How Diabetes Led Liz to Get Healthy

Liz Scanlon took charge after her diabetes diagnosis—and dropped almost 30 pounds! Here, she shares her weight-loss secrets.

Health Monitor Staff
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Liz was dumbfounded. Only months prior to her diabetes diagnosis, she had begun a “get healthy” regimen. With the big 5-0 looming on the horizon, she says, “All I could think of was that when my children have children, I want to be able to run after my grandkids.” So she and her husband, Jerry, began eating better and walking and jogging together. “I felt a lot healthier,” she says.

It was a jolt, then, when nine months later, her doctor called to report the results of routine blood work: Her blood sugar was high—she had type 2 diabetes. “I was floored!” Liz recalls. “If I’d heard that a year earlier, I might have had an easier time believing it. But I was exercising three days a week and eating what I thought was a good diet—I thought I was doing well.”

“I covered my bases”

Liz’s doctor told her to up her three-day-a-week workouts to six, so she and Jerry joined a gym—that way, they’d have a place to exercise during the approaching winter months. Next, she made an appointment with a certified diabetes educator. “She tested my blood sugar and it was 256!” says Liz. “It was shocking to me that it was that high. She asked what I’d had for breakfast. I’d had half a whole-wheat bagel. ‘Well, there you go!’ she said. And she explained how it had spiked my blood sugar.” It was the beginning of an education about food.

“Now I’m a carb-counting pro!”

While Liz loved to cook, she’d never had “issues” with food. “The weight just crept on over the years. A pound here, a pound there.” So she eagerly started the diet the diabetes educator had outlined for her. It allowed her 1,800 calories a day—consisting of 40% protein, 20% fat, and the remaining 40% in vegetables, fruit and starches like grains and potatoes. Plus, she downloaded an app that helped her keep track of her calories along with her macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat) each day. (Before long, though, Liz became a pro at identifying how many grams of carbs in a serving of pasta or a slice of bread.)

“It was hard for the first three months,” she admits. “I was tired a lot, and I often felt weak and hungry between 1:00 and 5:00.” But she knocked off 12 pounds. Off to a good start, Liz tweaked her diet on her own. “I cut out grains,” she says. “Within a week, I felt tremendous. My energy shot up and the hunger pangs disappeared!”

April 2013