Friday, April 17, 2015

Sometimes it’s just hard




Weight loss.


Did I say that already? Yeah, life can be damn hard. Diabetes is nearly always hard, isn’t it? Even when we’re kicking its butt, it isn’t easy. The expectations we put on ourselves, and those we feel from others, add another layer of difficulty. If you’re like me, you try to overcome the difficult aspects and put on your game face…but sometimes it’s just hard. 

Too hard.

I’ve been plagued by a new speed bump over the last few months; a condition that has stumped my HCP. So I’m dealing with something that hinders my activities…every day. My not-as-yet-diagnosed “condition” has added a new level of difficulty to my life. It means that exercise has become difficult. This has been really hard on me since I used to crave my time on the treadmill; pushing myself a little harder as time went on. Proud of what I could do to improve my overall health. Now, I push myself just to get out of the recliner and walk 20 minutes on a flat surface and I won’t win any speed competitions.

Ray and I have been eating a very low carb diet for a couple of months now. And before you think it; no, my new health issue is not related to the low carb diet. I had already cut way back on my carb intake a long time ago in order to attempt to keep my blood sugars more near normal (ha!). Ray decided that he wanted to try this in order to lose some weight. It’s working…for him. We eat very few processed foods, mostly just occasional canned stuff really. No root veggies. No grains. Whole, real food. It has become our new lifestyle and it’s working for us. I don’t have any complaints, really, except that, unlike Ray, I’m gaining weight. Can I blame that on the diet? No. Something else is going on. My new not-as-yet-diagnosed “condition” has brought with it a distinct lack of appetite. I’m rarely hungry. I forget to eat. I know that a body can go into starvation mode when it doesn’t get enough calories, but I haven’t heard of someone gaining weight in that scenario. Leave it to me.

We try so hard, and sometimes we fall short of our goals. We do what we can to do what we should, and sometimes it just doesn’t work. We’re bombarded with information that says we will lose weight/control blood sugar/be healthier and happier if we just put in the effort, and yet our efforts don’t always pan out the way we’d hoped. Although this sucks, I choose to keep on keepin on. The alternative doesn’t appeal to me.

The next time I read an insensitive comment online that says that I would be thinner or a better controlled diabetic if I would just eat less and move more, I won’t take it to heart. I’ve always known that weight loss is way more than fewer calories and more movement, and yet whenever the subject comes up I feel guilty, as if I’ve failed somehow. Yet, here I am: eating very little and moving when I can…and I’ve gained a few pounds. How is that my fault? How can someone say this is my doing? Sometimes it’s just hard. 

If you’re overweight. If your blood sugar isn’t meeting its goals. If exercise is difficult for you. If you can’t let go of the addicting carbs. If the wagon wobbles at times, pitching you out into a field of things you’re trying to avoid. If any or all of these scenarios is your life, then please don’t listen to the naysayers. Please don’t fall into the trap that it will all work out if you only try harder/eat less/move more. Sometimes it doesn’t pan out. Sometimes our best falls a bit short. This should not deter you. This is NOT your fault. This should make you more determined to keep at it. 

Dr. Phil said, “Life’s a marathon, not a sprint.” (Love the quote but…) True words. We need to keep moving forward, despite our obstacles, and make life as good as we can. Find the shiny things. Enjoy the little stuff. Don’t ever give up, especially when it’s hard.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Diabetes Unconference: The power of peer support

Me too. 

Very powerful words. When living with a chronic illness, it helps to know that you’re not alone; that someone else understands the struggles you face. If you’re reading this, you have already reached out in at least one way to find information or a community to help you learn and deal with your life with diabetes. Some of you may know of the greater Diabetes Online Community (DOC) either through blogs, Twitter, Facebook or communities like Tudiabetes, but some of you may have never met someone face to face who also has diabetes. This past weekend I had the privilege to participate in such a face to face event.

Christel Aprigliano at had a vision that she turned into a reality with help from a few friends.  The Diabetes Unconference is a gathering developed by people with diabetes for people with diabetes. This past weekend was the first annual event held at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. There were no keynote speakers, no medical professionals bestowing us with their knowledge, no sales pitches or book sales. It was simply a room filled with people who live with diabetes, of any type, talking about things that mattered to them. 

Very Powerful Stuff.

There were some people there who you would expect to see; those who have been a part of the DOC from the beginning. However, there were also people there who didn’t even know that the DOC existed! There were bloggers and some who rarely get online. Newly diagnosed (less than one year under their belt) up to two women who have lived with type 1 diabetes for more than 50 years…each! (Joslin medal winners). There were close to 2,000 years of diabetes experience in that room for 1 ½ days. Whoa. All types, sizes and shapes coming together with one thing in mind: support.

