The Ex-Diabetic

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The Ex-Diabetic by Lee Harrington

I find it odd how controversial the phrase "ex-diabetic" is. Would anyone think twice about someone claiming to be "Formerly Fat"? No one says "once fat, always fat". And yet folks cling to the phrase "once a diabetic, always a diabetic". It's not just wrong, it's sad as it takes away motivation to do the hard work of reforming your health. Why not just take the pills and the shots if you are diabetic no matter what you do? We will come back to this question at the end.

In my mid 40's I had my first serious health reclamation journey. I lost 80lbs and got fit in about a year. I went from not being able to do a single pushup, to doing 25 with my feet up on a chair. From walking to running 5k's. Nobody looked at me and said "you're still fat, weak and out of shape". But I certainly had the potential to become so, and unfortunately did. By my mid fifties I'd regained all the weight plus 20lbs, developed type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis. I walked with a cane and drove with a handicap sticker and had airlines meet me at the plane with a wheel chair.

Have I learned nothing? Clearly I had some "unovercomeable condition" that was guaranteeing that "once morbidly obese and sickly, always morbidly obese and sickly". Of course not, I simply have the PROPENSITY (genetic predisposition) to get fat WHEN I eat a certain way. Nobody keeps their muscle and fitness if they sit on the couch or in an office chair all day long.

In this way, Type 2 Diabetes is like any other health state. If you have the propensity to develop type 2 diabetes WHEN you eat a certain way, you will always need to eat differently. That's the genetics part. Whether you remain free of type 2 diabetes is about continuing to eat within your own personal tolerance. When I claim to be an ex-diabetic, it is not some declaration of having arrived. It's a current state of health that I have to maintain. JUST LIKE every other health state has to be maintained. I have to work to become fit and continue working to remain fit. That's not disease, that's how everyone's body works. This past blood work I had done, I bumped back up into pre-diabetic. I'm not surprised because I know how I've been eating. I can eat anything and my blood sugar drops per normal — I just can't do that too often or too close together. If I indulge too often as I've been doing, then I gain weight and I lose control of my blood sugar.

Choose your hard

So, why do all this hard work - if I'm just going to have to keep on doing the hard work of eating right and exercising? Being healthy is worth it! I feel so much better. I can do so many more things. Pills and shots can lower blood sugar and that's far better than letting high blood sugar wreak havoc on your health. That's not the same as getting healthy and the unseen damage from elevated insulin is still harming your health.

Type 2 diabetes has two drivers of health damage, the blood sugar is simply the only one you can test for at home.

I am an ex-diabetic. I say so in recognition of my current health state and as a commitment to continue eating and moving healthy. It's a fight worth fighting and a life worth living. There is no such thing as arriving.

But neither have we fallen into a category that will always apply to us. You need not always be a Type 2 Diabetic.

P.S.: as always, talk to your own health team for your specific needs and action plan.
P.P.S.: as always, never ONLY listen to pill pushers and illness managers, take control and work on restoring your health
Books to read: Why We Get Sick by Dr Ben Bickman, The Diabetes Code by Dr Jason Fung

I did it - I ran 5K without stopping

Written by Lee Harrington
Published September 16th, 2023

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