Category Archives: Interviews

Catching up with Ginger Vieira

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Where do I start?  Ginger is like a powerhouse of a gal.  She has type 1 diabetes and Celiac disease.  She is a record holding power lifter, a yoga instructor, expert vlogger, a health coach, motivational speaker, a published author, and an all around great asset to the Diabetes Online Community.  I’m always appreciative of her perspective and positive energy.

Here, I interview her to find out what she’s been up to lately and see what wisdom we can take away.

I loved your book, “Your Diabetes Science Experiment” and highly recommended it in my review on this site. What other feedback have you received from people who’ve read it?

What I’ve heard the most is that it’s very easy to understand, and it explains the answers to questions that so many people are frustrated over all the time! My goal in writing the book was to help people not only understand why their blood sugars were high or low, but to empower them! To give them the confidence that they can actually take action to prevent those unwanted highs or lows, instead of accepting them as part of life with diabetes.

I recently received a Facebook post from a woman who’d read the book saying that it saved her life because she was about ready to give up on her diabetes. Instead, she found the answers to questions she’s had for so long and discovered that she is absolutely capable of managing her diabetes. I can’t ask for a better impact on someone’s life with this disease than that.

Another big thing I think almost everyone will gain from the book is a deeper understanding how balance exercise around a life with diabetes. It can absolutely be done, and you can absolutely enjoy exercise with diabetes, but you have to learn a few really important things in order to make it all happen. So far, my book seems to be providing those lessons for people!

In the end, what I hope reaches the reader is inspiration, empowerment, and motivation. And of course, a feeling that you are not the only person in the world having to deal with this crazy disease every day. It’s really crazy when you think about what we have to do day in and day out. We’re keeping ourselves alive, and we all deserve a good pat on the back.

For more testimonials, interviews and blogs about my book, visit this link!

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Are you planning to write any more books?

YES! Have I begun writing it? No. But I have the outline and I know exactly what I want it to give to its readers. This book is about how diabetes impacts your relationship with food. As a diabetes coach, this is one of the challenges I help people with the most often. Diabetes twists up your emotions and connection to food so much that it’s so easy to wind up using food as a weapon against yourself, against the disease.

It’s often builds like this: You can’t control that you have diabetes.You can yell at any specific person for giving you this disease. And you can’t throw the towel in completely just to spite your diabetes because that’ll be the end. Instead, you punish your body, your disease, with food.

It’s incredibly common, unspoken, and difficult to overcome. It is one of my favorite things to help my clients overcome because it is SO POSSIBLE to overcome — I’ve seen so many do it! But you’ve got to start at the beginning and I believe I have a few methods of working with people that prove to be very effective.

Where would Carmen San Diego be if she had diabetes?

Oh, she’d definitely be in Vermont. :) It’s beautiful in Vermont, people are friendly and happy, and being active and eating well is always encouraged as a regular part of your daily life!  And we love dogs in Vermont!

You tend to be very focused on positive and empowered thinking. Why is that and do you have any tips for others on how to do that?

I guess I would say I’ve always been a very positive person, but gradually, I became very, very aware of how much impact our own inner-dialogue has on our lives, our actions, and who we become.

I don’t leave much room in my head for negativity anymore. When I find it there, I get rid of it as fast I can. If you keep putting negative thoughts in your head, or criticizing yourself, or telling yourself you’re not capable of something, then that is exactly what you’re going to believe.

I tell myself, “I can. I can. I can.” And then I try my very best. If at first I don’t succeed…I try again!

If you’re constantly telling yourself that you’re ugly or stupid, make a rule with yourself: you are not allowed to keep allowing those thoughts in your head. As soon as you start telling yourself negative things, stop yourself, and tell yourself the opposite: “I am beautiful. I am smart.” Even if you don’t believe those things yet, tell yourself those things until you realize they are true.

I also started noticing that every time something scared me, and I pursued it anyway, it became another experience that absolutely made me a stronger, smarter person…and the more it made me understand who I am and what I want for my self.

Even little things: during high school the movie theater I worked at promoted me to Assistant Manager with a bunch of 40 year old men, and then me, a 15 year old female. In college, the writing department asked me to be the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper even though I had no journalism experience. And you can bet that when someone suggested I compete in a powerlifting competition, I was extremely nervous! But I told myself “I can. I can. I can.” And it was so worth facing that fear, small or big.

The first step is admitting that the way you talk to yourself DOES MATTER! I think it’s very hard for people to accept this, and really take responsibility for their own happiness. Yes, there are situations like depression where you have additional challenges, but in the end, life is hard for everyone, and it’s up to you to make life what you want it to be. The way you think impacts the way you believe…which impacts your actions…which impacts your life.

What is your favorite way to de-stress?

Ohhh, exercise! Powerlifting, especially, makes me happy. I mean, literally, I can be having a really stressful day, and then my time to workout with my coach comes along and I get to do deadlifts and squats and lat-pulldowns and power-cleans…and I am happy!

I also do a lot of cardio and plyometrics on the days I don’t powerlift. The challenge of it lights my brain up. I’ve been working on my box-jumps, being able to jump higher and higher. I can jump onto a box that’s about 2.5 feet now. Earlier this summer I was terrified of box-jumps! I do sets of 10 jumps, and then I jump-rope in between each set for about 90 seconds. Then I do either a set of 10 kettelbell snatches or pull-ups. Then I repeat the whole circuit 6 – 10 times…depending on how exhausted or sore I am from my other training! But by the end of that, I am always happy and tired! Exercise makes me feel like a million bucks.

I used to stretch and do a lot of yoga. I only do yoga once a week now. I used to do it more like 3-5 times a week, but part of my back pain last year was due to being hyperflexible, so the physical therapists told me to stop stretching so much! Ridiculous! I never knew a person could become too flexible. It’s not unlike me to overdo things!

And friends. I have awesome, fantastic, hilarious, kind friends. People I’ve found to surround myself with. They’re always a phone-call away.

You’ve been a health coach for a while. Why is health or life coaching so beneficial for people with diabetes?

Because this disease is insanely complicated. Not just the management of it, but the actual task of including it in your life and making it part of your daily world. Diabetes is non-stop. As a coach, I help you break it all apart and look at what really matters, what you really want for your life and your health. I help you clear out the gunk that you’ve been storing in your head, all the things you’ve told yourself and that you’ve settled into a habit of believing that are getting in your way. Then I help you build new habits, new ways of thinking, and new beliefs about who you are and what you deserve.

That’s very hard to accomplish on your own. As your coach, I’m with you every week!

Winter is upon us and so many people, including myself, seem to struggle a lot with staying on top of our diabetes management during this time of year. What would you recommend a fellow diabetic who is suffering from diabetes burnout?

The first step? Acknowledge what you’ve been doing (or not doing) and forgive yourself! This disease is hard work. Constantly. I would love a day off. LOVE IT. I cannot imagine what my brain would do with all of that extra energy if I didn’t have to manage my diabetes all day long. It’s understandable that we get burnt out. In fact, it should be something we expect. So forgive yourself for being human.

