Nuts, bolts and successful Type 2 strategies.

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Many people have inquired about the specifics of how I personally control my condition. Breaking with my usual focus on the behavioral aspects of management, I thought I’d share more about the nuts and bolts that I find helpful, or essential. Because something works for me, there’s no guarantee it’ll do the same for you.

At the end of this post I’ll share a link to an amazing nutritionist, health consultant and food wizard, whose recipes and extensive knowledge turned things around for me.

So this is a summary of the best and most effective ways I maintain being fit and healthy, not just despite having Type 2, but because of it.

Choose what you want, try it to ascertain the results, and leave the rest!

 

Food

Starting off with food, as it’s the most central issue for us all. For those who are serious about containing their diabetes and attempting to forestall any complications, it’s unwise to think “I’ll get to the food thing later”.

I started out being serious about it. From the moment I was diagnosed, which foods are ‘safe’ became an obsession. Over the top maybe, but I saw it as one area I could make wise choices, with significant benefits down the road. For those who struggle with delayed gratification, this will be a more difficult motivator.

Time to hit “reset”.

I refer to myself as a functional cook. I can prepare tasty meals, but it was more a chore than a joy. I never followed recipes, preferring instead to be creative and cook up what was around. The results ranged from fine to uninspired.

Aside from all the nutritional research I’ve delved into, I’ve eventually whittled it down to several rules I follow.

Due to weight loss and low carbs, I’m no longer resistant to the hormones ghrelin and leptin. I eat only when physically hungry and stop when full. This helps manage portion control. I limit any protein to 2-3 ozs and learnt to eyeball it (around the size of your palm).

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I eat plant-derived carbs, from non-starchy veggies, and full fats as a source of energy. Mostly this means the lowest carb full fat dairy like greek yogurt, half and half or coconut milk (regular cow’s milk is too high in sugar (lactose) content. I use extra virgin cold pressed olive oil and either coconut vinegar, lemon or lime for salad dressing. When baking or cooking, the  I only use organic virgin coconut oil, or organic butter.

I avoid all grains and flours, so instead I bake with almond or flax meal, coconut flour or psyllium husk.

One “secret helper” I’ve used occasionally if there is limited food choice, or the ingredients unknown or possibly suspect, is white bean extract capsules. They block carbohydrate absorption. I don’t use them as an excuse to eat carbs, but sparingly if that’s the best option at a restaurant.

 

Sleep

One of the triggers in developing Type 2 was significant sleep deprivation over a

imagesperiod of time. Due to severe menopausal symptoms, my sleep patterns were abysmal. At most I slept 4-5 hours down from my normal 7.5-8. Night after night I woke up due to ‘power surges’ of heat and energy causing my central nervous system to become aroused, and my body temperature rising and falling well outside a comfortable range. Sweating to shivering hourly…

 

This required a literal cooling down – I kept a damp cold face cloth next to the bed, windows wide open year round, light bedding and minimal contact with my partner, who tended to run hot.

Even as my body eventually cooled, turning shivery before normalizing, my mind was equally aroused, with thoughts torpedoing around that further pushed sleep away. After 18 months of this misery, I mentioned it to my MD who asked me why I was suffering like that? Not having a good answer, she prescribed sleeping pills. Never having tried them before, reluctantly I took them as clearly I needed to sleepBut knowing them to be addictive, this wasn’t a long-term solution.

Fast forward to today, what still works so well even though my sleeping has greatly improved as the flashes have decreased, is taking 1000 mg L-Tryptophan. This is an amino acid that’s a precursor (triggers production) of Serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates sleep (and appetite). It works! I also add 360 mg Magnesium Taurate which helps as a muscle relaxer, further ensuring sound sleep.

So I take both 30 minutes or so before bedtime, and sleeplessness is history. Consequently, given the connection between sufficient sleep, blood glucose level and appetite, all are better regulated.

 

Exercise

Diabetes happened despite my regular daily workouts for years. As I learn how imperative exercise is to my new regime, I kicked it up several notches in intensity. Working well initially, it helped to sustain lower BG readings. But after several months, I noticed a troubling change.

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Typically, I’d test before, during and after exercising to gauge the impact. As a trend upwards to higher numbers began to show, initially baffled, eventually I traced it to the effect of intense exercise releasing cortisol, or adrenaline, which pushed up BG levels! Who’d have thought it! Backing down slightly to a moderate workout, this no longer happens.

Now, I fine-tune my exercise needs to fit with the balance of BG needs daily.

To avoid boredom, I mix strength or resistance training (very important as toned muscles vacuum up excess glucose carried in the blood due to being unable to enter the cells) with cardio, yoga, dance or hiking.

 

Stress

Often, things well beyond our control happen. How we respond is crucial. To strengthen my being able to let things go, or not ruminate on them, I stepped up my meditation practice.

