Diabetes Health Type 2: The Three-Pronged Approach to Health

As someone who is dealing with Type 2 diabetes, one thing that I try to keep on top of is my physical, mental and spiritual condition. I have found that when I am in good shape physically, mentally and spiritually, my blood sugar levels are pretty good.

If I go off, e.g., if someone cuts me off on the road for no good reason and I get angry, that’s not good for me in terms of maintaining a stable blood sugar level.

If I am standing on line in a store and someone goes ahead of me and I am indignant because they weren’t polite enough to ask if they could jump the line, I am the person paying the price with my blood sugar levels going all over the place because I am the one who is angry.

I have learned to get over things that really aren’t that important in the scheme of things. The truth is that tomorrow or the next day I will forget all about it.

If I am upset about something and I keep thinking about it over and over without seeing a good solution – if worrying about it and no amount of talking about it seems to help – having a dark cloud hanging over my head is not good for maintaining good blood sugar levels.

I don’t want to feel any remorse or recriminations. If I feel badly about something I try to deal with it right away.

If I am off spiritually, if I am not in touch with the God of my understanding, then that’s not good for my overall health – including my diabetes.

So often I read about and hear about diabetes in purely physical terms. If I lower my A1c I’ll be good. If I try this medication I’ll be fine. If I add exercise to my daily routine it will help enormously. I will watch my diet and eat nutritious foods. All of that may be true but I find that a three-pronged approach works the best for me and for a lot of people.

It’s like a three-legged stool. When all three legs are stable the stool is stable. If one leg is off balance or two legs of the stool are off, the stool doesn’t stand straight. My best bet is to correct the situation if something is off.

Spiritually, if I hurt someone with my actions or my words, if I engaged in “a little gossip” about someone then felt badly about it later, do I ask for God’s forgiveness? Am I sorry? Do I center myself and get right with God? I can pray about these things, I can meditate and try to clear my mind as I vow not to make the same mistake. I want to be at peace and have good relationships with people.

The concept of the three-legged stool is not new. In business many people refer to it as Decision Rights, Incentives and Measurements. To give a short summary, Decision Rights means who is entitled to make what decisions?

Incentives means what does a decision maker get for making a good decision? Measurement means how do you know if the person made the right decision? (thebusinessofgood.org)

The concept of the three-legged stool is also used in theology. For example, the Catholic faith stands on a “three-legged stool” of Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the teaching authority of the Magisterium which is the Pope and Bishops. (medium.com)

The three-legged stool as a vivid visual analogy is often used in various 12-step programs. E.g., some people say that, “Recovery is a three-legged stool: principles, fellowship and Higher Power. If one of the legs is broken, the stool falls.”

That’s a good example but in terms of managing my diabetes, balance and success depend on having all three areas – the physical, the mental and the spiritual – in good shape.

Back when I was in college in the 1970s I read the book titled, “Be Here Now.” A classmate friend of mine recommended it because she thought that I was under way, too much stress. Or to put it more accurately, that I wasn’t handling stress well. The book focuses on spirituality, yoga and meditation by the yogi and spiritual teacher Ram Dass.

Dass was actually born Richard Alpert in Boston, Mass., in 1931. A former academic and clinical psychologist, Dass made a trip to India in 1967 as part of his spiritual quest. He was introduced to mindful breathing exercises, hatha yoga, and Eastern philosophy and Dass incorporates much of what he learned into this book.

I liked reading the book then and found it to be a good stress reducer. These days I say, “Be here now” when I find myself starting to get upset but I have modified it a bit. I like to say to myself, “Be calm now.” When I center myself I can steady any ruffled nerves. I can get back on track whether it’s physically, mentally or spiritually.

I’ve been practicing that a lot during these past nine years that I’ve been a diabetic and when I can say “Be calm now” and really mean it, my blood sugar level seems to balance itself.

I’m not saying that’s a cure-all because there definitely are times when medical intervention is necessary but I am saying that I use “Be calm now” as a tool, as one of many tools, in the management of my diabetes.

I like having calm, serene days so I use whatever tools are available to me. I’ll skip the anger and the angst and set my sights on being patient and tranquil. On being more laid back and tranquil. It’s definitely worth it.

Using the three-pronged approach to health – and doing my best to stay on track with the management of my diabetes – makes me see the world in a more welcoming way. That’s my goal – to see the world around me as a friendly place not as one filled with anxiety, ups and downs, and fears. I am much healthier when I see things in a positive light.

I have learned a lot about the disease of diabetes over the past few years. The question is, “Do I apply the knowledge I have as I manage my diabetes on a daily basis?” or do I want to rest on my laurels? Am I continuing to learn about diabetes as the months and the years go on?

These past few years I have had to relearn many things. I had to undo much of what I knew. I had to reprogram my thinking when it came to sugar and carbohydrates and I had to learn a very different way of life.

When I was a young child a bowl of freshly cooked oatmeal was put in front of me that was topped off with sugar and milk. As a child my family chose many different boxes of cereal that, looking back on it now, most of them had a high sugar count.

When my brothers and sisters and I returned from school each day we usually had a snack to hold us over until dinnertime. I would reach for something that tasted good but I can tell you that it wasn’t a green, leafy salad.

When my family and I had cups of tea on cold winter days on Long Island where I grew up, we automatically added at least a teaspoon of sugar. Sometimes we had lumps of sugar in the house and we tossed in two lumps and stirred the tea in the cup without thinking twice about it.

Hot summer evenings were great for having some banana splits or malted milk shakes with friends and as a teenager and young adult I never stopped to think about the amount of sugar in each one.

If we went out to a diner or pancake house I never thought about using the sugar-free syrup. Even if I thought about that the fact is that a plate of pancakes dripping with butter and syrup is one of the worst things a diabetic can have in terms of blood sugar spikes.

I never questioned it because I didn’t know any better. But now I do. I know how dangerous sugar is for diabetics and I don’t want to play around with that. It’s a fine balancing act because I don’t want my blood sugar levels to go too high or too low.

Today I am vigilant about reading labels in the supermarket and examining the sugar content. Yes, I am one of those people who stands in the aisle of the supermarket reading the nutrition labels on the back of the jars and reading them line by line.

Actually I consider myself to be hypervigilant because I know what I am looking for and I know how important it is. With the education I have now, I can consistently make some good choices.

I am determined to get it right because I don’t want to experience the wild swings of blood sugar levels that are out of control. I want to choose wisely for myself and to be helpful to my friends and relatives who also are diabetic.

In talking with friends and relatives who I know are diabetic I try to be supportive of them, their diet and how they are managing. I ask them how things are going and if they want to talk, they do. I try to be supportive without being too inquisitive.

How each one of us manages our diabetes is a very personal thing. The main thing is that I am there for them and they are supportive of me in various ways.

It works. After all, we are in this together! And remember, be calm now!

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