I’ve reached that point in my life. The point in my life that when I share that I have diabetes, I get that knowing look. The look that says, “Yes, I can see you’re overweight.” Then come the suggestions that my diabetes will magically go away if I just exercise and control my diet. For the most part, I try to be patient with new people. I understand that most people see the commercials on television that talk about how this new pill helps control an adult’s blood sugar along with a healthy diet and regular exercise. The truth is… if you don’t know someone with diabetes, this might be all you know of the condition. So, I smile and gently tell this new person that there are multiple types of diabetes. I try to educate them as best I can on each of the types and their differences. I do this because I feel that educating people about diabetes is the best way to beat the stigma.
I feel like I’ve gotten through to some people. You can almost see the light bulb switch on during the conversation. And that makes me hopeful that I’m at least making a small difference. It was that feeling that made me want to start blogging about my adventures with diabetes and trying to stay healthy. The thing is that it’s very, very difficult. It’s difficult when you don’t have to contend with a chronic illness. I know because I follow the progress of my friends as they try to navigate a healthy lifestyle. It takes planning. It takes commitment. It takes an enormous amount of support. It takes getting up and completing that workout even when you really don’t want to do it.
I’ve had friends try to encourage my healthy lifestyle by saying “let’s do this together!” And that’s wonderful! The encouragement and loving support is fantastic. But, I always end up feeling guilty. That’s right, guilty… You see, my workouts are dependent on what my blood sugar is doing. If my levels are too low, I can’t begin a workout or I could be putting myself at risk for death. Yep. DEATH. So, I feel guilty when I hold up a workout session to make sure my blood sugar is behaving well. I feel guilty when I have to cancel a workout because, no matter how hard I’ve tried, my blood sugar levels just aren’t playing nice. I feel guilty when I have to stop multiple times during a session to check my blood sugar and make corrections.
These feelings of guilt made something that is already difficult feel almost insurmountable. So, I did the one thing that I could to make things go smoother. I started educating myself. I felt like the only way I could make things go my way was to understand how my body behaves during exercise. Then I could predict what would happen with my blood sugar and maybe I could get moving. I found a sports nutritionist who was also a certified diabetes educator. (They do exist!) I read The Diabetic Athlete’s Handbook and learned how my body works during exercise and the effects it has on blood sugar levels. (Did you know that some types of activity can make your blood sugar go up?!) These things have made a world of difference. It may take quite a bit more planning and effort, but if I use this knowledge to my advantage and plan things carefully, then I can go ride my bike, or go for a run, or spend the afternoon kayaking with less issues. The struggle is real but I can get moving!