Tag Archives: healthy habits

Don’t Settle When It Comes to Health


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.

New Year’s Resolutions for September and October

August 2011 076

My goal for July and August was to exercise each day.  I was to spend both months focused on that one thing.  I couldn’t help but notice how my earlier goal this year of waking up early helped this last goal of exercising.  First, I got into the habit of waking up early every day.  Then, I made that first hour each day be about exercise!  One goal made room in my life for the next!

A week ago I wrote about Tips4Type1! and must say I’m so glad this fundraiser came my way.  My September and October goal is to quit biting my nails.  I know what you’re thinking.  “Seriously?  That’s your big goal?”  I know.  I’ve been a nail biter since I first started getting nervous at school when I was 6 years old.  It’s time to officially break the habit by focusing on it so that I never have to focus on it again.  My son is starting to bite his nails and I’ve realized how that is MY fault.

So, since I don’t bite my nails while they’re painted and I’ve got this great blue and silver nail polish that symbolizes diabetes awareness, I will just diligently keep my nails painted for diabetes!  How about that?

By the way, I’m using Leo Babauta’s 6 Changes Method which works like this: you make 6 changes a year by focusing on each for a full two months at a time.  The idea is that if we do something for two months, we’ve pretty much created a solid habit and can more easily sustain it over time.  It’s working for me this year just as it did last year.  This time of year is really busy which is why I chose a small goal to focus on. I’m quite relieved about that fact right about now. :)

Diabetes Likes Routine, Do You?

Photo courtesy of Pixomar

I don’t.  I like getting up when I get up, exercising when I feel a burst of energy (could be around 3pm, could be around midnight), and eating when I want to eat (sometimes grazing all day, sometimes not eating much all day).

But my diabetes likes routine and because I have to not only acknowledge what my diabetes wants, I have to do what it wants if I want to stay healthy.

Fast acting insulin and almost-24-hour insulin have all helped make our daily lives a bit more flexible.  However, I caution anyone against trying to live exactly like someone who doesn’t have diabetes.  I tried this and found I couldn’t manage steady glucose control.  (I will say though, if you can manage, then by all means do your thing and tell me your secrets.)  Although, really, I think that healthy people out there and successful people all tend to rely on certain routines and habits they maintain.

I think I’ve found a balance within my dislike and simultaneous need for routine in my life.  By balance I mean this is what I am currently doing which feels sort of right to me and is quite subject to change. ;)


-I exercise every day so that my insulin needs don’t fluctuate too much based on my exercise (they fluctuate enough based on other factors).  I also try to exercise at the same time each day.

-I eat the same amount of food each day.  If I normally eat three meals and one day I happen to have a really big breakfast, then I eat a little less at lunch or dinner to compensate.  I’ve found this helps with keeping my blood sugars steady overnight.  We sleep for about a third of our lives so I try to get those hours to be blood sugar healthy.  Key word “try” :)

-I keep the same bedtime routine to try to ensure that blood sugars are welcoming in the morning.  And I try to stick with this because I notice that if mornings are good, then the rest of the day tends to follow suit.


-I allow myself to eat really different foods from day to day.  Varying the types of fruits, vegetables, nuts, sources of protein, and so forth keeps things feeling interesting.

-I never test at the same times each day.  I test upon wakening and before going to sleep but aside from that it’s really random.  I am in the habit of testing and this pushes me to test whenever I think I should, such as before eating.  This leads me to…

-I eat at different times during the day.  I can’t help this.  With two year old twins, I have to sometimes just grab a bite to eat when I’m lucky to have the opportunity.  I have never been hung up on eating at certain times anyway so it doesn’t bother me.  I do look forward to the time, years from now, when I sit down at the table and calmly eat with the rest of the family.  In the meantime, I’m cooking one thing for me, another for my husband, and something else for the kids.  Or I’m at least making all sorts of variations in the kitchen.  When there are food allergies, insulin timing issues, and picky children, there is no other way.  So I just accept it and try to go with the flow.

I can’t think of anything else…Do any of you dislike routine but try to fit some in for the sake of your diabetes management?  If so, what sacrifices do you or don’t you make?

New Year’s Resolutions for July and August

Thanks to Federico Stevanin for the cute photo!


July has just about gotten away from me and I am now realizing I was supposed to work on something specific this month and the next.

Using Leo Babauta’s 6 Changes Method, I have been using two months at a time to tackle one goal I have.  It worked great last year and it’s helping me out this year.

People knock New Year’s Resolutions because they don’t do them correctly.  It does no good to tell yourself “I will lose weight this year” because first, that’s not specific to any ACTION you are going to take and also, is this string of proclamations coming with some commitment and energy behind it?  Are you  literally going to try to tackle ten goals at once?  There is no method to that madness.

