Rarely do I like talking about my habits or frustrations with my eating; however, I wanted to share some of my personal reflections.
Three years ago, I was diagnosed with prediabetes; a total surprise to me. I did not believe my doctor and the blood results, so had a nurse test me at the hospital. Yep, elevated blood sugars. This was quite a scare, so began home testing and being more vigilant with my intake of carbohydrates. The blood sugars gradually came under control, although my weight didn’t change that much
Fast forward to this past year. Even with regular swim practices and what I felt was reasonably careful eating, I gained more fat around my middle. Then, COVID-19. With the heightened awareness of the prevalence and increased severity of individuals with insulin resistance who encounter the virus, I became concerned about the very resistant visceral fat I carry and its relationship to diabetes and poor immune function
I began testing again. Sugars were normal. I knew my belly fat downfall was evening snacking. Nothing ‘horrible’ I told myself. Things like peanut butter, occasional wine. Except the ‘occasional’ did not lead to any fat loss.
I was listening to a David Goggins podcast about pain and enduring pain (he has endured and overcome a lot in his life). It triggered thoughts like, “enduring hunger pangs is nowhere near as painful or difficult as what he’s been through.” So, I began to focus on my body’s cues. It wasn’t hard; in point of fact I began to enjoy the challenge of ‘feeling empty’ and not giving in to a snack through the day. Ah, then the evenings came. The dreaded evenings. I would go for a walk or read a book, but there was always that hour where I was looking for something. (Never real hunger, just a “want” for the simple pleasure of eating).
More podcasts on the co-morbidities of COVID severity finally convinced me just to stop snacking at night. I began looking at these late-night snacks as dangers to my health. What I found was, if you can somehow ride through the hour or hour and a half of “wanting,” the desire to snack dissipates. I have a load of flavoured waters (Bubly) in my fridge to satisfy or manage my dangerous ‘hand to mouth’ habit in the evening—but these contain no sugar.
Also, I increased my “bursts” of body movement through the day. Along with a few bouts of indoor rowing, I added some sessions of higher-intensity body weight workouts spread throughout the day. (Anyone can do a circuit-type interval workout, no matter their level or mobility. We will post more exercise ideas on our Facebook page. Sometimes, we just need to get creative with what we are doing, especially in a small space like mine. I have many patients who will do 2-3 sets of exercises just lying in bed, to strengthen core, legs and arms.)
The hardest part of these exercise sessions is starting. That has, and always will be, the barrier. STARTING. Just START. Don’t question. Don’t think, “I’ve got other things I could do,” just START. After 1 minute, then 2 minutes, it became easier for me. (Why more exercise? Because it helps with insulin resistance. Not just because of the metabolic impact on your muscles, but also because of the mental health aspect and helping to dissipate the hormone cortisol, which can keep blood sugar, and therefore insulin levels, high.)
My goal, similar to many of yours, is to be healthier. If I get sick, I will be more able to combat that sickness with a healthier body and immune system. Most of all, to stay strong and healthy so I can play with my grandson! Cycle and swim with my daughter. Train with my swim team and lifeguard team-mates. Truthfully, my biggest goal is to once again be able to do a handstand and a front flip off the dock at the cottage (that may be quite a stretch, but, worth a shot!)
Think about something small to do today that will help your body and mind feel better. Just do it. Remind yourself why you want to feel better. Focus on the positive reasons for why you’re doing it and try to squash the negative self-talk when it comes up. You can do this. Keep pushing forward and keep trying new strategies. Never, ever give up!