Category Archives: For type 2 diabetics

National Diabetes Awareness Month 2012

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It’s National Diabetes Awareness Month.  And what are we going to do about it?  There are so many ways to pitch in and I’ll be trying to pass the word as I hear about it.  But first, I want to appeal to those out there possibly asking themselves the question, “What’s the use?”

First off, I understand.  I mean, as a society we’re also trying to cure a bunch of other devastating diseases so sometimes it feels overwhelming trying to fight for one’s own plight.  Even though I’m doing ok with my diabetes as of 11am this morning (it’s always subject to change, I’m aware of that), others have had loved ones die, depression, financial difficulties and other huge challenges to handle alongside their diabetes.  So I want to advocate not just for myself as a person with diabetes, but for all those who are struggling immensely and paying high interests for it.  Not to mention all their loved ones.

Secondly, diabetes researchers have given us very compelling statements about how close to a cure we are.  They say the main factor between us and our cure is in our wallets.  Now if you’re like me, your wallet is more decorative these days than anything else but just knowing that possibility is a strong push for me to think “Ok, how can I advocate for diabetes and get more money to the researchers?”

The clock is ticking for all of us and will soon be ticking for many more who will be diagnosed this month.

So again, It’s National Diabetes Awareness Month and what are we going to do about it?  Just pick one way in which you personally can help.  No matter how small, your help is a big deal.

In fact, start by doing the Big Blue Test.  And stay tuned for more info.

XOXO

Sysy

Health Based, Not Weight Based

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I’ve been learning more about obesity and how it appears to increase the risk for disease.  Key word there is “appears”.  But before I get into that, I think we’d all agree that it’s just obvious that obesity negatively affects health in some ways.  Some obese people can go decades with excellent blood panels and be otherwise healthy, but the extra weight can lead to obstructive sleep apnea and osteoarthritis.

In my nutrition studies I heard a lecture by Dr. Barry Sears where he underlined that obesity and disease are correlational and not necessarily causational.  In other words, obesity is present in a large number of those with disease but we can’t prove if it’s the obesity causing the disease or if the two just happen at the same time.

Studies in the near future should really make this area more clear to us.

In the meantime, this information, coupled with this country’s weight obsession and the fact that people assume a person is healthy simply by looking at their weight, should really change the way we approach health.

I wrote recently about the law of attraction.  When we as a society focus on fixing obesity, you know what we are collectively doing?  We are focusing on obesity.  Instead of focusing on health.  Some would argue that a focus on reducing obesity is a focus on health.  But essentially it’s not because as humans, we look for the quickest solution to our problems and a focus on obesity means we focus on things like a reduction in calories, low fat, low sugar, foods that promise to reduce weight, products that promise to help us reduce the pounds, etc.  Food marketers are pretty smart and have zeroed in on our thoughts and have created a billion products just for us.  And the majority of these products are full of the very substances that caused us our problems in the first place.

What if we focused on a health based approach?  Instead of screening people on their BMI, what if we took their blood pressure and conducted blood tests for their hormones, blood sugar, lipids, and white blood cell count?  Not only would this help many thin people suffering from fatty liver disease and high cholesterol and early stages of cancer, but it would send our society the message that just because you’re thin doesn’t mean you’re healthy and just because you’re fat, it doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy.

Obesity can’t be too comfortable.  Physically, it feels nice to have a weight that doesn’t make it difficult to breathe or move.  But, I fear it’s extremely uncomfortable because of society’s view of obesity.  We’re so advanced right?  And yet, future generations are going to shake their heads in pitiful disbelief when they read about how we treated fat people.  Not to mention how we were willing to assume and judge before truly understanding.

I was generally pleased that Michelle Obama has been highlighting childhood obesity and yet I’ve always felt like the mark was missed.  Now I know how I feel about the initiative.  Hearts are in the right place but the approach is based on weight when it should be based on health and society’s access to the basic components of health.  Right now, more than ever, we need to teach our children about real foods and healthy habits without calling them fat (honestly, if I was a large kid, that would depress me).  We don’t need them to get on some chemical laden “nutritional” diet drink.  We need to work to provide all areas in our country with fresh, affordable food, proper nutritional information, and perhaps teach the basics of food and cooking in schools, rather than teach people how less calories equals less weight gain.  Who in their right mind is going to say, “Yes, I feel empowered now that I know I just need to eat less and move more.”  Obese people have fat cells that work differently than other people’s.  Their cells literally make them feel hungry, very often.  And as I’ve said before and will say again, who will endure hunger indefinitely when they don’t have to?  Who other than someone with an illness, such as an anorexic?

