One such person is the amazing Bobby Turman Jr, also known as the Hungry Hungry Hippie. In today’s episode, Scott talks with Bobby about the emotional side of diabetes, how change causes stress, and how spouses and loved ones can help you cope with your diagnosis.
- Intro to Bobby and how The Hungry, Hungry Hippie got started
- Bobby’s diagnosis with type 2
- How Bobby is shedding light on diabetes stigmas
- Some of the difficulties of having type 2 diabetes
- Bobby’s changes over the last year
- What food combinations work best for Bobby
- The emotional stress of diabetes and change (even good change)
- BONUS! A special cameo from Bobby’s wife, “The Missus,” Sheryl Miller-Turman
- The Hungry, Hungry Hippie website
- The Hungry, Hungry Hippie Facebook page
- The Hungry, Hungry Hippie on Instagram
- The Hungry, Hungry Hippie on Twitter
- CauliPOWER products mentioned
- Hippie Haven Studios on Facebook
Scott Johnson: Have you ever felt like the world doesn’t understand what living with diabetes really looks like? Stick with us. Because today’s guest is tackling that problem one blog post, one message, one blood sugar test in public at a time. What’s up monster tamers? Welcome to another episode of “Live, with Scott!”
Thanks so much for tuning in.
Scott Johnson: My name is Scott Johnson. I’ve been living with diabetes since I was five years old. And the diabetes social media space–that’s you, by the way–has been an important part of my well-being for a long, long time. Thanks so much for helping me along.
Scott Johnson: As your host today, I am thrilled to connect you with Bobby Thurman Jr, better known as the Hungry, Hungry Hippie. And I can’t wait to share his story with you. And for anyone else that’s old enough to remember the Hungry, Hungry Hippo games, I’m going to work my hardest to keep Hungry, Hungry Hippie forefront in my tongue and brain, so I don’t slip up and say that old board game that I used to play as a kid, slamming hippo tails and eating marbles and whatnot.
Scott Johnson: All right. As we get going, please share a quick hello in the comments. Let me know where you’re watching from. I’d love to see that and say hello.
Scott Johnson: And as usual, today’s episode is sponsored by the mySugr Bundle. Get unlimited strips, automatic supply refills, personalized support and more. All for just $49 a month. Learn more at mySugr.com/facebooklive.
Scott Johnson: Now, for more on today’s guest. Bobby Turman Jr, better known as the Hungry, Hungry Hippie. He spent over 35 years in the food and hospitality industry doing everything from management to corporate trainer, to wedding coordinator, to catering, to event organizer. Just a little bit of everything he says. And he decided to leave that life behind, take a year to reinvent himself.
Scott Johnson: Now he says he’s always wanted to start his own restaurant. But after a year of planning and soul searching, he woke up one day and realized there was, “No way in hell I wanted to do that,” as he says.
Scott Johnson: So, what did he want to do? His other passions included a love of history and writing. So he decided to combine all of these elements into one gig, and write a blog. Thus the Hungry, Hungry Hippie was born. He also works for the historic Cannonsburgh Village in Murfreesboro, and his love of history often bleeds into his blogging topics. His wife, “the Missus”, and he owns Hippie Haven Studios, a local art and design studio.
Scott Johnson: And you’ll see some of their work in the background of the video. I wish that we could give you a full tour of all that cool stuff because it’s amazing. Their CFO is their cat, Woodfin, and their three grandchildren, Selma, Lincoln and Max provide logistical and technical support. I just love that. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the discussion and enjoy ourselves. All right.
Scott Johnson: Hey, Bobby, thanks so much for joining me today. I am super excited to meet you and share your story with the world.
Bobby Turman Jr: Well thanks. Thanks for having me here. I’m anxious to share my story with whoever might deem it worthy of listening to. Hopefully it’ll be somebody.
Scott Johnson: I’m hoping that we can help introduce you and your story to a circle of people that may not know much about what you’ve been up to, all the cool stuff that you’re doing, and your cool journey with diabetes. So, maybe with that being said, one of the best places to start, if you don’t mind, would be to share a little bit about who is Bobby and who is the Hungry, Hungry Hippie?
Bobby Turman Jr: Well, let me start off like this. I worked in the food industry for about 40 years. And I’ve done everything. I mean, you name it, I’ve been a wedding coordinator, I’ve been a caterer, I’ve done special events, I’ve done management, I’ve been a corporate trainer, a little bit of everything. And I thought that one day I would want to open my own restaurant, that after decades in the business, that was the natural evolution. So I took a year off from working, did a lot of research, a lot of planning. Woke up one day and said, “You know what? There’s no way in hell I want to do that.”
Bobby Turman Jr: You know, after a year of planning it and a lifetime of dreaming about it, I realized I was too old, that that was a young person’s journey, you know, working 14, 16 hour days, six, seven days a week. So, one of the other things that I had done in my life was I’ve done a lot of writing. And so I decided to marry the two things together and start a food blog called The Hungry, Hungry Hippie for all the reasons that you might think. My wife and I own an art studio, and that kind of informs everything that we do including my blog. I always make sure to include my wife in it, and art studio informs that. This is actually my wife’s artwork.
Scott Johnson: Beautiful.
Bobby Turman Jr: We make our own T-shirts and stuff
Scott Johnson: I love it. It’s awesome. That’s great.
Bobby Turman Jr: So that’s how I got started doing the food blog. And from there, about six months into it, very popular, getting a huge reach, I got diagnosed with type 2. And that was a little bit of a come to Jesus moment. You know, I had a lot of people ask, “Well Bobby, are you going to turn your food blog into a nutrition blog? Are you going to make it all about diabetes?” And I said, “No, you don’t know.” I said, “You know, I’m just going to keep doing what I do, but just include a little more information to give those that diabetics outlook to things.”
