis?

Coach Ty: Surprisingly, no. Maybe some low energy, but I’ve always considered myself a tired person—coffee has been my constant, even after losing 30 pounds.

 

Coach Jeri: Your mention of food pairing is intriguing. I hadn’t heard about it, but I do know that protein can slow down sugar spikes. Can you share more about that?

Coach Ty: It’s something my mom has been doing since her pregnancy with me. She would pair apples with cheese, bananas with peanut butter, and hard-boiled eggs. When I was diagnosed, my doctor suggested looking into food pairing for macro counting, but it didn’t appeal to me. It wasn’t until a meeting last year where we discussed food pairing specifically for diabetes that I delved into it. Now, if we go out for pizza every Friday, my choice is still to have some, but I go for veggie toppings and add chicken.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, Coach Ty’s journey highlights the importance of actively managing Type 2 Diabetes through medication, exercise, continuous glucose monitoring, familial support, and mindful eating practices like food pairing. His dedication and perseverance serve as an inspiration, motivating others to proactively take charge of their well-being. Through shared experiences and insights, Coach Ty and Coach Jeri aim to inspire a community committed to making informed choices and achieving meaningful progress in their health journey. Let’s embrace a future filled with vitality, shared knowledge, and a collective commitment to health!