Change is hard

I’m going to tell you something that you already know. It’s something that I’m sure you’ve all experienced first hand.

Change is hard.

And you know what changes are especially hard? Health changes. Doing something that may be unpleasant or unfavorable in the short term to benefit you in the long term. We all know that we’re supposed to eat healthy, but if given the choice, most people would still choose the dessert or chips over the steamed broccoli. Whether it’s losing weight, eating healthier, becoming more physically fit, quitting smoking, becoming a better self-manager of a condition, or any other positive health change, even getting to the point of change is hard, let alone taking action. But these changes are worth the struggle.

Making health changes and sticking with them require a certain amount of motivation and confidence. You have to have the desire to change, but also the confidence that you can stick with it. It helps to have not only an end goal, but also a deeper value that your change is helping you live up to.

If making a health change wasn’t hard enough, it’s likely you’re going to face obstacles that try to undermine your resolve and your progress. It could be in the form of tempting situations, circumstances that are out of your control, or even people who intentionally or unintentionally sabotage your best efforts.

Alright, I’m going to take this out of the abstract and get personal. About a week and a half ago I decided to start a new fitness and nutrition program. That decision was immediately met with skepticism and opposition, mostly by those close to me. What they thought was maybe supportive behavior could be seen as the opposite.

“You don’t need to lose weight, you’re beautiful just as you are.”

“You already know how to eat healthy, what’s that program going to tell you that you don’t already know?”

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the intent of these comments, they come from a very loving place, but in terms of the decision I already made, they weren’t quite the types of supportive statements I was looking for.

My motivation for joining the program was about more than purely losing weight. I joined the program because when I pulled on my fall clothes, I noticed that my pants were getting harder to button and my shirts weren’t fitting the way they were last year. I joined the program because I was getting a lot of stomach aches and wanted to feel better. I joined the program because I thought that changing my diet to be filled with more unprocessed, healthy foods with less carbs would help me stabilize my blood sugars and maybe be just the change I need to finally get my A1c out of the 7’s. And ultimately with more stabilized blood sugars, I can help reduce my risk for future complications, a worry that is always lingering in the back of my mind. For me, my decision is about way more than just losing weight, but you don’t always have 5 minutes to explain your motivations when you’re turning down a piece of birthday cake or a drink at the bar. But whatever your reason, recognize that you’re doing something great for yourself and that’s what really matters.

If someone is on a journey of personal growth or health, our job isn’t to test their discipline, or to make assumptions about their reasons for wanting to change. People’s reasons are often personal and complex. Instead, our job is to support them and be there for them however they see fit. And if you aren’t sure how to best support them, ask. Maybe they need someone to hold them accountable, maybe they need a person to vent to, or maybe the best way you can support them is by keeping quiet. But the only way to know is to ask. A simple conversation helped to turn my skeptics into strong supporters who now understand my deeper motivation and reasons for my health changes.

Change is hard. Let’s all be part of what makes change possible rather than what stands in its way.

2015 Diabetes blog week Day 1- I can




“What have you or your loved one accomplished, despite having diabetes, that you weren’t sure you could? Or what have you done that you’ve been particularly proud of? Or what good thing has diabetes brought into your life?”

My diabetes has given me knowledge and a need for understanding.

 

It has given me knowledge about an autoimmune disease and the various complicated pieces of managing it. It has taught me to truly understand my body and how I feel, what I need, and when something isn’t right. It has taught me the influences, interactions, and consequences of everything I do and its effects on my body and blood sugar, from food to exercise to stress. It has made me an expert in carbohydrates, a constant cruncher of numbers, and a person always seeking for answers, explanations, and ways to improve.  

My diabetes has given me empathy and gratitude.

 

Diabetes has given me a window into life with other illnesses and obstacles. Every disease is different and has its own set of challenges, but it has helped me to be empathetic towards everyone and what each person is going through. It has taught me to not be so quick to judge, to stop and consider what other people may be going through, even behind closed doors. It has given me an appreciation for the health and abilities that I have and gratitude for the way things are, as there are people that are not as fortunate. 

My diabetes has taught me to stand up for myself.

 

Between all the doctor’s visits, calls with the pharmacy and insurance company, nurses, and medical device customer service, I’ve learned to not put up with mistreatment and disrespect. I value my health and have learned that I don’t have to put up with people who don’t respect my time or my health. From switching doctors to getting the courage to ask for a manager on the phone, my diabetes has helped me be more assertive and in charge of my condition.

My diabetes has taught me about hard work, persistence, and discipline.

 

There are good days and there are bad. My diabetes has shown me the importance of having goals and that hard work usually pays off in the end. It has taught me that even when things aren’t going well, to stick with it, that tomorrow is a new day full of new numbers and new experiences. It’s taught me to not give up, despite the frustrations, challenges, and fatigue of caring for my diabetes. I’m strong enough to get through today, and the next day, and the next.

My diabetes has given me direction, purpose, and a voice.

 

My diabetes has led me into the field of public health and my career in health communication. My diabetes has helped me become an advocate for a cause I believe in. It has given me volunteer opportunities and led me to my position on the JDRF Young Leaders Committee. It has given me a voice through my blog and has led me to amazing people who I’ve shared my story with. My diabetes has given me a community. It has given me a sense of belonging, and my connections have inspired me in my own care. My diabetes has given me a platform to make positive change in the lives of others as we all work together to find a cure.

Love and diabetes

It’s Valentine’s Day so I’m going to take this day as an opportunity to be a little mushy and talk about loooooove. More specifically, love and diabetes.

So what does love and diabetes look like?

Love is carrying my fruit snacks in your pockets when we go for a run and I have no place to put them.

Love is sitting next to me when I’m struggling to insert my CGM sensor because of a previous painful experience and telling me I can do it and everything will be okay.

Love is disrupting our date and driving me to my work at 10 pm because I can’t find my meters and I think I left them at my office.

Love is buying a box of gushers to keep at your place in case I drop low and don’t have anything with me.

Love is hearing my CGM vibrate and knowing just from the pattern of buzzing if I’m high or low.

Love is waiting for me to feel better. For being patient and understanding, always.

Love is ignoring my “No” and turning around and driving me home even when we’re running late because I’m out of test strips, my CGM is not working, and my blood sugar is high, but as you told me, “your health is more important.”

Love is learning, constantly, what type 1 diabetes is and how to manage it. “You’re high, that means you need more insulin, right?”

Love is holding me when I drop to 40 and don’t feel well. It’s bringing me water and laying down with me when I’m 350 and feeling sick. It’s being with me when I’m 90 and am not even thinking about my diabetes.

Love is getting up and grabbing something to help me treat a low without me even asking.

Love is being excited when I show you how good my numbers have been all day. Love is feeling my frustration when they haven’t been.

Love is putting up with me when I get snippy because I’m getting hangry and low.

Love is sitting down to a home cooked meal and you telling me how many carbs are in the couscous.

Love is worrying.

Love is caring.

Love is you.