Thanks-Giving

I haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving since 2003. I was 37, living in NYC, raising two children, working as a group and private yoga instructor, teaching teachers and doing everything I could to make ends meet. I remember gathering around the table with my family that Thanksgiving and feeling exhausted and vulnerable. I was allergic to just about everything, including the cat and I was embarrassed that I was picking at my food.

As we went around the table to express our gratitude I muttered something about being grateful for family and friends. I meant it at the time, but looking back my words were hollow. I didn’t know that I was already in the throws of diabetes, or that in a matter of years my whole life would be turned upside down.

Rachy-26Coming home for Thanksgiving nearly 14 years later I’m nostalgic for my childhood. Days where I heaped cranberries on Turkey and ate four slices of pumpkin pie.

Of course, I can enjoy Thanksgiving food with all the trimmings but it’s taken me days to get my levels back to normal after weeks of flying and book launch events and I’d rather celebrate the spirit of Thanksgiving in another way…

With a focus on thankfulness

In my daily life, I devote time each day to focus on what I am grateful and thankful for. It’s usually something I do at the end of my morning meditation. When my mind is quiet and my breath is still I think of all the good things that are happening in my life.

Lifestyle. Beautiful girl during yoga exerciseWhen I eat a meal I think about the magic of the seed, the person that planted the seed, the person that plowed the field and watered the plant, the one who harvested the fruit or vegetable, the driver who drove that vegetable to the grocery store, the person who stocked the shelf, the checkout person, the person who made the car so I could drive there in the first place. I think about my mother who taught me to cook and set the table. I even think about the people that made the table, the placemats, the pots and the cutlery.

From seed to table and in between a chain of people helped me to eat my dinner.

To me, Thanksgiving is so much more than gratitude it’s acknowledging how the whole of creation has facilitated that moment where the enjoyer and enjoyment are one.

Wishing each and every one of you a joyous Thanksgiving!

With great respect…

rachel

Do your best, get feedback and begin again

“Again! Let’s take it from D.” The young conductor was standing in front of a world class orchestra and a world famous conductor, my Dad and about to cast the first downbeat.

Young conductors know that this is the only way to improve. They do their best, get feedback and begin again. Watching the class and listening to my Dad’s comments it hit me; he has worked hard like this his whole life.

13346869_1420245684668049_1634820084135886253_n

When I was little, my dad was often hunched over a score at the piano making pencil markings, or waving his arms around with headphones on. I knew that we were supposed to be quiet and patient while Dad was studying, but I never quite ‘got’ why. I attended a dizzying amount of concerts and rehearsals as a kid and it all seemed so effortless.

It’s only now as an adult, living with diabetes, that I get it. What appears normal to others is actually a well thought out micromanaged existence designed to give the appearance of effortlessness.  If you knew that a conductor stopped the orchestra multiple times to correct a tempo, adjust the volume, or ask for more emotion, I wonder how you might listen to the final performance.

Knowing what goes on behind the scenes with my Dad makes me more sensitive and compassionate. These guys have worked their butts off. I also understand that making music is a true labor of love. Musicians use their bodies, their arms, legs, lips and voices to produce sound and hours of practice and effort takes its toll. Necks get sore, lips wear out, elbows get strained. But the orchestra keeps on going. The music survives and we the audience are entertained. It’s all worth it in the end.

DAD CONDUCTING

As someone who definitely micromanages their diabetes, I can relate. I’m not taking injections for meals yet, but I’m definitely on the verge. And I’m busy learning from my peers. I have to admit not only do I spend hours on my yoga mat, but an equal amount of hours reading articles on diabetes, chatting in facebook and twitter groups and staying abreast of the latest management strategies. Ideally I’d love to sit in on a master class with some of the greats.

Then last week it happened. I caught up with Hanna Boethius, a coach, writer and speaker who has lived with type 1 Diabetes for over 30 years. She offers motivational and inspiring ways to bring about change in diabetes management and has a profound understanding of how nutrition and lifestyle choices can balance diabetes.

