How this woman brought her HbA1c down from 13.3 to 7.2

prediabetes diabetes bring down hba1c

I’m always excited when I hear about people who manage to bring down their blood sugar results by changing what they eat and their lifestyle habits. I find these stories inspiring, and I know they can be so helpful for people who have been recently diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes.

It gives them hope, and most importantly confidence, that they too can turn their health around.

I first “met” Sharon in a Facebook support group for people living with prediabetes and diabetes. She had shared how she lowered here HbA1c from 13.3 to 7.2. Immediately I was intrigued, and knew I had to ask her how she did it.

She gracefully accepted to be interviewed by me. Below is her inspiring story (and by the way, she’s hilarious.)

 

Hi Sharon! Thanks so much for accepting to share your journey. First off, tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in a farming community of  Vineland, NJ. As a child I worked on two farms both owned by my uncles.  One grew produce, the other flowers.

I was someone who was physically active, and participated in sports that included competitive swimming, softball, tennis, fencing, bowling and golf.  Unfortunately, after two automobile accidents, my participation in these sports ended.

I worked as an administrative assistant, property title searcher, a settlement clerk for several banks and as a real estate paralegal.  I also worked in culinary arts. However, I was forced to retire due to tendonitis of both elbows.

Shortly after I retired at 52, I bought my first horse, last and only horse, Buddy, a Tovero American Paint. He was 2.5 yrs at the time, and yes I still have him. The best $100 I ever spent on any one thing! Yes he can be a lot of work but the pleasure he provides is invaluable.

In addition to Buddy, I have 1 rat terrier (Destiny Marie Josephine), and 2 cats (Sammy and Calliope Rose) who some days can be a handful!

I also do gardening,  furniture refinishing, bicycling, and yes I still cook – none of that out of the box stuff for me when I have other choices!

 

Wow, I’m impressed that you have so many interests (and so many pets)! You seem to live a very colorful life. If we start from the beginning of your diabetes journey, when did you find out you had the condition?

June, 1995.

 

What did your eating and exercise habits look like at the time?

At that time I pretty much ate whatever I wanted.  I never really noticed anything was wrong, until I was fired from a job as I was falling asleep about 20 minute after eating lunch.

As for exercise, who had time?  I drove at least an hour to and from work depending on the job.

 

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What happened after you received the news that you had diabetes?

Initially my doctor put me on medication tablets. I tried for a while and never saw any results.  His incremental changes in my scripts were small, and I found no real value in them… and said the hell with this!

I switched to a local endocrinologist who told me I could eat anything I wanted when I asked her about meals…  I thought it was odd, but said okay. I did what she told me when it came to eating.

After 6 weeks I saw no changes in my test results.  I called her office and explained to a nurse the situation with my daily tests asking “Shouldn’t I have seen some changes by now?”  I received the answer “Yes”, and then she hung up. This nurse NEVER said to me that I needed to come into the office. Again, I was frustrated and gave up.

In 2008, after I retired, I went to a local clinic. The doctor did the usual blood tests and put me on the following diabetes medication: metformin and glimepiride. For my cholesterol, I was given lovastatin and Cholestin. Again, I tried.  

The changes were still not significant with my blood sugar.  As for the cholesterol pills, one gave me such leg pain that I had trouble walking, and the other gave me constant diarrhea.  Needless to say, I stopped them.

Fast forward to January 2016. I found myself with a perianal abscess and needed surgery.. Seeing that I was diabetic, the doctor I saw put me on metformin 1000 mg every 12 hours and insulin. She wanted my sugars to go down before operating me.

I told her it wouldn’t work for more than a month or so… I had already been down this road too many time.  She insisted it would, so I tried again. The treatment got my sugar down below 200, so I could have the surgery.  But as I predicted, my sugar went back up shortly afterward. I gave up again!

Finally, I gave this one last shot.  I went to the clinic, and due to another issue, I ended up with an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN).

I liked her.  She didn’t coat things….but tried her best to get me back on the insulin and metformin.

I said “Oh hell no, been there done that it didn’t work.  Find something else.” That was the end of that conversation.  

In February 2018, I asked the APN to send me to a specialist.  After being sent to a doctor who was as cooperative as wet paint drying in Iceland in January on a rainy with the windows open, I was given the name to my current endocrinologist.

(Julie’s note: okay, I seriously laughed hard at this comparison to wet paint!)

My first visit with her was in June 2018.  She was different than everyone else. SHE ACTUALLY LISTENED!

When I was done telling her of my experiences, she told me: “First you will NOT be on Metformin, and you will be on a 70/30 insulin twice a day.”  

Within a week or so, I saw results like I had never seen in the past!  Had I seen these results way back, things would clearly be different today. My sugars were 145 for a 30 day average and falling. Unfortunately, I had a reaction to this insulin and was switched to another one that works well now.

 

Wow, I can’t believe how you were shuffled from one doctor to the next. I’m glad you were able to find someone who finally listened to you and wanted to help. Here’s the next question I want to ask you. You mentioned that you gave up several times. What motivated you to make that one last try? And what motivates you to this day?

I got tired of sleeping and peeing all the time. Also, the APN was nagging me.  I just didn’t want to go to the local doctors. They just weren’t worth it! And my endocrinologist telling me don’t give up…..JUST DON’T GIVE UP!    

 

So, I see that nagging can work as a good technique! From what you tell me, I can see that having the right support team really played a factor in your recovery and your level of motivate. Here’s another question for you. What did you find the hardest challenge to deal with during your journey, and how did you get over it? (ex. cravings, finding the time to exercise, meal plan, etc).