Bobby Turman Jr: And it’s turned out really well. Having the background in food that I do, I already knew a lot about nutrition and food. And I took it upon myself to learn even more. And I found out what I didn’t know. And so now, I can talk about it, without it being diabetic specific. I include that information in there, and I have a lot of diabetics who come up on the street and are like, “Man, I am so glad for your blog. I really appreciate you being so forward, being so open about it.” And that-
Scott Johnson: Was that… can I… I want to ask a couple of questions, and I don’t want to steer you off track, so let’s pull me back on when we finish the circle here. But, you know, there area lot of people who, they bump into this diagnosis of diabetes and they’re not as open as you were about it. Especially, you’ve got this very popular food blog and background in food and nutrition. And then, boom, here’s this diagnosis of diabetes. That must have been kind of hard to wrap your brain around, right?
Bobby Turman Jr: It was really tough. It was an adjustment. One of the things from talking to other diabetics that I’ve found is, probably as tough if not tougher than the physical and medical side of this condition is the mental and emotional. And one of the things that is really, really hard that people who don’t struggle with this don’t understand is that, spontaneous events and eating go away, I mean like forever, if you’re handling your condition well. If all your friends say, “Hey, let’s go to the ice cream shop.” You suddenly are in a social situation where, “Well okay, what do I do? Do I go there and not have ice cream and feel excluded? Do I go there and just order a coffee? Do I say, ‘Hey thanks guys, I think I’m just going to head home.'”
Bobby Turman Jr: It suddenly becomes a thing, you know, when you have family get togethers or things like that where there’s a pot luck or something like that. You have to either make sure you’ve eaten before you go, or that… one of the things I always do is, I bring something that I know I can eat, and that helps. But that’s probably the biggest thing is for me, the hardest thing has been that I have to eat every two hours, just about around the clock. I have to eat at very specific times, I have to eat very specific combinations of food to control my condition the way that I do, which is mostly through diet.
Bobby Turman Jr: And so it’s a very regimented thing. So when someone says to me, “Hey, can we eat dinner an hour later?” And I’m like, “No, no I can’t.” And I hate to say this, but there’s a lot of diabetic shaming in society. And people think they’re making jokes about it and it’s funny. And I mean, I guess to some people it might be unless you go through these hardships. I was watching the TV show Parks and Recreation. Of course, one of the running gags in it, is that the entire town has diabetes because it’s run by… the town basically is employed by a candy company.
Bobby Turman Jr: And I found the show very delightful until I saw that, and it didn’t ruin the show for me, but it raised the flag for me about how ingrained in society, that that sort of inherent, I don’t want to use the term bigotry, but prejudice against things that are different, particularly diabetes is. About 30% of the population has diabetes. So it hit, media like that hits a huge section of our country.
Scott Johnson: Absolutely. Was that… one of the things that you talk about, and I think is really, really empowering is, I think you’re a shining example of someone who’s very open and forthcoming about what you do with diabetes. Not only towards people also living with diabetes, but maybe even more powerful to those not living with diabetes, to help kind of set the record straight.
Bobby Turman Jr: That is the most important group to get the message to. Because with that sort of inherent prejudice or what we should say, insensitivity, a lot of people, it’s because they don’t know. I mean, even in my own family, who are well-educated people, it just doesn’t dawn on them all the time that something I’m going through, stress. Or if my blood sugar and it affects my mood or my temperament. You know you don’t always get that immediate understanding from family or friends that say, “Oh, well, maybe his blood sugar’s off.” And a lot of times it’s as simple as that.
Bobby Turman Jr: On my food blog, a couple of weeks after I found out that I was type 2, I actually did sort of a testimonial video that I posted as an article. Talking about what I was going through with it, how I got it. You know, basically 40 years working in the food industry and doing whatever I wanted, you know? I gained a ton of weight and it was tough to do, but I did it. And later on I even went to the point of filming a video, of actually doing a blood testing, blood sugar test, and posted that. So that way if someone sees you in a restaurant, and some people test right there as soon as they’ve eaten or right before.
Bobby Turman Jr: And I just wanted people to see what it looks like. Because I’d never seen anyone do their own blood sugar testing before until I had to do it myself. And so I felt it was important for people to see that process. So that if they see somebody at the table next to them, they don’t go, “Oh my God, they’re doing drugs or something,” you know? They see what they’re doing and they understand it. And my Facebook page has close to 3000 followers in about a year. And you know, it’s hard for me not to be recognized on the street, so I want people to… I felt very, that I could come out and do that kind of open testimonial to people in order to carry that message. So yeah, thank you for asking.
Scott Johnson: Yeah it’s super, it’s super great. I think it’s really, it a very powerful way to help break down those stigmas and help people who are also facing similar things, not to… or at least have some examples of not dealing with shame and stigma, and that type of thing. So I really applaud that, and I think it’s such a, like, to even show, “Here’s what a blood sugar, checking the blood sugar looks like.” And what a great example of showing the rest of the world what diabetes looks like. So, I think it’s really cool.
Can we talk for a few minutes about, upon your diagnosis I imagine, like many of us living with diabetes, it’s like, “Holy cow, I have all this stuff to learn.” And it sounds like you have kind of figured out what really works for you. What was that like? What was that journey like for you?
Bobby Turman Jr: Frustrating. Because when I got diagnosed by my doctor, all he said to me was, “You need to check your blood sugar three times a day at least,” and prescribed me Metformin, and then sent me on my way. There was no other information about how to handle it. I took it upon myself to take a class at the local hospital in their diabetes clinic, and basically, it was a nutrition class. It still didn’t really offer anything. And thank goodness that we live in the information age that we do, because a lot of the training that I’ve had in the food industry, my life kicked in, and I thought more about things I’d always taken for granted, or not paid attention to.
