I have been wanting to make a post like this for a while. Actually, since last year, but it just never happened. Over the past couple of years, I’ve really started to make my health a priority. I knew I couldn’t get away with eating whatever I wanted like I did when I was younger, so I made the effort to eat cleaner and get more consistent with my workouts.
For the heck of it, I scheduled a physical with my doctor at the beginning of 2015. Keep in mind; I try to avoid going to the doctor at all costs, unless I absolutely have to. It could not have been that bad right? I was a somewhat healthy eater and wasn’t in terrrrrrible shape at the time. Welp…I could not have been more wrong. At my follow up appointment a couple months later I found out I was pre-diabetic. I just turned 30 the month before and that was definitely not something I expected to hear. Needless to say, it was a huge wake up call for me. HUGE. Like, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor and not in a good way huge. I probably should have known better. My Dad has warned me that diabetes runs in the family, but I always brushed that off and never took him too seriously. I really didn’t think I’d be at risk at this age.
I thought I had a healthy diet, but it turned out it wasn’t good enough…at least not for me. Those fruit cups I would put together for our afternoon snacks? Fruit is good for you, right?! Those DIY Lara bars I’d make thinking they were a healthier option to a candy bar? Can’t go wrong there! The honey I’d put in my coffee/espresso? Nature’s sweetener! I thought of those as pretty healthy alternatives without realizing I was still eating a good amount of sugar. This all makes sense now looking back on it. I was working my ass off in the gym, training for my first sprint triathlon, but there was no real change in my physical appearance. I still had that damn belly and back fat that wouldn’t budge.
Fast-forward a year later, I went back for my physical at the end of January. I found out I was 10 lbs. lighter since my last physical (Woo! Small victories!). I talked with my doctor on the diet changes I’ve made and she was pleased to hear that. I left her thinking it went pretty well! I went to the lab to get my blood work done and patiently waited for her email with my results.
Two days later, I see an email from my doctor and, unfortunately, it’s not what I expected. My blood sugar levels were still very high. For some perspective, I was at 123 and you’re considered diabetic at 126. SIGH. Granted, I know the holidays could have played a big part in that result, but really, I can’t give myself excuses. Hearing that no real improvement was made on my blood sugar levels was very disheartening. I may or may not have panicked and bought several books on. Ok. I did do that. I needed to learn more about how food effects the body. Short and not so sweet – I had to make a change; A BIG change. Pre-diabetes is reversible and I’m holding the key to turning myself around and bettering my future.
So what’s my game plan?
- Work with my doctor – As mentioned earlier, I hate going to the doctor, but I actually really like my doctor now and feel like I’m developing a good relationship with her. (Shout out to Dr. Ampajwala @ Village Health Partners!) She has actually encouraged me to follow the Paleo diet, which is not very new to me. I’ve done several of Emily Schromm’s Superhero Challenges and I love them. I could go on about those challenges more, but I’d get off track. I definitely take Dr. Ampajwala’s suggestion into consideration and feel like we’re on the same wave-length.
- Educate myself! I bought three books on pre-diabetes and my next book purchases will be Eat the Yolks and Wheat Belly. The more I learn how food affects me the better choices I can make. I’m definitely still learning so much but I’m trying to take a very balanced approach to this change. Bless Spencer’s heart (and stomach) for sticking with me on all this.
- Sugar? #ByeFelicia. I try very hard not to eat refined/added sugar. Splenda or other artificial sweeteners? No way, I won’t touch those with a 10-ft pole. If I am going to eat sugar, I’d rather have pure cane sugar than put something artificial into my body just to save some calories. I have also been keeping an eye on my natural sugar intake – fruit included. If I do eat fruit, I’ll try to stick to berries since they are higher in antioxidants and lower in sugar. My beloved tropical fruits have become more of my treats.
- Grains/wheat – Obviously grains are not part of the paleo diet, but I’m trying to see if I can find that happy medium of like eating paleo 80% of the time. If I eat grains, I will either do very small portions throughout the day or just limit myself to one serving of grain a day (usually dinner). I just have to keep an eye on how I feel when I eat certain things.