Cravings never leaving you…they still come around.  Just like being diabetic…once you are diabetic you are always diabetic.  The secret to them is MODERATION!

When a craving arises, crush it immediately. If you want a caramel, have one or two…just not the whole darn bag and not every day! I have pizza or French fries once a month, but not both.  It’s one or the other!

If you keep refusing yourself something that you want, eventually it will catch up to you and you will eat that entire bag of caramels!

As for exercise, well don’t let anyone tell you that pets can’t help you.  DON’T YOU BELIEVE IT!

Cats are always into something!  Dogs need to be played with, bathed and walked.  Horses are great for exercise. It isn’t as easy as you think to ride one.  Then there is the grooming before and after riding, and cleaning their pasture!  Talk about a load of crap! Yep, horses are great for that!

I also use gardening.  Growing your own food can be exercise.  While I use self-watering buckets you still have to fill the buckets!  Weeds are still there just not as many and you don’t have to get down on your hands and knees to pull them or your back out not to mention saving on water!  

There is always something to be done in the yard unless of course you have 3 feet of snow! Then there is still no excuse get out the shovel and have at it!  No snow blowers for me.

When it comes to meal planning for me, that wasn’t hard!  My former profession makes it second nature and the produce outside your back door or on your patio or balcony is a help.  

You know where it was grown and what kind of fertilizer was used!  Grow simple things like cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, but not next to each other.  They don’t get along and they do need at least 6-8 hours of sun daily.

You can also grow herbs such as parsley, cilantro, thyme, oregano, dill and mint.  All very easy to grow. If you have the space: watermelon. If you have a shade area lettuce doesn’t need a whole lot of sun.  There are numerous projects that you can find on the internet to make gardening easier! Just look.

 

starter kit prediabetes reverse

Recently diagnosed with prediabetes?
Click here to learn the 7 key habits to turning your health around!

   

What kept you going on days you didn’t feel like eating healthy, or exercising?

Not exercising?  Seriously? With 2 cats a dog and a horse, not exercising is NOT an option.  If you have the space get a pet, adopt one at the local pet agency. So many need a good home.  They will keep you moving!

Exercise isn’t always push-ups, pull-ups, running!  It is walking, chores around your home, in your yard or walking!

The one thing that keeps me going is the results I see when my numbers drop!     

 

Wow, I think you’ve convinced me to get some pets! It’s definitely a funner alternative to the gym. So, what does your daily life/routine look like now (when it comes to your health)?

The only real change is the insulin shots twice daily and cutting back on sweets.  Being 50% Italian, one would think I crave pasta and bread…Luckily, that’s not the case for me.

Desserts are a bit harder, but I’ve learned to control that and JUST SAY NO!

I eat 3-4 serving each of fruit and 3-4 servings of vegetables daily.  Salads are wonderful when it comes to these servings.

Who says you can’t put fruit in with your lettuce?  Ha…don’t you believe it! Yes you can!

And stay away from the bottled dressings.  I make my own garlic infused olive oil and use that in my dressing. I also use it to sautée vegetables, and even cook my eggs in this oil.  

Once you have had scrambled eggs cooked this way and added a bit of roasted garlic with herb seasoning, everything else is just BORING.  Use herbs and spices.

In place of white bread, I use tortillas.  They are more versatile in what you can use them for.

 

What advice would you give to someone just diagnosed with diabetes?

First, don’t be hard on yourself when your numbers aren’t quite what you think they should be.  DON’T GIVE UP! There is no such thing as the perfect diabetic!

Tomorrow is another day and keep starting over until you no longer have to start over.  What you eat, and when you exercise and how will become second nature. You will eventually do them automatically!

Second, pretty much all recipes can be diabetic friendly with some changes!

Third, when someone starts nagging you about what you are eating ask them how much they know about diabetes.  Things have changed in 30 years! What may have been true in 1980 doesn’t necessarily make it true in 2018!

Finally, get yourself a diabetes alert bracelet or necklace!  It’s important!

 

These are such great tips Sharon. Thank you so much for sharing your journey, and for injecting it with your sassy sense of humor!

 

Are you a someone living with prediabetes or diabetes, and have managed to bring down your blood sugar results and HbA1c value by changing your lifestyle? I would love to hear your story and share it with others.

I truly believe that your journey can help inspire people to turn their health around. If you’re interested, please send me a message here.

 

starter kit prediabetes reverse

Recently diagnosed with prediabetes?
Click here to learn the 7 key habits to turning your health around!

Published
Categorized as diabetes

By Julie Doan

A pharmacist and health coach dedicated to helping women regain their health naturally, so that they can live a thriving and pill-free life.

1 comment

  1. During my recent trip to the grocery store I picked up the wrong Greek yogurt. I’m so glad I did! Normally I would buy the onecw 22g protein (6g sugar). This time I picked up the same brand but only 16g of protein (5g sugar). To it I add 1/2T
    splenda natural 1/4t Vanilla (homemade of course) and 1/4-1/2t of extract(s). I’ve had mint almost chocolate chip, almond joy, pina colada, chocolate covered cherries/strawberries and strawberry lemonade
    just to name a few – something different every day and those are for breakfast! Who days you can’t have dessert for breakfast. This is limited to your imagination. You can mix up a batch (32 oz container) and freeze it….ice cream!!!! Folks be creative when it comes to eating. Use herbs spices extracts! If possible get the best of these you can afford…its worth the bit extra.

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