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Getting sicker in pursuit of optimal health: A lesson in self-love

As someone highly focused on my diabetic health, I've sometimes found myself ignoring unhealthy habits as a justification for maintaining stable blood sugar. Some examples might be skipping meals if my blood sugar is a little high, overanalyzing and fearing certain foods (which results in an unhealthy relationship with food) and missing out on certain activities out of fear or unwillingness to deal with how it will affect my levels. This type of living and coping with a chronic disease is quite normal. Getting diagnosed with anything you’re going to have to deal with for a lengthy amount of time will guarantee you to go through a personal health journey of some sort. The illness will stay the same but the approach will change. In the early stages of diagnosis there might be a period of denial, but eventually, many afflicted will want to try their best to manage their disease. I consider myself someone who is always trying to find better, smarter ways to manage type 1 diabetes and haven’t noticed until recently that in doing so my mental and overall health had been falling apart. Because my ongoing search for better diabetes management has been going on for so long, I didn't even notice the slow deterioration of my overall health and well being. Until recently, I hadn’t given myself the chance to breath, to enjoy being alive, to appreciate my body for all the wonderful things it IS capable of doing - instead of focusing on all the things it can't.

Our bodies are amazing organisms that do so many cool things and it’s our responsibility to nurture them as a whole. Everything is connected. Our habits become our lives. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. Many of us are aware that feeding ourselves unhealthy, harmful foods can be damaging to our bodies and promote the onset of disease. Our thoughts are just as impactful. Constantly fuelling our brains with demeaning, negative thoughts (which in time gets converted to chronic stress) has just as much of an impact on our health as poor quality food. I hadn’t realized that in order to actually feel good and fulfilled, I couldn’t only focus on food. I had to incorporate exercise, mediation and a better sleep schedule as well as actually making an effort to feed myself nutritious food that would benefit me beyond maintaining good blood sugar in order to make any real progress.

We are in the age of reclaiming love for ourselves and shaming anyone who shames others for their mental or physical state. Self-love + shameless living is all the rage. I am totally supportive of this new movement and believe that it is going to give future generations more confidence and support. Growing up with technology has made a social experiment of my generation. Constantly comparing ourselves, inundated with an abundance of images telling us how we should look, feel, think, live… etc. It’s been interesting and heart-breaking to see the repercussions and effects the birth and growth that social media has had in the past 20 years. The rise of eating disorders, mental health problems and suicide can be linked directly to the social media boom.

As much harm as social media has done to our generation, it has also impacted us in a positive way. It truly is a double-edged sword. The ability to connect with others from all around the world has made it easier to cope with whatever problems people are facing. For me personally I don’t have any friends in my city with type 1 diabetes and having the ability to connect with type 1 diabetics around the world is so comforting. Knowing I’m not alone and there are people that are going through the same struggles I am has been life changing. That being said, despite having it’s positives, it still is a dangerous game when it comes to genuine health and non ambiguous self love.

So if you are feeling like you’re in a rut. First off, don’t worry about it. Life can’t be great 100% of the time. It takes us being low to truly appreciate the good days.

Secondly, getting yourself to a better place takes WORK. If you’ve been feeling down for a while, you can’t expect to just wake up one morning and feel like a million bucks. If you treat your mental and physical self with as much respect as you are capable of giving, you will be rewarded. At first, it may feel like sooo much freaking effort to actually take control of your health, but start small, try to remind yourself that if you did 1% better then yesterday, you are making progress. Actually getting enough sleep, making sure you’re eating healthy and consistently, taking time out of your day for your mental health, doing something physical, nurturing your passions… these things take time and dedication. It’s not enough to sit in front of the mirror and tell yourself positive mantras (trust me Ive tried that), you need to take action. Self-Love means giving yourself the best opportunity you have at life. Think of loving someone else and being in a relationship - that shit takes time and effort. It might be hard to get started and feel like such a drag but YOU ARE WORTH IT. Tear yourself away from your phone for a couple hours and go do something for you. If you’re still wondering why it’s important for you to love yourself it’s because you are amazing, beautiful, unique, interesting, and no one has the same capabilities that your brain has, you deserve every ounce of love. The world loves you, now go love yourself.

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