No matter how far we are going on a journey, each step is a new beginning. When I began intermittent fasting, back in July, I knew from the start that it is a long term project, and progress measured in weeks, months and even years. My incentives for giving it my best shot are huge – better health, a longer life and a more enjoyable and energetic present.
What I didn’t know, at least not in my heart, is that every day would require a new, fresh commitment to the plan. I sort of thought that my inertia would carry me along long enough to sustain me until I reach my goals, which are tangible, measurable and, hopefully, achievable.
Well, no such luck. Almost every day I fast I find myself feeling extremely positive about what I’m doing. Almost every day I’m not fasting I find myself haunted by doubts. I feel like I’m not losing weight fast enough, I’m not managing my insulin and medications well enough, and whatever I’m eating is working directly against my goals. I see a perfectly normal person walk by and I think to myself, “What a fat slob”. Because I’m afraid that somehow I’ll lose my commitment and indulge myself in foods that I don’t even really like or want anymore.
And I’m still less than a half the distance to my weight loss goal, and still unsure about how long it will take me to get to the point where I don’t need my diabetes medications and insulin any longer. I guess I’ll know when I get there, because both goals are measurable, and there is external evidence that I’m making good progress on both fronts. But in the meantime, I feel a little bit lost at sea, from time to time. The worst times are when I’m eating, and wondering if I can really afford this whatever.
I also know that even when I reach my weight goal, and my ambition to defeat metabolic disorder, and eliminate my diabetes, that I will then have to undertake another journey. Maintaining my healthy body will require vigilance, and committing to a healthy low carb diet, not for a while, but for the rest of my life. So the change I am currently experiencing through intermittent fasting will only be sustainable if I commit fully to the change in lifestyle needed to maintain the results.
This doesn’t discourage me, but it does present me with a challenge in the present, which is that my level of commitment to a certain and achievable weight and health goals must be followed by an endless journey, if the effort being made now isn’t to be completely wasted.
At that’s just a little intimidating. Well, maybe not just a little. Maybe a lot.
In an article I read today in Endocrine Web, by Kathleen Doheny
Every year, about 1.5 million Americans learn they have diabetes. However, there are more than 7 million adults who have diabetes but haven’t been diagnosed, according to the American Diabetes Association. This matters since we are learning that the best chance of reversing diabetes seems to occur very early in the onset of the disease. Finding from several recent studies indicate that the timing of diagnosis matters a lot.
If you have diabetes, your doctor may have encouraged you to consider making lifestyle changes; for many, that may include losing weight. While that same message has been discussed for years, recent evidence suggests that achieving about a 10% weight loss may be even more important than experts thought—with a payoff that is greater than previously imagined.
So you don’t have to lose all your excess weight to get a benefit from weight loss. As noted above, even a weight loss of 10% has a powerful effect on your A1C levels. This should be a great incentive for diabetics who, like me, have been identified as obese, or even merely fat or overweight.
After nearly three months I can say that fasting is making my health a little better, including reductions in A1C but also including things like mobility. I can actually reach down and touch my toes for the first time in a long time. Fungal infections have been radically reduced already. And my sense of hope for the future is significantly better.
What some authors have written about is the profound effect that fasting and weight loss have on the emotional health of a person. This may be something I’m prepared to write about in the future, but right now I feel like I’m on a roller coaster emotionally, really happy with my results one moment, and anxious about further progress the next.
My wife was diagnosed with Type two diabetes about the same time as I started my fasting program. She tried fasting the same amount as did I, but found that she simply couldn’t sustain a fast for so many hours, so she reduced the fasting to 16 hours and also continued to cut carbs and sugar in the rest of the day. Barely two months into her lifestyle change, including the reductions in carbs and sugar, she managed to reduce her A1C from 11+ down to 7.4.
She also lost some weight but not really that much. The thing is that her BMI is a healthy 24 so she really didn’t need to lose weight, as much as she needed to reduce carbs. A ten pound weight loss translated into a radical change in her blood sugars, and indeed in her medication requirements after the test.
I’m really proud of her accomplishment is such a short time, and firmly believe that if she continues in this direction that she will effectively a “non-diabetic” by spring, if not sooner.
I still hover around 215 pounds, but my blood sugars came down to 7.0 from 8.1 two months ago. My family doctor was pretty surprised and pleased with my progress. The biggest thing I keep reminding myself is that Rome wasn’t built in a day. My obesity is the result of 25 or 30 years of overindulging carbs and sugars, and it’s taking me some time to get the weight off. So be it. I already notice and now so are some of friends and family.
For the first time since I started this new lifestyle and intermittent fast, I am feeling a little discouraged. My weight has been fluctuating up and down between 215 and 225 pounds for a week. I thought once it got down to 215 it would stay there, but no. So I looked back at the week, and realize that I haven’t actually done anything inconsistent with my program.
