How a Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis Helped Me Change My Life

UW Health patient Jami BrownWith the help of her UW Health primary care nurse, author and patient Jami Brown used a diabetes diagnosis to change her life.


Hearing that I had been diagnosed with type II diabetes was a shock and I was ready to do whatever it took to get my health back on track. I knew it was going to take time and effort and that I’d need a lot of help along the way.


Since my diagnosis in 2014, I’m proud to say that I’ve made a lot of progress, including more than 40 pounds lost (and counting!). Many people have asked me, "How did you do it?" So I made a list of what has worked well for me.


Here are some of my tips:

  • Learn as much as you can. I took diabetes education classes through UW Health, which taught me what diabetes is, how serious it can become, how it affects my entire body and how to successfully manage it. I also met with the instructors (Laura Wick, diabetes nurse educator, and Rene Walters, dietitian) for personalized sessions.
  • Count carbs. This helped me realize how many carbs I was actually consuming and then tracking them over time, which helped me lose weight.
  • Replace simple carbs with whole grain carbs as much as possible. This helps keep my blood sugar at healthy levels.
  • Monitor glucose levels every day. This holds me accountable, helping me stay on track.
  • Use smaller plates and smaller silverware. This helps me feel like I have a "full" plate and the small silverware slows my eating down.
  • Avoid storing "danger foods" in the house. These are foods that I know are unhealthy and I will overeat. If it's too tempting for me to overindulge, I don't keep it around.
  • Take the guesswork out of portions. When I really want to eat a particular food (especially a treat), I purchase an individual serving. And I’ve stopped telling myself that buying a gallon of ice cream is cheaper than an individual dish. If I eat the whole gallon (which I will!), it will only set me back and won't be worth the couple dollars I saved.
  • Schedule exercise into your day. Treat like any other appointment that you wouldn’t cancel.
  • Never say never. For me, no food is necessarily forbidden. I just try to keep everything in moderation. I don't view this as a diet in which I can't ever eat certain things. It’s more about ongoing healthy choices and lifestyle changes.
  • Utilize the RN Care Coordinators. Mine is Eva Bacon. We have weekly contact through MyChart and sometimes in person. She checks in with me on things like glucose levels, blood pressure numbers, exercise frequency and my weight management. She is not at all pushy and really wants to help me reach my goals. It has been great to know I have someone to help me with anything that comes up. Our weekly contact helps me stay on track most of all.
  • Embrace the upside. I try to look at diabetes as a sort of a blessing. I know that sounds odd, but being diagnosed helped me change my life habits for the better. Knowing the risks associated with not taking proper care of myself was just what I needed to take control of my life. I am feeling healthier than ever and all my numbers are better than ever, so that keeps me motivated!

Wishing you all the best on your own health journey!

Date Published: 12/30/2015

News tag(s):  diabetes

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