In his first post on a blog he started last February, Billy Brennan revealed that he was shocked to discover, after testing his blood sugar for the first time in months, that his glucose level was a startling 542
“I was surprised I wasn’t in a coma,” he wrote. “It is time for making drastic changes. From this day forward – no sugar, low-carb diet, and figure out how to get back in shape.”
These days posts on Brennan’s blog, simplelivingover50.com, list blood sugar levels in the 80s and 90s. He’s dropped 27 pounds – at least in part because he knows readers monitor his progress.
When Brennan was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes four years ago, he resolved to get serious about his health. But the stress from working as a supervisor at a New Jersey state prison made it hard to adopt regular eating and sleeping patterns. Ultimately he retired from that position and he and his wife relocated to Oregon in search of a simpler life with fewer possessions.
“I was an athlete when I was younger and always tried to keep myself in good physical condition,” says Brennan, now 54. “But I always did it for a while until my schedule changed and (then I) found it hard to get the workouts into my daily routine. Today I work out nearly every day and am currently working to hone the workout routine and the diet to balance with my blood sugar readings.”
The move, philosophy change and living near some of their far-flung grandchildren have helped Brennan better manage his diabetes. So has a dietary shift toward foods he describes as “more close to the earth” such as lean meats and fresh vegetables.
But there’s nothing quite like a daily blog to help keep him accountable.
“I first started out with keeping a notebook each day where I monitored my glucose readings, diet, workouts and overall feeling about my progress,” he says.
At first, his blog was little more than an online version of his notebook entries. But as he got more readers, he began writing more about his simple living philosophy, believing that reducing stress is a huge factor in living a healthy life.
“Each morning I sit down at my computer and put together a small article which is usually based on the day before,” he explains. “During the day I know that I will be sitting down the next morning discussing my day and this holds me accountable to my actions. Being totally honest, I know that if I eat something that I am not supposed to eat I will be discussing it in the morning.”
Though he knows others with Type 2 diabetes in his daily life, he describes the support system in blogging as “incredible,” noting that his readers share triumphs and letdowns, along with references to helpful books and websites.
Diabetes brought change, but in Brennan’s case, much of it has been for the better.
“I love hiking the great trails here in the Pacific Northwest, along with mountain biking. I love the sounds of a waterfall in the spring and the roar of the ocean,” says Brennan, who notes that he now prefers reading, working out or spending time with family over watching TV. “We have a limited time here in this lifetime, and I try to make the best of it.”