Caregivers: The Greatest Blessing of All

ibd-caretakers

As we wrap up Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week,

I reflect on the greatest blessing of all in my IBD journey: my caregivers, my dear mother and husband. From the constant rides into the city for doctors’ visits to packing wounds and changing PICC line dressings while helping me walk and shower after surgery, Mom, you picked me up when I was at my lowest points in life. From driving me to Cleveland Clinic and flying me to Mayo Clinic for surgery while spending countless sleepless nights in the hospital, Anand, you stood by my side when society told you you could have done better.

Many of our IBD journeys

would be incomplete without creating awareness for our caregivers and the act of caregiving. You see, folks, caregiving takes courage; it takes guts! When most people disappear from our lives, our caregivers stick around and show us our true worth as human beings, as partners, as sons or daughters, and not just as sick patients. Caregiving takes a real, unconditional love for the person who needs care and help during major illness. And, in the case of my caregivers, it has taken true dedication and perseverance to care for me through 20+ surgeries and hundreds of hospitalizations and procedures. In many ways, for my two caregivers, giving me life again has become their modus operandi, and for me, their love and support has become my ode for survival.

The thing is when we are young and chronically ill, it is next to impossible to ask for help. It makes us feel useless and ashamed that we can’t be as able-bodied as the rest of our peers. But to have two caregivers who swoop in every time, like the guardian angels that they are, is truly my greatest blessing. Thank you, Mom, and thank you, Anand, for being my two rocks. Every time I have wanted to give up, you have encouraged me to press on, insisting that my existence matters oh-so-much. So, if there is a single reason as to why I have kept fighting and facing this monster of a disease, it’s you both. You are my lifeline, the embodiment of love, and truly, my entire universe.

So, own your Crohn’s,

own your need for tender love and care, for there is nothing wrong with being taken care of sometimes. We too will have the opportunity to pay that kindness forward one day in our very own ways.

**This blog and my advocacy work are an extension of the love and support I’ve received from my caregivers over the years. It is an act of paying their compassion and humanity forward to you all, my followers and supporters. I dedicate this blog to my mother, my husband and my late father who fought Crohn’s Disease and colorectal cancer so valiantly and passed nearly 27 years ago. My IBD journey would be incomplete without the three of you.**

Rebecca Babcock: IBD Warrior

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anais NinDueing

December 1-7 is Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness week,

and as an IBD Warrior, it is an important to take a pause and look at REAL life with a silent, incurable illness. There is no question that is hard, but it is also what WE choose to make of it. As I often say, each of us can do hard things.

rebecca-babcock-ibd-crohns

Having a chronic illnesses can understandably leave you living in fear of the next flair up… like becomes an insane game of “illness athematic”: trying to time the onslaught of debilitating symptoms with work or personal commitments (as if we have an ounce of control over any of it!), lying in wait of medication’s terrible side effects, or perhaps planning around the anticipation of potentially embarrassing social encounters. Aka: life can get very small… if you let it.

Last weekend I experienced a beautiful reminder that I can live a full life even during the hard times when I don’t feel well, or I am not sure I am up to it, I don’t look my best or can’t give it 100%. I went to a baby shower for a very best friend and then a “Friendsgiving” celebration, and while I could not partake in either of the beautiful and likely delicious cakes, I was reminded that showing up is most of the battle.

rebecca-babcock-life-ibd-crohns

The bottom line is my disease doesn’t define me and it doesn’t need to define you. It certainly takes courage and more than a fair amount of humility and honesty to show up to life, maybe not at my best, but on life’s terms. It is a lot better than not showing up at all.

#nocolonstillrollin,

Rebecca

Keep Fighting Toward Your Fitness Goals

So I thought I’d share how difficult it is to live with a chronic illness and try and stay fit.

The picture on the right was last year… when I had just had a colonoscopy to determine how inflamed my bowel was. Shortly after, I was hospitalized due to my colitis. In that week I had lost around 8kg in weight in the space of 5 days. Everything I ate went straight out. I had been in decent physical shape externally but internally I was in bits. I felt incredibly weak. I had no energy, but I still tried to work and live my life as normally as possible. At the time I even tried to celebrate the fact I looked half decent. 🙈 But when you look at the photo closely, I look very skinny. I was then put on some heavy duty drugs to get my colitis in check. Gained loads of weight in hospital and then went home.

