New Year – New Resolutions?

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion”

So why stress yourself to a goal you think you need and want?

I don’t believe in new years resolutions.

They are very often a surefire way of setting yourself up for failure.

Why is this?

There are many more or less valid reasons to why you don’t stick with your own promise to yourself.

I want to run through five of them with you today.

 

  1. You set goals you don’t want yourself.

Why, or, rather, for whom do you want to lose that weight?

For your partner to find you more attractive? For your kids? To keep up with the Joneses?

It’s all a damn lie.

If you don’t want it for yourself, and yourself exclusively, you are very unlikely to actually stick with it.

Ask yourself if the promise you made yourself last week actually is for your own sake or for someone elses.

FIX: Chose a resolution for YOU.

 

  1. You say the same old resolutions you did last year. And the year before. And the one before that.

“I want to lose weight, get healthy, organized, and save more money. This is my year, this year I’ll make it happen.”

Does that sound familiar? (Turns out that they are some of the most common new years resolutions, so technically, they should be familiar!)

Do they also happen to be the same ones you made last year?

Keeping up “appearances” in front of yourself is just a huge let down. Let’s face it; if you didn’t manage to make all of that happen last year, what says you’ll be able to do so this year?

Maybe something else is keeping you from creating your new life? More on that in the next point.

FIX: Ask yourself what you want NOW, for THIS year as the person you are TODAY and want to be in a year from now. What you wanted last year doesn’t matter. Anymore.

 

  1. You bite off more than you can chew.

Back to the example: “I want to lose weight, get healthy, organized, and save more money. This is my year, this year I’ll make it happen.”

Does that even sound realistic at all?

I know a year might seem like a huge chunk of time for you to get everything done and dusted. But if we’re real here for a second, we both know that that’s not the case.

Every day life gets in between your high hopes and promises to yourself, and all you end up doing is to stress and be disappointed in your seeming inability to make “any changes”.

You’re simply not giving yourself a chance!

FIX: Set realistic goals. What can you achieve within the next year? What do you want to achieve in the next year? Pick your number 1 on that list and stick to it. (If you manage to do more of them, awesome job!!)

 

  1. Your resolution isn’t focused enough.

If you’ve ever done any kind of coaching, or are at all into that sort of thing, you’ll have heard of SMART goals.

Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely are more likely to be reached.

And although this is a fantastic starting point of goal setting, there is one thing that is more important than the others: SPECIFIC.

If your goal isn’t specific enough, such as “I want to lose weight”, you never know when you’ve reached your goal.

If your goal, on the other hand, is specific, such as “I want to lose 5 kg until the trip I’m going on 20th February”, it’s a completely different thing.

Your brain registers it as a goal with a deadline that you have to make continuous effort to reach.

Do you see the difference?

You need to set your goal in a way that leaves you knowing exactly what you need to do next as a first step toward a healthier, happier, and better you.

FIX: Make sure your resolution is specific.

 

  1. You’re should-ing all over yourself

As in, if you don’t really want to make this change for yourself (see point 1), but feel you S H O U L D do it.

I’m sorry, game over, better luck next time.

If you say that you “should lose weight” instead of that you “want (really badly) to lose weight”, there’s a huge difference in how you, your body, brain and energy interpret that message.

A resolution that comes from guilt with an added side of stress and unhappiness for dessert will never work. And you should never say never.

It’s similar to that ever long to do list you have made for yourself that you know, deep down inside, you will never finish. Or want to finish either. It just creates too much anxiety, too much stress and too little fun!

FIX: Eliminate “should” from your resolution vocabulary. Or, better yet, altogether.

 

Your goals and resolutions ultimately have to make you happy, make your soul bubble and your heart shine.

Reviewing said goals and resolutions definitely should happen more than once a year as well. This is my biggest pet peeve with new years resolutions – once a year, on a more or less alcohol induced evening, you “have to” make promises for the next year.

That’s just weird!

 

Help is right around the corner though. And especially so if you’re in the Zürich (Switzerland) area!

If your (true) resolution is in any way health or fitness related, I’ve teamed up with two beyond excellent coaches to give you the best possible start of the new, healthier, happier, fitter and more productive you. Check us out here!

And, if you are in or around Zürich on the 17th January you have the exclusive chance to try us out and take us out for a test run! More details and to book your seat, click here!

 

Remember; resolutions are out, fun is in.

Lonely Diabetes?

Plus one is the loneliest number.

And my constant companion Diabetes knows exactly which buttons to push to make me feel lonely, alone and isolated.

It’s the time of family gatherings, meeting friends and spending time with those you love.

But if your (involuntary and unwanted) BFF Diabetes doesn’t play along, it doesn’t matter who else is around you.

This post is NOT about diabetes making you different from other people or that you have to things that are usually associated with being a drug addict, like shooting up and (sometimes) being paranoid.

It’s about feeling lonely although you have your best supporters, your true fan club, around you.

The other night, Dexter (my Dexcom CGM system) woke me up from my hazy sleep.

He had just buzzed 3 times, and because I wasn’t quite with it, I couldn’t remember what 3 buzzes meant – was I high or low?

