A few years ago, a missionary friend of mine visited us here in Ontario. He was keen to go fishing, and so one early afternoon, we rented a canoe at Lake Opeongo and headed towards North Opeongo beyond which was located our campsite. But the winds were against us and soon they had driven us to the far shore of East Opeongo; and so we had no choice but to make camp there despite not having a permit for that area. My friend was in pain, especially in his shoulders and he slept badly. I thought it odd that a few hours of paddling had put him in such agony. The next day, he called canoeing an “extreme sport”. A few years later, this same friend had to leave the mission field for a medical furlough. His vision had clouded over and the diagnosis was Type II Diabetes; his hbA1C was 14%. He had undoubtedly been suffering from hyperglycemia and experienced a bout of severe tendonitis from our little excursion.
I remembered this story recently, as I was thinking back about the many sports injuries I myself had suffered trying to stay active to lose weight. Peripheral neuropathy destroyed my ability to canoe–the tingling in my hands was too severe; it also hindered weight training. Later, weight training became impossible when I experienced debilitating rotatory cuff tendonitis. Often, after playing basketball, I couldn’t even walk for three to four days, and I frequently suffered from Achilles tendonitis, a couple times so bad that I needed crutches. I had lost most of my flexibility, but if I stretched, I could cause severe injury to my tendons.
It is commonly thought that an effective treatment for diabetes is exercise. That’s fine and may help, but if the patient has tendonitis, peripheral neuropathy, or loss of proprioception (loss of coordination–I often fell inexplicably when working around the house, walking up steps or when doing sports), then the devastating effects of high blood sugars would make exercise at best difficult at worst impossible. Diabetics and prediabetics who like me suffer from tendonitis must first control their blood sugars before they can expect to exercise. In his book, Why we get fat and what to do about it, Gary Taubes makes an important point: We don’t get fat because we don’t exercise. We don’t exercise because we are getting fat. In other words, therapists (e.g., physicians and nutritionsts) who recommend losing weight and exercise to treat obesity and diabetes–i.e., the vast majority of the imbeciles who practice medicine and nutrition–have a buggy-driven horse.
As soon as I gained control of my blood sugars I began to notice major improvements. After a couple weeks, though I had the energy to walk, I still suffered injury to my knees and Achilles tendons, but now these problems are much less severe after exercise. Before I started to low-carb, I tried to do my rotator cuff exercises after a hiatus of many moons; I suffered an immediate relapse of the tendonitis which took a couple weeks to lessen. It is clear to me that I couldn’t exercise to lose weight that way. But now that my blood sugars have normalized after four months of low carbs, I can pretty much exercise every day as necessary.
I am exercising in the evening to achieve perfectly normal over-night blood sugars and I am having considerable success with it. This is about fine tuning the blood sugars. That is impossible on a high carbohydrate diet, and it is often cruel to recommend to diabetics that they must exercise to control blood sugars.
I become angry when I read that diabetics and prediabetics must exercise and lose weight to control their diabetes. Rather, those of us who suffer from hyperglycemia must first achieve normal blood sugars via low carbohydrate diet, and then the weight loss will take place naturally and exercise will become possible. I look forward to going canoeing again now that my peripheral neuropathy is gone.