Running, God, and Type 2 Diabetes

“Even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; And I will bear you and I will deliver you” Isaiah 46:4. 

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Waiting for the Doctor

In October of 2014, I was diagnosed with raging out of control type 2 diabetes and put on metformin, cholesterol pills, and a second blood pressure pill (I was already on one). At that time I was also warned I would probably have to go on insulin sooner rather than later. Getting diagnosed with diabetes is in some ways a death sentence because once you’re diabetic you are always diabetic. There’s no curing it … only controlling it. Diabetes is a significant challenge. It doesn’t kill you directly, but it does make it easier for everything else to kill you. Diabetes complicates any other condition you might have and shortens your life span significantly. Over and over I’ve watched friends get diagnosed with diabetes and fail to respond accordingly. They either don’t take it seriously or don’t have the will to make necessary lifestyle changes. Many are content taking two or three types of meds and living with it. However, diabetes is a progressive disease – it tends to gets worse as you get older even if you’re doing all the right things – and failing to acknowledge it is certainly the wrong move.

So I determined I was going to respond differently. At first I just began cutting back on my food intake. Smaller portions and less sugar. The weight started coming off slowly. When spring of this year hit, I added walking to my program. At, first, walking just 15 minutes was a challenge. I eventually worked my way up to walking three miles. Then I wondered if I could run three miles. So I began the Couch to 5k running program and slowly began adding little spurts of running to my walking. You think running 20 seconds is easy? It wasn’t for me. It was hard. Really hard. At the same time I began tracking my food. I did Weight Watchers for a couple of months and began taking my diet more seriously.

A year later I’m still tracking my diet and my running has increased significantly – My longest run so far is four miles and my goal is to run a 10k (a little over 6 miles). I’m still slow, but I get out there and do my best. My weight is down over 100 pounds and I still have about 30 pounds to lose. But yesterday, my doctor took me off all my blood pressure and diabetes medicines. I’m still diabetic, but for now my diabetes is considered diet-controlled. Over the next three months I have to watch my diet and exercise carefully, because my body’s response to being taken off the meds will determine if I have to go back on them. It’s sort of my trial period.

But here’s my message to diabetics. You don’t have to be content with your diagnosis. You can fight back. At my heaviest weight I was 368 pounds and every time I run I praise God that I’m able to because somewhere out there is a 300+ pound man or woman who has a hard time simply getting out of bed. There are diabetics out there that would kill for a chance to be able to run or walk just once, but the disease has progressed so far they are unable to. I’ve enjoyed a little bit of success over diabetes not because I’m special or have amazing will-power, but rather because I am blessed. God has allowed me the opportunity to fight back ever so slightly. So I praise Him for it.

If you’re diabetic, you owe it to yourself to fight back however you can – watch your diet, walk, run, bike … whatever you’re able to do. Do it for yourself. Do it for the guy or gal that wishes they could be doing it. Do it as a way to honor God Almighty who gives you breath.

The next three months are going to be a challenge for me. I don’t have the cushion of medication to help me lower my blood sugar which means my diet will have to be cleaner than ever … plus, I’m worried about how the winter months will impact my running. But I am determined to honor God as best as I can. Regardless of how it goes, God has blessed me tremendously and He is worthy of my praise!

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Fasting with Type II Diabetes

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from mirrordaily.com

“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full” (Matthew 6:16, NASB).

The other day my Pastor pointed out something in the above verse that I had never noticed before. Jesus, who is speaking, says Whenever you fast. He didn’t say if you fast, but when. It is clear that Jesus expected His disciples to fast and to do so in a way unlike hypocrites.

That point has had me thinking about the issue of fasting for the last couple of weeks. As a Type II Diabetic, fasting presents a unique challenge for me, but knowing that Jesus expects me to do it adds a new dimension to the subject. Of course, it’s easy to demonstrate from the rest of Scripture that Jesus wouldn’t expect someone to endanger their health for the sake of fasting. Romans 12:1 urges Christians to “… to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

So here is the question, How does a Christian diagnosed with Type II Diabetes observe Christ’s instructions to fast while not neglecting their health? 

