Counting down to the holidays

My Omron pedometer


As I sail from Thanksgiving into the merriment of Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve, counting how many sweet potatoes and marshmallows I just devoured and how many cookies and glasses of champagne await me, I have one eye on threatening extra calories. But I have my other eye on a different set of numbers.

Diabetes comes with so many numbers. Our pre-meal blood sugars should be between 90 and 130, our 1-2 hour post meal blood sugars should be between 120 and 140, our A1cs should be below 7, our HDL over 45, LDL under 100, oops no, for us it’s under 70, our triglycerides under 150… you get the idea. But here’s one measurement I find truly encouraging, rather than discouraging. Counting my steps.

I know how I eat and how I move affect and create all the numbers above, but here’s one value I feel I have immediate, visceral control over; how many times I lift my foot, stretch it forward and put it down again. And, I am rewarded (not just with my blood sugar going down, my insulin sensitivity going up, my calories going away,) but with the instant knowledge and immediate gratification of seeing the results of my labor. 

These 9,183 steps on my pedometer are yesterday’s count from a one hour and 15 minute walk. On this late fall day I was strolling through a nearby neighborhood peering into new restaurants and kicking the leafy foliage underfoot. Since these 9,000 plus steps occurred between 11:30 AM and 1 PM, I know my ambling around my apartment before and after certainly put me over the 10,000 steps a day recommendation for physical activity.

There’s something truly motivating in seeing such immediate results of your efforts. Every time I give a diabetes presentation and show my pedometer someone will ask me where they can get one. Maybe they like the “gadget-ness” of it, but seeing things in black and white makes a big difference — it gives you a feeling of control. And as we all know, diabetes feels pretty uncontrollable a lot of the time.

So while you’re counting how many holiday parties you’re going to, slices of pumpkin pie you just ate, mini hot dogs and mushroom tartlettes you’ll be sidling up to at the buffet tables yet to come, remember, you can always count your steps. Getting them up to 10,000 a day, I guarantee you will put a holiday smile on your tiramisu-stained face.

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