Talk About it Tuesdays

I am excited to start my first series here on BloodSugar, Sweat & Tears!

On Talk About it Tuesdays, I am going to bring a T1D-relevant topic to the blog that isn’t generally discussed with your doctor or health care professional. These will be subjects ranging from alcohol to depression. The first topic is, quite simply, the idea of talking about your diabetes. Leave suggestions for future Tuesdays in the comments below!

Although I have known for a long time that I am an introvert, I recently learned that I am also a verbal processor, aka I need to talk about my feelings! My parents know this best of all, but teachers, friends, and many others in my life have often commented that I “wear my heart on my sleeve.”
Surprisingly enough, however, diabetes is one topic that I really did not talk about much until the last couple of years. As I began to accept diabetes into my life on a deeper level than just a condition I need to treat with insulin and finger pricks, I began to notice not only how it effects my overall existence, but also how it has shaped my character. Opening up about the frustrations of diabetes, instead of just keeping them buried under my thick, needle-poked skin has been therapeutic for me. My parents have always had VIP access to my emotions (whether they like it or not), but beginning to let my friends in on some of the details of my diabetes care has been new and while at times has made me feel vulnerable, has overall been a release. Most of my friends have always known that I am a diabetic, but what that meant to them, I am not quite sure… because we never talked about it. I would keep my diabetes management to myself and just go along with everyone else- approaching food and activities in 90% of the same manner as my friends. Now that I am telling them the truth about how I am feeling and being honest about my needs in certain situations, I am feeling so much more at ease because I am not trying to keep up a certain image.
So, for the first Talk About it Tuesday, I want to encourage you to chat with someone close to you about your diabetes. It can be hard to explain the intricacies of it all, but what I have learned is that people who really care about you genuinely want to understand. Maybe just explain how certain foods effect your blood sugar or how you prepare for exercise. It can be something small, but open the door to this conversation. You won’t regret it.
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MYL 8 Day Challenge Recap & Weekly Round Up

Happy Friday! I mentioned in my post last week that I was participating in Jaime Mendell’s 8 Day Master Your Life Challenge. Here’s a quick recap of how it went and what some of my biggest take aways were:

  1. I loved having her email waiting in my inbox each day. Some of the specific tasks throughout the week were not necessarily “challenging” for me, while others were, but just knowing that I had a specific intention for each day was inspiring and motivating.
  2. As I mentioned above, some days were more of a stretch for me than others. This gave me the chance to reflect on which areas of self-care I already tend to incorporate in my life and which areas I have yet to tap into.
  3. I enjoyed the conversation that this Challenge brought up between me and my good friend who also participated. We don’t see each other very often, so this was a fun way to stay connected during the week.
  4. Overall, I walked away from the 8 day challenge knowing that self-care is not only important, but it is doable. I CAN show myself love and I can do so in such a VARIETY of ways.

If any of you missed the Challenge, but are interested in learning more about self-care, check out Jaime’s website. She just opened registration for her 8-week Master Your Life Course.

In other news… I have some good reads for you to check out this week! I hope everyone enjoys the first official weekend of fall… bring on the pumpkin spice!!

Mantras. Because we can all use something different to say to ourselves.

Getting excited for fall-inspired cooking

And baking!

I really enjoyed this article.

Refreshing.

I just discovered the work of another amazing T1D blogger! Check it out!

 

The Leaves are Changing and So Are My Blood Sugars!

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Ever have one of those days when your blood sugars are just way off track? Not because you’ve eaten a big meal, gotten sick, or been overly active… but, for some unknown reason, what has been working for you all along just suddenly is not producing the same results. This is what I have been dealing with for the last couple of weeks. I’ve been trying to figure out just what exactly changed so that I can figure out how to get back on track, but I’ve realized that might be a waste of energy. Sometimes with diabetes there just isn’t a clear answer.

Recently, in a group counseling program I am enrolled in called Make Peace with Food (more on this in a future post), our leader asked us to consider, “How is the struggle here to serve you?” I want to pass this question on to all of you- diabetic and non-diabetic readers alike can benefit from thinking about this. For T1Ds, have you ever considered the idea that the daily struggle with diabetes is actually here to serve you? I know it might seem baffling and really difficult to imagine, especially on a tough day when blood sugars JUST. AREN’T. MAKING. ANY. SENSE (!!!!!) However, I encourage you to sit with that and give it some thought.

I will share with you how I think my current diabetes struggle is here to serve me. As I mentioned earlier, my usual routine suddenly just isn’t working for me. Exercise is making me high (which it never did before), I seem to have to double up on boluses, and I am just not feeling great overall. I’ve been kind of stumbling around with all of this, uncertain of how to proceed. I started to notice that it was more than my blood sugars that were changing. The food I usually eat is no longer appealing and running, which I always find so rejuvenating, is the absolute last thing I feel like doing. I generally jump right out of bed in the morning, but I’ve been snoozing past my alarm for up to 30 minutes before finally dragging myself out of bed. I’ve even been feeling less inspired to write on the blog!

