When I go Low, I reach Higher

I can remember having a conversation with my doctor early on about my condition. I kept telling him I was afraid of going low because I’d read about it online. He kept telling me not to worry. “You can’t go low because your problem is high blood sugar. You’re not on insulin so we don’t need to even go there.”  

Now that I’ve been properly diagnosed as a Type 1 LADA and on insulin things are different. I’ve learned that balancing your blood sugar is like playing Russian roulette and that a low blood sugar happens because I’ve either miscalculated the amount of insulin I need to match the number of carbs in a meal, or I’ve exercised and injected too much insulin, or my basal insulin ( long-acting insulin) is set too high.  

Luckily I’m not hypo unaware (a condition that occurs when your body can no longer sense a low blood sugar due to repeated hypoglycemic events) but that doesn’t mean I don’t have anxiety around a low.

Being hypo unaware is probably the single biggest issue anyone has living with type 1. To remedy this we prick our fingers and check our meter’s incessantly, use CGM’s, have something called Glucagon (a shot which has to be mixed and prepared on the spot by someone else to get glucose into the blood stream fast) or have special diabetes alert dogs who can smell the change in our blood sugar levels, to remind us through barks and nudges to check that we are going low.Parents of young kids who live with diabetes set their alarms throughout the night to finger prick their kids, or check their CGM’s making sure they are in range. Imagine a young mum waking through the night year after year hoping their little one is still alive.

I don’t want to paint a horrific picture but it IS horrific.

So what happens when we are conscious enough to treat a low? Well often the fear and impatience of having to wait 20 minutes to see if your levels rise means 2 sips of juice turn into eating the entire contents of the fridge (no joke) By then, your blood sugar is screaming high and you have to inject again to bring it back down.Because I still produce that little bit of insulin and because I eat such a low carb diet my levels are very stable.

I’ve only gone below 3.9 a few times and have experimented enough to know exactly what will raise my levels. But I have had a few fridge binge moments that I’m not proud of. Like the time my meter said I was below 3.9 and I actually wasn’t and by the time I checked again it was too late!

For me having a steady yoga practice to help me deal with the stresses associated with the complexity of this disease has absolutely saved me.

It’s the number one reason why I jump on my mat, work with my breath and explore all aspects of this beautiful and ancient discipline. When I go low I reach higher inside myself to be grateful and accepting of whatever comes along. And sometimes a little thing like a flower on my afternoon walks makes all the difference.

 

DIY wedding bells and diabetes

Last weekend I attend a three-day farm wedding with a twist. I can’t actually put into words what it means to see someone you love give their heart and soul to someone else.  But what I am bursting to say is… this was the best wedding I’ve ever been to!

The happy couple wanted all their friends to come together, meet each other and experience community and the power of co-creation. A Do-It-Yourself wedding.

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Gone were the wedding planners, elaborate tents, hired caterers and contracted musicians. Forget celebrants and fancy rings. Imagine 58 people staying in busses, tents and haylofts. From the moment we arrived the farm was a hive of activity. The farmhouse kitchen spilled over with home-grown lettuces and courgettes, homemade cakes and breads. Once we unpacked we were encouraged to roll up our sleeves and join in.

A huge barbecue was lit, picnic tables were erected and people began putting together vegan foil parcels to throw on the grill. By the time the sun went down the grill turned into a massive fire pit surrounded by laughing, smiling eyes.

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The next morning under a clear blue sky about 15 people showed up for early morning yoga. At the end of the practice I asked the group to place their hands on the earth and imagine planting seeds for the bride and groom. I decided to join in on the exercise and imagined them living a successful and heartfelt life together. It was hard not to cry.

After Yoga everyone contributed to brunch. Someone had made a giant fruit salad, someone else had cut slabs of cheese, the breads remerged as did vegan pancakes. My partner and I slipped out for a walk into the surrounding wheat and corn fields and by the time we returned the wedding preparations were in full swing. People were hanging photos of the happy couple from trees, Others were busy setting up a photo automat booth with costumes and an old fashioned camera. There was an activity to make a “memory game” with hand drawn cards and a close knit group were busy decorating the area for the ceremony with paper flowers (hand made of course) and flags. There was literally an army of people cutting up vegetables for the vegan feast to come after the ceremony and then there were the cooks busy making the food.

