Once Upon a Time
A (realistic) diabetic fairytale.
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
November 2010 — Once upon a time, I saw blood glucose readings consistently in range. I avoided simple carbohydrates nearly all the time, not giving into the monthly cravings made possible by fluctuating female hormones. I worked out five times a week. And I felt awesome, like everything was on track with my physical and mental health.
"Once upon a time" lasted most of last year. That is, until my body rebelled in a way I could have never imagined, in a way that had nothing to do with diabetes. Atypical appendicitis along with ovarian cysts sent me into the operating room twice in less than five months. Add to that, sources of previous stress seemed to explode in my face, and as I write this, things look much different than a year ago.
Twenty pounds heavier due to even more hormone fluctuation and giving into those simple carbohydrates, blood glucose readings more difficult to control, aches and pains related to physical and psychological stress deterring me from exercise – these all add up to a diabetes mess.
November will be different. It must be different. After all, it is Diabetes Awareness Month. Five years ago this month marks when I first started writing online about life with two types of diabetes in the same household, a few months after my type 2 diabetes diagnosis, and a year after a seizure related to hypoglycemia that sent my type 1 husband to the emergency room.
Using SMART goal setting, I aim to get back to "once upon a time."
S – Specific. There are two specific goals I would like to achieve this month. One is exercising 150 minutes each week. The other is reducing my daily fasting blood glucose readings to less than 126 mg/dl consistently by the end of the month.
M – Measurable. These two goals are easily measured through simple addition (in the case of exercise) and through the use of my blood glucose meter.
A – Attainable. I know these two goals are attainable – I have been able to achieve these kinds of results before in a thirty-day diabetes recharge period every spring since diagnosis. I will not let winter weather stop another recharge, though.
R – Realistic. If I were being unrealistic, my goals would include more exercise and limiting my simple carbohydrate intake. Originally, the goal was to exercise every day of November, though I know myself better than that. I will miss a day or two here or there and get discouraged and stop altogether. 150 minutes is a realistic goal to get back on track – perhaps in three months, I can set a goal of exercising every day – it just is not appropriate right now.
I know that as I exercise more, the simple carbohydrate cravings will start to fade as I feel better both physically and mentally. The key, however, is starting to exercise, not counting carbohydrates for now.
T – Trackable. Being the spreadsheet fanatic that I am, I plan on getting back to recording length and type of exercise, as well as blood glucose readings like I used to do not so long ago. Also, because the diabetes online community uses hashtags on Twitter such as #bgnow (blood glucose now) and #sweatbetes (exercise), I can also gain support from my online pals who know what an achievement these two goals will be if I post about them as they happen.
I know getting back to the way things were a year ago will not be easy. It will not all happen in one short month, not with the holidays approaching. Small, SMART steps will help me in the long giant run called "life" ahead.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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