GratiTuesday – Diabetic Team

Every week, twice a week, I email my Diabetes/pregnancy team my numbers for the last few days – my numbers at wakeup (fasted, since I don’t eat in my sleep… I don’t think! 😉), before and after each meal. And this is how they determine if I need to take more insulin or not to counter the pregnancy hormones and the havoc they can wreak on a Diabetic.

And most of the time, my numbers are pretty good – we have worked HARD to find a good balance and I work really hard to eat well, drink water, stay active, and manage my stress.

And other times, like weekends full of parties and BBQ’s, they aren’t quite as good, but still not terrible. Life is about balance, it’s just a matter of accommodating this balance.

And sometimes, even through pretty flawless effort on my part, hormones just do. their. thang, and this was a lot for me to accept and acclimate to, as my first instinct was, as usual, to look inward and blame MYSELF for something I was/was not doing.

And if you have followed my diabetic journey, you know I have DEFINITELY seen my share of struggles. Pregnancy added quite a few layers to that, because that’s what pregnancy does to a body.

And if you know me, you know I like to fix things; if somethings not right, I wanna make it so it is. This is ESPECIALLY important in my own health.

And my team is awesome, truly. They are so encouraging and empowering, compassionate and knowledgeable.

I feel safe and capable with them guiding me through something I’ve never gone through.

I don’t look for the praise as much as I look for reassurance from a professional that my numbers are good and I’m on the right track, and doing the best I can for this baby who is solely relying on ME, but when the lead nurse emails me and it includes this praise, it goes right to my heart and reminds me that I’m capable, I’m a warrior, and I can do hard things!

“You are a Rock Star!
They are perfect!”

Some may see it as just words, but who amongst us hasn’t gotten a little boost, a little pep in their step from someone’s kindness?

Be the light in someone’s life – be the one who lifts them up and reassures them that whatever life throws at them, they. can. handle. it.

💕

Tip Tuesday – Burning Fat

I try to remember this when my workouts go long (my current program sometimes goes to 63 minutes on doubles days – whew!), that it’s all for a reason!

Exercising for longer than 30 minutes shifts the primary macromolecules that are metabolized from glucose to fatty acids. Just keep going!

30-minutes-fat-burning-zone

Thirsty Thursday – Drink Your Water

For people with Diabetes, the risk of dehydration is greater, because higher than normal blood glucose depletes fluids. To get rid of the glucose, the kidneys will try to pass it out in the urine, but that takes water. So the higher your blood glucose, the more fluids you should drink, which is why thirst is one of the main symptoms of Diabetes.

drink your water

Water is, according to Diabetes specialists, important for everybody, but especially for Diabetes patients, because even a small decrease of the hydration level could cause serious health problems for Diabetics. One of the best warning signs that glucose levels are high is thirst. And, water is the best way to quench that thirst, and to break down those sugars. Also, in order to keep the body functioning normally, water should be a constant. But, water can be lost through exercise and normal exposure to high temps. With that, being hydrated will help prevent fatigue and help physical performance.

Me personally, I do very well with getting plenty of water into my system every day. I have a favorite water jug that you will almost always find at my side. The “rule” I follow is to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces. For me that is 58 ounces a day, and I surpass that. I typically drink 4 or 5 containers worth of water, and my container is 24 ounces.

How much water do you drink on average?

Whole Foods Wednesday – Plums

Plums take me right back to summer! I would usually have some packed in my cooler for the beach! I love Plums – I like them to have just a tiny bit of firmness to them. And they are good for me!

Plums contain high content of unique phytonutrients called neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid. These substances help prevent damage, and are particularly effective in neutralizing a particularly dangerous oxygen radical called superoxide anion radical. In addition, they have been shown to help prevent oxygen-based damage to fats. Being that our cell membranes, brain cells and molecules such as cholesterol are largely COMPOSED of fats, preventing free radical damage to fats is a huge plus!

