Individuality matters the most

No one size fits all. Clothes that advertise this lie. Healthcare professionals who try to sell you their programs with this idea lie. People who try to convince you to go on their diet and say their diet works for everyone lie. Fact of the matter is, there is always going to be a group of people for whom something isn’t going to work out. Diabetics in particular are a good example of this, regardless of their type.

Some diabetics have very poor control on LCHF (low carb high fat). Some diabetics have the best control they’ve ever had in their entire lives on LCHF.

Some diabetics are constantly in a state of hyperglycemia on a plant based, high carb (vegan) diet. Some diabetics have never seen better numbers in 40+ years of being diabetic ever since becoming vegan.

Some diabetics can’t eat ‘regular’ meals consisting of carbs, proteins, fibers and fats because it skyrockets their values. Some diabetics have excellent numbers as long as they take their medication properly for what they eat.

Being involved with the diabetic community I’ve seen all of the above and then some. It’s becoming ever more obvious to me that there is no “One” diet for diabetics, just like there is no “One” treatment in general. It’s also why it becomes so aggravating when people get pushy in sharing their success with their diet and treatment. They’re so glad that they found something that works that they insist it works for all, without taking into consideration that two people can be on the same exact diet, meal after meal, and have wildly varying results. Where one person drops weight like crazy, the other gains. Where one person sees dramatic improvement, the other just gets worse.

I deeply encourage every person to explore their options. Give diets a try, see which lifestyle change works for you. You’ll notice soon enough whether it’s effective for you or not. But please, pretty please, be considerate of those who have something that works for them. I can’t even begin to express my frustrations with people carelessly pushing their way of life onto me without knowing anything about my history or situation. Yes, I am very happy that it works for you. Genuinely, I am, because diabetes is a bitch and struggling for years with a diet that makes you feel bad is not fun. It’s fantastic when you find your holy grail in your diabetes treatment.

Just accept that it is probably different from that of others. Don’t lecture unless someone asks you to share information. Don’t try to guilt-trip them into it by saying ‘But don’t you want to live long and healthily?!’. That’s very disrespectful and dismissive of the nature of this disease. I’ve only been diabetic since 2014, and on insulin for 4 months now, but I’ve already heard most of it and I’m already exhausted from other people trying to meddle in my affairs.

I know my body. I know what happens when I eat x food. I know what my wallet allows me to buy. I know what foods upset my IBS and give me unbearable cramps. A stranger on the internet can’t ever possibly know enough about my body and my life to give me adequate advice. If advice is asked for, it should be suggestive and encouraging, not demanding and reprimanding.

Be kind to each other, especially if you’re fellow diabetics. Trust that someone knows themselves well enough to make the right decisions. Give guidance only when asked for because nobody likes it when others stick their noses in your business. Embrace individuality and respect it, because that’s how we can be our best and bring out the best in others.

My life out in the open

Yes, my life revolves a lot around diabetes. From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed, my mind is constantly involved with how I feel, what I’m eating, what I’m going to be eating.

I’m testing 4-9 times a day. I’m injecting 4-9 times a day, ranging from injecting for a meal, to injecting for a correction, to injecting my background insulin, and injecting for random surprise snacks. When I step on the bike or go out, I have to have all my stuff with me – insulin, sugar, glucometer, alcohol wipes, backup batteries, lancets, needles and bandaids. Before I go outside I have to make sure I either ate enough or my bloodsugar is high enough so that I don’t pass out and cause accidents. When I go to bed, I have to make sure I don’t have a nigh time hypo from which I’ll never wake up just in case I fucked up somewhere during the day and evening.

I have to put up with the horrible feelings of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. Shaking, feeling confused, hungry and fog brained, often not immediately realizing you need to fix this NOW, is a horrible way to spend your time when you run low. Feeling exhausted and lethargic, fog brained, unwell, hungry and dealing with headaches is really awful when you run high. It can take hours to recover from these and sometimes they happen even when you do everything right.

I don’t think diabetes defines me, but if I want to be healthy and take good care of myself, it’s a full time occupation and difficult to avoid. It’s on my mind constantly. It can make you weary. I like to share everything about it because it keeps me motivated and pulls me through the times where I’m putting off my injection or struggling with the guilt of overeating (when you count carbs and inject to what you eat religiously even when you’re stuck in anxiety induced binge mode, it’s very confronting to see how much goes into your body).