I had only gone to bed 2 hours prior to this (quite rude) wake up call with a great blood sugar level, so I wondered which way it had gone wrong? 

Dex said “LOW”, below 4.0 mmol/l (72 mg/l). I took out Doris (my OmniPod and trusted ally) and checked my blood sugar; 2.1 mmol/l (38 mg/l).

Nothing was making sense to me at this point; I was sweaty, my head fuzzy, I didn’t recognize where I was or what I had to do next.

I told myself I had a pretty low hypo for being me and that I needed to get to those glucose tabs faster than lightning, right after temporarily lowering the basal on my pump to -85%.

In my mind I gracefully climbed over my husband in the sofa bed we were sharing and jetted straight for my suitcase, where I had packed the glucose. (We were on a trip, staying with fantastic friends)

But in reality I was probably half-suffocating my husband, stumbling around like a local drunk and made more noise than I could ever realize.

Anyway. I sat down on the floor to eat some of the glucotabs. The slightly chalky texture and the acidy taste of them only intensified my symptoms.

During some of my lows I need something to chew on after the glucotabs, something that won’t help the hypo, as it otherwise overshoot. But just the feeling to keep chewing makes me feel safer in an unsafe situation.

I found, again in my mind very gracefully, a bar of 85% chocolate in my handbag, and started munching, instantly feeling a little bit better.

To I keep awake, I tried to play some simple games on my phone, none of which were making any sense to me. Playing cards, letters and colors were all a big mumbo jumbo, although it’s actually 3 separate games on my phone.

In this very moment I realized I was feeling really lonely. 

This was despite having my husband snoring right next to me, and some other people sleeping in the same room. And I knew I could wake any of them up to keep me company and make sure I survived yet another hypo.

But I didn’t. Just because I’m not allowed to sleep right now, doesn’t mean others aren’t either, I thought to myself.

So I kept to my incoherent gaming, but couldn’t shake the feeling of being the loneliest person in the world in that moment.

As soon as I saw the number on my dexcom starting to go up, I put down my phone and went back to a hypo-sweat-drenched-sleep.

A few hours later, waking up with the biggest hypo-hangover ever, it made me feel lonely again.

I quickly resorted to some victim mentality thinking with thoughts like “why me?” And “no one understands me or what I’m going through or what it all feels like”, aka Loser-ville thoughts.

While I might have been right after yet another time with diabetes trying to kick my ass, I can’t forget what it has thought me about life.

A few of the useful and positive examples are: Being alone. Maths. Thicker skin. Acceptation. Pain. Fending for my life. Handling disappointment. That life is precious and frail. That I’m not invincible. Gratitude. Appreciation. Friendship. Health. Healing. Happiness. And, above all, the importance of Love.

Saffron Coconut Macaroons

I know just how busy you are today.

So today’s post will be very short and to the point.

A few people have asked me about the recipe for the Saffron Coconut Macaroons that I shared in my Diabetes Advent Calendar.

And because I’m feeling the festive spirits (no, I don’t mean the rum), I want to share it with you here on the blog today!

(If you don’t like saffron (gasp!), they’re absolutely delicious if you leave it out, too)

 

Saffron Coconut Macaroons

Makes about 10

You’ll need:

25 g butter

1 egg

1.5 dl (0.6 cups) desiccated coconut

1 tbsp. stevia or agave (or honey, if you can take it)

1 pinch vanilla powder

1 packet saffron

Do this:

Put the oven on 175 degrees.

Melt the butter with the saffron.

Whisk together the egg and sweetener of your choice.

Add all the other ingredients to the mix.

Let the mix rest for a few minutes.

Make “peaks” on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.

Each peak has 4 grams of carbohydrate.

 

saffron coconut macaroons

Saffron Coconut Macaroons

 

These yummy treats are gluten-, grain-, treenut-, soy- and (almost) sugar free, so they suit most people.

Let me know how yours turned out in the comments below!

ENJOY!

Doctor’s Praise

Have you ever had a doctor’s appointment during which you get praise from said doctor?

This was a completely foreign concept for me until recently, despite having lived with Type 1 Diabetes for 29 years.

But as I’ve managed to gain better insight into the illness that co-habits my body, and therefore slightly better control, there have been more and more positive encouragement coming form my health team.

Just a couple of years ago, I would always be scared of going to the doctors, any doctor I have (and I have a few).

Scared of the results, scared of what they might find this time.

Scared of being told off, scared of being disappointed in myself.

Scared of being hurt and a failure. Scared of the amount of work that lay ahead of me.

Because that’s what it had been like all my life.

Every doctors appointment until recently, had been one of disappointment, hurt, even tears, and after, not-being-bothered – because why bother if I always get the same sh*t shoved at me by the doctors?

Let’s not turn this into too much of a sobby victim story though.

About a year ago, when I had finished the education for my pump with my lovely diabetes educator, she told me I was one of her best patients.

After having grown up with the notion that doctors (and nurses) are equal to the evil spawn of something ugly, I was stunned for a second.

And then filled with love. Love, gratitude, and appreciation.

Not necessarily for diabetes, but rather for the advancements I had made by that point.

