canoeingSo, you just got the word that your blood sugar is high and you have pre-diabetes. You’re most definitely not alone. Roughly 80 million Americans have it as well. But you might still be wondering what does that even mean and why is it important? In short and simple terms, pre-diabetes is a WAKE-UP call, a chance to make some changes that could not only prevent type 2 diabetes but will improve your overall quality and quantity of life.

In medical terms, pre-diabetes is blood sugar levels between 100 and 125 deciliters per milliliter. This isn’t something to be taken lightly because studies show that damage to your internal organs can begin even at this level. So, it’s super important to get your blood sugar levels down. In order to do so, there are four major things that you need to focus on:

1. Take your meds religiously (if needed). In many cases, medication isn’t needed at the pre-diabetic level but we’re finding more and more often it can be a useful tool to prevent organ damage. The good news is that if you need medication at this stage, you can often reverse that need by improving your diet and exercise.

2. Lose that belly fat! Even a small amount of weight loss can make a huge difference. I recommend starting with five to seven percent of your current weight. Keep it simple and break down your goals into manageable chunks. For instance, instead of shooting for 50 pounds, try starting with a goal of losing three to five pounds. You’ll find that it’s not too hard to see results quickly when you work on smaller goals at any given time.

3. Improve your diet. What you eat is just as important (and even more so) as how much you eat. It’s crucial that you’re eating balanced meals that provide all of the essential nutrients. This will help to prevent binge eating, keep you feeling satiated and satisfied for longer, improve energy etc. I strongly recommend working with a nutritionist who can help you to create an individualized meal plan that meets your specific needs, lifestyle and taste.

4. Get up and get moving. Exercise is critical to improving your blood sugar levels and your overall health. Studies show that regular exercise reduces your riskof developing diabetes by up to 80%! So, make yourself a priority and stick to a regular exercise routine.

I recommend 30 to 45 minutes of exercise every day — seven days a week. This doesn’t have to be painful or difficult. Find something that you enjoy and work it into your schedule. You can even do it in 10 to 15 minute increments throughout the day. Try making fitness decisions that you can fit into your daily life such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away, taking your dog for a walk, going for a bike ride with your kids etc.

It won’t happen overnight but if you’ll take the steps right away to improve your overall health, you’ll find that not only will your blood sugar levels drop, but you’ll begin feeling better and more vibrant. And you’ll greatly decrease the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes and all of the risks and side effects that come with it.

For more tips on reversing pre-diabetes, check out my book The Diabetes Solution.

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