The Mystery of Diabetes and Weight Loss

Diabetes and weight loss are mysteries still waiting for all of the answers. Some questions have been answered through diligent medical research, but there are still nagging questions waiting for solutions for people like me. I followed the standard formula for weight loss and gained two pounds in two days. Go figure, huh. And then in the third day, I had a big surprise. Read my story to discover what happened.

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I can understand why doctors and endocrinologists like the ones I’ve seen at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston love researching the body. I’ve been a volunteer research subject in the Epidemiology of Diabetes Intervention and Control Trial (EDIC) for 30 years!  I’ve been poked, prodded, stuck, and cut on for biopsies more times than I can count. 

One of my favorite endocrinologists who treated me was Dr. Timothy Lyons from Belfast, Ireland. 

Dr. Timothy Lyons from Ireland

“Professor Lyons graduated from the Queen’s University of Belfast. He trained in Internal Medicine in Belfast teaching hospitals and in Diabetes/Endocrinology at the Royal Victoria Hospital Metabolic Unit, and subsequently worked for 23 years in the United States, first at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, and then at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City. At the University of Oklahoma, he served as Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Section of Endocrinology, and as Director of the newly established Harold Hamm Diabetes Center. 

“Throughout his time in the United States, he conducted laboratory, translational, and epidemiologic research in the complications of diabetes, while remaining active in clinical work and in the development of diabetes prevention programs. His laboratory was supported by NIH, as well as by funding from the American Diabetes Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and other agencies. His research included basic science, translational, and clinical studies to address the effects of modification of proteins and lipids in diabetes, and their implication in atherosclerosis, diabetic retinopathy, and complications of pregnancy. Ongoing epidemiologic studies have included 16 years collaboration with the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) which became the Epidemiology of Diabetes Intervention and Control (EDIC) and prospective studies of pre-eclampsia in pregnancy in women with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, the latter in partnership with the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations of Oklahoma. In 2013, he returned to Belfast to a Chair of Diabetes and Translational Medicine at the Queen’s University, with the goal of developing a new, integrated translational Diabetes Research Programme.”

(Source: https://www.diapedia.org/editorial-team/861/timothy-lyons)

Dr. Lyon’s focus is on research to help improve the life of diabetics and how to manage the disease. His life is research. I asked him one time if he was married. He replied in his quaint Irish brogue, “No, and I don’t plan to marry. It takes too much time that I’d rather devote to research.”

I also remember a time when he talked about going to procure a cow’s eye for the purpose of a better understanding of the eye and eye issues pertaining to the diminishing sight and blindness in many diabetics. Blindness caused by diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the USA. 

Dr. Timothy Lyons and doctors like him are giving their lives to research. I am grateful. 

Valuable data has been obtained from the 1200 volunteers at research hospitals nationwide in the EDIC study for researches like Dr. Lyons to analyze. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta funds the EDIC and makes the data available to medical researchers worldwide. 

During my last visit to MUSC, I was told that the CDC will continue funding this landmark study until we die. It originally was funded for a 7 year study. Now, as we have aged, researchers want to find out how aging affects diabetes and what can be done to reverse or slow down the diabetes complications due to aging in Type-1 insulin dependent diabetics like me. Pretty cool stuff if you ask me. 

It’s been fascinating for me. I receive a quarterly newsletter update of the findings from the study, and the findings are truly amazing. It is written in laymen’s language so people like me can make sense of it. 

I have received personally far more than I have given. I have learned so much that helps me manage and control my diabetes. I am grateful for their commitment and love of research. The best endocrinologists in America are involved in this study. 

Our body has mysteries that need answers from medical researchers and not just diabetic bodies, but normal, healthy bodies too. 

One mystery about our body that intrigues me is not only about diabetes, but also about weight gain and weight loss. Why do I gain weight when I eat small portions of healthy meals, exercise regularly, and drink lots of water?  

Why do I lose weight when I do these things?  

In this field, a lot of medical research has been done and is being done. The results are published in journals and books. Still, there are perplexing mysteries to be solved. 