IMG_8972I decided to get involved in the flower arranging with the bride. She wanted bouquets for the parents and flowers for the tables and an elaborate garland to decorate the table for the wedding party. As my hands touched each stem and I began to bring the flowers together I thought of her grandmother who had a gift with growing and arranging flowers. We both agreed this was actually the best part of the preparations, being knee deep in roses, cornflowers and baby’s breath. What a pleasure to watch her create her own bouquet and choose the flowers for her headpiece.

When it finally came time for the ceremony we were greeted with a classical trio of flute, cello and violin for the wedding march (the cello player was one of our cooks, the violinist had made the lights for the trees and our flautist had created the wedding cake.)

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We heard the story of how they had met, they exchanged their vows and rings and planted a tree together. Then it was our turn to sing a song and offer our congratulations. As the ceremony merged into the celebration dinner there were speeches, skits, movies, stories and more amidst the cutting of the cake and the first dance. The celebrations continued till the early hours and there were still a few stragglers greeting the dawn when I woke up to make my breakfast.The morning after was yet another marvel as the group banded together after another amazing brunch to slowly ‘bump out’.

IMG_9047On the train ride back to Berlin I took a moment to reflect on the whole experience, especially as it was the first time I’d done something like this since I was diagnosed. It wasn’t easy to cook my food or eat at regular times while having on average five hours sleep each night but to my amazement my blood sugars managed to stay level. In fact, on the Sunday I woke up slightly low.  It was quite a surprise and contrary to my idea of what makes a perfect diabetes day.

Perhaps a dose of joy, love and celebration is just as good as a controlled diabetes management plan.

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photo by Jessica Zumpfe

I’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 …. with great respect, Rachel

I’m a real person

Hey everyone it’s been a while…We’ve been travelling all over Europe for the last month. Spending four days on average in one place and by the time we’ve landed, practiced, checked our emails, cooked, slept and taught there’s honestly not much time to roll out a blog.

A few days ago we stopped and my body tanked. I broke out in shingles, stubbed my toe and almost lost my voice. Everything’s on the mend now and thank god for yoga practice. I know I say this all the time, but this time I really mean it. I’ve been rolling out my mat twice a day and absolutely treasuring every stretch, every breath, every minute that I have to take my mind out of its usual and habitual preoccupations.

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Having diabetes means I often get carried away in the general freak outs about my blood sugar levels, why it’s going up or down, how much insulin is the right amount of insulin and what the heck am I going to eat next.

When I am not bogged down in the details I’m thinking about advocacy and how to get more people excited about the benefits of yoga for diabetes and then I remember, I didn’t always live like this. I have to be careful not to let the disease define me. I’m still the same enthusiastic person I was before my diagnosis.

Do I ever forget that I live with diabetes?

No.

Every now and then I forget to check my blood sugar, which is par for the course. And sometimes I lash out with my diet and wear the consequences. But so far living with diabetes is my new normal and I’m okay with that.

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I still burnout at times, but I do it quietly. Kind of like one of those bathroom candles that fizzles out when nobody’s watching. I say this because on the outside no one would know how frustrated I am. It always takes people by surprise when I casually mention that I have diabetes. And something that I’ve noticed, here in Europe especially, is that there seems to be a certain taboo around taking the conversation further. Like it would be impolite to pry. But I also think it makes people uncomfortable. I remember being absolutely clueless about the disease even when I knew a few people who had it. I wouldn’t dare ask more because I didn’t want to upset the person, or have to deal with some emotional outburst.

As a person who lives with diabetes I can honestly say it feels good to be open about it and to educate people. I actually feel really heartened when someone comes away from a conversation inspired to take action in some way.

In my own small way, I try and spread the word and donate to organizations like insulin4allbeyondtype1 and a sweet life.  I also enjoy making personal connections with the founders and organizers. What I love most about the T1D community is that we are real people living with this disease. When you send out an email, people respond and want you to get involved. It’s so different to other types of businesses where you have to be somebody, or know somebody. This is the kind of club that no one really wants to be in but everyone can join. (If you know what I mean)

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My other deepest and most passionate offering is Yoga. It’s the one thing I can rely on to support me when my pancreas doesn’t.

