Tag Archives: healthy habits for diabetics

If it Works for Oprah…

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“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
~ Epicurus

Not everyone likes Oprah but most of us agree that she has worked herself to where she is versus being handed everything.  My mom saved an article for me where she talks about gratitude.  I was amazed to read what Oprah considers the most life changing thing she has done.  For many years she has kept a journal and each morning she has written down 5 things she is grateful for.  It forces a person into a habit of looking at what they do have versus what they don’t.  She goes on to talk about gratitude and the unique power it can have on our lives.

I’ve read in many places that gratitude is the single most transformative thing we can use in life.  It begs positivity, streamlines focus away from feelings of inadequacy, and brings with it a healthy rush of feelings to the body that support positive decisions.

I believe that those of us with diabetes who practice gratitude on a consistent basis really benefit.  Not only does having a chronic illness usually cause us to be more aware and sensitive towards the plights of others but couple that with gratitude and you have an amazing potential for a life filled with meaning and depth beyond many people’s reach.

So while I’m not grateful for having diabetes, I am grateful for what I’ve learned and who I am because of it.  And when my blood sugar is 102 and I feel perfectly healthy, I feel like I’m in heaven while others don’t even recognize the beauty and freedom of feeling great.  I could feel jealous of non diabetics but I choose to feel grateful for the advantage of my perspective.  It makes life better.  But it is a choice and a habit.  I think writing down things we’re grateful for is an excellent idea.  Thanks, Oprah.

Healthy Lifestyle Habits and Their Impact on Diabetes Management

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From watching message boards and facebook, I’ve come to understand that more people than I imagined don’t believe that healthy lifestyle habits can improve their diabetes management or are an essential part of their management.  They believe that adhering to the strict rules of carb counting and insulin dosing is all they need to do.  And when their diabetes management isn’t where they’d like, they blame diabetes.  And yeah, yeah diabetes is ultimately the cause of all our blood sugar woes.  But focusing on that is NOT going to ever help.

So I’d like to offer some opinions on lifestyle habits and how they impact diabetes management.

First, I’ll say that my diabetes management was extremely challenged while I ate a typical American diet.  I have never had an issue with carb counting or portion sizing.  My challenge was facing the ups and downs that broke the rules about insulin and carbs.  When I changed my diet to omit most processed foods, most of the time, I realized my blood sugars didn’t swing up and down nearly as much.

Same happened when I began to exercise daily.  Easier diabetes management.  Insulin is much more powerful when we exercise regularly.  When I don’t, I cannot maintain tight control.

These discoveries were so huge for me that I can’t imagine someone not knowing the potential of healthy lifestyle habits on their diabetes.

No matter who you are, the positive impact you stand to gain from changing things about how you eat and move during the day is huge!  I can eat carefully and exercise daily and use 12 units of my long acting insulin a day.  If I eat like I see most people eating and if I don’t exercise regularly, I literally need 25-30 units of my long acting a day.  That’s a HUGE difference.  That difference impacts weight gain, hormone balances in the body, moods, metabolism, thyroid function, cholesterol, and more.  That’s why I take it seriously.

Now, I didn’t make these changes overnight and don’t expect others to either.  But it helped me to be slowly convinced that trying to make small, gradual changes over time were totally worthwhile.  And that’s what I’m trying to do in this post for anyone who isn’t convinced.  I benefited from reading stuff like this long ago and I hope somehow this helps someone else.

I write it over and over again because I believe it through personal experience.  And yes, we all have unique experiences but I’m not saying eat what I eat or exercise how I exercise.  Those details are up to you.  However, if what you’re doing isn’t working, try something else.  And just because it worked for you once doesn’t mean it works for you.  Something has to work consistently in order to “work”.

If you love and respect yourself, and I hope you do, you owe it to yourself to adopt the habits that will nourish your body and mind for the long term, rather than going for instant gratification.

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 Case for the 5 Minute Shower

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(3 minutes if you’re a guy)

This isn’t to tell you to speed it up and save the whales.  It’s a tip I’ve learned recently by default.  You see, I moved to the apartments I live at almost two years ago.  We quickly discovered there was only enough hot water for a 4-5 minute shower.  I had to adapt or die.  Ok not die but you know it’s harsh to be sprayed by freezing cold water when you haven’t even rinsed the shampoo out of your hair yet.

I realized that we often spend a lot of time in the shower.  Most of us lead pretty busy lives and can use to save time wherever we can.  I have learned that I can get an extra thing done during the day by saving 10-15 minutes from my shower.

Many of us with diabetes have dry skin.  It’s a side effect of not having perfectly normal blood sugars.  Showering for an extended period of time in warm water just dries our skin out even more.  And unless you’re an athlete that takes a warm bath to soak sore muscles, or do it for some kind of therapy, there isn’t a really good reason to spend so much time in warm water.  Ok, ok, unless it’s like chicken soup for your soul or something and then by all means, do it.

At the very end of my shower the water gets cold.  I’ve learned to take this on for my benefit.  This change up on one’s body, particularly on one’s legs, boosts circulation, improves the appearance of skin, and becomes a healthy lifetime routine.  It’s short term pain, long term pleasure.  Since doing this, my legs and feet have felt better, I swear.  They used to feel kind of tingly and heavy in the shower and now, because I’m not in there very long, and because the cool water at the end does it’s magic, I don’t feel any of the discomfort I used to feel.  A plus is to rinse hair in cold water before getting out.  It closes the hair shaft and makes it shinier.

My entire routine involves soaping up, shampooing, shaving, scrubbing my skin all over with an olive oil, lemon, and sugar mixture, and then rinsing.  And voila.  A quick 5 minutes that improves circulation, moisturizes skin, and gets the job done.

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