Living with a chronic medical condition like diabetes can be challenging. It affects every aspect of your life, from your eating habits to fitness, sleep patterns, and mental health. But, with the right mindset and diabetes management tools, you can thrive and live life on your own terms.
These tips shared by Stephanie Brodie, a fitness coach, and Anissa Gamble, a professional hockey player, can help you to identify ways in which you can improve your physical and mental wellbeing while making sure that you’re always in control when it comes to your blood sugars.
Exercise is important for both physical and mental health and can be more complicated to manage if you’re taking insulin, but that shouldn’t stop you from incorporating exercise into every day. Just make sure to take precautions by always checking your blood sugars before, during and after physical activity. It doesn’t have to be a spin class, or a mountain hike, but could be as simple as going out for a walk. Anything that gets your heart pumping and blood flowing at some point every day.
Consider adding in some strength training as well for muscle building as that will help with glucose metabolism and your overall ability to move and play and participate in different activities.
Eat for energy
As women, our bodies process food differently compared to men, and, with diabetes – food can become a source of stress when it comes to diabetes control. High carbohydrate foods with a high glycemic index can cause blood sugars to spike quickly and those kinds of fluctuations can wreak havoc on your energy. You may need to “experiment” with different foods and track how they impact your blood sugars, as no two bodies are the same, and you want to be able to have foods you enjoy while fuelling your body. You will eventually find your “go-to” items that can help you keep glucose levels steady. It’s also always a good idea to enlist the help of a certified diabetes educator dietician.
Keeping diabetes in check while you live your life can be made a whole lot easier with the use of technology. One great option is a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). Sensors are becoming smaller and more discreet and with the Dexcom G6 CGM system, for example, you don’t even have to prick your fingers anymore and can be alerted before your glucose levels get too high or too low. The tools we have now to stay on top of our diabetes are a far cry from what they used to be and give us the power to seamlessly participate in whatever activities and challenges we want to take on; while being responsible about our diabetes management.
Find your tribe
There is an instant bond and ‘knowing’ with somebody who lives with the same medical condition, as there is a common ‘language’ and appreciation of the daily challenges that go along with it. Whether in person, or online; becoming a part of the diabetes community will make you feel a lot less alone and will supply peers to lean on for advice and support. You may even find a group to go on adventures with and make some of your very best friends for life!
So, while living with diabetes can be hard, it’s also possible that you’ll discover how strong you really are and become more than you ever thought you could be. With the right attitude, tools, and support – you can do this!
This article was written with inputs from Anissa Gamble, a Canadian scientist and professional hockey player living with type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, and psoriasis and Stephanie Brodie, a fitness instructor and outdoor adventure enthusiast who has been living with type 1 diabetes for 15 years.