Yoga is not one size fits all and you do have to shop around a bit to find something that works for you. Sometimes a practice can be too intense for your constitution. Maybe you have adrenal burnout, or more than one autoimmune disease. Maybe you are dealing with insulin resistance or hormonal changes. No matter what’s going on there is a practice that’s perfect for you. It just takes a bit of research and trial and error to find what works. A bit like calculating the right insulin dose.

As this is a blog about yoga and yoga practices the one thing I do every day to slow down and recharge is full complete breathing. It’s a beautiful practice and very simple.

Check out this excerpt below from my upcoming book. I’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 …. with great respect, Rachel

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What it means to come home

I haven’t been home in a while. My life on the road is a series of suitcase bumps up and down escalators and relentless packing and unpacking.

Six years ago things were different. I had a home, a son in high school, a marriage, a stable income and my pancreas was still producing insulin. I can remember swimming laps in my pool and thinking, this is the life.

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But just when I thought things were hunkey dorey, the shit hit the fan.

My particular brand of crisis didn’t actually happen because I was diagnosed with diabetes. It happened before then. It was happening because I was sick and I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was convinced that my marriage, my home and everything stable was dragging me down. I wanted adventure and radical change.

Then all hell broke loose.

The details are irrelevant (a whole book in itself ) but within a year or two I was no longer married, my son had moved to Melbourne, someone else owned my home and I was living out of a suitcase in India. I can’t begin to tell you the number of times that phrase, “ be careful what you wish for, ” rolled around in my head!

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That moment of radical crisis forced me into a corner and made me question everything. Especially my roles. The big question? If I’m not a mother, wife, yoga teacher, who am I? I’d lived through so many ideas about who I thought I was that I realised I didn’t have a clue who I actually was. It’s the existential question most of us soul searching bohemian types ask at one point or other right?

Lucky for me I slam dunked into a person, who having been through something similar, was now out the other side. We met in India, as you do when your in the middle of an eat pray love adventure. He led me to a teacher and a teaching which answered every single soul searching question I’d ever had. Sound unbelievable? I thought the same. But it just so happens that a crisis is the only time in your life that you are forced to question. And in India a traditional teaching, which has existed for thousands of years, is designed to provide the answers.

As a westerner I was so full of my own ideas, conditioning and beliefs I never thought I could drop all that, but I did. As the simplicity of it all dawned on me I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. And rather then being devastated I felt like a huge weight had been lifted. Suddenly everything made sense. It enabled me to accept my diagnosis and get on with life. Living as artfully, passionately and fully as possible.

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Coming out of crisis for me was finding home in myself. And to be real, words cannot adequately describe what I’ve been assimilating since being exposed to the wisdom of the upanishadic tradition in India. What I can say is that in spite of living with a chronic illness I’ve found peace.

So when friends ask me how I manage to travel constantly, teach yoga, manage my relationship and live with diabetes. I keep it simple, practicing yoga every day, eating small nurturing meals. Walking in nature, taking time to be still and be with myself.

I’d love to hear from you how you come home to yourself.

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

It’s not my fault

Todays blog doesn’t go into the nitty gritty of gripes or issues I have with my health care team rather I wanted to celebrate what’s working and how my team has helped me heal and thrive. Here’s my Diabetes Blog Week story for Health Care Thursday

Most people who live with a chronic illness end up with a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with healthcare. How would you improve or change your healthcare experience? What would you like to see happening during medical visits with your healthcare team? How about when dealing with your health insurance companies? What’s your Healthcare Wish List or Biggest Frustration? Today is the day to share it all!

When I was first diagnosed I was shocked. I’d been doing Yoga since I was 17, it was my career and I’d always been health conscious. So at first, because I thought there was some mistake. I didn’t bother to find out more about my condition. In effect shutting out my medical support team. I’m loathe to admit it but that moment of disbelief, defiance and downright denial took me down a path I do regret.

