The other day I had a chat with my GP and he told me my blood sugar levels were normal. He also said that about six months ago. So, what’s the big deal? I was diagnosed as a Type 2 Diabetic one year ago, yes, September, 2021 so to find that I have normal blood sugar levels without meds is amazing! In fact, the GP was amazed too. He asked me what I did to have this happen. I told him I changed my diet and was walking 7 to 8 kilometres a day.
When I tweeted this result I was surprised by the response. I promised I’d write about my experience and hope that it may help others.
Just as there is diversity in our body shape, skin colour, eye shape, facial features – there is diversity amongst people diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. So, what may work for one person may not work for another. What I tell you about my experience is just that – MY experience. There should be no feelings of failure if you try what I describe and the results aren’t the same for you. Maybe something else will work for you.
My GP asked me to get a fasting blood test last year. He said I may be diabetic and a blood test will show if I am. I wasn’t surprised he’d suggest this because there is diabetes in my family. I didn’t eat takeaway food like Maccas or pizzas. I didn’t eat cakes nor lollies because I haven’t got a sweet tooth and I was careful not to eat fatty foods. I also ate only home cooked meals. I love fresh fruit and vegetables and I didn’t drink alcohol. So, how could I be diabetic? Well the results came back and I was diabetic – just crossed the indicator line.
Freak out time! Shock….what to do? The GP suggested I see a dietitian & a physiotherapist specialising in exercise. This was in Covid times so I didn’t see them face to face – just phone. The info the dietitian gave me I also found online & the exercise guy when he found out I was 69 asked me what did I want to do. I said walking would be great. So that was the end of that consultation.
I then researched diabetes and found the biggest myth about diet was that fat was the enemy. I found that my love of fruit was also contributing to my diabetes because of the sugar content. I thought I was a good little vegemite with my soups. I’d have an instant soup with noodles and add garlic, peas, cauliflower, spring onion, olive oil & a dash of lemon juice. The noodles are carbs and contribute to diabetes.
I took on board what the dietician said. I also read Michael Mosley on diabetes. Everything pointed to me losing weight and changing my diet along with some fasting.
I was brought up in a Greek Orthodox home with my mother ensuring we all followed the strict Orthodox fasting and dietary rules pertaining to holy days. I did this until I left home when I was 18. So the idea of fasting or eating particular foods on certain days wasn’t a big lifestyle program reset.
I’m telling you this so that you may get a glimpse as to why changing my diet wasn’t such a big deal for me because of my previous life experiences.
I need support to watch my diet and ensure that my exercise routine is beneficial to my aims. My aims? To lose weight and to bring my blood sugar levels down. My support comes from today’s incredible technology. I use a smart watch, a smart phone and the apps that go with them. The use of this technology helps me maintain the new routine by providing me with on time feedback concerning what I eat and what I physically do.
The 2 apps I use are Samsung Health and Lifesum. Both of these are connected to my smart watch through bluetooth. I can set my watch to automatically monitor my heart rate, speed of walking, number of steps and blood oxygen.
Samsung Health app helps me set goals and tracks my physical activity, sleep, weight, heart rate, and other vitals throughout the day.
The other amazing thing about the Samsung Watch is that it measures your body composition. This means that you can see how much is body fat and how much is muscle. Some say that the induction technology used is not very accurate. I don’t care. It’s better than nothing and all it needs for me to do is to place two fingers on the side of the watch and I see an estimation of what’s happening to my insides. I have noticed over the year the progressive loss of fat and increase in muscle.
Lifesum helps me track calorie intake and informs me of the nutritional content of the food I eat. I have chosen automatic tracking that’s connected to Samsung Health. This means that the calorie count is accurate because it subtracts the calories burnt during exercise from the amount eaten. It is still only based on what an average person burns during the day but it’s good enough for me to gauge what’s happening with my goals.
I found out it is best to walk briskly. Just to walk at an easy pace may be pleasant and familiar because that’s the everyday speed but it won’t help with burning calories. Then there is the moderate pace, the one we use when we’re late.
Brisk pace should feel like you’re just about to break into a jog. A brisk pace is relative to your fitness level and your level of exertion. For your pace to be considered brisk you need to raise your heart and breathing rate. You may feel slightly out of breath or sweaty when walking briskly. Just by picking up your pace you can burn 50 percent more calories! It gets your heart rate going and makes you breathe harder and faster and supports healthy blood flow. My watch informs me the speed I am walking at and a brisk pace is about 4.8 – 5.6 kph.
Best Time for Walking
I also walk in the afternoons just after 3.00PM because research has shown that this is the best time to exercise for both performance and building muscle. Research has also shown that lung function is best from 4.00PM – 5.00PM. This may help to reach a more vigorous intensity.
Before I leave home for the walk I do one set of dumb bell exercises that I found on YouTube. When I reach the first kilometre I stop and meditate for about 15 minutes. During the walk there is a 1 km stretch that’s a walkway with fence posts on either side of the path. To increase my heart rate I do press ups against the larger posts. Since they are lean to press ups they are far easier than horizontal on the ground. I do 100 on the way out and 100 on the way back.
Now for the numbers
Walking about 8kms per day means you are walking just over 10,000 steps. This means that you are burning between 2 – 3,500 extra calories per week. One kilo of body fat is about 7,000 calories. So depending on your weight, goals and exercise intensity you could lose about 500 grams a week.
Walking 8 kms a day at a brisk speed means you can lose half a kilo per week.
I drink between 2.5 – 3 litres of water per day. It’s been found that drinking 500ml before a meal can help with losing weight.
Lifesum gives a variety of diets to follow and the one I use is the Mediterranean diet because it’s familiar to me. The app gives the approximate calories you need to eat each day. When you enter the foods the app calculates the numbers and during the day subtracts the calories burnt.
Another wonderful feature of Lifesum app is that you can scan the ID number of foods with your phone in the supermarket and it tells you if it’s OK according to the nutritional properties. I’ve found that even so called health foods, protein bars etc when scanned reveal that the attributes are not what the packaging claims.
When I started using the Lifesum app I weighed every bit of food I ate and entered the weight in the app. I did this for every meal. It became a ritual for me and it showed me the amounts of food and the calories associated with the food and the amount. I was also incredibly surprised that bacon and eggs was very good food as was peanut butter. I cut back on the amount of fruit with lots of sucrose and started eating more raw cauliflower and carrots.
Now, after one year and having lost 14 kgs with my blood sugar levels normal I have decided to not weigh and enter all my meal details into the Lifesum app. I am now doing a daily intermittent fast of 14 hours and 10 hour eating window. Since I have changed my diet I now just eat the appropriate food only during the eating window.
The daily walk has become a habit as has my new diet and intermittent fasting.
During my daily walk I take photos of the beautiful scenes I walk through and share these on twitter. I have uploaded most of these here on this blog.
It is possible to have a remission of diabetes using exercise and diet. I also believe that it is possible to reverse diabetes and heal the pancreas after a couple of years doing what I am doing now. When this happens I have no plans to change my diet and exercise routine because I feel so much better doing it.
I hope this post helps you achieve your health aims. By the way I am NOT getting any commissions for citing the apps and the wearable technology. I cite them so that you know what I used. There are brands that can do the same as what I have shown here.