Winning the Battle Against Diabetes: An Inspirational Wellness Story for Men’s Health Month

June 1, 2015

Matthew Carter, III, 46, is a procurement manager for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) where he is responsible for bid solicitations, contracts and routine purchases. Carter is as serious about managing thousands of annual contracts and millions of dollars in government funds for DPH as he is about controlling his diabetes.

The drive to make health a lifelong priority is an inspirational message Carter and public health leaders from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) want to share with all men this June for Men’s Health Month.

Carter is a type 2 diabetes patient, but that diagnosis did not stop him. In fact, it only motivated him to attain the highest level of fitness he’s ever achieved in his life.

He was diagnosed 10 years ago with type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, and has a family medical history of the condition.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), diabetes is when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is the main type of sugar found in your blood and your main source of energy. Glucose comes from the food you eat and is also made in your liver and muscles. Your blood carries glucose to all of your body’s cells to use for energy.

With type 2 diabetes, Carter’s body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance according to ADA. At first, his pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. Over time, his pancreas isn't able to make enough insulin to keep his blood glucose at normal levels.

“My A1C level was 8.0 when I was first tested and diagnosed with diabetes,” said Carter. “I had to take 1000 milligrams of Metformin, a diabetes prescription, twice a day to manage my disease.”

The A1C test measures your average blood glucose for the past two to three months according to ADA. Diabetes is diagnosed at an A1C of greater than or equal to 6.5 percent or higher. The normal A1C level is less than 5.7 percent; and pre-diabetes is 5.7 percent to 6.4 percent.

After getting tested and diagnosed, Carter changed his lifestyle to increase activity and healthier food choices.

“I changed my diet by drastically reducing the intake of refined sugar and breads and increased my water intake drinking an average of 60 ounces of water a day,” said Carter. “I stopped drinking juice altogether and now eat more fruits and vegetables. I also eliminated fast foods from my diet.”

Diabetics who follow a regular exercise routine can better manager their blood sugar levels. With the daily physical exercises, the body burns off excess glucose and uses insulin more effectively.

Carter is on a mission to win the battle against diabetes. He has proven that daily exercise and proper diet are some of the most effective tools in living with and managing his condition.

Away from his day-to-day tasks, Carter utilizes DPH’s Physical Activity Policy to exercise for at least 30 minutes during business hours and increases his physical activity away from the office by walking and mountain climbing.

“My weekly workouts consist of riding the elliptical glider and working out with weights on Mondays, indoor cycling and Tabata on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Boot Camp on Fridays in the Capitol Hill Fitness Center,” said Carter.  “On Saturdays, I run five miles around Stone Mountain and climb the mountain after my run.”

Some of the most common symptoms for diabetes include being very thirsty, urinating often, feeling very hungry or tired, losing weight without trying, sores that heal slowly or feelings of pins and needles in your feet.

However, many people with diabetes don’t have any of these signs or symptoms. In fact, thousands of men in Georgia and throughout the U.S. are living with undiagnosed diabetes.

The only way to know is to be proactive, take control of your health and have a blood test.

Visit www.menshealthmonth.org to learn more about Men’s Health Month.

For more information on how to prevent or manage diabetes, the Georgia Department of Public Health provides free online resources. You can also access educational tools about type 2 diabetes through the American Diabetes Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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