Diabetes Analogies

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A few months ago I read a post by a medical student who experimented with pretending to have type 1 diabetes for a week in order to gain a bit of insight into our world.  She hopes to serve patients better with her newfound perspective.  I was impressed that she even thought to do this and left a long comment adding some things I hope she and other medical students/doctors take away.

Part of my response was this:

“I hope many medical students/doctors read this and take with them your message and this one:

Anyone can do anything difficult for a certain period of time but after a while, a toll does come down on the person.  Can you imagine being in medical school your entire life?  Do you think you might eventually crack under that kind of intense schedule and pressure? That’s kind of what type 1 diabetes is like.  It never ends and there is never a break.  I think if doctors understand this and are sympathetic to this, they can really connect with patients and provide them the compassionate ear they often need before being able to really soak in any medical advice.  It’s a win, win.”

I thought I might use this example of medical school with doctors from now on because I think it’s an analogy they can relate to and make them really stop and think about how exhausting diabetes is.  We’ve got to find clever ways to communicate with them right?

Any other analogies you know of?  Remember George’s?  It’s an excellent one:

“Imagine having to pump your own heart because it didn’t do it by itself. And when you want to sleep you have to pump it slower. For exercise you would have to speed it up. You would have to know the rate of pumping for every activity. Do you think you could do it? Do you think that would be easy?”

What are some others?  Do share.

These analogies are clever diabetes advocacy tools and armor.  And they keep me entertained :)

Logging for Your Life with Diabetes

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If you’re most people, logging is not fun.  It’s annoying in much the same way brushing teeth is annoying for young children.  Neither takes tons of time and they are both very helpful but “I just don’t wanna!”

Adults brush their teeth without fail because they fully understand all the benefits of doing so.  Same with logging.  If you really see the benefit in doing it and it becomes a lifestyle habit, you will be much more interested in following through.

Logging Blood Sugars

The easiest way to log blood sugars is to use a meter that hooks up to your computer and downloads the info which can then be printed out.

If you log manually, here are a few tips to getting in the habit of logging those nagging, yet important readings:

Try to get a small notepad that fits in your meter case along with a small pen.  This way, each time you test you’ll see the pad and pen and be reminded to log your blood sugar and the time.  Use the time displayed on your meter to avoid looking around for a clock.

If you have a hard time logging, do so in spurts.  Log when your blood sugars are acting up for just a week or two.

Logging Insulin

First thing I will say to do is to log basal insulin and tweak it until you get it right.  This is extremely crucial for getting your bolus insulin levels right.  Ginger Vieira’s book is the best source I’ve found on how to get insulin doses right, you can find out about it here.

If you have a pump, find out if there is a way to get your insulin delivery on your computer for printout.  If not, what I recommend is to log insulin right along with blood sugars in a notepad.  It helps if they go together.  Some people go all out and note where they inject or where their pump site is connected at the time of giving insulin, but that’s mostly if you want to experiment with different sites to learn about your personal absorption in different areas of the body.

Logging moods and symptoms

You know, this one isn’t often done.  It’s not an obvious choice or a popular one, but it should be.  It’s a plain fact that stress, feelings, pain, anxiety, and infections all mess with our blood sugars.  So logging moods and symptoms is a really valuable tool to figuring out what changes need to be made.  You may need to tweak your life.  Maybe you need to learn stress management or see a counselor about a nagging emotional issue that’s taking a toll on you.  Perhaps you need to see a specialist about an ongoing infection.  Or it could be that you have depression or anxiety that is truly affecting how you live and act-which affects blood sugars.

The key is to get at the root cause of your blood sugars.  This log is something I really, really, really recommend.  I do it for one week out of every month, alternating the weeks (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th week).  I alternate weeks because of what I can learn by doing so.  For example, I’ve learned that I feel completely different during the week before my period and that is something I’m soon to discuss with my doctor because of the extreme nature of the change.

Logging food intake (food diary)

A food diary can be really helpful because it’s enlightening to know exactly how much we are eating and also, how often.  Many years ago when I first tried to log my eating for dieting purposes I was shocked to find out how much I was snacking in between meals.  Shocked I tell you.  It also helps to log your food intake in order to pinpoint which foods or meals are making you feel well rather than not.  Thanks to my food diary, I’ve tracked the possibility of a gluten sensitivity and am very thankful for that key piece of information and it’s effects on my blood sugar management.