IMG_8534

The first thing Hanna said to me, when I shared how often I check my blood sugar, was to remember that long acting insulin just slowly trickles through hour after hour. Without fast acting on board, I won’t suddenly drop low. If it hasn’t done it over the last 18 months, it’s not going to suddenly start now. With a gentle smile she suggested I trust my body more and give my fingers a rest.

We also discussed food and low carb diets. We both agreed that it has helped us immensely. But we also agreed it’s not for everyone. After nearly an hour and a half of sharing our insights on food and yoga in diabetes management, Hanna suggested we offer up our conversation as a webinar/google  hangout. We’d already planned a workshop in Zurich on how food and yoga can control diabetes, but thought it would be even better to spread our ‘masterclass’ to the worldwide DOC ( diabetes online community)

Hanna truly lives what she shares, which became even mores obvious when I headed over to her gorgeous and welcoming home on Lake Zurich for our webinar. She complained a little at the size of her kitchen, as it was too small for the amount of food they love to prepare at home, but we agreed that having a beautiful place makes up for it. She also shared with me later, as she walked me back to the train, that living in Switzerland has its perks when it comes to insurance. “I can have the sorts of medicines and equipment as I want and need it.”  I admit I’m envious. In Australia so many things aren’t covered (like CGM’s) and I would definitely have more confidence with my management if I knew I could afford to.

IMG_5755

Riding home after our webinar, reflecting on what I had learned from Hanna I thought again about my Dad and his mastery. When he steps out on stage and seamlessly conducts, the orchestra becomes one. One sound, One voice.

The word Yoga, as I described it in our webinar, also means oneness, wholeness. Understanding that the body is not separate from creation. Rather we are inseparably part of creation. And we can’t get out of creation either. Even if you get in a spaceship and head to Jupiter you’re still in creation.

With chronic illness we often isolate ourselves or feel like we’ve done something wrong. But the truth is there is no such thing as imperfection in creation. There’s just variations on a theme. In music those variations are celebrated, played with and teased out.

That’s how I work with my diabetes management as well.  In an upcycle (where my levels are stable) I think about what’s working and try and repeat that. In a downcycle (where my levels are more erratic) I can come back to what worked before or try something different to start again.

I can’t stress enough that no matter where you are on your journey with diabetes it’s important to reach out, be creative and keep exploring.  It’s something I learned from Dad when I was quite young and something I’m deeply grateful for today…

If you’d like to learn more about how food and yoga can help you control your diabetes check out our webinar below and if you want  to watch my awesome Dad go here

We’d love to hear what you think! Leave a comment below or send me a message and if you’d like a free copy of the first chapter of my new book click here

 

Yoga, meditation and ketones 

I don’t know about you but I spend quite a lot of time playing around on social media looking for ways to spruce up my meals. It’s not easy keeping things simple and nutritious. I found Hannah on Instagram and discovered she’s a passionate yogi just like me  who also follows a ketogenic diet. We connected off Instagram and I asked her to share her story and why she loves yoga and also to share one of her favourite recipes. I hope you enjoy her story as much as I do. With great respect…Rachel

FullSizeRender (2)

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes almost 10 years ago and wow how my life has changed. At diagnosis I was 13, in junior high, and I had just moved to the United States from Europe. Awkward and shy doesn’t even begin to explain it. I went to a family practitioner because my mom suspected I had a urinary tract infection due to frequent urination. They tested my blood sugar and the doctor told me I needed to see an endocrinologist. While waiting for our appointment, a nurse began to explain how I’d have to take shots and prick my finger every day. Confused we asked the nurse what was wrong. “Oh didn’t they tell you? You have diabetes”. That was the first of many times that I‘ve cried about diabetes. “She then asked why I was crying,” which looking back on it now is pretty humorous because of the ridiculousness of the question. The appointment ended soon after that, we were sent home with a box of supplies and an instruction video on how to use it all (which we found out later was in Spanish).  I won’t forget that day and how I felt, but I’ll use it to make me a better and more compassionate physician. I don’t want anyone else to have to feel as lost about diabetes as I did then. 

Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 8.37.33 AM

So here I am now living to the fullest; happy, healthy, totally loving life and believing that everything happens for a reason. Over the years I learned to be an advocate for my own health. I currently find balance in health by eating a ketogenic diet, lifting weights, doing yoga, and meditating. I have found yoga to be a great way to relieve stress. Slowing down my world for a few minutes to breath and focus on appreciating my body does wonders. As most people with diabetes know, stress makes managing blood glucose very difficult. Why? Because it’s so stinking unpredictable.

When we feel stressed out, our bodies release a class of hormones called glucocorticoids, these are hormones like cortisol and adrenalin (or epinephrine). They cause our bodies to release sugar from our liver into our blood stream to help us run away from tigers, lions, and bears.  When we’re going into a big exam, about to hop on a roller coaster, or are in a fender bender, we have no idea how stressed we’ll become and are even more clueless about exactly how much of which hormones our bodies will release. Predicting how our bodies will use these hormones and how much glycogen will be released from our liver is even more of a stretch. We can’t realistically take a preemptive shot of insulin to cover the cortisol for the car accident we’ll get in 20 mins. So what can we do?

Simply put; incorporate daily stress reducing things to cover daily stress causing things.

Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 8.57.45 AM

That’s how I’ve found balance. My experience has taught me that yoga absolutely balances my blood sugar levels over all and with my continuous glucose monitor I now have numerical data to prove it. I believe it’s good to be informed and try things until you find what works for you. What I’m suggesting here is that maybe yoga is worth a try. 

Yoga was introduced to my life while I was getting my undergraduate in Nutrition at Texas A&M. I had previously been a dancer and was looking for a new way to get in exercise, so I bought a pass to the classes at the Student Rec Center. I read about the benefits of yoga on stress management and overall health and decided to give it a try. At first, I honestly did not like it at all. I thought it was boring, kind of like dancing in slow motion. However, I promised myself that I would go at least once a week and workout the rest of the time. It took me a long time to make it through a class without giggling because of some funny name or awkward pose (I actually still do that pretty often). 

IMG_0100

During my first college finals, I became very stressed, and found myself craving the relief I feel from a yoga class. It wasn’t until then that I really appreciated yoga and since that stressful week I’ve been a huge fan. Early last year I took the time to become a certified yoga instructor.  I now have a very busy schedule and practice yoga and meditation almost daily in short bursts on study breaks.  Yoga may not be for everybody but I honestly believe that everyone can benefit from it. I love it because it’s so versatile and can be done anywhere. All you need really is a space on the floor and a quick youtube search for a lesson. Simple and stress relieving.

Happy blood sugar balancing!

And here’s one of my favourite meal ideas

12393611_1668029083439162_1299618632_n(1)

When I plan my meals, I really try to focus on food quality. I aim to eat whole food with minimal processing. Most of my meals are simply just different combinations of real food. This is a sardine spinach salad with olives, extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper. It takes less than two minutes to rinse a handful of spinach and open the sardine can. So simple and really satisfying.

Feel free to connect with me if you have questions, stories, or just want to say hi!

Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 8.39.09 AM

Hey There! My name is Hannah. I’ve been living with Type 1 diabetes for almost a decade. I am currently a medical student with dreams of becoming an impactful and inspirational endocrinologist. I have found health by implementing a ketogenic diet, doing yoga, and lifting weights. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Sciences from Texas A&M and I am certified to teach yoga. Last year I started a blog to share my successes and failures as I try to find balance in blood sugars and in the rest of life.  If you’re interested in learning more, the link to my blog is https://theketolifeblog.wordpress.com/

What are your non-negotiables ?

Hello 2016! I wish I could say the year started off all calm and cosy, but it’s taken me nearly two weeks to get my levels down after our christmas day celebrations. Don’t even asked me why…  sometimes I just have to give myself a break and be okay about swimming upstream. Amidst the pure frustration of looking at numbers I do not like I’ve realized there are some things that I can rely on.  These are my non-negotiables and I’m absolutely sure they keep me anchored amidst my personal version of diabetes distress.

non negotiable at the ebach

I’m a stickler for routine. According to ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, one of the best ways to stay balanced and grounded is to create a routine and stick to it. Go to bed around the same time each night and wake up around the same time each morning. I say around because we can’t always predict when we’ll wake up or get tired. What I have noticed though, is that once you tell the body to sleep and wake up at specific times it actually does it. If you show the body whose boss it will acquiesce.

