Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image Seeing this photo of himself inspired Tim Gillie to make a change in his life and start to lose weight.

January 16, 2014
Visit to doctor’s office was just the scare I needed to change

I wasn’t feeling well after Halloween so I called my doctor and said I need to see you.

Well my doctor is not really a doctor. He’s an APRN, advanced practice registered nurse, but doctor is easier to say.

I had been trying to lose weight, well kind of, for several years, and I had a feeling what might be wrong and I knew it involved my weight.

In the little over five years I have been writing for the Transcript-Bulletin I have gained an average of 1.4 pounds per month.

At that rate it kind of sneaks up on you.

One morning you have to loosen your belt one more notch, a favorite shirt suddenly doesn’t fit, and when you go shopping for new pants you find that it takes just one size larger to be comfortable.

I used to walk up to the county building if I needed to interview somebody there.

Now I was pausing halfway up the stairs so I wouldn’t be out of breath when I walk into the room for a meeting.

I see my doctor at least annually for a checkup. Each visit I cringe when I get weighed and then he tells me I need to lose weight.

Two years ago he gave me a copy of the DASH diet — dietary approach to stop hypertension. I tried it and I did eat a little better, for a while. When I had my attack of gout a year ago I got a little more serious about losing weight and eating right.

In September after seeing a picture of myself standing on the roof of the Tooele Applied Technology College and thinking “who is that fat guy?” I resolved more earnestly to lose weight.

Watching Richard Briggs, Tooele-Transcript Bulletin’s copy editor/sports writer/community news editor, dwindle away was inspiring.

I tried to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, cut down on fatty and salty snacks, and I walked around the block during my lunch break.

So here I was sitting in the exam room in early November. My doctor came in and told me the good news — since my last visit a year ago I lost 10 pounds.

Now that was good, but it was only 10 percent of what I needed to lose to be down to a healthy weight. With my symptoms I knew something more heavy was going on.

Then came the bad news.

When the results on my blood work came back I found out my blood sugar level was 380 mg/dL. It should be more like 100 mg/dL.

My doctor’s office called; he had a new prescription for me, and I was to come in and meet with his medical assistant.

His medical assistant gave me a quick lesson on how to use a glucometer to measure my blood sugar. She also went over some information on diet and taught me how to count carbs. The term “type 2 diabetes” was mentioned.

Ouch, I saw that coming.

Overweight, lack of physical activity, poor diet, hypothyroidism, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, gout, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure — diabetes was not a surprise.

I should have lost more than 10 pounds and done it a long time ago.

In type 2 diabetes your body either stops producing enough insulin or your body’s cells become resistant to insulin and don’t use it effectively to metabolize glucose for energy from your blood.

The result is high blood sugar levels. The body tries to eliminate the blood sugar through the kidneys. Complications of uncontrolled diabetes include damage to the kidneys, heart, blood vessels, eyes, and nerves.

Diabetes killed Larry Miller.

But it is not a death sentence. Actor Tom Hanks, presidential candidate Tom Huckabee and American Idol judge Randy Jackson are among the people currently living with diabetes.

I never thought Tom Huckabee and I would find something in common.

OK body, you got my attention, I said.

With the help of my doctor, his medical assistant, several trustworthy websites (I don’t trust any website that says they have a secret cure for anything), and talking to friends I know who have  diabetes, I came up with what so far has been a successful plan to manage my blood sugar and lose weight.

With the assistance of a smartphone app called MyFitness Pal, I track everything I eat. MyFitness Pal keeps track of total calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein and other key nutrients.

Keeping my carbohydrate intake to 50-60 calories per meal and total daily caloric count between 1,200 to 1,400 has been a key to weight loss as well as controlling my blood sugar.

I have an elliptical trainer in my basement I haven’t used much in years.

I now use it for 30 minutes six days each week. Each week I kick up the intensity, either by going faster or increasing the resistance. My exercise routine also includes 15 to 20 minutes of strength building exercises every other day.

When the weather gets better I’ll start walking.

Thanksgiving went pretty good with turkey breast, mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes, and really delicious crustless pumpkin pie made with stevia extract for sweetener.

Christmas was a little more difficult; cookies were hard to avoid. I limited myself to one a day.

As of today I have lost 37 pounds since Nov. 1.

I like to go to Macey’s and look at two 20-pound sacks of sugar and imagine carrying them around with me all day.

I also need to put an extra notch in my belt. I wear it on the last hole and my pants still feel like they are falling down.

Measuring from the first well worn hole in the belt to the place I need to make the new hole, I have lost five inches from my waist.

My weight loss secret includes lots of cauliflower. You can eat it mashed, steamed, stir fried, roasted or curried. Pureed cauliflower can thicken a soup to make a healthy, stick to your ribs meal on a cold winter day.

Zucchini, yellow squash, red onions, mushrooms and tomatoes can likewise be mixed together in a variety of ways with different spices to make a good low carb side dish for a meal.

Veggie burger patties with a thin bun make a quick and easy meal, but read the box because not all veggie burgers are created equal.

Oatmeal is a breakfast staple, the old-fashioned kind with large flakes. I mix up my own spice mix to add to it — a combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, coriander and cardamom. If it needs sweetening I use stevia. I avoid other artificial sweeteners; stevia is a natural plant extract.

Egg white omelets with low-fat cheese are another breakfast favorite, especially on weekends when I have more time to cook.

My sister-in-law had some health problems a few years ago and was a little depressed with the dietary restrictions she had to follow.

I try to remember the advice Jenine, my wife, gave her over the phone. She said, “Don’t think of the things you can’t eat; think of the things you can eat.”

I look at low-carb cook books and websites with recipes for diabetics and find all sorts of stuff that I can eat.

In some cases it’s a matter of quantity. A half-cup serving of fat free no sugar added ice cream may not be much, but it is enough.

I keep a jar of dry roasted peanuts in my desk for the occasional snack. They are low carb, but I have to be careful because one ounce, which looks like a lot less than you might think, has 160 calories.

I bought a jar of Planters Five Alarm Chili flavor dry roasted peanuts the other day. I thought that they would be so spicy that I couldn’t eat more than one ounce at a time. I was wrong.

Along with my formal exercise routine, I also try and work in more physical activity during the day. When I go to the bathroom at work I make a trip up and down the stairs.

When shopping I park a little farther out. When in the store I do two laps around the store at a quick pace before checking out.

I still have a long way to go to reach my ideal weight and keeping diabetes under control will require a lifelong change in eating and exercise habits.

I’m not deluded; there will be setbacks. I ate two Milano cookies that somebody left on the table at work yesterday.

However, you only need to get up once more than you fall to finish a marathon.

Tim Gillie

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim covers education, Tooele City government, business, real estate, politics and the state Legislature. He became a journalist after a long career as an executive with the Boy Scouts of America. Tim is a native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University.

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