Fast forward to may of this year. I’ve managed to get to a decent shape however I’m the strongest I have ever been. I manage to beat my personal gym goals every week and my colitis seems to be under control. 🤛👏

I saw this photo in my feed and wanted you to understand that physically and mentally I’m in a much better place. Everything is going in the right direction and with more hardwork and dedication I’ll get to where I want to be.

Even last year I said I’ll have to start my journey again. It really got me down but if something is worth doing… it wouldn’t be easy….or everyone would do it 😅👌

It doesn’t matter where you are in your IBD journey. It will always keep moving forward it you BELIEVE you can do it

Real Talk with Dave: All about the Dexcom G6

Many people have been eagerly waiting for the Dexcom G6 to be announced.

Well, it just so happens that it is now FDA approved and available in June. I had the special privilege of being sent a Dexcom G6 to try out and so far, I am loving it. As promised, I wanted to share my open and honest opinion about this device, so I thought what better way to share my thoughts than through a blog.

First and foremost, I want to say how incredible this device is. I had the opportunity to see a mock-up of the device at the JDRF Type One Nation Summit and was even more excited to use this new product! The whole site and transmitter is about 33% thinner than the Dexcom G5. It is much more user friendly and has a longer wear time than the G5. You can now wear your site and get continuous glucose readings for 10 full days before you have to change out your site. You can also view your blood sugar readings on your phone, watch, and receiver that comes with the device.

One really exciting feature is that the Dexcom G6 does not require any fingerstick calibrations, which means you no longer have to prick your fingers for a manual blood sugar check anymore. You can now fully depend on this device to be even more accurate than before and allow you to have even more freedom in knowing what your blood sugars are. I have been wearing the Dexcom G6 for about a week now and have been comparing the G6 to the G5. For the first few days, I was wearing both CGMs just out of curiosity on how much more accurate the G6 really is. From what I observed, the G6 was way more accurate in comparison to the G5. I also would still check my blood sugars manually just to compare the numbers and my Dexcom was very close to the actual reading. It is intended to be 20 points above or below the actual reading, which it has been.

The device also has a new app in which there is a whole new design (similar to that of the G5, only better), and there are now more options for alerts and settings in which you can customize to your liking. Now, when having a low blood sugar, this device will alert you 20 minutes before a predicted severe low of 55 mg/dL, which I think is amazing that it can detect that for you. It truly does give peace of mind in knowing what to expect and when, giving you alerts ahead of time so you can try and prevent a bad low before it hits you.

The part of this device that I cannot praise enough is the insertion. Before, you would have to plunge a big needle into your skin and then remove it, leaving a plastic cannula deep into your skin. Now, all you do is apply to device to your skin, push a button, and within seconds, the device is in your body! When people ask me what it feels like to insert the G6, I like to describe it as “a puff of air hitting your skin, that’s it!”. The first (and only) time I inserted my CGM, I was blown away at how painless it truly was. This is going to be a huge game changer for children who have to wear a CGM as they will not feel a thing when the time comes to insert the device into their skin.

All in all, this device is great. I am obsessed at how this product works and helps me feel as a Type 1 Diabetic. It definitely allows me to live my life and not worry as much as I truly can trust what my readings are and know what is going on inside of my body. If medical technology is this good now, I am even more excited as to what the future holds for Type 1 Diabetes. With the Dexcom G6, Diabetes is not all bad.

Live well,

Dave

Real Talk with Dave: All About the JDRF Type One Nation Summit

Last Sunday, April 22, 2018, I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer at my very first Type 1 event. JDRF hosted their annual Type One Nation Summit in Pasadena as part of the Los Angeles chapter. My goal for this year has been to get more involved in the Diabetic community, so I just knew that I had to reach out and see if I could be a part of this amazing event! I was given the privilege to work with children who also have Type 1 Diabetes, which was such a surreal and eye-opening experience. Also, throughout the day, I was able to meet many new and amazing Diabetics, many of whom I have met through the online community and now was able to meet them in person.

