In one year, I achieved Type 2 diabetes remission. To achieve this, I radically changed my diet by removing grain-based carbohydrates and processed packaged foods. Every single day, I exercised in some form whether it was walking miles a day, weight-lifting, or biking. This led to a significant amount of weight loss. Now what? Does remission stay forever? Can anything threaten my remission internally or externally? Can I relax a little? Or do I stay steadfast in my routine? I have found in the 32 months since I was diagnosed, there is still consistent work that needs to be done to keep my remission intact. That work is to combat stress. Stress in all forms, especially during the pandemic was the key factor in my life that posed a threat to my remission by affecting my blood glucose levels significantly.
DIABETES REMISSION-THE OFFICIAL DEFINITION
According to Diabetes UK, “Remission means that your blood sugar levels (also known as blood glucose levels) are below the diabetes range, usually without you needing to take any diabetes medication. Remission is when your HbA1c-a measure of long-term blood glucose levels-remains below 48mmol/mol or 6.5% for at least six months.” This definition is one that has been agreed upon by a team of international experts from Diabetes UK, the American Diabetes Association, and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
I know this all sounds a bit daunting but it really isn’t. It CAN be done! The key to maintaining Type 2 remission is daily, consistent, and unfailing focus on this ultimate goal. Along the way, I discovered two important tips that have kept me focused and stress-free. These practices have helped me stay steadfast on my journey and have allowed me to not “fall off the wagon”as it were, into my previous eating and mental health disorders. These tips may not work for everyone, but maybe give one a try and see if it fits into your lifestyle!
TIP #1- MEDITATION
I started my daily meditation practice based on the recommendation of a co-worker who struggled with anxiety. I downloaded the free meditation app she was using and fell in love! The meditation techniques I have learned have helped me express gratitude for everything I have, including my health,has allowed me to not worry about the future, and to be present. This has alleviated my anxiety and depression greatly, which were the biggest triggers in my eating disorder. The added benefit? With less stress and anxiety, I noticed there were fewer spikes in my blood glucose levels! In fact, there is evidence that suggests a correlation between stress and blood glucose levels. Thus, having a calm mind and body is key to optimal health! Try meditation in any form. You don’t need an app by the way. Go to the beach and listen to the waves or go for a walk in nature. Whatever it takes to allow your mind to wind down which will allow you to chill out, unwind, and relax. It’s vital to your well-being.
TIP #2- FUN HOBBIES
As much as it is extremely important to be diligent and somewhat serious in maintaining a good exercise and meditation program to combat higher-than-normal stress levels and stabilize blood sugars, it is equally important to have fun. This means having something to turn to when the stress of the day becomes so overwhelming that all you want to do is eat your way through the house. Especially during this difficult time of COVID-19 isolation and lockdowns, these hobbies can be done in the comfort and safety of home. The hobbies I have adopted that have brought me the most joy are playing Candy Crush and adult coloring books. Candy Crush, the beautiful phone app sent from heaven is a gamer’s dream. It’s easy to learn, yet addicting-in a good way! You get five chances to match like-colors of candies by swiping your finger across the screen. If you clear the board, you move on to the next level. If you use up your 5 chances, you have to wait 25 excruciating minutes to get another chance. That’s the only painful part. Next, adult coloring books have become another obsession in my life. When the struggles of daily existence took hold of me, I lost the creative interest of drawing, coloring and doodling that I had as a child. These coloring books awakened my creative side to no end! Filled with intricate designs, I spend hours using crayons and colored pencils to fill in each little part. The time goes by very fast, stress is alleviated, and blood sugar levels decrease…it’s a win-win! Plus, the books are laden with swear words, which makes me laugh out loud and makes my heart leap for joy (just hide them from the kids)!
So, what is the moral of this story? Remember to incorporate self-care in all its forms into your routine. Yes, be diligent with making healthy food choices. Yes, make exercise a daily, consistent practice. Yes, try to get that excess weight off. But, don’t forget the importance of fun and relaxing self-care as well! The mind-body connection is powerful. Listen to your inner intelligence, your body and mind, and set yourself free.
53 years old, wife and mother, from New Hampshire USA. Diagnosed in 2018 with Type-2 Diabetes with an hbA1c of 12.3. Implementing a low-carb, high-protein, processed sugar-free diet and daily exercise, Donna was taken off all medications, lost 192 pounds, and officially reversed her diabetes in 2019 with an hbA1c of 5.0.