As part of their marketing campaign, the American Diabetes Association uses a paper representation of the top of a shoe for their Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes campaign that is going on now. These are footsteps of hope for the roughly 24 million people with diabetes and the 57 million people who are pre-diabetic.
Whether you are my newest coach, Donna, or my oldest coach, Bernie, we are being given the opportunity to take the footsteps of hope with people who have diabetes or are pre-diabetic. Millions of people are desperate to find help and we as coaches can guide, motivate and inspire them to bring positive change to their lives.
WebMD.com has the following description of diabetes:
Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong disease that develops when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin or when the body’s tissues become resistant to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body’s cells use sugar (glucose) for energy. It also helps the body store extra sugar in muscle, fat, and liver cells.
How can you manage diabetes?
You play a major role in managing your diabetes. The most important thing is to control your blood sugar. To do this:
• Eat a balanced diet. If you are overweight, reduce your calorie intake to lose some weight. Losing as little as 10 to 20 pounds can improve your blood sugar levels. There are many ways to manage how much and when you eat. Your doctor, a diabetes educator, or a dietitian can help you find a plan that works for you.
• Exercise regularly. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most, preferably all, days of the week. Exercise helps control your blood sugar by using glucose for energy during and after activity. It also helps you stay at a healthy weight; lower high cholesterol; raise HDL, or “good,” cholesterol; and lower high blood pressure.
• Take your medicine or insulin as directed, if prescribed by your doctor.
• Check your blood sugar levels regularly, as advised by your doctor.
The goal is to keep your blood sugar in a target range. You and your doctor may decide to keep your blood sugar as close to normal as possible. This is called tight control. It’s the best way to reduce your chance of having more problems from diabetes. These are called complications.
Taking care of your diabetes takes time and energy every day. But it will help you feel better and may prevent, or at least delay, complications.
What are these complications?
Heart attack, stroke, blindness, amputation, kidney failure. When doctors describe these diabetes complications, it may sound melodramatic — like an overblown worst-case scenario. The truth is, these things can happen when blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol are out of control.
“A lot of people don’t really think it will happen to them,” says David C. Ziemer, MD, director of the Diabetes Clinic at Grady Hospital in Atlanta. “For a lot of folks, the wake-up comes when they actually have a complication … a bad infection in the foot. That’s a nasty wake-up call.”
If you have uncontrolled diabetes, a serious and deep-seated foot infection can mean loss of a toe, foot, or leg — amputation — to save your life. Seriously.
How is this possible?
Over time, high blood sugar slowly injures the blood vessels, nerves, and organs in your body. The higher your blood sugar is — and the longer it stays high — the worse the damage is. Smoking and alcohol ratchet up the damage several more notches.
“Damage is slow and occurs over a period of years — but it probably begins when blood sugar is at mildly elevated levels,” says Ronald Goldberg, MD, associate director of the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical Center. “You may not be diagnosed with diabetes, but the damage has already begun.”
As it says in the information from WebMD, if you have diabetes, you play a major role in managing your diabetes. But what can we do to help fight diabetes? As an individual, you can participate in the fundraising events for finding a diabetes cure – the Step Out Walk, the Tour de Cure, the ADA SchoolWalk for Diabetes, Team Diabetes, etc.
As Team Beachbody Coaches, our efforts are endorsed by the American Diabetes Association and we can participate in the Step Out Walks and other events.
Perhaps even better, we can promote the new Kathy Smith Project: You Type 2 which is designed to be used by people with diabetes or who are pre-diabetic. That is 80 million people whose quality of life can be improved or who might just be able to prevent getting a lifelong disease.
Whatever choice you make as to how you can get involved, please make that choice. Diabetes is a curse, but it is also an opportunity to be healthier while living with diabetes or, if you are fortunate, to make healthy lifestyle choices and prevent the onset of diabetes.