Plums

Plums are a great source of vitamin C, and a good source of vitamin K, copper, dietary fiber, and potassium. They rank low on the Glycemic Index, making them a great snack for someone with Diabetes!

According to https://www.organicfacts.net, “Plums exert anti-hyperglycemic effects and help in combating diabetes. Studies have shown that the consumption of plum extracts aids in the reduction of blood glucose and levels of triglyceride in the body. The flavonoids present in plums exert protective effects against insulin resistance and help to enhance insulin sensitivity in the body.”

Plums rank among the top 10 fresh fruits with the most antioxidant potential, and only blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries and raspberries have more antioxidants than fresh plums!

And the fun part is, outside of just eating it in hand, there are HUNDREDS of ways to use plums – do you have any favorite ways?

Superfood Saturday – Maca Root

You have likely heard of today’s superfood spotlight – Maca Root. It’s been around seemingly forever. It’s a natural source of healing nutrition, but it also has a long history of being a safe superfood that has been consumed for its medicinal benefits for thousands of years in regions of the Andes Mountains.

Another unique fact about maca root is that historically it has been considered a very potent aphrodisiac and a traditional fertility secret of populations living in the Andes. Clinical trials have shown that maca has positive effects on energy, stamina, and mood. Maintaining positive energy levels is related to having lower levels of anxiety and depression, both of which maca has been shown to positively help achieve.

Maca Root

Consuming maca often helps people feel more “alive”, energetic, and with a better sense of well-being, all of which are thought to be due to its ability to restore proper hormone balance and elevate “feel good” endorphins.

Plus, it significantly improves glucose tolerance, by lowering levels of glucose in blood. This is especially important for those who need to worry about heart health and conditions like Diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

Maca root is in my Shakeology, and so I get a dose of it daily – I am not sure how much (that information is proprietary to Beachbody) but I have no complaints, personally!

Truthbomb Tuesday – Sugar

Not gonna mince words here – sugar is terrible. It’s awful, and not just in the world of Diabetes! You hear it all over – how bad sugar is, what it does to your health and your body, and why you should cut it out (or at the very least, eat less).

Sugar is just empty, quickly-digested calories. It contains no protein, no enzymes, no healthy fats and no nutrients. It has no actual benefits.

It’s a tall order (but not impossible!) to cut out because sugar really does have addictive properties. What I found through drinking my Shakeology was that this satisfied many of my cravings, and once you break the addictive hold sugar has over you, you desire it less. It can be challenging to break that addiction, but it’s very much possible. I have come as far as no longer taking any sweetener with my morning coffee, a habit 20 years in the making.

Now, many people argue that sugar is omnipresent in everything (and, as I painfully found out after my diagnosis, it basically IS). But there is a difference, a GREAT difference, between naturally contained sugars, and added sugars. Yes, fruits and vegetables contain sugar, but its also balanced by vitamins and fiber contained in fruits and veggies.

How Sugar Destroys Your Health

Sadly, this is just a running list, not substantial.

I have been working on kicking my sugar habit; as I have said, it is not easy, but small consistent steps are better than nothing, and I am better off for them!

How do you do with sugars? Are you proactive in trying to keep them to a minimum?

Wednesday Wisdom – Managing Stress

Stress is everywhere. It’s just the nature of the game. If it were possible to completely eliminate stress, I am sure most, if not all, of us would. Stress really affects your body’s blood glucose in two ways:

  1. It changes the way your body handles insulin
  2. It can cause you to change the way you take care of yourself.

Stress can be mental, physical, emotional, even spiritual. Each can cause a similar chemical reaction in your body. For some Diabetics, exercising regularly provides the level of stress relief needed to control their health. Others need a little more help in managing stress.

Emotional stress is one of the hardest to control, and can be brought on by a myriad of situations; a fight with a spouse, the stress of taking care of an aging/ailing parent, worrying about a stable future, a difficult job situation… unfortunately, there are countless stressful situations in this thing called life.

Stress Balls can help!
Stress Balls can help!

