This is a member contributed article written by Pat Collins.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that prediabetes is a serious condition affecting 1 out of 3 American adults – that’s 86 million people!
Some of the people I talk to are worried about getting diabetes, but many others are like the ostrich with its head in the sand hoping that by some miracle it won’t happen to them. They tell me, “I just ignore it, hoping it will go away, or at least I won’t have to deal with it right now.” I ask, “What if you can prevent diabetes from happening to you?”
Their response is usually one of confusion and disbelief, and that’s when I know they are ready to listen. I explain that just because there are no complications appearing right now, in time, there will be and then it is most likely too late to stop it.
My clients want to be active as they get older and enjoy life with friends and family. I show them how they can prevent diabetes from robbing them of their best quality of life.
Who Wants to Think About Diabetes?
I get it! It is hard to think about a disease that you cannot see. Of course, you can’t see the tiny blood vessels inside your body and what is happening to them. You can’t possibly know when they start leaking and oozing. You don’t imagine your peripheral nerves starting to have problems transmitting signals to your legs and feet. That’s why you are caught by surprise when your feet feel like pins and needles sticking in them, like both feet fell asleep only 100 times worse. And, you don’t know that the tingling and burning doesn’t stop when the blood flow returns.
These are just some of the symptoms experienced by people with diabetes.
Imagine what your life would be like if you don’t do something now to prevent diabetes from happening to you.
Diabetes Can Affect Your Quality of Life
Diabetes affects your kidneys, reducing their ability to clear waste from your body, and eventually not at all. When you have a build-up of toxins in your body, guess what? You don’t live long after that! If you do, you will almost certainly live with dialysis taking up much of your day and at least three days of your week. That’s no quality of life!
Diabetes affects your heart, nerves, eyes, mouth, and your gut – it truly affects every part of your body. Amputations are a real possibility because by the time you see an outward appearing issue, it is often too late.
I teach my clients how to get ahead of diabetes, and I can show you how to take control of diabetes before it controls you! Here are five things you can do right now to get started.
1. Know Your Risk Factors
There are certain risk factors that increase your chances of developing diabetes. Some you can change, others you cannot. I can show you how to make healthy changes that reduce your risks, stop or delay the development of diabetes, and improve your overall quality of life.
- Being overweight puts you at a higher risk. Losing 5-7% of your body weight cuts your risk of developing diabetes in half, and even more as you lose more weight.
- Lack of physical activity puts you at risk too. Achieving at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week will improve your overall cardiovascular health and lowers your risk for diabetes.
- High blood pressure is a modifiable risk factor. Hypertension causes damage to the cardiovascular system and untreated high blood pressure has been linked to the development of diabetes.
- Low HDL “good” cholesterol” and/or high triglycerides can increase the risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A healthy eating plan, sufficient aerobic activity, and a healthy weight can help improve abnormal lipids. Sometimes medications are necessary.
2. Get Tested for Prediabetes
If you are age 45 or older, you should consider getting tested for prediabetes. Testing is strongly recommended if you are overweight or obese, age 45 or older (and even younger), if you have any of the non-modifiable risk factors listed below:
- Family history: If you have a blood relative with diabetes, your risk for developing it is significantly increased.
- Race or ethnic background: If you are Black or African-American; Hispanic or Latino; Native American; Asian; or Pacific Islander, you have a greater likelihood of developing diabetes.
- Age: The older you are, the higher your risk. Generally, type 2 diabetes occurs in middle-aged adults, most frequently after age 45. However, health care providers are diagnosing more and more children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes.
- History of gestational diabetes: If you developed diabetes during pregnancy, you are at increased risk.
3. Lifestyle Changes Work to Stop Diabetes
Look, we all know that we need to eat better and exercise more. I know… you get it! But, just how exactly are you supposed to do that? I’m here to let you know that you can make permanent lifestyle changes, and it does not have to suck! You can eat foods that you like, and it is not a quick fix diet. I’m talking about making “doable” changes that make a huge impact on your energy level, and eventually you will begin to have more good days than bad.
That is why it is helpful to have a program and accountability that lasts throughout the year. You are not perfect and I don’t expect you to be, but that does not mean that you have to throw up your hands and say, “I give up.” Keep the focus on what you are gaining.
4. We All Need Support and Accountability
Most people need to be held accountable, and sometimes they just need a little support along the way. I know stopping diabetes is a journey that only you can make happen, but with the support of others it sure makes it easier. I tell my clients that sometimes support feels like a swift kick in the pants. I want you to see what is possible, and if you need a little help I will be there for you. What’s going to support you most of all is the fact that you want success, you want to be in control of your health, and that is half the battle.
I offer a CDC-recognized diabetes prevention program called Stop Diabetes Now! that includes the support and accountability you need. The program arms you with the right information and answers so you can decide the best course of action to successfully beat diabetes. You will not make these changes alone. I am a trained pharmacist in the medical field for more than 20 years, and you will have access to me to answer every question you have — either during class or in our private online group. I will listen to you to get to the heart of what’s stopping you, and then design a plan personalized just for you. You will win the fight against diabetes because I will meet you where you are, and if you fall off track, I will be there to coach you to keep on going. And, let’s not forget the FUN! Together we will talk, laugh, cut up, and get serious – our humor will relieve the stress and fear around making the lifestyle changes that ensure you feel better and live a happy and fulfilled life as you get older.
5. Believe It Is Possible for You to Stop Diabetes
Too many times I have heard, “Diabetes runs in my family, and I am going to get it too.” Others say, “It’s too late for me to do anything about it.” Some think making changes is too hard or that they will have to give up their favorite foods. That kind of attitude makes it more difficult to make the changes necessary to stop diabetes in its tracks.
Instead of concentrating on what you might have to give up, focus on what you have to gain – a better quality of life free from diabetes. In fact, you won’t have to give up as much as you think you will. You can truly enjoy what you eat and the physical activity that you choose to do. You will have less stress and more energy to do the things you enjoy doing. You can stop worrying so much about heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s, or losing your fingers and toes.
Imagine what your life will look like, if you do not develop diabetes.
Only 20% of people who need to change are prepared or ready to make the change. Why? Because change is hard – the unknown is scary and the fear of failing just plain stinks. So, I want you to think about the possibility – that you can prevent diabetes and that there is a proven program to support you to do it.
All that’s left to do is to take the next step.
Join my public group Stop Diabetes Now! with Pat Collins on Facebook to get to know me and get tips on how to improve your quality of life. Learn more about my diabetes prevention program at www.medadvocate.net.
Read Pat’s Member Spotlight, Getting Older Doesn’t Mean Being Sick, to learn more about her work.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://medadvocate.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Pat-headshot-5-200×300.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Pat Collins is the owner of MedAdvocate, Knoxville’s first Healthcare Consultant for families and individuals facing chronic healthcare issues. Her long career in the medical field qualifies her to chart a course specific for each client. Pat graduated from Samford University School of Pharmacy (now McWhorter School of Pharmacy) in Birmingham, AL. She worked as a Retail Pharmacist for more than 20 years. Now Pat troubleshoots health concerns that can’t be solved in a 7-minute office visit to improve quality of life for her clients. Pat has been where many of her clients are – trying to care for aging parents who still treat you like you are 10 years old. Her mom’s hastened death is suspected due to a medication that was later pulled off the market, something Pat doesn’t want anyone else to experience. Contact Pat Collins at www.medadvocate.net and learn more about her Stop Diabetes Now! program.[/author_info] [/author]