More emphasis needs to be placed on the value of nutrition and the healing power of healthy foods for students in our medical universities 

For example, Dr. J. Ron Eaker, a local doctor from Augusta, Georgia, who was formerly on the staff of the Medical College of Georgia, wrote that medical students do not receive adequate training in nutrition. He only received ten hours of formal training in nutrition. The medical schools have improved their paucity of training in nutrition, he recently reported, but there’s still a lot to be done. 

His practice now includes working with obese patients, and he has studied and researched studied obesity on his own. Yet, he states, “Nutrition often continues to take a back seat.”

Could this be why many doctors seem to be quick to prescribe a statin for high cholesterol and a drug like Enalapril for high blood pressure instead of integrating the pills with a healthy diet and exercise regimens?  

My wife is a retired nurse. We talked about this, and she concluded that doctor’s don’t have enough time to talk about nutrition, and it’s quicker to prescribe a pill. Further, she thinks  that doctors might feels that they are wasting their time talking about nutrition because their patients don’t seem to be interested. Pills offer a quick fix. 

Anyway, Dr. J. Ron Waker’s book, Healthy Habits for a Fit Family, has been an important source for information and inspiration in my weight loss efforts. 

I’ve done a lot of research on the internet and read a lot of authoritative books by medical doctors on weight loss and weight gain. I consider myself an amateur expert. But, there’s a lot I still don’t understand and a lot that medical researchers don’t understand about weight gain and weight loss just like there is a lot more to learn about T-1 insulin dependent diabetes. There is much still to be discovered. 

Now, there is a popular nifty jiffy weight loss formula that if followed, weight loss happens. But, unlike a math formula such as A + B = C, the outcome of the weight formula is more like A + B = ???. At least it is for me. 

Do you know the weight loss formula? It goes something like this:  

Step 1: Find out how many calories your body needs each day to maintain your current weight. 

Step 2:  Reduce your daily calorie intake by between 500 to 1,000 calories. 

Step 3: Exercise. Especially aerobic exercise like walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming help melt away body fat. 

Step 4; Repeat step 1 every week to discover your new daily calorie intake. After the body becomes 1 or 2 pounds lighter, it doesn’t need as many calories to sustain that new weight. But by using the formula every week, you’ll always know exactly how much you should be eating to reach your goal and never hit a plateau.

Source: https://www.mindful.sodexo.com/the-magic-formula-for-weight-loss

And, also drink lots of water. 

But, I’m here to tell you that formula doesn’t work for everyone. It isn’t absolute. It certainly doesn’t work for me 100% of the time. 

Sometimes, it works. Yes. But it’s not like A + B = C. It’s like my now retired endocrinologist, Dr. Tom Huff told me about diabetes. “You have to play with it to stay balanced and to try and keep your blood sugar within an acceptable range and at the same time lose weight.” 

I’ve found his advice to be true. For example, you can manage diabetes by the book. Then, a time of stress happens or you get an infection, and your blood sugar goes through the roof. Everything’s out of balance. So, your body is fighting on two fronts, blood sugar and weight loss. When that happens, for me, it makes a tough job even tougher. 

So, what is the mystery of weight loss that has me baffled this morning? Here’s what happened. 

I gained two pounds over two days, June 1-2, following the weight loss formula. I ate small portions of healthy food and walked 2 miles correctly applying the weight loss formula. 

On June 2nd, I did the same thing. On the morning of June 3rd, I weighed and the scale showed that I didn’t gain or lose weight. Not even an ounce!  It stayed the same at 232.5

I did the same thing again during June 3rd. But, This morning, June 4, my body mysteriously dropped a pound. I weighed in at 231.5. Go figure, huh. 

I like weighing every morning. I find the results captivating and interesting. I know, I know, there are some who advise weighing weekly. Others say weigh monthly. Even some of the books I’ve read on weight loss advise against daily weigh-ins. Why? Because daily weighing can become an obsession. 

But remember, I’m a Type 1 insulin dependent diabetic who has to check his glucose at least 4 times a day with a skin prick that produces a drop of blood that is then put on a test strip for my glucometer to read. The number from the glucometer tells me if my blood sugar is up or down or within acceptable range. If it’s down, I have to treat it by eating some carbs or pop a couple of glucose tablets in my mouth  if it’s up I program my insulin pump to shoot in some more insulin to get it down. 

