Category Archives: Healthy Habits

Taking Control of Your Health

Too often, I have worried about my health, let questions swim around my head and neglected going to the doctor to deal with my concerns. I know why I’ve hesitated. It has to do with two simple things: fear and money.

Fear is so powerful a motivator but it isn’t a positive one. To neglect one’s health due to fear is generally to encourage a more negative outcome based on putting off something important. For example, the person with diabetes avoiding their annual eye exam may create a more frightening scenario when they finally go and find out they would have been better off knowing about a treatable eye issue while it was easier to treat and while their vision wasn’t yet compromised. I did this the year before last and when I went to the doctor a few months ago, basically shook in my boots over what she was going to find in my eyes. I was lucky–this time.

Money is not just a huge motivator, it’s a stubborn deterrent. If I can’t afford something, I can’t afford it, right? Thanks to credit cards, more of us are managing to get our insulin, strips, and doctor visits in but we are psychologically crumbling at the rising debt caused by affording what we need, knowing that we are further in the hole. I posted a while back about how much I spend on healthcare outside of my premium each year on my diabetes. That was just a few years ago and the number has not doubled or tripled, it has quadrupled since then. My family income hasn’t quadrupled so good luck to us. I’m not the only one trying to choose healthier versions of food, better insulin, adequate strips, and regular doctor appointments. I know many of you are struggling with the same and it is frustrating. We have to make some hard choices don’t we?

So how does one cope with these realities and still feel like we are in control of our health?

I don’t really know but I can tell you what I do to feel as close to that as possible.

First thing I do is make a list of my concerns and questions. I try to get as many of those as possible met at doctor visits. I ask my husband to help me make sure I go to the doctor. I think of my children and how they need me to be well and I push through and make sure I don’t neglect getting my questions answered and concerns dealt with. I go to the doctor with a list of things so that I don’t forget anything. Pushing through fear ends up feeling better than cowering at it.

Then I create a list of things to do each day that support my goals. Eating healthy, exercising each day, getting enough sleep and water, checking my blood sugars and taking my insulin–these are all non-negotiable. I have to be that person who loves spontaneity but who puts her foot down and tells people, “Sorry, I am not available at that time of the morning because that is when I work out.” Or “No, I can’t get a drink, I have to get to bed, maybe tomorrow at an earlier time?”

When it comes to finances, I also have to put diabetes and health first. So I budget diabetes and health items in like a car payment or the mortgage and try to have the mentality that these things are more important than even a mortgage. Wine and entertainment may seem like necessities but aren’t really. Those things get pushed back if needed. No it’s not fun… yes it is worth it.

The thing with discipline is that even though it seems really boring and restrictive, it doesn’t have to be. It can be the most empowering and noble thing in the world because of what we can accomplish through this discipline (and how we are the recipient of all the earnings). And you don’t have to suffer if you don’t choose to. Suffering due to our own choices can be very minimal or even non-existant because we are in control and no one is the boss of us and we aren’t blowing aimlessly in the wind like my blood sugars after a pizza and dessert.

Sure I mess up and throw off my health from time to time with poor choices. However, each time this happens I’m only more convinced that my disciplined routine is wonderful because it is what gives me the feeling I imagine healthy non-diabetics have: to feel decent most of the time. How marvelous it is to feel decent most of the time. With diabetes and without discipline, feeling decent most of the time isn’t possible (unless you are special and not like me). Think of how much you can do when you feel fine most days and can carry on with work, family, friends, and fun?

I’ve spent about half of my whole life feeling crappy and that is why I’m so enthusiastic about taking control of my health, despite the challenges. I deserve to feel really good and so do you!


My Favorite App is a Mood and Period Tracker

I struggled with the title for this post. I wanted to call it “You Need This App!” but I imagined people would then start reading and be discouraged by the surprise theme of menstruation on a diabetes blog. However, I am certainly talking about a mood and period tracker app and it really is my favorite app.  It has improved my well-being.  It has helped my relationship with my husband.  It’s got an alienating and cheesy name-are you ready for it?  “Hormonescope”.  Look beyond that and let me explain.

We women know all too well that in the days leading up to our period, our hormone levels change.  What I have learned is that they fluctuate all month long and these fluctuations are legitimate motivators to our changing moods and behavior.  I got this app last year and quickly realized that each day, when I read what was going on with my body and why, I could easily be more in control of my day(s).

This app tracks you from the starting date of your last period and then gives you a daily “hormonescope” that is not ridiculous at all but based on science.  I decided to test it out by writing down how I was feeling each day and then reading my information for the day.  What I found was that when I was feeling more sensitive to pain, the app knew about it.  When I was feeling like a homebody, the app knew about it.  When I was feeling like dressing up and wearing lipstick, the app knew about it.  When I was about to become almost irrational with my emotions, the app knew about it.  In other words, the science was well researched to generally describe what our hormones do throughout the month and when they would do it and how that translates into typical behavior.