Bobby Turman Jr: But I really had to take it upon myself to do a lot of research on my own. One of the things that… like, a have a lot of friends that are on Keto diets. They’re like, “Oh, you should do Keto, that’s perfect for a diabetic.” Well, it’s not. It’s a short-term thing perhaps, but for a diabetic for example, if you eat a steak, steak is 100% protein, there’s no sugar in it. But if you eat just a steak, or you eat just protein, what happens is, your body only uses about 50% of that protein for immediate energy needs and things like that. The other 50% is going to turn to fat and sugar and store it. And even your liver after so long, if it thinks it’s being starved for sugar, your liver will start turning things in your body into sugar. So you can actually make your diabetes worse by not including any carbs.
Bobby Turman Jr: When you add a complex carbohydrate to that protein, what it does is it changes the way your body processes it, and it breaks down that protein slower. And so your body has a chance to use more of it, instead of it being converted into things that are not good for you. There’s a lot of things like that to learn. And unfortunately, unless you can find an organization in your town, wherever you may live, that is really, really good about helping out with this… I mean, I’ve discovered that, at least in my area, you really have to be self-educated.
Bobby Turman Jr: And even an endocrinologist, we’ve got two maybe three in my town at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. And that’s it. And we’ve got a population close to 150,000. You go, I mean get diagnosed and you’re supposed to go see an endocrinologist. So then you’re on a waiting list for months. So what do you do for those months while you’re waiting to talk to with an endocrinologist?
Sheryl Miller-Turman: We’ll just say the meter was on.
Bobby Turman Jr: Yeah, and oh, let’s not even talk about insurance and diabetic supplies these days. There’s been a huge spike just since January in the cost of diabetic supplies. And not just the cost, but my insurance company, which is Blue Cross Blue Shield, arbitrarily decided to change the dosage of my medication that I was on back in January.
Scott Johnson: Really? Oh wow.
Bobby Turman Jr: They said the dosage you’ve been taking, we’re not going to pay for it, we’re going to give you the same medicine, but you have to, instead of taking two pills, you have to take one big pill once a day.
Sheryl Miller-Turman: Instead of two pills.
Bobby Turman Jr: Instead of two twice a day. Did not discuss anything with my doctor, my pharmacy, nothing. And it was not a good change for me. Because that front-loaded a lot of my medicine. And so I was having problems with sugar crashes in the afternoon and things like that. You know, three months into my diagnosis, my insurance company just arbitrarily decided that I needed all new meters and strips, and things like that. And I went from having 100% from of my supplies covered, to only part of my supplies being covered under the new equipment that they mandated I take.
Scott Johnson: Wow.
Bobby Turman Jr: Yeah. So, it was a real struggle to be able to do what I do, which is control through diet instead of insulin, to have that consistent testing and have the discipline to stay on that schedule. It’s extremely… I’m very regimented in what I eat, and when I eat, which is basically every two to three hours, otherwise my blood sugar drops and I have to do other things. So yeah, it’s tough.
Scott Johnson: Talking about all these insurance changes and you know, the living with diabetes, I think we often… the deck is really stacked against us. And I’m really proud of how well we do taking care of ourselves, given what we’re up against. Because for one, just living well with diabetes is a task, a gargantuan task in and of itself. But then we have all these other challenges that we’re faced with. You know, the insurance changes, the limited time with healthcare professionals, the limited information we get from some of them.
Scott Johnson: It’s up to us to decide like, “I’m going to figure out how to take good care of my self and what works for me.” So it’s amazing. And I’m so proud of us living with diabetes, that we are able to do that, and help other people living with diabetes.
Bobby Turman Jr: Yeah. You find out really quickly whether or not you are a very self-reliant person, or somebody that needs a lot of help. You know, and hopefully, we all have the support system from our friends and family to help make that management easier. My wife has been very supportive. And honestly, I would not have made it without her probably.
Sheryl Miller-Turman: Oh, thank you.
Scott Johnson: I can say the same about my wife as well. One of the big things that you’re doing with sharing your story and talking so openly about diabetes, the general population of diabetes as you mentioned, there are so many people out there living with type 2. But in the social media space, there are not many people like you who are talking about type 2 diabetes. There are more people like me, talking about type 1 diabetes. But it’s like the reverse demographic of what the population actually looks like. So I hope that what we can see in the future is more people like you bravely sharing their stories and success stories at that.
Bobby Turman Jr: Well, type 1 is a condition that most people are born with. And it’s not fixable I guess. I mean, it’s something that you didn’t have any control over. I think the perception with type 2, is that-
Sheryl Miller-Turman: You were lazy.
Bobby Turman Jr: … you were lazy.
You earned it, you were gluttonous, you mismanaged your life and that’s why you’re diabetic. And that’s where a lot of that shaming comes from. And I don’t think that the average person doesn’t understand the difference between type 1 and type 2.
Scott Johnson: yeah, definitely not.
Bobby Turman Jr: Or that there are multiple types.
Scott Johnson: Right. I definitely agree with you. And I think that by all of us getting out there and sharing our stories, we can help fix that. And there’s so much misunderstanding about all the different types of diabetes, and story, the power of story, and the power of just sharing what we’re going through, the power of here’s what a blood glucose or blood sugar check looks like. And here’s how much harder it is for me when insurance makes changes without talking to my doctor or whatever the case may be. It’s really powerful stuff.
Bobby Turman Jr: Yeah, yeah. The struggle is never ending and I did a speech on diabetes and nutrition at a health seminar in Nashville. And one of the things that I talk about is that, once you’re a diabetic, it kind of like… well, I don’t want to use the term alcoholism, but, once you’re a diabetic, you’re always a diabetic. There’s no going back from it. Even if you get it managed and controlled it’s always going to be there. And even if you get yourself to the point through either medicine, technology, diet, whatever, to where in your day-to-day it’s got a very minimal impact, it’s always going to be there, and it’s always going to loom on the horizon should you not be disciplined.
