Life is God's Gift

Pramod Antarkar talks about how he manages his Diabetes and how yoga and meditation have made him a strong willed and focussed person.
Life is God's Gift

Name: Pramod Antarkar

Age: 59 years

Profession: IT Security Specialist

 The journey so far…

I'm born and brought up in Mumbai. I have come up the hard way to be where I'm today. I left India to study and worked in Dubai and England for 29 years. I returned to my hometown after three decades and own an auditing firm in Mumbai.

 Before my diagnosis

I have a sweet tooth and I used to consume sugar in excess. I would smear my chappatis with sugar and ghee. Jalebi, sweets and milk products were my weakness. My mother also had Diabetes and she was detected at the age of 60. I was detected with Diabetes 2 years ago at the age of 57. Every year I used to do a routine check-up. Maybe I was a pre- diabetic at the time because my fasting was 110 mg/dl but I think that was considered normal back then. Once I was diagnosed with Diabetes I left sugar completely. Also I used to feel tired but never focussed on it much as work commitments kept me on my toes. So I could never pin point that I may have Diabetes.

 Dealing with the diagnosis

On being diagnosed with Diabetes it did have an impact on my family, especially my daughter who kept worrying that she has got all my genes and will eventually get Diabetes in the future. She also has a sweet tooth. But I have told her many times that as eating too much salt does not cause high blood pressure and eating excess sugar does not cause Diabetes. It is one of the risk factors but having sweets alone does not cause Diabetes. After my diagnosis, my family and I have really modified our lifestyle and diet habits to stay fit. In addition, we do Yoga every day to help feel better about ourselves.

I also had to take special efforts in altering my lifestyle completely. Giving up sweets was the most difficult thing to do. Also giving up my favourite fruits like mangoes, grapes, banana, chickoo and pineapple was tough. But I substituted it with apples, pear, peach, guava and plum. I also have dry fruits. Raisins (dried and fresh) are something I like so I have them occasionally. I ensure that I have at least two fruits day. I was on treatment when I was diagnosed 2 years ago and I take my medicine regularly. My blood sugar level post meal was more than 160 and fasting used to be around 120 then. But by following a strict diet and fitness regime I was able to reduce medicine dose; and for the past 6 months I have been able to manage my blood sugar levels with diet and exercise only. Mainly I regularly monitor my blood sugar levels, see my doctor for regular checkups.

 My fitness regime

Despite my busy schedule I work out on the treadmill every alternate day for half an hour. After that I have 2 glasses of water followed by a glass of coconut water. On other days, I do Yoga, Pranayama, Bhastrika and om chanting, sudarshan kriya and few other yogic exercise. I also do abdominal exercises for 20 minutes every day and these exercises have become a part of my daily routine.

 My diet

I wake up at 7.30 am and have two glasses of warm water. After an hour of waking up I have my breakfast at 8.30 am. My breakfast includes eggs thrice a week because I need something heavy in the morning. On the remaining days I have a bowl of diet cereal, which is meant for people with Diabetes or I have chappati and sabzi. I also have a cup of tea without sugar. Till my lunch time which at 1.00 pm I don't eat anything in between, I only have 4 glasses of water. I usually prefer not to snack between meal times as I lose my appetite before the next meal. So I refrain from eating or drinking (tea or coffee) before lunch. Also, at times my colleagues force me to snack in between but I refrain from doing so.

My lunch time is fixed (1.00 pm) and consists of small portion of brown rice, one bowl of sabzi which is usually a green leafy vegetable, a bowl of vegetable salad(onion, tomato, cucumber) and 1 cup curd. I enjoy fish curry rice. The fish is cooked in minimal amount of olive oil in a non-stick pan. We use only olive oil for cooking and have been using the same since past 5 years. I eat equal amount of everything so that I don't consume excess rice. In short, I eat a balanced meal. By 4.00 pm I have cup of tea without sugar with a toast or 4 biscuits. My dinner is by 8.30 pm and I have 2 chappatis a bowl of vegetable and a cup of coffee without sugar to wind up my day.

My inspiration

My wife really takes a lot of effort with regards to my diet. So seeing her dedication towards my well-being makes me conscious of what I should eat and what I should not. Even when I go for conferences she keeps reminding me to watch my diet and not eat any sweets. Also, I have always taken my life seriously since childhood. I cannot live like a kite which has no direction. I value my life and I have come to this position that I'm in today the hard way. So I want to continue being active so that I can look after myself first.Only when I achieve that I can look after my family.

I firmly believe that this life that we live is god's gift to us and we should value it. I don't want to be handicapped by frequent illnesses; and I pray each day that I don't suffer from a paralytic stroke or a heart attack and be dependable on people. Living a pitiable life is something I fear; as long as I live I want to live well and be independent. Having a good quality of life is my major driving force to stay healthy.

My advice

I just check my fasting, post prandial (after meal) every week; and for the last 6 months my blood sugar levels have been completely normal. So the first thing I feel that is absolutely essential is strict diet control. Diet control does not imply that you have to punish yourself, I personally feel that if you can manage to resist temptation for 90 days then you really never feel that you are missing out on something. People only have a problem when they cannot resist the temptation for a continuous period. As a result of which their cycle breaks and their diet goes for a toss. The second thing is regular exercise. Your fitness regime should be such that you push your limits. A stroll in the park does not qualify as an exercise. You need to burn more calories than you consume. Finally practising Yoga and meditation is important as it controls stress level, which is one of major risk factors for Diabetes. So in short, diet control, exercise and Yoga are main the pillars in managing your Diabetes well.Also, Diabetes is not a disease which is dangerous or life-threatening if you look after yourself well. The only way to conquer Diabetes is to be strict in terms of diet and exercise. Most people have a lax attitude and eat sweets and then defend themselves by saying that their anti-diabetic medication will help them manage their sugar. That's not correct. If you can manage your Diabetes just on diet and exercise, then you have won half the battle. Yes, it is necessary to take medications if diet and exercise alone don't work. But if you are strict then I think you can go off medication gradually. Medicine should help you control your blood sugar levels and not be used as a resort to indulge in your favourite food.

Diabetes Health Magazine