March 5, 2018, it will be one year that I’ve been following a low carb lifestyle and today I took stock of what I’ve accomplished so far and set goals of what I will accomplish this coming year.
A year ago, I set four goals;
(1) blood sugar in the non-diabetic range
(2) normal blood pressure
(3) normal / ideal cholesterol levels
(4) a waist circumference in the “at or below” recommended values of the Heart and Stroke Foundation
…and I wondered aloud in one of the first blogs in my ‘journey’;
“Will I meet all these goals? Who knows?! But I won’t know if I don’t try and the alternative of a life of medication for blood sugar, blood pressure and eventually cholesterol too does not appeal to me!”
Well, its a year later and what have I accomplished?
(1) My HbA1C is below the cutoffs for a Diabetes diagnosis and much of the time my fasting blood glucose is as well.
(2) My blood pressure is in the normal range for someone with Type 2 Diabetes and half the time it is in the normal range for someone without it.
(3) I have normal / ideal HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels and my LDL is in the normal range.
(4) I have a waist circumference that is within the recommended range set by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
This is good, yes and I am pleased with my progress but I am not content to pat myself on the back, buy a new outfit and rest on my laurels. I have things I still want to accomplish and towards that end, I have set some new goals for the coming year – year two in A Dietitian’s Journey.
I have updated the above goals for this year. I want to have;
(1) HbA1C that is in below the high end of the normal range (i.e. < 5.5 % instead of 6.0%) and to consistently have fasting blood glucose that is also below the high end of the normal range (i.e. ≤ 5.0 mmol/L | 90 mg/dl instead of 5.5 mmol/L | 99 mg/dl),
(2) blood pressure that is in the normal range for healthy adults without Diabetes,
(3) normal to ideal triglyceride and cholesterol levels – as good, or better than currently,
(4) a waist circumference to be half my height based on research covered in an earlier article,
(5) I want to be fit.
So what is “fit“?
I think that most people think of fitness in terms of what is usual for people of the same age and gender. If that’s the case, I definitely do NOT want that!
I want to be fit enough to shovel the snow off my driveway without needing a break. I want to be fit enough to carry in two 20 kg bags of salt myself – one in each hand. I want to chop the firewood for my fireplace and stack it myself and I want to be able to change the tire on my car myself, if need be. I can do those things now, but I want to keep being able to do that as the years go on. I don’t want to be one of those “women of a certain age” that sit in a chair doing “seniors fitness”! I want to be able to manage a resistance or weight training workout of women half my age, when I am in my 60’s and 70’s. Heck I want to live a full and productive life like I do now, when I’m “old”.
My grandmother lived until the age of 104 years and was in good health until a few months before she died and like many seniors, it was a ‘fall’ that began the health failure cascade that eventually ended her life.
If I begin strengthening my muscles now, I won’t become one of those frail seniors with spindly little legs. That’s what I mean by “fit”.
With the encouragement of a few doctors that I know that are quite a bit younger that I am, but considerably more knowledgeable in this area, I’ve decided to get fit following two main recommendations;
(1) eat sufficient protein to prevent sarcopenia, the visible loss of muscle mass and strength that is commonly associated with aging
(2) to practice high intensity training (HIT) to build up my muscles, so that they are the healthiest they can be for my age.
Something I have learned by listening to the lectures of Dr. Donald Layman (on protein requirement as we age) and to Dr. Doug McGuff (on strength training for health and longevity) is that what is common as people age is not what is normal.
It is common in our society to see older adults with muscle loss, however when we look at seniors in other cultures, this is not normal.
The seniors of Okinawa, Japan for example continue to do manual jobs and practice martial arts well into their 80’s and 90’s and the aborigines of Australia remain lean and fit as seniors.
This is “normal“.
We’ve confused “common” with “normal” and instead of visualizing seniors exercising looking like this;
…all too often, we picture this:
An article last year on Global News titled “weight training in your twilight years” had the picture to the left accompanying it – as if all one can reasonably expect from a woman in her 60’s is to be able to lift a 1 pound weight.
No, that is not fitness.
…which brings me back to my last goal. I want to be ‘fit’ the way it is normal to be fit – not what is commonly viewed as fitness for “women of a certain age”.
I want to eat optimally and function optimally because anything else is less than what we were created to do and be. This means continuing to eat low carb because as someone who met all the criteria for Metabolic Syndrome, including obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, this is what it will take to keep those diseases and disorders in remission. It also means strength training my muscles and eating sufficient protein to accrue new muscle – not to become a body builder, but to be a fit woman.
In the lecture given by Dr. Doug McGuff on strength training for health and longevity that I watched, he told the story of Satchel Paige (1906-1982), considered the best pitcher in baseball history and who began pitching at the age of 42 years.
One of the quotes he is renowned for happens to hang on the wall in my client bathroom and reads;
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”
– Satchel Paige
My grandmother was often mistaken for a woman 20 years her junior right up until the last year or two of her life because she didn’t “act old”. She lived in an apartment for seniors and cooked her own porridge each morning and in good weather walked to the local shopping center two blocks away until she was a centenarian.
I want to be that kind of senior!
And so, as I close off the first year of A Dietitian’s Journey, I begin the second with goals having been met and new ones to be achieved.
So let me ask you this, “how old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”.
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To our good health!
If you would like to read well-researched, credible “Science Made Simple” articles on the use of a low carb or ketogenic diet for weight loss, as well as to significantly improve and even reverse the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol and other metabolic-related symptoms, please click here.
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