Thursday, May 31, 2012

My How I’ve Changed

I have been known to go back and read some of my previous posts from time to time.  Reading my thoughts and ideas from some time ago is educational and it really does help me stay on track with my diabetes.  It can be a reminder of something I had planned to try, and why, as well as a way to see how far I’ve come….or not.  I recently got to thinking about where I am with my diabetes and how much has changed over the past year.  It amounts to a lot!

Most significant is the change in my attitude toward food.  I have written in the past about how I’m a food-a-holic , how my inner child sometimes takes charge, and how a foray into the grocery store is akin to passing through hell.  Just this year I have been making some changes to how/what I eat.  I have lowered my carb intake, focusing on healthier carbs and very little processed stuff. Snacks consist of healthy nuts, string cheese and bell peppers.  My portions are significantly smaller.  I’m power-walking every day.  Due to these changes, I have lost weight, gone down a pant size, I’m not hungry all the time and my glucose readings have been better (except those damn fasting readings that just won't budge!).  I can actually walk down the potato chip aisle and the bags no longer speak to me.  I can completely ignore them and I don’t feel deprived! Hallelujah!

Compare today’s Kate to the Kate of 2005 and you will see a big difference.  When I was diagnosed in 2005 I was about 30lbs heavier than I am now, I adored processed carbs and pizza and I didn’t exercise regularly.  Now let’s look at the Kate of 2006, a year later: I was about 30lbs heavier than I am now, I adored processed carbs and pizza and I didn’t exercise regularly.  Hmmm, I’m seeing a trend here.  Yes, I did make changes in the first year after my diagnosis but they weren’t glaringly obvious.  I still adored my beloved carbs but I didn’t eat them as often.  I checked my glucose a lot  and made attempts to adjust what I was eating.  My glucose control wasn’t bad at all and I wasn’t yet on any oral meds.  Instead of letting go of certain foods that might not have been good for me, I tried SO hard to adjust them so they were more “diabetic friendly”.  Why?  Because I didn’t want D to force me to change.

Fast forward to today and my mind set is way different.  In fact, just typing about my previous lifestyle makes me shake my head.  Who was that woman?  She was nice and all, but what was she thinking?  The reality is that the Kate from back then was just fine.  She was dealing with a huge change in her life the best way she knew how.  She wasn’t much different than thousands of other people who are newly diagnosed with diabetes.

The moral of this story is that it doesn’t matter how your D path leads you, just as long as it eventually leads you to better health.  There are some people who are able to completely change their eating habits overnight, but they are rare.  Even when we’re faced with a serious health condition, it can take a while to make the necessary changes and that’s ok.  Yes, I could have been stricter with myself and possibly come to some important realizations more quickly, but I didn’t.  So what, I got here didn’t I?  The coolest thing about how I got where I am today is that I’m more likely to stick with this new lifestyle because I learned it slowly.  I didn’t force myself to change overnight.  I let myself let go of unhealthy things over time and now I don’t miss them nearly as much.  They are a part of my past just like all-nighters with my friends and ….well, we won’t go there.

Am I now the “perfect diabetic”?  HELL NO, and I probably never will be.  That’s ok too.  We are people and that makes us imperfect.  No one can do it all right all the time, but we can work toward a healthier lifestyle at a pace that works for us.  We’re all different, thank goodness, and our paths will look differently from each other’s.  Follow your path and when you stray a bit, just use that GPS whose course is set toward a healthier you.  You’ll arrive and be happier, and healthier.  It’s worth the journey.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I am NOT on a Diet!

The word diet has different meanings but the most recognized meaning says that we are eating a certain way to achieve an outcome, ie: to lose weight or improve health.  If you’re like me, you have spent an inordinate amount of time during your life on a diet.  I personally have lost at least one small child’s worth of pounds over the years….and then gained a lot of it back.  The problem with being on a diet is that we feel deprived.  Being on a diet means that we have to eat a certain way and there are a multitude of things that “we can’t eat”.  When someone tells me that I can’t do something, that’s all I want to do! (Kate’s inner child strikes again.)

Many years ago it was thought that people with diabetes had to eat a certain way.  They had to avoid sugar at all costs and were very restricted.  Thankfully, thinking has changed and now people with diabetes, all types, can eat a variety of foods.  In fact, many PWD can eat just about anything!  Imagine that.  There is no such thing as a diabetic diet. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can just ignore the fact that our bodies don’t handle some foods very well any longer.  We do have to adjust.

When someone is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes they are told that they need to change how they’re eating and that they probably need to lose weight.  Ugh.  “I have to go on a diet.  I can’t eat my favorite foods any longer.  This is going to suck.”  It can be extremely difficult to change our eating habits but it doesn’t have to suck, at least not forever.  In the beginning, changing what/how we eat is hard.  It can be akin to stopping addicting drugs our quitting smoking or drinking.  It’s. Just. Hard.  The problem is that if we are thinking “I’m on a diet” we fight it and fret and complain; we hate it and dream of eating things we shouldn’t.  I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to live the rest of my life like that!

It is easier for me to think about this new food plan as a new lifestyle, one that is healthier and will hopefully allow me to live a longer, complication free life.  When I concentrate on that aspect of it I don’t feel as deprived.  Sure, I still want to eat things that I shouldn’t but I simply remind myself why I’m doing it and it isn’t as difficult to accept.

I’ve been doing really well lately and I’m feeling great.  That in itself is motivation.  I need to remember how this feels and stick to it.  I think I can.

Some of you may be thinking that this is silly, that it’s just semantics.  Well, it is, but it’s putting words to a good use.  If thinking that a new way of eating is a lifestyle change, (something I’m doing to improve my life), as opposed to a diet, (something I’m forced to do and can’t wait til it ends), and it makes the transition easier, who cares?  Do what you have to do to make it work, make it stick.  Diabetes is a new way of living for many of us.  That doesn’t mean that it’s going to be bad.  Don’t fight it, embrace it and succeed.  I happen to love my life, despite diabetes…..and I’m not on a diet!