It was probably my first (and to this day, only) time I’ve performed a little one-man boogie in a doctor’s office.

It’s incredibly what a little doctor’s praise can do!

It spurs you on, keeps you going and at least it helps me when the going gets extra tough (which it inevitably does, considering it’s diabetes we’re talking about.)

And then today (aka the-second-time-my-jaw-dropped-through-the floor-at-my-doctor’s-office), at my check up, my doctor goes to me: “you’re one of my best patients. You seem much more relaxed about diabetes now than when I first met you.”

Wait? Did I hear that correctly?

My immediate reaction was to ask if she could put it in writing. She answered that she would if I really wanted her to.

To the point: yes. That might very well be true that I am, as I don’t know a single of her other patients. And I’m super grateful that I’ve managed to get to where I am today.

But I don’t think she has any idea of just how much work I’ve put into gaining this clarity I now have of diabetes. Which doesn’t, by any means, I’m anywhere near full understanding of it. It just means that I’ve made some progress in the recent years.

A few examples:

I’ve had to say no to things I really wanted to do because my blood sugar wasn’t cooperating.

There have been some late nights…

,,,,and early mornings…

…including wake ups in the middle of the night.

A copious and endless amount of (painful) finger pricks, injections, pump site insertions and CGM sensor insertions.

Carrying medical equipment around, big handbags have been of benefit. My shoulders and neck muscles do not agree.

Snacks, snacks and more snacks.

A huge part has been the mental work I’ve done. Truly coming to terms with diabetes is not an easy task, and is usually completely overlooked by the medical community. I’ve meditated for hours, and now I notice a difference in my blood sugars when I don’t do it! Stress is closely linked to blood sugars, so it’s really important to find ways to release stress. A newer tool I’ve been using is EFT tapping to try to get past the bigger concerns regarding diabetes.

Eating well and according to diabetes, which, for me, means very low carb.

Having to play my own pancreas. On the outside. With zero communication from the other organs that play a part, like the liver, for example.

Drinking lots of water. I’d be so rich if I had a penny for every liter of water I’ve drank!

Exercising and trying to figure out how it works. Sometimes exercise makes my blood sugar high, sometimes low, sometimes the same and sometimes the effect doesn’t come until 12 hours later (depending on how strenuous the exercise was). What on earth do I do with my basal settings?!

Speaking of which, figuring out everyday things like flights, how to eat on the road, restaurants, walking too much (and at irregular times!), drinking alcohol, combining an outfit to fit medical devices as well as how to solve the caffeine question, have all been part of the journey so far.

And that’s just to say what it has taken so far. It definitely doesn’t mean that it will always stay the same. Diabetes is a very dynamic and constantly ever-changing partner to have by your side.

But, this is where it really pays off to have a carefully selected and well-researched health team.

Because even if they don’t know exactly what you’re going through, they’re willing to understand and make arrangements for you.

 

Oh, yeah, my A1C? 6.4% today.

Being (nutritionally) wealthy

“I’m eating all the right things, but I don’t feel any better yet. What am I doing wrong?”

When you start a healthier lifestyle, there are a lot of other things that need to change than “just” what you eat.

For the sake of clarification, I’m not saying what you eat isn’t important – what you eat is the deciding factor of whether you improve your life or not. But there are a few factors that you may not be thinking about.

Today, I want to highlight 3 factors that might be the reason for you not feeling your absolute best just yet, although you’re doing “everything right”.

  1. Mentally

The concept of eating healthily needs to really click in your brain.

You need to understand, down to your last cell, that eating healthy is what you’re striving for, aiming for and need to do in order to feel your very best.

Let’s take an example we both understand to illustrate.

Let’s say you’re on a flight. After the fasten seatbelt light has been switched off after take off, the stewardesses start serving the food.

Airplane food. Within Europe, if you get anything at all, it’s usually just a snack; a sandwich or something of that category.

But, if you notice that they are serving something that doesn’t suit your healthier way of life, do you have to eat it? NO, of course not; you always have a choice!

I kindly, but firmly, rejected a vanilla bake thing that was served on a flight I took this week. I kindly asked to see the ingredients list, which even I was shocked about. Sugar was mentioned 7 (yes, S E V E N!) times in the ingredients list. It almost blew me away (or propelled me forward, not sure yet).

To this, I observed that most people either chose a Coca Cola or an orange juice. More sugar, how lovely. And then people wonder why they’re not feeling healthier, loosing weight or normalizing their blood sugars….

So, what choices do you have? I can think of 3 right off the bat:

a) Eat normally so you don’t have to snack in between/on the flight.

b) Be p r e p a r e d! Bring snacks you know are good for you, like nuts, fruit bars, dried meat, fruits or vegetables.

c) If both of the above fail you, just do better next time.

Ok., but how do you get to that mental clarity of that eating healthy is the only choice?

Give it a serious try.

For 2 or so weeks, make an effort to really eat healthily.

Your body will, slowly but surely, realize that the nutrients it has so desperately been looking for is in the “new” food you’re eating, wanting more of it and less of the old junk.

Deal with your emotions that are connected to food, through something like meditation, EFT tapping or contemplation. Remember, food is not a reward – you’re not a dog.