Bobby Turman Jr: So that why they call it, in order to manage this condition, a lifestyle change. Not a medical change, it’s not a physical change, it is a lifestyle change. You have to take steps to correct things that will last the rest of your life.
Scott Johnson: So, the progress that you’ve made since your diagnosis, I think is pretty remarkable. Can you share a little bit about the transition you’ve made over the course of time?
Bobby Turman Jr: Yeah. Well, sure. For one thing, at the time I was diagnosed I was 340 pounds, 6′, 340 pounds is a big bear of a man. They were ready to take me to the juicing room like Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, you know? And in the last 10 months, in changing my diet and changing when I eat, how much I eat, combinations, more importantly, the combinations of things that I eat, I’ve managed to lose about 60 pounds in the last 10 months.
Scott Johnson: That’s awesome.
Bobby Turman Jr: And that’s on a 2200 calorie diet. I wasn’t starving myself, I wasn’t going without things. It was simply eliminating sugar, which takes a lot off in the initial chunk. But just making sure that I’ve got, that is as many of my meals as I can, four ounces of protein, four ounces of carbs, 50% fibrous intake from whatever that might be. Because fiber protein counteracts sugar. And that’s probably the biggest thing, that’s been for me. It’s not just am I controlling my diabetes, but I feel healthier. Losing the weight, I go on hikes now which I haven’t done for 10 years.
Bobby Turman Jr: Because, of not just lost weight, but I feel better, I’ve got more energy, my metabolism is better, my sleep apnea, I wear a CPAP at night. And that and diabetes have a direct link. And you know, that’s been a lot more manageable. And my goal, my goal, is to one day get off the blood pressure medicine, get off the CPAP, and somewhere before 2020, I want to get back down to about 250 pounds. I want to lose about 30-40 more pounds before the end of next year, at least, yeah.
Scott Johnson: What a story. I love it. And congratulations on that, it’s very inspiring. Can we dive into a little bit more on the combinations of food and if viewers are, they’re feeling a little overwhelmed by food, and they’re just not quite sure where to start. You know, you touched on the different makeup of your meals. Would you mind spending a little more time on that?
Bobby Turman Jr: No, not at all. One of the things that I learned to do was to research food ahead of time. Like, I’m a food reviewer. I go to restaurants and I write incredibly in-depth reviews. A lot of reviewers just do like their plate of food, and maybe a little bit about service. I start with the car ride there and take it all the way up to paying the check at the end, cleanliness, and everything. But, one of the things that I have to do now, is before I go to a restaurant, whether it’s professionally or just for my own enjoyment, is I look up the information on what’s in their menu, nutritional information, ahead of time. I found that to be very helpful. And that’s why I try to put that information in my reviews for diabetics.
Bobby Turman Jr: So that that way, even if it’s not a restaurant that they go to, they can say, “Oh, he ate this dish, and his blood sugar was this.” Because I like to, you know, I’ll comment on my scores even, my specific scores. But yeah, ideal, your ideal mix of foods is about 25% protein, 25% carbohydrates, and you have to have some carbohydrates in order for things to process well. And then about 50% fibrous food. And fiber can come from a lot of different sources. One of the things that I inject in my diet is berries. Berries are very diabetic friendly, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, they’re very seedy and you get fiber from those seeds.
Bobby Turman Jr: So I try to include fresh fruit in at least a couple of my meals all day long. I usually have breakfast in the morning. About mid-morning I’ll have a snack of some sort. My biggest meal is usually lunch. Then I’ll have a mid-afternoon snack. And then dinner between 5:00 and 6:00. And depending on how late I’m up at night, I might have one more snack before I go to bed. If I’m up past about 9:00 I’ll have something small. Because that keeps my blood sugar level over the course of the night while I’m asleep, instead of waking up in the morning and starving and feeling woozy, and my blood sugar is 70 or 80.
Bobby Turman Jr: And that’s the thing, there are all kinds of new foods lately. I mean, I hate cauliflower, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. And I have since learned to take riced cauliflower and use it as a rice substitute. Two nights ago I was cooking dinner at home. The name of our art studio is Hippie Haven Studios. And so a lot of times what I’ll do is, I’ll do a little video or an article that says, you know, what’s the hippie cooking for dinner at Hippie Haven Studios. And I have a recipe where I took peppers, red peppers, green peppers, onions, garlic cloves, roasted those. I added riced cauliflower to make kind of a mixed rice thing, some curry powder to it, grilled some shrimp and put that in there, and I had a really good mix of carbs, protein and fiber all in one bowl right there.
Scott Johnson: Nice.
Bobby Turman Jr: And I managed to link a local business that donated me some hot sauces to it, because I sautéed a little separate batch of shrimp in a peach habanero sauce. And I checked it, and it was fairly low sugar, and in the sautéing process, some of that sugar is going to get cooked to as well. So it didn’t really impact my blood sugar later.
Scott Johnson: Nice.
Bobby Turman Jr: Yeah.
Scott Johnson: And you mentioned the-
Bobby Turman Jr: … going to say this real quick. There’s nothing you can’t have though if you manage it smartly. You just can’t go willy nilly or do anything at any time. Occasionally I have a forkful or two of a dessert or I’ll share something with someone. But I make sure that my blood sugar is 90 or 100 before I do that, so that that way when my blood sugar goes up, it doesn’t go up past about 130 or 140. So you can actually kind of play the numbers on your blood sugar in order to accommodate things that you might, you know, a taste or a small portion of something that you might think is ordinarily forbidden to you. So as long as you do it smartly, there’s nothing that’s not really forbidden.
