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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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.

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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

Diabetes blog week clean it out

It’s a Wild Ride!

Todays topic for Diabetes Blog Week is all about getting the skeletons out of the closet. What can we let go of in order to fly?

I’l never forget my first trip to Disney world.  I couldn’t wait to see Mickey and Minnie and the enchanted castle. But my big  8 year old dream was to see the dolls dancing in costumes to the lilting tune of it’s a small world after all.  I wasn’t that keen to go in the spinning teacups, they made me dizzy, but I liked the idea of the tomorrow-land ride… until I saw people stepping onto the ride and then magically being reduced to miniature people. Being 8 and quite impressionable I had no idea that what I was seeing was a model, not the ride itself.

I began to scream, stamp my feet and declare that there was NO WAY I was going on that ride. I clambered out of my seat leaving the rest of the family to go ahead without me. I was petrified! What would become of my family? Would they survive the shrinking procedure? Would they come out the same as they went in?

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Luckily they greeted me with smiles on the other end, but I’ll never forget the feeling of helplessness and despair.

Thinking about my 8 year old self reminds me of how I feel about things I don’t understand and can’t control. Yep I’m a control freak.

Now along comes Diabetes.

Something A: I can’t understand

And B: I can’t control.

Being an adult I can’t kick, scream, cry and jump off the ride. Instead I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’m not special, that just like everyone else things happen, the body is problematic.  And the only thing I can do is get out of my own way.

To sum it up; let my hair down, go with the flow, get a hold of my control freak and trust the process, trust that there’s a world full of people just like me who are dealing each and everyday with the ups and downs. Trust that I have what it takes to go the distance.

And just like my parents appeared whole and happy at the end of the ride so will I!

with great respect…. Rachel

ARE YOU CREATING THE BEST POSSIBLE START TO YOUR DAY ?

A Guest blog from Yogi and Ayurvedic Chef, Jody Vassallo

I believe that mornings are the foundation of our day, it is when our feet first come in contact with the earth and we can consciously set our intentions for the day ahead. Taking time out to sit and really take in the morning is so important, this is when I make decisions about the food that I will prepare and eat and how I will approach my day. I check in with my body and allow myself to notice how it is feeling, not comparing it to yesterday but giving its own voice on this day. I look outside and see what the weather is doing as this really forms the basis of the choices I make for my day, if it’s hot I will have a cooling breakfast, perhaps a salad or two that day, if it’s cooler, a cooked breakfast is a must, then a warming soup for lunch and something spicy and satisfying for dinner.

Reading a passage from a book and meditating are habits that now come naturally to me though this has not always been the case, when I was in a crazy, busy, overworked Vata phase of my life I resisted settling and being still as this was too confronting for me, my driven ambitious pitta brain was more focused on result based living and unless things instantly made me feel better they were tossed aside.

Because I was so busy I often skipped breakfast or quickly fed myself but there wasn’t a lot of nourishment in the meal, there may have been nutrients but the whole meal was eaten without awareness or appreciation. After years of doing this, my head just got crazier, the seat of Vata is in the head and in the gut so too much rushing, skipping or mindlessly eating meals will eventually cause a life riddled with anxiety, fear and gut problems.

These days more and more people are experiencing digestive issues – coeliac disease, food allergies or diabetes. All of these diseases mean that food becomes the focus of ones life which can be stressful and overwhelming. There is so much info out there on what not to have. I think the most important thing for anyone to keep in mind is that simplicity is the key.

Certain food nourish us without needing the help of too many other ingredients. I am a huge fan of eggs because they provide me with fat and protein and they leave me feeling satisfied and nourished, if I want to jazz them up  I throw in some herbs or ricotta cheese or scramble them with some spring onions and black sesame seeds, eggs are both warming and grounding in nature so they are the perfect breakfast choice on windy cooler mornings. In summer I like to start my day with a coconut based breakfast, it is cooling and really satisfying.

So I encourage you to slow your mornings down, take time out to create a calmer approach to the ritual of breaking your fast. If it is a cool morning  put on the appropriate clothes,  make yourself a warm cup of ginger tea or if the morning is hotter have a refreshing mint tea. And then lovingly prepare yourself a nourishing meal that will  provide you with the fuel that takes you up to your next meal. I avoid high carbohydrate breakfast as they cause my blood sugar to spike and I find myself hungry again soon after breakfast.

I would like to share a cooling recipe with you a low carb, high fat brekkie which is very simple to prepare and great for those warmer mornings.

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Raspberries chia pots with maple coconut tops

500 g (1 lb) frozen raspberries, thawed

3 tablespoons white chia seeds

1/2 cup (125 ml/ 4 fl oz) coconut cream

1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

1 1/2 tablespoons white chia seeds

Use a fork to crush the raspberries. Stir in the chia seeds and mix to combine. Divide the mixture between four 1/2 cup capacity ramekins, cover and chill for 4 hours or until just set.

Put the coconut cream, maple syrup and chia seeds into a bowl and mix to combine. Spoon over the raspberry mixture cover and chill for 2 hours or until set.

Serves 4

My approach to food and life is based on the traditional Indian medical system of Ayurveda which encourages people to live a holistic way of life based on their body type and the five elements.

There are 3 body types Vata – a combination of air and space, Pitta – a mixture of fire and water and Kapha – earth and water. These body types influence or body shape and our personalities and behaviours. For more info on this you can purchase my book Beautiful Food

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www.jodyvassallo.com

Jody Vassallo is a passionate foodie who believes in the power of food to heal and transform ones life. She dedicates her life to sharing her message with the world.

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