3 REASONS YOU’RE STRUGGLING WITH DIABETES & WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
I see a lot of information out there highlighting problems. It seems that popular findings these days are all just sales gimmicks masked as ‘solutions’.
My content and my material is my attempt at trying to make sure that there is always some readily available and reliable solutions to fellow diabetics wanting to move forward towards a better time living with this condition. In fact, if I’m being more specific about my mission – I want to assist others to thrive with this condition. I personally believe that merely ‘Living’ with diabetes is the problem.
As a type 1 diabetic for 24 years and a strength and conditioning coach for 13 years, I want to share 3 reasons why you may be struggling with your diabetes and what you can do about it.
1. We don’t appreciate the importance of the “learning phase”.
Diabetes is a lot of things… simply put, diabetes is about human biology, exercise and nutrition.
As diabetics, our medication is rendered useless without the fundamental understanding as to how our condition works with nutrition and exercise. Together these 3 factors create something I call the Diabetic Athletic triangle of control.
This triangle of control is essential for any diabetic who wants to lead a life of thriving with diabetes mentally, physically and emotionally, instead of following the tough terrain of surviving with diabetes and all of its up’s, down’s and in-betweens.
We are not to ‘blame’ for being a little bit behind the curve where this is concerned. We don’t ask for our diabetes and so it can’t be expected for us to know more about these topics when diagnosed compared to the average personal trainer and nutritionist.
The thing is, we need to embrace the mindset that this is going to be a reality.
It’s more of a journey than a destination, and with this being said we need to become skilled sailors on this journey sooner rather than later if we are going to live a life that allows us to thrive with this condition.
The good news is that when you have the right kind of help, with guidance that relates to your own journey, and information that you can hear and easily understand, you will instantly start to make progress.
So what do you do?
As diabetics, we need solid answers that we can put into action and we need results that alleviate our concerns, struggles and stress and fast as possible.
Going through your biology papers from school and learning about nutrition is not exactly an option here. Time is precious and so the information we choose to absorb should ONLY be the information we need at that given time and specific to us as diabetics wanting to achieve better control among the other goals, wants and needs we have.
I see so many fellow diabetics who are taking all the information they can on Facebook groups and from other diabetics who are probably struggling themselves. We all love to share our stories and I appreciate that, however, when it comes to needing the best possible guidance to thrive with diabetes, we need to be super picky about 1) Who we take advice from and 2) if that advice is specific to us, and lastly 3) has that advice been tried, tested and successful for others (with proof) – not just successful for Susan who tried keto for 30 days and has seen a smudge of improvement.
My tips for becoming the strongest and happiest diabetic you can be.
1) Learn about what diabetes is and what it isn’t.
2) The role each macronutrient plays in our lives.
3) How to keep glucose control while applying our understanding of the above.
4) Collect as many tools as we can so we can use them when we need them.
These are things like, our diets, different types of activity for different outcomes, carb counting, stress management and goal setting just to name a few.
5) Learn about the difference between eating for diabetic health and eating for physical changes.
6) Get a coach to help implement all of the above. Knowing about these tips serves the purpose of empowering you and arming you with know-how. This is needed for future growth and sustainability.
Getting a coach to help us with the above is like having a driving instructor sit with you in your driver’s license test. Only this time they are there to make sure you don’t fail. This is for immediate growth and protection form future failure.
2. You’re not accepting the new normal and that all doors that close are also made to be opened.
I spend a lot of time every day talking about diabetes, fitness and nutrition. Before any kind of progress can be sustained, we have to first accept our identity as a diabetic.
Most of us after diagnosis go through a phase of denial which often manifests in many ways. We spend time being upset, frustrated, overwhelmed, feeling like we’re making progress and then we’re not, angry, and at times we just completely ignore our needs as a diabetic.
We spend time trying to fit in with the same social circles that don’t care about how well our diabetes is damaged.
This is a common phase we all go through, so if you’re feeling upset with the fact that you don’t feel ‘normal’ anymore, I can tell you we all go down that road but who are we comparing ourselves to? What’s the litmus for normal? Is it our friends who eat crap all day and party every weekend? Or perhaps it’s just working all the time and not giving a hoot about our health and taking time to make time for our physical well-being and emotional readiness…
Personally, I will go out on a limb and say that as a life long diabetic and as a fitness professional – normal is shit! The average Joe doesn’t care about any of this and so normal is a poor bar to aim for.
The thing is being normal should never be the goal. This is the foundation of being able to accept a new normal and your identity as a diabetic.
Normal blood pressure readings are 130/80. Go to the doctor and get this reading and he/she will most likely tell you ‘good job’. That’s the new normal in 2020.
We want a reading of 120/80 and so regardless of the term ‘normal’, we don’t want it… we want what’s best for us and that often requires us to be ‘extra’ and above par – which isn’t normal for many, but we are diabetic and that’s our identity.
Our identity as a diabetic is quite possibly our saving grace as far as being the best possible versions of ourselves that we could be. I always say that when we pray for strength we don’t just become strong. When we pray for strength, we get put in front of tough tasks that make us strong.
As a diabetic, we NEED to live well. Living well and treating diabetes requires medication, activity/exercise and good nutrition and as difficult as this may be to grasp at first, this is your new normal.
Here are some tips to think about and use when training your mindset as a diabetic:
1) Your condition requires you to be active, healthy, and in charge…This is a blessing more than anything else. In fact I’ll go as far as to say it was just what you needed without knowing it.
