Creating a Type 2 Lifestyle
The pack of 100 runners left the Piazza delle Signore in Florence and headed south through the Tuscan hills towards the village of Montecatini. Running distance would be about 40 kilometers. Meanwhile the enthusiastic group in Montecatini awaited word of when the runners would be approaching. Soon they set out to greet them and run the final 2 miles with the pack. There was electricity in the air when they ran together through ancient narrow cobblestone streets lined with cheering onlookers. They trotted up through the hilly park to the hotel where the Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association’s international conference would officially begin.
Over the next 4 days I got to meet and chat with many of the runners even though I only ran the final 2 miles. They were all Italian, all had diabetes and all managed their diabetes with the sustenance of the Mediterranean diet and daily exercise. It surprised me to learn that all these outstanding athletes were type 2’s. At the finale of the meeting there was a grand soccer match, Italy vs. The Rest of the World. Guess who won?
I have met up with this same group at several other diabetes and sports conferences over the years and they are still extremely fit and healthy and, all but once, have triumphed in the down and dirty soccer match. The philosophy and reality of their medical teams is that discipline coupled with vibrant, active and healthy lifestyle manages type 2 diabetes.
In the US I attend many meetings, symposiums, conferences and health fairs where, sad to say, I have never witnessed the kind of zest and enthusiasm in a group dynamic as with the Italians. Diabetes is generally treated with the attitude of a disease. Unfortunately I hear comments like “I can’t exercise because of my sugar” or “I can’t do the things I would like to do because of the diabetes”. I see people sit in lectures, line up for free tastes of sugar free foods, take a drunken cocktail mix of pills for their diabetes, heart, circulation, digestion, blood pressure, neuropathy and more.
I don’t see crowds lined up at the kiosks that blast music and do aerobic dances, teach Zumba or challenge people to learn race walking. Why is this? What are we not doing to spark enthusiasm and excitement about exercise? Exercise speaks for itself: it energizes the brain, lowers blood sugars, helps with weight loss, benefits the heart, circulation, skin, stamina and keeps us young and challenged, to mention a few attributes.
Oh dear, Oh dear! What to do! If you feel motivated to start changing lackadaisical or negative attitudes of type 2’s in your outpost of the world, I have a few ideas to get you going:
- Start gradually with any type 2’s you know. Pick a time and place to meet and start walking. Have them test their bg’s before walking and at the finish line. Depending on their fitness level, begin with a mile or part of it. Increase slowly. When your group can walk 5K comfortably, find a local charity walk or create one yourself. This is an outstanding motivational challenge.
- Contact a support group or hospital diabetes program and ask if anyone would like to join a weekly walk group. Maybe you can convince a personal trainer or exercise physiologist to speak to the group on the basics of an exercise program.
- Advertise in your local newspaper, community bulletin board or town website for type 2 walkers. When you get a group going, assign everyone to tap one other person to join in. Before you know it, you’ll have them attending the next Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association’s conference. There is one coming up 6/25-28 in Boston (www.diabetes-exercise.org for more info)
Maybe I’m just dreaming, but word of mouth and pen often have a way to ignite energy. Let me know if you have any questions or good fortune by contacting us at the DESA contact page. By the way the reason I chose walking as exercise is that it is something everyone can do. All you need is a sturdy pair of comfortable walking shoes, clean socks without holes, loose clothing and a smiling outdoor attitude. It’s smart to check bg’s and carry a snack such as dried fruit and nuts to graze on during long distance walks.
After your walk you might be a little hungry. If you’re in the neighborhood of Cyber Kitchen, stop in for a bite.
|Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner or Snack Frittata (6 servings)|
Serve it hot, warm or cold. It’s easy to make, tastes good and is good for you. Try it!
8 fresh (preferably farm fresh organize) eggs
Nutritional Value: 1wedge = 165 cal, 8 grams protein, 11 fat grams, 6 carb grams
|All American Cornbread (6 servings)|
|1 ¼ yellow cornmeal (stone-ground organic)
1 ¼ unbleached flour
1 T. baking powder
2 T. brown sugar
1 ½ cups boiling water + 2 T. canola oil
1 or 2 T. chopped jalapeno chilies, depending on taste