My fight against diabetes, coming back from 400mg/dl

minute read
June 26, 2023
A type 2 diabetic getting ready to workout.
Note: Image for illustration only. It does not show the author of this story. Photo credit - Karolina Grabowska.

I’d like to start my story with a famous, and very apt, quote:

"If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have the safest way to health." – Hippocrates.

Now re-read the quote, but this time go slow and try to really understand each aspect of it.

You see, when I read it for the first time in school, it was just like any other quote to me. And I had no intention of following it. Because although Hippocrates was a wise man, at the time I was a fool.

But some things, you learn the hard way with age and experience.

The start of my downfall

For the longest time, I kept my body deprived of the right amount of nutrition and exercise.

I found happiness in food. It was my go-to in times of joy, sorrow, disappointment and surprise. My entire childhood and adolescence revolved around it, and I had the unhealthiest relationship with food.

The concept of regular exercise didn’t exist for me. The only physical activity I had was in school, around twice a week, and that was it.

When I left school, I moved to another city for college. And there, I had the freedom to eat whatever I deserted at any hour of the day. I spent my nights awake and my mornings in bed.

My life and health went for a toss, though I didn’t know it yet.

I only realised after I gained 30kg. The weight itself wasn’t a problem. But with the excessive and uncontrollable weight gain came major health issues.

My multiple diagnoses

I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian disorder (PCOD) and a thyroid problem – Which to be honest, I was fine with.

The greatest shock though came during my late twenties, when a random fasting sugar test result came back as 400mg/dl – Yeah, you read that right (it should be less than 100mg/dl).

I was put on medication immediately, and the doctor told me very clearly that if it didn’t work the next option would be insulin. They also recommended I meet a dietician and physical exercise trainer as soon as possible.

I felt like my life was spiralling out of control. Too many bad things were happening at once, my options were limited, and every day I prayed desperately that the medication would work and bring my blood sugar level down.

Turning it around

After 1 month of strict exercise, diet and medication, I was thankfully able to bring my sugar level down – It was still far from the ideal level, but it was way better than 400.

Thinking that at least I wouldn’t now die from diabetes, I was relieved. But this happiness was very short-lived.

I realised that long, stressful training sessions every day, along with a bland and restricted diet, was not a sustainable long-term plan to control diabetes. I could do it religiously for a few months, but not my entire life – I decided I needed to get the situation under control, instead of getting played by it.

Making a plan

I started reading various articles on diabetes. And I met people who’d been in the same boat in the past but had been able to figure out a viable solution.

After 2 months, I’d worked out a few pointers for myself. These were:

  • I needed to lose fat – Losing as little as 5% overall body fat would play a major role in not only controlling my blood sugar level but also my thyroid and PCOD.
  • I needed to start strength training – This would help keep my muscles, while I lost fat.
  • I needed to increase my day-to-day physical activity – This didn’t mean going walking for hours, but simply trying to stay more physically active at home. For example, walking around while talking on the phone, getting up and walking around regularly, ditching the elevator and taking the stairs, etc.
  • I didn’t need to starve myself or completely give up on sugary foods – I could have anything and everything, as long as I had it in moderation, was regular with my medication, and followed an active lifestyle.

The results

Following my goals, I took baby steps toward a more sustainable way of living with diabetes. And trust me, the positive changes I witnessed over the next few months were incredible.

By losing a decent amount of weight (slowly and steadily, not drastically all at once), I was able to control my blood sugar level much more easily. The amount of medication I needed also decreased, and I completely stopped taking medicine for PCOD and thyroid.

I started feeling much better, not just on the inside, but on the outside too. My energy level increased and my sleep improved as well – My lifestyle changes were paying off, and they were workable.

And now, for the past 10 years, I’ve been living a very healthy and happy life, despite having type 2 diabetes. My weight loss and strength training has played a crucial role in keeping all my health parameters in check – This includes not only my blood sugar level but also my thyroid, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.

I’m glad I took my health seriously in time. I may have to take some medication for the rest of my life. But I know that as long as those medicines are letting my body live an independent and happy life, I’m good to go.

Graphic of a female profile picture.
Editor's note: The opinions and experiences reflected in stories from the diabetic community belong to the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of InDiabetes.

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