Let’s forget about what the experts say for a moment and focus on the diabetic instead. Let’s consider the harsh reality of trying to balance your weight and your diabetes when they rarely work together. My struggles with weight began with an insignificant comment from a complete stranger whilst walking home from school with a friend. I heard a group of boys shouting derogatory remarks in our direction. I overheard one of them say, “no, not the fat one, the other one!” My thirty-four year old self would have dismissed this but my twelve year old, shy and impressionable self did not. This stupid remark became a deep routed insult that was embedded in my psyche for years to come and as a result, impacted both my diabetes and my self-esteem dramatically.
I spent two decades of dieting without even dropping a pound. I tried the healthy lifestyle paths, the dangerously extreme alternatives and even spent days when I’d not eat at all. My metabolism as a result is well and truly shot! My body by default, collects and stores energy until it seeps through my diabetic veins; spiking my sugar levels; manipulating my salt levels; polluting my blood into toxic, acidic syrup and making me desperate for a solution. All you get told by your Doctor is to take more insulin and lose weight. “Im trying” I reply. “Exercise and eat well” is the apparently fool proof advice you then receive and this is just repeated at each and every appointment where my weight remains the same and it is intensely simplified and therefore useless advice.
Why? Because insulin makes me fat. The medication that keeps me alive is a foreign, synthesised, chemical growth hormone that is injected into my body to process sugar but it stores the excess energy as fat. The more insulin I take, the more my body resists. The more my body resists, the more it blocks and backs up. This then creates insulin pockets. These pockets then infuse together and my body suddenly dumps it into my system as one massive and unexpected insulin dose. This results in a hypoglycaemic nightmare attack with my body burning off fat and muscle producing sugar to fight it. I regain consciousness on the kitchen floor in what feels like a drunken stupor. Wet with sweat, shaking, left with one hell of a sugar rebound headache and surrounded by empty Lucozade bottles and sugary food packets.
But these carbohydrates make me fat too. It’s a vicious circle as my body is incapable of digesting them in a timely manner with how my man made insulin breaks them down. This then causes peaks and troughs in my sugar levels that effect my mood and function. It’s a reactive rollercoaster of constant fluctuations that leave you utterly exhausted. Not to mention adding life into the equation too. Stress raises my levels. Menstruation raises my levels. Exercise drops my levels but with an often inconvenient delay so anything I’ve burned gets put on again with Lucozade. But as long as I’m eating, taking my insulin and exercising my sugars should be perfect right? Simplified and useless advice.
After having my daughter and losing my sight I’ve lost two and a half stone (35 pounds) from my pre-pregnancy weight. The key to weight loss for me is debilitating stress and worry. I’ve lost weight but my sugar levels are worse, I’m doing no exercise whatsoever, I eat convenient food that I don’t have to read to prepare and it has very little nutritional value. The worrying thing is that despite all of this, despite my physical and mental health being worse, my Doctor was only concerned with my amazing weight loss that fulfilled his checklist exercise. Regardless of how it was achieved.