So what is going on? I also notice that my blood readings have been running much higher all week, on fasting days as well as on eating days. What’s with that? Maybe I reduced my insulin too much too soon…. I don’t know but it’s discouraging. A bit. From what I read in the literature about fasting, it is seldom a straight line downwards in weight, and adjusting my insulin every day and every night is a little hit and miss.
Necessarily so, since the body isn’t actually just a machine, but is indeed an organic whole system, which I’ve been messing with for the last three months.
Today was my first day of fasting for this week. And I’m sticking to it, even on the bad days. Tomorrow with be a better day. Maybe not. But a tomorrow will be a better day if I stick to my guns and follow the program.
Hang in there with me, folks. The ride’s a little bumpy!
If you download the TOFI chart from this blog you’ll see how many different conditions and diseases are a direct result of eating too much carbohydrate and sugar over a long period of time.
As described by the Canadian Dr. Fung undoing the damage is a little more complicated than just reducing your carbohydrate and sugar consumption, it includes some level of intermittent fasting for long enough to effective reset the liver functions to allow the proper processing of carbohydrate and sugar, and eliminate the negative consequences of prolonged Metabolic Disorder.
There is now a lot of scientific support for carb restricted diets and lifestyle changes, but as I go along it is useful to collect other Facebook pages, Instagram, and other resources online to support sticking to a difficult but important process.
Canada urgently needs a diabetes strategy – just not necessarily the one that Diabetes Canada would have us believe is the right path
The following information is from Diabetes Canada – Basic carbohydrate counting for diabetes management. The charts and recommendations are EXACTLY as outlined in their PDF file available from the Diabetes Canada website
Following the information provided by Diabetes Canada, I will discuss briefly my own take on what this actually means, in the context of intermittent fasting and the low carb lifestyles recommended by Dr. Fung in his Diabetes Code.
STEP 1 Make healthy food choices
Enjoy a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat milk products, and meat and alternatives at your meals. A variety of foods will help to keep you healthy.
Use added fats in small amounts. This helps to control your weight and blood cholesterol.
Choose portion sizes to help you to reach or maintain a healthy weight.
STEP 2 Focus on carbohydrate
Your body breaks down carbohydrate into sugar (glucose). This raises your blood sugar levels.
Carbohydrate is found in many foods including grains and starches, fruits, some vegetables, legumes, milk and milk alternatives, sugary foods and many prepared foods.
Meat and alternatives, most vegetables and fats contain little carbohydrate. Moderate servings will not have a big effect on blood sugar levels.
STEP 3 Set carbohydrate goals
Your dietitian will help you set a goal for grams of carbohydrate at each meal and snack. This may be the same from day to day or may be flexible, depending on your needs.
Aim to meet your target within 5 grams per meal or snack.
STEP 4 Determine carbohydrate content
Write down what you eat and drink throughout the day.
Be sure to note the portion sizes. You may need to use measuring cups and food scales to be accurate.
Record the grams of carbohydrate in these foods and drinks.
For carbohydrate content of foods, check the Beyond the Basics resources, food packages, food composition books, restaurant fact sheets and websites.
STEP 5 Monitor effect on blood sugar level
Work with your health-care team to correct blood sugar levels that are too high or too low.
My take on the information provided above by Diabetes Canada is that it is great information, as far as it goes… Which means that I think that there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.
VARIATION 1 Make healthy food choices – just not the ones implied
Enjoy a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat milk products, and meat and alternatives at your meals. A variety of foods will help to keep you healthy.
This is only one point of view, and one that isn’t necessarily all that helpful, especially since built into the advice are prejudices about the virtues of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low fat. From my reading in the recent past I am now vitally convinced that the international obsession with starch and sugar based foods (ie: vegetables, fruit, and whole grains) is the fundamental CAUSE of the current epidemic of diabetes. Included in this obsession is the unproven argument against fat and meat.
Recent articles and books on the subject suggest strongly that the prejudice against fat has directly led the world’s health practitioners and public health authorities to make recommendations that have strongly affected whole populations into wrong minded and dangerous eating habits.
So the first point is almost right. Just totally wrong about low fat, oh, and about having a healthy mixture of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Generally one considers that the first items listed in a list of recommended items should be the items encouraged and supported as the primary source of dietary energy. And this would be WRONG! Sugars and starches should never constitute more than about 10%, maybe 15% of your daily calories. The rest should be made up of proteins and fats, as your primary source of dietary energy for life.
And portion sizes are really important – mostly to keep the amount of starches and sugars to the lowest possible levels, to allow the body to use fat as a primary sources of energy, leaving dietary sugar and starches to supplementary roles.