What about those people with irregular schedules?  Well, usually, that would be me.  For the last few years, I have normally been between 3-10 days late each month.  This app helped me with this by keeping me aware of my irregular cycle.  Combined with information about how to increase overall health, I used this awareness to motivate me to eat healthier, exercise more consistently, reduce sugar, stay away from soy, keep my blood sugars consistent, and to constantly work on stress management.  I have always had pretty terrible menstrual cramps that have diminished with better eating and exercise.  I spent the last three months working hard at my healthy habits and just had a cycle that included none of my typical cramps, nor ovarian and breast cyst swelling and pain, smoother moods, and an on time predictable schedule. It was heaven.  I’ve heard of women having this kind of cycle and I thought it would never happen to me.  I feel very much supported by this admittedly simple app and the daily dose of information it shares.

I also struggle with depression and anxiety and this app has helped me with that, too. When estrogen and progesterone start to drop about a week before our period, gloominess and worry can set in.  But what if you got a hint each day of what to expect with your hormones and behavior?  In the days leading up to menstruation, I used to get into a terrible depressed mood and be lost in my weary haze, always slightly unsure if I would ever crawl out.  Now, because I have a heads up and a reassurance that nature will help reverse the mood  in a few days, I work through this hard time of the month much better than ever before.  I drink herbal teas, wear loose clothing, and cut myself slack when it comes to chores and things that have to get done.

This app has also helped my relationship with my husband.  It has been hard on him to lose a generally happy and loving wife for about 10 days every month to extreme mood changes.  This app hasn’t just increased my understanding of what is going on with me, it has increased his understanding of what goes on with me.  “Oh, you aren’t crazy, it’s your hormones!”  Just kidding, he has never said that.  It also helps give him insight into how he can support me during that time.  I appreciate when he plans an outing out with the kids on one of the days I really need it, for example.  And I think he appreciates not having to freak out over my sudden crying at sappy animal commercials.   It’s also a bonus to be aware and take advantage of “sexy days”, days when hormones support the mood being just right.

There have been days when I feel like I can tackle a big project and the app knew about it.  I have felt like “a genius!” and the app knew about that, too.  (Too bad that doesn’t last more than a day or two) I no longer guilt myself on the few days I eat more than normal or the feelings of wanting to stay at home and chill with a book.  I jump up and embrace social outings on the days my body and brain are feeling more friendly and chatty and outgoing.  I deep clean the house when energy is up and cook simple and easy foods, otherwise known as microwave meals when it’s really low.

I never thought I’d rave about this kind of app but, it has brought me tremendous value and I recommend it to any woman who menstruates or any human who wants to better understand and support a woman who menstruates.  Just now I read my “hormonescope” for the day and it mentions that with progesterone and estrogen on a gentle rise after a previous dip, I’m supposedly feeling more creative flow and introspection but am physically jumbling my words so writing is a perfect thing to do today.  Voila.

Get it here!

Saturday 2015 Diabetes Blog Week My Favorite Blog Post

Click for the Favorites and Motivations – Saturday 5/16 Link List.
If you have been blogging for a while, what is your favorite sentence or blog post that you have ever written?  Is it diabetes related or just life related?  If you are a new blogger and don’t have a favorite yet, tell us what motivated you to start sharing your story by writing a blog?  (Thank you Laddie of Test Guess and Go for suggesting this topic.)


My favorite blog post: (Because getting this info down took forever and it’s one of the biggest things that helps me…)

Classification of Carbs


I really believe carb counting alone is insufficient when it comes to my diabetes management.  At least the simple way it’s taught.  It’s just my opinion and I’ll explain why:

I’ve found that for ME, there are adjustments I make for different types of carbs.  These are adjustments beyond just subtracting grams of fiber.  A carb is not a carb.  They vary spectacularly and learning their differences helps me keep my blood sugars in range and helps me decide which carbs to avoid.

I classify my carbs:

-Refined grains

-Sugar/sucrose/plain fructose (no fiber)

-HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)

-Chocolate, ice cream, and other high fat desserts


-Fruits and vegetables

Refined Grains

When I eat anything with processed grains like white rice sushi or pizza or cookies, cake, or crackers, I have to watch out for a post meal blood sugar skyrocket.  It doesn’t happen right away which is why it’s often confusing to dose for these kinds of foods.  For example, last time you had pizza you were high afterwards so this time around you give more insulin, only to get low in the middle-towards the end of your meal.

