Ya big fatty’
I’ve really worked hard over the last several months on my fitness. Prior to this middle-aged shaped period of my life, I have usually kept myself somewhat fit but have never thought of myself as particularly out of shape or fat. I had started to avoid having photos taken though and I really started to not like looking at myself so I did want to step things up a little but precisely six weeks ago I was hit with a bombshell that really made me want to change my life:
‘you have borderline type 2 diabetes Mr De’Cristofano, furthermore you have high blood pressure whereby we’re recommending an immediate course of drugs to alleviate’
As I sat in the Drs surgery with this news washing over me like a bad dream, I wondered where it had gone wrong. I mean, I didn’t smoke, rarely drank…it couldn’t happen to me? Could it? Well it had!
Through a really uneducated diet (which whilst very healthy was out of control portion wise) and sporadic exercise, a random blood test which inc. a HbA1c screen showed my blood glucose level at around 50 (should be 42 mmol/mol usually), and to add further salt (or should that be sugar!) to the wound, I had high blood pressure (around 170sys / 110dia) so I certainly wasn’t having a good time.
This was life knocking at my door, warning me (somewhat aggressively) that I needed to make some lifelong but quick changes. The Dr prescribed a maintenence dose of Ramipril and I was introduced to a care team and advised of some best practice advice.
That was that. For now.
I went home, had a cry, reflected somewhat, gazed melancholy out the window whilst listening to a David Gray album, you know, the usual and then I thought ‘fck that’. I need to control this.
There’s an entire subject on my thoughts on ‘general’ healthcare advice. I’m massively grateful to the NHS generally, what with family and friends in the profession, but the problem is they give broad spectrum advice which is suitable for the masses and what I was after was granular personalised medical care for me. For my metabolism and body chemistry, my physical make up, my lifestyle. Heck, I don’t think the Dr believed when I said I didn’t eat sweets, or sugary things, or didn’t smoke or drink because the mean average of the people she see’s all do and/or lie to Doctors. That is what she has to put up with everyday, but it’s not me. And therefore I was always nervous I was getting more broader spectrum advice than I’d of liked. Did I really need the Ramipril? Did I really need to attend Juggle (Juggle’s a diabetes awareness course) when I already have access to a nutritionist, a family healthcare professional, advanced knowledge of food & diet etc. Was this advice for me? Or for the masses!?
Plan of Action
So what did I do? The first thing I did was thank myself that I knew a lot about my body & food and diet, so any granular changes would be well within my control. Looking at my diet at a macro-nutrient level I removed white carbohydrates pretty much completely. I switched from white potato to sweet potato, white rice to brown, and regular pasta to wholemeal. I pretty much eliminated bread & I also changed when I had carbs. Instead of for my evening meal, if I did have carbs, I’d have them at lunch whereby I’d be relatively active for the remainder of the day. I also pair those carbs with something more slow-release like fruit. I then reduced my calorie intake from around 2400-2700 a day (which was my average) to a consistent 1800-1900. I started to take my meals in smaller portions and more regulary ensuring I had breakfast and tracked everything by weight with MyFitnessPal. Each meal was a perfect combination of fat, protein, carbohydrate and starch. Lots of veggies, and all of that was not a massive jump from my regular lifestyle.
I feel the Dr is thinking I don’t take this seriously because 90% of her patients dismiss her advice, or go away and continue to eat badly, drink and smoke.
I do none of these things. I do not have a sweet tooth, I don’t eat processed food (most of my stuff I grow myself) but whether the Dr knew/understood or believed any of this I don’t know.
I matched this effort with diet to a consistent exercise programme (tracked with Endomondo) which consists of 40-55 minutes of medium intensity cardio every other day. That basically looks like a 5k run four or five times a week. Again, no real jump there, as I already did that, just more sporadically. Going into Christmas, I’ll be starting on a weight training programme to help build muscle mass (to stop any spare sugar being left in my blood, instead being used for muscle growth) and I’ll pretty much maintain that forever.
The results so far?
As of today, six weeks later, my blood pressure is massively reduced, I’m two stone and a bit down (from 19.5) and my blood results inc. my glucose test is NORMAL. (some of my recent running data below)
Hidden or ‘invisible’ heath issues such as Diabetes or high blood pressure made me think about general health & wellbeing & how its very easy to take health for granted. And of course, mentioning health & illness at somepoint, you’re going to talk about the big C.
MoRunning holds Fun Runs in 17 locations throughout November with the aim of raising awareness and money for the Movember Foundation. For more information visit: https://www.mo–running.com/abo
I’ve signed up for https://www.mo-running.com/nottingham my first competitive 10k in a months time. Mo Running is all about helping men live longer by bringing awareness to often not talked about and sometimes ignored health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health issues. Us men are funny old creatures, often hiding away from seeking proactive healthcare checks, so it’s a great cause you want to get involved with. Head on over to mo-running.com and select an event near you. Maybe I’ll see you on the start line? Want to donate? I’ll be setting up a JustGiving page very shortly.
A big thanks to a number of technology providers who have given free kit over the last year inc. #FitBit, #TomTom #Beetsblu #UnderArmour and #Samsung. Thank you, see my other health & fitness posts here