With over 30 years of diabetes behind her and experience as a medical professional, Jewels Doskicz, RN, knows a thing or two about living well, managing diabetes and reaching health goals. Here's her perspective on finding the motivation to reach your A1c goal.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the past 3 decades with diabetes: Our health and happiness lie in our own hands. Therefore, finding your zen with diabetes, and your A1C, is achievable.
I hear you. Finding balance is an ongoing effort. And yes, diabetes is a constant work in progress. However, it’s a personal choice to label diabetes as an uphill struggle with no end in sight, or to find peace with it, identifying points of motivation and inspiration along the way.
Here’s the thing - numbers may be king for evaluating one’s diabetes, but they’re just a façade for everything that creates them. Numbers themselves aren’t the problem, nor do they present the entire picture.
A1c is tricky...
Providers may focus on our golden number, “the A1c,” because it speaks of the balance we’ve achieved over a 3-month period. It clearly isn’t a stand-alone number; it represents the zen we’ve found with diabetes, exercise, work, travel, health issues, food choices, and provider support.
A clean number like an A1c is tricky. It seemingly provides a cut-and-dry answer, but it really represents a complicated dot-to-dot picture of our 90-day diabetes experience.
Yes, you’re right, diabetes isn’t simple.
When life gets busy, we make choices: use a house cleaning service, eat out, get the groceries delivered, or have someone walk the dogs. But, when diabetes is overwhelming, it’s not often outsourced for help. We more commonly shoulder the blame, circling the drain before seeking provider support.
We certainly can’t remove ourselves from the equation; there’s no drive-thru for diabetes. But remember, diabetes results aren’t simply a mirror of our potential – they reflect every aspect of our life. Even when we try our very best, the results may not follow.
Most everyone has some room for housekeeping with their A1c. Let’s break it down into 3 practical steps:
- Pick an area to focus on
- Identify your barriers
- Set goals
Improve night blood sugar to improve A1c
For the purpose of this article, let’s pick an effective way to improve your A1c – target the night. If you can dial your blood sugars into range while you sleep, that’s essentially half of your life with normal blood sugars. There are variables, even while sleeping, that can affect your blood sugar. The good news is, we can adapt to them.
- Use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) if you have one at your disposal. If you don’t have a CGM, that’s no problem
- Use a glucometer to check your blood sugar before bed, in the middle of the night (set an alarm for an obscene hour like 1 am), and then check again first thing in the morning
- Take note of your food choices, especially at dinner and before bed
- Take note of your activity level and stress load during the day
- Record your results and daily habits – they’ll paint a picture for you
- Start looking at your daily patterns and try to adapt your lifestyle choices to make improvements
- Sit with your health care provider or certified diabetes educator and analyze your data together
- Reap the benefits!
Diabetes can be a puzzle, and there is no “perfect.” It’s ultimately up to us to find balance and seek support when things are off-kilter. When we put the work in and understand how our life choices and medications affect our numbers, diabetes begins to feel like a well-worn, fraying sweater – comfortable and familiar.
How do you find your zen with diabetes?