Scott Johnson: That’s a great message. And I think it’s so important for all of us, that we find a very good balance between quality of life and satisfactory diabetes management. Because if we go too far one way or the other, something’s going to be out of balance, and we won’t be happy, and we won’t stay there for long. Whether it’s from health reasons or just driving ourselves nuts over diabetes. You mentioned the cauliflower, and I don’t eat cauliflower by itself either. But, I had, we were at a restaurant recently, nothing fancy.
Scott Johnson: And they had on their menu pizza with an option to switch the regular crust out for a cauliflower crust. And I’ve never tried, I’ve seen it talked about before, but I just never tried it. And I took this opportunity to try it, and it was really, really delicious. I was amazed at how delicious it was. And it was much more blood sugar friendly than a pizza crust.
Bobby Turman Jr: One of things, one of my favorite, favorite foods was pizza. And I thought it was lost, and I thought I was never going to be able to eat pizza again. Maybe like a slice of a thin crust or something. And then I started learning about cauliflower crust pizza. And there’s a chain, and they’re a big chain, I think they’re national. But locally they’re called BoomBozz Pizza. And they started doing a cauliflower crust pizza. And it was magnificent. It was just brilliant. And you’re absolutely right. It’s one of my favorite places to go to. Because I know I can order that pizza, and I do not have to worry about it, depending on the ingredients I get on top of it, I do not have to worry about how it’s going to hit my blood sugar later.
Bobby Turman Jr: So it’s a true delight to be able to just go in somewhere and order something, and know that you’re going to be all right. I make a lot of my own pizzas at home. I did an article about a week ago. From the grocery store, it’s a type of pizza crust it’s called Caulipower. And they’re pre-made frozen cauliflower crust pizzas. And you can get just the crust, which is what I do. And then I make my own sauce, add my own vegetables, proteins, and things like that on it, and make my own pizzas like that with it. And it’s, again, it’s a guilt-free meal which is a good thing.
Scott Johnson: We all need more of those. We’ll track that down and link to it in the broadcast so people can find that, that’s amazing. (https://eatcaulipower.com/our-food)
Sheryl Miller-Turman: Oprah Winfrey’s isn’t it?
Bobby Turman Jr: Yeah. The Mrs. thinks that it’s an Oprah Winfrey product, but I don’t know.
Sheryl Miller-Turman: I’m pretty sure it is.
Bobby Turman Jr: They contacted me, I had tagged them in one of my posts where I was making pizzas, and they actually contacted me, the owner did. And that was kind of neat to see. And she was very complimentary of the dishes that I was making using her product. And which hopefully that means that, I don’t know if they market to diabetic people, but hopefully so. Maybe they’ll put that information in their media, so that more diabetics know that they have this product open to them, so that they can make meals at home. Because more options are always good.
Bobby Turman Jr: That’s one of the things is that, you know, a lot of people when they’re worrying about diabetes they think, “I can only eat this small group of foods,” and you get burned out on it really quick. And so then you start thinking, “Well, I’ll cheat one day.” Well, I cheated one day, but it was four days ago, I can cheat again.” So, you have to avoid that line of thinking. As I had said in an article that I published one time, once you start making deals with yourselves, you need to have an advocate. Somebody there to… like a wife, like a good wife, to pull you along and say, “You don’t need to eat that.” You know? And my wife is the best.
Scott Johnson: That’s good. Otherwise, it can become a slippery slope when you have to do it all by yourself.
Bobby Turman Jr: It does, it does. So don’t make deals with yourself, stick to your guns.
Scott Johnson: Yeah, that’s great. Well, Bobby, we’ve talked about an awful lot of stuff. Is there anything that I maybe haven’t asked about, or that we didn’t spend enough time on that you want to talk more about?
Bobby Turman Jr: Yeah. I think kind of going back to the mental, emotional side of it. Something that’s important for your support system in your life to know. And I’ll just… A little bit, is that, your blood sugar levels can play havoc with your moods. You can be loopy, you can be extremely grouchy. And if you’re like me, you have blood pressure issues that go along with that. It’s a volatile cocktail sometimes. And that’s one of the reasons why it’s important for people who don’t have diabetes to have education about it. So that you have to understand that sometimes somebody may just get completely irate with you that’s diabetic.
Bobby Turman Jr: And they don’t really mean it. I mean, the way that I described it to somebody is it’s like you’re in the back seat of a car, and there’s another you that’s driving, but they’re not listening to you. So there’s that. And there’s always, like I said, the toughest part is the mental emotional side. You know, it can cause depression. And just losing weight like I have, it makes me feel better mentally and emotionally, but it’s also tough physically. Because your body starts doing things differently when you lose that much weight.
Bobby Turman Jr: Particularly if you lose it in a short a period of time as I did. And it causes stress in your life because your clothes don’t fit anymore. For the longest times, you could see in my shirt here, my wife modeled this artwork on my face. About two weeks ago I had this huge shaggy beard just snow-white beard.
Scott Johnson: We’ll see it in the pictures. All the pictures we’ll put up, you’ve got the beard, yeah.
Bobby Turman Jr: Yeah. But about two weeks I decided to shave it off. Because I had kind of hidden behind that beard for a while. Because I felt really fat through here. And felt like it was something else that people would look at and see instead of how big I was. And I did that for a long time, for about 10 years. But, I decided, you know, I said, “You know, I want to cut that off.” I just was in the bathroom one day, and I was like, “You know, I think I got some razors around here somewhere.” And I just cut it off.
Bobby Turman Jr: Because I wanted to see what my face looked like after about 10 years. And I felt confident enough that I wasn’t carrying a waddle around or something, you know? But at the same time, it was kind of stressful, you know? I did it, and I don’t regret it now, and I’m glad I did it. But at the time, as soon as I cut it, I was like, you know, I went and sat down in the living room, and I was like, “What did I do?” So there’s a lot of struggle like that that can happen.
