Travel and Diabetes Ramblings with a Stranger

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One of my favorite places in the world is the airport.  I knew early on the significance of such a place having moved from another continent to this one as a young child.  The airport is like a revolving door of possibilities and opportunities literally flying in and out all day in the most organized fashion we can manage.  Each trip to and from an airport includes new sights and faces.  Each trip holds a little mystery and anticipation.  In an airport we’re forced to be patient.  We’re forced to have faith in others, namely the pilot of the plane.  We’re forced to sit still and be one with our thoughts and observations.

It’s so healthy.

It’s true that frequent travelers tend to dash about, mindlessly hooked to their device of choice, but I think even they must feel much of the same.

The other day as I checked my blood sugar on the plane I noticed how uncomfortable it made the older man next to me.  So I started talking.  I explained what I was doing and why.  I shared the results, “141, I’ll take it!”  The man looked out the window and let out a deep breathe.  He said, “So many people have diabetes.  It’s going to ruin our country.”

“If we let it”, I said.

“Well, I’m glad you seem to be taking care of yourself but what about everyone else?  Why can’t people just eat better and exercise?”

I went into clarifying some myths and misconceptions about diabetes while the man listened intently.  Then I said, “I wish we could bring everyone out on a trip somewhere and educate them all about diabetes and health here in the airport.”

The man laughed out loud and furrowed his brow at me.  “Oh?  Why at an airport?”

“I don’t know, just seems like a good place for all sorts of educational metaphors to really click.”

“Oh? Tell me more.” he said.

“Ok…well, just as with travelling, living life with diabetes is full of possibilities and opportunities.  In fact, every morning we get to face a new day with blood sugars that haven’t happened yet and strive to make the best of them.  Each day we have the power to choose what we are going to do with our health, you know, what we’ll eat, whether we’ll exercise or not, and how we’ll approach challenges.  We can get organized with our lifestyle habits and diabetes management routine for better, more consistent results.  We can choose to take inspiration and support from everything around us, from the people we encounter to the day’s weather.  We can learn to accept the risks of living with diabetes and not let them slow us down just as we choose to get on a plane so we can go somewhere even if we’re scared to do so.  We can learn to handle anticipation so we can move past unsightly blood sugar results.  We can learn how being patient doesn’t mean we have to wait forever and that eventually, we’ll get where we’re going.  We can learn how to trust others and ourselves to do the best we all can.  I just feel like the airport is a peaceful and safe place for learning, I don’t know.”

The man stared blankly at me for a moment and then scratched his head.  Then he laughed again and said, “And on the plane, we go over how to bring up diabetes with strangers by testing blood sugar in front of them.  Then they can ask questions, be educated, and hopefully feel compassion and understanding and spread that around.”

“See?  It would totally work!”

In between chuckles the man said, “It did, today.”

Denial

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We’re so good at it.  All of us.  Or most of us, anyway.

I just read an article in Oprah’s magazine about a woman who has worked as a teacher and a life coach.  She mentioned that she witnessed art students being instructed to draw straight lines and circles for the longest time.  And even though they felt frustrated about such a beginner task, she noticed they rarely saw the imperfection of their circles and straight lines.

Now that she works as a life coach, she helps clients accept the flaws in their life.

I was reminded how denial is our way of procrastinating on the fear and discomfort and shame we feel when we confront the truth about ourselves and our situations in life.

The thing is, those unpleasant feelings dissipate really quickly once we see truth, accept it, and act on it.

The most healing thing I’ve ever experienced is acting on the truth.  Only, the first thing to do before acting on truth is realizing it and accepting it.  Doing that made the right actions possible in the first place.

And the right actions bring the right results.

I have always noticed how people will genuinely believe in a false truth and will act on that and then wonder why they aren’t getting the results or outcome they want.  And the trust is we can put 110% of effort into the wrong actions and get nowhere.  This feels unfair but it’s just the way the world works.

It’s absolutely crucial to be brutally honest with ourselves about why we’ve gained weight, about why we’re lonely, about why we are financially tight, and about why our blood sugars aren’t where we want them.

Only then can we take the correct steps towards improving our situation.  And only then do we experienced the sense of peace that brings a full acceptance of our reality.  Our reality really isn’t that bad when we look at it.  It’s more the thought of it that’s scary.

Look at an area of your life you want to improve and sit by yourself for a few minutes.  Be really honest with yourself about why things are the way they are.  Cry, scream, let out your feelings.  And then meet them with a plan that’s full of clarity and hope.  Be really specific about your plan and layout steps for the next month, week, and day.  You’ll feel better when you’ve done this, I promise.

