Five years ago, I opened my eyes to a woman in a white coat. Leaning over my bed and wearing an ID tag that said “RN”, she looked over at me gently. "You will still live a normal life, Tim," she whispered.
I didn't know what to say. I took a deep breath and looked around the room. It didn't take long to recognize the cold, clean aesthetic of my surroundings. I was in the hospital. Vertigo and confusion washed over me. Why was I here? Luckily, the RN—Registered Nurse, I realized—cracked the code for me: I had Type 1 diabetes. I was stunned. But as the hours passed, I thought more and more about my health leading up to this point. It all started to make sense. After all, I hadn't exactly been the poster child for healthy lifestyle choices.
My typical meal prior to discovering I had diabetes. Carbs, carbs, and more carbs.
I probably should have seen this coming. Two years ago, I started getting unquenchable sugar cravings. I did my best to satisfy them—throwing every sugary treat into my stomach you can think of—but they were endless. I was a bottomless pit of hunger. There was also the thirst. Just as with my keen ability to consume sugar at seemingly unsustainable levels, the same applied to liquids. I simply was always craving something.
I had never felt worse in my life. As the cravings strengthened, I started losing a ton of weight and had bouts of blurred vision. Overrun by fatigue and frustration, I refused to give into my symptoms. Sure, feeling like dying every day was getting old, but I wasn’t too worried—instead, I chalked it up to a mixture of work-related stress and my taxing travel schedule. Who wouldn't feel a little shitty after flying over 150,000 miles a year to see clients?
Back to the hospital bed. Shortly after I woke up, several doctors came into the room to examine my charts. One by one, each of them, in vague medical jargon, couldn’t believe I was alive. My average blood sugar levels had been well over 10 times the normal amount for the past three months. In layman's terms: I should have been dead. Before this scare, I had been a carb-eating machine my entire life. My diet consisted of vast quantities of beer and potatoes, which stayed true to my German identity. No more pizza? No more ice cream? I wondered. I was stunned. It wasn't but a few days before then I'd been crushing multiple extra large pizzas and 12-packs of beer in a single night. All of a sudden, I was being asked to count carbs.
(1) In my hospital bed on November 28, 2012. (2) Making turkey for Thanksgiving just a few days before going to the hospital. Weighed a whopping 130 pounds.
As the days dragged on, I became frustrated by the lack of information I was being given. I had no idea what Type 1 Diabetes was, where it came from, and what I could do to get rid of it. The white coats offered little help, which only fueled my anger. I wanted answers. But abruptly, they sent me home. During my stay, the only real piece of advice I had been given was to count carbs and inject insulin. That was it. Over the next several days, I slipped into a numb haze of depression. It felt like my life was over. Luckily, Sue (my wife) did what she does best: take action. As she read over everything diabetes pamphlets and pressed doctors for answers, she consumed information faster than I once ate my pizzas. It was a sight to behold—and it yanked me from my cave of self-pity.
As the weeks and months passed, I settled into a new routine. With Sue's help, I learned more about my condition and ways to fit it into my day-to-day. My energy levels increased, as did my weight—and then some. As difficult as it is to believe, I went from 130 pounds to 254 in 10 months. Relatively speaking, I was feeling better. It didn't take take a rocket scientist to see something wasn't right, though. And yet, each doctor I saw told me there was nothing to worry about. "This kind of weight gain is normal," they told me. But when I was informed I had high blood pressure and would have to placed on statins—a common cholesterol and blood medication—I drew the line. I'd had enough of the medical jargon and doctor visits.
That's when I decided to go paleo. I needed a greater emphasis on nutrition—and the idea of cutting processed foods out of my diet sounded heavenly. Besides, I had my fill of Haribo products in my pre-diabetes days. In a matter of weeks, I morphed into a paleo phenom. With Sue leading the charge in the kitchen, I charged into my new diet with a full head of steam. My health skyrocketed, but something was missing: exercise. Determined to shed my recently-acquired weight, I started hitting the gym with my younger brother, Phil. After six months of paleo meals and six gym sessions a week, I dropped 40 pounds.
Running in the Capital of Texas Triathlon in Austin, Texas.
Then something happened to me that all new dieters can relate to: I plateaued. My regiment simply wasn't giving the same rush or results as it once had. So to shake things up, I decided to get back into running—an endeavor that I knew could be risky, given my wildly unpredictable blood sugar levels. As expected, my first few attempts were utter disasters. I simply didn't have a way to stay fueled and maintain my insulin levels while on the go. I had reached an impasse—or so I thought.
That's when I discovered EPIC bars. Mesmerized by the name and the packaging, I gave them a try when I stumbled across them at the store. After eating my first bison bar, I knew I was hooked. Out of thin air, I had access to a convenient, on-the-go snack that fulfilled all my dietary needs. It was as if I had emerged from the never-ending sea of paleo junk food with the golden ticket. Soon after, I started experimenting by taking them on my long runs in case I got hungry. Before I knew it, I was including them in my daily routine and was losing more weight, running longer, and feeling better than I had in what seemed like a lifetime. I couldn't believe it. Its combination of clean labels, minimal ingredients, high fat and high protein truly make EPIC a diabetic’s dream come true.
Looking back, it's pretty wild to think about the curveballs life has thrown me. I never thought of myself as a "diet person," nor had I been much of a runner. And yet, here I am: fully engrossed in both worlds. In fact, I'm currently experimenting with a fat-heavy ketogenic diet to see if I can further fine-tune my blood sugar control. It's too early to determine it's effectiveness, but I'm loving what I'm seeing so far.
Happy and healthy with my wife Sue, my daughter Margaux, and my son Maxi.
Truth be told, I would never wish this experience on anybody. It's frustrated and exhausted my body, my mind, and my family. But if this has taught me anything, it's that flexibility and support can conquer just about anything. Thanks to my newfound perspective on life and diet, I've never felt more fit and aligned with my body's needs. And it feels damn good.
Disclaimer: This blog is not in any way intended to say that EPIC products are a cure for diabetes or any other disease. Rather, we are simply sharing a personal story about someone who adjusted to their condition by paying attention to what they put in their body and how they exercised. EPIC is mentioned in one paragraph of the story for a reason: we're only a small part of Tim's story. But we're proud to be a part of it at all. Thanks for reading.