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So, while my blood sugars are there to tell me that I need to reassess my diabetes care, I think they are also alerting me to the fact that other aspects of my life are ready for some change, too. I would be the first one to tell you that I am not exactly the same person I was a year or two ago- because I have grown and evolved- so how can I expect the same routine that satisfied that version of me to serve the current version of me? I have a new job, I am recently single, I am living in a new town… so many pieces of my life have changed. In going through these significant transitions, I have been clinging on to my old ways, that have always worked, instead of making the full leap and discovering new ways to be my best self. If something has always worked in the past, why would I want to change it? But that is what my blood sugars are here to show me. I had been managing my diabetes a certain way for a while, but that is no longer as effective as it was, for whatever reason. Since I have not been eating or exercising in a way that would trigger a change, I know that I do not need to get “back on track,” but rather, I need to get on a different track. I know the first thing I will do is talk to my doctors about changing my basal rates. In the non-diabetes realm, I will be reconsidering some of my feel good go-tos. Maybe running has always made me feel great, but now it’s not, so instead of continuing to force it, I am going to try doing more yoga and hiking.

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Without these unexplainably higher blood sugars that I have been experiencing lately, would I have realized that I am just going through the motions of life?  How is your diabetes here to serve you? Are you going through any changes right now?

 

 

Weekly Round Up

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September is officially half way over! Signs of autumn are showing more and more every day up here in Vermont. As much as I love summer, I always find this time of year so refreshing. The sun is still warm, but the air is crisp and a little bit cool. I will hold off on bombarding you with pumpkin recipes this week… but I can’t make any promises after today!

I’m looking forward to kayaking, reading, writing, and cooking this weekend. Productive AND restorative. What are your intentions for this weekend?

A recent T1D blog I am very excited to have discovered! Check out what Gretchen has to say and let me know in the comments of any T1D blogs you recommend I read.

This is major interior design inspiration for a nature girl like myself.

Forget carrying your phone- this would be perfect for storing snacks while running/walking/hiking.

It’s been a while since I’ve made granola and I’m thinking about getting back to it with this recipe sometime soon. In the meantime, Purely Elizabeth’s Pumpkin Fig Ancient Grain Granola has been hitting the spot.

Last, but not least, a subject that is near and dear to my heart.

Don’t forget that tonight is a full moon! Enjoy your weekend and remember:

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Checking In

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How many times a day do you check your blood sugar? I’m not asking that to sound like your doctor, just inquiring from one diabetic to another. I check up to 12 times a day, depending on my activity level and if my set is functioning properly. When I was a teenager, I probably checked in only 4 or 5 times a day. In fact, I remember going through the school day without testing for lunch. Not surprisingly, my A1C was in the 8s back then and, in general, I was pretty numb to my diabetes. It took longer for me to pick up on symptoms of highs or lows. I went through the motions of testing and giving insulin, but I didn’t pay attention to any trends. I was just kind of trucking through.

