Bob Greene: Oprah's Trainer on Living Your Best Life With Diabetes

As an exercise physiologist, I'll help you safely step up your physical activity. Dr. Merendino will explain the specifics of diabetes and pre-diabetes care. A Yale- and Harvard-trained physician, he was a researcher at the National Institutes of Health before becoming a prominent endocrinologist, and has been caring for people with diabetes and pre-diabetes for more than twenty years. Janis offers a nutrition prescription that is loaded with delicious and tasty foods. She has authored several books and hundreds of magazine articles on healthy eating. She has been the lead nutritionist of www.thebestlife.com for the last few years, and I've witnessed her passion for nutrition and the joy she gets from helping people.

Commiting to Best Life Plan for Diabetes Management

Before you get ready to jump in and get started, I want to prepare you: you definitely have to commit to this plan for it to work. If you rise to the challenge, you'll be rewarded greatly, not only with good control of your diabetes or the reversal of your pre-diabetes, but also with more energy, a trimmer, fitter body, and better overall health. You can look at your diabetes or pre-diabetes diagnosis in one of two ways: as a strike against your health that's too great to overcome, or as an opportunity to really care for and nurture yourself.

This program isn't a quick fix. However, the gradual changes you'll make during the three phases of the plan will ensure long-term success. During each phase, you'll be given a number of goals to work on. After several weeks of practicing these healthy habits, you'll be given another set of goals, and so on, until you're leading a more active life, choosing more nutritious foods, and having consistently better control over your blood sugar. In my experience, the best way to change your diet and exercise habits is to do it gradually -- it's those changes that tend to stick for life. Here's a quick snapshot of what the three phases look like:

In Phase One, you'll work on putting the appropriate amount of carbohydrates on your plate. You'll be getting more exercise, using the Best Life Activity Scale as your guide. And all the while, you'll be regularly checking your blood sugar if you have diabetes. (Need to lose weight? You should see the pounds start to drop in this phase.)

Four weeks later, you'll be ready to start Phase Two. At this point, you'll work on tightening control of your blood sugar even further. You'll be getting choosier about the carbs you eat; you'll also get some guidance on the best protein-rich foods and healthful fats to eat at meals and snacks. You'll use the Hunger scale, a handy tool that will help you eat when you need to and stop when you should. And finally, many of you will add more physical activity. (Again, for those who need it, your weight should continue to drop.)

Phase Three is about staying healthy for life. Of course, you'll still be keeping on top of your disease with all the lifestyle habits that have now become second nature, but in this phase you'll set other aspects of good, lifelong care into place. For instance, you'll be working on motivation and coping with the emotional side of your condition. You'll refine your diet even further, not only to keep blood sugar in check, but to combat cancer and other chronic illnesses. You'll become more confident at the doctor's office when you read our advice on how to get the most out of your health care.

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