The first of two alarms cuts through the darkness and I quickly scramble to turn it off in hopes of not waking up my sleeping husband who still has an hour of glorious sleep before getting ready for work.
I sit on the edge of the bed and the daily conversation in my head begins.
Me: I could go back to bed.
Self: You’re already up, just get dressed.
Me: But my bed is so warm.
Self: You’ll warm up when you get dressed.
Me: I’m really tired.
Self: You’re eyes have only been open for one minute. Give it time, you’ll wake up.
Me: What do I have to do today? Could I go workout after I drop the kids off at school?
Self: You know you’ll feel better if you go right away and you hate the feeling of putting it off.
Me: But today’s not that busy.
Self: Are we still talking about this?
Me: What is the next day I could sleep in? Thursday? Friday? Yep, Friday I’ll sleep in.
Self: No you won’t. We’ll be sitting here having this same conversation on Friday.
Me: I could take a nap today. That’s what I’ll do.
Self: No you won’t but you keep telling yourself that if it means you’ll go get dressed. (Whispering: you will never take a nap because you will find so many things to do today that you will once again be five minutes late picking the kids up from school, and, as always, you will not be tired after you workout)
Me: Fine. I’ll get dressed. (shuffle to the bathroom) Why did I stay up late again last night? I should have been in bed instead of watching TV. I’m going to bed early tonight, promise, no excuses.
Self: You have a great sense of humor early in the morning. You will not see that bed again until after 10:00 pm and you know it.
Me: You’re right. Hey, I’m kinda awake now and ooooo I can have peanut butter before I leave for the Y!
Self: Peanut butter? That’s what motivates you? I’ll remember that tomorrow.
Me: You know you’re kinda crabby in the morning.
Self: You’re exhausting. I need a nap.
If you think that this is exaggerated or made up you are mistaken. I kid you not this stupid banter goes on in my head Every. Single. Morning.
I grew up as an only child, so from a very young age I learned the fine art of talking to myself. Some kids have imaginary friends, I had a whole imaginary family of almost 10 other kids. I also had a family of peanuts that I drew faces on…but that’s a whole other story which was a source of great amusement when my kids found them 20 years later in a storage box from my parent’s basement.
But back to the crack of dawn when I begrudgingly wander away from the warm, dark coziness of my bed where I was likely snuggled close to my four footed fur baby (who will steal my spot seconds after I leave). I turn on the news as I get dressed and gradually I begin to feel the sleepy haze clear. Out the door by 5:00 am and through the doors of our YMCA by 5:15 am.
Walking into the YMCA is honestly like walking into an extension of our home. The sights and sounds are so familiar and the typical early morning crowd as much a part of my day as my cup of coffee.
Why would anyone choose to do this every morning? As I said in an earlier post, I workout because I love it, not because I have to. Working out has been like therapy for me as I find that by the time I am done, the endless stream of thoughts, plans, problems and stresses have gone quiet and I realize that for the past hour I have heard nothing in my head but the repetitive counting of reps, laps, or minutes.
I never plan to turn my brain’s volume to low when I walk in the door but it always seems to gradually happen as I find myself lost in a routine and the movements happening around me. I find myself listening to the rhythm of my own breath and feel my heart rate rising and falling. I notice that perhaps a foot or a hip is a little sore and think,”was that like that yesterday? How did I not notice that?” It is a brief moment in my day when I am completely and totally aware of the moment. There are no worries about the next week or even the next hour, as all my energy both mentally and physically is focused on the next 30 seconds. Just finish this lap, or just one more rep.
Unfortunately, this state of peaceful awareness only lasts for so long and I find myself back in the whirlwind of getting ready for school as soon as I get home. The check off list of lunches, piano practicing, books, backpacks, folders, teeth brushing and SHOES! For the tenth time get your Shoes ON!!! quickly fills my head and requires all my focus if we have even a chance at leaving the house by 8:15 am.
Life does not allow us to live in a blissful state of self-awareness where we never have to spend every ounce of our energy on a mundane problem, but that is why I find my time at the gym to be so important. I workout 6 days a week because it brings me joy and because I truly believe it makes me a better person physically, mentally, and emotionally. I love the challenges that each workout brings and I love finishing, knowing I pushed myself harder than I thought I could when I first woke up. I love knowing that I am strong despite being a diabetic and I am even stronger because I found a way to do what I love while being a diabetic.
Are there days when I truly am too tired to go to the gym? Yes. Are there days when my blood sugars don’t cooperate and I have to leave early or stop to eat? Yes. There will always be glitches in a pattern and things that don’t go according to plan, but when I take a step back and look at the overall picture I am hard pressed to remember that one workout three weeks ago on a Thursday.
This is not a fitness blog and I am not going to say that my week filled with running, swimming, weight training and spin classes is for everyone (However I also will be the first to say that as a society we all sit far too much and that these bodies and all their increible systems were made not to operate in a sedentary state. Move as you are able. But I digress…)
Rather, I want to draw attention to the need we all have to take notice and be aware. Sometimes, (quite often) I find myself looking at my entire life as a diabetic. I can quickly jump from thinking of the smaller insulin doses I took when first diagnosed to the potential large doses that could be in my future and the potential side effects I could have when I’m 80. Kind of a big span but this overwhelming thought takes less than a few seconds to fire in my brain and can send me spiraling into a sea of “I wonder” and “what if”.
Similar to when I am working out and I am focusing only on the next 30 seconds rather than the next 30 days, I need to remind myself that the same is true in life. I can only function in the moment. I cannot change the past and I cannot predict the future. I can, however, make the best decision right now based on the factors and knowledge that are currently surrounding me. (ie. food choices, insulin dosing, activity level, illness, etc.)
The reverse of this thought process is also true. Taking one day off from the gym will not make all my muscles fall off, just as one day of high blood sugars will not destroy my whole treatment plan. These momentary “problems” cannot become my focus resulting in me losing sight of the overall picture of life as, if corrected, they will be quickly forgotten.
I had a horrible high blood sugar morning this last Sunday as I sat at my daughter’s hockey game. No matter how much insulin I threw at myself it would not go below 250. I kept testing and giving correcting doses and was able to push it from my thoughts for a few hours but when we left the rink at 12:30 pm I had crept up to 280 without eating anything. Finally the frustration took over. I was flat out cranky and ready to throw my pump at a wall as it alarmed for what seemed like the 100th time to let me know that it was approaching a high blood sugar level.
It is not easy to take my eyes off these moments at the time and I am full believer in allowing myself to be frustrated when I need to vent (for fear of internal combustion), however, I can’t let these moments become my whole story. These are moments in a very long and very complex story of life.
When I look back on my daughter’s tournament in 10 years, I am not going to remember that I had a blood sugar reading of 280,but I will remember that I saw over 70 little girls playing hockey and loving every minute of it. I will remember the smile she had on her face as she told me about the new friends she made on her team and I will remember it being a great way for her to end her 7 year old season.
A bad blood sugar reading does not define a day and even a bad week of blood sugars does not define a whole diabetic story. It is a long novel and the plot does not stay the same for very long. It is my responsibility to take the very best care of myself and seek out answers and solutions when needed but remember that diabetes is only part of the story and tomorrow is a new day and it starts with talking to myself at 4:40 am.