With all this focus on the extra weight issue, we’re avoiding making the message really straightforward and we’re avoiding doing the right things to increase our nation’s health.  We don’t want our congressmen, those who can change crucial laws, to think, “Ok, so we’re trying to get the obese people to adopt a healthy lifestyle…check.”  No, we need them to see the true challenges that many thin and not so thin people have when it comes to eating healthy.  How about subsidizing fruits and vegetables for starters, eh?  Maybe then people’s cells could get the nutrients they need and would stop asking for so much food?

Obesity and it’s links to type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, fatty liver disease, etc, are very complex.  Let’s respect that fact so that we can respect those who are being stigmatized-the very thing we all hate to happen to us.  And let’s focus on the actions that will actually help us.  Checking out our insides instead of our outsides only and helping people make better lifestyle choices because they want to be healthy, not because they want to be thin.   I don’t think it will happen with our overemphasis on “you’re too big”.

I didn’t lose weight by thinking I was too big and needed to drop weight, by the way.  I did that for years and only got bigger.  I lost weight by getting into the habit of thinking, “I’m beautiful, I matter, and I want to learn how to take care of myself”.

It’s time for our country to adopt a health based approach.  One where self love isn’t a joke or an ego driven ideal but a standard for treatment starting with oneself and extending to all others.

Do Something You’re Afraid Of

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It’s Fabulous Friday where we celebrate ourselves or at least remember to.

When we’re afraid of doing something because of the possibility of failure, we don’t honor the incredible people that we are-capable of just about anything.

So today, I ask you to consider doing something you’re afraid of.  And diabetes will seem a little easier.  At least that’s what I have experienced this summer.

You know that movie with Jim Carrey where he says “yes” to everything and it changes his life?  Well, I kind of did that this summer.  I responded affirmative to everything that came up.  Did I overschedule myself a few times?  Yeah.  Did I freak out over some of what I was attempting?  Oh yeah.

But, it was so worth it.

Of course, I don’t mean trying something dangerous.  For me, it meant public speaking, doing more health coaching, participating in as many diabetes related projects as were offered to me even if they made me uncomfortable or seemed difficult.

Part of my fear was not having much downtime and having to multi-task.  But I learned I could mentally get myself to accomplish routines that would have killed my non-housewifey self a year ago.  I did treat myself to ice cream during times of panic, I’ll admit.  I did watch all 11 seasons of Frasier on Netflix (this was therapy because the incessant laughter the show gave me relaxed me and kept me sane-I swear!)  Yet, I realized by working almost every hour of every day that I had only been afraid of a little discomfort and no more.

Something I’ve also been doing that I’ve been afraid of is getting rid of a lot of my possessions.  The funny thing about that is the thought of doing it is what hurts.  Actually doing it feels totally liberating!

For the first time since I can remember, I’m looking forward to Fall and Winter.  This is a big deal for me because I struggle with cold weather and the emotional and traditional Holidays.  But, now I’m all sunshiny about it and I don’t recognize myself.

Doing something we’re afraid of sparks something really great in our minds.  It gives us a feeling of immense relief, “Oh, it wasn’t that bad!” and a major sense of accomplishment “OMG I did it!” and my favorite part, it gives us a feeling of wanting to push further and raise our personal bars to a new level.  Essentially, doing things that scare us help us dream big.  And if dreaming big turns into actionable steps…well, monumental joys await.

So I encourage you all to try something you’re afraid of.  Even if it seems insignificant.  If you’re afraid of it, it matters.  Try it.  It eases anxiety and paranoia that we people with diabetes tend to have extra amounts of.  And the confidence boost and feeling that anything is possible will lift your spirits.  And maybe you’ll get a renewed strength and motivation about your diabetes management.  I know I did.

What have you done lately that you’re afraid of?  Share in comments!

Thoughts on Diabetes Guilt

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I answered a few questions for a video project recently and wanted to get my thoughts out in written format.