VARIATION 2 – Don’t trust traditional dieticians or doctors to give you good dietary or lifestyle advice.
Don’t trust you dietician to set goals for you, especially regarding carbs, sugars, fats and protein. Most dieticians today have been trained in a world where fat and protein (especially from red meat) have demonized and starches and sugars elevated to saintly status. Most cook books, dietician training materials, and schools are teaching the same poisoned information that has led us into the diabetic disaster that is underscoring modern lifestyles.
If you want to continue to fight with obesity and diabetes, then follow the Canada or US National Health Strategies, because doing so with take you down the same path as millions of us who are now suffering from severe diabetes, and other side effects of this advice and governmentally supported policy.
On the other hand, if you want to get off the Merry Go Round, and start to live a healthy, happy life, start to adopt what is considered to be a radically reduced diet of sugars and starches. Take your primary sustenance from meat, butter, eggs and fat, or even from vegetables rich in fat. Sugars and starches should be considered as purely luxury items, to be consumed sparsely, and in consideration of their potential for causing harm
At the end of another week of three 36 hour fasts, I’m contemplating how much my life has already changed, and how much it may still change, as I continue my fasting and attack on diabetes.
First of all, I currently weigh about 30 pounds less than when I started on the low carb high fat program. Fasting started about two weeks later, after I took the time to consult with my endocrinologist about how to manage my blood sugars during my fasting. We had already switched to two different types of insulin, long acting and fast acting, and I’m using the new meter that tests all day long, so he felt that the risk of a dangerous low could be managed.
Secondly, I now know that fasting isn’t really all that hard, for me. I suspect that motivation is a huge part of this, but fasting seems pretty straightforward to me now. Take care of my insulin and blood glucose levels, otherwise just don’t eat. Anything. Instead of it being hard, it’s been pretty easy, and the results so far are gratifying.
I made the change to my lifestyle on July 10, and began fasting near the end of the month. It’s now the end of the first week of September so I’m approach two months into the program. My insulin levels are lower than ever as are my glucose readings. I take half of the prescribed dose of long acting insulin these days, and no fast acting insulin at all on my fasting days, and about three quarters of the previous prescibed dose on my non fasting days.
The biggest concern is keeping my blood sugars high enough not to end up in a coma from hypoglycemia from having too much insulin in my system and lowering my blood sugar too much. In more than 20 years of trying to manage my diabetes low blood sugar was never ever a remote possibility, even after being on insulin, as my blood sugars were always higher than desireable.
I recently made two new holes in my belt to keep my pants from falling down, after moving from the last belt hole at the other extreme. I didn’t measure my waist when I started because I was too embarrassed to admit how big I had become. Now I wish that I had because I’m shrinking fast.
When I started this fast, I told myself that I would stay the course for three months, and then re-evaluate where I’m at then, from a health perspective as well as general feeling perspective. I also said that I would be happy if I were to get my weight under 200 lbs or 90 KG by the end of the 90 days of fasting. Today I weigh 217 lbs, down from 244 lbs on July 10th. I believe that I will achieve both goals, at which time I will commit to the next phase of this program.
I wish I could say that there have been no negative effects of fasting. It’s a little early to make that statement. What I can say is that there haven’t been any, so far.
A couple of months ago I started to seriously revisit all the prescriptions and medications I am taking, by examining all the fact sheets on each prescription drug, particularly as to their side effects. Oh MY! did I open a can of worms when I did that! I would never have guessed that my doctors are quite supportive of my challenge to my existing regimen of treatment.
My family doctor suggested I get my pharmacist to do a careful analysis of all of them, and make some recommendations as to how I might reduce the sheer number of drugs I’ve been taking, as well as to eliminate those which might be exacerbating some of my side effects. My pharmacist suggested that I could end up getting rid of virtually all my diabetes and related medications by the time we complete this review.
So, far from being discouraged after my initial review, I felt quite enthusiastic about challenging the status quo, and moving towards more control of my health, most particularly my diabetes.
A few weeks ago I wrote about changing how my insulin is administered as well as how it is monitored every day. My endocrinologist prescribed me new forms of insulin, one long acting and one fast acting. I also finally got the new patch, which allows me to monitor my glucose levels on an ongoing basis. Despite a bit of struggling with learning how to use the insulin, without plunging myself into a diabetic coma, it soon became clear to me that I was gaining a huge amount of control of my sugar levels, merely by having an effective biofeedback loop, combined with insulin which could be provided only when needed, and only the amounts needed at the time to control the blood sugar.
Wow! Was I surprised.
Suddenly, in a matter of only two or three weeks I discovered that I could bring my blood sugars down a lot, and not just my fasting sugars, but all of my blood sugars. I discovered that what I put in my body, other than the drugs, has a huge impact of my blood sugars.