This is something I help clients with in my health coaching.  Because sometimes we just need some support.  Nothing wrong with that.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Housework

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I buy a quart of juice each week and the kids get a few drops of it in their cup of water so that it’s flavored.  We went to a local university to enjoy the nice fall weather recently and when I realized that I forgot to buy glucose tablets, I just packed that unopened quart of juice in the car for any emergencies.

Earlier that same day, my parents let me know they were stopping by.  I took a look around me and knew  I’d have to speed clean in order to make the house presentable.  So I whipped the kitchen, living room, and guest bathroom into shape in 30 minutes.  This is something that would have normally taken me 2 hours.

I was sweating after it all and almost out of breathe (not sure what that says about me).

And a little after that is when we went out to walk.  And that’s when I was thankful for that entire quart of juice I packed in the car.  I needed every last drop totaling 96 grams of carbs.  Two hours later I was 83 and in desperate need to pee.

I think this was a great reminder for me.  When I ponder choosing between a workout and cleaning the house, why not combine the two?  One and the same if you move quickly and deliberately.

What about you?  Do you get lows during or after housework?

We’re OK!

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How interesting is it that children with a type 1 diabetic parent think certain non-normal things are indeed, normal?

When I stop and think about it, as I sometimes do thanks to comments and questions from others, I think, “Wow, this explains so much about so many people”.

What’s normal to us can be totally not normal or acceptable and yet, if we’re used to it, it’s our normal.

For my kids, who are now almost 3.5, having a mother with type 1 diabetes is what’s normal.  And yet, they also know it’s not normal.  They know through experience of their own scraped and bruised knees, that when I prick my finger and bleed, or bruise my stomach with an injection, that it’s not normal because they know it hurts to bleed and bruise.

It’s fascinating to me.  They see me check my blood sugar and they give me a hug and an “aw mama, boo-boo?”  I say, “yes, but I’m ok.”  My daughter says, “Ok, mama” and my son gives me a thumbs up and a smile.

I think it’s a great teaching experience to let them see that sometimes I hurt but that I don’t let it get me down.  I find that even though they can be dramatic about a small injury, they still smile and say “I’m ok”.  And that’s what I do when I prick my finger or give a shot or clean up spilled milk.

My kids understand that my insulin and glucose tablets are “medicine”.  Some don’t want their kids to think of their insulin as medicine because it implies “sickness” but only one of my kids has taken an antibiotic before-and that was two years ago, so they don’t know what “medicine” really is anyway.

Right now my daughter has a cold and she looks on at her brother’s drawing on the easel as I check my blood sugar.  She says, “mama ok?”  I say, “yes, mama’s ok!”  (Even though my blood sugar is a little higher than I’d like).  She sneezes and grabs a tissue for her runny nose.  I say, “Are you ok?”  She sneezes, wipes her nose, grins, and twirls on one foot.  I assume that’s a “yes”.

Uh oh, now my son sneezed.

Have a Fabulous Friday with your kid/partner/friend/niece/nephew/dog/cat.

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.

Self Lovin’ Patriot

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It’s Fab Friday where we give self love a little thought.  Today, I’m thinking about why so many people out there aren’t registering to vote.  I am willing to say that amongst other factors, one is they are low on self love.

People who respect and love themselves also respect and love others, such as their children, family, and friends.  They want what is best for themselves and those around them.  They understand that communication is a positive thing and by voting, one is essentially communicating on a grand scale.

Don’t like either of the top two candidates?  Did you check out what the other parties stand for?  If so, a vote in that direction isn’t pointless even though they won’t win.  It’s still communication.  When the results are in, the country is going to report on how voting went.  People will feel united to those anonymous fellow citizens who voted like them and they may feel encouraged or inspired.  Everyone else will ponder the thought process of neighbors who for some reason, decided the way they did.  It’s never a bad thing to ponder heavy issues from a different perspective.

I’m not saying who to vote for or who I’m voting for.   If you understand the importance of voting and communicating in this way and you don’t feel like voting, then perhaps you don’t value yourself enough.

Frankly, I care to find out where others’ heads are.  Their thinking matters.  Mine matters.  Yours matters.  Consider registering soon before the deadline of the 15th if you haven’t already.  Do it because you care what happens to you and you care what message you’re projecting.