I find that about 30 minutes after eating anything with refined or processed grains, I have to give another dose of insulin.  An insulin pump option on a dual or square wave bolus works well for a lot of people, but from what I gather, people with and without pumps have a hard time keeping blood sugars in range with processed grains.


Eating something like candy made from glucose or sugar or drinking plain 100% juice or sugar sweetened beverage is a bit different.  I find that if I’m going to consume this within a reasonably fast amount time (as opposed to snacking over a period of 30 minutes) then I count carbs and using my 1:15 scale, I give just that amount of insulin.  Then I wait 15 minutes for the insulin to start working (more if I’m not in range).  I find that the insulin cancels out the sugar carbs pretty well and there is no shocking aftermath.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

This one is interesting.  At least for me (remember, this is just what happens in MY body).  I find that candy or beverages made with HFCS works like when I eat refined grains.  But that makes sense to me when I think about corn being a grain!  It’s easy to forget because people serve it to kids and say “eat your veggies”.

High fat desserts

This gets it’s own category because of the large amount of fat (and because they’re my favorite!)  I try to stick with dark chocolate for a low dose of sugar.  I also make sure to buy desserts that do not have HFCS in it as a sweetener.  I try to get the gourmet kind with minimal ingredients and then I count carbs and give insulin in the middle of eating since the fat content really slows down the absorption of most of these foods.  If there is a lot of sugar I give insulin prior to eating as usual.  I’m referring to a dessert like high fat truffles, mostly.


I count carbs and then add a tiny extra amount of insulin to my carb count depending on how much I eat.  I don’t have to do this unless I’m really filling up on this protein source.  I love how these foods fill me up and do very little to my blood sugars.

Vegetables and Fruits

I’m a fan of these, especially in terms of carbs.  As you are well aware, the high antioxidant, vitamin, mineral, fiber, and water content of these foods makes them wonderful for our health.  I definitely don’t need as much insulin for these foods.  I count the carbs and then omit for fiber content.  Fruit is something I stick to consuming in it’s natural state and in small quantities.  The sugar in fruit is fructose and too much overloads the liver, causing fatty liver problems.  Oh and it definitely affects blood sugars.  My favorite are cherries, they are very low glycemic.  Have you tried them for a low?  It takes so many!

I know I didn’t talk about legumes or nuts.  I don’t eat legumes anymore.  I think I ate too many as a kid.  I treat legumes like vegetables and I treat nuts like meat.

With any food:  If I eat a lot, I need to give a little extra insulin for the full stomach effect that Dr. Bernstein has talked about in his books.

I adjust for a few other things.  I’ve mentioned them before but here we go again:

-BM status.  Eww, I know.  But being backed up might make a person anticipate a need for more insulin.  The opposite of that issue= less insulin.  So watch out for major lows if you get food poisoning!

-Stress.  If I’m stressed, I have to give a little bit extra insulin to combat the stress hormones and their affects on my blood sugars.

-Exercise.  Different types of exercise require different diabetes management approaches.  Read Ginger Vieira’s book for that info and so much more-even worksheets for getting all these changes right!

-PMS.  Days before I start, I need to up my basal insulin.

-Sleep.  If I stay up late (past midnight), I have to give some extra insulin (unless I’m active).

-Sedentary.  If I’m being sedentary more than two days in a row due to sickness or diabetes burnout or whatever, I definitely have to up my basal insulin substantially (by 30-40%).

-Too much artificial sweeteners.  Certain artificial sweeteners in high doses do contain carbs (it’s a small amount per serving so they’re legally allowed to round down to 0) so if you’re binging on diet coke, check your blood sugar and stay alert to a sneaky increase.

That’s all I can think of.  It’s just an example of how you want to be aware of how your body reacts to different types of food and activity.  You can see why I stick with meat/poultry/seafood, vegetables, and fruits.  Much better blood sugar stability and less variability for me.  But when I do splurge, at least being aware of how those foods act differently help me manage them for those occasions.

I write all this out because you can have tighter blood sugar management.  It helps to learn yourself and the foods you’re eating.  Again, get Ginger’s book or ebook and discover how to improve your blood sugars.  I highly recommend it.

Note to Self: Try New Things

We moved recently and bought a small house on a small triangular shaped property with dozens of trees on it.  Most of the trees are pines and other evergreens, which are my favorite.  The unique shape of the property captivated us and we’ve been dreaming up cool garden ideas.  Even before we moved we saw a lot of work in the yard.  There are several different types of vines growing wild, choking off trees, and beginning to threaten others.  While envisioning the future, I imagined myself making Alex a sandwich while he worked hard to clear the vines and clean up the yard. 

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That’s part of the back yard, a wild and wonderful mess.