Secondly, write down what you REALLY want for yourself. Ask yourself: Do I deserve to be healthy? Do I want to be healthy? And put it down in words. Write it down!

And lastly, start slow. Set a small goal for yourself. If you haven’t been checking your blood sugar at all, then set a simple goal like: I’m going to check my blood sugar once a day at 8 a.m.

If you’ve been skipping your insulin, then set a simple goal like this: I’m going to make sure I count my carbs and take my insulin for lunch–always. Just lunch. If I happen to take my insulin at other meals, that’s great. But for two weeks, I’m just going to focus on lunch.

And write it down. In big, bold letters that you can’t ignore. Make your new goals known.

Here’s a video blog I made on Diabetes Burnout!

What are your plans for this upcoming 2012?

To have FUN. In work. In play. In everything. I’ve really come to learn that I cannot, and will not, continue to do anything in my life that doesn’t feel right. Whether it’s a job that doesn’t line up with what I really believe in, or uses of my free time that don’t really feed my energy…I won’t do it! Life is too short and I want to spend my time and energy doing things that mean something to me and the people around me. Things I believe in.

I plan to write my next book, “Your Diabetes Relationship with Food” during the year of 2012, and hopefully have it ready to be published by the beginning of 2013. It will be a different process than my first book because I plan to do a lot of interviewing and incorporating other people’s stories in how diabetes has impacted their relationships with food. If anyone is interested in sharing their story, and being interviewed, please let me know! (Ginger@living-in-progress.com).

I will also begin working as the Mental Skills Coach for TeamWILD! If you sign up for one of the TeamWILD training camps in Boulder or San Diego…or one of the TeamWILD online training programs to become an endurance athlete, I will be your Mental Skills Coach! At the camps, I’ll be running seminars in person. If you sign-up for an online program, you’ll receive three videos from me over the course of your program.

During 2012, I hope to build my powerlifting strength back up enough to possibly compete next winter, or during the early Spring of 2013. I don’t know yet! My back is feel pretty great but I still can’t train as hard as I used to be able to. Mostly, I’m just grateful and happy to be able to lift heavy again…so when the time comes to compete, I’ll be grateful for that, too! The training is my favorite part.

Like I said, it’s about having fun and enjoying life. I choose how I spend my time. Everything I just talked about in the last few paragraphs are things that absolutely give me energy and make me smile.

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Thank you for the fun interview, Ginger!

Ways you can connect with Ginger:

Ginger’s website: http://www.Living-in-Progress.com

Ginger’s YouTube: http://www.YouTube.com/user/GingerVieira

Ginger’s Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/Ginger.Vieira

Ginger’s Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/GingerVieira

Interview with Nathan Shackelford about Eating Low Carb

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I like interviewing different people who strive for glucose numbers as close to normal as possible because if that’s what non-diabetics have then that’s what I feel I should work towards (taking in consideration all kinds of factors, of course).  I’m not saying it’s the right decision for everyone, I’m just in the process of figuring out the best diet for me and I know others are on the same wavelength.  I think it’s important that we keep dialogue open about this and by talking with those who feel they’ve made a great decision for themselves we can keep the learning and exchange alive.

Nathan Shackelford is an art teacher, husband, father of three kids, and has had type 1 diabetes for about 26 years.  He also writes a great diabetes blog you can follow here.  Nathan has been eating low carb for some time and I wanted to hear his perspective about it and see what we could learn.

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Nathan, how long have you had type 1 diabetes?

I have been Type 1 since the summer of 1985, so it’s been about 26 years.

And how long have you been eating low carb?

I was motivated to qualify for life insurance in 2003, and going low-carb was one of the things that helped me to get my A1C under 7 so that I could be considered “healthy”. It worked.  Besides better A1Cs I’ve also benefitted from feeling better and getting healthier overall. It’s surprising how many aspects of your life can be affected by poor blood sugar control.

How low carb do you go? About how many grams of carbs do you take in a day?

I go pretty low. My only carbs are usually things like almonds and avocados, and green vegetables. I’d guess that I consume 20-30 grams of carb a day. At this level, carb counting doesn’t have as much of an impact. I find that meals with more protein are the ones that require the most insulin.

Why do you think low carb is the right way to go for you, personally?

I’ve done it both ways, and haven’t been able to get good results with even moderate carb levels. I’ve experimented to see if I can include more carbs and use more insulin and the results always have me back with higher A1Cs. In the day to day, I don’t really see major differences, but the average control over time shows that it doesn’t work as well. For instance, this past summer I took a trip to Europe with a student travel program. I didn’t want to work too hard at getting special food items for myself at hotels with the language barrier, etc. so I ate some of the starchy carbs that came my way and used more insulin. When I got back from my trip I realized that my glucose control was off for most of my trip, and I had picked up a few extra pounds as well. My A1C for summer was up significantly.

What’s a typical meal look like?

I usually have eggs for breakfast, sometimes on top of a pile of arugula. My favorite lunches are tuna salad or chicken salad with greens. Dinners are usually chicken, beef or fish with broccoli or cauliflower and salad. We do a lot of ethnic foods at home, so those look pretty different.

Why do you think so many people with type 1 diabetes choose not to try going low carb?

I think many of us think of eating “normally” as the measure for living a normal life with diabetes. I think if we start defining living normally as having normal blood sugars, we will make changes to make it happen. Carbs are kind of addictive, and most people don’t realize that if you can go for 4-7 days without them, you can leave them behind.

Some people forget to point out that for people who eat low carb, many eat loads of vegetables, which technically, are high in carbohydrate. Are you one of these people who eats a lot of low impact veggies?

My diet doesn’t look vegetarian at all. The protein and fat are the main source of energy and the vegetables are there because I love them. The ones I eat, though, are the types that have small impacts on my glucose levels. If I eat 2 cups of steamed broccoli it would have a pretty noticeable impact on my blood sugars just by quantity in my stomach. If I keep it at ½- 1 cup, it’s fine.

What do you think about the paleo or primal diet?

The Paleo/Primal diets have resonated with me because they are fantastic for diabetics. My sister is also a Type 1 diabetic and she and her family eat Paleo and it has solved many health issues for all of them. I have read the Paleo and Primal literature and think it’s a great thing for people to pursue for better health. I’m already living gluten-free because I don’t consume any grains. I still use cream in my coffee, but that’s the only dairy I typically use regularly. I don’t have any issues with dairy, so I’m not interested in eliminating it. I used to brew beer at home regularly, and that was one place where I was consuming gluten. I found out, almost by accident, that my body responds better to cider than beer. So, I’ve been making my own hard cider at home and haven’t brewed beer in several months.

Does your family eat like you?

My way of eating has impacted the family to some degree. We have less junk food around the house and our typical family meals are centered around protein. My son and my youngest daughter are starting to naturally eat the way that I do. It just appeals to them, and they are thriving. We still have potatoes or tortillas on the table with some meals, but they are not the focus of the meal. I think we have all become healthier since I started pursuing my health goals. People keep asking my wife what she’s doing to get so slim.