My view on food has changed dramatically. I’m constantly thinking “Can I eat that? How many carbs? What will it do to my levels? How much fat is in there? How long do I have to wait between injecting and eating?” Whenever people ask about dietary advice, it’s hard to give that from outside the diabetes perspective. (Sorry if I sometimes forget not everyone has to be so mindful of their food!)

A lot of the time, people don’t take care of their diabetes the way they should, or they have learned to hide it from everyone. I’m very open and diligent so I’m sure it can appear as if I’m constantly shoving it into everyone’s faces especially when other diabetics are mum about theirs. But this is my life, and I want to grow old, so I want to make sure I got this and don’t fuck it up. I’m gonna talk about it because it makes up a lot of my day, even if it’s annoying, and it helps me avoid feeling burned out and isolated.

Besiege the castle!

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My Sunday was pretty good. I’m still pretty exhausted from this week and despite it being busy, my friend and I had lunch at a castle and it was good and relaxing. Yes, an actual real castle. Probably not as traditional as you’re picturing right now, but a 18th century castle nonetheless!

I had an easy breakfast during the morning and decided not to hold back for lunch, but to make smart choices.

Smart choicee #1:
No sugary drinks. I opted for some mint tea with a little splenda in both my hot teas.

Smart choice #2:
I ordered a sandwich on brown bread with seeds instead of white bread.

Smart choice #3:
I made sure to get a protein heavy sandwich by ordering a chicken sandwich.

Smart choice #4:
I ate the green on the plate before I ate the sandwich to give my stomach some fiber before the rest came in.

I didn’t worry or fuss over my bloodsugar, partially because it’s a hot day, partially because I see no point in fussing over what I’m eating on the extremely rare occasions I’m going out for food. I still have the luxury of not having to count carbs for insulin so might as well enjoy it. 🙂 Once we were finished eating, I even ordered some ice cream with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. I didn’t even care. It’s been so long since I had ice cream like this and I wasn’t feeling bad so I gobbled that baby up like there was no tomorrow.

When we got back later, my blood sugar was at 8.9. I think it probably got a little higher than that over the course of the hour following my test, but honestly? That’s really not bad and I was on my way in a hot car soon afterwards anyway. I doubt my sugar remained very high.

For dinner I stuck to a simple chicken salad with two small plums for dessert. After I vacuumed I had a sugar free frozen hot chocolate and some whole wheat cookies, and I’ve no idea what my levels are right now but I don’t feel bad. I’m just tired from this week and today.

Naturally I can’t repeat today, multiple times a week. It’s really a ‘once in a while’ thing and that’s fine. 🙂 I had lunch at a beautiful castle with a wonderful friend on a beautiful terrace and it was a good Sunday.

One size doesn’t fit all.

If you look around for apps or devices that help you with your health goals (I really don’t like calling them just ‘fitness’ or ‘weight loss’ goals) you’ll probably feel overwhelmed by the choices presented to you. They can range from $2 pedometers you find at the dollar store, to the $300 FitBit with extensive phone application, to simple and hugely complex fitness and calorie tracking apps.

So what’s the right one for you? One could argue that the more extensive a device or app is, the better. But I think the opposite holds true. I personally believe that if you start simple and it meets your needs, there’s really no reason to dish out a lot of cash or spend most of your time navigating and updating an app.

The only downside is that it doesn't track your steps automatically if you don't have your phone in your pocket.

The only downside is that it doesn’t track your steps automatically if you don’t have your phone in your pocket.

The other day, I was browsing through our version of a dollar store looking for a pedometer I had seen there last year. Unfortunately they were out, but it’s not a huge deal as I looked on the Google Play Store for a pedometer app, and found out that Google had its own called Google Fit. I installed the app and used it out of curiosity, and it’s perfect for what I need. It tracks your steps, it lets you log activity and weight, and it has nifty charts to show you what you accomplished. All without being too complex or adding features I never use anyway. There are little encouraging messages to help you meet your goal (“You’re almost there, just a little more to go”) and when you meet it, you get a congratulatory message with a cute animation. Unlike the FitBit it doesn’t seem to encourage you to do more, which in my case is good to combat my unhealthy obsession tendencies. It seems to set certain values automatically and I can’t ascertain their validity, but I suppose that’s why it’s always a good thing to use these tools as guidelines rather than hard facts, yes?

