I’ve spent most of my adult life thinking about weight loss. Since I developed Type 2 diabetes, doctors and dietitians have reinforced this obsession. If a person could lose weight by thinking about it, I’d be skin and bones.
In the constant search for a way to lose weight consistently and keep it off, I stopped looking for a quick fix, concentrating on the things that make the most sense, the things that I have found will work for a person like me. In the hopes that they will help you too, here they are:
Get enough sleep
When you are sleep deprived it is nearly impossible to lose weight. In fact, your body fights your efforts. Routinely sleeping six or fewer hours per night has been associated with developing diabetes.
So do what it takes to get a healthy amount of sleep. Get checked out for sleep apnea. Learn how to make melatonin work for you by boosting your serotonin. Make sure you are not breaking good sleep rules by leaving the TV on at bedtime or eating a heavy meal late at night. Fixing sleep problems is the first step if you want to make weight loss easier.
Skipping breakfast has always been an easy way to cut out some calories. But it is a bad idea for long-term weight loss. The old saying that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is absolutely true.
One of the reasons is that breakfast eaters are able to better control how much they eat the rest of the day. This makes weight loss easier, not harder. Of course, a good breakfast for diabetes is low on starch and high in protein.
Most of us who develop Type 2 diabetes are sedentary. So we have to force ourselves to think in terms of how and when we will exercise. This does not mean training for a marathon, although I know people who have done this and enjoyed it.
For me that would be intimidating to say the least. Instead I work on thinking of everything in terms of exercise. One way to do this easily is to get a watch that counts steps.
These nifty gadgets have made people who use them walk more every day, on average a thousand steps farther than they did before. That’s exercise. You can count steps in the grocery store, at the mall, in the parking lot, while you mow and garden. It encourages walking.
Exercise takes the spotlight off calorie counting, turning your thoughts toward feeling healthy and strong again. It can lift you out of depression, something people with diabetes have a hard time fighting.
Drink more water
About 30 minutes before each meal, drink a glass of water. Drink water before and after exercise. Drink water first when you feel a snack attack coming on. Drink the whole glassful every time you take a pill.
If plain water is boring, you could squeeze fresh lemon juice into it. Lemons have some benefits for diabetes as well as for weight loss. Besides, to me, lemon juice makes water more drinkable.
Things like coffee and tea count as beverages (although too much caffeine has the potential to be dehydrating), but it is best to stay away from sugary drinks. The added calories are not worth it, and blood sugar will be harder to control. I stay away from fruit juice for that reason. Fresh whole fruit is better for people with diabetes, giving us fiber as part of the package.
Use gum and low-calorie snacks
Chewing sugar-free gum helps us to avoid eating snacks. But if the snack attack is too powerful, have a good low-calorie snack available. Take one of your diabetes snacks with you everywhere — to the grocery store and to your workplace. Make sure there is one in the refrigerator at home.
It is human nature to do the thing that is easiest. So make snacking on the right things easy by always having something with you.
Use your scales
If you are like me, the last thing you want to do is weigh yourself regularly. But I have found that, similar to using my glucose monitor, weighing is the best way to stay grounded in facts, not fiction.
Most weight-loss gurus say to get on the scales once a week. Always weigh at the same time of day, like right before or after a shower in the morning.
Never, ever try to do it alone
This is one of the hardest rules for me to follow. My weight-loss struggle is private because of my eating disorder, which is actually not an eating disorder. Food simply became the way I dealt with other, deeper issues.
Studies have proven over and over that long-term weight loss works best for people who have someone going through it with them. The buddy system keeps you on track, lifts you back up when you fail, and applauds when you succeed.
We need each other most when we are trying to change. A good friend who will stick with you on your weight-loss journey is worth more than gold. There may be times when that person’s encouragement is the only reason you do not give up.
There are hundreds of other tips that have helped people lose weight. For example, eat at a table, not in front of the TV. Eat slowly. Try smaller meals more often. Drink black coffee without sugar twice a day. (Yuck!) Eat 1.6 ounces of dark chocolate once a day. (Who can eat just 1.6 ounces?) Use a smaller plate.
Those are just a few of the tricks. Try all of them if you need to, because the important thing is to find what works for you. If you can lose even 10% of your body weight, your outcomes with the complications of Type 2 diabetes are immensely improved.
Never give up
I like the old Japanese proverb — “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” It helps me remember that it is what we do after we fail that matters. I know how hard it is to lose weight with Type 2 diabetes, so please do not give up.
How can bitter melon help with blood sugar control? Bookmark DiabetesSelfManagement.com and tune in tomorrow to find out from nurse David Spero!