Diabetes and How I Turned it Around

My health is something I usually don’t discuss especially in a public forum. Prior to August 2015 my daily diet consisted of a lot of sugar. I never payed any attention to the ingredients of anything I consumed. I love Dr. Pepper and drank 3-5 everyday. I have been doing this for many years…about 35 years at least. A 12 oz can contains around 40 grams of sugar…yes, do the math…that’s a lot of sugar just in soft drinks per day. In addition to other high sugar items, I was consuming way too much sugar. To sum it up…I ate what I liked, when I liked, and had as much as I wanted.

I woke up one Sunday morning with chest pains and I agreed to go to the Emergency room. Thank you Laurie (my wife) for insisting I go.

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This was the first time in my life I was a patient in the hospital.  I’ll admit I was scared!!

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This got me thinking about my health, something I had never thought about much in the past.

My fasting blood glucose reading was 280. The Dr. said I was borderline diabetic. Unless I made changes in my diet and exercise I would be on daily medication for the rest of my life. Now anyone that knows me understands I hate to take pills. I rarely take any medication unless I’m really hurting bad. I had a decision to make and here is what we did.

First, I gave up Dr. Pepper and all soft drinks. Yes, it was hard. I had headaches daily for several weeks or so. But, it got better. I stared substituting soft drinks with a very small amount of juice and club soda. I drink about one part juice to 5 parts club soda. I still get the carbonation without so much sugar. It’s a lot more healthy and cheaper also. I drink  more iced tea and water. I do think about having a Dr. Pepper occasionally but the effects of giving it up outweighs my desire to have any.

Second, I started to read food labels. Mainly the sugar content and portion size. I also installed an app on my phone-MyNetDiary Diabetes It has a built-in scanner for bar codes on food. I highly recommend it!! The first time we used it to go grocery shopping we spent about 2 hours in the store. It does get better and faster once you get used to and know which foods are not good for you.

My wife, Laurie gets a lot of credit by changing the way we eat and what we buy. Wheat bread only, low sugar on most everything, and high fiber-high protein foods. No white flour, white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc. We have found low sugar ketchup, low sugar pancake syrup, bar-b-q sauce, jellies, and more. It doesn’t taste much different than the loaded sugar items. Something she has tried and we both think is wonderful is Monk Fruit extract. It is about 150 times sweeter than sugar and grown in Asia. It is zero calorie, zero carbs, no fat, no sodium and most importantly it doesn’t affect blood sugar levels. She has made lemon sour cream cakes, key lime pie, and cheese cakes which tasted wonderful. I have also eaten and tried a lot of things I wouldn’t have tried otherwise. We have both changed what we eat and it has had a positive effect on both of us. Exercise has increased some also but watching what we eat has played a larger part of our success.

Now for the effects of lowering sugar intake. I feel better, more alert, and not so tired. I think much clearer and my energy level is much higher now. I lost about an inch in my neck, and lost belly fat. I weighed about 170+ before- now about 10-12 pounds less.  I haven’t eliminated sugar from my diet, but rather drastically reduced my intake of it. I have eaten certain items on occasion such as a cookie or cake which tasted too sweet. Now that is a big, positive change from before.

16 months later….As I said in August 2015 my blood glucose was 280. Fast forward to December 2016 and my reading was 97, which is considered normal.

Sugar is not bad for you, BUT the amount that is in certain foods is way too much. Pay attention to what you eat and how much sugar you ingest daily…it might just surprise you. This is what worked for me and I’m thankful it did.

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Cathedral Mountain

We went to do some work at a property close to Cathedral Mountain. This is about 15 miles South of Alpine. A very beautiful and scenic spot.

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This is Cathedral Mountain as seen just off Hwy 118. Elevation 6800 ft.
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Lots of Horses along the road to the house.
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Saw several Javelina. They were on the move.

It took about 20 minutes to arrive at the house. The gravel/dirt road allowed only 15mph drive. It was so quiet and peaceful there.

Cold Day in Alpine

Woke up this morning with 17 degree temps. Sun came out but never got above 27 degrees. Well what a perfect day to fire up the grill…

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Chicken Fajitas on the grill…Mmmm good

I cooked the marinated chicken directly on the grill over hickory wood. Once it was done I cut it up in pieces and put in cast iron skillet with onions, and peppers. Served sizzling with rice, tortillas, and hot sauce. It was tasty with plenty of leftovers.

Christmas Trip to Iowa

Laurie’s Mom was having some serious surgery a few days before Christmas so we hopped on a plane to Iowa. We spent 7 days up there and thankfully the surgery went well. We had to get up at 2am to catch our flight at Midland airport. It is a 2.5 hour drive from Alpine. Once we reached DFW airport we had a 3 hour layover before our connecting flight took off. That gave us time to meet my Daughter Ashley at the airport for a while. We had a nice visit and off we went again. The weather was below zero when we arrived.

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Several inches of snow and below zero temperatures greeted us when we arrived.
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The snow was beautiful

Her parents were great hosts and showed us around town. Laurie hadn’t been back in several years and of course this was my first visit, so there was a lot to see for the both of us.

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La Mars, Iowa is home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream which is evident all over town.
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These ice cream cones are all over town. This one is in a park and if you look in the background is a community built playground like the one I founded in Rowlett.
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What a surprise when I saw this. We had built one in Rowlett about 15 years ago.
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Lots of older beautiful homes around town.
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This is the Plymouth County museum which used to be a High School where Laurie’s parents attended.
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This is a fascinating nativity exhibit with hundreds of different nativity scenes from all over the world
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This is an old restaurant re-created in the museum.
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Being a farm town they had a lot of old tractors on display

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The museum was great. Lots of things to see and certainly amazing for a town of around 10,000 people.

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Another interesting place we went was this Diner in Kingsley, Iowa

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On the wall in the back were old records…many I recognized and once owned!!
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We had a great time visiting, shoveling snow, and seeing the sights. Got to meet all the family and spend some time with them. Best of all the surgery went well for her Mom.

We were dropped off at the airport Christmas Eve to head back but our flight was delayed because of fog. So one more night at her parents house. We ended up getting another flight out Christmas Day. We arrived in Midland around 9pm and drove 2.5 hours back home.