As the day started, I was greeted by some very kind people working the event who helped get me situated and allowed me to find my way around the place. As I walked through the convention center, many different Type 1 brands and companies were there with their very own booths, which allowed us T1Ds to get some more knowledge and have our questions answered. Brands such as Dexcom, Medtronic, OmniPod, Myabetic, and so many others were there with a few very kind reps from each brand. They were all so nice in welcoming quests and helping them find their new favorite T1D brand. I for one was fascinated by the Dexcom booth as they were promoting their latest and greatest device, the Dexcom G6. It was so neat to be able to see the product right then and there as the Dexcom reps were there showing how it works.

As I went to help the children who lived with T1D, I found myself in a room of so many wonderful kids. You would think that these kids would be somewhat down for the fact that they have to live with T1D, but that wasn’t the case at all. The kids I worked with were so happy to be at the event and meet new friends. I would ask them different questions such as how long they have had Type 1 for, what their blood sugars were (and we would compare our numbers with each other), and what devices they use. There was an instant connection with many of the kids as they were so responsive and excited to share. The day went by and they were thrilled to be in this space with each other as they worked on different projects and had different guests come in and talk with them.

Throughout the event, I would go back and forth from the T1D kids to the T1D adults and found myself fascinated with each and every special bond that was formed with one another. I was able to attend a few break-out sessions and listen in on some very interesting panels, some of which I was familiar with the speakers, which made them much more interesting and enjoyable. I must say that whoever put together this event really knew what Diabetes is actually like as they thought of everything to be presented that day. The topics that they talked about were so relatable to people living with Type 1, which made it so special to be a part of. We even got to meet a T1D hero who has been living with Type 1 for 58 years! He was such an inspiration.

As the day went by, more friendships were formed, more amazing T1D brands were discovered with some amazing purposes in the Diabetic community, and all in all, this event was a beautiful space where we could all come together as one big T1D family. Whoever was there was in support of one another and would lift each other up. New people came, but were immediately invited into the group and fit in right away. Many traveled from near and far to be together on this special day for this extra special event, and that right there made me realize how when we stick together as one big T1D family, this disease has nothing on us. We are brave, strong, and true fighters, we won’t give up and we will rise above in times of trouble. Diabetes doesn’t own us.

If you want to get more involved with the T1D community (which I highly recommend, it will definitely change your life for the better), get in contact with your local T1D organizations and be on the lookout for events/meet-ups in your area and just go for it! It just takes one time to get involved and you will be hooked! Being with other Diabetics is contagious and you will want to meet even more Diabetics each time!

 

Live well,

 

Dave

THE MORNING SUGAR: A Window into your Type One Management

I lie in bed with one eye open, ears still ringing from my poorly selected, overplayed alarm tone. I sit half hunched over my glucose monitor attempting the first blood-drop-to-test-strip co-ordination of the day. Its 05h30, I have fasted for 6 to 8 hours, it’s time to dive into diabetes. My test strip sucks up the drop of blood and counts down to my first glucose reading of the day:

BEEP: 4.6mmol/l (84)

OR

BEEP: 9.6mmol/l (173)

OR

BEEP 16.6mmol/l (299)

The good, the average and the ugly.
These are the 3 general ranges of readings that might greet me at the first finger prick of the day. It’s only one of the many sugar readings that lie ahead, but it is a special one to pay attention to, as your morning glucose reading can provide important insight into your diabetes control.

A fasted reading has a myriad of information which you can choose to ignore, or preferably dissect and investigate for optimum diabetes control. I believe it is vital to ask myself why? Why is my blood glucose this level and what were my preceding actions?

I will take you through my 3 ranges and my general approach to morning sugar readings and how I personally troubleshoot these readings. We each tackle diabetes differently, but hopefully the following brings some insight into your morning sugars or encourages you think critically of those interesting rise and shine numbers!

The “Gem”
My personal values are 3.8-5.6mmol/l

Oh this is a sweet, gem of a reading. It’s the real “roll out of bed on the right side” number.
Perfectly in range, it is still important to acknowledge the formula that achieved this number. We could all do with a little positive reinforcement and mindfully recognize and enjoy our diabetes successes! I always ask myself, “What did I do well?”

