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Walking with Friends.

I think it’s safe to say that the threat of snow is behind us.  (If not, this cat is going to be pissed.)  And now that the weather is improved and exercising outside can be A Thing, I’ve taken to long, fast-paced walks around my neighborhood in the late afternoon, spending about 45 minutes each night clearing my head and lowering my blood sugar.

“Bye, Birdy.  I’ll be back in about an hour.  I love you,” I say to my daughter, kissing her on the head as I put my headphones in my ears.  “Are you sure you don’t mind if I leave?” I ask Chris, and he always says, “Of course not.”  But still, I feel like a crumb because I’m headed out by myself, leaving my family at home.  I’m removing myself from “family time.”  It feels like I’m ditching them.  (And I want to write that last part in a teeny, tiny font because it feels crappy to admit it.)

But it’s not like Birdy cries when I leave.  (To be honest, she barely gives me the time of day when I leave, especially if she’s eating dinner or watching TV.)  And it’s not like Chris can’t, or doesn’t want, to spend time with our kid.  The guilt I feel isn’t handed out by my family, but instead it’s something I apply to myself, rubbing it on thick and heavy, like sunscreen.

I go because I know exercise is important not only for my physical body, but to help calm the circus that’s constantly performing in my mind.

When I run, I like to listen to music that my feet can keep pace with (this is my favorite running playlist at the moment), but for walking, I like to listen to podcasts.  And lately, I’ve been spending my nighttime walks with the DSMA Live team (Scott, George, and Cherise, and occasionally Lorraine and Bennet).

Last night, I was listening to the most recent episode of DSMA Live, where the three co-hosts were chatting with one another (no scheduled guest), and the topic of conversation turned to self-care.  George, Scott, and Cherise were talking about the tangled web of diabetes life in balance with non-diabetes life stuff, and how it can be a challenge to make sure your own oxygen mask is on first, so to speak.

I loved hearing this concept explored, out loud.  Self-care is necessary for a healthy run with diabetes, but sometimes self-care is unfairly reassigned as “selfish.”  I feel guilty about taking time to go to the gym or go for a walk or run, but I shouldn’t.  I know I shouldn’t.  I can’t take good care of my family if my own health is compromised.  Self-care feels selfish when I’m leaving my family at home so I can go exercise, but I need to shake that sentiment off in pursuit of better.

In the chapter on Diabetes and Parenting in Balancing Diabetes, Melissa Baland Lee said this:

“I hope my child learns about self-care,” offered Melissa.  “My husband and I are from families where self-care was never modeled for us.  We saw a lot of self-neglect at the expense of caring for others.  Caring for yourself was considered selfish, but I hope that my generation of mothers is teaching their children that we care best for others when we meet our own needs, too.  I want my children to watch me count my carbs and go to the doctor and meet others with my condition.  I want them to know that we don’t hide in the dark with our worries or our obstacles.  We take care of ourselves so that we can live life to the fullest.”

Her words stuck in my head for months and resurfaced again when I was listening to the podcast as I took my walk.  It was easier to push any guilt away, knowing I wasn’t the only parent or PWD who struggled with self-care.

“Self-care isn’t selfish,” is something I thought about with each step, listening to my friends chatting in my ear while I walked, knowing my actions were rooted in the desire to become a healthy old lady who refused to give in to diabetes.

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Love this. I work out first thing in the morning because of the family time issues. Still, I’m off in Virginia for a clinical trial, feeling like I ditched family. At any rate, I’m looking forward to my afternoon exercise so I can clear my head and commit at least part of my day toward all-important self care. Thanks for the reminder.

    06/3/14; 12:04 pm
  2. Brenda #

    It’s an investment in your future! Plus you are saving them money. My pharmacist is often outside when I ride by on my bike. I usually yell out “I’m cutting into your profits!!”

    06/3/14; 12:52 pm
  3. Great post. I agree with everything…and I’d add that it’s not selfish to also enjoy this time. I think that could be where some of the guilt comes from. It is like feeling guilty for cooking a healthy meal that just happens to be one of your favorites.

    06/3/14; 1:13 pm
  4. ria #

    isn’t it part of being diabetic that we can allow ourselves (or not) to feel guilty for just about everything ? eat too much Guilty eat not enough Guilty test too much Guilty test not enough Guilty etc etc etc
    Never feel guilty about taking care of yourself .Your family will miss you and like you more when you get back

    06/3/14; 4:33 pm
  5. So true. What Ria says is true too, and I believe a good part of that guilt is caused by self care that is sooo time consuming and soooo consuming to one’s self.

    We have to be diligent all the time, holidays, vacations, weekends, week days. But we know that time spent exercising, like time spent with family and children, is not time wasted.

    And time spent exercising will help ensure the time spent with family is fuller and longer lasting. But yeah the guilt can be inhibiting sometimes.

    06/3/14; 9:40 pm
  6. Thanks, Kerri! Great conversation here. And boy, I sure do struggle with this. I think we all know, logically, that we’re doing the right thing, and that it *should* help us in the long run, but it’s still hard to fight off the guilt emotionally.

    Love the comments, you guys. Ria – you make me smile! 🙂

    06/4/14; 11:06 pm
  7. We don’t need the guilt… and stress, but it’s there. It’s like working and knowing my life may be shortened because of T1D, every moment becomes more precious.

    06/5/14; 7:11 am
  8. I’ve just recently started getting back into walking … but with 13 mos old twins at home with me, I have to be more like a hamster and walk on a treadmill 😉 But whatever works! I’ve been doing it for a week so far and can already tell a difference in my numbers. If my 6 yr old is home when I’m doing it, he likes to camp out in the room with me and talk while I’m walking. 🙂 If it wasn’t almost 100 degrees outside (in JUNE) I’d take all 3 out for a walk .. but for now, being a hamster will have to do. 😉

    06/6/14; 10:30 pm
  9. I’m trying to get back to exercising after our son’s birth, and it’s not so much the guilt as it is the time. I hear the tune You’re Gonna Miss This” in my head.

    And it’s also re-regulating for the hypos you set yourself up for when you add exercise.

    Exercise is great, except for that.

    06/7/14; 11:25 am
  10. Susan #

    “knowing I wasn’t the only parent or PWD who struggled with self-care.”

    You are not the only one dealing with this. And to be fair, moms who aren’t PWD deal with this too! Although for us it is even MORE important.

    06/9/14; 11:36 am
  11. BettyAnn #

    I raised my children before I was diagnosed with Type 1. As parents we forget to take care of ourselves, but it is absolutely necessary. Raising a family is hard work, physically and mentally. Enjoy your walks, the fresh air, the solitude. I always found it rejuvenating.

    06/9/14; 5:03 pm
  12. Julia #

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for the past couple of months. Thanks for always giving us authentic and honest reactions to life with T1. My two children were born when I was 25 & 28. I was Dx with T1 at 31. My point is that I specifically remember being a young mother [with no cares what-so-ever about diabetes] reading articles about *how important it is* to take care of yourself. Taking care of *you* makes you a better mom & a better wife (which is also an important goal). Now I’m 44 and I still feel guilty about taking time for myself to exercise, or just have a few moments alone – but I try desperately to remember – the importance is being a good mom and a good wife. Even if T1 never entered my life… the struggle would exist. Do the right thing!! Everyone you love will benefit 🙂

    06/11/14; 9:10 pm
  13. Jessica Romansky #

    How does one go about being determined to keep up with self care while working for someone who doesn’t seem to “get it” ?

    01/22/15; 1:37 pm

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