Lose Weight, Gain Energy

by Don and Bonnie Lang

Don says:

I was a typical couch potato. I worked full speed 12 hours a day, but as soon as I got home I fell into my easy cair, exhausted. I couldn't move. I crashed.

Of course, I'd have supper--mostly comfort food. Bonnie is a terrific cook and she cooked what I liked.

I had no idea that I was killing myself.

My first sign of trouble was that highway signs had gotten fuzzy, but the bomb went off the weekend Bonnie and I spent on a trip to the beach. It was weird. I drank a glass of orange juice and minutes later had to run to the bathroom. Driving home was excruicating. In terrible pain to have to go, I'd jump out of the car and head for the men's room and just dribble a little. A few miles down the road I'd do it all over again.

At some point something clicked. I looked at my wife and said, "Bon, I have diabetes!"

Bonnie says:

I was concerned, and I felt bad for him. Here we'd finally gotten a couple days off work, and he couldn't even enjoy it. But I decided to wait till he went to his doctor before worrying.

Don says:

After blood work I went backto see my doctor. I was a type 2 diabetic, and she said my blood sugar was very high.

I remember that I grinned. "You've just given me the best news I ever had!"

"No!" she protested. "This is where you're supposed to fall to the floor and tell me that your life is over."

I shook my head. "Why?" I asked. "You've just given me the motivation to make the lifestyle change that I've known for years I should make."

My blood sugar was in the 400s. My bad cholesterol was more than 300. I knew that if I did nothing, this excess sugar would cause nerve and kidney damage, make me lose my eyesight, and possibly even lose my legs. There are so many bad effects.

"I'm serious," I told the doctor. "I'm going to change my life."

"Aha, hotshot," she said with a laugh. "Let's see how you're doing in six months."

Bonnie says:

Don came home and told me the bad news. It was bad news, but Don was jazzed. "Here's what I've gotta do," he said.

The first thing we did do was clean out our cupboards. Everything white--white flour, white rice, white bread, junk food--went in the trash bin. Next we hit the grocery store. Boy, did we read the labels. Low carbs. Low sugar. We checked out everything we put in the cart.

At the check out counter a Prevention magazine grabbed Don's attention with its article on the benefits of flaxseed. We bought it and started educating ourselves on how to live with type 2 diabetes.

Don says:

A few days later I met with a nutritionist, but I felt that what she shared was how to cheat. What to do when I ate a doughnut, for example. "Ma'am, I don'tmean to offend you," I said carefully. "but I know how to cheat. I need to learn how to live healthfully."

I left her office even more motivated to go to a natural lifestlye.

Bonnie says:

Giving up fat was perhaps the hardest for Don. I had to learn to fry things in a nonstick skillet and water! I did a lot of experimenting. I won't use a recipe unless it tastes good to him, but luckily, I like to cook. Little by little I learned how to make nutritionally rich meals that tasted terrific.

We started walking, too. At first Don could barely make it a mile. At the end of the summer--what an overachiever!--he was walking 10 miles a day.

We bought ourselves good-quality walking shoes and wore them out. In fact, we've worn out two pairs. With walking and this new way of eating, Don dropped 85 pounds while I lost around 30.

Don says:

Before prescribing the medication, my doctor wanted me to get on a regimen. So she had me come back in three months. By then my fasting blood sugar had dropped to 137.

"I'm starting to believe you may not need medication," she said, scheduling a complete physical for three months later.

I'll never forget going to her office that October day six months after I was diagnosed.
"OK, hotshot!" she said. "Let's see how you're doing."

I knew I was doing well. "I feel like a schoolboy who knows all the answers before the exam," I told her. "I just feel that good!"

A few days later she asked me to come to the office so she could give me the test results in person. "You are an absolute poster child for good health!" she told me with a big smile. "Your cholesterol in down to 73. Fasting blood sugar is 94. You're not a diabetic. If you came in for the first time with these tests, I'd tell you that you were in absolute good heatlh."

* * *

Another year has passed, and I'm doing great, even though diabetes lurks like a Goliath in the background. One of my weapons is flaxseed, for it lowers and stabilizes my blood sugar. I eat three heaping tablespoons of ground-up flaxseed every morning, and I take it everywhere I travel. I don't do anything fancy with it, just mix it in water or put it on cereal. Bonnie uses it as an egg replacer. It'll thicken anything.

I've just had my annual physical. My cholesterol is still low, though in the past year I haven't been quite as careful when I'm traveling for work. And energy. I have way more energy! I've gone from a lethargic slug--"Get me home and put me in my chair"--to a guy who likes to do stuff. I've even lost interest in TV. Who has time for it when you're feeling as good as I do?

Bonnie gets the last word:

A year or so before he was diagnosed, I noticed a change in Don. He'd be a grump or say something nasty to me, and I'd think, This isn't Don.

After eating he'd go to sleep. Instantly. (His blood sugar was skyrocketing, but we didn't know it.) I'd leave him in the chair. He had no energy. He wasn't huffing and puffing; he just had no energy.

I love having my "old" Don back again.

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