Monday, May 18, 2015

Why my weight still matters

You'd think after more than two years of mostly successful weight loss and maintenance that this would be old hat to me, wouldn't you? That I no longer struggle to make the right decisions for my health and happiness? I'm here to assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.

Every single morning since I made the decision in February 2013 that I would make one last, desperate attempt to change my eating and exercise habits in order to get my diabetes under tighter control and make a happier life for myself, I have to wake up and recommit. Going for a walk or run when I'd rather sleep another hour is not something that comes naturally to me - it's a commitment to my health. Limiting myself to one nonfat latte a day and sticking to brewed coffee, tea, or water the rest of the time because of the amount of carbohydrate in milk is not a "no brainer" for me, but I do it because I know it's what my body needs.

Lately I've been having a lot of trouble passing up late night treats and I've packed back on 17 pounds of the nearly100 I'd lost over the last two years. I lost that weight by paying close attention to my food choices and passing up a lot of things I'd have liked to eat but knew they wouldn't work well for my body; suddenly the mechanism in my brain that prioritizes long and short term priorities went wonky. It seemingly didn't matter that maple nut scones will shoot my blood sugar into the stratosphere not to mention adding inches to my waistline: they were delicious and I wanted to eat them, so I ate them. One extra latte wouldn't hurt anything, either: it's nonfat milk and I have the calories left to cover it, so why not? I've been so good for so long and now I'm thin(ner) and healthy so one little eating indiscretion here or there doesn't matter.

Except they do matter; they matter a lot. There is no cure for diabetes, contrary to what you might hear in the media. My blood sugar stays pretty well under control as long as I eat carefully, avoiding processed foods and starchy vegetables most of the time. My body can tolerate a splurge meal every month or so without a problem, but when the splurge becomes the norm, my blood sugar climbs out of my normal range and stays there until I go back to my normal eating pattern. Lately it's started taking as much as a day for my blood sugar to go back to where it belongs; that's very scary.

So as much as I'm bothered by the fact that I can no longer slip easily and confidently into my gorgeous clothes, that's not why I started Phase 1 of South Beach yesterday. Do I hope to lose a few inches around my waist plus the 17 regained pounds (and more)? Yes, I absolutely do, but that isn't what will keep me going through all 14 days of Phase 1 and every day after that when I can add back my beloved fruit and new friend, quinoa but still must eschew the processed sweet treats that I love.

My weight matters now not so much for the way I look on the outside but more as a barometer of how well I'm eating which corresponds to how well controlled my blood sugar will be. Eat less processed junk and simple carbs, get some moderate exercise every day, control my stress level, and my diabetes is miraculously "cured", at least until my next meal. No secret, no magic pill, just lots of boring, tough decisions over and over again.

1 comment:

That Girl said...

I think for some people, who have never had to worry about what they eat, it's never a struggle. For the rest of us, it always is. That feeling that "oh, when I'm thinner I won't have to worry about it" never really pans out.

Personally, that's kind of my thought behind pregnancy cravings. It's the one time a woman is encouraged, or at least feels vindicated in eating whatever she wants. We all have cravings - but the guilt associated with giving in to them is the struggle that everyone undergoes.