Sugar Dreams

I’m not inclined to post overly personal things here. Partly because I don’t think my life is all that interesting, but mostly because there really isn’t any need for strangers to know the intimate details of my life.

I thought about this post for a long time before I actually wrote it. It’s something I haven’t discussed much with my friends or the BF or the rest of my family. It’s kind of scary, a lot infuriating, and a little embarrassing.

I learned something about myself the other day – I eat when I’m bored. I was at my desk, thinking about grabbing a Pepsi. I’ve been making an effort to cut down on the amount of soda I drink in the last few weeks, so I actually stopped and thought about whether I needed it. Yeah, I sometimes get wicked cravings for shit that’s bad for me – and I’m not always successful at ignoring them. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

Turns out I didn’t need the Pepsi. I was just bored.

Years ago, my dad was diagnosed with non-insulin dependent diabetes, so every year when I go in for my annual exam (yes, I’m one of those weird people who goes to the doctor for a physical every year), my doctor orders blood work to check my sugar levels. They’ve been up and down the last couple years, necessitating retests every six months.

To her, it’s not a question of if I’ll develop diabetes, but when. She offered up this explanation for why my levels are high: my body produces enough insulin, but it doesn’t produce it efficiently – meaning I don’t get it when I need it.

I latched on to that like a drowning person and it was my lifeline. I had an excuse now! It wasn’t my fault my sugar levels were high! My body just couldn’t break it down fast enough!

Feel free to smack me on the head now.

Oh, and I have more. Most of what I eat is healthy. Hell, my favorite foods are raspberries and raw green beans. I’m not a big drinker. I don’t eat fast food. I go to the gym regularly. We don’t keep junk food in the house. So it’s totally fine if I have a cookie from Specialty’s once a week and a soda a couple times a week.

It is not totally fine. According to the American Diabetes Association, there are roughly 1.9 million new cases diagnosed every year. The incidence of Americans diagnosed as pre-diabetic has been increasing, from 79 million in 2010 to 86 million in 2012.

You could argue those statistics are two years old now. Valid argument. But ten bucks says the numbers haven’t seen a drastic drop, if they’ve dropped at all.

I heard Meghan Trainor’s song “All About That Bass” for the first time the other day. How many women think the line “Yeah my mama she told me don’t worry about your size” is empowering? Or how about all those times the beauty magazines say to love our bodies as they are and you’re all fuck yeah?

They’re right, to a point. You should love your body as it is as long as it’s a healthy body.

I have my doubts about healthy bodies in America. According to the CDC, more than one third of Americans are considered obese, and a horrifying 69% of American adults are overweight (this includes obesity). But we live in a land of convenience, where we’re too tired after wrangling kids and working all day to cook a nutritious meal, much less get any exercise. So our sugar levels climb, along with our risk for heart disease, stroke, and of course, diabetes.

Here’s the thing: I lack willpower. I know it. It’s why I give in so often to the siren’s call of the Specialty’s cookie. I keep trying, though, even after I torpedo my own efforts. But for fuck’s sake, I wish someone would back me up. When I’m out with my friends and I remark that I really shouldn’t have dessert, I want them to back me up. Instead, they’re like, no, you totally should! Indulge!

This is my own fault. I have yet to express to them just how difficult it is to turn down that brownie (though the brownie was damn good). And there are some days, particularly this month, that will just require chocolate.

I have the BF on my side. He’s as concerned about my weight as I am. His grandparents mismanaged their diabetes for years, leading to a lower quality of life for them both, and he’s worried the same thing will happen to me. While it annoys me and makes me defensive when he’s bugging me about it, I always, always love him for it in hindsight. I’m working on the defensive thing. He means well, and he never says anything demeaning.

I was reading editor Gwen Hayes’ post about a health scare she had earlier this year, and it got me thinking. Why do we only make the change when we’re presented with the worst possible scenario? Why do we only go to the doctor when it’s so bad we have no choice? Why do we wait to have these conversations until we’ve been slapped in the face with bad news? We shouldn’t be operating in crisis mode. I should not be waiting around for diabetes to happen before I make an effort. And neither should you.

It’s hard, changing habits. I don’t lose weight easily. I’m lazy. I dislike exercising – I find it boring. I find most food boring. I don’t like cooking. That habit of eating bad things when I’m bored has been one I’ve had for almost ten years now. You know where it’s gotten me? Almost forty pounds heavier. Some of it is muscle – I started going to the gym more often after college and incorporating weight training into my workouts. I do have a lot more muscle mass than I did ten years ago. So I’m confident that not all the new weight is bad weight.

Some of it definitely is. I know that the chances of me not developing diabetes is small, and it’s not what I’m counting on. But think if I start now, and take responsibility for my own health, it’ll make managing the disease that much easier.

Don’t wait to talk about your health risks. If more people start speaking up before the worst case scenario happens, we might actually stand a chance of punching obesity and diabetes in the face.

Psst. Don’t have health insurance? Planned Parenthood offers physicals!


2 thoughts on “Sugar Dreams

  1. I feel the same way about the Meghan Trainor song! I don’t want anyone to ever feel bad about their body, no matter their size, but it’s unhealthy to want to be unhealthy because it’s “trendy” or “popular”.
    Thanks for sharing your story. You are right, so many people have to wait until they are at rock bottom to make a change. Maybe because they are forced to go up since there’s no more room to go down?
    As for your journey, my advice would be to make small changes, especially since you don’t enjoy fitness or cooking (yet). Make healthy food swaps (fruit instead of chips, decrease portion size, etc.) and try to add a little more movement to your day, even if it’s just walking around your block. Good luck!!

    1. Thank you, and thanks for the support! I remember when my dad was first diagnosed – everything my parents ate was brown. Brown rice, baked chicken (which is kind of brown), spelt pasta…so boring! I’ve cut back on gluten recently (for other reasons) so I’m hoping that will help in the long run, too.

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