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Where would Carmen San Diego be if she had diabetes?

I don’t know her very well, but, I think she’d be at her local farmer’s market geeking out on all the fabulous produce.

What’s the hardest thing about eating low carb?

I’m a pretty easy-going person, so I don’t like anyone to feel obligated to do anything special for me. I try not to put any special attention on what I do or don’t eat, but sometimes you realize that there’s not much in a meal that you can go after… like a spaghetti dinner with garlic bread. I can’t even just eat a polite portion of that. It’s not that I wouldn’t love that stuff… I guess trying to balance between “not being a pain in the neck” with taking the impact of daily food seriously.

You seem to be really optimistic about life with type 1 diabetes. Why is that and have you always been this way?

I’ve always been pretty upbeat about diabetes, despite the seriousness of the disease. My dad is a Type 1 diabetic and he always has had a good attitude about. He lives a rather normal life and views his glucose control as a puzzle to sort out, rather than a drag. You’ll often find him going for an 30 minute walk to get glucose levels back to normal. I find that curiosity about it keeps me motivated to know as much as I can and master it. Instead of accepting the idea that it’s going to derail my life and control it, I plan to be in control. Attitude has a lot to do with that, and I plan to win.

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I really appreciate hearing how someone fits this way of eating into their life and the reasons behind doing so.  I think the reasons for finding foods that lower insulin needs are compelling enough to consider very seriously.  Thanks so much for answering those questions, Nathan!

Remember to check out his blog: Edibles…(the diabetic edition)

Interview with Dan and Sally Roman

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Dan and Sally Roman have two children who have been diagnosed with type 1 and neither child takes insulin. They don’t call what they’ve done a cure, rather blood sugars have been normalized via lifestyle habits. I was as confused and shocked as you when I first heard of this. I ask that you please keep an open mind as you read this.

No one has to feel compelled to do as they have done, however to say what they are doing is a lie or a scam, without having infinite knowledge about type 1 diabetes or what they’re doing is exercising ignorance and I know we can all rise above that. It benefits us all to learn more about what they’ve done and to think about how this information could be used by our diabetes researchers.

I’ve interviewed Dan Roman to hear their story and to get some tough questions answered.

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Please tell us a little about yourselves and your family.

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Sally and I are the parents of 6 children ranging in ages from 10 to 24. The four children still at home with us are 10, 12, 14 and 16. We have two type 1 diabetic children, ages 10 and 14, with whom we have had great success managing their disease through diet and lifestyle changes. I previously worked for 18 years with a specialty pharmacy and disposable medical supply company where I held the title of Vice President of Sales. Sally was formerly a registered nurse before becoming a full time mother of 6 children. After diligent research (and some good old fashion trial and error) we discovered the elements that comprise what we call the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle. Through an ongoing process of combining various alternative measures and seeing the cause and effect of different foods, we have fine-tuned this lifestyle for greater success and easier, more practical application in a busy world. We now enjoy helping others learn the practical application of the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle though our company, Health-e-Solutions.

Will you share a little of your two son’s diagnosis stories?

Our story began in January of 2008. We thought our youngest child, Gabriel, possibly had a bladder infection because of his frequent urination. Our children had a bad flu virus over the holidays and Gabriel just did not recover from it completely.

Our family doctor said he suspected Gabriel had type 1 diabetes. We were shocked. We had no family history of diabetes, and overall our family had been very healthy. The tests taken the next day and explained by our pediatric endocrinologist revealed that our six-year-old son would probably be insulin-dependent within six months. He did not yet need insulin injections but was close to that point. Our doctor insisted that there was nothing we could do to prevent the onset of diabetes. He said that no dietary changes were needed or would help. He advised us to prepare for the inevitable day that was just around the corner when Gabriel would need to go on insulin.

We spent extensive time researching all possible options of treatment. We incorporated several approaches after realizing that our nutrition can really impact our health. We began to test different foods and meticulously chart Gabe’s various food responses. We discovered that many recipes we found for diabetics had too high of a glycemic load, even many alkaline recipes. Desperate to make this lifestyle change “livable,” my wife camped out in the kitchen experimenting with new culinary creations.

It was so rewarding to see that within a month Gabriel’s blood sugar levels stabilized.

Our story took a twist in the road when only four months later our ten year old son, Nathan, was also diagnosed with early type 1 diabetes. Nathan had been exhibiting behavior changes for several months. He was very moody and could not concentrate in school. His grades were suffering. We learned that siblings of type one diabetics were at much greater risk of developing diabetes than the general population, so we decided to have all of our children tested.

Nathan joined his brother on the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle adventure. The same day Nathan was diagnosed, a blood test revealed that Gabriel’s fasting insulin had dropped below the measurable limits of the test and his c-peptide was down to .18 (normal range was .8 – 3.1). Although we were thankful that Gabriel was maintaining normal blood sugar levels, we grieved at what appeared to be the loss of insulin production. Gabriel seemed to be following the path the pediatric endocrinologist laid out for us, except that neither of our boys required any exogenous insulin yet. Even with very low insulin levels, their blood sugars were very stable while eating the diabetic-alkaline diet.

By this time we found a naturopathic physician well versed in diabetes and very supportive of our lifestyle changes. We decided to have our boys followed by him instead of the pediatric endocrinologist.

In July of 2008, after two months of perseverance, we ended up back at our doctor’s office. We were stunned when he announced the results of both boys’ recent lab tests. Gabriel’s pancreas had once again begun to produce some insulin (still below normal, but a definite change in direction). Nathan was overproducing insulin in order to compensate for insulin antibodies present. Both were maintaining normal blood sugar levels. We were overwhelmed with gratitude.

Fast forward to today, it has been four years since Gabriel was diagnosed. Both he and Nathan are doing exceptionally well. Their A1c tests remain below 5.0 and their blood sugar levels are very stable. All other tests are within the “normal” ranges.

Do your boys take insulin?

No. Neither one of them has ever had to take insulin because we were fortunate enough to catch the disease in an early enough stage of progression. For that we are very thankful for the astute observations of our family doctor back in January of 2008.

Do they still have diabetes or do you feel it has been reversed?

Yes, they still have diabetes, but yes it has been reversed. All of their symptoms have disappeared. As long as they remain on the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle they have normal blood glucose results. We now only test their blood glucose levels when they try new foods because they have been so stable for such a long time.

We like to say that the monster (diabetes) is locked up in a box. As long as our boys are faithful to living the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle, they are symptom-free. They do not have to test blood sugars daily. They can eat whatever they want, whenever they want, so long as it is within the diabetic-alkaline diet. They do not count carbs or food portions. They (and we) sleep care-free at night, never worrying about hypoglycemia. We know the monster is still there, locked up in that box, but it is severely limited in what it can do.

What is the explanation that doctors give you about this? Do you they think their diabetes has been reversed?

We typically hear that they must have been misdiagnosed, or that they are having a very strong honeymoon phase. But this cannot explain all the others who have implemented the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle and had similar or even more remarkable results. Some have gotten completely off insulin and no longer have any antibodies. Of course, everybody responds differently because everybody is unique in how they express their diabetes.