  1. Heartlly

Secondly, your heart needs to play along, too.

But, apart from the possible risk of coronary heart disease, what on Earth does your heart have to do with eating healthy, losing weight and normalizing blood sugars.

The answer is a simple, four-letter word; LOVE.

You need to decide in your heart that you’re making a change. You need to want the change deep, deep down, as otherwise you might be half-assing your new way of life.

You need to love the weight off, you need to love your body for it to function properly, you need to show yourself (and your body!) how much you love it.

This is where self-love rituals are so amazingly important for a healthy life style.

Just don’t show yourself “love” by shoveling down a chocolate cake every day. That’s not love, that’s abuse.

What are self-love practices, are things like reading your favorite magazine, although you “should” be doing something else, it’s to give yourself time on your own, perhaps even in the form of an appointment at the spa. Or going for a long walk, a run or a yoga session. It’s to spend time with those you love, family and friends, or enjoying a big cup of your favorite tea.

  1. Digestionally

As I already mentioned above; if you eat great, healthy, healing foods, your body will want more of them.

The reason for craving more bad foods when you eat bad foods (chocolate craving train, anyone?) is that your body is looking for the nutrients it’s not getting, so it wants more and more of said food, hoping to find a nutritional jackpot somewhere.

What our amazing body doesn’t recognize however is that there is very, very little nutritional value in an energy drink and chocolate croissant!

That’s up to you to re-teach your body, especially after years of abuse. Luckily, your body is an excellent student and a fast learner.

Your intestines need to learn how to re-recognize the good stuff that food has, and not only the processed stuff that leads to so many pains and troubles.

Antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, good carbohydrates, excellent proteins and amino acids and healing, yummy fatty acids are all stuff that an abused body and digestive system wouldn’t recognize at first.

Also, give it a little bit of time. Technically patience should be the 4th point of this blog post…

It’s taken years and years of abuse to get yourself, and your body, to this state (perhaps over weight, high blood pressure, high blood sugar etc are among the suspects on that list?) – it will not be resolved over night.

 

 

I really despise the word “diet” with a deeply rooted passion. And I can assure you that I would never (and you should never say that!) ever tell anyone to go on a diet.

What I do advocate is for you to find YOUR way of eating healthily. This doesn’t mean it’s the same for you as it is for your best friend, rather far from it sometimes, but it does mean that you can start at the same starting point and move forward in parallel directions.

So my tip for you today is: do not diet, get nutritionally wealthy instead.

It doesn’t matter what you eat, as long as it’s not nutritious enough, you’re starving yourself.

What step can you take today to make your life healthier? Or, do you recognize yourself in any of the three points above? Let me know in the comments!

Where are your insulin injection sites?

Ahhh, the feeling of being able to FINALLY itch underneath an insulin injection site (or a pump site!) when you change it!

Sometimes it feels like rainbows and puppies and magic all in one go (or is that just me….?)

Especially if the site has been a little oddly placed (hey, it happens), and some piece of clothing has been irritating it too.

Naturally, this isn’t as much of an issue if you are on injections. But still, those can sting pretty badly too. Looking at you, Lantus!

But how do you make sure that you don’t end up injecting in exactly the same place the whole time?

Again, this wasn’t as much of a problem when I was still on injections.

Although I have a lumpy belly from injecting insulin in the same spot for too long, causing extra fat to deposit there.

And although I haven’t used that area for over a year now, it doesn’t get much better. I still have hope that it will go away, but starting to come to terms with that it might not.

Anyway. Now with my pump and CGM set up, because the sites are on there for 3+ days, I find it much more important to really rotate my sites.

So far I’ve mainly used the back of my arms for my CGM. I find it really handy, it’s out of the way, I can’t feel it in my sleep and it leaves more skin real estate for the more frequently changed pump sites.

Being so lucky that my insulin pump (OmniPod) can be placed wherever there’s enough fat on your body to inject into, I’ve been getting a little creative (against the official instructions, of course. But what’s a girl to do after a few site swaps?!)

So, a relatively new place I’ve used for my pump sites is my back.

You know, the middle (right below the bra line, ladies!), where many of us may have a pinchable fold.

I’m so glad I gave it a try, because I’ve had such good results there.

I have yet to try putting the pump on my thigh…. I don’t know, something makes me a little iffy about it, even though I used to rotate my Lantus shots between my hips and thighs.

Here are my 6 tips to keeping those sites rolling:

  • Mirror your sites on each side every second time you change your pump infusion set. This goes for injections, too.
  • Place you CGM and pump sites on the same side to sleep easier.
  • Start adding more imaginative sites to your list; see my example on my back above.
  • Your basal rate settings might change with different site placements. I have a different one for my lower back and arms than my stomach, back (higher up) or hips.
  • Dare to test different sites! Just because the “official” rules “state” that it “isn’t advised”, if it works for you – use it!
  • Pay attention to that you actually do rotate your sites. Your body (and blood sugar) will thank you and show gratitude.

 

And hey, please don’t be ashamed for your pump and CGM sites! It’s really nothing you can do anything about, you need them to keep you alive. And: don’t forget to #showmeyourpump !