The first question was if I had ever felt guilty about having diabetes.  Personally, I have never felt guilty about having diabetes but I have felt guilty about other things such as not eating right, not checking my blood sugars often enough, or skipping exercise.

The way I’ve dealt with this is to first recognize that I’m not perfect and second of all be brutally honest with myself about my efforts.  For me, guilt comes from not doing what I know I’m capable of.  So since I don’t make insulin, I don’t feel guilty about having diabetes, but I certainly try to be aware of what I’m doing in order to get what I want such as good health or great blood sugars.  If I feel guilty about how I’m eating, it’s usually because I know I could be doing better.  I view guilt as a sign that helps point me in the right direction.  And since I’m not a fan of guilt, I use it as a pointer and then banish it for productivity and dignity purposes.

I find that making a plan of action and setting goals is a really great way of diminishing guilt.  Once we are on a path towards our goals, we feel empowered and we know we’re working hard and then there is no room or place for guilt.

I have been treated differently in the past for having diabetes.  It’s understandable because of how most people have a certain level of ignorance about diabetes.  So I find education is key.  And when it’s not appropriate to lecture or teach someone about diabetes, I just smile and feel confident knowing that most people don’t mean to offend and those who do aren’t worth my time.  Walking around angry about the public’s ignorance about diabetes is immature.  I mean, are we saying everyone needs to know the ins and outs of our condition when we don’t know the ins and outs of hundreds of other conditions?  Yikes.

For those who don’t have diabetes, I do have a suggestion.  I’d suggest that they simply not assume when it comes to anything about anyone else and be open to learning, instead.  The great thing about this is it should work on just about anything!

The best tool I’ve found for handling misconceptions out there about diabetes is to put all my energy and focus on living my best life because I’ve found that when I do that, I look and feel better and that speaks volumes to people and sets them straight often before I open my mouth to correct them.

Many people feel that type 1 diabetes is easy and all about just taking insulin.  It’s been very empowering for me to write a blog that family and friends read because it’s allowed them to learn more about what diabetes is really like to live with, without being lectured.

So all in all I’d say that leading and teaching others by example and focusing on ourselves is a great way to fight stereotypes and misconceptions out there.  Placing much of our energy outside of ourselves is a bit of a waste, in my opinion.  And very importantly, I’d say that it’s important to decide that no one is going to make you feel bad about having diabetes.  If they get to you it may be that you have some feelings of your own to work through and if that’s the case, work through them.  My philosophy is to take responsibility for our own feelings and actions.

I like being in a place where guilt doesn’t weigh me down and other people have little power over me.  I think we all deserve that.

How I Just Be Happy and Manage My Diabetes

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The secret to happiness.  I’ve heard wise people say that we don’t find happiness, rather we simply be happy.  And I always scoffed at that because I thought, “um…easy for you to say, you don’t have diabetes or this or that or blah blah blah…”

And recently, despite being really short on finances, despite having type 1 diabetes, despite living in a world that feels more scary every day, I’ve been really happy.

And I suddenly understood that thing about just being happy.  How many of us think that once we change jobs we’ll be happy?  Or once we lose weight we’ll be happy?  Or once we find the one, we’ll be happy.  I did all three of those at one point in life and was hit over the head with the realization that life felt the same because I was looking at it through the same gray tinted lens.  I went back to thinking I’d be happy if I had this or that and so the search for happiness just went on and on.

I also used to think I’d be happy if I could have well managed diabetes.  Just now, I sat looking at my kids happily squealing over a praying mantis (and petting it no less), and thought, why do I manage my diabetes well now and didn’t back then?  It’s not that I work harder than I used to.

You see, instead of trying to find happiness lately, I just be happy.  And it works.  And while I used to try to manage my blood sugars, I now just manage them.  Just like I am happy no matter what happens.  I manage my blood sugar no matter what it takes.  Being happy means making the choice to be happy, even under difficult circumstances (which are bound to be present).

Well, managing blood sugars, for me at least, means choosing to manage my blood sugars.  Managing my blood sugars even if I don’t want to eat right, even if I don’t want to give a shot, or check my blood sugar.  Even if I don’t want to make any of the sacrifices that non-diabetics don’t have to make.

