The comfort, peace of mind, and power of repeat actions.
By Scott Johnson
October 2007 — I have worked to come up with a routine that works for me. However, even those that don't work purposefully towards a routine will also settle into some pattern of actions and outcomes that works well for them.
I have a couple different sets of routines. I have one routine that I try to follow on the days that I play lunchtime basketball and a different routine on the days that I don't. I tend to play it a little fast and loose on the weekends, and I'm sure my numbers show it. My averages and standard deviation for Saturday and Sunday are much higher than the rest of the week.
One of the major components of my routine is my meal plan. For a very long time, I resisted the idea of planning my meals. The whole idea just turned me off. I had these ancient ideas that included being told to eat stuff I don't like and severely limiting the stuff I do like eating. I rebelled against the whole idea.
But by finding and working with a dietitian that I liked and got along with, I was able to come up with some guidelines that are realistic for me and my eating habits. We were able to come up with what and when to eat (routine). I was also able to identify some things I need to work on, such as slowly and steadily replacing bad habits with good habits.
After trying it for a while, I was really surprised at just how liberating it was. It was like I had extra space in my brain because I didn't have to think about the food details of my day! My meals aren't exactly the same each and every day, but the carbohydrate, calorie, fat, and protein amounts are very similar. I can mix and match different components to come up with the total package for that meal. That helps to keep the "boredom factor" at bay.
Another part of my routine is my exercise. Three days each week, I am able to take a long lunch, go to the local YMCA, and play adult men's basketball. I have to work late to make up my hours but that is a price I am happy to pay.
A couple of things happened recently that really helped me to recognize how powerful that routine is to my diabetes management. The YMCA closed the gym down for about a week and a half to resurface the floor. It was nice to have a resurfaced floor when it was all done, but not getting that good running in during the week really threw me off! My total daily insulin dose went up a lot, my appetite was huge – but I suspect that was more boredom and tiredness eating - and my mood was terrible!
Then, a week after the YMCA gym opened up again, I had to go out of town on business for a little over a week. That screwed up everything. My timing was off, my exercise was non-existent, the food choices were all strange to me, and the foods I normally eat were nowhere to be found. I was worn down just from the airplane time alone, and the meeting schedules were hardcore. I put in over 65 hours of work that week alone.
Once I got back home it took a few days to simply recuperate from all of that, then another few days to work myself back into my routine. I did not appreciate how much that routine actually serves me until I could not stick to it because of travel or other circumstances.
There is a measure of comfort in a routine. I repeat the same things again and again, and expect a similar outcome. With that routine, I have the ability to reduce the number of variables I'm dealing with. I can troubleshoot things that aren't working right. There is peace of mind in that routine. There is power in that routine.
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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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