I’m a 46 year old male. Roughly two years ago bloodwork indicated my cholesterol was high and I was prediabetic; the wages of all the veal parmesan, Chinese food, ice cream, etc, I thought. I all but forgot about it thereafter.
March of 2019 bloodwork indicated that my cholesterol was high – but not the “good kind”, and that I had Type 2 Diabetes. 217 fasting glucose and 8.4 as a 3-month average. This got my attention. After being told that both were reversible with proper diet and exercise, I declined medicines, at least for time being. I knew I could afford to drop a few pounds too. Based on literature I had from doctors office I added antioxidants on premise it would help cholesterol and fiber to help with sugar. I also began walking more; I had been very sedentary. I gave up or reduced (and one day I’ll responsibly reincorporate, ice cream, candy, chips, Chinese, Veal Parm and pizza).
After 7 weeks of those changes, the majority of them not systematic, I got my blood work done again. Cholesterol was trending in right direction, however, not the good kind. My fasting sugar was 132, 3-month average was 7.7. Additionally, I was up a pound or 2. I figured, “I am making progress if only I knew what I was doing!” The 2 apples, 2 banana, 2 yogurts, a lot of peanut butter, beans and sausage regimen needed to be refined.
May 14th, I started working with Annette O’Neill of Nutrition Link services. We went over my medical conditions of diabetes and cholesterol. We calculated my BMI. At 5’4″ it was 27.12 which put me in the overweight category. The ‘eye test’ likely put me in that category as well.
Brief note on BMI, it is a broad metric that is useful for the overwhelming majority of the population and for spotting trends, but it can be misleading in certain circumstances. So, if one is a 6″3 242 lbs couch potato they would tick into the obese category, while an Outside Linebacker with same numbers would likely be in a state of peak fitness. At any rate, I am not an OLB and BMI applies to me. We determined that if I lost 13 lbs that would put me under 25 BMI. 18.5-24.9 is the normal BMI range.
There is a strong connection, though perhaps not a 1-to-1 relationship between weight and cholesterol and diabetes. Annette suggested I consume 1600-1700 calories. I have no idea how many I was consuming prior. At the same time, I was to burn 500 calories a day. She also gave me a suggested 5-day meal plan which I didn’t follow per se due to culinary ineptness. But I did scour the list for food items. Some big takeaways from our meeting were, whole wheat/multigrain, replace 1 piece of bread with lettuce on a sandwich. Perhaps the most helpful was the list of sources of fiber. Among fiber’s virtues, soluble fiber is believed to help with cholesterol and insoluble with sugar. Furthermore, it is much like the Satyr of Aesop’s fable that “Blows hot and blows cold with the same breath” in that, in proper amounts it increases frequency if bowels are slow, and decrease frequency if bowels are too fast. This has affected a major improvement in my life as I am now down to three a day.
A few days after the meeting I started tracking what I was eating on a spread sheet. (I’m sure there are plenty of apps, but I enjoy Excel). I also upped my walking which was, and continues to be, my primary means of calorie burning. I recorded 10 days worth of full data over the 12 days leading up to my next meeting. On the days for which I had data for I averaged 1852 calories which was 152 calories more than the upper threshold of what I was targeting. It was also exceedingly likely that my caloric intake was higher over days I didn’t have data on, bringing up the average higher. At the 5/29 meeting I weighed in at 151. This seemed to indicate a few things, none of which were mutually exclusive. Firstly, my caloric intake was a vast improvement from before. Secondly, I was burning a lot of calories through walking. Finally, that a virtue of being heavier is it takes less effort to burn calories. I was very pleased with the result. Until I did more blood work, my weight was the only metric I had. This made me determined to work harder. Annette asked me how I was feeling. I assured her I felt well. We raised my targeted calories to 1800 day and shifted focus to the macronutrient values I would target for the day. I was to increase protein and decrease carbs and fat.