The ups and downs of diabetes can take a toll physically, mentally, and spiritually. When my blood sugar is high, I do not feel like playing with my kids, going for a run, or doing much of anything. Yet, taking a correction bolus and getting active is probably one of the best things I can do. Activity will help get the blood sugar down quicker and take my mind off the high blood sugar.
But do I always do what is best? I try. I really do. I try for myself and my family. How I feel impacts us all 24/7. There is no denying it. If I am low, I am cranky. If I am high, I am wiped. Who wants to be cranky, wiped, and simply not feeling functional? Not me. And those around me would second that.
So I do everything in my power to stay healthy. I must admit, it does take time and willpower. Testing my blood sugar 10 times a day when I run and spin is not on my “fun to do list”, but now that I have done it so long, I don’t even think about it. I just do it. And I don’t care if my finger tips are not the prettiest in the world. I see them as proof of dedication to my diabetes.
When training for a marathon, determination and willpower is a must. No one else can make me run 26.1 miles (especially once I hit mile 20). I am flying (running) solo. It is partly physical and mainly psychological. My mind has to convince my legs to keep on moving. No matter how tired my muscles get, the mind can convince them to go a few more miles. Just a few more. You can do it. You are amazing. You are almost there. Focus on the finish. Think how proud you will be.
The same holds true with diabetes. Your mind comes into play more than you think. There is no denying it. Think about a high or low blood sugar. I hate the feeling of highs and lows. That out of control feeling. Yuck. But this is where I use my mind to overcome the physical barriers.
My lows include feeling weak and then super hungry – ravenous. Like I could eat the whole kitchen. Followed by a period of feeling tired. If I gave in to the physical cues, I would devour everything insight, end up with a stomach ache, and probably sprawl out on the kitchen floor from exhaustion and then a high blood sugar from over compensation.
That cannot happen. And the only way it cannot happen is by resisting it. Telling myself that I will feel better when the low subsides. Playing psychological games. Creating distractions like watching a television show or having my kids read to me. Stepping out of the kitchen where food is calling my low blood sugar. Or better yet, eating one of the snacks I keep in my purse and avoiding the kitchen completely.
Tricks of the trade that work for me.
And it is not just lows, high, testing, pumping, etc. It is, also, about exercising and eating healthy. The good news about exercise and nutrition is that we are in control. We are not reacting to something going on in our bodies like a high or low blood sugar. We are initiating something that will make us feel better short and long-term. Wow!
Yes, short-term and long-term effects. Think about that. I cannot stress how important exercise and nutrition have become in my life. There are days when I am tired and do not want to go for a run or spin. Now if I am sick, then I skip it. But if I am just tired from a late night or taking care of kids, I go. I put my running shoes on and head out the door. No excuses or whining.
Now the first mile may suck. I still may feel tired. But knowing that the adrenalin rush will kick in makes me keep going. Understanding that I will feel energized when the run is done helps me move. Realizing that my diabetes will thank me pushes me further. I do it for me, my overall health (body, mind, and spirit), and my diabetes.
I single out the diabetes because everyone should be exercising. But diabetics should be even more in tune to how good it makes them feel (physically, mentally, and spiritually). How it truly helps control their disease and life. Exercise is a win win situation.
And so is nutrition. Eating healthy is just as important as exercise. Let me say it again. Eating healthy is key. You can exercise until your running shoes fall off, but if you don’t eat healthy than you are not optimizing your life.
Now, you don’t have to live on veggies to eat healthy. Everything in moderation is my belief. I am not a dietician or nutritionist, but I try to stay up to date on recommendations and guidelines. And then I listen to what my body needs and how it responds to what I put in it. Listen.
Us diabetics should be good at listening. Tuning in to what is going on inside of us. Just like we do with blood sugars. Do the same with food. How do you feel? Respond.
Eating healthy is a transition for some, including me. I must admit that when I was in grad school I lived on muffins and popcorn. I had no money or time. I worked full-time and went to grad school full-time. I would be running on the treadmill at 10:00 pm (see, no excuses). But I did eat crappy.
However, luckily, I figured out that in order to feel good, I had to respect my body and fuel it appropriately. So I got on the healthy eating band wagon and have never looked back. I love fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and water, but, also, treat myself to a Diet Coke, Hershey Dark Chocolates Kisses, etc. Moderation. Realism. Expectations.
Don’t expect yourself to be perfect. But expect yourself to try. Try and eat healthy. Try to exercise. Try to live a healthy diabetic life. Believe me, it is worth it.
Keep the momentum going.