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.

The next meeting was to be 6/19. I added pushups and jumping jacks to my routine around this time and would slowly incorporate weights a bit later. This was done not so much to burn calories but to increase my muscle mass. This on premise that the more muscle mass the more calories I’ll burn at rest. Again, the ultimate goal is to be able to responsibly eat ice cream in future.

At 6/19 I weighed in at 146. I had lost fewer lbs in more days and was momentarily disappointed. But I quickly reflected that a pound or two a week was a more sustainable rate of loss and as aforementioned, as I was now lighter it required more effort to burn calories. I had data for 19 of the 21 intervening days between meeting. I got under the calorie goal for those days but missed my target on the macronutrients. However, even though I missed targets I came closer than I had at the last meeting. We decided that I was now in maintenance mode, that my weight might herein fluctuate between 140 and 146. I was to keep up the physical activity and aim for 1600-1800 calories a day. The macronutrient targets were to remain the same. The next meeting occurred 7/18 & on the 9th I was to do another blood work panel. Technically, I should have waited 3 months from 4/30 to get met blood tested again, but we felt it was important to determine if the glucose and cholesterol were improving as I was losing the weight.Blood test results demonstrated all my cholesterol numbers were within normal range. My fasting glucose was 99 which is upper threshold of normal. My 3 month average was at 6, which droped me from diabetes 2 and puts me back in the prediabetic range. It was significant because as it got me under 7, I was no longer a candidate for medicine. Also, as I didn’t wait 3 months to retest it is possible that my 3-month average was still dropping.

At 7/18 meeting my weight was 138.4. I had again failed to meet my macronutrients targets but again was came closer to the mark. We upped my calories to 1900-2000.

Reflecting that cholesterol is no longer an issue but that it was best to act as if I were prediabetic we dropped my protein, upped the fat and slightly upped my carbohydrates.

Let’s recap my results:
Within 2+ months we:
Normalized my cholesterol
Normalized my fasting glucose
At a minimum brought me into prediabetic range as regards 3 month average.
I lost 20 lbs.

Annette’s guidance was invaluable. She gave me a game plan which we refined as circumstances dictated. She encouraged me to walk at a faster clip, which aided in burning calories. She was also responsive to my concerns. When I chafed at 1600-1700 calorie range, we upped it to 1800. Though I didn’t take advantage of it often, that gave me a big boost. I retest my blood in 3 months.

Now, I am trying to do the best I can to maintain my new lifestyle. I found it helpful to front load my protein. Also, I was enamored with the associated math and that has helped to keep me engaged. I don’t plan on tracking forever. Easy takeaways from my experiences are:
Keep moving
Get in fiber
Gain a sense of portion control*

*About the last, I had a hiccup at a social event. I had a couple of raisinettes, a handful of popcorn and a wafer cookie. Not too bad, life intrudes. The mistake was the spoonfuls of peanut butter later. But that was Friday. By Saturday it was in the past and a new chance to show restraint stretched before me.

~ By David G., Nutrition Link client