I think, generally speaking, we all know what has to be done to live a healthy life. Some level of exercise, a balanced diet, and an intangible quality of life factor loosely represent the tripod that makes our individual worlds go ’round. Obviously each one of those components is influenced by a wide range of factors, thus making each of our lives unique and blah blah blah. And while it’s a given that all of this isn’t easy, diabetes makes everything more complicated in ways that I cannot describe – but I’ll try anyway.
Let’s take today for example:
Last night I had salmon, green beans and a handful of Cheez-It crackers for dinner. Total prep (cutting green beans, salt and peppering the fish, waiting for the pan to heat up) and cooking time was no more than 20 minutes. But what if I didn’t feel like actually making dinner last night? What if I got caught up in a traffic jam that added another 60 minutes to my commute? What if I didn’t have the time to make dinner and had to stop at a more convenient dining establishment? The awesome paradox about healthy eating is that while, for the most part, healthy eating habits are easy to manage diabetically speaking, all of that stuff takes time and money and energy. And that simple balance can be upset by nearly anything.
Of course, a more convenient dining option almost guarantees some form of shenanigans with respect to my blood glucose for the next 2-12 hours, even if that slice of pizza was exactly what I needed at the moment.
And what about exercise? I know it’s essential for proper blood glucose control. I know that regular exercise improves my insulin/carb ratio, reduces my Lantus requirements and knocks off “boot up time” in the mornings. But if I try to sleep in or skip one too many sessions at the gym, all of that work goes down the drain. Skipping gym sessions is easy once you start looking for excuses – seriously, they’re everywhere. And my reward for avoiding the gym? An average blood glucose level that slowly rises, insulin takes more time to take effect, more insulin is required for everything. I’ve gotten on and off the wagon so many times it’s pathetic, but the cycle always continues because the slightest turbulence can upset the balance of my diabetes management – even if sleeping in seemed like a really good idea at the time.
Which brings me to quality of life. I don’t think there’s enough virtual space on this blog to break this one down, but suffice to say that external influences that don’t impact diet or exercise most certainly have the opportunity to erode your desire to do the “right thing” when it comes to diabetes management.
Every day is like this. Some days I’ll be smart about what I eat, but I’ll have a crappy day at work and stress will keep me floating in the 200’s all day. Other days I’ll be a gym monster, but I’ll decide that a regular cheeseburger and fries from Five Guys is the only thing I’m in the mood for for dinner. And there are plenty of days where I’ve opted to skip a gym session to hang out with my cats. The balancing act never ends, and knowing that every single decision I make has an impact on my diabetes is simultaneously empowering (because I’m in control, or something) and depressing (because it’s all on me).