I started walking everywhere
“My mum had diabetes but I never knew it was genetic or that I would need to watch my own diet and lifestyle,” says Pooja Jain, 40, who is a freelance learning designer. All she knew at that time was that her mother’s diabetes was a side effect of the medications she was taking for some other ailments she had.
Although she found out she had diabetes when she was pregnant, it wasn’t just gestational diabetes, “as my doctor informed me, it was waiting to happen and found pregnancy as a vehicle to manifest itself”. Add to that was the fact that Pooja had a difficult pregnancy, which involved a few hospitalisations prior to delivery.
“Our focus at that time was to follow the doctor’s advice and not overthink anything,” she says “I stuck to the prescribed diet but since I was on complete bedrest, it was extremely difficult to manage my blood sugar levels with diet alone. I had to be put on insulin injections prior to every meal.” This meant timing her meals and insulin shots, and carefully watching what, when and how much she ate, she says.
A learning curve
Although Pooja struggled with being overweight, a dcotor told her that her diabetes was more a result of her unmanaged and untamed blood sugar levels and had less to do with her weight. “The oral medicines he prescribed turned my life around.
As you know, weight management is a crucial part of fighting diabetes.
His prescription helped me shed weight and start leading an active life,” she says.
Finding the balance
“The biggest challenge was to keep a level mind and not get overwhelmed by the number of changes required to bring a substantial change,” she says. It started with her diet – Pooja reduced her portion sizes, which meant no processed foods and less carbs as well, and increased the frequency of her meals – this was complemented by practical exercise.
“I started walking everywhere. It was killing two birds with one stone: Get healthy and reduce my carbon footprint. Instead of taking buses or taxis, I would walk to the theatre, to the library, to the mall… literally, everywhere. Places that were too far to walk, I cut them out of my to-do list,” she says.
As a result, her fitness and energy levels have increased and she has managed to bring down her blood glucose levels (Hba1c) from a whopping 9.5 to 6.7. But it’s a work in progress: ”Regular health checks are a must. We women often tend to relegate our needs, but it’s crucial to monitor Hba1c every three to four months and plan changes that are easier to sustain,” she says.
Finding the balance also meant managing family and friends’ often well-meaning, but sometimes unsolicited advice on how much exercise was too much. “As long as you know your body and mind can handle the changes, don’t let family and friends bring you down,” she says. “They don’t have diabetes. You do. Consult your doctor and do what you
think works best for you.”