Holy Week brings Good News!

Last week, I was in final prep for my 5K Run but at the same time, I was preparing for a doctor visit for my quarterly diabetes check up (having been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes last May -- another motivator for living a healthier lifestyle). Last Monday, I had blood drawn to perform a HbA1c test (a test that reports your blood glucose level over a 90-day period) as well as tests for cholesterol, Lipids, liver functions, etc. Then on Thursday (Maundy Thursday) evening, I was supposed to meet with the doctor to get the results and determine if any changes need to be made to medications, etc.

I was all set to leave work to go to my appointment, when Christi told me the Doc wanted to get in touch with me. That scared me a bit... why would he need to talk to me before I even got to his office? Was there something really wrong in the results that he needed to respond to immediately? So of course, I called his office ASAP to find out the scoop.

So he says to me, "I don't think we need to meet today. Your bloodwork was so good!" At this point, I am grinning from ear-to-ear. This was the best news ever! He told me my A1c level was 5.5 which is a normal level for non-diabetics. My blood glucose level was 83 (anything under 100 is considered normal). ALL of the tests performed came back solidly NORMAL! W00t!!!!

Then he told me that he is canceling one of my two medications (Glyburide, which made me very happy). And in three weeks, if everything continues to look good, he will reduce my other medication (Metformin) by half. In six weeks, he might even cancel that one!

He said, "Rick, you are curing your Diabetes with your changes in diet and exercise. I could not be happier." So by summer, I may not be on any medication and managing things by lifestyle changes alone. This is such exciting news for me! My diabetes was found early and my aggressive actions to address it means that I have experienced none of the side effects of the disease, and as long as my counts are normal, I should not expect to in the future.

So for those who doubt it is 'worth the effort' to make the decision to live an active lifestyle , exercise, and learn to make better dietary choices, I am here to tell you to reconsider. This news has made Holy Week and the celebration of New Life on Easter even more significant to me.


The Journey to Wellness began last May

It all started last May when I decided to lose all the weight that I have been slowly gaining over the past five years. I was tired of looking at myself in photographs on Facebook because they made me feel like I needed to purchase a bigger digital display just to see the entire photo!

I met with a Registered Dietician several times, talking about my eating habits, what I like and did not like to eat, and what I needed to change. Then he and I worked out a strategy and a plan for what I should be eating for good nutrition, how to count my daily nutritional consumption (and what those numbers should be), and what is considered an appropriate 'portion' by normal (not American) standards.

I also decided to go back to what works; I went back to Weight Watchers. This time, I went to their 'At Work' program where the weekly meetings take place at your office and your support group are people with whom you work. It was the most convenient solution I could think of.

From May to December, I lost 50 pounds! Just by eating more intelligently, making better food and portion choices, and pretty much giving up fast food and sodas (drinking mostly water, iced tea, and an occasional Coke Zero).

Starting this year, I started working out at a local fitness center. I do both cardio (treadmill biking) and strength training workouts and go at least five times a week. It is really making a difference in my endurance, strength, and my self image too. On April 4, I started a new program called Team Weight Loss which is a cardio program focused on weight loss and nutrition with a group of like-minded people. It is a challenge but it is kinda fun and the people are nice.

I am expecting good things from all this work! To date, I have lost 75 pounds. Very exciting progress, right? I am halfway to my goal so I have to keep things interesting so I can stay motivated. Variety in my exercise program, and setting both long and short term goals, are going to be my keys to success.

So I joined their 90-day Challenge, where you weigh in at the start and then are weighed again at the end. There are prizes for the biggest 'losers'. But the two big cool things with this are 1) there are two 5K races I get to walk/run, and 2) twice each week I get to do any of their classes for free. I plan to take advantage of that deal!

In fact, I am doing a total of four 5K races this year. Hopefully, all of my power-walking on the Treadmill since January and strength training since late February has prepped me for this. So far, things look promising! I ran 3 miles two weeks ago and clocked myself at 52 minutes. Then on the 23rd, I ran my first 5K (the kickoff to the 90-day Challenge) and finished in 42:41 -- a full 10 minutes faster! It felt great and I could've run farther. Now I need to continue my walk-run training program (thanks to Running for Mortals by John Bingham/Jenny Hadfield) in preparation for my second 5K on May 22nd -- the Weight Watchers 5K WalkIt. I hope to run most of that one.

I know that I work best when challenged. So I will be running the concluding 5K run in July for the Challenge. And in October, I will run the Chicago AIDS 5K. I am very excited about this run as it supports such an important cause -- fighting this terrible disease. If you are interested in supporting me in this event, please visit my pledge site and make a donation.

My bottom line goal is to lose another 75 pounds by this time next year and then to keep the weight off. I am going to be a lean, mean, fighting machine!

It is going to be hard work but it is so worth it! Pray for me, and stay tuned here as I chronicle my journey.

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