After 6 years of criss-crossing continents to find alternatives, I landed back in my doctor’s office literally begging him to put me on insulin. The first step, he said, was to get educated and that I’d have to see a CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator). I was excited to start my journey but totally freaked at the same time.  Would she grill me about my diet, my inability to maintain my levels or demand discipline without room for error?

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I had worked my self up into such a frenzy that by the time I was sitting in the CDE’s office actually having my appointment, I was balling my eyes out like a little kid. She asked if I knew why I was so upset. I admitted that I felt like a failure, that I didn’t know why I was there or even why I had diabetes. It all felt so wrong. She sat quietly and listened as the pain and anxiety poured out.

What she said next floored me.

“Rachel, you’ve done nothing wrong to get this and it’s not your fault.”

My jaw dropped. After nearly 6 years of being absolutely sure of a million reasons why I had diabetes, like eating too many lollies as a kid, or smoking way too many unfiltered cigarettes between the ages of 11 and 21. Or just being an untogether person in general. To actually consider it wasn’t my fault felt like putting on a rubber suit, in the middle of the desert in summer.  I was used to taking the blame for just about everything. It was always my fault!

She mentioned that usually type 1 diabetes is triggered during a stressful event. Did I recall any such event?

My whole life clicked into place in that instant. I’d been living in New York City during 9/11. I’d walked into the ash that was screaming up the avenues as the towers collapsed.

I never felt well after that day. Not emotionally or physically. I became more sensitive to foods, surroundings and I developed multiple chemical syndrome. My marriage suffered due to the fact that everything had to fit around me and my specific health needs. In the end we moved home to Australia in the hopes that a less polluted and more holistic environment would support me towards wellness. We never thought it could be something as serious as diabetes because none of the symptoms were there.

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Being able to share my story with the diabetes educator and to feel her total compassion and understanding made a huge difference in coming to terms with my diagnosis. Up until that point and even with my doctor I’d been battling to accept it. Understanding that something had triggered it and that it wasn’t my fault allowed me to be compassionate with myself.

It’s been nearly two years since I came out of denial and began insulin. Since then rather than seeing the medical establishment as something to shun or fear I have huge respect and admiration for the people that are supporting me on this journey. I know the system, isn’t perfect and doctors, nurses and even CDE’s could do better.  I get angry that insurance companies in Australia don’t cover CGM’s or that the government keeps changing how we access our supplies.

But in spite of all that there are real people out there who have studied their butts off to help people like me and I couldn’t be more grateful!

with great respect…Rachel

P.S Want to know more about my passion for yoga and diabetes? I’m offering the first chapter of my new book on Yoga for Diabetes for free. Find the right practice for your type by learning all about Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Real honest to goodness truth

It’s hump day and I am full to the brim, feeling like there’s so much more to share in the DOC then I could ever imagine. Today is Diabetes Blog Week Wednesday and the theme is language and the words we use.


There is an old saying that states “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. I’m willing to bet we’ve all disagreed with this at some point, and especially when it comes to diabetes. Many advocate for the importance of using non-stigmatizing, inclusive and non-judgmental language when speaking about or to people with diabetes. For some, they don’t care, others care passionately. Where do you stand when it comes to “person with diabetes” versus “diabetic”, or “checking” blood sugar versus “testing”, or any of the tons of other examples? Let’s explore the power of words, but please remember to keep things respectful.

I’ll never forget my moment of diagnosis. It was one of the first times I can honestly say I felt abused. Rather than being gently informed that it looked like there were some irregularities in my fasting blood sugar readings my GP literally shouted, “You have diabetes! And it will take years to figure out how to fix it.”  But It wasn’t just the words he used, it was his attitude. He shoved some pamphlets my way and told me to Google diabetes.

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photo credit: ASweetlife.org

I drove home dazed and confused. I mean what the heck was I supposed to do now?  Between feeling absolutely devastated and completely horrified I also wanted to strangle the guy. Luckily his office was a good 40 minutes’ drive from my house.