Now, I am so much more alert to the slightest fluctuation in my blood sugar. I sense a rise after eating or a dip while running. I notice patterns and I consider how different factors effect my blood sugar. I’ve learned that bananas require more insulin than they should according to my carb ratio. I’ve realized that temp basals and suspending my pump are great ways to avoid lows during exercise. Instead of just plodding through my diabetes, I’ve started to dig deeper in order to figure out how to feel my best. This change started with the decision to check in more often.
As diabetics, we know the key to physical health is checking our blood sugars frequently, but has it ever occurred to you to think about how often you check in with your heart? There isn’t a number to measure this check in, but that doesn’t make it any less important to our well being. Just like when we don’t test our blood sugars frequently and we become numb to the physical sensations, if we stop checking in with our emotions, we become desensitized to our inner self.
So, what are some ways you can start checking in with yourself? Well, just as you know certain times to test your blood sugar (before eating, after exercising, etc.), you can start to develop different signals for checking in with yourself. Perhaps it’s before you begin a meal. After testing your blood sugar and sitting down to eat, take three deep breaths. Not only is this calming, and will help to bring your focus to your food, but it is also centering and will help release any external mind traffic and allow you to tune into your soul. Taking three deep breaths at any time is my favorite way to stay in touch with myself throughout the day. When I haven’t been pausing to do this enough, I feel disconnected and I am more prone to being irritable.
Here are a few other ideas for working more self check-ins into your routine:
1.) Writing
From keeping a journal to jotting down lists, writing turns up the volume on your internal voice and helps bring clarity to anything simmering on the back burner of your soul. If you struggle with the idea of keeping a daily diary, consider turning to a journal whenever you find yourself reacting strongly to something. It can be positive or negative, big or small. Eventually you might reveal some patterns in your life that will help you make more sense of your thoughts and actions. After all, there’s a reason endocrinologists recommend keeping a log book of our blood sugars. Use this technique to discover emotional trends.
2.) Exercising
Moving your body is a great way to turn your attention inward.  Walk, run, bike, swim, practice yoga, or any other form of exercise that you prefer to reconnect with your center. Personally, walking in nature is when I come up with my most creative ideas. In the initial moments after a sweaty workout is when I find utter clarity. And there’s nothing like time on the yoga mat to quiet my mind.
3.) Silence
I love listening to music and podcasts when I am in the car, but lately I’ve found such peace in driving to work without anything playing. Last week I found myself blasting songs in an attempt to drown out my bad mood, but today I just decided to sit with it instead. I never run with music either (which started because I lost my ipod but then I never went back). Doing some activities in silence can be a great way to amplify your other senses.
4.) Being in Nature
Our inner selves are with us no matter what we do, but sometimes, it’s because of how much we are doing that we can get disconnected. Especially in the age of technology, with so much information available to us and social media, which gives us constant access to each other’s lives, there is a lot of surface level activity going on that our souls often get buried under. What better place to reconnect with yourself than in nature, where everything functions around the notion of just being.
5.) Creating
Maybe you don’t think you are artistic, but I believe that everyone is an artist. (Check out my article on that here.) Whatever the medium, painting, drawing, baking, playing an instrument, sculpting, singing, building, writing, designing, this is playtime for the soul. Let the mind free and create through the soul.
I hope these ideas inspire you to take “checking in” beyond your blood sugars and to your inner self. When we check our blood sugars more frequently, we improve our physical health and checking in with our selves more frequently can equally beneficial to our over all well-being.
If you are inspired by this post at all, then I would like to invite you to join me in Jaime Mendell’s Master Your Life Challenge, which is “a FREE 8-day journey to discover what self care really looks like.” Jaime is a health coach who specializes in helping women overcome destructive patterns by developing a better relationship with themselves. I follow Jaime’s blog and recently attended a webinar she hosted. I am a big fan of her coaching style and philosophy and I am very much looking forward to her leadership in this 8-day Challenge! The program begins on Wednesday, September 14th. Learn more about Jaime and register for the challenge today! Comment below if you decide to join me!

Weekly Round Up

I can’t believe it was already a week ago since I was at home enjoying the long Labor Day Weekend! If I ruled the world, every work week would be only 4 days long…

Here are a few fun, interesting, and random things I’ve rounded up for you from the web this week. Have a wonderful weekend 🙂

 

This fun numerology quiz is sort of like a more personalized horoscope for the month of September. I got number 9… let me know what number you get in the comments below!

Dying to make this!

I love the idea of this workout.

Just whipped up this recipe to bring to a gathering tomorrow… if I can refrain from eating it all before then!

I’ve been working my way through this list over the last two weeks.

This was a great little read and the perfect reminder that au natural flatters all.

Labor of Love

These are a few photos of my family’s home in Vermont. My parents bought the house when I was six months old and have been working on it ever since. They have renovated the inside twice, remodeled all of the bathrooms, replaced the stairs, and redesigned the entire first floor. They have done a lot of work on the outside, as well. My mom’s gardening talents compliment my dad’s eye for landscaping and his special passion for building rock walls.

When we were growing up, my siblings and I would get asked to help out with various tasks around the house. We always thought our parents just made up these “projects” to do so that there would be work for us. As I grew older, though, I realized that all of the weeding, rock moving, painting, hammering, shoveling, raking, and cleaning are critical aspects of caring for our home. These days, there aren’t too many big projects going on, but my parents work hard to keep the house in tip top shape. My dad will spend an entire afternoon weed wacking and mowing the lawn, and though he comes in sweating and tired, he’s happy because, to him, yard work is a labor of love. If he doesn’t tend to the yard, it will gradually become overgrown. My siblings and I know now that if no one cares for the house, it will begin to fall apart.

There is no denying that diabetes is a lot of work. We labor over our blood sugars and carb counting. Perhaps today, in honor of Labor Day, we can all take a moment to view our diabetes care as a labor of love. Sometimes, like weeding a garden, it’s going to get messy and seem like there’s no way out of the tangles. There will be days, like building a rock wall, when nothing wants to fit together. And there will be times, like mowing the lawn, when it seems so bumpy you just want to stop altogether. But then there will be days when  the garden will be blooming brightly, the colors of the flowers and the well groomed lawn will compliment the rocks and all it’s all because of the energy you put in. It’s all because of the love you gave. And if you don’t commit to this labor of love that is diabetic care, eventually your “home”, your body, will start to fall apart.

