You have to help yourself and do your part!
John Ray had Type 2 diabetes for more than 14 years. It runs in his family. He lost a grandmother, his father and a brother to the disease. When another brother was hospitalized with heart issues related to diabetes, it scared John. He vowed to start taking his health more seriously. He began working with a Kelsey-Seybold case manager, who got him started on a Lilly Diabetes meal plan. He learned to eat smaller portions six times a day and to steer clear of foods that would cause a spike in his blood sugar. Since June he has lost 20 pounds and his A1C levels have improved. He and his wife are ready to start a walking program for exercise. Ultimately, John wants to lose 50-60 pounds and reduce or get off of insulin.
You’ve seen firsthand the complications that Type 2 diabetes can cause. How did this motivate you to get your diabetes under control?
I decided I needed to do something about my weight and my diabetes because my A1C was really high and if I didn’t do something I was going to end up like my brothers, father and grandmother.
Has it been hard now that you’ve put your focus on it?
Yes! I can’t go to MacDonald’s whenever I want to. I can’t eat out as much and when I do I have to watch the menus a lot more closely.
What is it you have to watch the most? Is it the fat content or sugar?
I’d how you balance your food intake and choices. I can still enjoy a wide variety of food but in smaller portions. I eat more often. I eat six times a day, but very small meals. For example, this morning I had one egg white, half a piece of breakfast ham and a cup of oatmeal with raisins. I had a mid-morning snack of a cup of yogurt. For lunch I’ll have a salad. It’s mostly about cutting portions down and eating throughout the day to avoid big spikes in my blood sugar.
How has working with a Kelsey-Seybold case manager helped you?
She’s been working with me on my diabetes management for a little over a year now. She gave me some information on a diabetic diet called the Lilly Diabetes meal plan and I’ve been following that. I’m eating a lot more fruits and vegetables. That’s been one of my big changes. My case manager calls me every month and we discuss things by phone.
How’s it working?
It’s working very well. I eat about every three hours. My body is adapting to it. I’ve lost 20 pounds, gotten my diabetes under control to the point of being able reduce my insulin shots by 10 percent, and I’m working to get it down further. I’m trying to take it step by step. I heard a long time ago that you don’t want to call it a diet because the word diet insinuates something you’re going to start and stop. I can’t stop it. I’ve got to watch what I eat for the rest of my life.
My case manager recommends that I exercise more so that will be my next step. My wife and I recently moved into a new home and now that the moving is done we’re going to start exercising. Walking is the form of exercise we’ll be doing to start with. My case manager says to start with 10 minutes and work up from there. Also, I don’t take the elevator anymore at the office. I take all four flights of stairs.
How are you staying committed?
My biggest motivation has been the tragedies in my family. What keeps me going is I’ve got grandkids and kids and a family that depends on me. I want to be there for them.
What have you been learning about yourself?
The biggest thing that hit me was I always had the ability to do this. I didn’t take it seriously enough. It’s starting to hit home that this is a serious disease. I can go to the doctor and he can give me medications but if I don’t do my part, then medications aren’t going to help.
What kind of support do you have besides your doctor and case manager?
My wife is also diabetic and on medication. She’s been incredibly supportive. She is my main support group. When I explained to her what I was trying to do she was 100 percent behind me. She’s going to exercise with me. It’s hard to do on your own. She’s working with me. And I feel accountable to her. She’s been changing what she’s been eating, too.
What goals do you have?
I want to reduce my medication and get off insulin. My first goal is to bring my A1C down. My long-term weight goal is to lose 50-60 pounds. The weight is the one lynchpin in everything. I monitor my weight every other day. I monitor my blood sugar every day. I take my blood pressure at work. I never used to do much monitoring, but I do now. Knowing that I’m going in the right direction is a good feeling.
What advice would you give other employees who want to be healthier or fit regardless of whether or not they have diabetes?
Start off in small steps, work your way up and keep at it. Once you find your niche, the important thing is to keep doing it – don’t stop. Find something you like. And if you have someone to do it with it holds you accountable.