Our two doctors that have reviewed their cases believe the symptoms have been reversed, and they definitely attribute it to the diet and lifestyle changes. We definitely think their diabetes has been reversed. The symptoms have all disappeared. But that is not to say we think they have been cured. As stated earlier, the monster is locked up in a box.

Is there any possibility that your sons have one of the more unpopular forms of diabetes such as ketosis prone diabetes which looks and acts much like type 1 but can be managed without insulin with a low carb diet?

It is unlikely. KPD is usually found in African-Americans, Hispanics, and other minority ethnic groups of non-European descent. These patients are usually obese, have a strong family history of diabetes, and, most importantly, are characterized by DKA at time of diagnosis. Our boys have none of those markers, and they were not in DKA at time of diagnosis.

Most doctors out there say there is no type 1 diabetes cure. People who are taught that and who hear your story probably feel confused and very skeptical. What can you say about this?

Their reaction is understandable on many levels. I think two keys motivate that confusion. First the word cure is a very nebulous term that carries a lot of different meanings with it – probably as many meanings as there are diabetics. We do not use the word cure. We think the term remission is a better fit. Even so, I think a lot of type 1 diabetics would be very happy with the results we have had if it were the same for them. In fact, they might even use the word cure.

When insulin was discovered and the first people began injecting it, insulin was called a diabetes cure. Were they wrong? Yes, but to those living at that time, insulin injections were far superior to the alternatives they had. So much so that it was a practical cure for them.

Secondly, mainstream medicine places very little value on nutrition and its impact on type 1 diabetes. In fact most people are told at time of diagnosis, just as we were told that diet will make no difference. They are told to eat whatever they want and just cover it with the right amount of insulin. This is wrong on so many levels it would require pages to address. This approach sets up the type 1 diabetic for early onset of more health complications, lowers their nutritional quality of life, makes blood sugar management more difficult, is inconsistent with research, and decreases the chances of protecting remaining beta cells (Autopsies on type 1 diabetics reveal that the majority still have at least some functioning beta cells). With all the research into finding a way to regenerate or replicate beta cells, it seems we ought to do all we can to preserve what we have.

We have found that naturopathic doctors are well ahead of standard care doctors when it comes to a more holistic approach to treating diabetes that gets at root causes instead of just treating symptoms. Their support has been very instrumental in our continuing efforts and success.

Is this Alkaline diet that your boys are on also a low carb diet?

Yes and no. Compared to the Standard American Diet (SAD) the answer is yes. If you mean carbs as most people understand them (cookies, cake, candy, bread, rice, potatoes, the answer is still yes. However, if you mean in a strict definition of carbohydrates, then the answer is no. In fact, we had a typical two week meal plan analyzed and found out that the average daily carbohydrate intake was 196 grams! 121 of those grams were fiber, so the net carbs were 75 grams.

We have found that it is more important to focus on the type of carbs you are eating than the amount. Both are important, but making sure you are eating what we call “Right Carbs” is more important. “Right Carbs” are those carbohydrates that are alkaline-forming, high in fiber, low in sugar content, and high in anti-oxidants.

Do you think this way of eating has to be implemented early on in order to work?

What do you mean by “work”?

It is true that the earlier in the disease progression you begin the better are your chances for more dramatic results. However, we believe most people, no matter where they are in disease progression can experience at least some benefit. We have a woman who has been type 1 for over 35 years who started the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle about 6 months ago who has now had her best two A1c results in her entire life as a diabetic. I would say that is an indication the lifestyle is “working.” Does she still take insulin? Yes, although the amount is reduced.

We tell people that the goal should not be getting off insulin, although that is a nice side benefit for some of us! The goal should be excellent blood sugar management in the healthiest way possible. So with that goal in mind, we think the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle works beautifully! Results vary from person to person, but we believe the lifestyle is the healthiest way to manage diabetes. Even our kids that are not diabetic feel better on the diet!

I would imagine that word about what you both have done would spread like wild fire and doctors everywhere would attempt to screen children for signs of early type 1 diabetes in development and then quickly start them on this diet. How come this hasn’t happened?

There is an old expression that says, ‘the first one through the wall gets the bloodiest.’ While we are certainly not the first, we are close enough to it to reap the consequences of being well outside standard care practices and opinions.

In 1847, Ignaz Semmelweiss discovered that hand washing by medical students and doctors before they treated obstetrical patients would reduce dramatically the incidence of maternal deaths. Although hugely successful; Semmelweis’ discovery directly conflicted with the beliefs of science and medicine in his time. His colleagues and other medical professionals refused to accept his findings. The continued criticism and lash out finally broke him down. By 1865, he was suffering from depression, forgetfulness and other neural complaints and was eventually committed to an asylum.

We hope we have a more pleasant outcome, but we are just happy to help those who are willing to listen to alternative methods of managing and treating type 1 diabetes.

We also find a lot of research supports the nutritional components of the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle and very little that detracts from it. After all, the foundation of this lifestyle is just healthy food – how can you go wrong?

Do you think education and awareness about what you’ve done should spread in order to help save lives?

Absolutely!

Why isn’t the information you share in your business free?

For nearly three years we helped people as time would allow and did not charge anything. At that time, I was working at my former place of employment. Now that we are doing this full time, we have the opportunity to help more people, a nice array of products and services to offer, and time to keep developing better services. We really have a desire to help as many people as we can, but we do still need to put food (healthy food!) on the table for our children.

We do extensive research, provide free correspondence, write many articles and reports and offer many recipes on our website all for free. However there is a lot of administrative work that goes into keeping a web site running and offering products and services.

We get asked this question fairly often, but I wonder if the same would be asked of health care professionals, or even of the author of a book with information that could potentially save lives? The unfortunate reality of life is we all have to make a living. We feel blessed to be able to help people while trying to do so.

Can anyone with type 1 benefit from your services and information?

Yes. We believe the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle we have implemented can be beneficial for anyone with type 1 diabetes. It can also be of great benefit to pre-diabetics and type 2 diabetics – we work with them as well. Since we are showing people how to live what we believe to be a healthier lifestyle, virtually anybody can benefit from our services. But our goal and passion is to teach type 1 diabetics how to better manage this disease for long term health and sustainability.

It is interesting that many of the organ-specific autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, Lupus, autoimmune thyroid disease, all have special diets associated with them that seem to help manage or reverse symptoms. The diets are similar, in many ways to the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle. It is also interesting that people with type 1 diabetes also have higher incidence rates of these other organ-specific autoimmune diseases. If lifestyle and dietary change make a difference with those autoimmune diseases, it stands to reason that that the same may be true for type 1 diabetes.

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Dan and Sally, thank you so much for taking the time to answer those questions and speak to me over the phone.

To readers, thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you’re feeling a pang of jealousy as I had initially, understand this is due to the amount of suffering we have endured at the hands of type 1 diabetes. I felt at ease once I realized that perhaps we can learn really valuable information here. The way I see it, if a hand full of children and adults can benefit from this information and approach, I consider this priceless.