This sugar reading generally informs me that I have correctly dosed my long acting insulin as it did not bring me into the clutch of hypoglycaemia when fasting during my sleep. It was also sufficient to meet the cascade of morning hormones such as cortisol and hyperglycaemia it brings along with it. This sugar happily greets me when I don’t snack after dinner and I eat around 3 hours before bed-time. This plan allows for an honest, stable blood sugar reading before bed where my injected insulin has already peaked in activity, and I can expect predictable glucose readings as I sleep.

The “Meh”
My personal values are 6-9mmol/l

It’s a sugar range that is higher than I would like for a fasting blood glucose level, but it’s not remotely the end of the world. To solve this morning glucose and to prevent it creeping higher, I have my insulin dosage for my breakfast plus a dash more insulin to correct. I wait 20-30 minutes for my insulin to start working and bring my glucose down before having my breakfast. I ask my “why?” and make a mental note of how I could improve and act accordingly. If went to bed with a great blood glucose level and I woke up high, it could be various things:

1. Insufficient long-acting insulin: The Dawn phenomenon

When I have my continuous glucose monitor (CGM), the Dexcom, attached, this will be displayed as a nice steady graph with readings in glucose range for the first 2/3rds of sleep, only to find in the few hours before waking my blood glucose slowly and steadily increases. This is due to the get-up-and-go hormones that pump through your body to prepare you for waking and tackling the day. These sneaky buggers include growth hormones, cortisol, glucagon and epinephrine and they increase your insulin resistance, causing blood sugar to rise.

2. Too much insulin: The Somogyi effect

This is an interesting stress response of your body, a rebound effect of low blood glucose while sleeping. If you have too much insulin, long acting or short acting, and you experience a low while sleeping your body mounts a survival response and encourages your body to release sugar back into your blood via adrenaline and cortisol. This low may not be rapid or severe enough to cause a seizure, but sufficient to mount a physiological survival response from your body.

3. Not enough short-acting insulin

This is usually prompted by snacking before bed and eating late. My stomach is still full and has not emptied. My blood sugar will be in range when I get to sleep, but as my tummy works to digest my food, sugar trickles into my blood which I thought I had sufficiently covered by my short-acting. This especially occurs if I eat meals that have a carbohydrate, protein and high fat content. It has even been dubbed “The Pizza Effect”, where fats and protein delay the absorption of carbohydrates from a meal. The most challenging part is that you don’t know when the carbohydrates are going to be dumped into your bloodstream as sugar. It could be more than 5 hours until you feel the true effect of your meal. This could also be a reason for a really high morning blood glucose reading, the one where you would rather turn over and head back to sleep, which brings me to my final morning range, which I like to call the “Lie in Bed for a Few Minutes in Denial”.

The “Lie in Bed for a Few Minutes in Denial”
My personal values are anything double digit

The “Man, I messed up” feels. I most likely did not give myself enough insulin for the previous night’s meal, or I ate complete rubbish, did a massive carbohydrate count guestimate (that’s right folks- guess and estimate can really be combined into one perfect word), it could be “the pizza effect”, or I forgot my long acting insulin.

The alternative explanation is that I woke up with low in the middle of the night and quite passionately, dove into my bedside glucose stash, bathed myself in sugar before falling back asleep in a pile a sweet wrappers. (Yes, I have awoken with gummy sweets melted into my back and bed sheet).

If my sugars are really bad in the morning, there is usually a pretty grand, blatantly obvious reason as to why they are absolutely deranged. I find myself glancing in the mirror, at my poor, hard-done-by face to ask myself why? My expression smirks, “Oh girl, you know why. You know.”

This is where the power of the mind can transform your day. You can switch to victim. You can choose guilt and actively bring yourself down. You can choose to let a number on a plastic monitor define your day or you can free yourself from mental binds, for you are capable, you are strong and you are going to tackle the day.