Yoga and Diabetes Research

My favorite advice on how long to sit is a Zen master, who when asked, replied “Sit for 10 or 15 minutes, unless you’re really busy. Then sit for an hour”. Perfect antidote for this ADD time we live in.

I reinforced the ritual around sitting daily, so it didn’t require a decision to be made each time. After choosing the time and place that works and keeping my cushion and bench there, I just “show up” as part of my morning routine. Once I settle in the familiar posture,  immediately I notice my mind becomes calmer, more focused.

This results in increased concentration, a slower respiratory system (a feeling of being calmer), more deliberate chosen actions, less emotional reactivity, and better decision-making as patience kicks in. Any mental or physical agitation or restlessness dissipates, and I’m able to instead purposely move through tasks tending to each one effectively.

No more spinning, flitting ineffectively from one thing to another.

If a stress-inducing thought arrives in my mind, I internally respond by a “Not now” or “I’ll deal with that later”. It works well, until the stress builds up again. Repeat again and again until it becomes a ‘call and response’ automatically.

This is just a snippet of what’s worked for me. Perhaps it’ll inspire you to make some healthy changes by introducing new habits or items to your pantry. It’s by no means inclusive, just a taster…

I promised to share at the beginning the website of an amazing nutritionist, here’s where you can find amazingly healthy recipes and nutritional knowledge that won’t spike BG! What could be better…?

 

What’s worked for you? Can you share your own tips?

Overloaded, overwhelmed, overboard…stressed out?

Overloaded, overwhelmed, overboard…stressed out?

Notice how many expressions we use to indicate feeling stress, like ‘over’ or ‘too much’ ? This state can be defined as too much pressure, of any variety, physically, mentally or emotionally.

And the holiday season is often a perfect combination of circumstances that together bring that response on. Especially if you’re dealing with a restricted diet, just trying to stick to healthy amounts and choices can be stressful.

What to do about it?

 

How to mindfully respond to stress

 

1. Be aware of it

Begin at the beginning, with awareness. This isn’t the first or last time you’ll hear this, but you can’t change anything that you’re unaware of! Sounds obvious yet occurs surprisingly infrequently in the mind. So develop intimacy with your stress, really get to know every aspect of it.

When I’m stressed, the initial signs I notice are in the mind. Usually, it shows up as a sense of urgency, feeling pressured, or annoyance at who or what I perceive to be impeding my ‘progress’, or bothering me (in my mind) with ‘less’ important things. After an embarrassing length of time lost in those unpleasant states, I begin to catch the impatience, frustration, irritation. Once felt, noticed and named, it’s far easier to let go of.

After all, it doesn’t feel good!

 

My absolute belief at the time, that this is objectively how things are, overshadows the truth that it’s my stressed overloaded mind conjuring up this distorted angle.

 

Try this now

To increase your awareness and intimacy with stress, stop reading for a second, close your eyes or soften your gaze staring off into space.

Recall a situation that stressed you. It might have been agreeing to coach your daughter’s soccer team even as you take on an additional project at work, or being determined to bake extra goodies for your neighborhood holiday party. Notice what’s happening in your mind and body when recalling the situation.

Pay deep attention to all sensations during this exercise. Perhaps you notice your mind jumping around, becoming agitated, leaping from thought to thought. Maybe you tune in to  your body, noticing it tighten, shoulders hunched up, your fists clenched and fingernails digging uncomfortably into your palms.

Whatever you notice is fine, knowing more about your stress response is helpful. There’s nothing broken here that needs fixing!

 

2. Acceptance

Accepting the moment as it is reduces tension, whereas resistance increases it, setting in motion a series of internal physiological reactions, which end up by triggering stress-inducing cortisol. The body is now in flight or fight mode.

And all over maybe baking an extra plate of (hopefully low carbohydrate) cookies?

So accept how things are, know they’ll change as everything does, and don’t fret. Tolerate the situation by steadily moving on through it until you notice a shift. Particularly monitor your thoughts, that’s the engine that drives everything. The more attention you pay, the sooner you’ll become aware of it changing.

 

3. Pause and breathe

Rushing through doesn’t necessarily get you there sooner, or move you away from the unpleasant quicker.

Pausing, meditating even briefly, taking deep breaths are all ways of inserting a “page break”. Try it…then pick up on the fact that your productivity actually increases afterwards. That pause or deep breath steadies the mind, helps with focus and enables you to be more deliberate, not spinning your wheels. The result…you’re more effective with less energy expenditure and lower cortisol production.

Simply put, you’ve staved off a stress response.

 

4. Be realistic

Only take on that which you’re able to. Even if you have the physical time, do you have the

internal space to deal with one more thing, what I refer to as bandwidth? Ask yourself honestly, can you mentally and emotionally take it on?

