This Week's Glucose: August 17th-21st

What a great week this was for glucose control! My 2-hour postprandial readings averaged 88.6 mg/dL, with a high of 93 and a low of 85. I'm very happy with those numbers (especially since they're all post-breakfast readings, which has historically been the toughest time of day for me to keep my blood sugar in non-diabetic range), and they're certainly an improvement over last week!

Another difference this week from last is that my breakfast was the same every morning1: three hard-boiled eggs with iodized table salt and cracked black pepper. This consistency was important for evaluating different types of exercise.

I did heavy2, but short3, weight-lifting before and immediately after breakfast on two days (along with a pre-meal ebike ride in pedal-assist mode), and got similar results on those days (89 and 90 mg/dL). I walked 1.19 to 1.22 miles before breakfast on two days, with no post-meal exercise, and got the widest variations on those two days (85 and 93 mg/dL). And, this morning, I had my most intense exercise: swinging around a 49-inch, 18lb. fitness bar as if it were a sword. That accounts for the 86 mg/dL reading.

But the best part of this week was staying in range while making the exercise more enjoyable. Whether it was due to the music I listened to on my walks, the exhilaration of riding the electric bicycle, or the sheer stupid of too-heavy swordplay, this week was fun!

Barring unexpected highs or lows, next week will bring new challenges: either a change in the menu, but with the same sorts of exercise I used this week, or keeping breakfast consistent but taking a peek at what's going on around lunch time....

1. Breakfast and exercise are all procedded by coffee with heavy whipping cream and saccharine. Pretty much every damned day. And not just because consistency.

2. "Heavy" for you and "heavy" for me are probably two different things. 30-lb. bicep curls are heavy for me. 15-lb curls may be heavy for you. Or 60. Or...

3. "Short", for me, in regards to weight training, means "three sets of each of three different exercises, with each set consisting of four to thrity reps, with quantity dependent upon difficulty."

This Week's Glucose: August 10th - 15th, 2015

This wasn't a great week, in terms of my control.  It wasn't horrible, either, in the sense that I kept my primary goal of staying below 110mg/dL; but I didn't meet my secondary goal (which is to stay below 100), and I certainly didn't come close to achieving blood sugar levels in the mid-80s range that Dr. Bernstein recommends:

It should be noted that my lowest reading this week came on the day that I walked before breakfast and did some some light weight-lifting after breakfast. Light weight-lifting before and after eating also kept my blood sugar below 100mg/dL, albeit barely. My highest reading of the week came on the day I substituted housework for purposeful exercise.

In terms of food, my best reading came on the day when breakfast consisted entirely of one good-sized Hass avocado with iodized salt and cracked black pepper.  The worst reading followed a breakfast of two hard-boiled eggs with a dollop of sour cream and a chunk of Kerrygold Dubliner.

I'm side-eyeing both the housework and the sour cream...

Misinformation kills diabetics.

I was at a party Saturday night. I was drinking rum and diet root beer. I was buzzed, but not falling-down drunk. I was having an OK time, given that -- alcohol or no -- I'm still a social phobe, and dealing with a bunch of people at once is just not my favorite way to interact.

Then someone saw fit to point out to me, either despite or due to knowing my status as a diabetic, that artificial sweeteners are "worse than" sugar. 

I try not to get annoyed in situations like this. I know that people who say this sort of thing generally do so because they think they're being helpful.

Valiant effort aside, it's difficult for me not to froth at the mouth a bit when confronted with misinformation as it relates to diabetes, precisely because misinformation kills diabetics. It may do it all at once via heart attack, or it may do it one leg or kidney at a time with an eyeball thrown in for good measure, but the point still stands: Misinformation kills diabetics.

In case you didn't catch it the first three times: Misinformation kills diabetics.

So, the next time you decide to tell your diabetic friends, neighbors, and family members how whatever food you want them to indulge in won't hurt them, how they'd be better off ingesting sugar than aspartame or saccharin, or how they should be on a low-fat diet, ask yourself:

Are you really sure you know what you're talking about? 

Sure enough that you'd be willing to transport that person to and from physical therapy post-amputation, or take them to dialysis on a regular basis, or help with all the stuff someone might need help with if they suddenly can't see so well, anymore? 

Sure enough that you'd be willing to take responsibility if it turns out that you were wrong?


Then you aren't sure enough to share, either.




Diabetes and Weight Loss: Don't Lose Sight of the Goal

I was reading an article this morning, written by a doctor, which called into question the value of exercise in weight-loss programs. He pointed out that exercise really isn't all that important, in terms of weight loss, and he isn't wrong.

But, while reading this article (which I'm not linking to, since the article, itself, isn't the actual focus of this post), I found myself hoping that, despite its truth, no newly-diagnosed diabetics were reading it. My reasons for this are two-fold:

  1. Whether it impacts weight loss or not, exercise can definitely impact blood sugar levels.
  2. Diabetics who are trying to lose weight in order to achieve better glucose control sometimes lose sight of which of those two things is the actual goal.

Exercise can decrease blood sugar. For some of us, it's crucial to achieving and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Change the timing, the specific exercise, the particular diabetic, and/or the pre-exercise state, and exercise can make blood sugar go up. In either case, exercise is an important aspect of managing diabetes. 

Overweight diabetics are frequently told that losing weight will help them to control their blood sugar levels. Some diabetics maintain that weight loss has, indeed, helped them. Others insist that losing weight made not an iota of difference. Whether weight loss is beneficial to diabetics or not, however, is irrelevant to my point:

If you are trying to lose weight in order to improve your blood sugar levels, you cannot allow weight loss to become the primary goal.

It's all too easy to let your weight loss goal eclipse your blood sugar goal. Why? Because you'll get far more positive reinforcement for reaching the former than you will for achieving the latter. Friends, relatives, and casual acquaintances will notice when you've dropped several pounds. They'll tell you how good you look, and how great it is that you've gotten smaller, and some will even ask how you did it.

On the other hand, very few people in your life will know, or understand what it means, when you've brought your A1C down from 8.7 to 5.5. Most of them simply won't get the significance of going from a fasting blood sugar of 333 mg/dL to a two-hour postprandial of 85.

And plenty of folks will be willing to tell you that you're doing it wrong, even when you have the numbers to back you up.

Those numbers -- the ones on your glucose meter -- are your closest friends. They are (or should be) your trusted advisors, letting you know -- without the influence of cultural trends, conventional "wisdom", or personal biases -- if you're doing what you need to do in order to prevent both diabetic complications and progression.

The numbers on your scale should be the neighbors whose company you enjoy, but whom you don't trust enough to leave the keys with. When they're happy, you're happy. But they certainly aren't more important than your closest friends.

To reiterate:

  1. As they relate to diabetic complications and disease progression, blood glucose is more important than body weight. The numbers on your glucose meter are more important than the numbers on your scale.
  2. Exercise can be an important tool in controlling blood sugar levels, whether it's important to weight loss or not.