Coincidentally, at about the same time, my son Donald, gave me a book, The Diabetes Code, by Jason Fung, MD. This book, which I have reviewed earlier in my blogs, was also a revelation. For the very first time I read about a treatment program which proposes that diabetes is NOTa lifetime sentence to a progressive and destructive disease. Instead, it is a preventable and treatable consequence of lifestyle choices within an individual’s personal control.
And even for someone with long term diabetes, after years of treatment and drugs, with many negative physical problems directly caused by diabetes, diabetes can still be beaten.
Step One. Understand that almost everything we think we know about a healthy diet is simply wrong, and out of date. In a sense, the modern type 2 diabetes epidemic is a creation of modern science in a willing collusion with food manufactures and dieticians. Prior to the last forty years Type 2 diabetes was a relatively rare disorder. In the past forty years, however, it has exploded to becoming one of the number one causes of serious illness and death. Nobody is saying that it is being done on purpose by someone, however, even if someone deliberately set out to destroy public health, all around the world, they couldn’t have done a better job of ruining millions of lives and destroying the health and well being of almost the entire population.
Step Two. Reexamine what Type 2 Diabetes actually is, rather than what health professionals have been saying for the past forty years. Type 2 Diabetes is basically the body overdosing on carbohydrates and sugars, over producing insulin in a vain attempt to force the body to use the excessive amounts of sugars being forced into the system, and systematically creating Insulin Resistance, by trying to get insulin to do a job it is not designed to do – which is to take the constant overdosing on carbohydrates and sugars, and force the cells of the body to use ever more and more of the sugars. Doing this eventually destroys the liver, and packs the liver with excessive stored energy in the form of fat. The fatter the liver, the less effective it becomes at managing the body’s blood sugar levels. Stuff too much sugar and carbohydrates into a body and eventually the body becomes diabetic and obese. Dr. Fung calls the disease Diabesity, combining the words Diabetes and Obesity into one word that describes the condition responsible for the modern malaise that is destroying so many.
Step Three. It is curable, or at least treatable. Not with complicated and expensive prescriptions but with the simplest of instructions, albeit difficult to follow for many. At the simplest level, stop eating that which is killing you. At least stop eating a potentially fatal dose of it every day of your life. It will require a major change in dietary habits, starting with today, and continuing for the rest of your life.
Step Four. Reset the diabetic system of your body. Although simply reducing carbs and sugars radically will bring your sugars (and your weight) down if followed with a certain amount of discipline, what it won’t do, according to Dr. Fung, and his research, is undo the damage done to your body from overeating and overusing carbohydrates and sugar for many years prior to diabetes being diagnosed.
What’s happened, most importantly, is that the body has over-stuffed the critical inner organs, the liver most critically, with fat converted from all the excess sugar and carbs eaten for a lifetime. The fat in the liver is hard to get rid of, even by extremely consistent reduction of carbs and sugars. And it is this fat in the liver that makes you insulin resistant. So getting rid of it as possible is essential for a long term “cure” of diabetes. Dr. Fung believes that intermittent fasting may be the only way, or at least the most likely way, to force the body to eliminate the fat in the internal organs that is most directly responsible for insulin resistance.
So, to make a long blog just a little bit shorter, I’ll get to the point. Fasting is a way to radically improve my health, by busting the elevated fat out of my “fatty liver”. So starting today, with my first 30 hour fast, I am undertaking a systematic program of combining a low carbohydrate and sugar diet with 36 hours of fasting, three days a week.
I’m planning, initially, to pursue this program for three months, in consultation with my endocrinologist and careful planning of my insulin and drug therapies. I’m to monitor my blood sugars all day long with my new meter, and adjust my insulin, up and down as needed to maintain my blood sugar in the healthy target zone of 5.8 mMl t0 7.8 mMl over the twenty-four hour day.
One last point. Do radically reduce carbs in your diet, whether you’re a diabetic or not, because if you are eating too much sugar and carbohydrates, you are now or soon still be a diabetic.
DON’T do this fast without medical consultation and supervision if you are a diabetic on insulin. I have had six dangerously low blood sugar events in the past three weeks, after never having had one in more than twenty years of diabetes. Because I monitor my blood sugars with the Freestyle patch and meter, on a regular basis, I know quickly if my blood sugars are going too low, and have taken corrective steps immediately, which means eating or drinking a high sugar content food, so immediately raise the blood sugars out of the danger zone.
While I am fasting the doctor and I have developed a strategy for administration of my insulin, to ensure that I don’t have any of these extremely low blood sugar events. So please don’t try this without medical advice and support.
So if you’re following me, and want to know how it goes, add follow and I’ll let you know.