My go-to plan of action:

1. Massive bottle of water with loads of top ups
2. Small simple, low sugar breakfast (I find waiting for my sugars to come down before eating leaves me more frantic and stressed)
3. More water
4. Add Insulin
Tip: Don’t give yourself 70000 units because you are panicking and desperately want your sugar to go down as quickly as possible (TRACY SANDERS I am talking to you girl). A resultant severe hypoglycaemia does not make it easier to improve the day.
5. Forgive yourself, give thanks to your body for all the other goodness it brings to you and power forward.

Transform your WHY’s into WISE, pay attention to each nugget of information your body and glucometer communicates to you. By building up an understanding of your sugars, you build a stronger relationship with your body and mind. Work closely with your support network, endocrinologist and diabetes educator to make the correct adjustments to suite your body, always ask questions and challenge your knowledge and experience of type one.

Moving for Your Body

Let’s be real, working out 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. I’d had a distorted view of working out (outside of playing sports competitively) and I saw working out as punishment for what I ate, etc.

By pushing my body too hard, at the age of 21, I’ve already had shoulder surgery, five stress fractures in both my shins and lumbar spine, as well as four cortisone injections. So after years of putting my body through intense workouts to train, I am finally working out to heal my body and mind.

So what shifted in my love-hate relationship with “movement”? 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 an hour to move how I want to– however feels good for my body. 

I used to push myself through a run when I could hardly walk, or through shin splints on a long run, now I don’t. Now, I run or bike when I want, put on a great playlist, and enjoy the movement, the celebration of what my body CAN do. I practice yoga daily because it is sustainable for me, and I love the mental and physical reset it provides for me. I focus on how it feels, what I need, and am very consious of my blood glucose levels when working out.

My advice to those who have a distorted view of gyms or physical activity, or even just need motivation to start working out is to find something you love, that you can sustain. Maybe for you this is dance, yoga, boxing, a long walk– or a multitude of act ivies combined.

“Speak like you love yourself. Eat like you love yourself. Move like you love yourself.”

Real Talk with Dave: Trusting Your Gut

When first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, we are told how we will feel. Doctors and nurses come in and tell us what we may experience when we are faced with a low or a high blood sugar, but that’s about it. Mind you most of these medical professionals are NOT Diabetic, which means that they don’t truly know what Diabetes “feels” like. Not only are we not able to fully know what symptoms of T1D feel like until we experience them on our own, but we are never actually mentally prepared for how life is going to feel like from now on, from the good times, to the not so good moments. How we know how Diabetes is exactly like is by simply living with it and experiencing all the possible situations on our own time.

For example, in the hospital, a doctor would typically educate you on low and high symptoms (shakiness, headache, fast heartbeat, etc.), but that doctor doesn’t actually know what it genuinely feels like. When we are faced with our first low blood sugar as a Type 1 Diabetic, it can be a real shocker in the sense that we are not expecting it to feel the way it actually does.

I can remember my very first low when I was essentially “on my own”. I had just gone back to school (6th grade) two weeks after being diagnosed and hadn’t fully understood how important carbohydrates were when on Insulin. I went to lunch that day and didn’t like the bread on the sandwich I was eating, so I decided to not eat the bread and eat the protein inside the sandwich instead, as I thought I was being healthy. Of course, shortly after lunch and having not eaten the carbs I took Insulin for, I had a very bad low. The sweats, shaking, and fast heart beat were so prominent in that low of mine and I needed a friend to walk me to the nurse’s office, where I was given some apple juice to quickly bring my sugar levels back up. Scary, I know, but that was necessary as I then learned why this happened and how to prevent it from happening again.

Trusting your gut is key in living with T1D. You may have just checked your blood sugar minutes before and had a good number. Minutes later, you feel a bit funny but don’t think you could have gone low (or high) in such a short amount of time, but then, you do. You listen to your gut and trust your feelings and, you guessed it, a low. Had you not trusted your own gut, you could have been in for a really bad experience. This can happen in a variety of different situations as a Type 1 Diabetic. You can feel low symptoms when you are actually just fine. You can feel as though your blood sugar is high, when actually, you’re low. Knowing your body and how you feel when certain situations arise can be the thing that saves your life.