Some say they don’t want to work that hard, give up that much, or strain to be happy while feeling hurt or anger or pain.  But what I figured out was that hurt, anger, pain, and hard work are inevitable and a part of life.  Those who try to escape these feelings are simply relocating them, losing control over their lives, and not even reaping the benefits.

So try choosing to be happy.  And choose to manage your blood sugars.  You know what to do.  You know what it takes.  You’re worth it.  And it’s not nearly as hard as dealing with the consequences of not doing it.  Ironic, but true.  And am I always happy and always managing my diabetes well?  Nah.  That would be non-human of me.

Now I know this was a big simple post and general and all that.  I’ll get in deeper soon, I promise.

Caring About Health is Patriotic

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“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

~Aristotle

This isn’t a political post.  It’s a post directed at you and me, the individual, who makes up our place and culture.  We have a lot of power in our hands and we should use it.

It’s always been clear to me that a holistic approach to all things in life is a good idea.  After all, holistic simply refers to an emphasis on the whole and the interconnectedness of all the parts.  It has nothing to do with shunning modern medicine or being a vegan.

When it comes to health, holistic just means that there should be an awareness on the whole.  So in the case of a person in terms of being a patient, it means that their emotional and mental state matters as much as their physical state.  It’s all connected and everything has the potential to affect everything else in the body, mind, and spirit.

Is a cheap and effective treatment somehow less than an expensive and equally effective treatment?

Our modern healthcare system seems to think so.  There are hundreds of equally effective, safe, inexpensive treatments for ailments out there but our system almost always defaults on the high tech, risky, and extremely expensive ones instead.  In the end, we’re bankrupt and unable to sustain any health.

So I think now, more than ever, do we need to recognize that grandma new a few things about preventative health and natural remedies and combine that knowledge with the fantastic information we have today.  It’s about integrating allopathic and alternative medicine for the best possible outcome for the patient.  It’s Integrative Medicine and we should have never been so cocky as to rely only on expensive drugs while forgetting all the simple tools for prevention.

I know it’s hard to learn about something that isn’t interesting.  I’m lucky in a sense because I love reading about this stuff but I know it’s not that way for everyone and I respect that.  But, I would say that it’s imperative that we all not only research on the presidential candidates as part of our good citizen job requirements but that we also learn more about health and wellness.

I don’t mean anything fancy or intricate, I mean, watch a few documentaries, learn about our food and health system.  The first step to better health is an increased awareness about how we live.  And think of how important good health is for a country.  Part of our duty as citizens is to do what each of us can to ensure good health for ourselves and our children.

This is all important to you because if you don’t feel well, good luck on reaching your hopes and dreams.  Feeling less than great or feeling ill really puts a damper on one’s plans.  And since life is generally challenging enough, we don’t need to add health-related obstacles into the mix.

I think much of our problems in this area stem from our culture and the way we tend to follow what is mainstream, feel a bit nervous about straying from the norm, and fail to question authority and common knowledge.  Common knowledge isn’t necessarily accurate knowledge.  And questioning isn’t harmful, it’s just investigating, double checking, being sure that something is the right way to go.

So I guess what I’m saying here is that I hope our state of affairs will inspire us all to take some time to educate ourselves about how people have stayed healthy over the years.  How did people manage before modern medicine?  Why do some cultures have much better health than ours?  What can we adjust in order to save ourselves and our kids?  Health-wise, our ship is sinking.  But rather than despair, we just need to be the spirited, proactive people we are, before it’s too late.

I grew up wanting to be a doctor, totally impressed by what they do.  I didn’t know how much power I had as one simple person. Once I educated myself a little and safely adjusted my lifestyle, I was blown away by how cheaply and simply I could heal my body and stay healthy.  If most of us could manage something like this, we’d all have a lot more health, happiness, and money in our pockets and then a lot more resources and attention to give those with more serious health issues.

And isn’t that what we all want?

September/October Resolutions 2012

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“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” 
~Albert Einstein

My goal for the past two months was to focus on finishing my nutrition school studies (check!) and get through A1c Champions training (check! check!).

I’m excited to move onto the next two months with more time on my hands.

Ana’s goal for these next two months is to get informed on the presidential candidates and vote.  I think this is the first time Ana will be old enough to vote (right?) so yayy Ana!

My goal for these next two months is to focus on diabetes advocacy.