Where is your favorite pump placement? How could you get a little more creative with them?

Grain Free Thanksgiving

Happy American Thanksgiving! (Well, almost)

This year, we cheated a little.

As in we already had our Thanksgiving last weekend.

I’ve seen some questions on how to make a grain free Thanksgiving meal. Luckily, this is exactly what I had last weekend.

It was a great day; we had some friends over, cooked together, laughed, drank delicious wines and ate beyond-glorious food. And we didn’t watch football. How very un-American of us! But almost the best part was that while the boys were cooking, the ladies got their nails done, while drinking some bubbly. (thank you Sam!)

You might be wondering how on this green Earth we pulled together a completely grain free menu. Well, to be honest, it wasn’t all grain free, as some cornbread stuffing and a pumpkin pie were present. But the rest, and the dishes that I put my focus on were all grain free.

And as we’re so close to Thanksgiving, literally hours away, and I am so very thankful that you’re part of my world, I’m sharing The Menu, as well as some options, with you today. There are of course many, many other alternatives and options for a grain free Thanksgiving, but here’s what happened last weekend:

Grain Free Thanksgiving Turkey

I sincerely hope the turkey you get IS grain free…!

One thing I can recommend is to rub your turkey in the deliciousness that is duck fat. The flavors get intense and I’ve never had a juicier bird. I “blame” the duck fat.

Grain Free Thanksgiving Stuffing

I already mentioned the grain filled stuffing with cornbread before. But we also had another one, made entirely out of meat. (again, thank you Sam!)

It was minced meat with sausage, duck meat and some herbs. And it was heavenly.

As alternatives for stuffing, here are three fantastic (sounding) ones:

Best Ever Paleo Thanksgiving Stuffing

Apple-Cranberry and Veal Stuffing

Savoury Sage & Sweet Apple Stuffing

Grain Free Thanksgiving Sides

Moving swiftly on to the side dishes of the glorious grain free Thanksgiving meal!

On our buffet last weekend we had the following ones. Note that none of them are complicated or weird to make. Just really simple, honest food:

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Cut the Brussels sprouts either in halves or quarters across. Cut the bacon into smaller pieces. Fry the bacon first and then add the Brussels sprouts to it. Cook until the sprouts are sproutin’ done! 🙂

Kale Salad with Avocado

Cut the kale off the stems and into smaller pieces (or rip it, if that’s more fun). Put it into a bowl. Open an avocado and put the meat in the kale, and then use your hands to mix it all together until the kale wilts a little. This removes the sometimes overpowering taste of kale. Add salt and pepper as desired.

Broccoli Salad with Pomegranates

Shred raw broccoli into a bowl. Add pomegranates and some olive oil. Mix.

Pretty printable recipe here!

Butter-fried Cabbage

As an extra idea, I suggest cutting cabbage into thin strips and frying them in butter until soft and, well, buttery. Few things on earth beat that combination.

Grain Free Thanksgiving Gravy

My husband makes the world’s best gravy, second only to what my grandmother used to make. (Sorry honey!)

Last weekend, he took the juices from the turkey, put it in a pan and added butter, bone broth and red wine and let it simmer until it reduced into gravy.

This is so simple, but of course doesn’t give you thick creamy gravy. For that you need to add either cream or coconut cream.

Grain Free Thanksgiving Desserts

Everyone’s favorite part, of course, is dessert.

Except when you’re more stuffed than the turkey and feel like you might just cry. Then you’ve done Thanksgiving wrong, and I recommend you start from the beginning.

Ha, no just kidding!

Do make sure you leave some space for dessert though. It’s well worth it for these two recipes!

This one I made for last weekend, and holy-turkey-day was it fantastically yummy! The super talented Kelly from The Spunky Coconut really got the flavors together in this one!

Salted Caramel Pecan Pie without Corn Syrup

And, because it’s very traditional, I’m also giving you a link to a great grain free pumpkin pie from Mark’s Daily Apple, click here.

You can serve any or both of these with whipped (coconut) vanilla cream.

 

If these recipes and ideas just aren’t enough, or they just don’t tickle your fancy, I HIGHLY recommend Danielle Walker’s e-book Thankfulwith 20 recipes for Thanksgiving and other Holiday events.

Over to you, what did you have on your Thanksgiving table this year? Share the awesomeness in the comments below.

Also, don’t forget to be #thankful!

Diabetes Interview: 30 Questions

Sometimes, working on my own can feel slightly schizophrenic.

I know you have tons of questions for me.

And today you’ll get some of them answered!

I’ve done an interview with none other than my fabulous self. I asked myself, included the ones from you (and googled some) questions to answer.

So here we go, here is the GrainBrain.ch interview with Hanna Boëthius:

Beginning

GrainBrain: What type of diabetes do you have?
Hanna Boëthius: I have Type 1 Diabetes.

GB: How long have you had diabetes?
HB: I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 2, 29 years ago now.

GB: How did you manage, growing up? Did you hide your diabetes?
HB: I had my moments. Up until the age of about 10, my parents had full control of the diabetes and me. That’s also when I learned how to do my own injections, which gave me a little more freedom. I can’t say I ever took pride in having diabetes before.