There was laughter. There were tears. Hugs abounded and high fives flew. Clapping (twice). Frustrations. Hope. Fear. Unbelievable strength and dogged determination. There really aren’t enough words available to me to describe this event. So here’s what you should do. Next year, you should plan to attend. There will be another…and another…and another. Of this I am certain. There is no way that the universe can hold us back from coming together in person and lifting each other up, sharing our fears without fear and supporting each other in a way that only people with diabetes can. Type doesn’t matter; what matters is compassion and understanding for our fellow D peeps. I can’t recommend this type of connection any more strongly.

Finally, thank you Christel for all your hard work and dedication. I know you worried that it wouldn’t fly…but I’m not sure I’ll ever come down and that’s a good thing.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Eat less, move more? Nope.

It is rare these days that I post to my blog two days in a row but I was compelled to respond to four similar anonymous comments on yesterday’s post entitled "What is your diet called?" I chose to only approve one of them since they were all basically the same (probably the same commenter who couldn’t understand why their comment wasn’t immediately visible.) What did they say? “T2s should just eat less and move more.”

First off, I was leery of using the word “diet” in that post because diet is nearly always associated with weight loss. Although weight loss is wonderful, it isn’t the reason for my current food plan, nor was it the point of my previous post. Better blood glucose control is the point and the goal.

Now to respond to “Anonymous”. My first response was less than…well, let’s just say that I won’t post it here. What a condescending, rude, inconsiderate and wrong answer to a very complicated issue! Could you be more thoughtless and unkind? If you’ve tried, you should stop now because I think you’ve nailed your hasty, careless and superior answer. Phew, I feel a bit better.

Maybe you weren’t trying to be condescending and rude. Regardless of your intent I feel compelled to correct your assumptions that weight loss is as simple as eating less and moving more on behalf of myself and millions of other people who struggle. (And to reiterate, weight loss and blood glucose control are different things although weight loss can help control blood glucose.) 

Sciencey stuff:

I have my own opinions and conclusions on this subject, based on the research I’ve done on my own. However, there are doctors and scientists who have been studying obesity, weight loss and type 2 diabetes. I’ll just let them speak since they are more eloquent than I am (and have initials after their names).

Dr. Peter Attia, co-founder of Nutrition Science Initiative (NUSI), gave a very moving Tedtalk about how we might be approaching the diabetes and obesity epidemic in the wrong way.

“The greatest cause of obesity may be that we’re applying the wrong treatment. For about 40 years, health authorities have been telling people struggling with obesity to do the same thing over and over again: eat less and exercise more. This does not appear to be successful. This would suggest that either this treatment is incorrect or it is correct and no one can follow it. Either way it’s probably time for a new treatment.”

I won’t try to tell you what he says, please listen for yourself. It’s a great talk: Listen here.

Another recent study was highlighted in the Los Angeles Times. This study, highlighted here , tells us that “For most of the nation’s 79 million adults and 13 million kids who are obese, the “eat less, move more” treatment, as currently practiced, is a prescription for failure, ...”
There are studies being done that put forth the idea that the type 2 diabetes came first and the weight gain came after. Dr. Attia addresses that in his talk. Someone can have diabetes for a looooong time before they’re ever diagnosed. 

The fact that obesity and type 2 diabetes are linked in the press, over and over again, really gets under my skin. (And if you want to really piss me off, just use the word “diabesity”.) Yes, excess weight can increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Yes, a sedentary lifestyle doesn’t help. But to suggest, that we just need to get of our asses and move while eating less food is wrong. We can’t “cure” our diabetes by walking. We won’t be “undiabetic” if we just stop eating “so much”. I am eating less and moving more now than I ever have in my entire adult life and I still have diabetes. I’m lucky to maintain my weight at “overweight”. Losing weight is important but doing everything we can to try to maintain a normal blood glucose is imperative. I have come to the conclusion that changing what we eat is the answer, along with medications as needed. 

If you’ve read this to the end, I thank you for caring enough to educate yourself. For anyone who is reading this who doesn’t have type 2 or didn’t understand how complex this issue is, I hope you understand it a bit better now. For those of you who have type 2 or are “pre-diabetic”, hugs to you and I hope you share this with your family and friends. The only way we can change the tide of myths and misconceptions is to educate others, including doctors, politicians and the media. Speak up and set the record straight!