2) We become more respectful of our health and we no longer take it for granted.
3) We learn what ownership is all about. Taking daily ownership for our actions is a skill that most people never obtain.
4) We learn that we are a part of a much bigger picture. Diabetes can be a very lonely condition until we realise there are millions of us living the same struggle and that makes us family. Our worst days are the best days for others and visa versa. This means we are more connected than we are alone.
5) We learn what it’s like to live for something rather than with something.
6) A personal favourite skill my diabetes has taught me is acceptance. Without my diabetes, I don’t think I would have ever learned how to truly accept myself for who I am.
3. You undervalue the instant impact a proper program can add to your life with diabetes.
A lot of the time we as individuals have questions that we know the answers too. Finding an answer and a prescription to something is the easiest thing in the world to do these days. We have most of the answers we need in our pockets, on our mobile and on google. Where the disconnect between the plethora of information and our ability to use it is concerned, is all to do with the fact that the information we find is generic in its delivery and is at most times full of the info we don’t need. This causes our focus to be widespread and inefficient.
There is information and then there is applicable information that has been put together for us, our current situation, our abilities, our limitations and our diabetes.
Through the ages, something that has and will never change is the fact that a prescription without action is useless. It’s quite literally the same as getting your insulin script from your doctor and 1) Never taking it to the chemist to collect your insulin or 2) Not knowing how to use your insulin.
A prescription is what most programs provide and is the first and last step people get to.
Diabetes is a condition that requires the best nutritional habits, activity schedules and ability to action the right steps at the right time.
Life is a HUGE factor here too! As much as we would like to just train all day, eat good food and monitor our sugars, we have life and its daily curve balls hitting us from all directions.
We are moms, dads, employees, boss’, owners, brothers, sisters you name it, and we can’t wear every hat that exists. Having somebody help you with your diabetes, exercise and nutrition is a calculated move to ensure you have constant peace of mind (which is priceless) and will cause every facet of your life to change for the greater good.
As diabetics, we all try and wear the hat of our own trainer, motivator, moderator, nutritional advisor, goal-setting coach, and the person we turn to for the real talk and tough love we need at times. So where do we find time to wear the hat of the man of the house, the woman of the house, carer, boss, mom, dad etc.
We put everything above our diabetes and use the excuse ‘my kids are important’ and ‘I’m too busy’.
What about the fact that your kids need you at 100%. They don’t need a mom or dad that is going blind or needing dialysis at 50-60 years old.
If you didn’t have time for your diabetes before, what makes you think you’re going to have time (or money) when it all starts falling apart?
We all have cars and toilets… Yet, we use mechanics and plumbers.
Shall we ‘fix’ that too? Definitely not.
Perhaps not because we can’t, but rather because getting somebody else to do it (somebody qualified), means we can rest easy knowing that 1) The job will be done right the first time around, and 2) We have more time for other important facets of our lives that need our attention.
We all use the excuse “I don’t have time”, so why would you want to add being a personal trainer and nutritional coach to the list of your daily to do’s? It makes very little sense.
The value of being given the information we need to know while also being told what not to pay attention to is what saves us time, money and the mental burden of not reaching our goals.
We undervalue a training and nutrition program because of its initial cost, while never thinking about the true cost of diabetes and how much more expensive bad control can end up costing us emotionally, mentally and our pockets.
Here are some tips and things to think about:
1) Exercise increases insulin sensitivity and is often called the ‘second insulin’.
This means that an exercise program will most likely cause you to need FAR LESS insulin. Insulin costs money, so not only are you able to have less dependence on your medication, but you’re saving money each month too.
2) An exercise program causes more stability in your glucose readings. This automatically leads to more stability with your daily thoughts and emotions. This affects EVERYTHING you do!
3) Nothing is going to look better on your than the look of “I FEEL BETTER THAN EVER”.
4) Confidence and the effects of feeling empowered and in control will instantly have an effect on how much impact you have in your own life and in the life of others.
5) As diabetics, we all have the burden and anxiety about diabetic complications and their possibility. This is just our reality. Those of us that spend less than 70% of our time in range per day, week, month, are at the highest risk of complications. Complications that are all avoidable if we take action.
There are many more reasons why we struggle as diabetics. None of us start our journey from the same place and we all have different struggles, goals and needs. One thing that will never change is what diabetes is and how to best manage this condition.
We need to find ways to live our lives while feeling in absolute control and confidence and even though things never go as planned, we always want to be able to manage the daily deviations that life and diabetes loves to throw our way.
The needs of a diabetic are all the same and how we achieve them is where a tailored approach is often needed.
We all need to be happy, healthy, and confident with good diabetic control.
Our needs as a diabetic and as a functioning human being all have to do with our mental, emotional and physical well-being. This is all taken care of with a good support system and training and nutritional plan to get us there.
To conclude, I would just like to say that there are an endless amount of struggles that we face as diabetics.
As somebody that has lived with diabetes for almost as long as I have been alive, and as somebody who has spent every single day for the past 13 years helping others with fitness, health, diabetes and fat loss – I can say that these 3 reasons mentioned in this article are the top 3 causes of most of the struggles face.
If you would like to see more about what I do, or perhaps take a look and download some of my amazing FREE content made specifically for fellow diabetics wanting to empower themselves with better diabetic knowledge and know-how, you can visit Diabetic Athletic and make yourself at home!
Yours in strength,