The Plan and the Tools
I have to admit my Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis had not surprised me. I was in denial about my weight, lack of exercise, and poor diet. Once I got the news, I didn’t sit around feeling bad about it. I sprung into action. It was as if I gained a few extra points of IQ, recognized my exact position, and made an immediate resolution to beat it. I surprised myself.
The plan was simple. Lose the weight by altering my diet and starting an exercise program. By getting my weight under control, I might get my body’s systems back in balance, and reverse the diabetes. I wanted to take a data driven approach to everything I was doing. I wanted to watch the variables and measure results. I also believed seeing the results, viewing the data, would keep me motivated. If you can’t measure a system, you can’t improve it.
In those few days after my diagnosis I set a weight goal. Given my height and build I should be somewhere between 180 and 220 lbs. So I needed to lose about 50 lbs, a big goal. I had decided that reducing carbs and getting more proteins, an Atkins like diet, would work for me. I had had some success with it in the past, now I had a good incentive to do it right this time.
My weight was the big variable and tracking it would be critical. You can screw up a low carb diet and actually gain weight. Measuring my weight every day would help me fine tune what I was eating. I wanted this data capture to be very simple, so I ended up buying a Whithings Body Scale. Data capture is automatic. You weigh yourself and the scale updates your data over WiFi on the Withings site. You can view the data on their web site or with a free iPhone app. It’s pricy but it simplifies and makes weigh-ins more fun.
The second part of the plan was to get moving again. I did enjoy running in the past but though the easiest thing to do was to start walking. I set aside time every day to walk. The calories I would burn in conjunction with the low carb diet would help me take off the weight. I thought eventually I would start running again as the weight came off. For tracking my exercise and calories burned I chose RunKeeper on the iPhone. I love this app. Again it makes data collection, tracks all aspects of my workout, and keeps me motivated by alerting me to personal bests like “Most Activities in a Week” or “Longest Distance in an Activity”.
For testing and tracking blood glucose I’m using a Contour Blood Glucose Meter and the BGluMon – Blood Glucose Monitor iPhone app. This part of my toolset isn’t so automated but it is simple. The Contour unit it pretty easy to run although it does take some time to getting use to jabbing yourself for blood, but these new monitors require so little blood. (A tip from my doc: stop sticking your fingers. You can get all the blood you need from the outside edge of your palm.) BGluMon is also pretty simple to use and it was the easiest most helpful app I could find to run stats on my blood glucose readings. I’ve shown the graphs it generates of my numbers to my doc during visits. Very handy.
The one big variable I’m not tracking closely is my calorie intake. I can’t seem to find a tool that will help me do this with minimal fuss. My rational here is that if I can keep the carbs out of my diet and if I can keep my meal sizes down, I won’t need to sweat the calories in count. I’d like to fix this eventually.