I used to be an active member of MyFitnessPal, and I do still log in sometimes to update my weight or activity just out of curiosity, but I became so obsessed with counting everything I burned out hardcore. My mental conditions make even doing simple chores hard, and unfortunately MFP was not a good combination with that. It works wonderfully for other people, as I’ve found many success stories there. I do warn ahead about the community however; there are many great people present, but also many opinions on health and biological functions that are spread without scientific basis (which can be incredibly frustrating and misleading). If you’re like me and get caught up in listening to what other people say is healthy, I recommend you stay away from their forums and just focus on blogging about your progress instead! Consult a doctor or dietitian if you’re ever unsure, and get a second opinion if you don’t feel 100% confident with what they say.

One thing all of these apps, devices and sites have in common is the setting of and meeting goals. I have set mine relatively low to 30 minutes a day of activity, whether that is walking (the dog) or riding my stationary bike. I’m not after intense fitness, weight lifting or other exercise routines because my physical health doesn’t really allow it. I have to be careful with my herniated discs and I’m really not interested in exercising through a hypo to end up with a hyper from my diabetes. I used to be almost full-time stationary, so as long as I meet 30 minutes of walking or stationary bike riding 5 days a week, I’m absolutely content! Does that mean I always stop at the 30 minute mark? Absolutely not. If there are days where my back and blood sugar are fine and can take it, I’ll happily go for a 1 hour walk through the forest with my dad and the dog (which has the added bonus of some father-daughter time!).

My point is that if I set my daily goal to a low but reasonable time, I don’t stress myself out and I don’t push myself past my limits and cause harm to my body. I can always exceed it if I can and want to, and to be honest with you, knowing you’re not just meeting your goal but surpassing it feels MUCH more awesome and kickass than just barely meeting a 1 hour goal because you forced yourself when you didn’t feel like it. So far my health has been improving drastically by taking it slow. I can’t be doing that much wrong then, can I?

If you’re working on your health as well, what tools are you using to manage your exercise and diet? Which ones have you tried but not liked?

Remember to pace yourself

When your life changes because you want to be healthier or are fighting a condition, it’s almost frighteningly easy to become obsessed with things. One of the many potential examples is counting calories and/or macros.

Yes, both can be incredibly beneficial to making the right choices for your next meal. For diabetics like myself, carbs – ranging from fibers to complex carbs and simple carbs (sugar) – are an important measurement for our intake to avoid the dreaded high blood sugars. A good workout regime is wonderful for your health too. Eating lots of greens is good for you too.

But it’s okay not to be perfect at everything, and it’s okay not to count something obsessively, or push yourself to new limits every single day. You shouldn’t let this lifestyle change become an obsession that rules your entire day.

I notice that I’m becoming increasingly anxious when I’m not checking my blood sugar, and this is a worrisome development. I’m by nature someone who fixates dramatically on one thing and goes to the max, then burns out and drops everything to recover in a corner. It’s why I taught myself not to weigh in every day, or even every week. It’s why I stopped counting calories so I wouldn’t go nuts and starve myself for the sake of numbers. And now I need to learn to let go of my blood sugar values and only check once or twice a week, or if I’m feeling really bad and don’t know why. If I don’t do this, it becomes a source of stress. And stress hormones increase the glucose levels in your blood, so you pretty much always lose!

You need to enjoy your life too, and if all you can do the whole day is fret over missed numbers, missed exercise or whether or not you can eat this single piece of Starburst, then you’re doing yourself a great disservice. As long as you pace yourself and don’t go over the top, it’s totally okay to cut your exercise regime short by 10 minutes today, and do your full regime tomorrow. It’s absolutely fine to have that piece of candy and not check your levels before or after and just focus on enjoying it.

Remember that this is not a race for the finish line. You need to find peace within yourself in order to not give up on meeting your goals. Stressing over what are essentially insignificant issues won’t give you peace, and it will make your journey towards your goals unnecessarily hard.