Actions never stop once we’ve done them.  They go on and on, moving and changing things in their wake.  Whether that change is mostly positive or negative is up to us.

DOC Brides Infographic!

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Allison, April, Kerri, and myself are featured in a DOC Brides Infographic with tips and suggestions that we learned through trial and error.

This was put together by Sanofi and is shown on the Discuss Diabetes blog.  Click here to check it out!

Also see my guest post, “Diabetes on Your Wedding Day” for more things I wish I’d known before walking down the isle.

Happy Wednesday!

Whatever You Think About You Attract

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I’ve written along this subject line before but wanted to do it again because it’s so powerful.  So again, “whatever you think about you attract”.  Does that make sense?  Math is a weakness of mine and so I can fully respect that for some people abstract thinking is not a strong point.  To understand that statement, one needs to think a little deeply for a moment.  This has nothing to do with intelligence because we all have preferences in the way we think about things.

I just wanted to make sure I didn’t poke or sting anyone’s feelings.

Now, let’s get into the meaning of this statement, for those who are interested.  Basically, our thoughts are powerful.  They influence our feelings.  We act very heavily upon our feelings and so our thoughts influence our actions.

Let’s say someone is having some cash flow issues and they hear that “whatever you think about you attract” bit.  They might spend much of the day thinking about how they don’t want to be broke or how they don’t want to have a money problem anymore.  Interestingly though, because these thoughts imply the mind is focusing on being broke and that there IS a money problem, one’s feelings can’t help but be affected negatively because the focus is still ON the problem.  And our feelings are so majorly influential that we will struggle to withhold our negative feelings from leading to negative actions.  For example, how many of us have quit a workout or diet goal because something in our life made us upset and we justified quitting because of said upsetting thing?  It happens all the time.

Feelings are important.  That’s why it’s recommended that people learn to manage stress.  Being emotionally upset messes up the equilibrium in the body.  It shoves you right out of your groove.

So what should a broke person do?  First of all, logic is not thrown out the window.  A person should absolutely make good decisions about how they are spending their money if their money is tight.  Now that’s out of the way, this person could keep positive thoughts in his head and think about what he does have.  Focusing on being grateful for the things he does have will give his body some positive feelings which will combat any negative ones and help support this person to have the strength required for the right decisions.  Relentlessly making the right decisions carries a person to their goal much faster than if they are so weighed down by being upset and depressed that half of their decisions do not lead to their ultimate goal.  Something is always going well in our lives, so that needs to be drawn out and made a top thought priority.

If you struggle thinking of something that’s going well, pick a body part of yours that works and be thankful it’s there and serving you.  Imagine what you’d do without it.  Yikes, right?

So there.  “Whatever you think about you attract” isn’t magic, it’s real.  It’s much like karma, which is also not magic.  People all over the world find their own way to describe things that don’t have a name and so the “law of attraction” and “karma” are just that.

I encourage you to try this in your life in some way or other.  Try it with your self esteem, your diabetes, your financial situation, your relationships, etc.  Just try it.

It’s completely changed my life for the better.  I mean it.  And I want awesome things for all of you.  You deserve it.  If you want some support with this and other health issues consider checking out my website, sysymorales.com.

Do share your thoughts in the comments!  I really appreciate the feedback.

On the Radio

I’ll be on DSMA (Diabetes Social Media Advocacy) Live! tonight as a guest.  I’m so excited to talk to some DOC friends and actually hear their voices :)  Here are the details:

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Here’s the link:  http://dsmalive.com/2012/10/03/dsma-live-with-sysy-morales-on-1042012/

 

XOXO,

Sysy

No D Day Post-My Top 10 Beauty Products List

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You might hate me for this.  I might hate me for this.  But you know what?  I think most of us like beauty products.  It’s a billion dollar industry in the US alone and I’m not the only one buying ;)  So today for No D Day, where we don’t talk about our chronic condition, I’m going to stroll down vanity lane.  Don’t forget, I’m from Venezuela-land of what I like to call “Beauty Effort”.  In other words, people aren’t more attractive there-they just spend more time and effort making the most of what they’ve got.

So here is a list of my top 10 beauty products put together through countless, shameless hours of testing:  (share yours in the comments please I’m always on the lookout and ready to learn more!)

10.  Round boar bristle brush.  I don’t care so much about the brand name I just care that it’s boar bristle and easy to hold.  Works like a charm and is gentle on the scalp and distributes oils to the rest of the hair for maximum shine and hair health.  The round aspect is great for volume while blow drying hair.