Once we moved in I realized that Alex was at work from sun-up to sun-down and the clearing of the property needed to be done and waiting until warm weather would mean watching out for snakes and dealing with pests (and I’m not confident in my ability to do either).  I thought to myself, “I’m going to absolutely hate this, I’m not the gardening type”.  But I went out there and starting pulling up vines, some half an inch thick, others thin and twirled around tree limbs and branches.  They have formed a massive thicket and run up and down many of our trees.  I used to think this look was desperately charming but I started to look up the vines to identify them.  One in particular is a terrible invasive type which takes down trees (oh no, the house!) and covers up plants (how rude!).  It grows really fast and we just so happen to have it all over the property.  I worked for 4 hours one day only to clear about a puny three ft radius of land.  Then I went inside, washed my dirt covered hands and that’s when it hit me.  This was the most fun I’d had in a really long time.  I felt so healthy!  My allergies weren’t acting up because it was late fall.  I felt peaceful and energetic.  All from pulling up vines, uncovering trees and plants, and finding artifacts left behind in the ground such as Twizzler wrappers and lots of old socks (I have questions for the man that used to live here). 

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Doesn’t look like much, but these mounds are massive in person and reflect only a tiny amount of cleared land.

Since then I’ve spent several more afternoons doing the same, enjoying myself so much I only stop when it’s too dark to see and my kids remind me it’s time to do my motherly job and feed them (think of all I’ll be able to accomplish when they can feed themselves!)  Each time I feel a sense of euphoria.  I did recently pull or rip a pelvic floor muscle doing this which makes sense considering I jumped into a new physical activity without any caution and without working myself up to the task.  But, I’m healing and learning not to over strain.  And I’m still loving it.  And I’ve become a nerd to my husband who just shakes his head back and forth as I call myself the “tree whisperer”.  I struggle a lot of with anxiety and depression, something I’ve blogged much about, and this activity is like strong medication for me.  I don’t quite know what it is.  Maybe it’s being out in this time of year with the smell of pine,  the crisp fresh air, birds, squirrels, and deer all around, and no pollen to make me sneeze.  All I know is I’m just going to keep it up.  It’s built in exercise, too so my blood sugars love it.


See how much there is?  I can’t even find my husband when he’s out there.

I was so sure I would hate doing something I turned out to totally love doing!  So, this is a serious note to self: try new things!  Who knows where it will lead.  And if you have any tips for dealing with invasive vines, I’m all ears.

Minimalism in Diabetes and Life

Thank you for all the emails of concern over my blogging break this summer and fall.  It was very nice to be missed.  I’m happy to be back.


Over 6 years ago, when I ended my 7 year run with a Minimed insulin pump and switched to “the poor man’s” vial and syringes, I discovered something interesting about myself.  I functioned better when I practiced minimalism.  Not having so many balls in the air at once just feels easier.  I don’t even replace my syringes or lancets but once every week and several months, respectively.  I’ve never had an infection or any other problem as a result-at least not one I’m aware of.  And this makes me feel a bit more streamlined in my diabetes management.  I’m not saying I recommend being lazy about changing needles but practicing overall minimalism in my diabetes management works for me at the present time. 

In the past, all my constant logging, pumping, and the checks and balances that goes along with that overwhelmed me into not doing anything well.  Whereas now, I do the few essential things as well as possible, with A1c results I’m happy about.  It may be my personality type or my lifelong struggle with anxiety but either way it’s true for me and we all need to work with what is true for each of us.

I’ve been travelling a lot lately and I’ve been amazed at how I can go days with just a small carry on bag and my purse and not even need all that I packed.  And that includes carrying all my back up diabetes supplies which take up a good bit of room. The experience has taken away this fear I’ve always had where I ask my anxiety ridden self, “but what if I need it?!”  Now I just think of how much nicer it is to get around the airport with a small bag and how quick and easy packing is.  I’m less likely to forget something crucial, as well.

True and lasting change takes time and my moving towards minimalism has been a slow and deep process.  For the first time I’m truly aware of how ridiculous our consumer culture is.  I hate what we’re doing to the environment and ourselves.  I notice my sense of calm when I go somewhere that is totally uncluttered.  I can think and focus better in that environment.  I also have learned that more stuff does in no way translate to more happiness.  Though I can admit that being above the poverty level and therefore having sufficient safety and health affirming opportunities is important and absolutely impacts happiness levels.  But if we only refer to extras, I just spent the summer in a huge house at a lake paying zero in rent and I felt depressed the whole time. 