A good tip is to develop coping strategies that will enable you to have more control over how stressed out you get. You can’t control all situations, but you can control your reaction to them. For some people, it helps to put the situation in perspective and ask if this is really that big a deal? Others take action to fix the problem, thus reducing the stress. And some people just remove themselves from the situation entirely – in some situations, this is truly the only way to avoid getting too stressed out. This could include transferring jobs or changing positions within a company.

There is no right or wrong way for you to choose which is the best method for you. I try to always act out putting it in perspective, and taking action. I don’t like to feel helpless (does anyone?), and there is something powerful to be said for doing what you can to better a situation. If I know a situation might stress me out, sometimes I do avoid the situation. Like if a friend is constantly being negative and bringing you down – sometimes it’s okay to decline a lunch date with that person. I practice self-preservation by assessing situations and deciding how best to handle them to keep my own stress levels stable. And a good tip I got from an old friend was asking myself “in two weeks, will this still upset me?” if the answer is yes, the issue has merit, and needs to be handled accordingly. If in two weeks you wouldn’t still be upset about something, it’s not worth getting up in arms about. Like yes, in two weeks time I might still be upset by a friend’s betrayal, but I would not still be upset about being 10 minutes late for an appointment or a lunch date.

As for physical stress, sometimes that’s harder to control, because you can’t always avoid it. You are likely, at some point, to fall ill, or be injured. It’s important to note that in these situations, it’s important for you to seek medical attention, or monitor your condition closely. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Life happens. To all of us. You are not the only one dealing with life, so take solace in the fact that we all have our struggles. Do the best you can to deal with them, using your own health as a great motivator. You are worth it.

Feel Good Friday – Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy… touchy subject here. Most know what it is (neuropathy means affecting the legs, feet, arms, or hands), but many might be unaware that there is a whole host of triggers. In people with diabetes, neuropathy is usually the result of elevated blood glucose levels, which in many cases leads to permanent nerve damage. However, many people with diabetes find that improving their blood glucose control – especially if their blood glucose far exceeds recommended levels – can lead to a reduction or even elimination of neuropathy symptoms.

The good news is there are some ways to help get some relief from neuropathy pain/discomfort. Keep in mind that everyone responds differently to treatments; always use your best judgment.