9.  Lip Stain- Revlon makes a great one.  It’s a nice way to perk up lip color and make it look natural-looks like you just ate some strawberries!  It also feels like it’s not there which is a great plus.  I also like the natural, matte look of it.  Sometimes the shininess of gloss is tiring.

8.  Maybelline Color Tattoo.  Creamy eye shadow that doesn’t budge for over 24 hours.  Comes in the most gorgeous colors.  Perfect for Fall.  (Yes, I sound like a cheesy Allure columnist, oh well).

7.  Lacquer Liner 24 hour L’Oreal Infallible.  Amazing.  Seriously.  It’s the only eye liner that I’ve ever described as “success!”.  No smudging, no leaking into the eye.  And the brush is pure genius.  I’m really lousy with having a steady hand and even I manage this like a pro.  The black is really harsh so don’t be afraid of the slate or bronze-they are very bold and pretty but great for those of us who are no longer 21 years old.

6.  Neutrogena Make Up Remover Cleansing Towelettes.  I’m lazy about washing my face at night (how to keep water from going all over the sink, down one’s neck and elbows is beyond me) so I use these wipes.  They work so well and I think they help exfoliate, too.  I keep one corner of the wipe clear each night to use in the morning when the little remaining eye make up has smeared down under my eyes.  Ya know, just so I stay classy.

5.  Bronzer.  Used correctly, it works miracles.  Figure out how to contour your unique face shape.  This stuff is excellent when you feel pale and sickly, to just bring back some glow.  But don’t over do it.

4.  St. Tropez Self Tanning Mouse.  I don’t use it often so it lasts me well over a year (which is good because it’s the most expensive thing on this list).  It’s awesome though.  It looks great on all skin types-even really dark skinned girls, because it gives a warm and healthy glow.  It’s probably carcinogenic so I don’t recommend using it all the time.  But for example, for an event where there is a dress involved, this stuff makes getting ready seem more effortless.

3.  L’Oreal Ellnet Satin Hairspray.  It’s not cheap, it’s not found in small towns sometimes, but it’s great stuff because you can brush your hair after applying it and have hold with neat looking hair that still moves a plenty!  Or you can do what I do and just use it to hold hair’s volume after a blow dry.  (I’ve lost lots of my hair over the past decade so this makes up for it!)

2.  Mascara.  Ya know, I don’t have a favorite brand.  I suppose I haven’t found it.  But, I don’t go without it very often, it’s just too fun.  In fact, I try a different brand every few months just for kicks.

1.  Lip liner.  If you’re like me, your lips are on the thin side.  Which is fine except mine are also not very defined and tend to just blend into my skin.  SO, nude lip liner it is.  Revlon Colorstay Natural to be exact.  It really makes a difference.  Just be sure not to go outside the lip line.  That look isn’t in and never will be.  And my dear fellow Latinas…please stop the light lipstick and dark liner thing.  Just stop.

Last but not least, a few lessons I’ve learned the hard way:

1.  Don’t over pluck brows.  Magazines constantly reiterate this for a reason-we all need the reminder.  Leave well enough alone!  Brows are most gorgeous when their natural shape is retained because that natural shape was made by nature for your face and your face alone.

2.  If you don’t like wearing make up, don’t wear it!  I say cheers to you, sister and don’t even begin to apologize.  Just do me a favor and be sure to moisturize.

3.  Similarly, if you do love wearing make up, don’t be ashamed.  One of the most calming things for me is to put on make up.  It’s like a creative outlet.  There are so many colors and techniques!

4.  There are a lot of rules out there.  Break em’.  Wear white after labor day, red lipstick to the grocery store, and no make up to a party.  If you’re happy with it, nothing else matters.

5.  A way to save skin from aging is to stay moisturized. And as much as I like to use natural products, unfortunately coconut oil or organic lotions don’t do much for my scaly dry skin so I use Vaseline Intensive Care.  That said, if coconut oil works for you, awesome.

Last comment:  Go out and learn what colors, make up techniques, hair color, and jewelry flatter you.  It’s a great way to love exactly who you are because it’s about supporting what you already have instead of trying to cover it up or completely change it.

My favorite website that has free info on how to figure out your best colors, make up techniques, hair color, jewelry, style, hats, etc, is thechicfashionista.com.  There you can get tons of guidance for free and take some time to appreciate your unique sense of beauty.

This post wasn’t so shallow, was it?

Read more No D Day posts by clicking here!

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