Having done a little reading and incorporating some practices into my own fasting, I thought I would offer some suggestions:

  1. Talk to your doctor: A conversation with your doctor before you attempt a fast of any duration is the single best piece of advice you could follow. Your doctor can offer suggestions on how to do it safely.
  2. Tend to your diabetes routinely: Fasts are less of an issue for diabetics if their blood sugar is controlled. Follow your doctor’s orders, Exercise, take your medicine, and tend to your diet. The healthier you are the better prepared you’ll be to fast. An uncontrolled diabetic probably shouldn’t fast at all until their sugar is under control.
  3. During your fast, check your blood sugar frequently: It goes without saying that fasting is going to impact your blood sugar. If you discontinue your medication for the duration of the fast, your sugar will respond accordingly. While you might expect your blood sugar to drop, you may be surprised. Mine actually rises slightly throughout a fast. Experts suggest that you end the fast promptly if your blood sugar drops below 75 or above 300.
  4. Drink plenty of fluids: Dehydration is a problem for diabetics. Even during fasting, you should stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids.
  5. When you break your fast, use common sense: When most people end a fast, they gorge themselves with a large, unhealthy meal. This can be bad for diabetics and could throw your sugar out of whack for a few days. When you break your fast, eat a fairly healthy mean and watch your carb intake. Slowly ease yourself back into your regular diet and continue testing your blood sugar frequently into things are back to normal.

These are some of the things I put into practice when considering a fast of any duration. I hope they are of assistance to you.

 

 

My Type 2 Diabetes

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Image found at http://www.diabetescaregroup.info/type-2-diabetes-adult-onset/

It’s now been just a little over two weeks that I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. The diagnosis came after some routine lab tests at my family doctor. My a1c (a 3 month average of my sugar levels), which I’m told should be 6.5 or under, came in at 10.5. It was high enough for my doctor to announce I had uncontrolled diabetes. If I’m being honest, I was a little shocked it was so high, but I was also a little relieved.

It seems I have been experiencing some of the symptoms of diabetes for quite a while. Most prevalent was a sluggish feeling that hung with me most of the time. It was somewhat akin to walking through jello and made even the most routine tasks a challenge. I had been attributing this feeling to working the night shift, but in retrospect, I think it was due, at least in part, to diabetes. I also found myself irritable at times without knowing why. This too, it seems, can be attributed to diabetes.

So I was relieved at least that there was something I could do to address the feeling of blahs that had come to characterize my existence. In my case, the immediate prescription was diet, exercise, and some medication. In the two weeks since my diagnosis, I’ve lost six pounds and my fasting blood sugar level has dropped almost 150 points. My goal is a sugar level of 120 when I first wake up and I’m consistently in the 150’s. And though I have much more progress to make, I feel like I have taken some small steps in the right direction.

My diagnosis was a wake up call. It was clear, black and white evidence that the way I eat directly affects my health. In my case, years of snacking and fast food had given my diabetes. My diagnosis also gave me a choice. I could try and fix the problem or I could ignore it. I know several people who take medication for diabetes yet live like they don’t have the disease. This seems to work for a while … at least until more severe symptoms begin to raise their ugly heads.

As a Christian, I feel like my choice was clear. Life is a precious and miraculous gift from our Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ said that He came so that we may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10). To accept a diagnosis of diabetes without adjusting my diet and habits just doesn’t seem like an abundant life to me. My desire is to honor God with my life and to be an example for others to follow … and that means I need to commit to a different lifestyle over the long haul. I’ve got to acknowledge that it’s not going to be easy. Last night was especially difficult for me. I almost caved and ordered a pizza, but I got through it. I’m not suggesting I’ll never enjoy a good meal again, but when I do, I want it to be on my terms.

My wife said last night that I’ve embarked on a new lifestyle. Healthy eating and exercise need to characterize this new lifestyle if I hope to have life in abundance. I need to confess my sin of negligence when it comes to my health and repent from the lifestyle that led to diabetes if I hope to overcome it. If you’re reading this, please say a little prayer for God to lend me His strength to stick to my new diet.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).