- Carbohydrates – Don’t get me started. Hahaha. As far as carbs go, I’m not just talking about just bread or pasta or rice. Carbs are so complicated! They’re everywhere! The book I’m reading has several chapters dedicated to carbs and I feel I need to take notes! I’m learning just how much carbohydrates relate to your blood sugar levels, but for now, I aim to always pair a protein with a carb, whether it’s in the form of cheese, sweet potato, English muffin, etc.
- Be aware of how I feel after eating certain things and take note of it. I’ve become pretty in-tune with my body recently. For example, I know if I have a piece or two of my monkey bread, it will spike my blood sugar levels super high (and quickly), I will crash HARD…and it’s not a good feeling. Needless to say, I try to avoid eating my monkey bread, but I’ll still bring it for others to enjoy! When those times do happen, I reach for a protein to get me back to normal. I like the individual trail mix packs from Trader Joe’s because they’re so easy to throw into your lunch bag. The Omega Trek Mix is our go-to, I like it because it has almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pepitas and pecans. It also has craisins, but I pick around those and give them to someone else. Hahaha
- Keep moving! My goal is to workout at least 5 times a week. Whether it’s just 15 minutes, just keep moving! I’ve even done squats and other exercises while I’m cooking if I don’t get down to the gym. This has actually made us just go on walks around Dallas on the weekends which is nice! If I miss a day, so be it, it’s not the end of the world.
- Meal prep! This is still very key for us, especially during the week. I will plan out our menu for the week (breakfast, snacks, lunches, dinners), we do our big grocery haul on Sunday and we prep our lunches that afternoon. It takes time, but it’s time well spent because it’s literally grab & go in the morning and I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat at work. Bonus? Saves us quite a bit of money!
- Eat real food. Fresh food! This is the most important to me, I think. I try to avoid anything processed and I think we do a pretty good job of that for the most part. I always check ingredients on things, if there’s anything artificial, additives or sounds too science-y, I won’t buy it. I like to add veggies into every meal if possible – something I learned from the Superhero Challenges. Like loads of it. Spinach or kale are the most common greens I throw into almost everything because it’s pretty easy to make them work with whatever dish you are making. We’ve even cut back on our meat consumption, especially red meat. I will try to make one or two, even three meatless meals a week if I’m feeling crazy. This is just our choice (mainly mine, since I cook all the food. HA!) for a couple reasons. One: You can’t always be 100% sure of the source of the meat. Are they pumped with antibiotics? Are they treated humanely? I’d love to buy directly from the source, but we don’t always have that in our budget. Two: Speaking of budget, cutting back on meat brings down our grocery bill quite a bit.
Am I always perfect? Hell no! But I try to stay balanced. We abide by the 80/20 rule – except on sugar. Spencer has become a real stickler on me eating sweets or added sugar. Monday through Friday – we eat very clean. Weekends can be a toss up, but we always try to make the best possible choice if we’re out. If I’m drinking, you will most definitely see me eating Cheetos. They are my vice. I try to help it, but I can’t.
Is it easy? Helllllll no. There are days where I REALLY want pizza. Or a donut. Or ice cream. Or a loaf of bread. How do I get by? Balance. Let the cheats happen, but keep them reasonable. If I want pizza, I’ll plan a pizza night as one of our dinners. This is usually Friday or Sunday because we like to make our own pizza dough (this one actually!) and we can add whatever toppings we want. I’ll save my sugar cheats for particular occasions and try to really make them worth it. I’ve also been trying to find ways to satisfy the sweets craving without allllll the sugar. I’ll be sure to share my favorites!
All that being said, I don’t make myself feel guilty if I do mess up. I refuse to. We’re only human. I used to make myself feel bad and then it would just turn into a slippery slope. Nowadays, if I eat bad or have a lot of cheats, I just accept it and get back on track. And actually, my body will let me know if I’ve fallen too far off the wagon. I feel bloated, sluggish and overall, just not good.
Why am I spilling all of this out here?
To encourage people to be the best/healthiest person you can be! That’s what I’m aiming for – to be the best version of me! My posts may naturally start to gear towards this new health hurdle/fitness journey, but I will be sure to still share all the nommies (cheats included)!
Questions & comments are more than welcome! If you have any tips on keeping your blood sugar levels in check or other health tips you’d like to share, please do!