Someone asked me what the difference was between my “achieving” an A1c around 5% versus my past A1c’s much higher than that. They wanted to know the secret to going from a high A1c to a lower A1c.
Well, interestingly enough, I want to first say that there is no more sacrifice involved. I work just as hard as before. I also feel a lot of frustration and anxiety just as I did when my diabetes management was less than ideal.
So how did I change the number? Well, you can read a lot about it all over this site but essentially what happened was I got a new road map.
I informed myself about the glycemic index and the dangers of processed foods. So then instead of cereal with milk for breakfast, I started the day with an egg and a slice of whole grain bread.
I learned about the power of positive thinking (as dorky as that line sounds) and instead of thinking that I was a failure, I began saying to myself that I was a making great progress.
I realized that people all over the world walk miles to and from school and work and so instead of thinking that a one mile walk was a great workout, I started believing that 3 miles was great and doable.
I learned what a healthy BMI was and that my bone structure or frame is considered to be very petite. When at 165 pounds my doctor told me I didn’t need to lose weight, I decided he was wrong and did all of the above.
Some nice things happened along the way. My insulin resistance lowered dramatically. This made blood sugar management much easier because I needed less insulin. My meals became easier to bolus for. My body responded nicely to the 3 mile a day walks which turned into runs. My confidence grew slowly but surely. After a short while I was keeping an A1c in the 6% range, which I was really happy with. I lost weight and got my body fat under 25% where it needed to be. These mini successes made it really hard to go back to old ways.
So yes, there are concrete things I did to change a lot of outcomes but as you can see my road map, or set of beliefs were what really made the difference. Back when I had a 10% A1c, I tried super hard. I did the best I could to give the right amount of insulin for my pasta and chocolate milk. I tried really hard to exercise through a 300 blood sugar average. I relentlessly scolded myself about doing better.
See, that’s just it. Effort can be misplaced. What good is it to try hard, commit, allot time, and persevere if you believe that you’re a terrible diabetic, that doing groceries is a major workout, and that you can settle at 35% body fat and be really healthy?
Having the right road map isn’t going to magically solve your problems. It will however, make it possible for you to reach your destination. And what we all deserve is that opportunity. We are strong, smart, and capable enough to do the rest.