I’m fortunate to have kept detailed records when I started my diabetes journey almost three years ago. From them, I can clearly see that regardless of how well I stayed on the program, both in terms of food choices and physical activity, my blood sugar bounced up and down for quite a while. The overall trend, however, was down – and the reality is that I had basically stabilized to below 100 within 3 months, and my A1C was back to normal at 5.3 within 6 months. This knowledge is why I’m not freaking out that after dropping from 145 to 111 after the first day back on program, my morning reading went up to 127 the next two days and was 121 this morning. I’m disappointed, yes, but I’m not angry and ready to give up. I know this is normal and that it’s okay. After all, 121 is still 24 points better than where I started from less than a week ago! That is progress!
One problem in a society used to instant results and instant gratification is that we expect everything to happen right away. Healing almost never happens in that fashion – and the other truth is that it doesn’t always go in a linear fashion either. Our bodies and minds are complex – and especially when dealing with a chronic condition like diabetes, we need to have a great deal of patience and compassion with ourselves and our bodies. This isn’t easy – mentally, emotionally, or physically. I’m going to be addressing the issues that are coming up for me as I go along. Perhaps you’ll be able to relate. Some days are better than others. We do what we can to keep on keeping on.
I’m digging back through my notes, reminding myself of things I learned and strategies I utilized. I’ll be going through those as we go along too. I had a reminder two days ago about how important it is to have food that I can eat ready and available. I was busy writing – and when I finally realized that I was hungry, I also realized that I’d forgotten to put the chicken in the crockpot that morning. I had no protein source. The food I needed to stay on my program wasn’t available, and I was too hungry to figure out an alternative that would be beneficial for my blood sugar levels. I made that peanut butter and jelly sandwich I’d been craving the other day and had that for lunch. I regretted that choice pretty quickly as within an hour, my blood sugar shot up to 227 and I felt light-headed and sick. You can believe that I am now well stocked in cooked chicken breasts that I can throw onto salads or heat up in stir-fries or soups very easily.
I’m not beating myself up about my slip-up. Lesson learned, moving forward. Sometimes I need reminders, too, that certain foods are not good for my blood sugar. That’s just a fact. They aren’t “bad” foods (foods don’t have a morality – I will discuss that further another day) – they just aren’t beneficial for my body and health goals. I felt bad enough physically that it will be a long time (if ever) before I have another peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I’m sure this won’t be the last time I don’t make the best choices for myself, but again, the point is the overall trend – which is in the direction of where I want to be heading. It’s not uncommon as a human being to take two steps forward and one step back as we pursue any goal, health-related or otherwise. A little grace for ourselves is in order.
If you’re on a path similar to mine, you may want to keep track, at least for a while, of what you’re doing and how it’s impacting your blood sugar. I kept both a food journal and an exercise journal, along with daily blood sugar readings, both fasting readings in the morning and other readings I took one and two hours after meals, testing the impact of those meals on my blood sugar levels. I have excellent notes regarding what worked for me. I stopped taking notes after the pandemic hit and I strayed from my program. I have now returned to taking notes because I’m still learning and growing – and I find them helpful, not only for helping me to stay on track in real time, but also as a reference to consult when making choices.
My notes and journals also help me with encouragement. I may have gone down this path before, but I don’t remember it all. It helps to look back and read about my victories and how much better I felt – and also to read about my frustrations and pains – and to see how I coped with them and/or how over time they faded. Example: I started out with a 30 minute walk the other day. Yesterday I walked 40 minutes and was sore as hell and tired. Today, I walked for an hour, but slowly. And I’m not as sore today as I was yesterday. (I don’t advocate adding time that fast – it’s better to build up more slowly, but it hasn’t been very long since I was in pretty decent fitness shape – and also, I got lost, LOL. I mostly try to feel my way along and listen to my body.)
There is improvement in these few days – and it’s helpful for me to see that in writing. It’s helpful for me to do a check-in with myself about how it’s going. I recognize from my former success in getting my blood sugar under control that physical activity was an important part of it. My goal is to do some form of enjoyable physical activity for an hour each day most days. I’m sad I don’t have my bike with me – that is my preferred exercise – but walking and dancing are good too. Yoga helps me feel better in multiple ways, but I still need some cardio type activity regularly (at least 4-5 days a week).
I used to feel a certain antipathy toward food and exercise journals because those were tools that I used previously in efforts to lose weight, before I discovered body acceptance. I had to work to get to a point where they no longer triggered me. Since I no longer pursue intentional weight loss, I now find these journals to be very helpful on my health journey toward controlling my diabetes. I do not weigh myself – it is not necessary and it is not information that I need to live my healthiest, best life. My success is certainly not determined by the numbers on a scale, but rather by the numbers on a glucose monitor – and by how I’m feeling. Those are the only metrics I care about.
Disclaimer: Please be advised that I am not a medical professional nor a dietician. This site is not in any way, shape, or form providing any sort of diagnosis, advice, cures, or recommendations for medical or dietary treatments. I am simply sharing my own journey and experiences. Nothing I say is intended to replace proper medical care.