I think the best way to log for your diabetes is to do it intermittingly.  Unless you love logging all this information all of the time, of course.  If your blood sugars need tweaking, log your sugars and insulin for a week or two.  If you need to lose weight or deal with some food issues, write a food diary for a week or two.  If your blood sugars are decent and you eat well but feel ill or strange in some way, log blood sugars, insulin, food, and your moods and symptoms.  Try to get to the bottom of what is making you feel less than great.  Be a diabetic Sherlock Holmes.

If you hate logging, you’re not alone.  I absolutely hate it with all my heart and soul (ok, a tad dramatic) and many others struggle with keeping it up, as well.  Scott Johnson wrote a great post here about how he is fighting with his logbook.  Read it and know you’re definitely not a bad diabetic or bad person just because you don’t log.  Be creative and find a way that works for you and keep in mind why you’re logging numbers and data-you want to be well and knowledge is power that’s always on your side.

Do you have any suggestions/comments?

Self Esteem Tips

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It’s “Fabulous Friday” again and I’m working hard to focus these days on self love and respect.  Cheesy?  Maybe…but it’s an effective way to get a grip on the emotional problems we have.  And since those of us with health issues like diabetes have plenty of emotional stressors to deal with, working towards self love is very worthwhile.

A crucial element of self love is a strong self esteem.  None of us love ourselves all of the time but some of us rarely love ourselves.  Either way most of us could use some reminders on how to strengthen our self esteem:

- Live with integrity

Work towards being honest, just, respectful, understanding, patient, and compassionate.

-Don’t be a pushover

Always stand up for yourself when you need to.  You are not below anyone and your needs are important.

-Try to think positive more than negative

This will become more of a habit with time and practice and will greatly support your mental and emotional health.

-Set your bar high

Don’t expect too little from yourself, you are fantastic and capable and amazing!

-Be responsible for your thoughts, feelings, and actions

By owning what comes out of you, you will become empowered with awareness and this will help you live a life within your standards and values.

-Build your life around your personal values

Try to work where you feel you’re not compromising your values.  Be in relationships that don’t pressure you to compromise your values.

-Belong to a community that is supportive of your goals for yourself

Like the DOC!

-Keep in touch with what you need and try to get it

Do you need to lose weight?  Start with a plan and steps you will take to get there and take it slow.  Do you need more emotional support from your spouse?  Sit down with them and calmly explain what you would like from them.  Do you feel like your diabetes is out of control?  Ask for help.  It’s ok to feel this way only you don’t want to feel this way for very long.  Fight to get what you deserve, like good health.

-Surround yourself with family that supports you whether they are blood related or not

Let’s face it, sometimes the family we were born into is not the family that we would have chosen.  While it’s important to give of yourself and help others, it’s also important to spend time with people with whom you feel safe and accepted.

-Lastly, forgive yourself.

You are human and will make many, many mistakes before your time on earth has ended.  When you forgive yourself you’re not letting yourself off the hook, you’re just acknowledging that you are worthy of love and compassion.  When we forgive ourselves we find it much easier to start the next day with a clean slate.

 

XOXO

Have a great weekend!

Paula Deen and Her Type 2 Diabetes

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Those are some white teeth ya’ll…:)

I do see how some of her comments don’t help us diabetic people out.  She just said that diabetes is “not a life sentence”.  This doesn’t bother me much because I take it into context and I know she is talking about her type 2 diabetes.  However, I do understand that the majority of the world out there doesn’t know that type 1 and 2 are different diseases (though we haven’t actually figured those details out for 100% certain, yet).  Anyway, the point is that I completely understand the frustration to those with diabetes who say, “Wait just one minute!  Diabetes IS life threatening for me and can definitely be for other people with diabetes!”  I get it.  I don’t however, want to punch the lady in the face for not being specific enough when I know she was just trying to spread a little hope to others.  Even if that hope came across a bit rehearsed.  After all, she can most likely pay for any operation she ever needs of pocket and the rest of us, cannot.

I see the backlash on Paula Deen as a way of our collective society screaming out  and saying “I don’t eat enough healthy food and exercise enough and as a result I am not as healthy as I could be and this affects everything in my life”.  We’re speaking through Paula in light of her type 2 diabetes.  I honestly believe that.  We relate to her.  We enjoyed our processed food and then realized the hard way that those delicious foods are hurting us more than they are pleasing us.  Maybe some of us have gained a lot of weight, maybe some developed a thyroid problem, while others might have developed type 2 diabetes thanks to the last kicker of their predisposed genes.  But all of us who have ate a more or less standard American diet HAVE felt the negative consequences of it in some way, shape, or form.  Whether we know it or not.  You see, that food isn’t meant to be abused and since we’re human, and since that food is cheap and convenient and addicting, the easiest thing in the world is to abuse it.  Paula Deen is just one of us.

