Following my embarrassing confessional comparing photos of me in 2004 and 2014 comes another: 2005 vs 2015. Midday, my wife and I sat inside the local Panda Express, where she commented how I look like a different person from what I used to.
I’m lighter. In the photo on the left, from a decade ago in March, I weighed 95 kilos (210 pounds). Anne snapped the right pic while she ate lunch when today I weigh 63.4 kilos (139.8 pounds). That’s down from 70 kilos (152 pounds) in August 2014.
A few days before San Diego Comic-Con 2013, my doctor called demanding I make an immediate appointment to discuss diabetes treatment. A routine, non-fasting blood test brought back glucose level of 212 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Anything below 100 is safely normal. According to the National Institutes of Health: “A level of 126 mg/dL and higher most often means you have diabetes”.
After consulting my wife, I decided to ignore the doctor and change my diet before undergoing treatment. If I couldn’t correct glucose levels naturally, I would follow whatever regime she recommended, even if that meant insulin shots. Over the next couple months, I cut virtually all carbs and changed to a high-protein diet. This meant giving up so much that I loved to eat, like pasta. As my book will explain, the body consumes carbs before burning fat, and the leftovers are stored. To burn off fat, and also lower blood glucose levels, high-carb foods must be eliminated, or contained.
No pasta. No bread. No grains of any kind. No rice. No potatoes. These are all American staples. I also learned that much so-called health food isn’t. Brown rice pasta is no better than wheat noodles, and same is true of any kind of whole-grain bread compared to the whitest Wonder Bread you can find. Often, for example, low-fat or gluten-free means high carbs or added sugar.
Even today, while my wife ate Panda, at my insistence, I resisted. Self-control, as in never cheating eating something I shouldn’t, is the only way to keep the protein in-take high and carbs low. That’s another thing I learned: Insulin shots allow people to cheat. Sneak Snickers or Milk Way candy bars now, check the blood sugar and shoot up insulin later.
In May 2014, the time had come for the first post-dietary-change blood test, and I was nervous. While I physically felt better than a decade earlier, and had lost considerable weight, I couldn’t guess the outcome. The possibility of Type II Diabetes remained. But, whew, glucose came back 85 mg/dL. A1C, which measures glucose level from 3 months to 6 months, was 5.6 percent. According to NIH: “A normal A1C level is below 5.7 percent”. Everything is still normal many months later.
How I feel and also look gives me strength to stay the course. But I am tempted all the time. While my wife ate Panda today, I told her about a documentary we should see: The Search for General Tso. General Tso’s chicken is one of my favorite all-time meals that I wouldn’t dare eat now.
According to the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, a typical restaurant -style serving of 20 General Tso’s pieces (weighing 353 grams) contains 85 grams of carbs and 41 sugars. Accompanying one-cup (186 grams) of white, short-grain rice adds another 53 grams of carbs. The carbohydrates convert to glucose in the bloodstream.
If I were a body builder or someone doing rigorous physical labor, high-carb foods like pasta would provide quick energy. That’s not me, nor most Americans. Think of protein-rich foods as time-released energy, by contrast, that the body better consumes. Okay, enough with all the food talk.
But one more thing: I’m convinced there’s a meme somewhere in the “This is Me Then and Now” concept. Don’t you?
Photo Credits: Anne Wilcox