I thought I would start documenting my wellness journey and I navigate coming to terms with being diagnosed as diabetic in August, 2021.
Moving the end of May into a new community, I basically had to start over looking for a dentist, a new primary doctor, dry cleaners, grocery stores, etc… as you do when you move somewhere new. Luckily, within walking distance of my house is a health care practice and I made my first appointment for a check up.
Currently I do have high blood pressure for the last 5 years, so I needed that prescription to be filled. I did have bloodwork done with my previous doctor in April of this year, so I didn’t expect my new doctor to do lab work, but she suggested we do, just to see where I am at.
Diabetes runs in my family. My dad was diagnosed with it in his early 20’s and had to manage it taking insulin shots the rest of his life. So witnessing him sometimes get low sugar and his behavior changing sometimes because of it, I saw just how much of an impact it had on him over the years. It’s something you literally have to think about every single day of your life….
Fast forward and my twin sister Biz got diagnosed as diabetic in our late 20’s. She wasn’t even aware of it. Her office had a wellness fair and they told her on the spot her blood sugars were SUPER high and she had to go to her doctor as soon as possible. In college I took anatomy and physiology course and wrote a paper on the concurrence of identical twins if one is diabetic, what is the probability that the other one will get it. It’s 99%! Needless to say, over the last few decades, it’s always been in the back of my mind and every year I would get blood work to see where my numbers were.
Luckily, I never really had high numbers, and my A1C number has been normal, although the last 2 years, it’s been borderline high. Since my bloodwork was done in April I didn’t expect a call later that day, that my doctor was officially diagnosing me as diabetic. The words were kind of hard to comprehend if I am being completely honest. It wasn’t completely out of left field – but it opens the door to thinking “now what?” Seeing my sister and my dad dealing with diabetes over the years, I know it’s something you have to monitor.
Key findings from the National Diabetes Statistics Report
The report finds that:
- In 2015, an estimated 1.5 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed among people ages 18 and older.
- Nearly 1 in 4 four adults living with diabetes – 7.2 million Americans – didn’t know they had the condition. Only 11.6 percent of adults with prediabetes knew they had it.
- Rates of diagnosed diabetes increased with age. Among adults ages 18-44, 4 percent had diabetes. Among those ages 45-64 years, 17 percent had diabetes. And among those ages 65 years and older, 25 percent had diabetes.
The one thing about diabetes, at least in my case and people who are walking around right now not knowing they have it, is I felt fine. I wasn’t experiencing any sickness or had days were I felt bad. That’s why just going once a year to get blood work done is so vital. You never know from year to year what’s going on in your body.
For the past 20 years, I’ve been on and off Weight Watchers many times (I’ve currently been a member for the last 3 years). So many times we focus on what we want to look on the outside, fit into a cute pair of skinny jeans, not feel uncomfortable in our skin. But part of Weight Watchers – is on WELLNESS – which in my mind is far more important t focus on. Following a WELLNESS journey – you will lose weight, because the focus shifts from rapid weight loss, to how can I lose weight slowly – in a healthy way.
Since being diagnosed, I was immediately put on a medication for it that I take 2x a day, and it was suggested that I keep my carbohydrates to about 75 grams a day. I’ve never really watched my carb intake before, so that was new to me. Of course I have seen the keto and low carb craze online, but never really paid attention to the numbers.
In addition to using the Weight Watchers app to count points (I’m on the blue plan) – I now am using another app called Lose It. On the Lose it app, I can set the carb intake per day, so it adjusts as I eat my meals how many carbs I can use. It’s been SUPER helpful – even though I’ve gone over the recommended amount sometimes, at least I have an idea where I’m at.
The good news is I’m down 10 pounds. I think for a few reasons. Health is number 1. If I think about veering away from my healthy eating plan, I remind myself – I have a disease now – AND I have high blood pressure and cholesterol. That’s a mix I have to get away from and losing weight is part of that and a HUGE motivator.
What about exercise?
My other part of that is I’m moving my body every single day. And my choice of exercise that I love the most is walking! I promise you if you don’t like exercising, walking is THE best. In our new neighborhood, I am surrounded by amazing trails. One I walk every day is a 5 minute walk from my house. It’s beautiful, I can see the sun rise, there aren’t many people on it, and getting fresh air is amazing. If you don’t have a place to walk in your neighborhood, I have 2 options for you and they are both free on You Tube. Leslie Sansone “Walk away the pounds” OR Grow with Jo – Indoor walking low impact . Both of these workouts can be for the beginner, but even if you are fit – these are great workouts! And you can progress and do harder ones as you get better at it.
A lot of times on Weight Watchers – we talk about the “Why” – Why are you doing this, what’s the motivation that will keep you going when you aren’t feeling that strong and for me – it’s healing my body on the inside. So eating more whole foods, less processed, more fruits and vegetables. AND – it doesn’t have to feel like you are being deprived or it’s a diet. A wellness journey is NOT a diet. It’s eating sustainably, in the right portion amount.
People who inspire me!
There is no shortage of great women I follow on Instagram that have not only lost a lot of weight – but have kept it off over the years. Make sure to give these folks a follow. First up is my Weight Watcher Coach Debbie! She works for Weight Watchers – I attend her virtual workshop on Tuesdays in New London Connecticut at 6:00 p.m. Deb has lost 200 pounds and has kept it off for a decade! She is a true example of how to lose weight and keep it. off. My friend Carla – has lost 119 pounds! She’s found a love for Peloton and makes exercise a priority. After getting to know her the last few years (and meeting in person once!) she has taught me, the road to weight loss isn’t one straight line down, there are lots of twists and turns and the most important thing to do is be consistent and getting back on track as soon as possible if you go off plan.
My friend Mel has lost an impressive 150 pounds – and is also a Weight Watcher coach. She’s had to manage her own health issues as well as her husbands – and inspires me to not forget – even when things are tough in your life, you can still be successful.
My friend Jen – I’ve watched her transform herself over the last few years, and her strength training workouts are impressive and she’s another example of it takes TIME and ACTION to get where you want to go.
One aspect of a wellness journey – and this is my number one trick – you have to be your biggest cheerleader! No one is going to be more proud of you than yourself! I am reminded of an Instagram post from Shaun T from Beachbody – definitely check out that post – it’s a great example of how loving yourself no matter what part of the journey is so important. One part of being my biggest cheerleader is using a journal. I write down work outs, I have fun stickers – I give myself kudos for a great day or week!
By journaling, I can look back at a glance how I’m doing and chalk up little successes every day that will turn into me getting to goal! I’ll be writing more every week how it’s going – follow me daily on Instagram @jenncooks!