We are so quick and willing to spread myth busting information about diabetes. What about being open to information that might be used to help some people with diabetes? What about those who are in the early stages of developing it? I think that not spreading hopeful information like this to those willing to try it is a shame. This doesn’t mean anyone judges anyone for not being willing to try it or sacrifice certain foods. It’s a personal decision that should be respected. However, having access to information and opportunity is something we all deserve. The chance to decide for ourselves how we go about tackling our diabetes is essential.

To learn more about the information and guidance they offer, please go to their website:

HealtheSolutions.com

Some Things about Me

 

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A fellow girl with type 1 diabetes emailed me saying “You seem like a complex person, would you mind answering some meme questions on your blog just for fun and so we get to know you better?”  These were the questions.  I admit I can seem complicated, even to myself, and I think it’s sweet that someone would want to learn more about me so here goes:

  1. Were you named after anyone?  My dad got the idea for my name from reading about the Austrian empress, Sissy.  Sissy was her nickname, her real name was Maria Elizabeth.  Maria Elizabeth is my mom’s name.  So yeah :)  I believe that’s how the story goes.
  2. When did you last cry?  When I saw Aladdin.  I have this newly discovered problem of crying at every single Disney movie I watch.  So cheesy, I know.
  3. Do you like your handwriting?  You know…I really did until I started typing so much.  Now my handwriting is cramped and lazy like.  Chock it up to a condition of modern times.
  4. What is your favorite lunch meat?  Ham I guess…but it’s so slimy…eww
  5. Kids?  Two gorgeous two and a half year old boy/girl twins that couldn’t be more different.
  6. If you were another person, would you be friends with you?  I hope so!
  7. Do you have a journal?  Yes, have since I was 9.
  8. Do you use sarcasm a lot?  I do.  Sometimes, my humor is so dry people miss my jokes.  Oops.
  9. Would you bungee jump?  I don’t think so…
  10. What is your favorite cereal?  Cap’n Crunch or Honey Grahams or Muesli, but I never eat any.
  11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?  No, that takes too long.  Granted I have to untie my shoes before tying them on next go round.
  12. Do you think you are strong?  Sometimes.  My husband says that his favorite thing about me is my strong character.
  13. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?  I love them all.  Truly.
  14. Shoe size  6.5
  15. What is your least favorite thing about yourself?  How anxious and self conscious I can get around people.
  16. Who do you miss the most?  Kids from high school.  I took them for granted when I knew them.
  17. What color pants and shoes are you wearing?  No pants or shoes here!  Grey robe and grey and white striped knee high socks, I’m freezing!
  18. Last thing you ate?  Sardines with a piece of flat bread and some green beans and broccoli.
  19. Favorite drinks?  I love so many lol.  Water with lemon, tea, diet coke, eggnog, scotch whiskey, tequila, fresh juice, hot chocolate, milkshakes, coffee…I could live off of liquids!
  20. Favorite sport?  Soccer
  21. Eye color?  Dark brown with amber rings.
  22. Hat size?  I don’t know but I have a small head lol
  23. Do you wear contacts?  Yep
  24. Favorite food?  50 different foods tie for this honor and I can’t diminish the others by naming one.
  25. Last movie you watched at home (a VHS or DVD that you own)?  The Wedding Singer lol
  26. Last movie you watched at the theater?  Inception-yeah, it’s been that long!
  27. Summer or Winter?  Summer.
  28. Favorite dessert?  Quesillo.  It’s like flan but richer with more eggs and more burnt sugar caramel.
  29. What did you watch last night on TV?  New Girl, that show cracks me up, that ridiculous Schmidt is a keeper!
  30. Favorite sounds?  music
  31. Rolling Stones or Beatles?  Beatles
  32. Furthest you’ve been from home?  hmm…I suppose when I visited my old home, Venezuela
  33. What’s your special talent?  I have extremely good intuition, if I do say so myself
  34. When and where were you born?  3pm June 1st on the western side of Venezuela.
  35. What is the most romantic thing someone has done for you?  Stayed after I showed all my colors.
  36. What was your proudest childhood moment?  Looking back, something I didn’t think anything of then but am proud of now, is when I was 13, I started a girl seniority group with friends.  I still have the sheet of paper I typed up which stated our mission and purpose.  We called ourselves “The Sisters of Culture” because together we represented different cultures, races, ethnicities, socioeconomic levels, and religions, and yet we were all good friends.  We even met up once a month at someone’s house, ate chocolate cookies that we baked together, and discussed ways that we could spread our message.  It didn’t last long.  Some girls moved away, some no longer stayed friends.  But, I am still proud of us for coming up with that. :)
  37. Stay home or go out?  I used to say stay home but that’s all I’ve done for three years so let’s GO OUT!!!
  38. What type was your first car?
    Hyundai excell
  39. Name four jobs you’ve had in your life?

 

  1. GNC
  2. Chick Fil A (I took orders at the drive through)
  3. Customer service rep Miss Utility call before you dig!
  4. Training Specialist and Culture Specialist for manufacturing plant

40. If you could have any job, what would it be?

I’m doing it!  Oh and being a holistic counselor, which I will start doing really soon!

41. What are you most afraid of?

Something happening to one of my kids.

43. What are the best places you have ever been?
The woods in Damascus Virginia, Aruba beaches, I love Washington D.C, Cancun beaches were very pretty, too…

44. What’s your favorite new food?
goat cheese, avocado, sprouts, wrapped up with lettuce, mmm…

45. What’s your natural hair color?
the color of 60% cacao dark chocolate

46. Favorite CD?
Eric Clapton Unplugged

47. Favorite Restaurant?
This place I ate twice at during my honeymoon in Mexico, the BEST fish and salad ever, aughh!!!

48. Favorite sport to watch?
soccer and baseball

49. What four still-airing TV shows do you love to watch?

  1. Greys Anatomy
  2. Community
  3. Office
  4. Modern Family

50. Favorite TV show of all time?
Omg do you remember the show Ghostwriter??? Omg!  I loved that show so much!

51. How many pets do you have?
none.

52. What is your favorite board game?
I hate board games, but I lose to Alex in scrabble and monopoly all the time.

53. Least favorite color?
burnt orange…and YET the other day I saw an Infiniti something or other and it stopped me dead in my tracks at the super market.  I was stunned by it’s beauty, shape, and color (burnt orange).  I’ve never admired a vehicle in my entire life before this.  Normally, I couldn’t care less about cars and what they look like!  Clearly, having children has wrecked my poor brain.

54. Do you like to drive fast?
Who doesn’t!?  Not that I do it…but if I could get on a race track…oh boy that’d be some fun there

55. Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?
That’s not a half bad description of Alex…come to think of it….(just kidding!)

56. What’s under your bed?
God only knows, that’s where I shove things while “picking up”.

57. If you could meet one person dead or alive who would it be?
Ben Franklin or Albert Einstein or Deepak Chopra.  We would drink scotch, eat hor d’oeuvres and talk philosophy for hours and hours.

