“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t . . . you’re right”

This is a quote attributable to Henry Ford.  And it can be a tough one to swallow.  But you know what?  It’s true.  It especially hits home to those of us in “the diabetic club”.

I’ll be honest.  I was advised a bit over a year ago in June of 2016 that I had better get my act together as my numbers were putting me in the pre-diabetic range.  I made half-hearted attempts to alter my diet and exercise regimen to stave off the diagnosis.  What I found out in February of 2017 is that half-hearted won’t cut it.  The fact is, I didn’t take the necessary changes I needed to make very seriously.

In February, I became official.  And yet I still didn’t take the changes seriously.  I thought, “Yeah, I got this.” And I went about my life.  My glucose numbers haven’t really gone up, but they haven’t come down to the desired range either.  People will ask me what my numbers are.  I’ll tell them it was 165 (not the actual number but not far off).  The response will be “Oh, that’s great!”.  No . . . no it isn’t.  Relative to others, I guess so, but for where I need mine to be?  Not so much.  Not when you are targeting 100 or under.

So, has my lifestyle really changed all that much?  Not like is needs to.  Making these necessary changes is exceedingly difficult.  When you have spent approximately 50 years of your life enjoying things like cinnamon rolls, chips, sandwiches, French fries, etc., getting away from them for a healthier diet is difficult.

I try.  I try every day.  I’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way.  I’ve learned to avoid saying “I can’t”.  “I can’t” sounds so defeated, so sacrificial and depressing.  Instead, I attempt to say “I don’t”.  What’s the difference?  “I don’t” sounds so much more proactive and empowering.  And it sounds like a personal choice rather than a restriction.  It’s certainly a head game I play with my own psyche but it leaves me feeling better about my choices and less like a victim.

But it isn’t easy.  Look around you . . . if you’re diabetic it seems that the deck is completely stacked against you.  On one block of 86th Street near my home I have the following choices: Pizza Hut, Jack’s Pizza, Skyline Chili, Firehouse Subs, Chik-fil-a, Einstein Bros Bagels, Noodles & Co., Chipotle, McDonald’s, Wendy’s Taco Bell, Rally Burger, Penn Station and Burger King.  There is also a Tian Fu Asian restaurant that makes the most amazing noodles.  And that doesn’t count the Arby’s, Steak and Shake and Panda Express right around the corner.  Those of you who are local are visualizing this as you read this I’m sure.

So, what do you do?  It makes you want to throw your hands in the air and say “I can’t do this.”  I can’t keep the beast at bay.  But you know what?  I CAN.  I CAN keep the beast at bay.  I just have to stay vigilant about what I consume.  And it isn’t easy.  I wish I could tell you I will beat this disease.  But I won’t.  It isn’t one you beat.  You just manage it.  And you stay vigilant.  Every . . . Single . . . Day.  And I hate it with every fiber of my being.  I really don’t know if I could have prevented this or not.  It really doesn’t matter.  I’m here.  And I can curl up and feel sorry for myself or I can put on my big boy pants and continue the fight.

As a side note, you know what makes this fight even tougher?  Getting sick with a cold, the flu, stomach virus, etc.  Because you don’t feel like eating, you don’t feel like anything.  When you do finally feel well enough to eat, all you want is some crackers or some chicken noodle soup.  That’s where I’ve been this past couple days.  Trying to make good choices in the throes of feeling like crap.

I guess the good part is I’m not hungry anyway so there aren’t cravings of bad foods to deal with.  When I have eaten, I’ve been playing it safe with bland foods that I know are low carb.

I read on Twitter today another axiom that I also believe holds true.  “Food is the most abuse anxiety product. Exercise is the most underutilized antidepressant.”  How many of us have used the phrase “comfort food” when we’re feeling stressed?  Also, I realize that exercise isn’t a cure-all for depression.  And it is not a substitute for an anti-depressant.  But used in conjunction?  Absolutely.  Exercise has always been an antidote for stress for me.  Especially on the bike.  When I’m out there, all thoughts leave my head.  If I’m not in traffic, I generally think about my pedal stroke and just enjoy the environment.  In traffic, you really cannot think about anything but the bike.  Put your head on a swivel and be present and pay attention to what is going on around you.

For me personally, I am about 60 lbs. over my ideal/target weight.  I have a lot of work to do.  Since my diagnosis, I’m down about 5 lbs.  So, what am I going to do?  For starters, I’m riding in the Indianapolis Tour de Cure on October 7 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  I’m trying to raise $1000 for the American Diabetes Association for education and to search for a cure.  I’ll be riding my trusty Trek 370 for 50 miles that day.  My longest single day ride ever.  I want and need your support.  Any donation is tax deductible and many companies will do a corporate match.  I’m currently at about $825.  Please help me raise the last $175.  You can donate here:

John’s Fundraising Site

Whether I think I can or think I can’t, I’m right.  I choose “I can”.

Thank you for your support!