It took years for me to admit I had diabetes and to think about how to label my condition. When someone asked about my meter and why I wasn’t eating dessert or so strict with my diet I’d kind of shrug it off and say I was dealing with blood sugar issues. I didn’t hide what was going on but I didn’t come right out and say it either. As I treaded the boards searching for answers from alternative health practitioners to endocrinologists not one person said, “diabetes.” They used euphemisms like blood sugar swings, or autoimmune condition, chronic fatigue, candida overgrowth, low insulin production.  I found so many ways not to have diabetes it wasn’t even funny.

Deep down I knew the truth. I was the one looking at my meter, watching how food affected my levels. I saw what exercise did and how hard it was to get that perfect number. I can remember my little brother mumbling, “why don’t you just go on insulin?” as he watched me make a spinach omelet for the umpteenth time. “It’s complicated okay!”

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I think everyone has a breaking point. When you know that climbing up the hill is going to be harder than just collapsing at the bottom. I was sitting in the neurologist’s office after having the nerves in my hands and feet tested. If you’ve ever thinking of doing that, it’s really not fun! They wire you up and pulse your nerves with tiny volts of electricity and you literally jump out of your skin. Anyway…back in the doc’s office he enquired as to my health. “You have diabetes right?”  “Well we aren’t sure” “What’s your A1c?” “I think it’s a little high” “How high?” “10.7” “That’s Diabetes. You have Diabetes! And if you don’t get that level down you’ll do permanent damage to the nerves in your hands and feet.” It couldn’t have been more real than that.

Real honest to goodness TRUTH. Needless to say the words finally hit home.

Recently I wrote to a prominent Australian diabetes organization about my new book. “It’s a book written by a diabetic for diabetics on how yoga can help you manage your diabetes.” The reply in my inbox made me feel embarrassed. Like when you’re a kid and somebody scolds you but you don’t really know what you’ve done wrong. “We don’t use that word “diabetic” anymore because it’s impolite. We say a person lives with diabetes.

Her reply made me see that I’m still assimilating what it means to live with diabetes. It doesn’t really matter what words I use to describe my condition, what matters is how I see myself, what my hopes and dreams are and how I can live gracefully no matter what lies ahead.

with great respect…Rachel

P.S Want to know more about my passion for yoga and diabetes? I’m offering the first chapter of my new book on Yoga for Diabetes for free. Find the right practice for your type by learning all about Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga.

 

 

All I really want to do is eat chocolate pizza!


Welcome to day two of Diabetes Blog Week. Already its been an intense smorgasboard of words and images to take in. I am absolutely loving this years posts and it’s only Tuesday. Huge thank you to Karen from Bitter Sweet Diabetes for making this happen. Todays theme is The other half of diabetes- Tuesday

We think a lot about the physical component of diabetes, but the mental component is just as significant. How does diabetes affect you mentally or emotionally? How have you learned to deal with the mental aspect of the condition? Any tips, positive phrases, mantras, or ideas to share on getting out of a diabetes funk?

Oh my god I love diabetes- said no one EVER! But I can live with it. Why? Because I’ve worked for years to refine my attitude towards adversity. When I was a kid I was super competitive. If someone said I couldn’t do something I was determined to prove them wrong. Simple dares, like I bet you can’t climb to the top of that tree to complex ultimatums like; if you quit college you’ll never be a success were treated with equal merit. I made sure I climbed that tree, quit college and lived a successful happy life.

Living with a type A personality however is a double edged sword. I obsess about the numbers on my meter as much as I try and perfect my to-do list. I sweat over my doctors visit espousing to be the perfect Zen yogi when all I really want to do is eat chocolate pizza and give up!

I actually think my frustration helps me cope. Allowing myself to cry, be angry and feel hopeless gives me a break from the part of me that strives for perfection. In fact, every now and then I let myself be a disaster area. Test strips all over the floor, a handful of almonds (yep that’s my comfort food) and binge watching ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.’

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But besides slacking off I do see yoga and yoga practices as a lifeline. Having solid tools to calm my mind and nervous system makes a huge difference to my mental emotional state. Especially when I am dealing with a week of frustratingly high blood sugars or panicking over lows.