Being a teenager with T1D was difficult for me, I wanted nothing else than to be like “everybody else”, and I felt the diabetes hindered me in that. Starting at about age 16 I started hiding the diabetes more and more, at times even ignoring it.

It was a stupid move on my part, as it brought me to the ICU on the night of my high school graduation with a life-threatening DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis), but luckily I survived, thanks to the excellent health care staff around me. This complete roller coaster of taking care of myself vs not doing it continued a few years after that too, purely because I didn’t achieve the results I was promised and that I was working towards.

GB: Was it tough on your sibling, with you being the center of attention?
HB: Oh yes, most definitely. What she actually feels about it, you’ll have to ask her, but I think she has found it very tough.

GB: What was hardest for you and your family — emotionally? Or financially?
HB: A little bit of both, I think, but mainly emotionally. I’ve always been fortunate enough to have excellent health insurance.

I know my mother was terribly afraid of needles until my diagnosis, and then got over it because, well, she had to. And to get over something you’re afraid of is incredibly difficult. So it has affected my whole family in many, many ways.

Also having to deal with the doctors visits, the low blood sugars, the high ones, the inexplicable ones, the food, the insulin, exercise, hormones as well as other factors that influence the care of diabetes is life changing. And definitely not just for the patient, but also for the ones around them.

gb14_about_me_detail

Treatment

GB: What treatment do you use to treat your diabetes?
HB: Medically, I use insulin and check my blood sugars often.

GB: How often do you have to test your glucose levels?
HB: It’s gotten a little easier with my newest acquirement of a CGM (continuous glucose monitor), but I still measure up to 10 times a day. Before that it was 7-12 times a day, depending on how I felt and what I was doing.

GB: Do you use an insulin pump or injections/pens? How often do you need to inject?
HB: Since about a year, I use an insulin pump. Her name is Doris, and we’re a great team. But for the other 28 years I’ve used syringes first, and then insulin pens. So I know all about feeling like a human pin cushion!

The benefit with an insulin pump is that it injects small amounts of insulin every 5 minutes, giving the body a smoother supply of insulin, rather than injecting huge lump-dosages and hoping for the best.

The reason I changed was a lifestyle improvement, but also to cut down the margin of error of the big dosages I mentioned.

GB: What kind of insulin do you take?
HB: I use NovoRapid in my insulin pump.

GB: What insulins have you had throughout your diabetic career?
HB: Oh, I don’t think I can even remember them all! But a selection of them is: Humalog, Lantus, Levimir, Protaphan, Humulin, Actrapid…

GB: How well do you think you manage your diabetes?
HB: I think I’m doing better now than ever before!

I take much less insulin and other medications now, my blood sugar is more stable and all my laboratory results and measurements are better than they ever have been.

GB: Can you recognize the symptoms of a low/high blood sugar?
HB: Yes, most of the times I can.

GB: What symptoms do you get?
HB: When I have a high blood sugar, I get sleepy, my brain feels like toffee, I’m lethargic and I can’t concentrate. Sometimes I’m insatiably thirsty as well.

When it’s low, I feel jittery, I might shake, I can’t see properly, and I can’t concentrate then either. But although that’s exactly what I need to do, I rarely feel hungry, that comes afterwards.

GB: How often?
HB: It depends on what I’ve been doing. Stress, too little exercise and water, and too many carbs make it go up. And too much exercise and insulin makes it go down. It’s a careful balancing act.

GB: How do you treat a hypo?
HB: I’ve learned to become more patient. Before I used to eat whatever I found, and too much of it, making my low blood glucose race up to be too high.

Now, I reduce my basal rate on my pump to -80% for ½-1 h and eat 4-8 carbohydrates in form of glucose tablets, depending on how low it is. Usually I’m back to my awesome self within 10-15 minutes.

The worst thing for me is waking up with a low blood sugar in the middle of the night and then falling asleep again, once I’m ok. Getting up the following morning is a real struggle. It’s (much) worse than waking up with a hangover!

Food

GB: What do you eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner? When?
HB: I actually eat very simple food. Clean, whole foods that have been minimally tampered with is my preferred choice.

I always eat proteins, good, healthy fats and vegetables. And I don’t eat grains anymore, as it impacts my blood sugars too much to handle. It’s not worth it.

I very rarely eat breakfast nowadays, but rather do a form of intermittent fasting, which has tons of benefits. But mainly because I’m not hungry then, and also because that gives me another couple of hours of stable blood sugars. For lunch, around 12am-1pm, I very often have a mixed salad with fish, meat or eggs and avocado and olive oil. Or a vegetable soup, or an omelet. And for dinner, usually around 7pm, it’s usually some kind of cooked/warm vegetables and meat or fish and some great fats.

If you want to see what I eat, you should follow me on Instagram where I have my “food diary”. 

GB: Do you vary your insulin dose if you eat something that is not really good for you?
HB: Of course, that’s what I have to do to feel well. But I try not to eat things that I know aren’t good for me very rarely. And if I notice it wasn’t good for me, blood sugar-wise, I give a correction dosage as soon as I notice it.

