Well, let’s take a step back and look at the big picture. What does it really mean to be Strong With Diabetes?
I would love to hear what it means to you, but let me first share what it means to me.
To me, being Strong With Diabetes means more than just bulging biceps and a healthy body. It also means trying to have a positive outlook and building a strong grip on how you want to handle your diabetes.
Most of my posts here on Diabetes Strong are about exercise and nutrition, but I actually think that the mental aspects of diabetes are at least as important. It’s hard to be successful at living a healthy lifestyle if you don’t feel like you have the mental reserves to deal with your diabetes or prioritize your health.
And let’s be real here, living with diabetes takes up a lot of mental capacity.
How to develop mental strength
Developing mental reserves and a positive outlook can be exceptionally difficult. You can’t just say, “Today I will be happy and positive, and take great care of my diabetes” and expect it to be instant. That’s not how the mind works, at least not for me and most people I know.
But what you can do is work on your mental outlook every day and build that mental strength!
Chris Ruden wrote a great post about whether you are living “for” diabetes or living “with” diabetes” where he asked an important question, “Are you fighting your diabetes or accepting it?”
If you are fighting your diabetes, you end up spending all your time and energy thinking about how hard, annoying, and unfair it is. If you accept that this is how it is instead, you can focus on how to best manage your diabetes and live a happy and normal life.
Building mental strength and developing a positive outlook is not about being unrealistic and always thinking everything will be fine, but rather having a core belief that things will work out if you have the right knowledge, tools, and support.
It’s also about being a little bit brave, and pushing the boundaries of what you know you can do and what you hope and think you can do. And I’m happy to say that we have a whole community of people in the Facebook challenge community who are there to help build you up and catch you if you fall. Because tripping and falling is ok, as long as a positive outlook is there to help you brush off the fall and get back up.
It’s like learning to ride a bike, swim, read, etc. We didn’t know that we could do it, but we somehow had the belief that we could, so we learned how and figured it out. I think we’ve all had a positive outlook at some point in our lives, we sometimes just have to dig a little deeper to remember how it feels when it comes to our health and diabetes.
After acceptance comes action, so what does taking care of your diabetes mean to you?
To me, today, it means trying to avoid too many blood sugar fluctuations but also to not obsess over my CGM graph. 10 years ago, taking care of my diabetes meant something different to me, and in 10 years I’m sure it will have changed again to some degree. So, with the focus on being healthy, decide what’s important to you when it comes to your diabetes and how you handle it on a daily basis.
All the usual diabetes management goals (A1C, staying between the lines, etc.) are good and should be a part of the plan, but I do think it’s worth giving some thought to other aspects of health. All too often, our diabetes goals get all the attention, while our mental health is ignored. What good is a flat blood sugar line if you are so anxious that you can’t live a full life?
To come full circle, Strong With Diabetes to me means a balance of physical, mental and diabetes health. Each part gets attention but none of them dominate the others. And you don’t have to have it all figured out — nobody does! I wish for us all that we become Strong(er) With Diabetes together as we learn and grow.
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