Coming back to my breath, slowing down and gaining perspective through quiet reflection are just some of the ways I cope. I also look to my partner for support and advice. He doesn’t have diabetes but he has incredible wisdom and knowledge and is always reminding me that even though the body has a disease, I can never be the disease and that my thoughts about the disease are much more trouble than the diabetes itself.

Learning to manage my thoughts, seeing them for what they are and knowing myself as that presence in whom all thoughts come and go creates a space for me to accept what’s happening. It’s not always easy but it helps.

And then there’s my absolute favourite tool for changing my attitude. The breath!

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 Try this simple technique to let go of stressful thoughts, worries and negativity

You can do this sitting in a chair, lying down or simply standing in line at the post office. Breathing in for an even count imagine you are breathing in love, joy, peace and calm Doubling the length of your exhalation breath out stress, negativity, fear or whatever it is that you want to let go of. Keep going until you find you’re hardly breathing and totally relaxed.

That’s it!

With great respect… Rachel

P.S Want to know more about my passion for yoga and diabetes? I’m offering the first chapter of my new book on Yoga for Diabetes for free. Find the right practice for your type by learning all about Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga.

Yoga is the bridge that works

Konichiwa! I just landed in Japan for a 21 day yoga teaching tour and I am truly excited to dive in to teaching again. Travelling and teaching means I won’t be able to write as much so I wanted to share this uber cool guest post from Bella Girovich who is an inspiring type 1 yogini and blogger. Here’s her story AND her personal insights on the value of yoga for  diabetes. Take it away Bella…. 

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This all started in the winter of 2012. It was just around New Year’s Eve, and my family and I were getting a head-start on those New Year’s resolutions by taking a two week sabbatical (can you call it that in college!?) from life at a beautiful yoga center in Tulum, Mexico. The resort we were staying at is essentially a yogi’s paradise, complete with 2+ yoga practices per day, an unlimited supply of juices and smoothies, and sunshine and ocean to soothe the soul. The perfect set up for anyone to reboot and feel in the best shape of his/her life… right?

Well, for some of us, this was right. My mother, brother, and even my father (who was reluctant to try yoga but we eventually convinced him because he felt left out by day two) felt amazing. Me, on the other hand, is another story entirely. I woke up every morning at 7:30 for our 8 AM practice feeling tired, groggy, and lethargic, even though I had gotten plenty of sleep. For some reason, I had the strangest craving for bananas that I could not shake, and disturbed every morning practice by walking in late like a chimp with three bananas in tow. So why did I feel so awful? I was on vacation on the beach in Mexico, after all! My family poked fun at me because going on a yoga retreat was my idea in the first place, and I was the one complaining!

I blew this off as nothing, perhaps my body just reacting to a lot of physical practice in a short amount of time. Back at college in Washington, D.C., one of my friends and I decided to try out eating a raw food diet. We were both marginally interested in nutrition, and had started working at a local juice bar. How hard could it be, we thought? Well, I thought I would have it easy, being that my friend doing the diet with me was about a foot taller, 30 pounds heavier, and a male. For the first few days, we struggled through it together, laughing our way through the college dining hall with our huge bowls of spinach and raw veggies as people cast sideways glances our way. After about three days, my friend woke up and texted me how amazing he felt, and I could barely keep my eyes open. I had just joined a sorority at my university, and I attributed my lethargy to having hundreds of conversations with peppy strangers.

After about a week of feeling “off,” I was putting on mascara in my friend’s room on Friday morning, and my hand was shaking so much that I ended up looking more like a raccoon than the smoky eye I had intended. My friends looked at me anxiously, but I was too busy trying to steady my hand that I did not even notice.

“We are taking you to the health center,” they asserted, as if I did not have a choice.

“No way!” I exclaimed. “I have class in 20 minutes. Besides, they’re going to tell me I’m pregnant or have cancer,” I joked, mostly to ease my own nerves.

Being 1/3 the size of my friends, there was no fighting it- they physically dragged me across our small campus to the health center. The walk was probably only under a mile, but felt like it took an eternity.