Be prepared with food. Life is so busy that skipping a meal or not having something healthy on hand can either make or break you. Planning out your meals and being prepared means you can go anywhere, be anywhere and relax. I can’t think of anything more stressful then being out somewhere and there’s absolutely nothing I can eat. I’m talking road stop, in the middle of nowhere and carbs carbs carbs. My non-negotiable is to always have snacks on hand that I like and make me feel good. A few months ago I wrote up a recipe for Bliss balls during diabetes blog week. These babies go with me everywhere and are packed with protein and good fats.

Get into an exercise regime that works for you and do it every day. The whole exercise insulin thing is quite a mystery. It takes time to find out how exercise affects your levels. And there are so many factors at play. For some people exercise reduces levels drastically, for others it levels everything out and for some it pushes levels up. It’s not a one size fits all.  Checking your levels before and after exercise and testing how exercise affects you at different times of the day can really help to give you more assurance that you’re not going to go low or high. I do a breathing practice in the morning, take a walk late afternoon and then do a short twenty minute yoga practice before dinner. How do I find the time? I just do. It’s my non negotiable. Yoga brings my mind and body together into a continuous stream of presence. Being present to what is happening in my body draws me out of fearful and distressing thoughts. If I didn’t give myself that luxury every day I don’t think I’d cope as well as I do.

My last non- negotiable is making as much time available as possible for fun. Fun could be anything. Right now it’s my addiction to watching the TV series, Nashville. I never thought I’d be a country music fan, but I’m having so much fun. I’m also loving summers here in Australia and a little afternoon walk through a rainforest to the beach. A simple swim and laugh with my beloved is priceless.

IMG_6322

With all the hype around the start of the year, new years intentions and all that jazz, we know that there’s nothing new about managing diabetes. But what you can do is make a fresh start and decide to add something new, creative and supportive to your daily management plan. That’s where Yoga comes in.  Yoga is so much more than a practice, its meaning and purpose is to bring you home. Home to your body, your breath and the simplicity of being. Being yourself.

So did I mention that yoga is my biggest non negotiable? That’s why I’ve spent the last year writing a book about how yoga can be the perfect compliment to your daily diabetes management plan. I’m in the final stages of production and I’d love you to be involved. I’m launching a crowdfunding campaign in late January so that you can pre-order copies of the book . I’d be thrilled if you would help me help people with all types of diabetes to get on top of their game.

If you’re interested in getting in on all the prelaunch excitement, I’ll be sending out emails to let you know when and how you can be involved.  Sign up here to find out more.

In the mean time. I’d love to know… what are your non-negotiables?

with great respect… Rachel

I believe I can fly

It’’s all very well and good for me to rave on about Yoga and how it keeps me calm in the face of a crisis. But ten minutes ago ?

Kinda hypocritical.

Maybe I could get away with two handfuls of almonds

WRONG

okay another two handfuls of almonds

Wrong again!

What about a quick grind of some chia, mixed with hemp and sesame seeds?

A quarter Apple?

Get REAL…..Theres no way a few nuts, seeds and a shriveled old apple from the back of the fridge are going to up a downward trend.

But hey I believe I can fly…..

meanwhile the kitchen looks like this

IMG_6896

and I look like this

IMG_6899

BUSTED!

I know you know what I’m thinking….maybe I should eat the fridge…

I pull out the OTHER glucometer. The one that’s reads slightly higher. It feels a bit like a thumb suck. But right now I’ll take any reassurance I can get. I calculate between the two, come up with a figure I can stomach. Plop myself on the couch and upload a pic to Instagram playing the waiting game.

