A few months ago, I went on (blog) record to share the news that my A1c peaked above 8% for the first time in more than 2 decades. I listed a plethora of possible reasons (better known as excuses) – travel, burnout, stress, junk food, etc… What I DIDN’T do was what I do for a living: profess a solution. Because, quite frankly, I didn’t think I had it in me to stick to whatever I came up with.
Now that’s changed.
I’ve known Dan Belisario for almost as long as I’ve been working in the diabetes field. He came to see me as a patient when I worked at the Joslin Diabetes Clinic in Philadelphia back in the early 90s. We’re close in age and share a passion for sports and working out. Over the years we’ve seen each other’s kids grow up and been through about a hundred Philadephia Eagles heartbreaks. We’ve also both struggled with our diabetes control in recent years, and our collective lack of dietary discipline has led to a lot of unwanted pounds. So we decided at his last appointment to try something a little different. We made a pact to work out daily and cut out snacks entirely. That’s right. Three squares a day, and that’s it.
For guys like us who were used to eating just about any thing at any time, we knew this was going to be a struggle. We’ve both tried in the past, and like chain smokers trying to quit cold turkey, we wound up sneaking into the kitchen at all hours to munch on, well, cold turkey (not to mention everything else within reach). So this time, we added a little bit of support to the plan. Every day, we text each other with a report of the previous day’s performance. Congratulations are offered for jobs well done, and encouragement is afforded when the day didn’t go exactly as planned. On several occasions, when I felt as though my appetite was going to get the better of me, I texted Dan, made a joke about it, and managed to get through without devouring my usual big bag of popcorn or pretzels. And he’s done the same when he didn’t feel like working out. To which I usually reply, “Dan, get your *%!@ in the *$#!@ basement and do your #*!@# workout NOW!”
It’s been about a month that we’ve been at this. I’m happy to report that I’ve only had one or two days when I’ve had any snacks at all. And we’ve both exercised just about every day. Dan just informed me that his weight is down nearly five pounds since we started. And I’ve really seen a difference in my daily blood sugars. For the first time in a very long time, I spend most of the day and night “between the lines” (within the high and low alert limits) on my CGM.
Best of all, I just got back from the endo. A1c is down to 7.5%! Not that I’m where I want to be yet, but that’s still nice progress. When I got the result, the first person I thought of was Dan. I texted him right away and he wrote right back. He was happy for me, but even better, he said it gave him incentive to keep plugging away.
I guess that’s what the Buddy System is all about. All for one and one for all kind of stuff. (damn! Now I’m thinking about Three Musketeers bars) Life with diabetes can get pretty lonely at times. It’s nice to have someone to collaborate with… celebrate the successes and pick each other up after the setbacks. Not that everyone has to find a partner to text with every day, but then again, why the heck not? If it can work for two slovenly snackaholics like me and Dan, maybe it can work for anyone.