My favorite thing since childhood has been the computer.  I don’t know how many kids had a computer at home in 1993 but I did.  I saw the potential of this great mysterious box and as they took off better and better every minute, I became only more grateful that I had been born at a time when the world was at our fingertips.  Not to mention accessing information that was more real time than a book was super exciting.  Like most people, I love learning and the age of the internet has been my greatest ally, especially as a drop out college student married to a drop out college student.  We haven’t been hindered by our drop out status in terms of knowledge (unless you beg to differ) and that’s a righteous equalizing factor.  (Though in job searching we all know a degree still outweighs so many other valuable assets and qualities but that is a discussion for another day).

Part of what being globally connected has done for me is give me a very real view of how others think and live.  And it’s been impossible for me to ignore the fact that we have enough resources for all humans to have all they need.  We just don’t have enough for all of our wants.  Suddenly I feel greedy and I welcome that feeling because I don’t want to be talked about by my great grandchildren as the stubborn old woman that was gratuitously a part of a careless, destructive, insensitive, and idiotic generation that put greed before humanity.  I want them to know I was doing my tiny part to mitigate damage in my own home, community, and country.  I want them to know that I didn’t carry the attitude of a victim, of someone who says, “well, what do ya do” or “if you can’t beat em’, join em’”.  Bull.  Bull!  I want my grandchildren and great grandchildren to know that I felt guilty about how I was living and motivated and inspired by others to act and make any change I could to make something, anything, better. 

And that leads me to where I feel I’m now more quickly headed.  The movement of minimalism is becoming more popular.  Now there are those who criticize minimalists for being trendy.  But I’m glad it’s catching on and truthfully, it’s being criticized because every time someone talks about it we are basically causing others to self reflect and to feel that we are rejecting much of society.  It’s not like my life’s goal was to reject much of society.  It’s actually in my nature to agree with you as much as possible.  But self reflection and awareness has put me here.

Anyway, what’s great is that there is no right way to practice minimalism  The key is to be aware, to be conscious of how we live and to make changes where we can.  To reject it is fine.  But there are consequences.  That’s just a fact.  I no longer feel comfortable living the way most do in the US.  That doesn’t mean I judge you for not feeling the same way.  It just means that we should all be discussing this and supporting each other.  In other words, I tell you about my minimalism journey and stop right there and you tell me about all your shopping trips and stop right there.  I don’t tell you you’re doing something wrong and you certainly don’t tell me I’m nuts for trying to live with a lot less.  This has been a very recent change for me and even now I still waste paper towels like nobody’s business so I don’t have room to judge.  I do like talking about it because that’s how I got introduced-by others talking about it with me or writing about their experiences with it.  I am so thankful for their time and willingness to share how and why they do what they do.

So what is my family doing now?

Well, first of all, I’ve been getting rid of a lot of material goods this year.  It stung for a second and then I forgot I ever owned any of it. 

I also grabbed a few items by the dumpster and refurbished them with my husband.  He fixed them up and I painted them-which turned out to be some of the best meaningful fun I’ve had all year. 

Our cheap dining room table set broke years ago and we couldn’t afford to replace it so Alex (my husband) made a farmhouse style table with simple benches and together we stained it teak and Caribbean blue.  The entire project cost less than $100 and we are so proud of our table.  Our children loved witnessing planks of wood turn into something so useful. 

I’ve been scanning and backing up documents in order to free ourselves of paper weight. 

We sold our second car super cheap in an act of charity and just go everywhere together.  This works well for us because Alex drives a company truck to and from work.

My brother in law gave us his TV but we still don’t pay for cable TV, instead we use Netflix or Hulu to watch TV using the WII my husband received as a gift.  It’s cheaper and we spend a lot less time in front of the TV.

We just bought a 900 square ft house with no basement or functional attic.  My son and daughter will share a bedroom, which is going against the norm unless you go to other parts of the world where entire families eat, sleep, and entertain in one room.  We hope to have a smaller footprint that way and to be forced into not buying so much stuff because, “where on earth would we be able to put it?” 

Alex and I have never had credit cards. And when there is extra money, we’ve paid off tuition, medical debt, whatever we can, instead of taking a vacation. We haven’t had a vacation since our honeymoon 5 years ago but there is definitely less stress in paying things off when possible.  When people say “you can afford that” we say, “no we can’t”  And it’s a dignified, “no, really, we can’t and don’t want to be burdened with debt, be irresponsible with money, or give in to the seductive pleasure of mindless shopping and imaginary needs.”  And I am just like anyone else.  I get cheered up by buying things.  I love clothes.  I love books.  I love STUFF.  I have fooled myself into believing I can heal my anxiety with a shopping trip.  But, what I’ve learned is it’s a temporary fix.  And then I’m back to where I started, only, with less money.

