When you’re a young man, full of ambitions and natural strength you usually don’t care as much about your health as later in your life. So did I. There was a busy career in IT business which gave me the opportunity to travel all around my country, have an irregular time schedule for my meals and, last but not least, gain a lot of weight.
There was my family and kids as well, my hobbies and a lot of other duties that kept me away from my personal healthcare. Just a little too long! I’m now 43, and about two years ago I went to the doctor’s for some really persistent kind of flu and the doc took some blood for the analysis. When he called me back to tell me about the results from the lab he gave me the good news about the flu which would go past and the bad news: I was suffering from diabetes mellitus and it seemed as if I already did for some years! The only good thing about it was the fact that I do not already need insulin but can help myself by medication.
What followed literally was a marathon of further medical checkups and examinations and in the end I knew that not only the diabetes resulted from my unhealthy lifestyle and my weight, which was up to 125 kg with 1,76m height in my “best” days, but as well high blood pressure and a high heart rate. All of them really bad news which I really didn’t want to hear from the doctors. And in the end I now have to take three different pills every day which don’t cure the disease but just help to reduce the symptoms and future impact.
At first I really asked myself whether that could be true. I had no pains at all. Nothing hurt me, no visual results of all of these critical diseases. And I tended to ignore those radical changes you have to make in your life. I knew that the pills wouldn’t heal me. I knew in my mind what to do. Lose weight and live a healthier life! But if you think about losing weight you only see a big, big challenge of changing all your habits. It’s not possible to quit and get a new, less stressful job with the same income just with a snap of your fingers. Those usual midnight sessions at the fast food restaurants, fat meat, sweet beverages—no longer? It took me half a year to realize what the doctor recommended. I agreed to go to a sanatorium for a few weeks and learn all about my illness and practice my new daily life with it. And I learned a lot. When you suffer from diabetes, your cells can no longer consume the energy carrying sugar because either your body does not produce the hormone insulin and/or the consumption of insulin is defective. That is dangerous, because the unconsumed sugar in your blood will sooner or later accumulate, block your blood vessels and cause massive damages up to eye cataract, amputation of toes or cardiovascular disease. Of course better food and regular meals are necessary and really help a lot. You just don’t offer your body too much sugar by this. You learn all about this in those weeks in a sanatorium or from specialists for diabetes.
There is one thing about diabetes you have to face for sure: You cannot heal it! If your body is no longer able to use insulin properly and assimilate sugar as a carrier of energy, because the insulin producing cells in the pancreas are damaged and the reception of that hormone is defective, nothing will heal that. The cells will not repair themselves nor will your body replace them. That damage is stable. I hate to take those pills the doctors gave me, but the medications are meant to reduce those late effects of the disease. They help your body to work with the rest of its own insulin, if not all of the cells are damaged. But what finally motivated me most of all, to actively fight my disease, was the fact that there is something I can do to actively to allow myself a life without those medications. The pills more or less do one thing: they stimulate your metabolism to use more energy and help to burn more sugar. So there is one conclusion about the best what you can go to nearly reduce all of the negative effects for later in your life and as well live a full quality life without pills. Just one simple thing: Move! Walk, run or do whatever means physical movement. That’s as easy as it could be! Go outside for a walk. Just walk! Yes, I don’t recommend to run 10 km at once. I started slowly as well. Every step you take is one step in the right direction and will help to keep your future better.
So now I come to the point where Runkeeper helps me nearly every day, at least three times a week to keep moving, to keep running for a better life and far more quality in it! I’m a techie, some would say nerd. My job brings that along and so I did not just agree in using that little device they offered to us in the sanatorium to count our steps. Nice try, I thought. But there must be more. And I started to search for other things. My smartphone is always with me. Even when I walk or run. I therefore now searched for apps, I never ever would have dreamed I would download on my smartphone. But I did! And it helped! And so it will help you keeping up with your goal of a healthier life! I now use Runkeeper for almost one year of constant activity tracking. It motivates me a lot to see my little efforts and to get better. I do not only track my kilometers but regularly measure my heart rate while running and try to stay in a healthy region for that.
I did not reach my goal yet, that is still a long way to go and it takes a lot more sessions to run. I now weigh about 100 kg and soon I plan to pass that magic line and never go over it again. My blood sugar values are in the region of people without diabetes, but I still take the pills for that. So there is another 15 or 20 kg to lose and then I will have my chance to reach such values without chemistry in my body. My plan for this year is to get in the region of 10 km in about 1 hour or a little less. Hard work for me, who over 40 years of his life did no sports at all! Runkeeper is one of my favorite apps nowadays and won the race against some other running and GPS tracking or step counting apps. It just does what it is supposed to do. There is an easy to use and effective design combined with all useful functions I need. I decided to become an elite member soon when I start to work with some training plans in summer. But even the free app is better that all the others I tried. Maybe I will report about my way to a future life with diabetes but without medicaments. Keep fighting, keep running!
From the editors: Please note that Stefan is discussing his personal experience only. This article is not intended to be read as a recommendation of treatment for similar medical cases, or intended to sway medical decisions in any way. Treatment for diabetes, or any condition, should be discussed first with your doctor.