A Dietitian’s Journey – Progress not perfection, 7 months in

It’s been 7 months since I’ve been seriously adhering to a low carb high heathy fat (LCHF) lifestyle, but like anybody else it’s easy for me to get frustrated when I don’t reach goals as quickly as I would like. I have to stop and remind myself that I didn’t become obese and Diabetic overnight and it’s going to take time to reverse these symptoms. These updates help me take stock of my progress, because after all it’s about progress, not perfection.

Joy – class 2 obesity

At my highest weight, my Body Mass Index (BMI) put me well into the Class 2 Obesity category. I felt terrible, looked terrible and was desperately unhealthy.  Losing weight seemed impossible – or if not impossible, too difficult.

 

September 20 2015

This is what I looked like 2 1/2 years ago, when I first heard about following a low carb high healthy fat lifestyle from a retired physician-friend. At this point, I had already lost about 25 pounds by cutting portion sizes and exercising, but my weight was always fluctuating by 10 or 12 pounds and with it, my blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. I was in denial about how very unwell I had become.

The sudden death of two girlfriends my own age was certainly a ‘wake up call’, but it was my blood pressure that had become dangerously high that was the final impetus for me to change. I knew that if I did nothing, I was at very high risk of having a stroke or heart attack. My choice was (1) to go on medication for high blood sugar, high cholesterol and high blood pressure or (b) change the way I ate. It was, as they say, a “no brainer”.

March 5, 2017 was the day I made the decision to change and there has been no looking back.

Change only happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing.

March 16 2017 – the beginning of the journey

This is what I looked like when I started.  Based on my BMI, I was well into the Class I Obesity category.

My blood pressure ranged between Stage 2 Hypertension and Stage 1 Hypertension – dangerously high.

My morning fasting blood sugar was averaging ± 12 mmol/L (216 mg/dl) and my HbA1C was likely ~ 9.5%.

My triglycerides were high and my LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”) was well above what it should have been for someone who was Type 2 Diabetic and had family risk factors.

I was determined to reverse the symptoms of Diabetes, high triglycerides and high blood pressure by changing how I ate.

Progress, not perfection

Blood Glucose

When I began this journey at the beginning of March, my fasting blood glucose was averaging 12 mmol/L . My HbA1C was likely ~9.5%. Four months into eating low carb high fat, my fasting blood sugar was averaging 8.5 mmol/L and my HbA1C was 7.5% – still above the ≤ 7.0% therapeutic target for those with Type 2 Diabetes.

This week, 3 months later, my HbA1C reached the 7.0% therapeutic target for those with Type 2 Diabetes, but that is still not good enough. My goal is to get it at or below 6.0 % – below the Diabetic cutoff range. My challenge remains that my blood sugar is frequently high in the morning  when I am fasted, yet is significantly lower in the late afternoon when I have been intermittent fasting for the same length of time. I continue to suspect that cortisol remains a factor as cortisol production naturally begins to climb around midnight and reaches and is highest level between 6 am to 8 am.  

This higher blood sugar in the morning is something called “Dawn Phenomenon” which I had for a good 5 years before becoming Type 2 Diabetic. When I track my blood sugar from 10 pm until 8 am, it starts going up in the wee hours of the morning and keep rising until 6:30 or 7 am so it’s evident that my fasting blood sugar is rising with the daily fluctuations in cortisol. When I am intermittent fasting for the same amount of time during the day, my fasting blood glucose is always < 5.0 mmol/L and many times less than 4.0 mmol/L – which is usually my signal to eat something. Under the effect of cortisol combined with my liver still being insulin resistant, the glucose has no where to go and just sits in my blood.

I am going to try to get back to incorporating some form of daily activity to lower stress, which kind of fell off the radar and add some short duration, high-strength / high muscle-use exercise such as squats which can help move blood glucose into the muscle.

Blood Pressure

I continue on my low very low dose of Ramipril (Altace) and my blood pressure is averaging 127/74 mmHg. When I stop the meds for a day or two to measure my blood pressure, it is still averaging 145/82 mmHg which is still too high to discontinue the medication, but it is far better than the 160/90 mmHg that it was 3 months ago.

Weight and Body Measurements
LEFT: March 16 2017, RIGHT: October 11 2017

I’ve lost 20 lbs so far but its the change in my body and face shape that is most noticible!

In terms of “inches”, I’ve lost;

  • 1″ off my upper arms
  • 2.5″ off my neck (which really shows!)
  •  1″ off my thighs
  • 4 1/2″ off my waist (which feels amazing!)

Facial lines are more visible, but when I look in the mirror I actually recognize the face looking back.

I am now below the high end of the overweight category based on BMI and am continuing to lose weight steadily.

At the beginning of this journey, I planned to lose ~30 lbs, but I realize that to attain an ideal waist circumference that is 1/2 my height, I likely have another 30 pounds to lose now which means I am not quite half-way there, but I am making progress!

…and that is the goal; progress, not perfection.

Note: I am a "sample-set of 1" - meaning that my results may or may not be like any others who follow a similar lifestyle. If you are considering eating "low carb" and are taking medication to control your blood sugar or blood pressure, please discuss it with your doctor, first.