GB: Do you eat snacks in between meals? Soda?
HB: Very, very rarely. I’m not hungry between meals, which is something I make sure of by eating what my body needs at meal times. And soda makes me feel terrible, even the diet ones, so that’s not usually on the menu either.

GB: Do you eat vegetables? Drink lots of water?
HB: I eat TONS of vegetables every day! They are nutritious and taste great. I have no problem substituting things like pasta or rice, which are frankly quite tasteless, for yummy vegetables.

I make sure to drink 2-3 liters of water a day. I notice on my blood glucose straight away if I haven’t had enough water.

GB: Do you ever skip meals?
HB: Mmmm, no not really. Apart from breakfast, like I mentioned before.

GB: Do you find the diet restrictive?
HB: Absolutely not. Actually, I vary my eating a lot more now than I used to before. And judging by the fact that I feel so much better eating like this, I only see benefits to it.

Completely besides the point is that I’m a nutrition coach that hates the word “diet”…. Ugh!

GB: Do you get annoyed when people ask if you should be eating a certain food?
HB: Not nearly as annoyed as I get by the word “diet”!

I actually don’t get that question too often, especially now that people have realized that I know best myself what I can and can’t eat. But I see it as people trying to look out for me rather than let it annoy me.

Gemuse

Exercise

GB: Do you exercise?
HB: Yes. It’s essential to my well-being, so I exercise pretty much every day.

GB: What do you do?
HB: For many reasons, I’ve found that the form of exercise that suits me the best are walks of varying length, intensity and geography. Sometimes I wish there would be more variation in my routine, but I do enjoy my daily walks a lot.

More

GB: Do you do anything else to manage diabetes better?
HB: Yes! Diabetes management goes WAY beyond just eating, medication and exercise.

I have found that having a daily routine helps me manage diabetes, as well as various forms of stress reduction, like meditation, breathing techniques, massages and self-love, keeping up motivation, the right supplements, along with exercise, eating the right things, drinking enough and taking the right medication.

GB: What is the hardest part of being diabetic?
HB: The constant worry. And keeping up with the roller coaster, both physical and emotional.

GB: And the best part?
HB: How it’s shaped me as a person. It’s taught me self-discipline, celebrating the small things and victories, made me stronger, more resilient and to find happiness in every day.

GB: Does your diabetes cause you any other problems?
HB: I try not to see the limitations of diabetes, and at least not let them limit me. But of course there are moments I have to sit down and take it easy rather than going at full speed…

GB: What would you like a non-diabetic to know about having diabetes?
HB: There’s much more to diabetes than eating and taking insulin. And blaming people for having diabetes is not exactly right either, it only creates a social stigma. That stamp is difficult to get rid of.

GB: What would you tell someone who has just been diagnosed with diabetes?
HB: I would tell them three things:
1) Take a deep breath, I know it’s overwhelming.
2) Your doctor doesn’t have all the answers, you’re your own best doctor.
3) Keep at it, it takes time, but when you find what works for YOU it’ll all be alright.

GB: Who do you get support from? Who treats you?
HB: Oh I have a whole team of teams!

My first priority is Team Hanna, which consists of my body and I. Secondary is my husband, then family and friends. Thirdly, I have assembled a real Dream Team of medical staff consisting of an endocrinologist, diabetic nurse, diabetic educator, ophthalmologist, podiatrist, and dermatologist.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to know about me or diabetes? Ask them in the comments and I’ll answer them too!

PS. Did you see my Diabetes Advent Calendar yet?! Sign up for the ADVENT-ure now!

Healthy Holidays in One Step

It’s that time of the year again!

Stores are filled with holiday cheers and people seem to start getting a little lighter mooded, most of them looking forward to the holidays.

And I heard this year’s first Christmas song yesterday!

As you may know, I’m not exactly a fan of how sugar coated the holidays are. Every year, your sugar consumption explodes toward the end of the year. Sugar destroys so much more than it gives, and this constant overload just isn’t worth it, in my opinion.

And the sugar you eat now, still has an impact weeks and even months from now (A1c tests, anyone?)

So, in the middle of this Sugar Avalanche, made out of chocolate, candy canes, Rudolph cookies and mince pies (and the sugar bomb that is mulled wine), what are your options? What is an easy step to take if you just wantto make your life a little healthier during the holidays?

If there’s ONE STEP you can take to make your December just one (or 24) bits healthier, it’s to swap out the usual chocolate advent calendar.

Packed with sugar and chemical stuff beyond belief, most advent calendar are a health hazard.

“But what’s wrong with just ONE piece of chocolate a day in December?” you’re asking?

Essentially, not much. But for me it’s about the inherent need for sweets this time of year, and not the fact that you actually want them.

As a few alternatives, I’ve compiled a list of healthier advent calendar ideas for you.

If you (or the one you want to surprise) are into taking care of your body and beauty, I have some great tips for you right here:

The Body Shop’s nearly iconic advent calendar seems to still be in stock (it usually sells out in no time): 

Or, I’d happily take ANY of these advent calendars on this wonderful list (hint, hint), from clothesandcamera.com:

Or why not try a tea one this year, where you get a different flavor every day? (An example right here)

While we’re on beverages, for your whiskey.loving partner, why not get a whisky calendar, where one kind is hiding behind each door?

