Being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes can be many things:
Scary. Unfair. Unbelievable. Life-altering.
My diagnosis was all of those things, but in the months following I have also come to learn that it has brought many positives into my life. Always the optimist, I have chosen to see the brighter side of this situation I have been given. Diabetes is far from sunshine and rainbows, but here are a few of the good things that have come out of this experience so far!
- I am much more active and spend more time outdoors.
Daily physical activity is important for diabetics to stabilize long term blood sugar levels, avoid complications, and improve overall well-being. Since my diagnosis I have put a conscious effort into being more active. I have been more consistent about going to the gym and take almost daily long walks with my dog and husband. Even my husband is benefiting, since we both purchased memberships at the same gym and make time to go together. I even got a fitness tracker and enjoy seeing the steady increases in activity level. Overall, I spend much less time sitting on the sofa and much more time puttering around the house or doing physical activity.
- I am more mindful of the foods that I eat.
Part of being type 1 is constantly monitoring the food you eat to be able to calculate the carbohydrate content and bolus appropriately. This has made me much more mindful of what I eat, although I don’t obsess over it. I use tools like MyFitnessPal to track my meals and calories and really take the time to read food labels. I also tend to binge less on unhealthy foods, but I am not perfect and it still happens (chocolate is still a real problem for me)! I tend to enjoy what I eat more because I take the time to slow down and think about what I am putting into my body.
- I have learned how to cook and enjoy new ingredients, products, and recipes.
When I look at a recipe, I am constantly thinking of what I could use or substitute to make it healthier or less likely to drastically impact my blood sugar levels. I am always looking for lower carb snack options and have found many new foods that are delicious (hello pork rinds!). Whether it’s using cabbage instead of noodles in Asian dishes, the wonders of cloudbread, or almond flour pie crusts, the quest for steadier blood sugars has led me to discover many tasty new vegetables and recipes (Expect to see many of these in upcoming posts!).
- I drink less alcohol.
Before my diagnosis I was not a huge drinker, but I am even less of one now. There are many considerations that diabetics need to take into account when drinking which can make it complicated. I also find that drinking affects my body more than it used to (maybe it’s just age!). Since I drink less on weekends, I find I wake up earlier and have more time to dedicate to being productive in my down time. I still enjoy a glass of wine or scotch, but much less frequently and in much smaller amounts. Expect to see some posts and recipes about drinking with type 1 in the future!
- I am more loving of my body.
All of the above points have meant that my body has also benefitted. I used to care a lot about how I looked and my weight, but now that I have my health to worry about my previous insecurities seem pretty insignificant. I have gained a little bit of weight since I started insulin therapy, and that would have bothered me in the past, but I find it no longer fazes me. Besides, injections HURT when you don’t have a little bit of fluff on you! I love myself the way I am and want to strive to be healthy and strong!
- I have a new perspective on life and my priorities.
Because my diagnosis was so unexpected, it really drove home the point that we have very little control over our lives. I could choose to be unhappy about my situation, but I feel like that would be a waste of my time since there is literally nothing I can do about it. I can choose to be happy and pursue activities that I enjoy! I can choose to enjoy a coffee with my husband on a sunny Saturday morning or play with my pets rather than stress about the little things in life. I have found new activities I enjoy and am working to shed bad habits like worrying and doubting myself.
We all have a finite amount of time in this life and I want to be sure I make the most of it! Everyone with type 1 does the best they can, and I hope you all take pride and joy in the small daily victories and use that momentum to continue to make good choices for your lives!
- I get to meet cool new people.
Meeting other people with type 1 is always a really wonderful experience. Sometimes people will randomly talk to me when they see me testing or injecting in public. I love getting advice from people who have had type 1 for a long time! I also love answering questions and spreading awareness about diabetes to people who ask.
I signed up for the Snail Mail club that Beyond Type 1 hosts. I was recently matched and am just waiting to receive my welcome package! I can’t wait to see who my pen pal will be!
I am also stoked to meet my fellow hikers on the Connected in Motion Adventure Team! Each one of them has a unique story and all seem like really cool people. I am so looking forward to spending time with a group of people who understand my struggles. I am actually a bit intimidated; they seem to lead much more exciting lives than I do! Visit my fundraising page to support us and keep up to date on our progress before we leave on our 60 km hike in Cape Scott Provincial Park, BC this August!
I am also currently participating in the Strong With Diabetes Challenge, put on by The Fit Blog. It’s been great to connect and be motivated by their Facebook community!
- I have found something to be passionate about.
I always struggled to find my ‘thing’. Since being diagnosed, I have found that I am passionate about spreading awareness about type 1 diabetes and participating in events and causes. The fundraising work I am doing for Connected in Motion has exposed me to event planning and networking and has helped me get out of my shell and get involved with my community! My diagnosis inspired me to start this blog to reach out to others who may be struggling and help us get through this together.
- I get to eat candy again!
Now I am in no way advocating low blood sugars, but it is kind of awesome to get to eat candy again! I haven’t enjoyed Jolly Ranchers, Fuzzy Peaches, Starbursts, or Lifesavers since I was like, 12 years old?
A positive attitude is essential for coping with a chronic illness. I know I will have my bad days, but I will look back on this blog post as a reminder that everything is not all terrible. I hope this list helps some of you as well. Let me know what hidden blessings you have discovered in your life in the comments section below!