Most at risk are those of you who feel too uncomfortable to say “no”.

Risky because it’s a surefire precursor to resentment, another stress-inducer.

 

 

So what to do?

 

Instead, if you’re unsure, practice saying “Let me get back to you on that”. Give yourself some time to evaluate it, check what feelings emerge when you contemplate taking it on. They’ll be your best guide to ‘Yes” or “No”. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to practically respond to stress

Addressing stress physiologically can be swifter than taming your mind. Here are some suggestions that can help no matter what your mind is doing.

 

1. Get plenty of sleep

If you’re typical, enough sleep is probably more than you’re getting. The recommendation for adults is 7.5 to 8 hours nightly. Since developing Type 2, I function best with 8.5 to 9 hours. I commonly hear from clients they sleep just 5-6.5 hours, but that’s insufficient for the body to rejuvenate itself physically and the brain to process everything.

One result of inadequate sleep can be an increase in stress responses. Inadequate sleep can lead to poor daytime functioning. Feeling fuzzy minded or bleary eyed slows response times and increases stress just going through your daily activities.

 

2. Move your body

In what way is less important than just being physically active. Any activity that is cardiovascular, running, gym machines, swimming, tennis, brisk walking, will reduce physiological stress if undertaken for a minimum of 30 minutes.

 

3. Stroke a pet

If you share your life with a furry one, groom or pet them if feeling stressed. Walking your dog is the best as you’re moving your body too. Stroking fur lowers blood pressure, calms the central nervous system, and lowers production of cortisol. And if you can sync your breathing to theirs during the petting, even better.

 

4. Laugh with a friend

Just talking or laughing with someone shifts your mood. Cortisol hates laughter, they’re mutually exclusive. If one is present in your body, the other isn’t. Choose to laugh!

 

5. Watch something that’ll make you roar

No one around to share a laugh with? Then watch a show or movie you know will make you laugh. Go for the full-body, deep belly laugh, one that’ll shake up the internal organs!

Let me know what works for you, or what you’ve tried that doesn’t…leave your comments here…

 

 

Who left that pile of crap there? The 6 ‘R’s of dealing with obstacles

Stuff happens.

It doesn’t say anything about who we are.

You’re driving on the freeway, and a car nips into the space in front of you, forcing you to slow down to allow it in.

That didn’t happen because you’re a bad person. But in your mind, an attitude appears, then a storyline develops.

“What the _______!” Bloody dangerous thing to do. Now I’ve got to slow down to let him in, and that’ll make me late for my meeting. When the boss finds out I was late, she’ll watch me like a hawk from now on. Bang goes that promotion, I’m screwed now. When the wife find out, she’ll be pissed at me again. No snuggle time for months, can’t believe it…that guy drives like a maniac, cutting off everyone…”

…and so on.

Sound vaguely familiar? Change around the circumstances to fit your latest escapade, and you’ll recognize most of us don’t do too well with perceived obstacles in our way. When we’re restrained from doing what we want, anger often arises.

Anger is like throwing a hot coal at someone, we burn ourselves first!

Virtually all the time, obstacles are not chosen, and their appearance has little to do with us.

The 6 ‘R’s’ of dealing with obstacles.

1. Recognize Firstly that you’re dealing with an obstacle! Seeing it for what it is is the first step. Sounds obvious, but how often do you personalize an obstacle? In the example about, not recognizing the car in front is simply an obstacle, the internal storyline goes from bad to worse! Unchecked, in that situation often it’s not too long before you also get down on yourself or not having taken a different route!

It’s just circumstantial!

2. Relax Don’t rail against it! It won’t change the situation but will make you feel worse. Instead, practice accepting that this is how it is! It’s not personal, and accepting the circumstances probably won’t make you late, loose your promotion or your wife’s good graces!

 

3. Restraint Don’t act out. Speeding up behind the other car, cutting him, or someone else off in retribution only fuels your own frustration! No other driver will see it the same way as you do. Resist the urge to act out, be the bigger person here.

 

4. Receive Without judgment or preference what is happening, and the nature of it. See clearly how things are, not what your mind embellishes or manufactures.

 

5. Reframe Welcome another opportunity to develop awareness, clear seeing! By altering the frame through which you understand any circumstance, it takes on another meaning. If you find yourself fretting over something that feels a big deal, picture yourself on your deathbed, and ask yourself, will I remember this petty little thing I’m so riled up over when I’m dying?

 

6. Realize All difficulties or obstacles have 3 main characteristics;

1. They are all impermanent, and will exist for a short time only.

2. They are all unsatisfactory, otherwise we wouldn’t percieve them as obstacles.

3. They have their own causes or conditions. It’s not personal, we just need be aware of them.

 

Working with the 6 ‘R’s’ can be applied to ANY perceived obstacle, try it and see for yourself…