We try to eat very simple whole foods with few ingredients just to make preparation and clean up that much easier.  We are slowly getting rid of kitchen supplies.  It’s a little scary but eventually we want to just have a bowl, spoon, fork, and mug for each of us and just wash after every use.  No more piles of dishes!  I know that sounds crazy but if you come over I will have delectable finger foods for you, great wine that we’ll drink out of, I dunno, something, and fun conversation-all to distract you from our primitive approach.  I’m trying to make my new mantra, “people, not things”.

We plan on growing some of our own food.  There will be a major learning curve but, we are committed to giving it a good shot. 

We plan on homeschooling the kids which will help us with having a more pleasant schedule and less hectic times throughout the day.  Less stress is always a plus.  Additionally, it has been brought to my attention that right now, the greatest indicator of a child’s outcome in school is their family income and not their performance or work ethic or testing ability.  I’m not playing that game.  If we can manage and meet everyone’s needs then we’ll do it, if not, then we’ll try something else.

I have been slowly getting rid of clothes.  I noticed a while back that my husband is always better dressed than me and I think it’s because he sticks with a simple routine:  button up shirt or polo, khakis or jeans, leather shoes-and done.  He gets colors that he likes and he gets high quality so he can use his clothes for years.  So I’m trying to simplify my dressing by getting rid of everything that isn’t awesome on me (because, really, why do I want to wear anything that looks less than awesome on me?)  As a result, I’ve gotten rid of 75% of my closet!  But, it feels great and laundry is sooo much easier!  I’ve heard of people who own two pairs of pants and two t-shirts and that’s all they wear and it sounds amazing but I’m definitely not there,  yet. 

I’ve discovered the magic of Goodwill.  It’s hit and miss and I’ve learned you have to be picky, but people have been amazed by what I get from there which cost next to nothing.  The key is to make sure it serves a strong purpose and doesn’t add to clutter, something I should write on my hand before my trips there. 

Well that’s it, I think.  Again, these aren’t things anyone else should do, this is just what we feel we can do and we have a long way to go but it’s a process.  We’re just going to do what feels right. 

A part of me does feel like I’m making a statement with my minimalist diabetes management approach.  I want to be an example to those with limited resources and say, “you can do it with the basics, and do it well.”  A lack of money absolutely harms health but just enough money is another story.  I have just enough money for the basics which does include sufficient test strips for each day-excellent blood sugar control is not up for discussion.  I don’t need a pump or continuous glucose monitor, though it’s relative isn’t it?  If I die tomorrow of a middle of the night low blood sugar everyone will say I did need it.  But, if I die tomorrow in a car accident, you could say that I needed perhaps a different car or that I needed to have taken a better route or skipped a dumb errand.  If I die from a stroke, you could say I needed to have changed some part of my lifestyle or taken some type of medication.  The point is with so many variables each day affecting our well being it’s just not cut and dry.  I feel that my very simple approach forces me to maintain an important discipline that extends into all parts of my life.  That discipline is ultimately responsible for my diabetes management and how well it goes.  And that’s what I really wanted to share today Smile

Do you practice any kind of minimalism?  If so, I’m interested in learning more, please share in comments.

March and April 2013 Resolutions


For January and February my goal was small because this is the hardest time of the year for me.  Winter wears me out and the lack of warm sunny days challenges my healthy lifestyle habits.  There’s something about the cold and how it makes me want to cuddle up on the couch with some tea and enjoy my biggest not-so-guilty pleasure, White Collar with Alex.

My goal was just to practice giving my presentations about diabetes in Spanish.  And so I did.  My problem has been more about a lack of fluidity between tricky words and sentences versus not knowing what to say or how to say it.  It’s worked for me at jobs in the past but when giving a presentation it seems important that a message come across smoothly.  With each presentation I’m doing better and the fear of speaking Spanish is behind me, um, mostly.

Now onward to March and April, or just err…April.  Spring is here and while allergies cause me a lot of serious fatigue (seriously, the body just. shuts. down.) I am still eager to enjoy warmer weather and longer days.  Of course, as I type this at 6:46pm on a Sunday in Spring I’ll admit it has been snowing all day.  Go figure.

My goal is to jump back into exercise.  Not that I ever stopped but I since Winter is a hard time for me-a time of surviving versus thriving if you will, I did just enough to get by.  I feel the need to sweat more.  I need to get toxins out.  This is a perfect time because Spring naturally brings greens and berries with it which help detox the body.

I realize this post is super late but I have been working on my goal all month.  Every other day my workout is a tad more intense and that’s enough to make a big difference in my body and energy levels.  So far so good!

*A few days later*

I’m now on day three of a juice fast.  I’m juicing mostly vegetables and only consuming that and water.  It’s been really awesome thus far.  A post on the entire experience to come.  I gotta see how long I can go first SmileDuring this time it’s just been yoga, which I’m surprised I can even do while on a juice fast in the first place.  Who knew?

