Friday, 26 December 2014

My Fight Against Diabetes Part 3 - Reversal

Diabetes reversal became my goal.  I tried to maintain a bike ride 4-6 times per week.  They consisted of  hard sessions (intervals, hills), endurance sessions (80km+) or shorter recovery rides in between.  I eventually stopped logging my food.  I was dropping weight fast and I was getting very good at knowing what foods had carbs and what sort of portions I should be able to eat.  I treated most of my time on the bike like a training session; I'd extend the endurance rides further and the high intensity I would ride harder.  My old endurance distances started to become my current recovery ride distance.

A few months (and 40 pounds) later, I was back getting another A1C.  The doctor was really happy with my progress, my A1C had dropped to a 6.3%.  I was a bit disappointed as I had expected more results from my hard work.  But the doctor really helped me put it into perspective; she reminded me I did it on half of my oral dose.  She confirmed that this was a pre-diabetic level and she was taking me off all the oral medication.  I had already achieved my goal of diabetes reversal!

This wasn't the end though, not by a long shot.  There's a reason why they call it "reversal" and not "cure".  It's because there is no cure.  You can reverse the progress of type 2 diabetes but the disease is a progressive one.  It meant I would have to continue riding my bike harder and faster and maintaining my good eating habits.  But in my mind this is perfectly fine; I knew no matter what, diabetes would bring lifestyle changes.  In my case I had just made very healthy lifestyle choices.  It doesn't hurt that I love cycling too.

So my next goal became more of the same, lower A1C numbers and continuing my diabetes reversal.  I made sure to continue extending the intensity of my hard rides and the distance of my long rides.  Times when I was grimacing in pain, I would visualize that pain being inflicted on my diabetes.  The thought would turn my exercise-induced grimace into a very broad smile.

It was definitely having a big change on my physique.  My weight loss slowed but was easily explained by the muscles; my quads started becoming quite large.  My waist size continued to shrink.  I was still pretty doughy on top, but south of my waist line I had the appearance of an athlete.  I only lost ten pounds but felt like I had lost another 40!

When winter started making things difficult, I executed my contingency plans.  My road bike was put on a trainer and used at an indoor class; Project: SubZero would be my experiment riding out doors.  I also had a stationary bike if the indoor class didn't work out.  I've been so busy with the first two I have only had one opportunity to use the stationary at home.

So recently I went back for another A1C.  I was expecting a small drop like last time.  So you can imagine my surprise when my reading was 5.7%!  My doctor was very congratulatory and pointed out this last drop was done with no oral medication at all.  Her suggestion was I continue exactly what I had been doing, as it was obviously very successful.

So I continue to progress against this progressive disease.  I do this by constantly extending my goals.  My A1C goal is to be lower than 5.7% next time.  My weight goal is to lose another 50 lbs.  While indoor cycling I'm hoping to increase my functional threshold power an additional 15%.  This coming spring I am looking into a 200km brevet.  As the saying goes, get busy living or get busy dying.


  1. Awesome! Inspiring stuff. I wish I were able to get more scientific about my approach to diet and exercise. I still eat like a hog. When you ride you're thinking about how it is helping your diabetic condition - when I ride I'm thinking about how much more food I can now eat, guilt free!

    That's something which has really amazed me since I started riding - I just seem to be able to eat and eat and not gain weight. I've been at the same weight for almost 3 months now, and although I could probably lose another 5-10, it's not a big deal like it was before. I figure that it's ok to carry a little extra through the winter!

    1. I do it for both; it helps diabetes and it lets me eat what I want.

      I've been on a plateau as well. No biggie, I'm building muscle... and enjoying the food!

      I found when I wanted to drop weight, MyFitnessPal was a great app to use. You can also get bike tracking apps to feed your rides to it automatically; it will re-calculate how much you should eat, taking into account your exercise.

      I've been lazy with MyFitnessPal for months; but when I want to lose some serious weight, that's the app I'll fire up.