We arrived at the health center at 8:45, 15 minutes before opening. After begging someone to see me, a nurse came in and barely looked me in the eyes as she took all of my vitals. Eventually, she went to prick my finger and check my blood glucose levels.

“Umm… can you skip that part?” I anxiously joked. I was always in Chicago, with my mom, when I had to go to the doctor’s office, and was a little squeamish around blood.

The nurse laughed at me as if I had said something hilarious, and proceeded to prick my finger. “I’ll be back in two minutes,” she stated, as if I was a nuisance.

She didn’t come back for twenty.

I could go through the gory details of my week spent in the hospital, but this was essentially how I found out I am a type one diabetic. At 18 years old, I was already an established “human” in the world, with my own diet, lifestyle habits, and yoga practice. I had already completed a teacher training and had a fairly regular practice.

After diagnosis, I had no idea how to effectively manage my blood glucose levels. Starting on insulin caused me to gain 20 pounds in a few short months, which made me even less inclined to make it to the studio, let alone even put on yoga pants.

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It took almost an entire year and the accumulation of a solid group of “yoga buddies” for me to feel comfortable walking into a studio again. However, as soon as I did, my mind remembered what my body had been missing the entire time.

Asana is incredibly effective for controlling blood glucose levels, in diabetics and non-diabetics alike. However, to me, yoga is so much more than twisting my body in this and that way. If my diagnosis with diabetes was the severing of my mind’s connection with my body, yoga was the bridge that worked (and is still working) to reconnect these two distant parts that make up “me.”

On more days than I would like to admit, I feel that my body is betraying me. Knowing that my beta cells are being blocked by my white blood cells every single day is pretty discouraging. However, every day, I come to my mat, and begin to feel again. I feel appreciation for my physical body; for my feet for carrying me into the studio, my hands for holding me in downward dog, my legs for holding me in warrior two, and my heart for opening up in my backbends more and more with each and every practice.

Without yoga, I would carry myself through the world filled with resentment and bitterness for the deck of cards I have been played. Instead, I can walk with my heart open and my head held high with gratitude for all that I do have, and for the practice of yoga that humbles me each and every day.

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Forever a student of the world, Bella is interested in the intersection of all forms of health, be it Western science, holistic nutrition, or ancient practices. Growing up in Chicago has shaped her yoga practice in that she found solace on her mat in the middle of a bustling city, and took this inner peace with her to D.C, Israel, India, and now to Atlanta where she is getting her Masters in Public Health at Emory University.  https://unsweetnlo.wordpress.com/

 

 

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

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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. 

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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.

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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). 

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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

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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!

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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/

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

If you could give yourself the perfect gift what would it be?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the spirit of giving. Every year around this time I think about  what I can give to others. I love heading online or into a store and picking out little things to give to friends and family. While browsing I also check out things that I might like. A book, a dress, a new kitchen gadget. But usually, being quite unattached to ‘stuff’ I don’t buy anything. 

But all the shopping gets me thinking. If I was to give myself the perfect gift what would it be? What do I really want? Probably foremost on my mind would be a cure for Diabetes. But to be honest that feels impractical and certainly not something readily available. So instead, what about a wish list? Things like….

a home

a regular steady income

endless opportunities to share yoga with people who really can benefit from it

blood sugars in range

perfect digestion

a consistant cardio exercise program

ability to eat a wide range of foods while maintaining good blood sugars

time to write, express, share

time for fun with my partner

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okay so that’s THE LIST

But if I had to choose just one gift, material things aside, what would it be?

I mean what would you choose?

Self Love? Patience? Happiness? Peace? Beauty? Nature?

I’ll let you in on a secret.

Already the wholeness that you seek, nothing is missing. This is the meaning of YOGA. Already WHOLE, COMPLETE AND PERFECT JUST AS YOU ARE, you just don’t know it. In fact without you creation would be incomplete. Your presence completes the picture.

So what does that mean? To know this is the perfect gift. YOU are the perfect gift. What a hoot!

So here’s wishing you the best most satisfying holiday season ever and as a special gift from me enjoy this simple soothing yoga practice. Make sure you download it from dropbox so you can do the whole practice.

with great respect…..Rachel