This blog contains a series of posts entitled “Worth the Money.” For those of us who grew up without a bunch of money, we sometimes have to convince ourselves to buy something that initially makes us bristle. I get it.

Sometimes, you have to spend some money on your health, particularly if in the long run, it makes a difference in your life, or at least quality of life.  

Lord knows that if we are honest with ourselves, we have spent an insane amount of money on really unhealthy or stupid things.

Prior posts in this series include:  The Good Knives. The Vitamix.

I’m adding one to this list.  The Continuous Glucose Monitor. CGM. 

I am not diabetic (yet). And I plan to keep it that way – but like many folks throughout Indian country, I’m a genetic ticking time bomb on this front. I have very little margin for error. 

I always dread the lab results from my annual wellness checkup. The dang A1C test. The dang LDL portion of the cholesterol panel. 

The A1C test is a blood test used to diagnose Type 1 and 2 diabetes. It looks at average blood sugar levels for the past 2-3 months. The higher the number, the higher your risk of diabetes complications. The pre-diabetic red flag hits when you go north of 5.7.

When I’m an absolute puritan with food, I’m a solid 5.5.  

If I spend a month or two eating and exercising like a “normal person,” I’m pre-diabetic. And that just is, what it is.

So I watch A1C like a hawk, along with glucose levels generally. In the past, when I hit the pre-diabetic range, I made the changes I needed to make to stay out for the danger zone.

The queen of this messaging is the fabulous Cherokee endurance athlete, Lori Enlow. She is also a healthcare professional who has done impactful work in community healthcare – at Cherokee and Hopi in particular. Her pre-diabetic scare is what got her into running in the first place, which you can read about here.

I’m trying to understand better what foods create certain responses in my body. My body is a science fair project. And since I turned 50 a couple of years ago, it’s a science fair project in a circus tent.

Thanks to a hat-tip from one of my sister law deans, I’ve been wearing a CGM for a while now. You don’t need a doctor to prescribe one. You can buy them on your own – and apparently it’s a fitness craze in some circles. Athletes are using them to know their glucose levels on an ongoing basis to allow for better control of metabolism and fueling performance. Who knew?

The best part? If you have a flexible spending account through your job – you can get reimbursed for the full cost. If you can get the doctor to prescribe one, your health insurance should cover it.

The details. I went with a company called Levels. The actual CGM is the DexCom7. With an app on your phone you can see what happens throughout the day, week, month. And you can very clearly see what making a bad food decision will do. You can also get positive reinforcement for the good decisions, if that’s your vibe. 

Get light headed sometimes at the end of a run? See why. Get HANGRY and want to rip someone’s head off? See why.

Are there foods that you think are “healthy” but they somehow cause you to crash and burn? Learn why. Do you want to test the theory about breakfast being the most important meal of the day? Have at it. Trust me, you’ll reform your ways and start eating a good well-balanced breakfast. For so long, I fought the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” advice. But the proof is in the data.

This device sticks in the back of your arm. In your Auntie BatWings. You can hardly feel it going in and once it’s there, you won’t even realize it. Exercise all you want. Shower with it. Hot tub. Scuba diving, whatever. It’s fine.

Change it out about once every 10 days. A cornucopia of really interesting health data. And if you need to, you can share with a doctor or nutritionist for their review of what’s going on with you.

I highly encourage you to check it out. Even for a month. 

My biggest take away so far is how combination of foods keep me even, avoiding the up and down sugar spikes. Eat an apple or a banana by itself? Very very bad, for me. 

Eat that same apple or banana along with a big spoon full of almond or natural peanut butter? Problem solved. Magic.

What a miracle for those of us that can’t always just believe other people’s advice. The data won’t lie. Such incredibly valuable information. 

The cost? Levels charges about $100 per year for a subscription monitoring service – this comes with endless reports you can run on yourself on your mobile device. The CGMs are about $200 per month. My out-of-pocket expense is actually zero, thanks to the FSA reimbursement. Free health data!