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Sweet Nothings

As part of the new curriculum “Pathways” at Toastmasters, I was to deliver a speech which I did in June of 2018. Based on the feedback from my evaluator, I had to modify the speech and present it again, which I did on August 11, 2018. Here is the transcript of the same.

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Towards the end of a business lunch, I asked “Dessert?” “No thanks. I am a diabetic.” “Sandeep, you are barely in your 20s, with an athletic body and you expect me to believe you are diabetic? It only happens to old people, right?” This was way back in 1998, how wrong was I!

Toastmaster of the day, fellow toastmasters and guests, welcome again to my tryst with diabetes.

About a year later, I had a skin infection which refused to heal and the dermatologist asked me to get my blood sugar checked. The results – Fasting of 180 against the normal range from 80 to 100. Postprandial 225 against the normal range from 100 to 120. My cousin, a vitreoretinal surgeon, specialises in eye problems in diabetics and so is well versed. “Manish, go to Dr. Argikar right now. I have set up your meeting”. I followed Dr. Argikar’s advice off and on (more off than on). My sister, Parul, is a dietitian and so chipped in with a lecture on exercising which I did take to. Learnt swimming, began walking.

Life trudged on and everytime someone would ask me about my blood results I would cringe “You know how scared I am of injections”. I used to avoid tests not for months but for years together. My wife and sister would nag me to get myself tested but I persisted with my phobia and also began exercising.

In August 2016, my blood report was good what with the cycling, walking and yoga I was into. I then became complacent and began basking in the glory.

In February this year, I mustered the courage to go to the lab after almost 2 years. The results left me shell shocked. Fasting 188 which was the worst ever in my history and postprandial of 140. Parul called me “Do you know what you are getting into? Change your medicines, change your lifestyle, change everything but get this under control” Dr. Argikar too gave me a piece of his mind along with increased medication.

Parul, like any other dietitian, got me on to a strict diet. She sure was getting even with me for all the childhood pranks. She was in constant touch with the powers that be in the kitchen – my Mom and wife and would instruct them on what to make and how much oil to use etc. Kavya would take photographs of the dinner plate and send it to her. She would then veto if it was good to eat or not and if the portion was OK or not. Imagine staring at food, not being able to eat it and watching it being reduced even before taking in a morsel. Many a slip between the cup and the lip.

Was it just food? No. Exercise. She put me on a strict exercise regimen walking thrice a week for about 90 minutes each, walking for 20 minutes after dinner, cycling twice a week and yoga as before twice a week. Thanks to social media, she was in touch with my yoga guru and I am now asked to do some specific exercises there too.

The results weren’t satisfactory even after having shed some kilos. So I was asked to maintain my daily schedule and we discovered that I wasn’t getting enough sleep. So I changed my morning alarm from 4.45 to 5.30 and would sleep at 10 pm instead of 11 pm.

Stress was another component that added to the levels. Any increase in stress and the sugar would spurt. Yoga helped me there with deep breathing.

With all of these, I can’t say I have been cured 100% as there is no cure for diabetes. It is like your shadow, always following you. Hence what we diabetics need is a lifestyle overhaul. One may take tablets or be on insulin but what definitely works is:

  • A Proper diet. No need to completely ban sugar though you can only have it in moderation. Control carbohydrates too. Watch not just what you eat but also how much you eat.
  • There is no substitute for exercise. I must exercise atleast 5 days a week mornings and evenings be it walking, cycling or yoga. And add a small change like I did – Climb stairs.
  • An essential part of diabetes management is adequate sleep, something I learnt the hard way. Sleep early as you have to wake up early and exercise come what may.
  • Learn to destress. Stress is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but gets you nowhere.

Remember diabetes is like a roller coaster ride. It has its ups and downs but it is entirely your choice whether to scream or enjoy the ride.

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Yes I am a diabetic!!!

Diabetes

My close friends and family know I am a Type 2 diabetic but I am now coming out in the open with the admission.

Last Tuesday, I went for my blood test after 18 months. I was in for a rude shock as the values were the worst ever in my diabetic life of over 15 years. Fasting of 188, Post lunch of 184 and A1c of 8.4. I was ashamed of myself. And these results were despite all the exercising, walking and yoga I do!!

Many calls with my sister, a dietician, who had always lectured me on controlling portions. She said, “It is 20% Exercise and 80% food and portion related”.

What am I doing now?