Do you have a brainiac on your hands? A daily puzzle or Sudoku of some kind would keep them busy until Christmas.

 

For the kids, why not try one of the Lego or Playmobil calendars (available anywhere)?

Or, alternatively, why not make a Random Act of Kindness calendar for your kids? Get ideas on how: http://www.everydayroadtohealthy.com

For the classic holiday celebrator, try a “normal”, paper calendar. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has gorgeous ones: http://store.metmuseum.org/holiday/advent-calendars/icat/adventcalendars

There’s also the alternative of an advent candle, counting down the days while spreading blissful peace. (Why don’t you meditate while you’re watching the candle burn?)

 

Or make your own!

It can be filled with loving messages, vouchers, cinema tickets, experiences, happy thoughts, affirmations, home made healthy snacks, supplements, spices, magazine… suited to the receivers tastes and preferences, of course! For kids, this could include stickers, colouring pencils, small toys, or, like I mentioned above, Random Acts of Kindness!

For the framework, you can just use envelopes, small paper bags, matchboxes or individually wrap them. Be sure to have a look at Etsy to find quirky alternatives as well, here is a link: https://www.etsy.com/ch-en/search?q=advent%20calendar

 

There are also countless digital advent calendars around, just Google it and find your favorites. That way you can have (way) more than one! 😀

 

What is your favorite type of advent calendar? Let me know in the comments!

70 Things Only Diabetics Recognize

Happy Diabetes Awareness Month!

November is here and with that comes Diabetes Awareness Month mentioned above, as well as World Diabetes Day on the 14th. Don’t forget to put it in your calendar, and let’s raise money for research, party like it’s 1999 and, first and foremost, spread knowledge about diabetes!

To kick this month off, I made a list.

A list of 70 instances or thoughts that any diabetic can easily recognize. This list is by no means exhaustive, nor complete. But it might be a little funny at times.

Let’s go:

  • GOOD NEWS at the doctors office
  • Having a low blood sugar in public
  • The fear of passing out
  • Forgetting supplies
  • The feeling of a sinking blood sugar
  • The feeling of an unexpected blood sugar
  • New diabetes related gadgets (it can’t be just me?)
  • The feeling of an unexpected A1c level
  • The taste of gross glucose tablets
  • Over eating for a low blood sugar
  • Being a math genius – every day!
  • The smell of insulin
  • Realizing that your life depends on said supplies
  • “Did I bolus for that?”
  • Redefining the meaning of a roller coaster
  • A needle hitting a nerve
  • Being able to finally itch under an itchy site!
  • The fountain of blood that can appear after an injection
  • Insulin induced weight gain…
  • Carrying an arsenal of medical supplies
  • The soreness after sleeping on a medical device
  • Tasting food or drink and feeling just how loaded it is with sugar!
  • The feeling of having bolused EXACTLY the correct amount
  • How you feel after a night of wrestling with your diabetes
  • The feeling of a high blood sugar
  • Saying: “I’m high, I need to shoot up!”
  • Not being understood
  • 5.0 mmol/l / 100 mg/dl
  • Meeting a new doctor, trying to throw out a joke and get crickets back
  • The Numbers Game
  • Carbohydrate counting like a boss – instantly knowing how many that pumpkin has
  • The desert mouth you get from a high blood sugar
  • Dropping your test strip on the floor. Outside. In the rain.
  • Being proud of yourself
  • Balancing an umbrella while checking your blood sugar
  • “I’ll just finish this and THEN I’ll check my bg” “LOW”
  • Paying for medical supplies
  • Painful injections/pump site insertion/finger prick
  • “Does this dress hide my pump AND cgm?!”
  • Seeing another diabetic when you’re out and assuming you’re friends
  • Fear of judgment
  • Social stigma
  • Getting stupid comments and remarks
  • Seeing a diabetes meme and totally being able to relate
  • A smooth CGM curve
  • Going low during exercise
  • Diabetic Jetlag (travelling across multiple time zones with basal changes)
  • “Did I have too much wine for dinner or am I low?”
  • The Sweaty Shakes
  • Feeling strong
  • “Am I high or just thirsty?”
  • Not giving up, even when it would be darn nice to
  • Feeling like a Negative Nancy, although you really don’t mean to
  • Ugly meter cases
  • Treating a hypo just right
  • The Disappointment when you’ve done everything according to the “books” and nothing is like it should be
  • Feeling insufficient
  • Getting advice that would help, but you’re just not ready to hear them yet
  • Having to be a constant worry for the ones closest to you
  • “Is it hot in here or am I low?”
  • Assembling your care team
  • Developing a fighter mentality
  • The Diabetic Online Community
  • Keeping blood sugar logs
  • Not being like everybody else
  • Constantly making changes
  • Sleep, sleep, sleep
  • Theory vs Practice
  • Letting go of expectations
  • (+1) The hope of a cure, even if it is distant in the future

 

 

What did I miss? Is there anything you think should be added to my list? Please let me know in the comments below!