58. Storms: cool or scary?

Well they cause destruction sometimes so that is scary and unfortunate but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I have always been in awe of them :)

We’re in Diabetes Forecast Magazine!

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I’m supposed to be all cool and say “hey everyone, why not check us out, we’re in Diabetes Forecast”, but I can’t!

In truth, I’m flipping out because I remember thinking “wow…” to all the inspiring stories I read in each issue as a child with diabetes.  So to be in it…is kind of totally amazing!

We’re in an article talking about teamwork in this December 2011 issue and we’d be so honored if you read it:

Teamwork:  Banding Together to Tackle Diabetes

By the way, thank you for reading.  Without you this blog is an awfully lonely place!

Wednesday Revisit: An interview with my husband

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Wednesday revisit is meant to check the past because things change, we change, and information and opinion always needs reevaluation.  Plus, you may have not read the early posts!

Here I interview my husband after a year of marriage,  The topic is diabetes during the time we dated.  I was curious about his insight and thought I’d post it so that others might relate or get an idea as to what a partner might be thinking about us and our diabetes.

Oh and stay tuned, I’m going to interview him again and this time, tougher questions will be asked!

Originally posted on December 19th 2009,

An Interview with my Husband

Interview with a Type 1 Artist, Haidee Merritt

haideemerritt

 

Haidee Merritt has had type 1 diabetes since age 2 in the early 1970’s.  You might have caught her art on DiabetesMine where she’s made us chuckle, giggle, and cackle every Sunday for the past few months.  She also uses her aesthetic talents as a private gardener where earth worms get tied into cute little bows and pests are hung upside down by their tiny feet.  She can also take your old lamp and breathe gorgeous new life into it.  The multi-talented Haidee has written a book which I imagine being a great conversation piece on a coffee table.  That book got a great review the other day by the one and only Riva Greenberg.  Haidee has quite the sense of humor, so I began by asking her a few questions to kick us off in fun way:

Sysy:  What is the toughest part of diabetes, in your opinion?

Haidee:  The toughest part is financial for me. It doesn’t have to be, I realize, but I’ll be damned if I’ll accept the expense of this disease without making a stink. You know when the worst thing about a chronic illness is money that there’s something seriously wrong.

Sysy:  What is your favorite color?

Haidee:  Favorite color is teal-sky-aquamarine-cyan-pacific blue

Sysy:  Where do you get your sense of humor?

Haidee: I read Mad magazine on long car-trips as a child; when I couldn’t sleep I read Shel Silverstein; I collected Wacky Packs; I’m twisted and bitter and obscene which I think is hilarious – finding humor in yourself is where it all starts.

Sysy:  Where in the world would Carmen Sandiego be if she had type 1 diabetes?

Haidee:  The only answer to that is exactly where she is now. Didn’t you know Carmen Sandiego IS a diabetic?

Shh_Lee_final

Then I had my sister Ana, who is a type 1 at James Madison University studying studio art, to take over the interview:

Ana:  Are you self-employed? I know both diabetes and art can require lots of supplies and constant restocking, how do you handle/balance the material aspects of diabetes and art? Did you ever struggle financially as an artist with Type 1?  Have you ever chosen art supplies or working on a piece over diabetes supplies or taking care of your health?

Haidee:  Yes, constantly. Not only art supplies but shoes and bags and travel. I cannot fathom life without making choices between my wants and my health needs. I also don’t do this decision-making without resistance. I want what every woman wants – maybe not literally – and the constant drain from the needs/demands of diabetes makes me angry (i.e. bitter). I’m as materialistic as the next person, admittedly. I want the sweat and time I put into the labor of making a living to advance my living situation, allow me to visit friends in different places, buy the art supplies I want to help in my self-expression, eat things I crave, give gifts to the people I love, save for a retirement that I hope to have. I don’t quite understand how a diagnosis of a chronic illness suddenly means that I’m financially punished for the rest of my days, I really don’t. I did a cartoon once that says, If I ruled the world Diabetics would get presents everyday.

presents

I can only speak for myself here, but coming from a capitalistic society makes me feel there’s an injustice here, that my work – for myself and others – should somehow give me a sense of security. Plus, I have an (unhealthy?) sense of entitlement. I feel like I deserve these opportunities. And I’m not saying as a gift; it’s just that it’s a challenge to maintain a high level of enthusiasm when you’re only making-do.

Ana:  You describe your humor as “dark humor” and several of your cartoons seem more pessimistic than optimistic, do you find that this kind of perspective helps you deal with diabetes the most effectively (finding humor in the realities of a chronic disease)?

Haidee:  Yes, I think it does. I was a very rebellious and unhappy young diabetic. I went out of my way to cause harm to myself and my body. It was passive suicide for the 20 or 25 years in the middle of my life. There was a very sick and stubborn part of me that wanted a hand in my own future, even if that involvement meant complications or death. I used my anger (?) to exercise what control I had: to me there was more certainty in the damage that I could cause than the hope of coming out clean when rolling the dice. Pretty f**ked up. Anyway, that’s a tiny glimpse into how my attitude started to develop: I was challenging the disease. To say the the complications I’ve had to deal with are the punishment for my earlier actions doesn’t quite describe it accurately. I just tend to embrace the fear and confront the situation now because I’m the one who threw gas on the fire. As I’ve said before, I find it empowering to make fun of the disease and situation. I don’t feel that I’m tempting fate, which I could understand many diabetics might, because I’m pretty much sure I’m f**ked either way.

Ana:  Have you found that the general public reacts well or relates to your depiction of life with diabetes?

Haidee:  You know, I have. And I’m not afraid of some criticism. Jesus, I criticize the book all the time. It is a compilation of images I started during eye surgeries in my early 20s. The simplistic style – and even simplistic thoughts – are elementary when compared with my current work. Anyway, that’s ME criticizing the old stuff. As far as the general public goes, there’s been no throwing of rotten fruit and vegetable or anything like that. Of course it’s entirely possible that there’s an Anti-Haidee Movement somewhere that I just don’t know about. I’m happily ignorant of so many things. The most flattering and uplifting feedback has been from family members and friends of diabetics who have said they had no idea that diabetes was anything more than watching what you ate or taking insulin. They learned from my work. This unexpected purpose has really effected how I’ve grown and shaped myself as an artist, especially a public artist.

Ana:  How do you come up with ideas for your drawings?

Haidee:  Literally, most of my ideas sort of bloom in my head when I’m working on other cartoons. Something about the meditation of drawing releases my mind, allows it to wander away. I have a pad of paper by me in almost every room in the house where I might perch; when thought bubbles surface it’s only a matter of time before they pop and drift away. Some of the ideas are from my past, some my present. Like everyone who creates, I draw on my life experience and emotion, images I see in my mind that I want to capture in pen and ink; I’m a big fan of the Wouldn’t-it-be-funny-if and Worst-case scenarios.

Ana:  Are there any other themes in your work besides diabetes?