  • Early days so far but I have started having an omelet every morning with a slice of bread. I use 2 egg whites and 1 egg yolk. And I add a lot of vegetables, not just the routine onions and tomatoes.
  • I have stopped sweets completely since December 2017. By sweets, I mean the external sugars. What comes in the food/fruits naturally can’t be avoided.
  • Cut down on chappatis from 3 to 2.
  • Stopped rice (though I have been advised that there is no need to omit it completely)
  • My toughest time is when I get home in the evening as I pig out on whatever I can lay my hands on. Trying to curb that habit. So far I have been having generous helpings of soup (without any milk, cream etc.) followed by dinner.
  • So far so good but need to change things drastically around my eating.
  • Exercise wise, my earlier schedule was Waking about 9 km each on Mondays and Thursdays, Cycling about 30 km each on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Yoga for 90 minutes each on Wednesday and Saturday and finally cycling anything from 50 to 100 km on Sundays. I have changed that a tad bit (not that I liked it). I have stopped cycling on Fridays and instead am walking. I hope to get the sugars down and then get back to cycling on Fridays soon.
  • I am an early riser with the alarm going off at 0444 every single day. Now have changed it to 0530. I sleep by 2230.
  • Also, I had this dirty habit of keeping the phone right next to my bed on the side table. Would check emails in the middle of the night. Now I keep it a good 8 feet or so away from me in the bedroom just so that I can switch off the alarm.
  • I now climb stairs to get into the office though I don’t do that at home. About time I started that too.
  • Another admission I am mortally scared of the injection. So much so that I have to shut my eyes to avoid looking at the needle or the syringe. That is the reason why I don’t go for blood tests. This time I have taken my Doctor’s appointment for next month and also noted down in my calendar, the date for blood tests.
  • Stress – The real killer. Trying to calm down so I listen to music/audiobooks on my way in the car. Earlier, I used to talk on the phone thanks to the Bluetooth feature in the car (not that I don’t now but sparingly).

Trying to change my lifestyle gradually for the better just so that I can bring down my weight and my sugar.

Decided to take diabetes head on and counting on the support of each one of you to help me get through it.

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Excuses for not exercising

Excuses

For someone who is challenged, when it comes to the girth, excuses come most easily for not exercising.

Every Wednesday and Saturday morning, I go for Iyengar yoga and my teacher will vouch for me being most regularly irregular. Why? Sometimes I am travelling so can’t avoid that (but that shouldn’t stop me from doing yoga there … well that is another story). Sometimes I arrive by the late night flight on Friday and can’t sleep so waking up on Saturday morning is a challenge. Sometimes, I am lazy. I don’t feel like waking up or then since I usually rise early, I am working on my lap top and get carried away not realising that I am missing class.

Cycling – Much as I love to do that, I always have a google search of why I should not go cycling. The wheel has a flat (only once) or the pressure is less (I have a hand pump at home mind you) It has rained so roads would be wet and what if I fell? Forget the enlarged crater on the road, what would happen to my bones? I am always alone cycling (now there are tons of groups that I am a member of on Facebook but have never taken part in any of the rides – don’t know if I will match up to their high speeds, yet another excuse)…. A laundry list ready to flow….

Swimming – The idea of this post struck me when I was in the pool in this morning working away my arms and legs. Most often, I swim on week days when Kavya has school so have a hard stop at 0815 to get out of the pool, then shower and get home. So post 0730 I am always thinking “Oh God I am so late now. no point in swimming….” Now why would I let the clock go past 0730? I am working on mails, reading the newspaper in the morning, watching the early morning news or all of these put together. All in all I am again being lazy and no more.

Yesterday went for yoga and then decided that come what may today I would swim. This morning I was reading See you at the Top by the great Zig Ziglar, heard some motivational talk by Robin Sharma and Suneel Agarwal which would ensure that I am not skipping exercises. Yes I did work on mails but then I did swim for 45 minutes. Tomorrow is another day but I will do something instead of coming up with innovative excuses and if at all I do have something of that kind, I will put it up here.

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Stair Climbing

Stair Climbing

These days I am reading (yes finally am trying to get back to reading) The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, the editor of Success magazine. He has talked about small, insignificant yet incremental changes to the daily lifestyle for the better. I thought about some changes I could make to my lifestyle which is highly sedentary and I have my own share of health problems. Came to the conclusion that if I could simply climb stairs instead of taking the elevator, life could be better. I live on the second floor and the office too is on the second floor so makes sense. For the past week I have been climbing stairs (exceptions to the rule do apply once in a while:-) and am feeling good. At the gym you see people using the stair climbing machine etc. Why not just climb up and down at home? I know of someone who lost weight just by climbing up and down at home. Different story that she lived on the 19th floor in Cuffe Parade!!! Try and make this small change in your life and yes don’t live on a very high floor too. I think it is a good form of exercise.

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Wake up call for me….

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This morning, as I was going through the Facebook posts of a friend, I realised that he had stayed the night at Hinduja Hospital. I immediately called him up as I was under the impression that his Mother probably was admitted as she is undergoing treatment for cancer. I was shocked to know that it was a common friend who was in hospital for the past one week. Gosh! We are all around 45 years of age and hospitalised? It takes a while for reality to sink in honestly. This friend has a clot in his brain but luckily the vessel hasn’t burst but it has affected his ability to walk, to speak even if he remembers everything.

In the evening got to know that another friend was terminally ill with cancer with few months left.

Honestly I will admit I am shaken up. I am myself sitting on a ticking time bomb what with my health issues but I thought I had started working on them. Now I think I need to double up. Eat less, watch what I eat and reduce stress levels. After what is the point in all the worldly possessions if you can enjoy them? My daughter (all of 8 years) is my life and I just can’t let her down. So will have to work on it with renewed vigour seriously.

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Can’t keep weight off….

