A season like Fall typically brings with it a lot of change. Pulling out the cooler weather clothes, preference for warmer, heartier meals as well as adjustment to less sunlight and maybe even adjustment to the type of exercise you love. All of these changes become a routine year after year.
I love this time of the year – the colors always encourage me to use the many trails around my city. A favorite place to run is in our Arboretum. I find running or walking to be my form of meditation – sitting still and quiet doesn’t really do it for me. Years ago, my Aunt Mary (she is very earthy-crunchy) told me that some people are moving meditators…they do their best thinking when in motion and that totally describes me.
This past weekend I got out in the Arboretum for a nice morning run and as soon as I got into my rhythm my thoughts flowed easily from one thing to another – just working through my week, my routines, what is working, what needs to be taken care of…not necessarily writing out a script, but just letting my brain work through things in an easy way. Watching the colors change as I ran along the trail I started to think about the attention that I give to the surroundings and the trail path itself when I run in the woods vs out on the road as well as on a known path vs one that is new.
My thoughts flowed from the attention I give to the trail with sticks, leaves, rocks, and tree roots to the same type of attention it takes to manage diabetes. When I am running on a familiar path, I feel like I have more ability to look up and enjoy the trees, look for wild turkeys, and look for something that has changed along the way. The trail is known, and unless I come across a huge downed tree on the path, I know the footing kind of like a routine, so I don’t have to adjust too much because it is known. If I choose a new trail, then I have to give more attention to my footing. Rocks pop up and this time of the year a trail covered with fallen leaves can hide things underneath that you didn’t plan to step on or trip over. You are probably thinking this all sounds nice, but how does it relate to diabetes?
Similar to diabetes management – when you find what works, a familiar path or trail so to speak, then the routine can help you enjoy more of the stuff that surrounds you. You can put more energy into that soccer game or have more stable overnight levels because you’ve traveled this route already, you’ve learned the path and figured out your strategies. While our technology today helps us with flexibility, it is still helpful to have some things that are a routine which makes day to day management a bit easier. Figuring out favorite meals, how to adjust for your favorite workout, or even a work or school day versus a weekend day can make a day-to-day difference in the ups and downs of management.
When you choose a new thing – whether it is food, activity or life throws a challenge at you with work schedule changes, etc. then navigation is more in the moment. This is often the hardest thing for people with diabetes to deal with, the unknown. However, just like a trail run that is familiar, facts you know from what does work regularly in your day to day diabetes management can help you learn how to adjust for those things that are not routine. A boulder on my favorite path – I run around it routinely. Essentially this teaches me that I probably won’t change that strategy on a new path when a boulder pops up out of the blue. The same thing with non-routine life changes in diabetes management. What you know from past experience you can apply the basics of in this new setting to manage better even if you aren’t quite certain of the carb count or the impact of that new Kick Boxing class. Take what you know and apply it to the unknown, new situation and you are likely to have a better outcome.
Those tools you have learned along the time you have had diabetes already are valuable. Remembering to pull them out and use them when life presents something different is the challenge.
As always, if you need help establishing some good tools for your management toolbox, please give us a call. The team at Integrated Diabetes Services has more tools to use based on our years of personal and professional experience.
Integrated Diabetes Services, Director of Lifestyle and Nutrition.
Jennifer holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Nutrition and Biology from the University of Wisconsin. She is a Registered (and Licensed) Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, and Certified Trainer on most makes/models of insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring systems.