30 minutes later…

the kitchen looks like thisIMG_6914

i look like this

IMG_6901

But my meter looks like this

IMG_6915

think I’ll do some yoga …..

 

 

 

 

 

Unleash your Diabetes Dominator!

I’ve just spent the last week in overdrive. That’s overdrive in a good way. As part of my interest in this disease and how Yoga can help, I’ve decided to start a study. It’s been fascinating to meet with Type 1 diabetics from all walks of life and to hear about how they manage their diabetes.

In asking questions like; what are you goals with diabetes management or what’s your relationship to diabetes. It’s crystal clear that no matter how frustrating the disease, everyone want’s to find a way to accept it. And as I’ve been discovering, as much as I want yoga to be the solution, it can only ever be one of the many tools at our disposal.

Yoga for Diabetes Unleash your diabetes Dominator

One of the biggest and most important tools is having support. Knowing that someone out there completely understands whats happening to you. I found that support online.  But maybe you don’t have the time or don’t even know that that’s what you’re looking for?

When I first went on Insulin I did everything I could do get my hands on books that would help me understand what it meant to be insulin dependent. It didn’t take long to discover that there are many leading lights out there in the diabetes online community ( DOC).

One of those is the author of a new book ( being launched TODAY) called ” Unleash your Diabetes Dominator” The Author Daniele Hargenrader is a powerhouse!  One of the first things she shares in her book is – Diabetes didn’t happen to you, it happened FOR you.

Daniele’s story is one of true triumph over adversity. I’ve never met someone whose enthusiasm is so contagious. Without a doubt this book WILL inspire you and change your life for the better.

And Guess what? Yoga for Diabetes is in the book too. I entered a contest to be interviewed for the book, so I could share my story, and I was one of the people who won the contest!

So it is with total excitement that I urge you to check out Daniele’s book here and find out how she and many others manage to Dominate Diabetes every single day.

With great respect….Rachel

Unleash Your Diabetes Dominator

Diary of a Bliss Ball

Todays topic for Diabetes Blog Week is Food food food….what we eat, how we manage and the lists we make.

I’m in Italy after a winding drive through the mountain vistas and picturesque lakes of Switzerland. Italy is famous for the Love of Food. So what’s a low carb yogini do when she rocks into town? Head to the local trattoria and have a pasta? I wish!

Instead it’s off to the supermercato to check out the green veggies on offer and the staples that will last me through the weekend.

And I’m in luck…Italians love salad!

My shopping list?

Fennel, green beans, swiss chard (which has an exotic name here like bietola) chicory leaves, insalata mista and lots and lots of variates of zucchini, Bio eggs, limone…and Italian burro (butter)…oh and olive olio…lots of it!

The supermarket aisles are full of cheeses, cured meats, biscotti’s, pasta, tomato sauces and more. Everything looks incredible and it’s hard not to reflect on my pre diagnosis days where I could literally pig out on all these foods. The funny thing is I never did. Even when we rented a Villa in Tuscany one year and I literally cooked everything a la Italian.

Diabetes Blog week Yoga for Diabetes     Rachel in Italy

I think my Yoga practice has a lot to do with it.  With the stronger practices of pranayama the body absolutely knows what’s nourishing and what’s depleting. I’ve learned over the years to eat to my ayurvedic type. I’m pitta/vata which means foods need to be warm, but not too spicy, naturally full of good fats and not too rich.

It was actually easier to let go of all the carbs then I thought it would be. That’s because it all happened so gradually. Insulin wasn’t in my plan so at first I let go of bread and wheat products, then eventually grains and legumes and finally the higher carbohydrate vegetables and dairy.

Instead of feeling hungry all the time and tired I had even more energy. It was at odds with my lab results which showed the signs of someone who was suffering from the symptoms of severe chronic fatigue.  My doctor and I agreed that it had to be my consistent yoga practice and my transition to the ketogenic diet that had made me asymptomatic.

But all that doesn’t mean it’s easy to replace my passion for pizza and that I don’t long for a sweet treat. And I know I could bite the bullet and just start bolusing for the extra carbs. But I’m also inspired by everything I’ve heard and read about having as little Insulin on board as possible. The less Insulin, the less likely a hypo. Sounds like a good recipe to me.