What are you working on?

Things to Remember If You Take Insulin


I have been on shot therapy for the last 6 years.  Before that I used a pump but we didn’t get along because I was out of control with my diabetes at the time.  I do well with shots so I stick with them for now.  These tips apply with taking insulin by shots or a pump.

There are a few things I have to constantly remind myself of when taking insulin.  Things that make everything go more smoothly.

So I’m going to share 5 Things to Remember if You Take Insulin:

1.  Read the pamphlet of information about your fast acting insulin or ask your doctor to find out how many minutes it takes your fast acting to start working.

Mine takes about 15 minutes.  So test well before eating a meal and then give your insulin some time to start working.  If my sugar is 100 before a meal, I give it about 10 minutes to start working, less if my meal has a lot of fat or slow moving carbs like legumes.  If my sugar is 150, I wait about 25 minutes before eating.  This isn’t a hard rule, and I don’t recommend you do exactly what I do.  I recommend that you figure out how long it takes your insulin to start working and then give it some time before digging into your meal.  Ideally, when the carbs in our meal start raising our blood sugar, our insulin will be there to cancel it out.  If you don’t do this, chances are you will start causing your sugar to climb and then the insulin will have a late start and have a harder time pushing down your higher blood sugar.  End result?  Post meal blood sugar levels that leave you assuming your insulin dosage for your meal wasn’t accurate.  But, maybe it was accurate.  Maybe you just didn’t time things right.

2.  Every time you give insulin a certain amount isn’t going to be properly absorbed by the body.  And that certain amount is random and unpredictable.  This means that if you want more consistency with blood sugars, being careful with carbohydrates, particularly those in starchy processed foods is your best bet.  I’m not saying eat low carb, just saying that it’s impossible to always give the perfect amount of insulin.  Knowing this helps me plan meals and check any extra guilt and frustration at the door.

3.  If you take a long acting insulin, find out how many hours it lasts.  You may be surprised to find that a 24 hour insulin isn’t exactly 24 hours but a little less than that.  Knowing this, you can predict when your blood sugars may begin to rise and counter that with a little exercise or fast acting insulin.

4.  Find out how long your insulin lasts once opened and then get rid of it when that time comes.  Otherwise you shouldn’t be surprised when blood sugars seem inexplicably off.  I sometimes use my insulin a little longer than I should to save money.  And I pay the price.  But I do so knowingly and I share this so that no one pays the price out of just not being aware.  So arm yourself with knowledge and then try to make a wiser choice than me. Winking smile

5.  Last but not least, when it seems your insulin just isn’t working, don’t go more than a week without trying to figure out what’s going on.  Try changing the bottle.  Check and see if you have any infections or chronic pain happening.  Make sure you’re not allergic to your insulin and report any strange aftermath on your body where you gave insulin.  If you’ve ruled that out, check your body for any dark brown markings that often indicate insulin resistance.  Sometimes I will get those marks somewhere under my bra where friction happens.  Ask your doctor about them if you have them.

Me?  I shun all processed foods and make sure I’m eating well and getting exercise.  Usually reducing my carbs a little and doing exercise at least 3 times a week helps greatly to get my insulin working well again.  Maybe I’m susceptible to this because I have a lot of type 2 diabetes in the family but either way, I try not to go long with insulin that doesn’t seem to be working well.  For me it’s usually insulin resistance and it’s a sign I need to tweak my lifestyle a bit.  I’ve even gone “raw” for a week or two to get back on track.  The longer you deal with high blood sugars, the worse you’ll feel and risk down spiraling somewhere hard to climb out of so get to the bottom of consistent and inexplicable highs ASAP so you can feel better sooner rather than later.  To busy in your life to do this?  Just remember, diabetes comes first because it damages every cell in the body.  And before you let that get you down, just think, you and I have some measure of control over our diabetes right?  Let’s take advantage of that!

Have a great one!

Feb 2013 Test Results and Why It’s Good to Get the Details

I haven’t posted an A1c in a while.  Let’s face it I haven’t posted anything in a while but in that time frame I’ve received emails like, “So, you’re A1c is suddenly not good enough to share?!”  No…I just haven’t made it to the endo, lately.  Sometimes that low $30 co-pay IS a deterrent.  That and fear of course.  So I finally did go and here are the results.  My A1c is 5.9, the highest it’s been in the past 6-7 years.  I drank regular coffee before my appointment to see if I could bump up my blood pressure since lately it’s been in normal range as long as I exercise regularly and avoid caffeine and sure enough, I was 130/80.  I got it tested again a few days later while having had no caffeine and I was 110/71.  WOW, is all I have to say.  And no more regular coffee for me, ever!

