One More Habit Conquered

  • Leif Gregersen Supplied

The past four months seem to have gone by way too quickly. We had a late summer and now it seems we will have an early winter. As I write, already snow is forecast and has even fallen in a number of places in Alberta.

The big thing about this summer is that due to a diagnosis of diabetes, I have had to effect some serious changes in my life. I am thankful for our incredible healthcare system for offering numerous courses for me to take on how to manage my diet, exercise, and blood sugar levels to be able to stay in good health and have the energy I need to get through my day.

I have lost a large amount of weight these past four months, but it hasn’t been easy in any sense of the word. My new regimen of low sugar, low fat eating began before I even took the test to see if I had diabetes. I was forced to fast before going into the lab to have my sugar levels checked. I found myself ravenously hungry, and only able to drink water. I had gotten into the bad habit of eating large meals and a midnight snack. Fortunately, I started my adult years with a few other habits and I was able to kick them.

Smoking was the worst habit I had, but I found that once I was able to get through the first couple of weeks I saw benefits to quitting, not to mention the risks to my health being diminished. I also had to quit using VLT machines and later quit coffee. I don’t know which of my habits were harder to quit, but they all seemed to have something in common: each habit required a difficult period of withdrawal, and then I simply would not allow myself to even think about the habit I had just kicked. When I stopped gambling, I refused to go near any bars or casinos and simply would not consider going back to this habit. Coffee was different. Perhaps nearly as difficult, but different.

It seemed in each case what was called for was an understanding of what it was I was addicted to. All the lights and bells of the VLT machines seemed to give me a thrill, an idea of getting easy money. Well, I have been told that if casinos were in the business of giving out money, they couldn’t afford to build those huge hotels, pay their staff, or situate themselves in lavish, prime real estate. With gambling it was adrenalin, and perhaps adrenalin to which I was addicted. So to add to my other methods, I tried to always keep myself calm and not let anything excite me. It worked like a miracle. Again, the initial stages were very difficult, but soon I was happily gambling-free.

As far as food went, I suspect being put on the diabetes medication Metformin was a large help, but I also decided to begin a daily exercise routine. This included the great low-impact exercise of swimming, and I also started going for long walks. Soon I was so used to walking that I could go for many miles. I had heard that if you walk 10 miles it is the same as running for 10 miles. Walking had the added advantage of distracting me from food and giving me something to look forward to other than getting out of bed to eat.

All in all, I have dropped now just over 30 pounds and have high hopes of being able to drop another 30 and be at a healthy weight for my height and body type. I long for the days of playing so many sports and having such a high metabolism that I could eat pizza every day at work and hot dogs all night when I was done and still stay 170 pounds. Those days are gone, but in actual fact I am finding I really enjoy learning more about food and how to take care of myself.

_Leif lives in McCauley. His books can be found at the Edmonton Public Library or at Mint Health + Drugs on 96 Street. You can visit his website at

Janis Irwin MLA
Vista Housing

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