But what about goals and strategies? While all of us have the same benchmark of our blood sugar level to keep us rooted in reality, we may weigh progress on this benchmark differently and have varied expectations for change. Your first goal may be to simply stabilize, or to reduce by any amount, your blood sugar. My goal was to get to a ‘normal’ blood sugar reading as quickly as possible—which took me 3.5 years to reach! Could I have gotten to normal faster and with fewer ups and downs and setbacks? Perhaps. But my strategy worked for my personality, so it’s also possible that it was, in fact, the only way.
As a big picture person, I focused on diet overhaul, increasing exercise and reducing stress, relying on the A1C blood test every six months as a way of evaluating my progress. This is mainly because I found the very idea of testing my blood sugar more frequently than that stressful. I knew that a bad reading or a spike in my sugar would trigger the sugar stress snowball effect, as well as make me feel guilty for eating whatever thing I had just eaten which had caused a spike, and I’d be discouraged and mad at myself.
However, many people are much more detail oriented in their approach to health. You may be someone who already uses technology to measure things like the number of miles you walk and your heart rate, in which case it probably makes good sense for you to get a blood sugar meter. With a meter, you can test your fasting blood sugar and measure it against your blood sugar two hours after eating carbohydrates. Of course if your prediabetes becomes Type 2 before you can reverse course, you’ll likely be checking your blood sugar throughout the day anyway. Also, if when you got a prediabetes diagnosis, your first A1C reading was on the high side, your doctor—or your conscience—may suggest you get tested every three months, rather than every six.
With a meter, you’ll know exactly which foods spike your blood sugar so you can avoid them (not all carbs are equal, and everyone responds differently to various carbs). If you choose this more precise method, I commend you. The meter takes some of the mystery out of the diet piece of the pre(diabetes) puzzle, and it’s a level of self micro-management I haven’t mastered.
Regardless of how—and how often—you monitor your blood sugar (as long as it’s often enough), the process should positively reinforce the other variables you need to pay attention to, the ones we have some influence over—physical activity, weight, responses to stress—such that you are motivated to reach your goal(s) and objectives and implement tactics [more on those later].