Nowadays, we have Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) that tell us what our blood sugars are and where they’re headed, which can give us peace of mind as we go about our day, but can also create anxiety as we can see when we may be going severely low or high at a bad time (work, school, meetings, etc.). Though we can see our blood sugar readings being updated every few minutes, we should not rely on the level of accuracy 100% of the time. Often times, the readings on our CGMs can be way off. That is why we must trust our gut and know our bodies. Every now and then, I may find my CGM readings to be about 100 points off of what my actual blood sugar is, which is extremely dangerous. That just comes to show, always be the one in control of your body and your feelings. You can only depend on yourself to determine how you are truly feeling, and when you do, there is a level of peace in knowing that you were able to catch a bad Diabetic feeling before it caused an emergency.

 So always remember, YOU are in control of how you feel. Not your CGM, not your Doctor, but you.

Live well,

 

Dave

Real Talk With Dave: The Importance of Wearing a Medical ID

Wearing a form of medical ID can be the factor that can potentially save your life. As a Type 1 Diabetic, it is important that we wear some type of medical ID at all times (especially when out alone in public). When we go out into the world and live our lives, we may often times face situations that we might not have control over. Thankfully, we have devices to hopefully help us be in the know at all times with our Diabetes, such as a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), but still, at times, we may experience severe situations with our blood sugars that may result in an emergency.

Without getting too deep into a dark topic (as I am sure we all already know about), I do have to say, there is always a danger, regardless, when it comes to Diabetes. Let’s be real, T1D is considered a “disease” which does have some pretty serious consequences such as really high blood sugars (ending up in DKA) or severe low blood sugars to the point where we may pass out or go into a coma. These are fears none of us want to think about, but somehow, they’re always on our minds. Fear. Something that takes over when diagnosed with T1D. There is nothing to worry about though! We are all on top of our Diabetes and know all the potential risk factors, we just have to be aware and plan ahead.

Where does the role of medical ID come in? Well, say we do experience a medical emergency, if we are alone but are wearing some form of medical ID, such as a bracelet, necklace, ring, tattoo, or ever a simple wallet card, that will help the general public/paramedics know what may have caused the emergency and they can help out as much as possible in saving our lives as they will know what actions they need to take, as essentially, time is everything in an emergency.

I guess you could say that medical ID is more for someone to be able to reference in the case of an emergency. Either way, it will give you the assurance and peace of mind in knowing that you will be taken care of properly in the case of an emergency.

I know that you may not want to wear a medical ID all the time, as it may make you feel “labeled” as a Diabetic, and trust me, I have felt that way at some point in my life, however, so many amazing brands have created casual and modern medical ID jewelry that can go with just about anything on any day. You have to find what your style is and what you feel most comfortable wearing. Once you do so, you will be able to wear your ID wherever you go, feeling confident and safe all the time!

Live your life and don’t let T1D slow you down one bit! All you have to do is take a few simple steps towards your safety as a Diabetic and you will be good to go!

Live well,

 

Dave

 

 

 

Lyfestories: Incorporating Exercise Your Life with an Invisible Illness

Hi, I’m Zoe and I am actively autoimmune!

When I was diagnosed with lupus, I felt like I had lost control of my health and body. As a physiotherapist, I have always believed that movement is key and began to use exercise as a way to take back some control. Whatever the illness, injury or challenge, I believe exercise will support our health and recovery.

In saying that, I know how difficult it can be to motivate yourself to be active. Pain and fatigue, alongside juggling work, family or school plus hospital appointments and medication regimes; exercise can just seem unachievable. Health can fluctuate on a daily basis preventing consistency and progress. Here are my top 5 tips into how I incorporate exercise into my life with a chronic illness:

 

  1. Be kind to yourself!

Sounds simple, but I find adopting the right mentality about why I am exercising, helps to motivate me. A lot of social media is aimed at fit and healthy people, striving for excellence. With chronic illness, we are striving for different goals.

You are not exercising to punish your body. You are not a bad person if you miss a workout. And you should not feel guilty if you cannot keep up with what others either on social media or in the gym are doing. Find what feels good for you and be kind to yourself.

2. Set realistic goals

Find a balance between something realistic but challenging, and something you care about or enjoy doing. Our bodies cope with enough medically, so we don’t want to add to the stress it goes through!

