It’s only 110 pages. I read it on the plane on the way home from St. Louis. It’s an “exercise prescription” to prevent Type 2 and combat Type 1 diabetes. It’s The Diabetes Antidote from Mr. Natural Universe Doug Burns, with Denny Dressman (he’s the journalist who helped NFL star Jay Leeuwenberg write Yes I Can! Yes You Can! — a review for another day).
This little book from Mr. Big Type 1 is a like a field guide to gettin’ your diabetic head in the game. It tells the story of how a scrawny kid diagnosed with diabetes at age 7 morphed himself into an award-winning body builder. And in-between the snippets of his story, we get a lot of empowering messages about the indispensable effects of exercise and how important it is to “just do it.”
I couldn’t agree more that “exercise is the best diabetes medicine.” What struck me in particular was the authors’ quotable quote on its significance for people with Type 1:
“If you’re not very active, even though you have insulin regulated, you’re not helping yourself.” They explain that exercise not only boosts your metabolism and thus burns body fat, but also — with increasingly strenuous workouts over time — “causes the body to consume glucose of its own, and less insulin is required.” Doug tested the theory empirically by recording his own stats on training, insulin, calories, and body fat leading up to his 2004 Mr. USA victory.
Now I’ll be darned. Can you believe that when I mentioned my workout regime to my first diabetes educator a few years ago, she actually said, “Well, as a Type 1, you can exercise till the cows come home, and it won’t change your diabetes.” Hah, I just knew that couldn’t be right. Vindicated!!
Doug also talks realistically about “bouncing around” — from 146 to 296 in 90 minutes, after skipping an insulin dose to avoid a low during intense training, his notes recant (with obscenities removed). So superstar body-builders do the BG yo-yo, too? Grin.
The big message of this little book is in fact the age old axiom: you can do anything, if you put your mind to it. It’s a little rah-rah in particular for those already committed to the benefits of regular exercise, but still worth a look for a little “empowerment boost” on your next plane or train ride. Or if you know anyone with diabetes who just can’t get off the couch… I’m not sure this book alone is the antidote to inertia, but it certainly can’t hurt.
(ComServ Books, online for $12.95).