To me, that’s what the number on the scale tells me about my weight. If my weight is up, what actions do I need to take to get it down. If it’s down, then continue the path I’m on. 

No, I’m not obsessed about losing weight because I weigh daily. I’m not like this 15 year old girl in one of my Facebook weight loss groups. She weighed herself three or four times a day. That’s an obsession. She panicked if she even gained an ounce or two during the day. Her dad wisely took away her scale and only allows weekly weigh-ins now. I imagine she had a weigh-in withdrawal!  She was psychologically addicted to weighing-in. 

But, not me. Don’t worry about me. I’m not obsessed. There was a time when I was obsessed early in my weight loss journey. I’d get mad if my weight went up and smile big if it went down.  But, I’m kinda becoming an old pro at this weight loss stuff. I think I’ve taken my emotions out of it now. I try to be objective about it. 

As a result, I’m more like a Dr. Lyons objectively looking for answers to manage diabetes and the complications that come from diabetes. I’m objectively looking at my weight loss numbers now and how to better manage my weight. 

Did you know some diabetics do everything right and still have complications like loss of vision and neuropathy?  Yep. I asked Dr. Huff one time why I haven’t had major complications. Now, I’ve had some complications for sure and have had to have a couple of laser surgeries in both eyes and cataracts removed. But today, I have near perfect vision. Knock on wood!

Dr. Tom Huff told me that my good fortune is probably a genetic thing in addition to good management. But, he said, “More research is needed!”

Anyway, back to my story. I want to know why my weight fluctuates like it did this morning when I showed a loss of a pound. I wanted some  answers to my body’s weight mysteries.  

Why do I gain? Why do I lose? Sometimes, I think I can understand it. Other times like this morning’s one pound loss, I ain’t got a clue. 

And, I wonder what mystery tomorrow morning’s weigh-in will hold for me?  It’s interesting to me for sure as I try to figure out what is going on with my body. 

By the way, my endocrinologist, Dr. Tom Huff, became so fascinated with the effects of insulin on a diabetic that he injected himself with a few units of insulin to discover and report the effects of extra insulin on a healthy person! That experiment made me love and appreciate him more as he took on my disease to learn more about it. 

Dr. Huff is in the foreground with other doctors reviewing data in their research

I thought Dr. Huff’s courageous act was kind of like Christ who “took up our pain and bore our suffering” (Isaiah 53:4). Christ identifies with us in our pain and suffering. He just doesn’t stand back and watch. He gets in there with us. That’s like Dr. Huff did. 

(Here’s an article on Dr. Huff that I wrote and that the Augusta Chronicle published. Click the link to read it.)

http://chronicle.augusta.com/content/blog/dan-white/2010-06-11/dr-thomas-huff-life-invested-diabetes-care

Back to my story again. Sorry for wondering off the main trail. 

I weigh-in every morning to document changes in my weight and whether it’s up or down or the same. Then like a medical researcher, I try to analyze what’s going on in my body. What did I eat? How much exercise did I do?  There’s a host of questions I ask myself. Some, I can answer. Others need further review. Many I can’t answer.  

At times, about all I can do is to make an educated guess and not stress over it. After all, stress can trigger everything from binge eating to not eating much of anything. And, stress raises my blood sugar. God created us as emotional people, but He also instructs us to practice self-control. 

Dr. Huff said that he made educated guesses about his recommended protocol for his diabetic patients. He told m that his work is about 70% knowledge and 30% educated guess in treating his insulin dependent patients. His guessing in regard to me has been pretty accurate as I am still kicking at 66 which is 47 years after I contracted diabetes. Plus, I’ve done my best to follow my doctor’s orders. 

Maybe my knowledge and guess work about my body losing and gaining weight will be as good as Dr. Huff’s educated guesses. I certainly hope so and hope the weight continues to mysteriously fall off like it did this morning!

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Thanks for reading. Your comments are welcome. You can subscribe to my blog by entering your email address in the space provided at the end of this article. Blessings to all. 

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