06:53am Thursday 27 July 2017

Small Changes Add Up When Living with Diabetes

“People are telling me that I’ve inspired them, which has really surprised me,” says Kevin Carey, proprietor of Badger Bowl and Village Lanes. 

Years into his diabetes diagnosis, Kevin still wasn’t taking his health seriously. But when knee and back pain began interfering with his ability to bowl, he warmed to the idea of making lifestyle changes. 

With extra support from RN care coordinator Nancy Foulk and Dr. Sandy Kamnetz, Kevin has lost 42 pounds so far. 

“When people ask me how I’ve done it, I always mention two things: You have to want it and once you start seeing progress, it helps a bunch.” 

Here, Kevin shares what’s worked well for him.

  • I used to drink pop all day. Now I drink about two gallons of water each day. I’ve not had a pop in 14 months! It took about 10 days for me to adjust, but I don’t even think about it anymore.
  • When I want to enjoy an adult (alcoholic) beverage, I avoid mixed drinks with sugary mixers and opt for a beer instead or use water as a mixer. I was honest with my doctor that I didn’t intend to give up drinking altogether so she helped me find the option that was best for me as a diabetic.
  • I involved my wife in the learning process, including diabetes education and cooking classes through UW Health. My wife does most of the food shopping and cooking so it was important for both of us to learn how to make healthy choices.
  • My wife and I now read labels. We pay attention to carbs, fats and sodium levels.
  • I started eating smaller meals – things like a cup of soup or yogurt or an orange.
  • I try to finish eating for the day by 7pm. I used to eat up until 10pm and snack on things like Doritos. Not anymore.
  • I set limits for fast food. As a business owner, I’m always on the go. I used to eat fast food three to four times a day. I still treat myself to a breakfast sandwich, but I skip the side of hash browns and pop. And if I eat fast food for another meal, I always order a salad, no exceptions. I’ve learned that if you do it right, salads are actually quite good!
  • It’s about moderation. I still treat myself occasionally, but now understand that I can’t indulge during every meal, every day.
  • I exercise three to five times a week, but only for 30 minutes at a time. I ride a stationary bike for half hour so I can read the newspaper while I’m doing it. I usually finish the first section of the Wisconsin State Journal during my ride.
  • I faced facts and accepted help. My RN care coordinator, Nancy, got me off a dead square. She was a very friendly pain the rear, calling me often to ask about my glucose numbers, which forced me to actually do my readings. I then saw how high they were and could start to pinpoint what was making them spike. Over time, seeing results kept me motivated to keep up with the changes I was making.

“I tell people to think of a five pound bag of sugar. Now imagine eight of those – that’s how much extra weight I was carrying around. No wonder my knees and back were giving out on me,” Kevin says. “Now I have more energy, move easier and I’m back to bowling. It feels good to take charge of your health. I’ve learned that life can be better.”


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