I am rotund and obese and I have no qualms about admitting that (not that if I don’t it will make me any thinner unless if the other person is completely blind). Have not really tried any weight loss tricks (despite being a practising dietitian and weight loss expert’s brother). Thanks to my sister who keeps lecturing me for hours from the other side of the world and my doctor, I exercise daily. Walking is what I do these days since it is cold (Yes we in Mumbai have cold weather too by our standards) and also do Iyengar yoga twice a week but Yoga is not for weight loss so let us set that aside. Once the weather warms up a bit, I will get back to swimming. I normally swim one kilometer every day in 45 to 48 minutes (breast stroke and not free style. My doctor is fine with any stroke so long as I swim on a regular basis). What do I do the rest of the time?  I lead a sedentary life style and indulge in my passion – FOOD. Yes I love binging on all the possible wrong things under the blue sky. Result no weight loss / decelerated rate of weight gain:-) That is me – shameless.

This morning I read an interesting blog from Anjali Mukherjee who is a celebrity in the weight loss field in India atleast. No I am not going there or any such thing but this blog which I am verbatim reproducing below, makes a lot of sense. Do read it. I have not yet deployed any of these things. (Come on I read it only 15 minutes ago and I am still on my chair in the same position so how do you expect me to get moving so quick?). Do share your experiences too (maybe my dear friend Hiten, my cousin Kashyap and me will start a support group for each other for losing weight, not for binging)

The link to the blog is http://eathealthybefit.com/blog/2012/01/cant-keep-the-weight-off-your-diet-and-lifestyle/

 You have dieted, exercised and slogged your way to the new you.

  • You look better, feel better and glow as the compliments come your way.
  • But your joy is short-lived.
  • Within a few months, you see some of the weight slowly creeping back.
  • You panic, feel frustrated and immediately put yourself on a crash diet.

Sounds familiar?

It’s a pattern numerous dieters readily identify with- to lose weight on a diet and then put it straight back on as soon as they return to their regular eating habits. Infact, many vouch that losing weight is not as difficult as keeping it off.

The key to maintaining your weight loss is to focus on permanent and realistic lifestyle changes. True, dieting may have helped you lose weight but you cannot follow a restrictive diet forever. It’s equally important that you do not resume the diet and lifestyle you had before your weight loss. For successful weight maintenance, you need to permanently embrace the principles that helped you lose weight – proper eating and regular exercising. For instance, when you were dieting, if you snacked on fruits when hungry, why have a bhelpuri now? Similarly, if you took the staircase to reach your home, don’t take the elevator now. Also, don’t ignore food portions, calorie counting etc once you stop dieting. But this does not mean that you have to deprive yourself of the foods you love-just make sure you have them in moderation. Remember, a realistic and flexible eating plan makes weight maintenance easier.

  • The method that you have used for losing weight plays a major role in helping you maintain the lost weight. If you have corrected your metabolism by detoxification and subsequently nourished your body with vitamins, minerals, anti oxidants with the help of a health promoting food plan & exercise – you are more likely to maintain your lost weight as you have corrected your metabolism. However if you have crash dieted and eaten less you have more chances of putting weight back on.
  • Your diet should include lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein such as chicken and fish. Also, fibre-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, fruits, beans, bran and whole grains fill you up and keep your digestive system healthy. Minimize intake of red meat.
  • Start your day with a healthy breakfast comprising foods such as high-fibre cereals, whole grain breads, eggs, vegetables juices.
  • Minimize fat intake – it helps to keep your weight stable and reduces your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Opt for low-fat dairy products such as skimmed milk, low-fat yoghurt etc.
  • Avoid fried, processed, and fast foods. Instead, bake, grill or steam food. Replace sugary and salty snacks with fruits or whole grain crackers etc. Avoid or limit alcohol and colas-both add unwanted calories.
  • Marriages, parties etc. could tempt you to indulge. A good idea would be to eat a small, healthy meal before you reach the function and opt for the low-fat dips, toppings etc., once there. For dessert you could have fruit salad but without ice-cream.
  • Exercise regularly. People who exercise find it easier to maintain their weight loss as compared to those who do not exercise. Being physically active helps you not only to burn calories, it also boosts your resting metabolic rate, which means your body is working even when you actually aren’t. Your level of activity also determines how many calories you need everyday-the more physically active you are, the more calories you need to maintain your body weight. Find an activity you enjoy so you will be more regular.
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Disastrous beginning to 2011 – No exercise

3 days into the new year and I have not even woken up in the morning to exercise. Shame on me. I planned to walk in the mornings but sleep always got better of me these past 3 days. Need to get back to Robin Sharma on that. 5 AM alarm has been shamelessly switched off and the comfort of the blanket takes over. Saturday I did go swimming and enjoyed too but then on Sunday afternoon, slept like a log and in the process, Kavya slept too and she missed her swimming lesson. Shame on me. Better pull up my socks and get my act together.  Also had planned to get a bicycle for me in the new year so that could cycle my way to office on Saturdays and also would then push (read inspire) Kavya to pick up the art of riding a bicycle without the trainer wheels…. Gosh what is wrong with me?