Last month, I shared my plan for a “guilt free” holiday – to allow myself an occasional Christmas cookie, to give myself a little leeway on my exercise program, and to try not to be obsessed with every number on the scale or glucose monitor.
Because my sugars had been good all year, and my A1C had hovered around 6, I figured that a few days on a “diabetes vacation” wouldn’t upend my care.
And now, I’m here to report on the results. I think you could say they were mixed.
First of all, the all-important numbers on the scale and glucose monitor didn’t spin entirely out of control. I gained an extra pound and a half, and my blood sugar numbers – especially in the morning – did rise a little higher.
But my plan wasn’t only about the numbers – it was also about ridding myself of guilt. Though I tried to enjoy myself, I wasn’t totally successful in dispelling the guilt that comes when I eat off plan or slip from my exercise routine. The guilt remained, which meant that Christmas afternoon found me pumping out a few miles on my stationary bike to make up for Christmas brunch.
So I guess in some ways, while I did eat some things I usually don’t, my idea to fly guilt-free didn’t quite pan out. But I did learn some things along the way that I’d like to share.
- A taste can be as good as a piece. My sister’s chocolate chip cake is on trial here. It’s scrumptious, since she doubles the chocolate and fills it with a cinnamon swirl. I planned on downing a whole slice, but found that eating just around the edges was enough.
- Habits are hard to break. After years and years of training myself to exercise daily, it was really tough to take a true vacation. I did manage to cut my usual hour of biking in half, but opted to do some hard interval training to make it really count. Out of this may come a new exercise strategy – I’m wondering if intervals may keep my sugars as low and plan to try out my more intense half hour vs. my slower hour of biking.
- An extra pound or two isn’t the end of the world, but it can drive me crazy. After having worked so hard to reach a certain weight, I wondered if the cookies were worth it. (Who am I kidding? They were.) At my age, it’s harder to take weight off, but I’m thinking of a New Year’s resolution to become less obsessed with the scale.
- Sugars don’t lie. Perhaps the best indicator of my diabetes vacation was my blood sugars. I didn’t take a break from taking them, and they showed the toll of my excess, peaking with one morning reading of 161 (compared to my usual 100-116). It reminded me how staying on track affects my body, and gave me a renewed energy to keep my sugars in check for the New Year.
- It’s nice to be like everybody else. Maybe the best part of the vacation was feeling like everyone else at the table. It was relaxing not to have to explain why I wasn’t eating Dan Dan noodles at our traditional Chinese Christmas Eve party, because, this time, I did take a small serving. And having a dessert plate was a kind of happy fantasy.
So in the end, maybe it’s guilt that fuels my diabetes care. Not sure if that’s good or bad, but for now, it apparently works for me.