Scott Johnson: Change is stress, even when it’s good change.
Bobby Turman Jr: Yes, it is. Because you lose that comfort zone that you’re in. And that’s where a lot of people get to is, that they don’t manage their condition properly, is they don’t want to lose that comfort level that they’re in. Eating, eating is something that was a coping skill for me in terms of stress, depression, and things like that. We associate good things with eating, a) it keeps us alive, b) things taste good, gets those endorphins going, you know? When you feel bad, you go and you grab the gallon of ice cream out of the freezer. I was real bad with that.
Bobby Turman Jr: I was drinking a quart of milkshakes a night, every night. And you have that comfort zone there. And then when you change that, you lose coping skills for stress and for other things. And it goes back to the whole mental emotional thing. I know I’ve come back to that several times, but I really, really feel.. the physical part is easy to manage, it requires a lot of discipline, and a lot of ways it’s the easiest part. It’s the being able to say no to yourself, and being able to no to your friends and your family, you know? Or not feel awkward when you say, “No, I can’t do that at that time,” or, “No, I can’t eat this,” or join. It makes you feel excluded.
Bobby Turman Jr: When food is what we associate with that anniversary dinner, with that birthday party, with that family reunion. All of the good times in our life are driven by food. And we use food to punctuate it. And when you lose that, it makes you feel like you’ve lost a lot of the joy in your life. And be careful about depression too. You know, you’re altering the way that your body works chemically. Physically you’re losing weight, and that’s causing your body to handle things differently. The blood sugar levels, the blood pressure levels, um…
Scott Johnson: You mentioned using a CPAP, I also deal with sleep apnea and use a CPAP. And I’ve also lost some weight over the past months. And I’ve had to adjust my CPAP settings as my weight dropped too. You’re so right about just, change is change. I loved how you talked about, as you’re building the muscles to say no to these things, you know, that just being aware mentally that you’re also kind of handing over some of these coping skills that you’ve leaned on. That’s a really big deal. And so I love that you’ve actually spent more time talking about the mental and emotional part.
Scott Johnson: Because traditionally, that been a very underserved component of diabetes care. The guest that we talked to last week was Dr. Bill Polonsky, a diabetes psychologist and a thought leader in that space. We talked a lot about what’s called, diabetes distress, and thanks to people like him and his colleagues and peers, and people like you who are more open about these parts of the dealing and living well with diabetes, I hope that we’ll continue to see more and more focus on these aspects of living well with diabetes too.
Bobby Turman Jr: One of the things that I’ve talked about doing, I’m considering doing, at some point here in my area of the country, is a diabetes support group. Not focused on the physical or medical so much, but on the mental and emotional. Kind of a mental health therapy that focuses around the issues that do come up from diabetes. Kind of like an Alcoholic’s Anonymous thing, because really, you’re trying to kick an addiction, and that is the sugar, you know? So there’s a lot of parallels there.
Bobby Turman Jr: And that’s one of the things that I want to do, is to be able to sit in a circle with other people and say, you know, “How’s your week, you know? How was your blood sugar. Where did you feel like you were weak? Where did you feel like you were strong?” And when it’s people that you could put faces to from your neighborhood, that’s very empowering. Because there are people that I’ve been friends with for years, that I had no idea were diabetic until I came out. And then they came to me and said, “Oh”-
Sheryl Miller-Turman: Or their spouses did.
Bobby Turman Jr: “… I’m diabetic too.” Or their spouses.
Scott Johnson: Their spouses, yeah. That’s huge. I think that’s a terrific idea. Dr. Polonsky, also when I asked him to share one… if he had to pick one thing to give as a kind of a leaving tip, he said, “Find someone that you can not do diabetes alone with.” And so it really pointed into what you suggested and talked about. And I myself have benefited tremendously from the power of peer support and having people around me that just simply understand what we’re going through, with that idea.
Bobby Turman Jr: That’s the biggest help in the world sometimes, is just knowing that there’s somebody close to you that understands, that you know, they don’t have to walk a mile in my shoes. But sometimes just having somebody there that just knows, just with a look, you know they know and that they understand.
Scott Johnson: Yeah. Yeah, that’s really big. If I were to ask you a simple question, as we start to wrap things up, you know. So you mentioned the frustration as you were trying to figure out kind of your path to success, and bumping into all these different things, what do you think it was that kept you moving forward through all those different frustrations? Like I think many people, they’re just like, “You know what? Enough’s enough, I’m doing all right.”
Scott Johnson: What kept you pushing forward? And if you were to share a tip for success to keep people moving forward out there, what do you think that would be?
Bobby Turman Jr: The biggest thing, the biggest single thing that kept me going was, and I said it before, is my wife. Sheryl Miller-Turman. Because I’m a very, very disciplined person. I’m a Virgo, I’m 100% OCD and I love systems, and discipline, and taking care of things. But it helps when you can’t say no to yourself, it helps to have that person that in a healthy way can tell you no. And share the struggle of that burden just a little bit with you. And that’s the biggest thing is, don’t-
Sheryl Miller-Turman: Watch out. Watch out before you start showing signs of being in trouble.
Bobby Turman Jr: Yeah, yeah. And there’s also physical an mental signs of it. If your blood sugar is off, somebody that can help keep an eye on you for that. But you know, don’t be that person that is ashamed to talk about it, or doesn’t want to feel different, or wants to feel private about it. Because that gives a certain amount of power to the condition. That puts the control and the power in the hands of your diabetes. Share that journey with other people. And the more you share with other people, the more you realize you are not really carrying a heavy load. You’ve got other hands there, and your load, instead of sharing your load, your load just becomes lighter.
