November 23, 2011

Scared Straight


I have a friend named Tom that I’ve only seen once or twice in the last few months. He was a chunky fellow with an adorable smile. We met about 2-3 years ago at a Mixed Martial Arts enthusiasts group that we are both still a part of. I never notcied any unhealthy eating habits but I always wondered if he was headed down the hallowed pathway to diabetes because of his size. Last week was the big debut of the UFC on Fox and several people were going to a viewing party at a friend’s apartment. Tom walked through the door and he looked great! He had lost about 30 pounds through diet and dedicated time at the gym. I congratulated him on the weight loss and started to inquire about his decision to lose weight.

Basically, Tom was “scared straight” by his doctor. He had gone in for his yearly physical and discovered he was pre-diabetic. The doctor explained to him that he still had a chance to turn things around and get healthy. Realizing that his health was too important he took this information to heart and immediately began changing his lifestyle. From my understanding, he didn’t waste any time in changing his eating habits. He doesn’t eat or drink any carbohydrates, sugary sodas, alcohol, desserts or red meat. He’s now mostly eating chicken, fish and vegetables that are grilled or steamed. He is extremely dedicated to going to the gym and lifting weights. Boom! Tom miraculously lost 30 pounds in less than 3-4 months. I am so proud of him and his accomplishment. I asked Tom if we will see him in a Speedo anytime soon . To my dismay he said “NO!”

This made me think about my own situation of being a full blown insulin dependent Type 2 Diabetic. I thought back to when I was diagnosed in 2007. I didn’t take my health serious even when I was exhibiting extreme signs of being diabetic. It took 2 months and the loss of 15 lbs–via urination–before I went to the doctor. I often wonder if I had gotten a physical would I have been given the same knowledge that could have prolonged the development of my diabetes. At that time in my life, I was burning the candle at both ends trying to be superwoman for my job and school. Fast forward to the present, I am still struggling to lose weight and still working odd hours for my new job. It hasn’t been an easy road. I have tried to make the same changes that Tom has, but I haven’t experienced the same success.

The question was asked of me why I couldn’t do the same thing. I assume I could do the same thing but there would be more obstacles. Tom doesn’t have to worry about hypoglycemia attacks and keeping his glucose levels in check. Tom doesn’t have to inject insulin because his pancreas is partially functional. I am not sure if Tom had to struggle with strong sugar cravings but I do. Lastly, Tom doesn’t work evening hours and suffer from 6 years of poor sleeping. All of these factors do affect weight loss and gain. People shouldn’t compare me to Tom because we are not the same. It really isn’t fair to compare.

For me, cold turkey changes obviously do not work. However, I do go to the gym, 2-3 times a week. I am still in the ever continuing process of refining my eating habits. Even though I am not having the stellar success that Tom is having, I don’t consider myself any less. I am still trying to change. Like most diabetics we have to navigate through obstacles that are in our path. This is still a period of growth. Weight loss is very hard when you have diabetes. All diabetics have to find what works for them. If something doesn’t work then try something different. Don’t be scared to ask a professional to help you with some of your goals. Not everyone is going to be “scared straight” enough to make the drastic changes Tom did, but we can still make a great effort toward being healthy.


Chrystal Leary is a contributing writer. Find her at the