About my A1c, in order to be fair and transparent, it sounds fantastic but, it’s a reflection of more swings in blood sugar than my last A1c which was 5.7 so I really have more work to do- even though it wouldn’t appear that way.  And that’s the point with my sharing my A1c and the other tests along with that.  Because if you’ll notice below where I post pictures of my results, I have an MCHC test in high range and in my case it means Vit B 12 and Folic acid deficiencies (having ruled out liver disease as a possibility).  This winter was tough financially so we didn’t purchase many foods high in those vitamins and when we did I left my portion to my kids since they are at a more crucial state of development.  I eat a lot of vegetables but meat and seafood sure seem to boost vitamin B 12 levels more than anything else.  So I will try to include more of those foods now for sure.  That and get all of us on a multi-vitamin.  The other thing I want to mention is that it seems that having a deficiency in B12 and Folic Acid affects red blood cell life (from what I read).  Our A1c test reflects our blood sugars over the past 2-3 months because that’s how long those cells live before they are replaced with new ones.  If mine are dying more quickly my A1c would reflect a period of time less than 2-3 months.  So there is that.  Though I’m not sure about how all that works.

By the way, I found this out by asking my doctor’s office for my detailed results as you see below.  Otherwise they send me a sheet of paper stating what my A1c is and letting me know that everything else is “normal”.  When I got my paperwork this time around I asked for all the exact test result data and found out those vitamin deficiencies (good to know so I can actually do something about it) and I found out a high bilirubin count which in my case (due to unshared personal data) seems like a genetic thing and leads me to attempt some liver detox to see if that helps (like juicing beets).  It doesn’t seem to be anything serious except it possibly causes chronic fatigue and mild jaundice and that’s no fun.

So anyway, here are the results.  I just want to point out that at some point my triglycerides, cholesterol, and thyroid levels were all abnormal and now they’re not.  Not always, but often, these things can absolutely be helped with changes in lifestyle habits.  Worked for me and it’s something I keep putting effort into.





If it Works for Oprah…


“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
~ Epicurus

Not everyone likes Oprah but most of us agree that she has worked herself to where she is versus being handed everything.  My mom saved an article for me where she talks about gratitude.  I was amazed to read what Oprah considers the most life changing thing she has done.  For many years she has kept a journal and each morning she has written down 5 things she is grateful for.  It forces a person into a habit of looking at what they do have versus what they don’t.  She goes on to talk about gratitude and the unique power it can have on our lives.

I’ve read in many places that gratitude is the single most transformative thing we can use in life.  It begs positivity, streamlines focus away from feelings of inadequacy, and brings with it a healthy rush of feelings to the body that support positive decisions.

I believe that those of us with diabetes who practice gratitude on a consistent basis really benefit.  Not only does having a chronic illness usually cause us to be more aware and sensitive towards the plights of others but couple that with gratitude and you have an amazing potential for a life filled with meaning and depth beyond many people’s reach.

So while I’m not grateful for having diabetes, I am grateful for what I’ve learned and who I am because of it.  And when my blood sugar is 102 and I feel perfectly healthy, I feel like I’m in heaven while others don’t even recognize the beauty and freedom of feeling great.  I could feel jealous of non diabetics but I choose to feel grateful for the advantage of my perspective.  It makes life better.  But it is a choice and a habit.  I think writing down things we’re grateful for is an excellent idea.  Thanks, Oprah.

2013 New Year’s Resolutions


“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”
~William Jennings Bryan

First off, Happy New Year!  I hope you feel excitement at the anticipation of a new year filled with wonderful possibilities!

New Year’s resolutions are pointless if they don’t include a specific plan and a time fence.  For the third year in a row I’m going to follow Leo Babauta’s 6 Change Method for making some real improvement this year.

January/February resolution:  To successfully do my peer talks in Spanish

You know those people who can speak a foreign language with their native accent in tow and make loads of grammar mistakes and just not care?  Yeah, I’m not one of them.  Having grown up with Spanish speaking parents makes me feel a bit of shame about my not being able to speak like a native.  But, I love hearing people with accents so why do I hate my own gringa accent?  Anyway, I have two presentations I’m going to give people with diabetes in Spanish in January and February and I want to do them well and preferably not sweat buckets while my blood sugars sky rocket.

The plan?  Practice, practice, practice!  Rather than procrastinate, procrastinate, procrastinate.

I normally write out all my month’s goals but I feel like I don’t know what’s needed until I get there so I will be figuring that out along the way.

Wish me luck!/Deseame suerte!

What are your New Year’s resolutions?  Remember, they don’t have to be carried off in the wind as a memory of what you would have liked to do.  Just make a plan.  Want support?  I coach people with all sorts of things they want to accomplish.  Email me at to set up a free consultation.

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