My doctor thinks I’m pre-diabetic. You might be too.
*This was originally an email to our Rupa Health community. The responses I got were overwhelmingly powerful — so many close friends, strangers, and more responding with their personal stories & how they needed to see this, so I decided to publish it more widely! If it can help even 1 person, it’s worth it. 🙏*
I am 5’4”, 116 lbs, and a size 00. And I run a healthcare company that helps people find holistic care for lifestyle rooted health issues — like hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, and diabetes.
“I don’t have diabetes, I help people with diabetes!” (what I was telling myself)
How the hell can I be pre-diabetic?
So here’s what happened. I went to One Medical a couple weeks ago, for a general women’s health checkup. My doctor asked a few questions about my life.
👩⚕️ Doc: What is your daily diet?
🙎🏽♀️ Me: Generally real foods, mostly organic, meat if it’s well sourced, blah blah
👩⚕️: What about exercise?
🙎🏽♀:️ I do it all. Running, weights, yoga…
👩⚕️: How do you manage stress?
🙎🏽♀️: I journal a lot. Meditate daily. Have a therapist.
👩⚕️: Is there anything wrong at all?! (looking at me like, “WHY ARE YOU EVEN HERE”)
🙎🏽♀️: Not really….Well, I’m thirsty a lot?
🙎🏽♀️: (remembering other things): Oh and I guess I pee a lot. Night sweats. Haven’t been able to sleep well recently. But none of that seems like a big deal.
👩⚕️: Have you been checked for pre-diabetes? (in 100% ultra serious tone)
But she very well might be right. And, honestly, it’s not all that surprising.
👉 Nearly 1 in 4 normal weight people have pre-diabetes and are “metabolically obese.” (JAMA)
And 90% of people who are pre-diabetic don’t know it. 😐 (CDC)
And that’s when it all kind of hit me. Every lab test I’ve had in the last few years flashed in my mind — My fasting glucose and A1c have in fact been relatively high consistently (102 mg/dl → anything over 100 mg/dl is standard pre-diabetic / diabetic, and 5.4% A1c → 5.7% and up is pre-diabetic / diabetic) — but every other doctor shrugged it off because I don’t “look diabetic”, and I’m the “image of health”. In fact, they told me — “Don’t worry about it, it doesn’t mean anything.”
And that’s what I believed too. I told myself I was invincible and doing everything right. This stuff happens to other people, not me.
But the reality is almost laughably different.
I wasn’t doing everything right.
In fact, I was doing everything WRONG — and justifying it in my head with “working hard” and “being busy”.
When I took stock over what was actually happening versus the story I had in my mind — here’s what was going on:
We’re working our butts off to build Rupa. I’m not sleeping much (5–6 hours / night), I stopped going to acupuncture, I almost always convince myself I’m too busy to meditate, and I’m too exhausted to workout anymore.
It’s a good day if the only thing I stress eat is an excessive amount of the peanut butter pretzels on the snack shelf at the office. And maybe a bite or two of the leftover birthday cake (it’s always someone’s birthday, even though I still justify it as a “special occasion” in my head…). This is a good day.
And I call myself “healthy”.
No wonder the World Health Organization just defined burnout as an “official medical diagnosis” and serious epidemic.
So now I am eyeballs deep into research on how lifestyle affects metabolic health, on how stress can trigger this, and how my genes might play a role. I’m determined to move into a much healthier body over the next few months. And I’m feeling WAY more empathy for our patients than ever.
This isn’t one of those “Now everything’s fine, and I’ve turned my life around!” stories. This is today. This is real life. I’ve submitted more than 20 vials of blood, urine, you name it, in the last few weeks. The jury is still out, and I don’t have concrete answers.
But waiting around to get an “official diagnosis” is the antithesis of what we’re building at Rupa — so I’m taking action.
🙏 I’m realizing what we’re building is more important than ever. Be your own healthcare advocate (who else is going to?!).
Get a variety of opinions — conventional and alternative. Be smart, do the research, and use Rupa as a resource of course. :)
Take your health in your hands — we at Rupa are here to help.
Here are a few things I’m doing to take my health back — hopefully it might be able to help you too.
We cannot blame diabetes on any single factor. The disease process is actually driven by a complex network of diet and lifestyle factors, oxidative stress, and genetics.
Within this network, we can only work on the things within our control, like nutrition, sleep, stress, exercise, etc.
Here are the big ones for me:
🍓 I’m cutting out refined sugar but increasing fresh fruit — specifically berries.
The first thing I do when I wake up is drink warm lemon water and eat a handful of blueberries. This is controversial (under the “eliminate sugar, fruit is sugar” perspective). However, I eat almost only berries which have a lower glycemic index, are high in antioxidants, and reduce inflammation. And honestly, it just makes cutting out processed sugar totally do-able.
Oh, and no fake sugars either (stevia, etc.) They may play tricks on our brain that make us crave even more sugar and junk foods.
️☀️ ️I’m supplementing with 5000 IU Vitamin D3 in the morning.
How much? The amount is controversial. Recommendations go from 400IU all the way to 10,000IU depending on many factors, however the current upper limit by the government is 2000IU. I’m dark skinned, rarely get sun in San Francisco, and am low in Vitamin D, so I take more (and I work with a functional medicine doctor). Generally, if you’re deficient, most functional or integrative medicine practitioners will recommend around 5000IU or more per day. (disclaimer: please do your research, talk to your doctor and healthcare partners, before blindly following anyone’s — including my — recommendations!)
🍄 I’m taking Reishi & Ashwagandha before bed for deeper sleep.
Reishi and Ashwagandha have been touted for many benefits from cancer therapies to immune boosting to stress relievers and more. Honestly, there isn’t enough research out there to be definitive about most of this. But what I do know, is that when I take a dropper of pure double extraction Reishi and an Ashwagandha supplement, I sleep way, WAY better. Plus, it’s not melatonin (which is actually a hormone and shouldn’t be taken long term) or sleeping pills, so I feel much better about taking them on a frequent basis.
I’m SUPER bullish on breathwork — oxygen saturation, cortisol lowering, mind clearing…so, so many benefits. More than anything, I just feel instantly better afterwards. There’s many types of breathwork out there, and I’ve tried quite a few of them. I like these two because they achieve different results for me: 4–7–8 gets me out of my sympathetic (fight or flight) and into my parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system in 90 seconds. I use this during the day whenever I feel anxiety creeping up. Just 1 round of Wim Hof in the morning does many things for me, but basically saturates my body with oxygen — which is an incredible high feeling and leaves me happy and clear headed.
There’s so much more, but I’ll leave you with this for now! Do you have pre-diabetes / diabetes or know someone who is combating it? Would love to hear your thoughts, questions, advice! (feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Take care of yourselves.💙