Those of us who can afford to buy healthy whole foods vote every time we shop.  If we buy cookies and chips every time we go to the store then we have to know that we are part of the ongoing business for these companies who don’t make healthy food.  We help keep them alive.  Does that mean we should be judged for wanting some treats throughout the week?  As a whole I tend to think we have as much power as someone as famous as Paula Deen.  It’s way more complicated than that though isn’t it?  And I assume it’s more complicated for her than we realize, too.

I’ve heard a few people say that they don’t care what Paula does or doesn’t do because it’s none of our business  I believe people’s actions does affect us all.  So I absolutely do care if you are drinking and then driving.  I care if you are making babies over and over again and dropping them all off at an orphanage.  I care if you are dealing with type 2 diabetes.  I care that you have depression.  It affects you if I have type 1 diabetes and if I use up all my FMLA at work and if I smoke and if I neglect my kids and if I find a cure for diabetes (Ah, we’d all like that one wouldn’t we!).  But it’s not a “just don’t hurt me or mine” kind of caring.  It’s a caring that wants good for all.  I don’t want you to drink and drive because you might hurt someone I love or you might hurt some other innocent soul or…you might hurt yourself.  It all matters.

I believe in something between judging and “live and let live” and it’s caring.

That’s how I feel about Paula Deen.  I respect that she has fans and that those fans cook what she teaches them to cook.  I respect that they look up to her as a jolly country hostess who hugs her southern roots, butter, flour, sugar, and sparkling white teeth and blue eyes, and runs with them all the way to the bank.  But, I also know that if she has type 2 diabetes, she suffers and so do her family and friends.  She is a famous type 2 diabetic that others are going to look to as an example.  It’s possible that her diet contributed very much to her diagnosis.  Let’s not pretend that isn’t possible.  Genes aren’t entirely responsible for type 2 diabetes since in most cases obesity is a factor (another issue we shouldn’t judge, by the way).  That doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve compassion and that doesn’t mean we let her completely off the hook.  But while her diagnosis is her business, her having diabetes is…in an indirect way, our business.  When our society suffers a lot of health problems, we all suffer.  The solution isn’t pointing fingers though, it’s just caring.  After all, the most charming and successful kind of family I’ve ever known is the non-judging, forgiving, communicative, confronting, nosy one.  If we act that way more often as a people, as a society, wonderful changes will come our way.

I think we can say that we want her to be straightforward and sincere and responsible with her position as a famous person with type 2 diabetes and the implications of that.  I think most people rise up to the occasion when we kindly demand that.  Especially if we expect them to with open arms.

As a fellow southern gal, I have a feeling Paula Deen will help us out if we expect her to.  Call me naïve.  The ongoing insults will only make her hide in a closet.  A closet that’s probably as big as a mansion, but still.  We can call her out but do so respectfully. We can ask her questions and persist to get them answered.  If I were her and I read all what is being said online, I’d stick my head in an apple pie for all eternity.  We don’t want that.  We want her on our side.  We gotta stick together, folks.  Diabetes or no diabetes, we’re all in this together.

2012 New Year’s Resolutions

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I once wrote a short fiction story for school where we lived in a super modern society, drove cars through the air like the Jetsons, and travelled to outer space with the same casual ease with which we now travel to a nearby city.  I wrote that this all took place in the year 2012.  We didn’t exactly meet my childhood expectations for the future but that doesn’t mean we can’t set out to meet our own expectations for the future.

I know New Year’s Resolutions get a bad rap.  It’s because people write a list of things they want for the year with no plan or serious steps involved in getting those things.  For the past two years I’ve followed Leo Babauta’s (of the immensely successful Zen Habits) 6 Changes Method.  It’s simple really, you just spend two consecutive months focusing on one habit you want to make, one change you want to implement, and by the end of the year you’ve made your way through 6 changes.

Ana is going to do this with me this year.  Here are our goals:

Ana’s New Year’s Resolutions

January/February Stretch everyday

I used to be on a dance team up until my junior year of high school. It wasn’t until about a year after that I realized how much of an impact regular stretching had on the way I felt everyday. I definitely took my flexibility for granted and now I have to start nearly from scratch to get back to where I used to be. My goal is to reach that point again and then to exceed it. To do this, I’m going to start stretching everyday, just a little at a time because my muscles are so tight right now that it hurts!

March/April Check glucose levels more often

My blood sugar levels have been all over the place for a while now, so one thing I’m determined to do is start checking more often so I’m not in the dark and caught off guard as much. I often get caught in the bad habit of being lazy about checking and assuming I know roughly what my blood sugar level is, so my goal is to resist the urge to do that. I might have to start off using alarms…

May/June Eat less processed food

One of my biggest struggles while I’m away at school is eating well. I’ve mentioned before that it’s difficult to keep fresh food fresh in my dorm and it’s also hard to maintain a regular meal schedule where I can eat real food and not just snacks from vending machines. I’m going to start by not keeping a bunch of processed food in my room where I’ll be easily tempted (aside from a few emergency snacks for lows). I’ll buy more raw fruits and vegetables (in the smallest amounts possible so they don’t go bad before I can finish them) and I’ll do some research on other healthy snacks and meals that I can find within campus dining.

July/August Research graduate schools/programs

I’m planning on going to graduate school to get my masters degree in fine arts, and application deadlines will loom over me in less than a year. As much as the thought of graduate school freaks me out, I have to admit I’m also very excited about it. Two years to focus just on my artwork surrounded by other talented artists? Yes, please. Anyway, I have to start seriously researching different programs and gathering all necessary materials to start applying! I’m going to make sure to set aside a few hours a week to do this.

September/October Educate myself on presidential candidates and vote!

I have to say that politics have hardly ever interested me. I usually start zoning out when people talk about it and because of that, I don’t know much on the subject. With the next presidential election coming up, my goal is to learn about the candidates so I can make an educated vote as opposed to a blind vote or no vote at all.

November/December Post on my art website regularly

I’ve been struggling to maintain my art website since I started it, so my goal for the last two months of 2012 is to regularly update it with photos of my work and posts about things I’ve learned, what I’m doing, my plans, etc. I have lots of things to post, it’s just the discipline to set aside time for it that I lack. Hopefully, the consistent new content will help attract more viewers and make it easier for me to keep posting regularly.

Sysy’s New Year’s Resolutions

January/February  Finish Diabetes Blog Series

Exactly a year ago I unveiled an idea I had to write up a general guide about how to start one’s own diabetes blog.  Then I panicked and didn’t do it.  I started up again the other day and realized that even though I’m not an expert, I can at least share the little I know in hopes that someone out there who is itching to start their own diabetes blog will feel comfortable enough to go ahead and do it.  I wouldn’t mind if you remind me I’m supposed to do this.

March/April  Focus on healthy eating habits

I may have to do this every year but it’s because eating is a complicated issue for me (you can probably relate) and I find that I have to always put a lot of effort into sticking with my goals of healthy eating.  Sometimes it’s difficult because there isn’t a lot of money for healthy food and sometimes anxiety/depression is rearing it’s ugly head.  Either way, it pays for me to spend some time every year focusing on what I really want to eat.  Plus, it’s a good time to learn new recipes!

May/June  Focus on health coaching business

I can technically start seeing clients at the very end of this month but the other day while talking with my health coach, I realized all the different tasks I’ve been up to lately.  And I realized that if I’m not careful I will end up sorely neglecting the things most important to me like my health, my kids, and my husband.  So, I am going to take it slow and focus on balance.  I feel my best during late Spring and Summer months so that is when I’ll tackle this with more energy.

July/August  Write up and send book proposals.

Ok, I’ve put this off long enough.  I was reminded of this quote the other day:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?”

~Marianne Williamson

And it struck me…that this is our deepest fear.  I’m literally more afraid of writing a blog post that people enjoy more than I’m afraid of writing a blog post that no one reads.  And I do ask myself, “Who am I to write a book?”  It’s time to meet that fear head on.

September/October  Focus on diabetes advocacy

This is so near and dear to me and I’d like to put some extra focus on it.  I know it seems I already eat, breathe, and live diabetes because of this blog but, due to the nature of diabetes, don’t we all?  I think it will be fun and meaningful to dig deeper into diabetes advocacy issues.

November/December  ?

I don’t know, yet.  I guess I can’t see that far ahead this time.  I’m sure something will pop up and need my attention by then :)

Wish us luck!  We wish you luck with yours.

Type 1 University Offering Free Classes this January!

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It’s Fabulous Friday where we focus on self respect and self love.  Two things today:

I am letting you all know too late!  But late is better than never.  I just found out that Type 1 University is offering live classes for free this month.  They are a great value and I would suggest treating yourself to one really soon!

Here’s my post about my experience with a type 1 university class.

And here is the website where you can check it out and take advantage of this generous opportunity.

And a question to ponder today:

Do you truly dislike your job or is something deeper bothering you?

Often times we say we hate our jobs when really, we are unhappy with something about ourselves or our lives outside of work.  Make sure you work towards the root issues because if not, you’ll always hate your job, no matter where you work or what you do.

Have a great weekend!

XOXO

Interview with Husband about Marriage and Diabetes Part 2

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You can laugh at the picture.  We’re goofy like that.

Here I interview my husband, Alex for the second time since this interview.  Last time we had just been married a year and this time, since more time has passed, I ask harder questions.  Alex is kind of like one of my heroes- Honest Abe Lincoln and so he answered truthfully here.  And I have to be honest and say it stung a little.  Luckily, love and friendship soothes this kind of pain as well as the knowledge that knowing, at least for me, is always more empowering than not knowing.  My interjecting comments are italicized.

Interview with husband about marriage and diabetes:

If you describe me to someone, do you mention my diabetes?  Does it come up?

I say that you are beautiful and smart. That you are a great wife, mom and daughter. That you work from home writing for a health site. I also always mention your blog and yes, diabetes always comes up.  Diabetes is a big part of what makes you, you. Therefore, I cannot omit that from your description.

Aw shucks…:)

What’s the hardest thing about marriage?

Communication.

What’s the hardest thing about being married to me?

Communication.  A lot of times we’re not on the same page.

(Oh honey, tell me about it)

What’s the hardest thing about being married to a type 1 diabetic?

The worry.  The worry about seizures at night, low blood sugar when you’re with the kids, the future and the potential damage diabetes might cause you.  I have cousins, an uncle, a great aunt, a great grandfather who all died from type 1 or type 2 diabetes complications.

So you’ve seen what you hope is not in my future…

Yeah

Does intimacy get complicated by my diabetes?

Yes it does.  (Said much like a general confidently says “affirmative”) It increases your stress level, makes you more likely to be depressed and anxious, all of which affects your hormones.  Diabetes can help lead to secondary issues like your PCOS which causes you a lot of pain.  High blood sugars really affect you physically, too  Diabetes does a lot to this area.

Since we’re being honest…when I’m really happy with you I do make more effort to manage my blood sugars more.  Hint, hint.

What about my diabetes management could I change to make our marriage better?

You have a killer sweet tooth and it seems like your anxiety makes you dig into anything sweet that you buy sometimes and overdo it.  Then you don’t feel well, are mad at yourself for splurging, and then your mood is changed for the rest of the day.  You’re much happier when you don’t overdo sweets because your blood sugars are better but mostly because you are happy with yourself.

So true…so true…

What about my diabetes management would I have to change to make our marriage much more challenged?

Eat unhealthy and not exercise.  Your blood sugars do so well when you eat well and exercise.  And your self-esteem is great.

Do you think me having diabetes makes me somewhat less of a mother or wife?

NO. (said in an “are you crazy” kind of tone)

Does me having diabetes make it more difficult for you to communicate to me brutally honest things?

No, I just have that problem in general.

lol…yes amor, I know…

Do you ever pity me?

No, not pity, I feel compassion.  I wish you didn’t have this disease or that you had a chance to get rid of it.

Does me having type 1 diabetes somehow make our marriage better in any way?

It makes me more appreciative of good health and of life and it makes me a kinder person.  And I can see that you having type 1 will help our children be more compassionate about others who are different or who have any kind of challenge or something.

Do you take care of yourself more than you otherwise would if I didn’t have diabetes?  Why?

Good question…I think I eat healthier now but I’ve always wanted to take care of myself.  My reason for never drinking much soda wasn’t because I thought it was unhealthy, I never drank much because I didn’t like how it made me feel.  And I don’t like to think about it… but I also take care of myself more now because I feel like I should in case something happens to you later in life.

But I’m happy to do it.

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To Share or Not to Share the A1c

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This post is largely a reply to an interesting post by Moira McCarthy who has a daughter with type 1 and blogs at Despite Diabetes.  She makes great points about the Diabetes Online Community being more careful with the way they share A1c results.  I agree with that but I feel strongly on the subject of feeling shame.  I used to feel a lot of pain, shame, and jealousy but no longer since changing my way of thinking in the last few years.  It’s a much happier way and this is what I’ve learned:

First of all, I can’t help but ask…

Should we not share news of a pregnancy because it may bring shame to someone who can’t get pregnant?

Should those who get job promotions not share their happy news so as not to shame the unemployed?

Do we not buy a nice car because those unable to afford it might be ashamed?

Should I not mention my weight because someone heavier could be ashamed?

I couldn’t afford a Christmas tree last year, does that mean no one should have put one up so as not to make me feel ashamed?

Should we all take off our jewelry and wear frumpy clothes as we walk past the homeless?

Does it hurt you to know that someone else has “more” than you?  Looks “better” than you?  If so, the problem is not them, it’s deep within you, or us, rather.  If that sounds harsh, don’t worry, this happens to every one of us at some point or other.  We’re all in the same boat, trying to do our best with what we have or don’t have.

I appreciate people sharing their A1c’s because it’s information and some of us really like information.  For those who don’t, don’t pay any mind.  And certainly don’t let that make you feel bad.  I’m sure you have plenty of qualities I wish I had.

When we feel shame, the root issue has less to do with other people and more to do with our self esteem and to think the answer is other people’s actions makes us victims of ourselves.  To feel shame means to lack confidence or to feel guilty or fearful or unsure of one’s actions.  I’ve felt enough shame during my most difficult years with diabetes to know that when I feel it, I feel guilty that I haven’t been doing what I would like to be doing.  This causes me to reflect and know that I have issues to tend to or feelings to release and acknowledge.  Nowadays, instead of feel shame, I try hard to just be open to the truth.  What do I need to change or do differently?  I try to focus on doing my best and when I fail I feel a lot better than I used to because I have an inner confidence that no one can take away from me.  I don’t do this 100% of the time but with practice and mindfulness it does get easier.

One of the best things children can be taught is to be responsible for their own feelings and thoughts and actions.  You allow yourself to feel blame, shame, and guilt.  To point to others for doing this to you is to remove responsibility from yourself and to lose your power and potential.

It’s true that many people and situations out there can illicit painful, shameful feelings in us.  This is because we’re human.  But, we need to spread the message that also, because we’re human, we have this amazing ability to learn how to accept ourselves the way we are, be completely conscious of our own potential, and be aware of how to respect others.

Maybe we shouldn’t share our A1c’s without all the honesty we can attach to it.  I have learned not to just fling out my A1c and say all is well.  I have a non diabetics A1c but I make it a point to tell people that I am aware of how that A1c is still very different from a non diabetics.  A low A1c doesn’t make me feel certain that no harm will come my way.  It’s as important to me as my blood pressure and lipid profile because it’s all valuable information.  When I share my A1c  I try to explain what I sacrifice and what I do in order to get there.  I’ve mentioned that being at home all day makes things easier and others don’t have that advantage.  Recently I mentioned that due to low hematocrit levels my A1c is possibly reflecting a lower number than it really is.  I also explain that years ago when I had low A1c’s they were a mix of many highs and lows and it was not at all ideal or healthy.  And I have talked about my high A1c’s and why I think they happened and how my experience with them has been.  When others do the same I feel like I learn more and gain insight.  I do however, appreciate when others share the broader story to go along with that number and that’s what I try to do, too.

I totally agree that no one should be using an A1c in a bragging manner or as a way to feel more credibility or to try and bully someone else.  But rudeness come in all forms, every day, and we have to be strong and confident in the face of it.  Especially since we’ve all done a rude thing before and can understand how easy it is to make that mistake.  Not to mention, sometimes all it takes to be rude is to be happy for yourself and someone feel unhappy about themselves.

All in all I hope that next time you see an A1c that bothers you, ask yourself why that is.  Then follow your own path to feeling better.  The first step is to take responsibility for your own feelings.  All you need to feel better and do better is within you.  No one deserves to feel badly about themselves when they have diabetes.  This disease works against our self esteem every single day.  I think we can learn to have more days where we are confident and self assured.  I know I have more of those days than I used to and it’s worth it.

There is no room for guilt, or shame, or blame, just respect, love, and understanding.

Thank you, Moira, for gracefully shedding light on this issue.  I write this post because of my own experience with shame and my opinion about how we should strive to completely own our feelings.  However, I do agree that if each person sharing an A1c (or any great info for that matter) thinks of those who aren’t in the same place, a kinder way of sharing will emerge.

In my opinion, if you have a great A1c or blood pressure or toddlers that talk (mine don’t), or a full bank account (mine isn’t) then share away.  I’m happy for you.

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.

Blue-Philo

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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)

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