A lot of times we do things out of love for family or friends. When you bake cookies for your dad or help your friend move into a new apartment, you are showing your love for that person through your actions. Often, we forget to show ourselves the same affection. So, every time you check your blood sugar or give yourself insulin today or choose a healthy snack, try seeing that as a labor of love for yourself. The more we love ourselves, the more deeply we care for ourselves and, at the same time, the more we care for ourselves, the more deeply we love ourselves.

 

Happy Labor Day! I hope everyone enjoyed a last weekend of summer sunshine!

A Fresh Start

Somehow, today is September 1st. This brings a mix of emotions.  I want to hold on to the leisure and freedom of summer as long as I can, but there’s something about the chill in the morning air that has me feeling refreshed and excited for the season ahead. I haven’t always felt this way, however.

The sun rising on September this morning
Flashback to my ten-year-old self and I was literally counting down the days until the end of summer because I love, love, LOVED going back to school. (To the disapproval of my father- who is a teacher- I actually had a paper chain to help me keep track of the days left until school started) I anxiously awaited the annual letter with the list of necessary school supplies.  Shopping at Staples was my version of going to a toy store. I found inspiration in all of the colorful folders, crisp notebooks, and jazzy pens and pencils. I really did look forward to getting back into the classroom (because I have always loved school), but looking back, I think there is also something about a fresh start that I find appealing.
A lot of people say that September is like the second New Years- a time for recommitting to resolutions, setting goals, and an opportunity to make changes. I completely agree. There’s something about the changing of seasons that yields a renewed sense of motivation. Lately, however, I’ve been trying to get myself away from feeling like I need a fresh start. I think this idea of starting over can get addicting and it can serve as a crutch that prevents me from making any real changes. My sister and I used to always joke when we found ourselves overindulging on Friday nights, “Diet starts Monday!” This sentiment gave us permission to eat whatever we wanted during the weekend, but come Monday, we had to revamp our healthy eating efforts and get back to the gym. This was certainly not a very balanced approach (we would have been better off eating our favorite foods in moderation all week long instead of binging on the weekends), but the main point here is that we clung to the notion that we could start fresh and all of our undesirable actions would be forgotten.
Believing that we can always start over lets us off the hook for making mindful decisions in the moment. We fall into a trap of thinking that we can shut the door on the past and open up a new, better door to the future. This applies to more than diet plans or exercise routines. I know I used to have a tendency to view my endocrinologist appointments as an opportunity for a fresh start. I would see my doctor, get my A1C reading, and commit to diabetic perfection starting the next day. This was a way of consoling myself for how I fell off track in the weeks or months prior. But my promises to be a “better” diabetic were generally lost as soon as I had a high or low blood sugar because I felt that it was all worthless. So, the cycle would begin again. If this pattern reoccurs continuously (in any aspect of life), all of a sudden you are left feeling like you aren’t good enough, desperately needing a fresh start and, ultimately, a new you.
Now, this is not to say that we should never set goals or make fluctuations in our routines. Challenging yourself to train for a race or read the news every day or cook at home 3 nights a week are examples of changes we can make in an effort to improve our quality of life, while not trying to completely overhaul every aspect of who we are. This requires that we cultivate a deep respect for ourselves. If we can do that, then we will come to a point where we are tuning in frequently enough to adjust as necessary and are able to forgive any missteps along the way instead of letting them push us entirely off balance.
That being said, I still love to go to Staples at this time of year!
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New notebooks for blog ideas & inspiration
Do you look forward to this shift of seasons? In what areas of your life do you find yourself needing a fresh start? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Diabetes Daily Grind

I am thrilled to announce that I published my first article as a guest contributor for Diabetes Daily Grind over the weekend!

If you have never heard of this website, I highly recommend that you check it out. It’s a great resource for all type 1 diabetics. The founders, Amber and Ryan, have created a really supportive and informative online community through the content of their articles as well as their podcast. I posted a link to one of Amber’s recent pieces in last week’s Round Up. From body image to sports to recipes, they cover a lot of important material through the lens of a Type 1 diabetic.

Take a look at their site, read my article, and let me know what you think!

Weekly Round Up

TGIF! Here are a few fun/informative reads from around the web.

I’ve been enjoying Greek yogurt, chia seeds, and berries for breakfast this week. Lots of great health benefits in Greek yogurt & it’s a great low-carb option to start the day!

Sugar is so sneaky!

One of my favorite weekend activities.

I really appreciated this article about body image and diabetes.

THIS SALAD… so simple, so delicious. Best when enjoyed alfresco with good friends.

I am a huge fan of the Minimalist Baker- you may have noticed I’ve shared a recipe or two of her’s already- this salad came from her cookbook. It’s full of inspiring and delicious dishes!

 

That’s a wrap for this week! Have a great weekend… maybe head to your local farmer’s market!