Edgar's One Thousand Mile Journey
The journey to good health begins with one step
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
November 2007 — A few days after the National Hispanic Heritage Month there are still reasons to celebrate the accomplishments of Latinos in the U.S. and around the world. One man to celebrate is Edgar Garcia's dramatic health improvement after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in late June 2006. Edgar is a computer engineer who works for an engineering and construction firm and also teaches college-level classes in Mexico City.
"The day I was diagnosed, I received my blood work results showing I had a fasting glucose of 658 mg/dL," commented Edgar. The following day, he fell in a state of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) that kept him hospitalized for over a week.
Diabetes is not new in Edgar's family. Since he was young, he witnessed his maternal grandmother take good care of her diabetes for many years, but he also saw his paternal grandfather loose a leg and eventually die of diabetes complications, because he did not take care of himself.
Edgar did not surrender when he was diagnosed. The days in the ICU helped him become aware of the disease he had been found to have. "I was being given a second opportunity and I had to make the most of it," he added. Edgar realigned his entire lifestyle around four factors to help with his diabetes management: nutrition, exercise, medical treatment, and a contagious positive attitude. "Instead of worrying about all the complications I may suffer, I try to make sure they don't happen by respecting the other three factors," he commented.
His treatment began with 25 units of intermediate-acting insulin in the mornings, along with oral medications. Nowadays, he only takes a quarter of a tablet of Metformin 850 mg. Edgar hopes to be able to eventually control his type 2 diabetes solely through diet and exercise.
Edgar's dietary regime is designed according to his activity level, his weight, height, and his glucose levels. Thanks to a great discipline, he respects the hours of his meals as well as the portion sizes and meals he can consume. Also, knowing the carbohydrate content of the foods he can have allows him to make the right decisions when he has to eat outside.
From Monday to Friday, Edgar does 30-60 minutes of stationary bicycle workout. On Saturdays, he runs up to five miles and Sundays, up to eight miles. Typically, he participates in official competitions once a month and he is preparing to run a whole marathon (26 miles) in 2008. Besides biking and running, every night he also does push-ups and exercises with weights.
As a result of his effort, in late August 2007, Edgar had been able to lower his Hemoglobin A1C from 12% (where he started a little over a year before) to a healthy 5.5%.
Maybe by now you are wondering whether you need to run a marathon to replicate what Edgar accomplished. The answer to this lies in a famous proverb by Chinese philosopher Confucius: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
You can get yourself a pedometer, a device that counts steps. Place it in your waist and at the end of the day it will display the number of steps you took. You will be surprised to find out that typically, unless you walk or use public transportation, we don't normally take more than 5 to 6 thousand steps every day, while the recommendation is to take no less than 10 thousand daily steps.
If you don't reach 10 thousand steps, here are three tips to help you get there that will help you with your diabetes:
- If you drive a vehicle, park far from your destination.
- Whenever you can, use the stairs.
- Dance while you clean or do the dishes.
Always keep a positive attitude (like Edgar): take good care and help raise diabetes awareness this coming November 14, World Diabetes Day. If you live in or around New York, learn about the scheduled activities for this day. If you live anywhere else, encourage your local government to light up in blue a landmark building, learn about other World Diabetes Day events, and take part in projects like the "Word In Your Hand."
See you next month!
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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