I find comparing where I am and what I want to achieve is very different to the average #goals on Instagram. Realistically running 5k and doing 50 burpees are not possible at the moment. But to aim to get on my mat 5 times a week, whether for a gentle workout, stretch or yoga is attainable and helps motivate me.

 

3. Be flexible

“Be stubborn with your goals, but flexible how you get there”

Health is unpredictable (the number of days I wake up with my list to do and due to how I feel, I achieve zero of them). Add in spontaneous hospital trips and appointments and it can feel disheartening not achieving what you set out to do that day. I try to use these moments to mix up my routines, walk instead of run, stretch instead of workout or on really bad flare days, simply sitting and doing some breathing exercises. Frustrating as it can be, it is about listening to what your body needs.

4. Learn when to rest and when to progress

Lots of my clients used to ask me:

“If I feel unwell should I still exercise?”
“Do I stop if I have pain?”
“Should I keep pushing past fatigue?”

For those of us with invisible illness, if we listened to our bodies every time they were unwell, in pain, or fatigued we would never exercise. That being said, we can be too brave and push past symptoms we should pay attention to. It is a really difficult balance and often ever changing due to drug changes and disease activity.

The best way to find out your limits is to test them! I started very lightly and monitored how I feel during, immediately after and the next day. A gradual increase in activity is a lot wiser than getting stuck in a pattern of over exerting yourself and then needing days to recover.

 

5. How to push through

Everyone has bad days, either physically with raging symptoms, or mentally due to a lack of motivation or simply fed up. It is absolutely okay to have these days off! However, it is often on these days when I am feeling rubbish, getting on my yoga mat can have the biggest positive effect.

Sometimes it is the thought of exercising that can seem overwhelming more so than the workout itself. The process of getting in my activewear and getting out my mat can sometimes seem a big a task as washing my hair aka. huge. One method I use is to break down the task so it seems more manageable. I give myself a target of 5 minutes. If after 5 minutes, my symptoms are still horrible or worse, then I stop but more often than not, I carry on.

 

I hope a few of my tips helped, for more guidance or if you have any questions please reach out to me on @activelyautoimmune or on www.activelyautoimmune.com

Inside the Patient Entrepreneur’s Mind: Shai Rozen

 

 

Having a chronic illness can be challenging, and running your own business can be hard. No matter where you fit on the spectrum, we could all use a little motivation.  Our #InsidethePatientEntrepreneursMind blog series gives you insight and lifehacks on how to stay motivated by some of the most innovative patient entrepreneurs in the world.

Shai Rozen is the Co-Founder & CMO of Suggestic, an artificial intelligence tool to help tackle health and nutrition.

What motivated you to create a business addressing a disease you know so well?

Actually, it’s not me with the disease, it was my father who passed away from T2D-related issues.

There are a number of things that came together that motivated me and my cofounder, Victor, to start Suggestic, but one of those was born out of the realization that all this suffering my dad went through was completely preventable. Every time I think about it drives me a bit crazy.

What are some of the hurdles you perceive exist for people with your disease?

The biggest hurdle I see relates to “good” decision making. How do you navigate the myriad of options in front of you? Let’s take food, for example, we know that there are relatively good and healthy options available in most places, but most of us tend to make the “wrong” choices. So how do you filter out all the noise? This is actually the focus of our work at Suggestic. Providing contextually-relevant healthy food recommendations that fir your personal dietary needs.

Who are some of your role models in your space?

There are some amazing people working hard to tackle type 2 diabetes and chronic disease in general but I’d like to specially recognize my team at Suggestic whose passion and effort are a continuous source of inspiration.

What is your goal beyond creating a successful business?

Simple, one word: impact. Of the positive kind.

What does Lyfebulb mean to you? How can we support you better? what are some of the biggest gaps today for a “young” entrepreneur?

A supporting community of likeminded and purpose-driven entrepreneurs. As entrepreneurs, we constantly make assumptions about the way things work or about how people behave, so more forms of interaction between the members would be a great way to validate some of these assumptions.

How do you stay healthy and motivated to deliver?

