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It Took Becoming a Pre-diabetic To Finally Push Me to Change My Ways

When I first came into college, I had everything planned out in my head. I’d have a fresh start to completely revamp myself into being the successful person I’ve always wanted to be. My plan entailed having a stellar academic record, making quality lifelong friends, being more confident in the way I present myself and, most importantly, losing weight. Being at the top of my list since middle school, losing weight was where I believed I would be my happiest. I was convinced that the moment I reached my goal weight everything in my life would start falling into place, and I’d be a more content person because of it.

UCLA is known to be a competitive school with enjoyable yet rigorous courses. I felt like I was trapped in a whirlwind trying to get used to the fast-paced quarter system while balancing a job and extracurriculars. I certainly didn’t have the stellar academic record I had hoped for, but I was improving. The friends I was making were amazing and in sync with my personality, adding confidence to my daily life. The one goal that always got left in the dust was weight loss.

 

Even though I literally walked an average of five miles a day and took all the grueling flights of stairs, I undid all of that progress by over-consuming at the dining hall buffets and always including dessert with every single meal. Pepperoni and chocolate lava cake quickly became my vices. I knew the food items that I was eating were not great for me, but I kept convincing myself that I deserved them for surviving another difficult week of classes.

Before long, I started having a hard time getting up the stairs to my dorm and would reach the top dripping sweat and out of breathe. With all the extra dessert I had after dinner, I’d be on a sugar rush that kept me from getting enough sleep. Pretty soon I began getting as little as 4 hours of sleep a day and I’d wake up feeling extremely nauseous. I started drinking more sugary, caffeinated drinks just so I could get through each day without falling asleep in class.Every time I’d go back home, my aunts and mother would comment on my weight gain, but I’d just brush off their comments because they’re family and teasing is second nature in my family.

Unfortunately, another thing that’s second nature in my family is Type 2 Diabetes. It’s a disease that heavily affected my aunts, grandmother and even almost took my mother away from me. Even still, at the time, I thought I was indestructible. I was 18 and even though I knew I was overweight, I didn’t think that I was in that bad of shape.

By the time my first year of college was over I managed to stack on more than just the freshman 15—I had gained a whopping 25 pounds. I figured a few consistent months of counting calories and going to the gym would fix me right up. So, I did what I always do when I go one healthy binges: I downloaded my calorie counting and exercise apps, made gym playlists and saved a ton of healthy recipes in hopes of reversing all the damage of freshman year. But by week two, I had fallen off of the health wagon and back into the comfort of family size Dorito bags and late night Ben and Jerry’s runs. There was no consistency in my plans—if I woke up too late to go to the gym in the morning, I would just promise myself that I’d do it the next day instead. For what seemed like the tenth time in my life, my plans for weight loss and my health took the backseat to everything else.

That was until I paid my doctor a visit. I went on a routine check up thinking I’d get the same old results as always. But when my doctor came in the room, he hit me with concerning news. My blood pressure was way too high for someone my age, and what concerned him even more was my rapid weight gain. He had me get blood work by taking the A1C glucose level test that would tell me everything I needed to know.

A week later, I got the news that I never thought I’d have to deal with. I was prediabetic. Because of this news, things had to change.

The main aspect of my life that had to change was my diet. I was definitely delusional when it came to changing my eating habits because I honestly didn’t think I was that bad. I forced myself to write down everything I ate so I could face the truth. Not only was my weakness daily dessert, I also did a lot of unhealthy snacking at the campus convenience store. Another major issue was that I had a bad habit of starving myself of breakfast and lunch until 5pm everyday, and then overeating the entire night to make up for it. My diet was a mess; I never knew the proper way to eat, so I got in touch with a nutritionist at school to help clean my act up.

My nutritionist shocked me when she told me that all of my problems could be solved by just eating more. Exercise would just be an added bonus if I wanted to change the way my body looked, but if I wanted to fully regain my health and be diabetes-free then my diet needed to be rearranged pronto. For an entire hour, she sat down with me and helped plan my new diet around my busy college lifestyle.

From consuming more carbohydrates in the morning to eating leaner proteins at night, my diet drastically changed my lifestyle and therefore, my health. I became more content in my everyday mood because I began taking the necessary healthy steps to take control of my body again.

A few months after my diet change, I went back home for Christmas and set up another A1C test with my doctor. Not only was I ecstatic to hear that I was out of the prediabetic range, but I had also lost 12 pounds! I wasn’t in perfect shape, but for the first time I wasn’t being destructive towards my health, and I actually stuck to a plan.

Today I’m happy that I went through that ordeal. I was terrified about the possible health complications that I may have faced if I hadn’t changed my ways, and now that I have, I feel as if I’m on track to learning how to treat myself and my body the right way.

UCLA 2020 Pamela is a Feature Writer for the UCLA Chapter of Her Campus. When Pamela isn't stressing over exams you can find her obsessing over skin care routines, reading POC-centered novels, and attempting to exercise. 
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