Bobby Turman Jr: Because, you know, I will test my blood sugar anywhere I’m at, in front of anybody, and not think two thoughts about it. I have people that come in eating a donut in front of me, and they’re like, “Oh my God man, I’m so sorry.” Like you’re an alcoholic and they accidentally walk I with a mixed drink. And I’m just like, “No, you don’t have to worry about that a bit. It does not faze me.” And that’s because I’ve had such a great support system.
Scott Johnson: That’s amazing, I love that. And if your Mrs. is willing to share a smile on camera, we would love for… I don’t want to, no pressure, no obligation. I know this is very unexpected. So you make the call from that end of the world over there.
Bobby Turman Jr: I love her showing her off every chance I get. So I’m just going to hand the tablet over to her.
Sheryl Miller-Turman: Hi.
Scott Johnson: Hi. Thank you so much for all that you do for the wonderful Mr. Turman, and thanks for being a part of the story, it’s powerful, so thank you.
Sheryl Miller-Turman: Thank you, yes. It’s been a journey for us. I mean, it really changes your relationship with each other. Because I think that we naturally fell into a role of each of us had our strengths. We just relied on the other to do what we had always done. And the diabetes kind of put him in a position where he had so much on him, he couldn’t always do everything he’d done. So it was kind of a shift in our relationship, I think a good shift.
Scott Johnson: I think so.
Sheryl Miller-Turman: And you know, like a said, I think a huge part of it as a spouse, is watching the signs. You know, if he starts shaking, he stops responding.
Bobby Turman Jr: Repeat myself sometimes.
Sheryl Miller-Turman: Yeah, repeating is one of his signs, when he starts repeating himself or overreacting. And we’ve actually, in the spouses that have come forth to us, you know like, “Could you please say something to my spouse, because they’re pretending like this isn’t a thing.” And they said the same thing, it’s the frustration with the overreacting. Like something that’s super simple, shouldn’t even be noticed, is a crisis. And that’s diabetes. That means something’s out of-
Scott Johnson: I’m only smiling so much, because I can recognize this in myself. Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sheryl Miller-Turman: And it’s just, and it takes a lot on the spouse’s part, you know, my mantra is, smile, be kind, be patient, and don’t react. Because if you feed into that on their side, that makes it worse for them. That kind of ramps it, like gives them a Red Bull, gives them wings. And just me being calm sometimes is what allows Bobby to just kind of bring himself back around. And you know, it’s terrible to be at the mercy at the food that you take in. I think in the beginning, he did really well. But we had a big struggle in the beginning just adjusting to eating.
Sheryl Miller-Turman: Because we were both foodies, we both like you know, “Hey kids, after the movie let’s go get ice cream,” you know? Excuse me. But, it took a while to get back in a cycle and not go out. We were bad about going out late at night to eat, that’s something we had to stop doing, for a lot of reasons, pounds of reasons as a matter of fact. And he’s not kidding about the milkshakes. We made a big batch of boozy chocolate milkshakes at night, it was pretty awesome. We just have memories of milkshakes now.
Scott Johnson: I think it’s diabetes and getting along with diabetes is, you know, there’s ebbs and flows of struggle, and success, and learning, and adjusting. And diabetes in itself is kind of a thing that changes as well. So, I think you guys are doing wonderful, and you’re helping to change the world, both by sharing the stories that you’re having. Both with the struggles and the successes. So we’ll-
Sheryl Miller-Turman: Yeah. Even the medicine, adjusting to the medicines. I mean, Metformin made him break out in huge horrible hives. Another pill was using too much insulin, and we went through three or four medicines, and back to that being aware. It was me saying, “Hey, you’re falling out at night when you used to stay up, your napping during the day,” and you know, just that somethings not right, because he couldn’t feel it. Everything was wrong to him. Everything was in chaos, so he couldn’t see the little mile markers.
Scott Johnson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s big. That’s big.
Sheryl Miller-Turman: Yeah. Well, thank you. I think you guys are doing a great job. I have to say, your app was really fundamental on Bobby being able to pull this together. Because he does love systems, he loves knowing what he should do and how he should do it. And it was a little bit like a video game, I think he liked that part too.
Bobby Turman Jr: the mySugr monster.
Sheryl Miller-Turman: But it gave him, he had so much swimming in his head about what he should be doing, and how, and trying to keep track of things, that the app allowed him a place. That if he was feeling, if he didn’t remember, he could go back and get a reference. And the accountability, even if it was only to himself or to make that little thing giggle, you know? It makes terrible sounds when he was a bad boy.
Bobby Turman Jr: And the doctors. It was something that, it was-
Sheryl Miller-Turman: Oh yeah, the doctors. We had a great reaction from them.
Bobby Turman Jr: Yeah. All my doctors just thought that the app was amazing, and they could scroll through it and see my results.
Sheryl Miller-Turman: When he goes into the doctor, they go and stroll through his mySugr app to get a feeling of what’s going on with him. Like especially when he changes medicine. What were you doing before we changed, what are you doing after we changed? And I think so many people go into the doctor, and they don’t, you don’t remember how you felt 15 days ago.
Scott Johnson: Yeah, who could? Yeah, no one could.
Sheryl Miller-Turman: But the app shows right there what was going on with you, and he puts that along with… is mySugr one the one you put your food in?
Bobby Turman Jr: I put food into mySugr and I also have MyFitnessPal which I track very specifically-
Sheryl Miller-Turman: Yeah, it also allowed us to say, “Hey, this was a big thing, the rice.” Bobby loves rice, we love Sushi, we’re big Sushi eaters. And we started saying, “Hey, every time we have rice, your blood sugar is out of control.” And we summed it down to the fact that rice is not good for him. We’ve talked to other diabetics who do well with it. We had to switch to wild rice.
Bobby Turman Jr: And Sushi rice in particular, a lot of people don’t understand-
Sheryl Miller-Turman: Has sugar in it.
