I'll be honest with you. Even though I consider myself to be in optimal control over diabetes, I still have days where I do not understand why I am running high.
On those days I follow a process of deduction to figure out its cause. Once you can pinpoint the why you can focus on the how.
In order to live mindfully with diabetes, it is essential to have a process of deduction to nip your high’s in the butt to the best of your ability.
In this short video I'll walk you through my personal steps for bringing down highs more consciously.
We all want to improve our HbA1c. If you watched last week’s video on diabetes perfectionism, for some it can become an obsession and actually hinder your efforts.
This week is all about what you can do right now to improve your numbers without fail. Just by bringing down your average one hour extra a day you can significantly decrease your HbA1c.
You will learn:
How to consciously create a relationship to hyperglycemia management that is fun
My personal checklist of how to deduce cause of hyperglycemia
What to do once you have inferred the cause of the effect
That you already possess the ability to improve your health
Is Diabetes Perfectionism Hindering Your HbA1c and Controlling your Life?
In this yoga therapy inspired video, I will teach you my favorite mindful strategies for overcoming diabetes perfectionism and optimizing your mental wellbeing with type 1 diabetes and beyond.
I’ve been type 1 for over twenty years, so I remember a time when testing took over 30 seconds and insulin pumps were a rare and highly coveted item. Fast forward to 2019 and life for the person with type 1 diabetes has improved tremendously. We now have continuous glucose monitors which enable us to observe blood glucose readings in real time. Many systems integrate with an insulin pump which will self-adjust to the CGM reading. Parents can view their child’s glucose readings when they are at school. Long-acting insulin works so darn well. We can see the graphs and trends related to food, exercise, hormones and make more educated decisions. Thanks to these achievements we can live more meaningful and more courageous lives with diabetes.
Despite the advances the system is not perfect. I think we know this but still expect it to be. Diabetes TMI is part of the problem. We know too much. Alarms, social media impressions, images of arrows pointing every which way. It can be exhausting. The modern-day person with type 1 diabetes is always plugged in, turned on and eventually without recharging, can quickly burn out. Without self-awareness, CGM’s can turn even the most relaxed person into a perfectionist. This was, and sometimes still is, me. I have had to work hard on letting go of perfect numbers and allowing the imbalances to teach me more about myself and diabetes. Curing this habit with diabetes has helped me heal perfectionist tendencies in other areas of my life.
According to the American Diabetes Association, optimal diabetes management is maintaining an HbA1c under 7 and blood glucose reading of 70-130 mg/dL before meals and under 180 mg/dL two hours after meals. These are not unattainable goals, but they are not always the numbers we see during the day. Due to an intense desire to remain “within the lines” diabetes perfectionism can actually cause hypo and hyperglycemia episodes because you react rather than listen.
All of this measuring up and striving to fit into the lines leaves a subtle imprint in the psyche. Isn't there already enough pressure in this world to be perfect without diabetes? The mind holds on to negative thoughts and beliefs further perpetuating the inability to be satisfied. Perfectionism is a product of fear. It is the fear of being inadequate, of making mistakes, of being vulnerable. Many of us are successful at living with diabetes because we put on the face of being capable. I always told my parents, “I’ve got this. Please don’t worry about me.” But that attitude only gets us so far. We have got to have the courage to make mistakes, learn from them and grow.
Please share your experiences with diabetes perfectionism below. I'd love to hear them
Skip to min 3:15 to get directly into the practice
The key to master diabetes lies within the mind. Diabetes requires an enormous amount of mental fortitude when it comes to decision making. Strengthening your mind is like developing a muscle. Like any muscle, if you don't work on it, it will stay weak and eventually atrophy. Without willpower diabetes will always be the one in charge of your decisions and destiny.
Just as important as it is to administer insulin, eat right and exercise, so too is developing your internal strength, willpower, and determination.
As a recently diagnosed person with diabetes, I remember how challenging it was for me to say no to certain foods. What were once everyday daily treats like pop-tarts and cereal were suddenly off-limits, and subsequently, I wanted them even more. I would pine at my brother’s cereal bowl every breakfast while I ate my less-than-exciting eggs.
To make matters worse, as a newly diagnosed diabetic, I could not control the impulse to overeat when I was low. My internal emergency alarm clock for low blood glucose was so loud that I could not separate my desire to eat cereal from the wisdom to know that I had enough. At one point, my mom had to padlock my brother's cereal so I would not eat it all. I lived for years a slave to my cravings on a physical and emotional rollercoaster. It wasn't until I began a regular yoga therapy practice involving breathing and meditation when my life turned around.
Inside the mind, we battle with our impulses, which are profoundly rooted in survival mechanisms. All day long, the mind waivers from distractions, desires, worries, cravings. When you have diabetes, the common internal disturbances are amplified. Externally the mind responds and relates to information received from our senses. For instance, if you see a disagreeable number on your CGM there is an emotional response, which is then internalized, triggering the heart rate to rise, the brain to release stress hormones, increasing insulin resistance, the mind spins, and you are caught up in the inner and outer drama of diabetes.
A primary tool for developing your willpower muscle is something you already have, something you are doing right now…breathing!
By consciously slowing down your breath you can:
In this short video, I’ll walk you through the steps to practice conscious breathing for developing your diabetes willpower muscle.
The steps are as follows:
1) Sit comfortably and close your eyes
2) Shape your breath slowly and continuously without pause
3) Relax at the beginning and end of each inhale and exhale
4) Allow the exhale to lengthen up to twice as long as inhale (purse your lips if you need)
5) Slow breath down as effortlessly as possible and maintain for several minutes
Mindful with Diabetes: Breath
One of the most potent tools in your toolkit to live more mindfully with diabetes is the breath. Yoga defines breathing as pranayama as the expansion of life-force energy. As a person who lives with a condition that can be physically and mentally exhausting working with the breath is a simple and effective way that you can increase your energy, vitality and encourage your body’s natural ability to self-heal. Not only is the breath a tool of physical healing, but also it is the gateway into the mind. Diabetes stressful for many reasons. The breath helps reduce stress triggers by creating space between your thoughts and actions. By tapping into your breath on a regular basis you can change the way you think, feel, and relate to diabetes.
In this short video you will learn:
-What is the yogic breath
-Why it is essential for diabetes management
-How to breath properly
-Simple tools to begin a practice of mindful diabetes management
If you are short for time, go directly to marker 5:10 for the direct teaching on how to breathe more mindfully.
Evan Rachel Soroka