Haidee:  Tons. This diabetes thing just insisted it get some attention from me in the last 5 or 6 years. Insects have been a very weighty theme in my work. I like very detailed patterns and hair-thin lines. Believe it or not, I like color. Other than my cartoons and diabetes illustrations my house if full of the craziest mishmash of styles and brightly colored things. I also have that lamp business? I rewire and redesign lamps that I find at thrift stores and landfills. I like to make beautiful things from what others disregard. I like when they want their junk back because now they see it – or they see others seeing it – in a different light (no pun intended).

Ana:  Are you a full-time artist? Do diabetes-related issues ever interfere with your work?

Haidee:  I am a full time artist but that doesn’t mean I’m not also a full-time gardener or full-time diabetic. I have a gardening business for 8 months out of the year here on the Seacoast of New Hampshire. As a private gardener I maintain and prepare annual and perennial gardens. Like the other forms of art in my life I’m most draw to and concerned with the details. In other words, I’m not a landscaper. As far as other issues go, yes. My eye surgeries left me seeing double for the last 15 years and I’m colorblind to a certain degree. I have no depth-perception so I often appear drunk. That’s why my hair has been colored to the ditzy blond color it is now: I don’t do anything halfway. I can’t drive at night. I can’t feel my hands half the time. There’re quite a lot of challenges that I deal with actually; it’s nice to be asked about them in an interview. Like most diabetic issues, things look very normal on the outside. There’s so much energy expended to make myself just look normal, so much going on below the surface, that I’m grateful for an opportunities like this one to let people get to know me a little better.

*****

Thanks so much, Haidee!  We really appreciate your raw honesty and we look forward to following your work for many years to come.  You can check out her website here.

Interview with Healthy and Fabulous Type 1

I think everyone has a particular type of person whose lifestyle and successes really “speaks” to them.  Someone who has truly inspired me since I “met” her on Facebook is Ellen Sherman.  Ellen is a wife, mother of two sons, and a 63 year old woman living with type 1 diabetes.   I’d describe her as very healthy, disciplined, positive, and generous.  I am very grateful for the information she has been sharing with me which I now want to share with you.  So kick back and get some free inspiration today :) 

I will let her do most of the talking as I believe this is more powerful in her own words.

Ellen has had type 1 diabetes for 33 years.  Despite always being interested in learning about nutrition, emotional, and physical well-being, Ellen became and thoroughly enjoyed being a High School teacher.   Although diagnosed with diabetes at age 30, she was familiar with the devastating effects of uncontrolled diabetes from watching her grandmother suffer total blindness and amputation before her early death. 

Her diagnosis was a bit complicated:

“At first, I was improperly diagnosed as a Type 11 even though I had none of the characteristics–I was thin and did not have the blood profile of a Type 11. When I saw a highly recommended Endocrinologist, he did a GAD antibody test and other tests that confirmed that I was Type 1.  In addition, I was being treated with an underactive thyroid which is another autoimmune disease prevalent in Type 1 diabetics. By the time I was properly diagnosed I was terribly underweight and struggling with high glucose numbers.  I started insulin immediately and began researching various dietary recommendations that were available at the time.  After months of testing, I realized that if I kept the diet that the ADA recommended I would be taking more and more insulin, thus increasing my chances for insulin resistance and destroying whatever beta cells I had left.  I was determined to find a different approach that worked for me.  At first it was trial and error, but with time I realized that I had to make considerable lifestyle changes to achieve my goal, to remain complication free and live a long, healthy life.” 

Ellen started testing herself and keeping a journal.  She took up weight training to build muscle mass and made aerobic exercise a part of her daily life.  She tested before a meal and two hours after a meal and came up with her own diet plan.  She read Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetic Solution and incorporated many of his ideas.  She says Dr. Bernstein himself was kind enough to speak with her over the phone to answer any questions she had.  Ellen doesn’t happen to agree with the high fat/low carb diet for herself in particular so she modified her own diet according to her beliefs about the necessity of preventing cardiovascular disease.

What she did instead:

“I ate lean protein like chicken and fish high in omega 3 and low glycemic vegetables and fruit.  For years I was able to maintain an A1C always between 5.5-5.7 with insulin, exercise, and a rigid but delicious diet. Fortunately, I loved vegetables and used my creativity to prepare meals that were low carb, nutritious, and delicious for myself and my family. For many years I followed this plan of action with considerable success–Cholesterol/HDL/LDL and A1C were well above average for someone of my age and being diabetic.  I was monitored carefully by my internist and endocrinologist.  They began asking me questions about how I was able to maintain such a healthy lifestyle which I gladly shared with them.”

I found out that Ellen has done a lot of giving back to the diabetes community.

“Over the years, I have helped others who have dealt with Type 1 and Type 11 diabetes, especially young children and their families.  I am a firm believer in treating the physical, emotional and spiritual well being of an individual to deal with any chronic illness.  Diabetes is very stressful to the individual and their families.  Stress has a devastating effect on one’s physical health, thus it is extremely important that individuals learn techniques to maintain a positive, problem-solving state of mind.  Through meditation, cultivating the sacredness in everyday life, and  developing cognitive behavioral techniques to overcome anxiety, depression, etc. which comes with dealing with a chronic illness.  In addition, I am a firm believer in the transformative power of mindfulness–staying within the moment.  Without these techniques it is very difficult to maintain the highest level of lifestyle to overcome the effects of diabetes on your body and spirit.  People with diabetes are unable to take time off thinking about how to control their highs and lows by testing, taking insulin and counting carbs.  Thus they need tools to enable them to obtain the peace and spiritual enlightenment to not become a “victim of diabetes”.  I believe that by empowering oneself we are able to become warriors with the strength, discipline, and dedication to control the disease, rather than it controlling us.  When I coach people, I do not expect them to follow the lifestyle that I have chosen. However, if I can teach them a few techniques that enable them to get better control.”

While on maternity leave from teaching, she “got a call from the head of  continuing education from the state department by a women who had heard about me through parents of former students and students who were now working.  She asked me if I was interested in developing a program for the state of New York on motivational techniques, time management, organizations skills and problem-solving techniques.  At first, I hesitated but then I realized that I had many techniques that I shared in my classroom that would be applicable to adults working for the state. All my seminars were based on curriculum that I developed and later approved by my administrator in Albany.   It became a very successful program for employees working at the state building, Stony Brook University, and other facilities that were state run.  In time, I found that it was almost becoming more than a full-time job, and I was being asked by private corporations to speak to their employees.  I continued conducting seminars until a few years after my second son was born and then retired.  After, I was heavily involved in volunteer work in my school district  and then I became interested in helping adolescents and young adults dealing with emotional and physical challenges who were referred to me.  Always on a volunteer basis.  Later I became interested in helping others who were dealing with Type 1 or Type 11 diabetes, again on a volunteer basis. I now do it on a limited basis.  At this point in our lives my husband and I are finally getting the chance to spend more time together.”  

Ellen and her husband, Mark

 

Ellen feels very strongly about daily exercise, saying it should become a part of daily life.  She suggests activities such as “walking, running, bike riding, and some weight training to build lean muscle mass contributing to the better utilization of the insulin you take or are making.”

