diabetes

I’m 38.7% of the way there.

Statistically, I should live to 82.5.

Nothing sobers you up faster than checking out your best before date using an online calculator. Except, perhaps, doing the math on how much of that life you’ve currently used up. Almost 39%, in my case.

It leaves me approximately 18,250 days in which to get ‘er done. Whatever ‘er’ is.

18,250 days to either work or play. Or do a bit of both, or neither.

It gives me 438,000 hours to watch my kids take their first steps, fall off their bikes, complete their first week at summer day camp. Four hundred and thirty eight thousand hours seems like a lot. It’s not. I just wasted one of them on Facebook.

This wasn’t an exercise in trying to scare myself, or give me anxiety about death. Let’s face it, any one of us could be hit by a bus or struck by lightning tomorrow. (Speaking of lightning, we had a pretty close encounter a few nights ago in a campground in Banff. A bolt of lightning struck about 50 feet from our campsite. The thunder sounded like it was inside the trailer. Fireball + smoke. Pretty wild.)

An exercise like this helps you prioritize. Focus. Be present. If I only have 438,000 hours (and while we’re doing the math, I only have 157,680 hours with my kids until they’re 18. Minus sleeping hours. Minus the 40hrs/week that I’m working.) then I better be fully present in those hours. Not thinking about the hours that have passed, wishing I’d done something else with them. Not forecasting what future hours might bring.

Being fully present, day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute. That’s the key to getting the most out of the 61.3% of my life that I’ve yet to live.

Which is maybe why I’ve been a little inactive here on the blog. I’ve been pursuing those projects and things that most closely align with my priority in life (outside of my family). That priority is helping people change for the better, and putting my diabetes diagnosis to good use.

I’m doing that in a couple of different ways right now.

First, I’m doing a little blogging (along with some workshops and soon, an online course) over here.

Second, I’m trying to reach more people more efficiently through the use of webinars, like this one. Webinars are slick, if you haven’t taken part in one. Like going to a live workshop, only often free and you can go in your pajamas, from your couch. What’s not to love?

I encourage you to go and check out your life expectancy sometime. You never know, it just might inspire you to stop reading so many blog posts and get out for a walk.

 

Sugar’s not the problem.

I recently did a workshop in Cochrane called The Sugar Fix: 4 Easy Steps to Curb your Cravings. It went really well, likely because that particular topic lies at the intersection of my diagnosis with diabetes, and my work in the addiction sector. We’ve known for awhile now that sugar is addictive. What we haven’t done a great job of (and what I’m trying to do), is use some of the proven methodologies behind addiction treatment and behaviour change and apply them to “sugar”, helping people reduce or eliminate their consumption. I’ve got another one lined up for November 27th in Calary

 

One of the first, and probably most important, things to realize is that sugar is a solution. It is rarely, if ever, the problem. If we consider sugar to be an addictive, mood-altering substance (which it is), then the problem becomes “why do I need my mood altered?”. Stress. Boredom. Depression. Anxiety. Just having a bad day in general. All great reasons to reach for a bag of chips or bowl of ice cream for a little pick me up.

One of the first steps in really tackling a sugar addiction is not to rush out and buy some new cookbooks. It’s to notice. Notice when you’re reaching for the next hit and asking yourself, “why do I feel like sugar right now?”. And if the answer isn’t “I’ve got low blood sugar and need to eat something before I pass out”, then you’re trying to fix a different problem…and I’m going to suggest that sugar isn’t the best solution to try.

For Sale….diabetes. With a side order of irony.

I’m not sure how many people take the time to look around a store when they go in, or whether we’re all so busy now that we just go in, buy what’s on our list, try not to make idle chatter with the cashier (or better yet, use the self checkout!), and get on with our day. I’m guessing not very many of us.

I was in Shopper’s Drug Mart today and took the time to look around and take it all in. The first thing I noticed was how un-beautiful I must be, given how many products they were selling to make my skin look better and make me more attractive.

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Then I wandered to the back of the store and found the health foods and vitamins. Protein powders and bars, acai berry everything, weight loss products…an interesting array of heavily processed and packaged “healthy” stuff. Oh yeah, and Red Bull.

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Next up was the pharmacy. Pretty straightforward really, with most of the marketing material geared towards, interestingly enough, diabetics such as myself.

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Just past the pharmacy, and all that “take control of diabetes!” information was, you guessed it, diabetes central. Row upon row of ice cream, soda, candy, chips.  Yeah, take control alright. Just don’t pass up these really high margin retail items that make our shareholders giddy and the insulin manufacturers laugh all the way to the bank.

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Of course, one could argue that this drug store (and many like it) are simply giving customers what they want. They’ll argue that if they don’t sell it to them, someone else will. They’ll give the standard argument of free will, and not limiting people’s choices. All well and good. With that logic, a lot of the world suddenly makes sense. And I think that maybe we’re missing out on a pretty big opportunity, those of us in the addiction treatment business. Maybe it’s time to revisit the business model. Maybe the trick is to provide the solution, whilst supplying the problem. And if we can make people feel unattractive and overweight while we’re doing it….

Which brings me to my main point. Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s right. Just because it profits a shareholder, or boosts the bottom line, doesn’t mean it’s moral. And just because you can sell it, doesn’t mean you should.

And just because it’s ironic, doesn’t mean it’s funny.

Sugar: the bitter truth.

Now that everyone’s enjoyed a bit of Easter feasting… it’s probably a good time to learn some more about what’s in your food; specifically high-fructose corn syrup. FOREWARNING: This video is 1.5 hrs long (but well worth it).

Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin.