Don’t Settle When It Comes to Health

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I know it’s comforting to settle for the current level of health we have, especially when faced with the prospect of making seemingly impossible lifestyle changes.  Yet, I find that at the end of the day, much of our frustrations and grief, directly or indirectly, come from our less than stellar health.

Most days I feel like I can say I’m “pretty healthy”.  There are days though, when I’m more honest with myself, and picky, too.  On these days I realize I have a long way to go to reach the level of health I long for.  When almost everyone we know struggles with some fatigue, extra weight, acne or other skin issues, mental illness, and other nagging health problems, it’s no wonder so many of us tend to feel that it’s just all an unavoidable part of being human.

Many of us have forgotten that it’s possible to feel and look much better than we do.  I used to think that all teenagers got acne.  Then I learned my parents never got acne and their peers rarely did, either.  I didn’t until I was 23 and my horrible diet finally caught up with me.  I used to think that everyone got indigestion after many meals.  Nope.  Some people rarely get indigestion.  Or headaches, stiff joints, mood swings, irritability, hot flashes during menopause.  Some people don’t even have to brush their teeth to avoid cavities, bad breathe, and gum disease.  Can you imagine?  But these select people eat very differently from us.  And in most cases, they do it because they have no other choice.

While these people have to work hard to find and prepare the food they eat, we have to work hard not to eat.  If the only choices we had were vegetables and fish for dinner, we’d just eat it and reap the health benefits.  You and I have a unique situation that is becoming the norm across the globe.  We have thousands of foods and “foods” to select from and then hundreds of dietary theories from which we can subscribe and it’s all very daunting.

Why is there a type 2 diabetes epidemic? I hear a lot of talk that it’s our genes that are somehow making us more and more susceptible coupled with our changing lifestyle habits and environment. And that’s technically true, but do we ever think about what changes our genes in the first place? According to what I’ve learned, a big part of the reason is the food we eat and the food we don’t eat or rather the food our ancestors ate and didn’t eat. With each new generation, eating habits in recent years have included more genetically modified foods and chemicals and when we have children, we aren’t building a person as well as we could because our diet doesn’t provide us the tools with which to properly do this. Teeth aren’t as straight, facial features aren’t as symmetrical, brain cavities aren’t as roomy (affecting hormone production), and so on.  Nutrients are needed to make a human being and bring them healthy into this world. In a nutrient starved world, we’re consistently churning out more and more children who are challenged with early health issues like the predisposition to allergies, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic diseases.

The good news is that even if we suffered the effects of malnourished ancestors, (remember you can be overweight and malnourished) we can still turn things around for future generations. We can change our eating habits and create healthier children, who will in turn be poised to create healthier children themselves.

We can also change our habits and gain from doing so right now.  Genes get activated much like an on/off switch with what we eat and how we live.  If we carry a predisposition to type 2 diabetes, a certain lifestyle has the potential to keep the switch on off and help us avoid developing type 2 diabetes.  This is not an easy task in this modern world of ours but I think it’s empowering to know what’s possible and to strive towards the best outcome for all of us.  I understand we can’t do this overnight.  Personally, I’ve dedicated a lot of time and energy to trying to begin to change my lifestyle habits.  I can attest to the fact that it takes time and a lot of effort.  But, I do think it’s worth it and doable.

Health isn’t just about comfort and looks.  It’s about humanity, economic stability, peace, creativity, and growth in a society.

There is no blame game here.  None of us is perfect.  We are all allowed our weaknesses.  It’s about taking responsibility for our bodies and choosing to pay attention and learn about what to do to stay well and improve health.  Those of us with extra time or ability to do so can advocate for those who can’t get access to healthy foods and information.  Policies from government need to reinforce healthy lifestyle habits because even the most determined and self willed individual is up against huge obstacles when it comes to a healthy diet and lifestyle and where does that leave the rest of us?

I don’t want to settle for so-so health, when I could have awesome health.  I’m worth awesome health.  And definitely, so are you…and your children, and grandchildren, too.

The Hard Truth About Blood Sugar Management

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Blood sugar success belongs to those who are good at managing their blood sugars, not necessarily those who have good intentions about doing so.

Unfortunate, right?  It doesn’t matter how much you want it or how hard you try.  If you try in the wrong way, you’ll never get the results you’re looking for.  It doesn’t matter if you think about it more than someone else or that you need healthy blood sugars more than someone else.  All that matters is that what you do be effective.

So while this is initially harsh, really it’s quite liberating.  I take it this way:  If we emotionally separate from our diabetes management and rely on our logic and reasoning and focus on results, we are much more likely to reach our goals.  Emotions and diabetes…well, as normal as this duo is, it’s not very conducive to healthy blood sugar management.  Unless those emotions are positive.  But, they’re often not and they just get in the way of what we need to do.

It’s like this with everything in life.  The CEO of a successful company doesn’t have to have the best intentions, he or she just has to be effective.  That’s the kind of CEO we need to be to our diabetes.  One that functions logically, calmly, and effectively.

When I thought of my management more along these terms, I began to realize that discipline was dutiful and that my emotions needed to take a back seat to logic.  Funny thing happened though, my blood sugars behaved much better and that in turn uplifted my mood and provided me more positive emotions.  It was and still is a win-win.

You’re the fabulous ruler of your body and your diabetes.  Don’t you forget it.

DSMA February, Depression in the Winter

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DSMA asked us last month (I know, I’m late!): 

What can we do to help stop depression from hitting our community during the winter months?

Well, this is a good question indeed.

I think first we need to make sure we are getting sufficient Vitamin D.  Next time you get blood work done, have your doctor test your levels.  If they are not in optimum range, get a supplement (or sunlight if that’s possible where you live).  Do not take Vitamin D2.  Take Vitamin D3.  This is really important.  Don’t count on the Vitamin D in your soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk-it’s all D2 and this form does not raise your levels.  So be sure to get D3.  Have your levels checked again in a few months to make sure you’re not under or over supplementing.

Secondly, I find that if I am dealing with a little depression before or during the Holidays, by the time January rolls around, I kind of fall apart.  So I think being proactive is important.  Getting Vitamin D levels at optimal levels by September, exercising a little each day or at least each week through the Holiday season, and making plenty of time to slow down and rest.

For people with diabetes, we tend to go, go, go during December and eat the goodies we want, resulting in higher blood sugars.  Higher blood sugars for a few weeks predisposes us to depression because it really alters our moods.  If you feel sick for a few weeks, it’s naturally going to take a toll and this isn’t limited to your body as your mind also gets affected.  So I think that trying to sustain blood sugar management during this time of year is crucial.

By January, I am tired of working out when it’s cold and then I run into problems with my blood sugars.  I think that finding creative ways to work out indoors is also important because the reality is that I’m not the only one who doesn’t make it out due to the weather.

Being focused on gratitude and possibilities is helpful, too.  Keeping perspective.

Lastly, putting off feelings of depression often makes them worse.  Get help.  See a therapist or counselor, tackle the issues mostly fueling depression, and if needed take something to help you get out of the cycle of lowly feelings.

I’ve struggled with depression in the Winter since I can remember.  This year is the first year I’ve taken Vitamin D year round and I feel much better.  I’m also taking something for anxiety and depression and that has helped immensely as well.  If you’re struggling, tackle the problem and work on healthy lifestyle habits.  You can feel better.

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To read other entries, click here!

Free eBook! How to Start Your Own Diabetes Blog

I wrote this for those of you who want to blog about your diabetes but need a little jumpstart.

Inside I cover these topics:

  • Why Start a Diabetes Blog?
  • What Kind of Blog do you Want?
  • What to Name Your Blog
  • Deciding Whether or Not to Self Host
  • Your Web Hosting Provider
  • Theme Selection
  • Web Analytics
  • How to Hire Help
  • Your First Blog Post and Content
  • Growing Your Blog
  • Beginner SEO Tips
  • and more!

To download this free eBook just click here:

How to Start Your Own Diabetes Blog

10 Things I’m Doing this Winter to Avoid Diabetes Burnout

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This applies to this Winter 2011-2012 because last year, boy did I have burnout.  I just wanted to clarify that.  Also, I have had days where I deal with burnout.  However, these don’t melt into weeks and really affect my blood sugars too much.  I always have higher blood sugars in the Winter because of how I despise cold weather and the way it dries me out.  Somehow that really impacts my mood.  Being outside with fresh air and Vitamin D from the sun are all so important to me.  I also don’t stay as active since I am so paralyzed from the cold.  I’m not sure when I’ll get over that…

Anyway, here are 10 Things I’m Doing this Winter to Avoid Diabetes Burnout:

10.  Look ahead into the future.

I’ve tried to focus on enjoying the present but also spent plenty of time day dreaming about what is to come and then taking steps to prepare for those things.  Getting one step closer to the things I’m excited about gives me energy and hope.

9.  Exfoliate.

Two to three times a week, I take olive oil and sugar and a little lemon juice and make a quick sugar scrub.  I use it all over in the shower including my face and lips (be gentle there) and it really helped me avoid the eczema patches that I tend to get each Winter.  Skin also feels silky smooth afterwards and it gives me a refreshing sense of wellness.

8.  Cuddle up in bed and read something inspiring.

It’s ideal that when it’s cold and dark, we slow down a little, eat warm foods, and recharge after the crazy holidays.  I also find that too much social media can sometimes overwhelm us a bit and disconnecting from all the stimulation can do some good.  So lose yourself in a book, make yourself some tea, put on warm socks, and repeat as necessary.

7.  Spring cleaning a little early.

We all get a sense of elation newness when Spring arrives and we clean our entire home.  But this year I did it right before Spring.  It gave me an indoor project, which is where I want to be when it’s cold, and I look forward to welcoming Spring with a clean house.  So that’s what I’ve been working on lately.  Getting old stuff thrown out, going through clothes and getting rid of what I don’t really use.  You get my drift.  The great part is that when it’s nice out, I am all done with my indoor projects.  All I have left is my kitchen pantry.  Need to stop putting it off…

6.  Seek help.

This means many different things to different people.  For me, it meant to get help with my anxiety and even depression issues that started creeping late last year.  I feel and function much better now and am reminded how important it is to deal with issues like these head on.  Ignoring stuff like this only fuels diabetes burnout.

5.  Update your look.

Women often cut and color their hair a lot because it gives us a feeling of fresh and new and exciting.  I hate to admit it but it’s true.  I got a few new additions to my wardrobe via Ebay and then got some lip stain and Elnet Hairspray and frankly, I feel better.  Don’t judge.  (By the way, Elnet is magic.)

4.  I worked a little on the outside, now let’s nourish the inside.

I have been meditating for the past few months.  I do a 5 minute meditation several times a day (so easy).  And I do an hour meditation a few times a week.  It’s amazing.  I can’t say I’ve reached “enlightenment” but I have gained an awareness and focus for my goals this year that I had no idea was possible.  I really recommend spending some quiet alone time to just experience nothingness.  It’s so much more than nothing.  hehe.

3.  See people more.

I’ve written about how I’ve been pretty much isolated the past 3 years since getting pregnant with my twins.  As a result, I got lonely and anxious about spending time with others.  So I’ve been making an effort to see more people, invite them over, and so on.  It’s been so helpful.  So much joy comes into one’s life this way.

2.  Lower carbs.

I’ve been heading in this direction for so many years.  Only now do I accept for myself that because I have type 1 diabetes and cannot metabolize carbs, limiting them is what I must do to avoid wild blood sugar swings.  I know that “I can eat that” and grains are a part of a “balanced diet” but I no longer believe any of this for myself.  I don’t want to wait on a piece of technology to come along before I get near normal blood sugars.  I want to strive for those blood sugars now.  I know that just 10 years with type 1 can cause some pretty mean complications and I plan on living many decades with it and in good health.  So from now on I am a low carb advocate when it comes to treating diabetes.  However, that doesn’t mean I think any less of anyone else’s diet.  You do what works for you and I’ll do what works for me. But if what you’re doing doesn’t work…

1.  Remember you’re one of billions.

You know how when you were growing up you would complain about the food on your plate and your mom would say something like, “You should be grateful, there are starving children out there!”  Well, it doesn’t help children much…but I think it helps adults to think that way.  Yes, our pain and suffering matters just as much as someone else’s and yes, it is very real.  However, I noticed that thinking often about those who don’t have enough food, water, clothes, medicine, love, respect, etc. really made me appreciate what I have.  And when talking about diabetes, I am a type 1 diabetic who has always had all the supplies necessary to manage my condition.  I’ve always had family and friends who cared and treated me well.  I’ve never gone hungry or thirsty or without clothing or shelter.  And billions of people (that’s a lot!) do not have what I have.  Or what you have.  And that’s something for us to think about when we are in need of comfort.

As always thanks for reading!

Take care of yourselves!

How do you avoid or manage your diabetes burnout? Share!

We Need Your Help

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There is a wonderful blog written by a mother of 3 children with type 1 diabetes.  Her name is Meri.  She writes at Our Diabetic Life.  Meri is a beautiful writer.  She Is also a deep and caring human being who constantly stirs our diabetes community with profound and meaningful observations and reflections.   Meri is one of the most wise and graceful diabetes advocates I’ve encountered and I love her sense of humor.

When I first learned about her family and how they have 4 boys (4 boys!) and how three of them have type 1 diabetes, I was blown away.  I knew what it was like to grow up in a household being the oldest of 5 kids, two of which having type 1 diabetes and I couldn’t imagine there being another with type 1.  Three just seems so overwhelming for one family.

Then yesterday I read through my usual diabetes blogs and found out that Meri’s husband, Ryan, has just been diagnosed with having 6 brain tumors and several in the lungs and abdomen.  I felt like I was reading a story and not a real person’s post.  Because it just can’t be.  The world works in mysterious ways though and Meri and her family have firmly decided to go ahead with aggressive treatment and to ask everyone who’s ears this news touches to please pray hard.  They are in need of a miracle.

You don’t have to be religious. If you’re not, it’s a matter of believing that the most unlikely thing could happen without a reasonable explanation.  What if we expected it?  I don’t know.  I just know that our community always supports every member in need and right now, the primary need for this family is that we be positively, without a doubt, sure that Ryan Schuhmacher is going to be ok.

Please visit the Schuhmacher Family Miracle page on Facebook and “like” it.

On Sunday the 4th of March, the family is taking the day to pray and fast. They are asking for strong prayers that day if you want to join them.

Believe you and I can help with thoughts and prayers.  I do.

XOXO

The Sushi Pushers

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My husband gets sushi at the same place every time.  The guys at the sushi bar know him and enjoy chatting in their native language with my husband each time he stops by.  Sometimes we stop by together and they always wonder why I don’t get sushi, too.  I have always brushed it off saying I just don’t want any when the truth is that I love sushi, but I avoid rice because it makes blood sugar management a little too complicated for me.

The other day I went to this place alone and was thinking of getting my husband some sushi.  I got him the usual when I got asked the usual question in Spanish, “Why aren’t you getting any for yourself?”  I said, “No, I just don’t want any, thanks…” Then they offered me a free sample to eat on the spot from a little bowl.  For something like this I’d typically give insulin and wait a few minutes before eating.  So I didn’t take the sample.  They asked again, “Really!  Try it!  It’s got shrimp and avocado and onions!”  I have witnessed them doing this to all the customers that stopped by and rarely did anyone refuse a sample.  That all sounded delicious to me but those little sushi rolls still had rice so finally, thinking about how I’m supposed to be a diabetes advocate, I explained to the guys the real reason.  “I have type 1 diabetes and must give insulin before eating anything and I don’t want to do that right now.”

Silence.

“But you’re young and you look healthy.”  “Well, I am young and healthy.”  Then I explained what type 1 diabetes was and they asked me about how I give insulin.  I explained that I give insulin shots as needed to bring down my sugar and to cover the carbs in any food I eat.  One guy said, “I didn’t know healthy people could get diabetes…”, shaking his head slowly.  Another nodded enthusiastically and said, “Good for you, you seem very happy for a person with something so serious.”

I thanked them for listening, they assured me they would no longer push me to sample sushi, and we said “adios”.

There really are countless opportunities to advocate for our condition.  We should take these opportunities, even if someone has been rude, because if not us, then who?

Glucose Quick Sticks Review

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By now you all may be inclined to think that “Sysy doesn’t do negative product reviews”.  But sadly, here’s one for ya.

I got some On the Go Glucose Quick Sticks recently which I tested out the other morning for a low I experienced.  This product boasts a 100% daily serving of Vitamin C and an “on the go” delivery method that needs no water.  There are 10 grams of glucose per serving (meaning you’d probably more than one to treat a low).  It comes in flavors such as watermelon and sour apple.

So the other day, I confirmed my low blood sugar and tore one of the sour apple sticks open.  They just so happen to resemble jumbo pixie sticks with a powdery fine filling.  I poured half of a stick in my mouth and gagged.  Something out there actually tastes  worse than glucose tablets.  Then, because I was low and shaky and my tongue was numb, I started to choke on the powdery glucose.  You sort of chuck it from the packet down your throat and it’s all too easy to choke on, in my opinion.  Maybe not the best for young children.  Or maybe just me.

The fun didn’t stop there.  Since I was shaky and flustered, I fumbled the darn thing (which is as light as a feather) and dropped it.  Powder filled the air and settled all over my desk, keyboard, and carpet.  The only thing it did right, once I opened a second packet and downed it, was get my sugar up quickly.  But the main ingredient is glucose and that’s it’s only job.

I feel like a glucose delivery product should taste decent and function well in a diabetic’s sweaty, trembling hands-because that’s our reality.

So if you see this at the store next to your glucose tablets, look away and grab your bottle of tabs.  Better yet, I recommend Glucolift glucose tablets.  Now there’s a well thought out product for a diabetic.

Sugar Bag Review and Giveaway!

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Carolyn Jager has type 1 diabetes since childhood and was diagnosed just after her younger sister was also diagnosed.  (That story sounds familiar, doesn’t it Ana?)  Carolyn’s mother made her and her sister homemade cases that were fashionable and much less serious than what was available at the time and eventually, Carolyn decided all people with diabetes should have an option for a much more stylish and fun diabetes bag.  Luckily for us Sugar Medical Supply was born.  Ana and I received complementary diabetes cases (which do not dictate or sway the contents of these reviews).

These bags offer different fashionable designs, an easy to wipe interior and exterior, and fits the overwhelming majority of meters out there.  They have all the necessary compartments inside the case, but also an external pocket where you could put your cell or a cold pack or glucose tablets.

You can view all the designs and products here.

Ana’s Review:

After seeing the products that Sugar Medical Supply offers on their website, I was so excited to receive my very own “sugar bag” :]. First of all, the pattern is very cute and I love the colors. The size is convenient as well, not too small, not too large–I knew it would fit all of my supplies perfectly.

I have the tiny one touch meter, so I was worried that the featured universal strap wouldn’t be small enough to fit my meter, but it is! You just have to mess around with it for a bit. As you can see in the photos, I also fit my two insulin pens, a bottle of strips, a lancet, a spare battery, lancet and pen needles, and a small notepad.

I love it! I definitely recommend investing in a sugar bag. It has to be cute with that name!

 

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Sysy’s Review:

The Sugar Bag reminds me of those really cute and colorful make up bags, only on the inside there are places for all your diabetes supplies. I appreciate the size of these bags-not too big nor small. (Funny, Ana and I agree on that and we wrote this separately without talking to each other about it.)

For women who want a discrete and non medical looking diabetes case that is also affordable, these would be a great purchase.  These bags make a really cool gift idea for anyone with diabetes.

Of all the bags I’ve been sent, these are probably the most practical ones.  The quality of the zippers and compartments are great and the patent pending, see through, stretch-to-fit-any-meter band is genius.  I can see myself using this bag anytime I go somewhere with my kids (which is a lot of places) because it’s tough, cute, casual, and holds everything.  These are not your typical boring case and are a great fit for everyday use.

And now for the giveaway!  If you’re interested in having one of these, please state in the comments that you want to be entered in the drawing, which will close in one week from today.

When you win, you can choose from this design:

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or this one:

 

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It’s your call :)

Good luck!

Natural Supplement for Nerve Pain Relief

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I was sent a free sample of Neuropasil, Nerve Pain Formula recently.  It was developed by a renowned podiatrist who specializes in Medicine and Surgery of the foot and ankle, Dr. Enrico.  I’m all for natural products so I was eager to see what was in this formulation.

You take one tablet twice a day and get a cocktail of vitamins and minerals, including alpha lipoic acid and inositol.  These ingredients all promote optimal nerve health and supposedly you start to experience results in 2 weeks with maximum relief in 4-6 weeks.  I’m not sure I have enough nerve pain in order to experience “relief” since all I ever get once in a while (if I wear high heels) is a twinge of nerve pain under my right toe.  But I can say that after 3 weeks of taking this I haven’t felt any twinges of pain.  So that’s cool :)

I asked Dr. Enrico a few questions about this product:

Who is Neuropasil for?

Neuropasil is a nutritional supplement that people can use to manage nerve pain and support nerve health. Anyone who suffers from nerve pain, or neuropathy, may benefit from this supplement, including people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia, chronic neck and back pain, neuropathy associated with chemotherapy, among others.

Can people get the ingredients for Neuropasil in their diet?

Theoretically yes, but realistically no.  Neuropasil contains a proprietary blend of B vitamins, minerals like Alpha Lipoic Acid and supplements. While these ingredients are naturally occurring in certain green vegetables, in order benefit from these you would have to consume a very large amount of these foods. Its best to incorporate a nutritional supplement with these ingredients into your daily diet to get the nutrients that you need.

Aside from taking this supplement, what else can people with nerve pain do to help their symptoms?

In relation to diabetic neuropathy, the best thing to do is keep your blood sugar under control and to exercise, which keeps you healthy and releases endorphins which can help ease pain.

Thanks, Doc, for answering those questions.

Here is more info:

Website: http://drenriconutritionals.com/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/NeuropasilDr-Enricos-Nutritionals/220351811345879

Have any of you tried this product?  What did you think?  I know our feet are really important to us :)

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