She is a firm believer in her low carb and low glycemic diet where she eliminates anything white like sugar, white bread, potatoes, and white rice.  Ellen suggests trying to eat “vegetables of every color to maintain glucose control and obtain antioxidants to fight free radicals, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.”

I asked her what all makes up her diet:

“Fruits: strawberries, blueberries; apples.Nuts: -walnuts, almonds, peanuts (handful a day). Lean protein–chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, sardines, flounder, snapper.  Herbs: cumin, oregano, thyme, rosemary, tumeric, etc.  Olive Oil for cooking and in salads.  In addition, I love to make sandwiches for lunch or egg whites with spinach with my low carb, high fiber tortilla from La Tortilla factory.  I try to eat a salad with very little olive oil and loads of vinegar which works to keep my glucose stabilized with my dinnertime meal.  During the weekend, I allow myself a little more freedom, by giving myself a shot of novolog if it is a higher carb meal.” 

About her diabetes management and insulin intake:

“Right now I take Levemir and split it–morning dose 5 1/2 and evening dose 5 1/2 to 6 units (always adjusting according to glucose readings and a goal of 100 or less fasting/morning reading and 140 or less two hours after meal).  This seems small but I am only 5 feet and I have a lean, muscular body 102-104 lbs. mostly muscle and very little body fat for a female.  I run three to six miles in the morning after having two cups of coffee with milk no sugar until my glucose is down to 80. For lunch I have a Tortilla with tuna or salmon with humus, and whatever cooked vegetable from last night’s meal is leftover, salad and a piece of low fat cheese.  If I am higher than 140, two hours after lunch I run a mile.  My snack around 4 o’clock is two pieces of dark chocolate wedges from Trader Joes, strawberries and cheese, nuts or a piece of an apple.   For dinner I have chicken, fish, and 3/4 of my plate filled with multicolored vegetables, salad with low fat cheese, berries (balsamic vinegar, little olive oil).  I find eating between 6 to 6:30 pm works for me.  My snack after dinner if low enough –sugar free jello/whip cream or a handful of nuts. Throughout the day I test.  I graze on a few nuts or berries if I am heading below 100 before my lunch or afternoon snack.   I test myself 8-10X a day.  I have eliminated my breakfast just recently, as I have found that since I am getting older I need less food to maintain my lifestyle, energy and physical well being.” 

“Overall, I am in excellent health according to my doctors–no complications.  The last time I got my eyes tested by a retina specialist he was amazed I’ve had diabetes for over thirty years.  He saw no signs of complications.  I do not produce any insulin at this time unfortunately, but I am able to maintain a wonderful positive, happy, productive life.    Most importantly, I have tremendous gratitude and attempt everyday to help others in their struggle to deal with a chronic disease or any emotional or physical illness.”

Ellen and her son, David

 

Ellen said something else that really struck me and gave me more energy to continue my blogging:

“One of the most essential ingredients to living a happy life is giving of our time and sharing our knowledge. Hopefully, through your efforts and others more and more people will become aware that they can live a long, healthy life with a chronic disease. In many ways, the challenges and obstacles that I faced throughout my life have been empowering lessons that have given me the strength and motivation to obtain the happiness and serenity I always knew was possible even in my darkest moments.”

Ellen, you’re a true inspiration to me.  I hope to continue to thrive with my diabetes by taking care of myself to the best of my ability and I hope to do it as elegantly as you have with the same empowered and grateful spirit.  Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. 

Note:  Ellen advocates for everyone finding their own path to wellness according to their own individual circumstances and needs.  She acknowledges the fact that we all have different diabetic “profiles”.  I would have to wholeheartedly agree.

Dating and Diabetes; An interview with my husband

It worked out in the end

It worked out in the end

My husband Alex is going to answer my questions about what it has been like to date and be married to me (a type 1 diabetic for 15 years).

Maybe men dating diabetic women can get a heads up and diabetic women can gain insight into what our non-diabetic partners may be thinking.

So we begin…

S:   Alex, we dated for about 2 years but, have been friends for longer.  While we were friends, what was your impression about  my diabetes?

A:  Well when we were friends I really didn’t know much about your diabetes.  I knew you had it but, didn’t really know what it was about.  I knew you had to check your blood sugar and I knew sometimes you had to get sugar if you were low or give insulin if you were high.

S:  Did it freak you out to see me check my blood sugar or give insulin?

A:  I never remember seeing you check your blood or give insulin in front of me.  I saw you use your insulin pump but, that was it.

S:  That’s right! I never let you see me check my blood sugar.  I did it in the bathroom or in the car before we hung out.

A:  So maybe it is good that guys read this.  I would encourage a guy out there dating a diabetic girl to let her know that you are aware she needs to check her blood sugar and if she needs to do it in front of you then to go right ahead.

S:  Yes!  That would have been so nice to hear back then.  At that time I was scared to let guys see me manage my diabetes.  A little encouragement would have gone a long way and improved my glucose numbers.

Next question.  Once we began dating, was there ever a moment when you realized my diabetes was more serious than you had previously thought?

A:  It wasn’t so much one instance as much as a slow realization.  Every time your blood sugar was low and you didn’t have some sugar with you (although you usually did) we had to stop whatever we were doing and get you some.  If we were going somewhere or at a movie or at a club, we had to quickly deal with it.  It wasn’t so much an issue of should we,  instead we HAD to.  So after a few months dating I began to realize how serious diabetes is.

S:  Did you ever feel I was an inconvenience to you?

A:  No I didn’t.  I guess it helped that we still went out to all kinds of places and did different activities.  I also saw you put a lot of effort into managing your diabetes.  It would have been frustrating to see you not try and then us both have to deal with extra scary situations and maybe not go out much anywhere because you didn’t take care of yourself.   It also helps that I love you.

S:  I love you, too!  Anyway, I didn’t expect your answer.  It’s interesting that something important for you is the fact that I try my best to take care of myself and still get out and do things.  Like when we go hiking, I just take extra sugar and supplies with me.  Same goes for you ya know.  I want you to take care of yourself, too.

A:  Of course there was that one time you woke me up and told me I had to rush you to the ER the time you accidentally overdosed on insulin.  We were there for about 8 hours.  (that complete dramatic story here)

S:  But, wasn’t it nice being the hero?

A:  Sure, but don’t ever let that happen again. (joking)

S:  No problem!  So…on a more serious note, did you ever wish I didn’t have diabetes?

A:  Of course.  You asked me once what I would change about you if I could change one thing and I said I would make you a non-diabetic.  Reason being because I see how much suffering is involved.  I know it would make your life so much easier not to have diabetes.

S:  A lot of emotional turmoil is involved, too…

A:  Yeah, It took years of dating but, eventually you let me see you when you occasionally broke down about it.

S:  It was a relief to finally allow you to help me when those moments happened.  I hid them from you for a while because I was scared you would feel I came with too much baggage.

A:  Have you noticed you breakdown less and less?

S:  Yes, It helps to manage blood sugars and maintain discipline.  Honestly, your support and understanding has helped me get to where I am now.

A:  Glad I could help.

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