Bobby Turman Jr: … has sugar in it. They actually use sugar in-
Sheryl Miller-Turman: That’s how they make it sticky.
Bobby Turman Jr: That’s how it makes it sticky.
Sheryl Miller-Turman: And another one we ran across too is fajitas. A lot of places make fajitas with brown sugar. We ate fajitas thinking he had this great vegetable and everything. Came home and his sugar was what, 279 or something.
Bobby Turman Jr: Yeah, yeah, it was high.
Sheryl Miller-Turman: It was like through the roof. And we called back to the restaurant, and they said, it’s very common to put brown sugar in.
Bobby Turman Jr: In the fajita seasoning.
Scott Johnson: Interesting. Okay.
Sheryl Miller-Turman: But the app allowed us to see that when he had eaten fajitas before, it’s not every place that does it. So it’s been a great tool. And if anything ever happens, I have that tool, like if he’s unconscious and can’t speak, I have that to give to the doctor, so they can see what’s going on, which gives me a lot of comfort.
Scott Johnson: That’s so great to hear. I’m so glad we were able to help make such a difference. You know, you guys get all the credit, we’ll take, we’re a helpful tool in empowering you guys to do all this great work, so thank you. Thank you for letting us be part of the story.
Sheryl Miller-Turman: Well, tools are a big part of the difference. You can’t just build a house with a saw, got to have a hammer.
Scott Johnson: That’s true, that’s true.
Sheryl Miller-Turman: Okay. I’ll give you back to Bobby.
Scott Johnson: Thank you.
Bobby Turman Jr: Thank you for letting her speak. She’s a big part of… she’s in every part of what goes on with me. And in about, in the first six months, when I first got diagnosed, my A1C was 11.5. it was high. My daily was 350, something like that. And through using the app and everything that I’ve talked about, in the first six months I actually got my A1C back down to a 5.7.
Scott Johnson: Wow.
Bobby Turman Jr: Without insulin, and just the medicine that I wound up taking was Januvia. I take one Januvia pill. It kind of supercharges your pancreas and gets it to pump out a little more insulin. So it just kind of squeezes it out like a toothpaste tube. And most days I test three times a day. I take a fasting in the morning, I take one in mid-afternoon, and then I take one before I go to bed. So I make sure I’m okay before I go to sleep. And my average these days stays between about 90 and 110. Almost every test.
Bobby Turman Jr: So in a couple of months, I’m going to talk to my doctor, and I want to try coming off the Januvia and seeing how much of what I’m doing is a combination of the two, or is it mostly my diet? Is it mostly medicine? And just experiment for a month with how that goes. But that’s, I guess my point with that is, if you get diagnosed with a high A1C like that, you can do something about it. You know, they wanted to put me on insulin before I left the office. I mean, you want to give me a shot, right? And I told him no. I told him I wanted a month to try to course correct. And I did. I didn’t bring it down to 5.7 in a month, but when I went back three months later for another A1C, it was much, much lower.
Bobby Turman Jr: And so then the last one was 5.7. and that’s the great thing I like about the mySugr app is, it will also give you an estimated A1C as you go along as well. And I found that the result from the app was very accurate to what the result I got from the doctor. So however the data works for all that, it’s very accurate.
Scott Johnson: Good. That’s good to hear.
Bobby Turman Jr: So, it’s a very well put together app. I feel good about it, because I can trust what it says. Because it syncs up with what I hear from my doctor.
Scott Johnson: Good. Well, thank you for that. That’s a wonderful testimonial, much appreciated. And yeah, I don’t know what better place to end the story, the net.
Bobby Turman Jr: All right. Well, thanks for having me here, for having the Missus. Here.
Scott Johnson: Right. That was like an added bonus. That was a special bonus on top of the story. So I’m thrilled about that too. So thank you both for that. And yeah, it’s again, thank you. You really, I can’t overstate how much you guys, both being so open about your story is making a difference in the world. So that’s great.
Bobby Turman Jr: Well, I mean, it’s a journey that I’m continuing on my food blog. I try to keep informing every article that I do. I try to have some sort of make it relevant to diabetes in some way, without making it necessarily all about diabetes. And a lot of times it’s not restaurant reviews or covering a food festival or something like that. I did one article where I gave my education on label reading. Because reading nutrition labels is a tricky, tricky thing. And marketing for foods is a tricky, tricky thing, they are trying to trick you.
Scott Johnson: Isn’t that something? Well, we’ll link to all of your social properties, so people can track you down, and find you, and follow your journey, and share that with all their friends, and all that good stuff.
Bobby Turman Jr: And if there’s anybody that sees this that is in the Nashville, Murfreesboro, middle Tennessee area, and you ever want to talk, you ever want to share your journey with me, compare notes or anything like that, please get a hold of me. I would love to sit down and talk to you, and hopefully I can learn something from you, and hopefully, I have something that I can pass on as well.
Scott Johnson: I have no doubt about that. And that’s very kind of you. Thank you for offering that. And yeah, with that, thanks for coming on the show. I very much appreciate it.
Bobby Turman Jr: I appreciate you having me.
Scott Johnson: All right. There you have it. What did you think about that chat with Bobby? What a fun guy, fun story, and really cool stuff that he’s doing for the diabetes community, and especially maybe even, especially outside the diabetes community. I love that he’s sharing his story so openly, and using his platform to help people with and without diabetes better understand what living with diabetes really looks like. I’m working on a couple of possibilities, cool possibilities for next week’s show, so I hope that you’ll return and join me again next week.
Scott Johnson: Once again, today’s episode is sponsored by the mySugr Bundle. Get unlimited strips, automatic supply refills, personalized support and more, all for just $49 per month. Learn more at mySugr.com/facebooklive.
Scott Johnson: All right, thanks so much for joining today. Please like this video, share it with your friends. And as always, have another amazing day, and I’ll see you next week.