If you follow me on Instagram (@thehealthydiabetic) you’ll notice that I’ve put a post (which has turned out to be my most engaged one yet) up over the weekend discussing a trend that I, and apparently many others are starting to see.
And I’m worried.
I’m getting more and more messages from teenagers and young adults wanting to get their HbA1c into the 4’s and 5’s like their favourite Diabetic Instagram social media account. These are accounts which only show readings of 4’s, 5’s and 6’s. Rarely have a hypo and never have anything above 10.
Honestly, I’m concerned that the diabetes world is going down the fitness world. In the fitness industry, we’re seeing so many young adults obsess over body fat percentages, abs, legs, arms that they lose sight of what’s really important because they’re comparing themselves to others who are ONLY showing the best bits. As diabetes is a health related condition and insulin sensitivity can be improved with exercise and good nutrition, it’s easy to see how some people can exploit people’s insecurities to sell something which they can promote with their “constantly perfect” glucose levels. A workout plan, promote a supplement, nutrition coaching where you HAVE to do this and there’s zero flexibility (i.e. you MUST use MyFitnessPal for 12 weeks solidly otherwise you won’t succeed). I’ve seen plans worth hundreds of pounds being advertised which aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.
Now, there are a lot of coaches and people out there who are doing fantastic things and providing incredibly useful information for the community. Who are open and honest and show the bad times, as well as the good. For example, Christel and Tobias at http://thefitblog.com/ are doing amazing things with the diabetic community, introducing free fitness and nutrition challenges every few months to try and motivate diabetics to improve their overall health.
As you can see from the headline image, I get high’s and I also get severe lows from time to time. It happens, I don’t beat myself up about it. I do my best to learn from it, try and think about what’s caused it and correct as necessary. I’m not comparing myself to others because I have no idea how another diabetic manages their condition 24/7 and they don’t know how I manage mine. But I like to be honest with my audience. I feel that provides far more useful content for you than just the highlights.
I also find “perfect” constant levels unrealistic. Even if I tried my absolute best, followed all the rules and did everything to the letter – I’d probably still have a hypo and levels in the 10’s every week or so. It happens. Diabetes doesn’t follow the rules all the time. Achieving an HbA1c of 5.9 took me years. Lots of trial and error and I learnt plenty taking my time doing this rather than trying to achieve it in 6 months. It went from 9.7, to 7.8, to 7.1 and then to 5.9 over 4 years.
Your diabetes is just that. It’s yours. The majority of the people that message me are doing great. They usually just require a little bit of patience and going back over the basics.
1. Testing regularly.
2. Correcting where required.
3. Understanding and logging how your body works to different activities.
4. Carb counting until you feel comfortable eyeballing it.
Stick with these. Learn how your body works and ignore what other people are doing. We have enough to deal with as diabetics, competition should never be one of them.
Until next time.