Before & “After”
Before: I am full of self-love. I feel confident and try to take care of myself. But like most Moms, I put my health on the back burner and skip annual checkups, follow ups, etc.
Little did I know, I was developing Type 2 Diabetes. Over the past year I had begun having, what I believed to be, severe panic attacks. They would strike out of nowhere. I couldn’t find a rhyme or reason to them. Middle of a store. Driving in the car. Sitting in a restaurant. I’d feel lightheaded, panicked, heart racing… I began to have such high anxiety of these attacks happening that I was walking around in constant fear of one hitting. Brain fog began to get worse… what was going on? I let it go for far too long by explaining away my symptoms. Fingers tingling? I must have slept wrong… Feeling odd after eating dessert? Maybe I just don’t like sweets anymore… Headache after any type of exertion? Maybe I should be drinking more water… Exhausted and needing a nap by 2pm? I should get to bed earlier…
This went on…and on… and on. Finally, in November of 2017 I decided to go to the doctor for lab work to make sure everything was normal. When I returned for the results I sat there in shock as my doctor explained I had raging, out of control type 2 diabetes. My A1C was 11. My average sugar was over 300. If you look at diabetes glucose charts this is very, very high. A frequent chart I see refers to my levels as “slow motion suicide.” I was hurting my body by not taking care of my health. I thought I was doing the right things… but I was eating the wrong things and ignoring the signals my body was sending me. My body tried to warn me, but I didn’t listen. I left the doctor with a prescription for Insulin and an appointment with a specialist. The thought of injecting myself scared me. I sobbed. I got angry. I was mad at myself and mad at my body. I’ve preached self-love for years now… how could I have ignored mine when it was screaming at me that something was wrong? The “panic attacks” were actually a result of the dangerous blood sugar levels. Everything began to click… the intense brain fog… the various symptoms I had been having. When I spoke to the pharmacist he said it would take a couple of days to get everything in. I decided to change my diet right away so at least I was doing something proactive until the medication was ready. I reached out to a friend that I knew was knowledgeable about health and diabetes. She suggested a specific way of eating to reverse diabetes and walking… lots and lots of walking. I began the “diet” immediately. The next day when I took my blood sugar it was already much lower than what was on my lab work. The following day… even lower. My insulin had come in at this point, but with how much my glucose had dropped in 2 days, I decided to see what it would be in 3. And then 4, 5, 6…. To my surprise, it not only dropped, but it continued to drop rapidly. By 2 weeks my sugar levels were in the “normal” range. NORMAL. From “slow motion suicide” level to normal in 14 days. By the following week, they were completely stabilized in the normal range. No spikes. I felt amazing and like myself again. The brain fog was gone. No more panic attacks. I felt better than I had in years. When I went to see the specialist, he was so happy with my progress. No medication needed… just basically a pat on the back and to continue with what I was doing.
There is no after. There is only a continuance. I still love my body. I love myself. I take care of my body, as I believed I was before. But I was doing it in the wrong way. When you know better, you do better. I fuel my body with foods that it thrives on and I walk… and I walk… and I walk. I walk with friends. I walk with my kids. I walk alone. I love it.
I recently had new labs drawn and saw the specialist again. He was floored by my results and couldn’t believe how dramatically my numbers had improved. Raging uncontrolled diabetes… to completely normal. He said that my new labs show ZERO signs of diabetes, however I will always be considered diabetic. There is no cure, only reversal and I must always be mindful of what I put into my body.
I’ve successfully reversed type 2 diabetes within a remarkable time frame. I am on the road to healing my body and hoping that down the line I won’t have to be as restrictive with my food choices. But for now, I am focusing on the things that I’ve added into my life, rather than the restrictions I am held by. I’ve added in so much more time with friends, while being outdoors and enjoying the fresh air. I’ve added in lots of healthy foods and recipes that I didn’t know I would love. I’ve gotten my family a lot more active. I’ve added so much to my life that I know this lifestyle is sustainable.
Please do congratulate me on reversing my diabetes. I am proud as hell about that. But don’t make this about my weight loss. Please don’t tell me I look great. I didn’t look bad before. The size of my pants wasn’t relevant to my beauty or my happiness. My body was sick inside–but that does NOT mean everyone who isn’t a size 6 is developing diabetes. This isn’t a before and after of weight loss. This is a before and after being responsible for my health and wellness. I may take up less space in the second photo, but the only thing I’m proud of is reversing my diabetes.
And yes, I still am considered “overweight” and not at an “ideal” weight. I’ve lost a lot of weight and I am likely to continue losing. I’m not going to say how much, because it is irrelevant. This will never be about the number on a scale. I will not focus on how many inches I have lost or what size I fit in. This is all about my health. My mental and physical health. I have no goal weight. My only goal is to feel happy and have controlled blood sugar. I won’t discuss the specifics of my diet here because I refuse to promote one way of eating as being ideal for everyone. What works for my body and I thrive off of, may be detrimental to yours. So please, don’t ask me what diet I’m on. I’m not on a diet. I am eating real foods that nourish and heal my body and avoiding those that don’t.
The moral of my story… if you have symptoms you’ve been ignoring, if you have a gut feeling that something is wrong… GO TO THE DOCTOR! You can’t fix something that you don’t know about.
Love your body. Love yourself. But part of self-love is listening to your body and taking care of your health. I didn’t do that. Go to your annual appointments. Go to your follow ups. Don’t put your health on the back burner like I did. Make YOU a priority. I finally am.
[Photographer and Author of The Honest Body Project]
Reach Natalie at firstname.lastname@example.org