Putting some time aside to take care of myself is key, but what truly keeps me motivated is two things: learning new things about health and seeing results when I make a change of any kind.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

It has made a tremendous difference. It’s much like taking a shortcut. You piggyback on someone else’s experience and not only learn but also it saves you from making obvious mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important to make mistakes and learn from them, but I’m pretty sure there will always be more mistakes to make and if you can stand on someone else’s shoulders and start ahead that’s a big blessing.

How can we draw more attention to user-driven innovation?

It’s funny to me that this is even a question. If you are building a tool for a certain type of user what makes you think that you know better than them? Everything we do at the company should ultimately benefit its users. Which by the way it’s what is wrong, in my opinion, with so many organizations that aim to benefit shareholders and not costumers. Now, you do need to listen creatively, meaning, focus more on the problem that they are having than how they think it should be solved.

How do you maintain work/life balance?

When you are lucky to work on something that not only you are passionate about but is also purpose driven, the lines between work and “life” get blurred.

Practically speaking, we all need to learn to prioritize and draw some lines to make sure we get time to re-energize and keep going.

If you had three wishes, what would they be?

Infinite energy and more hours in the day (there’s just a lot that needs to get done.), immortality and a magic wand that allows us to really understand each other.

What is your favorite song that gets you motivated?

It’s funny but every now and then I like to listen to Steve Jobs’ 1997 ad “The Crazy Ones”, it never aired.

 

Cooking Through Life: Valentine’s Day Treat Cheat Guide!

We LOVE treats and sweets, but understand the anxiety that can often come with them! To ensure you enjoy all of the yumminess of Valentine’s Day, without all of the guilt and blood glucose spikes, we have a list of our favorite yummy, healthy brands and recipes, below!

Feel free to send us your favorite sweets, at contact@lyfebulb.com!

  1. Be Mixed:

Be Mixed is one of FAVORITE’S (for many reasons)!

Be Mixed is an all-natural, zero-calorie, sugar-free cocktail mixer. These are great when you are wanting a fun drink, and sick of vodka sodas! 

  1. KNOW Foods

KNOW Foods should be on your list of healthy guilt-free treats, if they aren’t already! Because KNOW uses a sweetener known to have ZERO glycemic effect, Allulose, you can eat the cookies, cakes, muffins, waffles, pastas, and bread, WITHOUT THE GUILT!

Where to buy: KNOWFoods.com, Amazon, & Specialty Grocery Stores

  1. 3. Eating Evolved:

Vegan? Paleo? Peanut Allergy? Well, Eating Evolved’s yummy chocolates and coconut butter cups are my personal favorite dessert (or breakfast)! Eating Evolved’s Sea Salt Caramel Coconut butter Cups are my personal favorite, and an (almost) insulin-free treat!

Where to buy: Whole Foods, Specialty Grocery Stores, eatingevolved.com

  1. Lily’s Sugar Free Chocolate Bars and Baking Chips

Lily’s Chocolates are sweetened with stevia which means CHOCOLATE WITHOUT GUILT!

The baking chips are my favorite to throw in gluten free cookies, or eat by the handful!

  1. Last but not least… MAKE YOUR OWN!

There are so many incredible healthy desserts, that are fun to make for a date night! Here are our top yummy, healthy dessert recipes:

https://www.unconventionalbaker.com/recipes/gluten-free-vegan-raw-strawberry-cheesecake/

http://rachlmansfield.com/paleo-chocolate-chip-cookie-cake/

https://beamingbaker.com/no-bake-paleo-chocolate-almond-butter-bars-4-ingredient-vegan-gluten-free-paleo-dairy-free/

https://beamingbaker.com/paleo-chocolate-almond-butter-fudge-cups-vegan-3-ingredient-gluten-free-paleo-dairy-free/

https://sweetandsavorymeals.com/paleo-coconut-crack-bars-vegan-no-bake/

https://www.bakerita.com/no-bake-lemon-bars-gluten-free-paleo-vegan/

 

*LIFE HACK: experiment! I use the Lakanto Maple Syrup in many recipes to replace maple syrup and create a sugar free dessert!

Try subbing stevia, coconut sugar, or Swerve (1:1 table sugar stevia mix), to make yummy, insulin-free treats! I also LOVE vegan ice cream, and love making my own, out of coconut milk, or even just frozen bananas!

 

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