Mike Brooks didn’t set out to lose weight.
Instead, a diagnosis of pre-diabetes and some symptoms of complications of elevated blood glucose had Mike follow a diabetic diet.
The diet helped him to lose 48 pounds.
Weight loss came as a byproduct of Mike taking control of his health.
He explains, “I started developing symptoms from diabetes and I had been told by my doctor for many years that my numbers were high and I might develop diabetes.
All of a sudden I developed pre-diabetes and nothing could make me make that change until I started feeling symptoms.
With diabetes one person can have different symptoms than another person.”
“To explain what was happening was I would develop kind of nerve damage to where I felt tingling in my arms.
They call it Neuropathy and it gets worse as time goes by, so it wasn’t until that happened that I was really a motivated customer.”
A change in diet was the key to Mike’s weight loss.
He had always been overweight and until he made this dietary change nothing else he had done in the past had worked.
“I finally followed my doctors’ orders,” he says.
“And went to a diabetes meeting where they teach you how to eat right.
I really followed the diabetic diet and I still do that today and it has been probably two years that I’ve been doing this now.”
“The diabetic diet is very simple to follow.
Take a small plate and a quarter of the plate should be a lean protein, a quarter should be a grain, like brown rice not processed grains but a brown rice type of grain and then the other half of the plate should be something green, so I try to follow that.
I don’t always eat the greens that I should but I try to keep that in my mind all the time.
Really the key is recording my calorie intake throughout the day and not eating more calories than I should.”
The diabetic diet keeps things simple for Mike. Keeping the weight off means staying on a the diabetic diet.
The hard part of the diet is being prepared, but Mike enjoys it for the most part.
“With the diabetes diet what I found is it’s the closest thing to eating things that I actually like because it’s not as restricted,” he says.
“Once you get into it it’s kind of the normal way of eating.”
“It reminds me of when I was kid and my mother used to cook healthy every night.
It was a piece of protein, a grain and something green and it was a very typical American diet of my youth.
It’s not a crazy out of the world type of diet. I’ve never had to go off the diet, so that kind of makes it easier.”
“That’s the ultimate question,” Mike says about how he deals with his temptations.
“The short answer is, you have to understand that you’re always going to have temptations, you have to give yourself permission to indulge sometimes.”
However, Mike acknowledges it’s very easy to go overboard when giving in, so there’s a component of limiting how much of it gets on his plate.
“If I go out to a buffet breakfast,” he says.
“I put a little bit of eggs on my plate, I’ll put one piece of bacon, I’ll give myself one treat and not go crazy.
If there are donuts on the table and I pick up the donut, just take a bite and then walk away.”
“You’ve got to work really, really hard to just try and control yourself.
Instead of piling a plate full of bacon just have one slice and move on.”
Mike doesn’t currently exercise on a regular basis due to knee and hip injuries that need surgery.
While Mike acknowledges exercise would be beneficial, other things keep him from regular exercise.
“I think with me it’s just been time and the inclination to do it,” Mike says about not getting regular exercise.
“I’ll be honest, I don’t know if I would have had the will power to even go on a diet and change my eating habits if it wasn’t for feeling the effects of the diabetes unfortunately.
I highly recommend not doing that to anybody else out there because you don’t want to get to that point.”
“It’s hard to get motivated and I think ultimately what it’s going to come down to for me is just getting somebody to kick my butt in shape.
That’s something I’ve done with the eating is I joined some communities that helped me to, you know, be a cheerleader when times got tough.”
The key for Mike is keeping track of what he eats.
“Really what I think the big thing is that people can do is get a journal for their foods,” he says.
“It takes some effort to do that and it’s not easy but that can be incredibly eye opening.
I use the My Net Diary app which is I believe a paid app and I just enter all my foods in it and I can scan the barcode and see what I’m eating.
What you are eating and what it does to your numbers, that’s really been the key thing.”
“Quite frankly the secret to losing weight in my opinion is eating fewer calories than your body burns.
So, keeping track of the fats and carbohydrates levels that you’re taking in is the most important ingredient to getting started.”
Other than adding a little more exercise into his life, Mike points toward educating himself.
“I thought I was smarter than I was,” says Mike.
“I think sometimes we don’t know as much as we thought.”
“I’m smarter than a nutritionist, I shouldn’t have to go to a nutritionist, I know what not to eat,” Mike says about the things he told himself before he changed his diet.
“When I finally did go and got some basic fundamentals it really helped.
Just being around other people who are going through the same thing that I’m going through was really pivotal so I would probably have done that a whole lot sooner.”
Losing weight and the diabetic diet has gotten Mike’s blood glucose levels under control.
Diabetes affects different people in different ways.
Now that his blood glucose is under control, Mike can feel the effects when his levels get too high.
“When I wake up I should be at about 100,” Mike says.
“I can be at 110 and feel the effects.
Other people can have a blood sugar of 500 which is alarmingly high and not feel a thing.”
“I just feel great when I eat right and I feel horrible when I eat wrong and it’s gotten to the point where if I have a hamburger roll and maybe a taste of a cookie I’ll feel it and I feel terrible, I feel tired, I can feel the effect on my nerves, it’s a really horrible feeling.
When I eat right I just feel great, I have more energy and that’s what it’s all about. You don’t realize how important that is until you lose it.”