  • Heat – Most people find warmth soothing. When is the last time you didn’t feel relaxed in a warm bath or while lying in the sun? Warmth provides the body with a pleasant, comfortable sensation that might just be enough to provide some relief from neuropathic pain. The body only has so many sensory nerve receptors, so why not give some of them something nice to do for a change? This can include heating pads, a warm bath, warmed towels, or a paraffin wax warmer. Also, be sure to monitor temperatures closely – temperatures over 120°F can cause serious burns.
  • Ice – In general, ice is not as soothing as heat. However, it does have the advantage of being an analgesic: It can provide a mild numbing effect, which can relieve pain. Ice is also anti-inflammatory, meaning it helps reduce swelling. This can be useful if your hands or feet are prone to edema (fluid buildup), which can increase sensations of pain. Ice may also be the key for someone whose pain does not respond to heat. You can use an icepack, a frozen sponge, or just put some ice cubes inside a freezer bag, apply a towel to the affected area, and place the ice bag on top. Use for no more than 10 minutes.
  • “Contrast baths” – Contrast baths can be a little messy, but they may offer some relief from both pain and swelling in the hands or feet. Start with two basins: one filled with ice water, the other with warm water. Starting with the ice water, submerge your hand or foot for 30 seconds – if you can tolerate it – and then immediately switch to the warm water for 2 minutes. Repeat the process about five times. If you can’t tolerate the entire 30 seconds of cold, you can cut the time for each bath in half. They are nice for people who get good results from ice but cannot tolerate using it for long periods of time (like myself!). Like ice, contrast baths can keep edema under control. But if you decide to try this method, be sure to keep several towels handy – no matter how careful you are, water tends to get everywhere.
  • Distraction – Distraction works under the principle that pain is all in your head. It’s not that you are imagining your pain; it’s that your brain – where feelings of pain are processed – only has so much attention to give. The more it focuses on pain, the less likely it is to notice much else. The flipside, however, is that if you can direct some of that attention elsewhere, your brain will have to turn down the “noise” caused by the pain (it is kind of like when you really have to go to the bathroom but aren’t close to a toilet… many people distract themselves by thinking of something else, such as a dry desert, to take some of the concentration of how much you have to go to the bathroom away). Anything can be grounds for distraction: music, a good book, television, calling up a friend to chat. Whatever you enjoy and can focus on, do it. Distraction can be especially helpful when your pain is holding you back from a task that needs to be done. This applies most often to physical tasks such as exercise or mundane housework – although if a mental task does not demand all of your focus, it may benefit from distraction, too.
  • Journaling – Pain has a tendency to make people feel grumpy and edgy – meaning that the frustration caused by neuropathic pain can be about far more than the pain itself. Holding this frustration inside is almost always a bad idea, and it can be enormously therapeutic just to vent. One excellent way to do this – even though it may sound a bit hokey – is to write about your feelings. A major advantage of using a journal over, say, a good friend to vent is that the journal never gets tired of listening to you gripe. It never judges you. You can use the strongest language you want, and no one ever has to hear it. A journal is a safe place to write anything you need to get out of your system – just be sure to keep your journal locked or hidden away if you want to keep your thoughts private. After you have vented in your writing, you can then call a friend and talk about something more pleasant. Another advantage of journaling is that you can track your pain. By noting what you are doing when your pain gets worse (or better), including what time of day it is and details such as what you’ve been eating, you may discover patterns that you might not otherwise notice.
  • Relaxation – Relaxation is a powerful pain-fighting tool. Think about it: When you’re in pain, do you feel relaxed or tense? Are your muscles at rest, or clamped up? Is your nervous system calm, or do you feel anxious and edgy? By consciously working to control these reactions to pain, you can sometimes reduce your perception of the pain itself. To use an analogy, the fire alarm may be disturbing you as much as the fire – and you’ll feel better if you manage to turn it off.
  • Exercise – (my personal favorite!) You may be skeptical of exercise as a remedy for neuropathic pain – and such skepticism would be justified, since some exercise can make pain worse. But exercise can also help; you just have to do it the right way. This means, above all, exercising gently – no grunting, heavy lifting, or sweating bullets. People with peripheral neuropathy may experience more than just nerve pain; they can also have motor nerve damage, which affects how the muscles function. Exercise won’t repair damaged motor nerves, but it can help your muscles compensate for any damage. Specialized strengthening exercises can help you reclaim muscle function and thereby lessen the burden of day-to-day tasks. If you are new to exercise or if you haven’t exercised in a while, it is a good idea to consult an experienced occupational or physical therapist before embarking on any program. Unlike a personal trainer, therapists have specialized education in treating a wide range of health conditions. A therapist knows how muscles and nerves function, and what can interfere with their performance. By seeing a therapist, you can get an exercise program that is tailored to your particular needs.

If none of these provide any relief (or not enough relief), it’s always a good idea to seek professional help. Neuropathic pain can range from annoying to practically debilitating, and sometimes the available remedies may seem troublesome or inadequate. But many people find at least partial relief from one or more of the treatments and strategies described in this article. If one attempt to soothe your pain doesn’t work, it is important to keep trying. Whether through heat or cold therapy, relaxation, exercise, or adaptations to your daily routine, you may find a reduction in pain – and greater peace of mind – somewhere you didn’t expect to find it.

Do you experience neuropathic pain? If I may be 100% honest right here – neuropathy pain is one of the main reasons I am bound and determined to keep my Diabetes under control – I hate pain. I hate chronic pain. I dealt with chronic pain in my lower back for 7 years due to a car accident – no fun. It wasn’t until I started exercising regularly, thus strengthening my core, that I found some relief… and I don’t really want to go back to being in pain. I am determined!