That’s why I love the 6 Changes Method.  It’s simple and focusing on one thing that I want to make into a habit for 2 months means I’m giving my new goal a real shot.

For May and June I wanted to wake up early and focus on creating.  My twins do not let me get much done during the day.  They are both very physically active and you can bet that one will be on the dinner table about to leap into the air in an attempt to grab the chandelier if I don’t constantly keep my eye on him (yes, I’m talking about you, Henri).  My blog is my creative outlet, my passion, and what probably keeps me sane so I didn’t want to neglect it.  Therefore, getting up early and getting the writing out of the way as well as my exercise has proved the best change I’ve done all year.  We’re talking about a life changing change!  It’s not easy because I am not a morning person but I’m starting to enjoy the peace and quiet I get when it’s just me and the “taka taka taka” of the keyboard.

For July and August my goal was to get into the habit of exercising every day.

I’ve skipped a few days this month but only a few and I’ve been running, getting on the elliptical, and doing yoga.  I just need to keep it up.  It’s challenging lately because Alex leaves for work at 6am and gets home at 6pm.  Yesterday in fact, he got home past 8pm.  By the time we put the kids down and do some house maintenance, it’s really late.  But this is no excuse, I need to work to get things done so that come 4 or 5am every day, I’m rested enough to get up and get on with my routine.

I have to keep my blood pressure stable so this exercising each day goal I have is a MUST.  Wouldn’t it be nice if exercise was like brushing teeth?  That’s what I’m going for, lol.  Wish me luck!

Eat It Till You Like It!

Photo courtesy of Sura Nualpradid

Photo courtesy of Sura Nualpradid


No, that’s not what I say to my kids.  I say it to myself.  I don’t force feed myself.  I simply encourage myself to eat something I don’t like, which is healthy, and continue to try the food until I like it.

Sounds nutty, I know.  The thing is, at age 21, I probably liked four different vegetables.  No make that three since tomato is a fruit.  I know that veggies are majorly important and yet how does one eat them if they’re gross? 

So I made myself like veggies.  I ate them in small portions all the while thinking, “mmm mmmmm delicious!”  Again, this DOES sound weird.  But one day I read in a gourmet food magazine that broad tastes are acquired.  “Acquired?”, I thought.  So people learn to like different foods through like…practice?  Basically, yes. 

Since, I have expanded my list of loved vegetables from three to about 20.  I also now appreciate a multitude of herbs and spices which help flavor food in place of extra butter and salt.  Having extra veggies to choose from helps deflect my tendency to fill up on “go to” foods like bread.  It makes life as a healthy eater more bearable because of the added variety and excitement from all the different possibilities and combinations. 

When I had my kids I vowed I’d get them to eat “adult foods”.  And so far so good.  They eat broccoli with the same urgency with which they eat ice cream.  They try nine out of ten foods that I offer them.  They don’t know what it’s like to eat a sandwich with white bread.  They love chicken and mushrooms in a white wine sauce with brown or wild rice. 

People had told me kids just don’t like certain foods.  Then I noticed many adults I knew had a very limited palate.  They like what they like and they don’t try anything new.  And that is fine except if what you like isn’t the best option for good health, then you’re sort of in a pickle. 

How does one learn to like something your tongue denies?  I don’t know.  All I know is that I went from hating many foods to genuinely loving them.  My kids hated broccoli for a long time but after letting them try it again and again (never forcing them to eat it), they finally took to it. 

I think it’s possible to eat something until you really like it.  It won’t happen with everything but if you learn to like one new healthy food, I say that’s a win.  Give it a go.  Just don’t try to like all the world’s desserts.  I do and it’s a dangerous thing!

Motivation is Crucial and So Are Habits


How many of us would still have coffee if it wasn’t a habit?


Motivation is very important to get us through the first stages of creating a habit.  Creating a habit is necessary because a habit is what yields results.  Habits are simply what we do over and over, again.

If we want to improve something, we can replace bad habits with good ones.  Habits are so powerful because you can’t exercise one day and reap a lot of benefits.  You have to exercise consistently.  Same with healthy eating.   

Motivation is the fuel which will pump energy into a habit you’re creating.  Motivation will sustain you long enough to create that habit in the first place and make it so ingrained you can’t easily drop it even if you want to.  Imagine having a hard time breaking your exercise or dietary plan?  This is what I’m talking about.  Honestly, I have a hard time turning down a cookie but when I go to the grocery store, I have a really hard time breaking the habit of only buying necessary and healthy foods (except for a bag of tortilla chips for the husband).  This means when I am home, there are no cookies.  The temptation is far away.

Feed your motivation.  Think about what gives you energy and do it.  Use this energy towards creating habits that will lead you to achieving your goals.  Habits take about two weeks of consistency to stick so give it your all for that amount of time and then enjoy the results.