The Vulnerable Truth About Being Different

I’ve always used my disease(s) as a conversation starter, a selling point, a point of differentiation. As a recent alumnus of Seattle University, and a former division 1 tennis team player, captain, honor student, club president, and “professional volunteer”, I feel I have lived a “normal” and quite extraordinary life thus far, with two autoimmune diseases.  Since my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, almost nine years ago, I have embraced that I was different—or so I thought. In fact, I have been focusing all my energy on proving that I was stronger, smarter, more capable because I felt I had to, and neglecting the negative mental and physical impact. All these years, I have only shared how diabetes strengthens me. Yes, diabetes has strengthened me, but it also has ripped me to shreds, and does so daily.

I have a distorted view of food, carbohydrates specifically, because I am different. I can never look at or eat food without constant mental math depicting a perfect insulin to carb ratio. My relationship with food caused body dysmorphia in college, feeling guilty when I had to eat something because I was low, not hungry.  I can’t go out to eat, or even for a walk, without a bag filled with fruit snacks/glucose tabs/coconut water, a glucose monitor, and insulin. If I have more than a glass of wine, I can assure you I will have a severe low glucose at 3 am, putting my health at risk.  Dating gets difficult, when you must preface dinner with an insulin injection into your arm at the table, followed by questions and assumptions ranging from “wow, you look healthy,” to, “my grandma has diabetes and neuropathy”.

The worst part is the guilt. When my corrections are off, or god forbid I eat a banana because it sounds delicious (and don't take insulin 15-25 minutes prior), and spike to 250mg/dl within minutes, I feel defeated. I am letting myself down; I am hurting my health. Simple daily tasks, such as “a corporate desk job”, which many do with ease, hinders my insulin resistance resulting in poor mental and physical health. The cost of diabetes; i.e. pen needles, insulin, glucose monitors, testing strips, alcohol swabs, and frequent doctors’ appointments, even with great insurance, is astronomical.

Okay, vent session over. I am sharing this not as a "feel bad for me post" or a sob story, but to help any other T1Ds who are going through burnout, or have before. I make diabetes look easy on social media, and to my friends and family most often, but I am here to tell you it can be a exhausting uphill battle. I wouldn't take diabetes back, truthfully. Even with all of the pain it's inflicted, it's shaped me into the person I am today. If you are having burnout, or just need to chat about the daily struggle of having an "invisible disease" (diabetes or other), please reach out-- I'd love to chat. Xx, Maddie

How I Learned To Enjoy "Cardio"

Let's be real, cardio can suck. Like really, really suck. 

Growing up, running was always my punishment for the other sports I played (tennis, volleyball, and softball). We would run if we missed, run if we lost, etc. Running was never something I got to do, but had to do, rather.

My freshman year of college rolled around, and I still  hated running (maybe even more now) because of our conditioning sessions. I had some wonderful friends, however, who talked about how much they loved running and this so-called "runners high".

So I gave in. I told my friend Maddy I'd go for a "fun run" (if that was even a thing).  Maddy and I went for a nice 3-mi jog to a beautiful park, and chatted about life the whole way. I could walk the next day, felt energized after, and decided I'd give fun runs another shot. We kept "fun running" a few times a week for the next three months. 

So what shifted in my love-hate relationship with cardio? My mindset. While I used to view running, cycling, swimming as the enemy or the "worst part" of training, I now view it as something I GET to do. I get to move my body, as quickly or slowly as I please. I get to be outside. I get to enjoy running alone if I need to destress, or with friends and make it a social gathering. Running is whatever I make it. 

So now, I run when I want, put on a great playlist, and enjoy the movement, the celebration of what my body CAN do. I also make sure to avoid insulin before runs (I like going in the morning before breakfast), to keep my BG in range. 

Plant- Based Trader Joe's Overhaul

Have you ever thought about switching to a plant based diet, but aren’t sure how to start? I know, it can be daunting! Here is a list of some of my favorite plant-based staples, all purchased from Trader Joe’s! 

Vegetables: 

  • Spinach
  •  Kale
  • Zucchini 
  • Riced Cauliflower
  • Brocolli florets
  • Celery (love w/ nut butters)
  • sweet potatoes
  • spaghetti squash
  • asparagus 

STOCK UP ON GREENS– they are your friend (especially w/ T1D)!

Fruits: 

  • Frozen wild blueberries
  • apples
  • bananas
  •  grapefruit (low glycemic index)
  • berries of choice
  •  avocados

Canned/packaged/dressings:

  • Chickpeas
  • Jackfruit (trust me, it’s a miracle food)
  • Beans of choice
  • Coconut Milk (light or full fat)
  • salsa
  • hummus
  • Green Goddess Salad Dressing
  • Vegan Pesto, you’re welcome

Nuts/Seeds: 

  • Raw nuts are the go-to (personally love cashews and pecans)
  •  Sunflower Seed Butter
  • Raw Almond Butter
  • Flax/Chia Seeds (for smoothies and chia pudding)
  • Phsyllium Husks (fiber– for smoothies)

Other:

  • Frozen coconut chunks
  • coconut oil
  • KALE CHIPS (X 9999)
  • Vanilla Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • Matcha Packets (if you are a tea drinker)
  • Kombucha (fermentation is great for gut health)
  • NUTRITIONAL YEAST– tastes like cheese, vegan DELICIOUSNESS
  • Dark Chocolate — 85% is my fav!
  • stevia (all natural sugar replacement)
  • “everything but the bagel” seasoning, because DUH
  • gluten free crisp breads
  • COCONUT WATER! Hydrating and great for low blood sugars!