‘What is your secret to losing weight and reversing type 2 diabetes?’
One of the top 5 question I get asked. Right up there with ‘Do you wear underwear with your bike shorts?’ (No, BTW… More in another post.)
I hate to be the killjoy… But there is no secret to losing weight.
No one seems to want to hear the honest answer. They think they do until I tell them. Then they typically shake their head, cross their arms and tell me why it can not work for them…
Eat less. Move more.
This honest, simple answer is NOT the sexy, cool, fun, easy answer people are hoping to hear. But it IS the answer.
I looked for the ‘secret’ for years. I tried everything I could to avoid the answer I knew was looming there all along…
EAT LESS CRAP and GET YOUR BUTT MOVING.
What do I think about this pill, commercial programs complete with packaged food, or elimination of entire food groups? They are all gimmicks or lies or at best, half-truths. Sorry. Marketers and businesses are savvy and they know people desperately want promises of lasting success with very little work needed. Magic sells a whole hell of a lot better than hard work.
I also get asked for my thoughts on gastric bypass surgery. My doctor pushed me to consider it. My BMI was 61. I was the ideal candidate physically. In the process of learning more about it, I began to understand surgery was not going to solve my problem. Surgery could not really fix WHY I got fat. If I was going to lose weight and KEEP IT OFF, I had to start with changing my brain and life-long habits. Surgery was not for me.
My complete overhaul started in July 2011. I started eating less and making smarter food choices. Ditched fast food. Measured portions. Counted calories. Wrote down everything I ate. Sweets were banned. (It remains a trigger for me; this continues to be a self-imposed restriction.) Leaner cuts of meat. Quit eating in my car. Being intentional and mindful about my eating experiences. Then, when the weight started to come off, I started walking. Walking. Walking. Basic stuff.
All of this becomes vastly more complicated when you include T2 diabetes in the mix.
While working to lose weight, get off of insulin and cement new habits I still had lows or highs that HAD to be adjusted. We were being VERY careful with the ‘exit plan’ for getting off of insulin, but I had been warned ‘wild’ blood sugars were going to happen. The adjustments I needed to make sometimes threw my entire eating and activity plan for the day out the window. It was intensely frustrating and confusing at times. Going back to my old ways was a seriously appealing idea on more than a few occasions. Not gonna lie.
I remember trying to run one time when I was low. I didn’t want to eat the carbs/calories I needed to adjust my blood sugar. In my mind, I hadn’t ‘saved’ enough calories for even a handful of jelly beans that day. I refused to skip the run; I was starting to really love running. And I really, really didn’t want to have to explain all of this to Spencer, my brand-new running coach.
I showed up cranky and disoriented and argumentative. My running partners, Josh and Joe, quickly figured out I was low. The way I remember the incident is that they threatened to shove jelly beans somewhere jelly beans didn’t belong if I did not immediately and voluntarily eat some sugar. The jelly beans put me over my calorie allotment for the day. I was pissed at my predicament and slightly pissed at them for making me correct it. I was worried about calories and weight loss which is the last thing I, the diabetic, should have been worried about with out-of-whack blood glucose. They were right. I was wrong. I am extremely lucky they were looking out for me.
It turned out to be a really, really good lesson in diabetes management and friendship.
Managing all of these pieces is hard to do. No doubt about it. Eat less. Move more. Manage blood sugar. There are NO secrets or shortcuts. While that kind of sucks — it’s also a form of freedom if you choose to view it that way…
There no absolutes about what life and a path to success looks like on a daily basis with diabetes in the mix. That’s OK! Stay focused on getting it as right as you can, as often as you can with what works best FOR YOU.
I was upset at having to correct a bad low in the middle of the night with soda and candy early on my journey to get off of insulin. I saw this as a total defeat in my effort to revamp my eating. Even though all I was doing was adjusting a low… (Low blood sugar brain can be really mean and snarky!) Once my blood sugar was normal and my brain was working again my dad told me:
“Get this as right as you, as often as you can. You’ll make progress. Re-focus on the very next step you need to take to reach your bigger goal. You are doing all the right things. Your body just has to figure out how to work with you now that you are getting healthy.”
There is no secret. I’m really sorry to burst your bubble.
This business of losing weight and cementing the habits needed to keep it off is some of the hardest work you will ever do.
And as it turns out, some of the best, most rewarding work you will ever do.