So how do I feed my sweet tooth?

Hemp Chia Coconut Butter Balls

Hemp seeds are packed with protein and phytonutrients and Omega 3’s and brilliant for healing the gut lining as are chia seeds. Unsweetened desiccated coconut provides healthy fats and protein as well as being super low carb and has a natural sweetness. And butter is the glue that sticks it all together. One bliss ball a day is enough for me, but sometimes I have one for breakfast when I don’t have time to make a bigger meal. I’ve added other ingredients to the recipe like a mixture of black and white sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds or even ground almonds. But sometimes all those varieties upset my digestion. After lots of trial and era I am happy with the basic recipe below.

Rachels Bliss BallsItalian ButterCompleted bliss Ball

Why not give it a try and tell me what you think. I’d love to know.

With great respect…. Rachel

Rachel’s Recipe for Bliss!

1 tablespoon unhulled hemp seeds

1 tablespoon chia or less if you are sensitive to the carbs in chia

2 tablespoons or a little more of desiccated sugar free coconut/or you can grind the two tablespoons

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon butter

Put all the dry ingredients into a shallow bowl, add the water first stir until the mixture is just a little damp and starts to stick together ( it shouldn’t be gloppy or wet) add the butter and mush everything together with your hands till thoroughly mixed, then form into a ball. You can wrap in baking paper and freeze for half an hour if you want it to be hard and crunchy, or refrigerate… or just eat as is.

Change is Here to Stay

Todays topic for Diabetes Blog Week is all about change.

The biggest personal change I have made and one that I hope really comes to the forefront in the management and care of diabetes is the merging of functional medicine with conventional approaches. I know it’s happening on a small scale. But I would love it, if on diagnosis, conventional doctors encouraged their patients to look into the diet and lifestyle changes that are on offer in the functional medicine world. I have learned so much from reading books like “Diabetes Solution” By Dr. Bernstein, Keto Clarity, by Jimmy Moore and attending The Diabetes Summit, which supports all types of diabetics in alternative approaches to self care and management.

Nearly a year ago today I paid my own visit to a functional medicine GP. During the visit we discussed what he called my “narrowing corridor of food issue”. I was controlling my carb intake but I was also suffering from food sensitivities due to leaky gut syndrome. Bottom line? I ate a total of 6 foods and had done so for nearly a year.

After feeling like a pincushion at the lab and shipping my poo off to the U.S.A  it was determined that my system was severely depleted due to an overgrowth of candida. I breathed a sigh of relief, candida was an old friend. I’d met her in my early twenties and had managed to quell her before. This was going to be a piece of cake. I naively held out hope that my BG levels were out of control because I had candida. It was all HER fault.

Boy was I wrong!

I was put on a host of remedies, creams, shots and more and crossed my fingers. Much to my surprise and disappointment my blood sugar levels went higher.  I told myself it was the detox, but after three months of high levels and the beginning signs of neuropathy it was time to get real with myself. We repeated the tests. There was good news and bad news. It was clear that the candida was in remission, but the diabetes hadn’t budged.

My functional medicine GP recommended I start insulin which was later re-affirmed by my endocrinologist.  It was assumed by both health care providers that I would keep up my diet and lifestyle management strategies as that’s what had kept me honeymooning for so long.  They both reiterated that being on insulin would increase the range of foods I could eat and rather than being a death sentence would make my life a whole lot better.

Diabetes blog week changes

And they were right! I am happy to report I am no longer tunnelling down a narrowing corridor.

Being able to eat properly again has completely changed my relationship to food. Instead of putting together a drab meal of egg and spinach omelette. I’m getting creative. Making hempseed coconut bliss balls, egg and avocado salads and feta cheese and spinach soufflés. I even lashed out and made coconut cauliflower pancakes. To those of you who eat these things as part of your regular low carb regime and think, no biggie.

For me its a BIGGIE… it’s like finally having chocolate and ice cream again.

With great respect….Rachel