I plan on giving a lecture about diabetes somewhere in town.  I plan on blogging often again.  And I hope to support all those great initiatives out there in the world of diabetes advocacy leading up to diabetes awareness month.  I’ll let you know what those are so you can help, too!

Remember, if not us, then who?

Gummy Owls for Weight Loss

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I was sent some Gummy Owls to review.  I was really skeptical because they are for weight loss and I try to focus on avoiding weight loss supplements.  However, I would never judge a product without investigating it so I decided to learn about these Gummy Owls and try them out.

What they are is a natural aid for weight loss made out of yam fiber.  Essentially they make you feel full, naturally, so you don’t overeat at meals.  I appreciated that they don’t taste horrible, but they don’t taste like candy either (that would be a problem for some).

Basically, I would just take 3, 30 minutes before a meal with a tall glass of water.  They made me feel so full I could only eat half of my meal.  For those who need to lose a lot of weight, I can see how this may help that happen.  Unless someone doesn’t mind eating while feeling miserably full, that is.

I have been wanting to lose weight recently because a two month stint with birth control pills helped me use 50% more insulin than I’m used to and so I gained weight.  I tried these for a few weeks and lost several pounds, despite exercising less than I’m used to.

A word of caution with these.  You will want to follow the directions and take one at a time at first because you’ll want your body to adjust to small amount of sugar alcohols in the gummies.  Taking a handful right off the bat may cause you intestinal distress.  Nothing deadly, but you won’t appreciate the symptoms.

If your overeating is not caused by anxiety and you want to lose weight, this is a pretty helpful product that will certainly make it hard for you to eat more than a small, appropriate amount of food at each meal.  With that said, I’d recommend this for meals you’re eating that don’t include the healthiest of foods.

No stimulants, gluten, or scary chemicals.  Not bad at all.

Go here to order or learn more :)

Spending on our Diabetes Supplies

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Here’s my story-I used to get very caught up with how I was going to afford my diabetes medications and supplies.  I would make a yearly budget list of things I wanted to spend money on and I would include all my diabetes stuff on that list.  Then throughout the year I’d make choices from that list as money came in.  I ended up putting off my diabetes related purchases until the last moment or until I was broke and had to ask my parents for a loan.

This was no dignified way to live.  I felt upset every time I did spend money on my diabetes thinking, “This is so unfair, with what I spend on my diabetes, I could have gone to Europe for a month by now!”  And perhaps that’s the truth.  BUT…didn’t I have a high value placed on my health?  Didn’t I realize diabetes wasn’t going to go away and that if I was healthy, I was able to do more things?

I began realizing that my diabetes related purchases needed to be on a list of things that I must spend money on.  And in fact, those purchases needed to be at the top of the list because health really should be my priority.

I was bitter for years because I was giving up small vacations, clothes, cds, and other things I wanted to buy because that extra money was going to my diabetes.  I didn’t like feeling this way so I started working on changing the way I thought.

I realized I was choosing to be miserable, yet healthy when I could choose to be content and healthy.  So I decided to continue prioritizing my diabetes but I also began working towards a goal of getting a new job and making more money.  In the meantime, I’d try to take pleasure in the simple things like friends and family and focus on what I DID have.

Eventually I got to where I’m at now.  Paying for my insulin and strips is just like paying the monthly rent.  I don’t even think about it.  I need it.  I’m grateful to be able to pay for it.  And instead of being upset about it, I’m spending that energy on much better things.

In the end, it’s all worked out better than I ever dreamed.  Some people cannot afford their diabetes supplies.  Some don’t have the choice.  For those of us who do, let’s make it in favor of our health and the rest will fall into place.

Travelling with Diabetes

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I’ve been travelling more than I’m used to lately and suddenly I’m really interested in what items to pack for my diabetes.  On a plane the other day I suddenly had the thought, “What if I use up all my sugar for lows and need more?”  Now typically on a large plane, there are sodas and juice but on the plane to my hometown there is no such thing because it’s a small bumpy ride home.

So…I want to ask those of you who have diabetes and travel from time to time or frequently, what do you pack in your carry on?  Do you travel with glucagon?  Do you bring tons of back up glucose tabs?  What do you do with your back up or extra insulin that you bring if there is no fridge in the hotel room?  Does that affect it’s function later?  Do you eat differently when you are travelling?

So many questions!

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