A HEALTH JOURNEY

Type 2 diabetes changed my life. Over 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. This includes Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. These statistics include children, men, women, and elderly people; and each day the numbers continue to grow (ADA). 15 million women have been diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. This includes Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes; and as you can see, I am one of these women. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2016. A person who is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes has an A1c or HbA1c of 6.5 or greater. A1c measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months.

If that is not scary enough, I was prescribed medication called Metformin. I had to take this medicine twice a day. Also as a part of my treatment, I had a care team. My care team consisted of doctors, a diabetes educator, wound care specialist, and a nutritionist. My treatment also included monitoring my blood sugar levels each day. I learned a lot with this diagnosis. I learned how to count carbs, the importance of weight loss as an aid to control diabetes, and how the homeostatic effects of taking the medication such as dizziness could happen as a result of my body adjusting from high blood sugar levels to normal blood sugar levels.

If that wasn’t scary enough, in addition to being diagnosed with diabetes, I was also diagnosed with hypertension. Yes. All of this was happening to me at once. When I heard the physician say that I would have Type 2 diabetes for the rest of my life; and there was a possibility that I might have to take medicine for the rest of my life, I panicked. Eventually, I accepted that this was the new journey of my life; and the quality of my health was in question. What was I to do? I had to take control of my life and change my outcome. I created my health goal. I then realized the realities of my health situation (i.e. all of the things that could go wrong if I mismanaged my health care or interrupted the process of my healing). Steps that would allow me to achieve the healing goal to ensure that I would get closer to my expected outcome had to be taken. The outcome for my change and for my efforts is to improve the quality of my life by improving my health.

My healing. I knew that if I wanted better health, the process of healing had to happen without interruptions. The things that I did to restore my health seem simple to do but there can be challenges along the way. I kept reminding myself even through the denial, even through the depression, and even through the fatigue of diabetes care, that I was on a path to restoration. And, I was. At doctor check-ins, I received praise for my changes- I guess as extrinsic motivation. But, I had no thought of quitting. I was trying to reach my weight loss goal, my medication goal, my A1c goal, and the goal to protect my mind and my spirit. I took the initiative to educate myself on my own about managing my diabetes. I ate differently by sacrificing some foods that would spike up blood sugar levels and substituting them with healthier choices. I shopped for my foods differently by looking at how many carbs were included per serving size. I learned how others were managing their diabetes by including myself in diabetes communities. I started taking care of my physical self by moving more and learning how to pay attention to skin care as a diabetic. There were other revisions that accompanied my new lifestyle. I made a choice to work on changing my old habits and to be intentional in allowing my new habits to transform my life and restore my health.

My health. I am still working to improve my health. When I accomplish one healing goal, I create another. I will continue to create self improvement goals until my expected outcome for my health is reached. I have lost weight since my diagnosis. I am proud of my accomplishment but the journey is not over yet. I am grateful that my A1c is no longer in the range of prediabetic or diabetic status. Therefore, I am not currently on medications but this part of my journey isn’t over. I make sure to get regular check-ups and to get my A1c checked two-three times a year. I also encourage other people who have diabetes in their health journeys. We learn from each other.

For me, my journey to good health has been managing my diabetes and to improve my quality of life. I See You Growing Life Coaching conducted a “Healthy Girl” survey to learn about the health challenges that other women may be facing as well. The survey had four questions, some in which multiple responses could be given. They were asked to rate their overall health, to name their condition (s), and to select their steps to restore. Ten women responded. Because I See You Growing Life Coaching surveys do not ask for identifying information, we can not accurately share any details of the demographics of the participants.

How would you rate your overall health? 7 out of 10 of the participants responded that they had fair health. The remaining participants stated they had good health.

Conditions. There are 13 conditions listed in the survey (heart disease, breast cancer, ovarian and cervical cancer, gynecological issues, pregnancy issues, autoimmune diseases, depression and anxiety, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, other, and none of the above). 40% of these participants had none of these. 40% of the participants reported experiencing depression and anxiety. 30% of the participants reported having diabetes and hypertension. 10% of the participants reported having gynecological issues and arthritis. Finally, 10% of the participants responded as other.

Steps to Restore. In this section, the participants had to select the type of intervention or the absence of intervention that applied to them (take medicine, surgery, regular doctor visits, inability to pay to see a doctor, other, or none of the above). 10% of the participants reported that they could not afford to see a doctor. 60% of the participants. reported that they regularly see a doctor. 50% of the participants reported that they have had surgery in the past. 30% of the participants reported that they are currently taking medications. Also, no one needs surgery at this time. And everyone has been to the doctor within the past year.

Steps to Restore. In this section, participants had to select the steps that they were taking to improve their health ( exercising, regular doctor visits, taking medicine, and managing stress ). If any of the participants already had good health, this selection could be made. Any questions about nutrition and mental health were excluded from this survey as an oversight. But as we know, it is just as important. 5 out of 10 participants responded that they have started exercising more. 5 out of 10 participants responded they are having regular doctor visits. 3 out of 10 participants responded that they have started taking their medicine. 4 out of 10 of the participants responded that they are managing their stress. 2 out of 10 participants responded that they have good health.

The goal of the survey was to raise awareness. As we see from looking at the survey data, women are taking control of their health first by knowing what issues they are faced with-if any. They are able to look at their current reality about their own health journeys (i.e. access to health care, healthy choices, etc.). Finally, they are able to applaud their efforts and to continue to have healthy outcomes. I intend to.

Resources. The Office of Women’s Health is a good resource. It covers a multitude of health-related topics that are unique to all women.

If you have diabetes like me, the American Diabetes Association is a good resource for education and the latest issues associated with diabetes.

The American Heart Association is a good resource for hypertension and conditions of the heart.

The Center for Disease Control also has a multitude of resources for different health conditions and diseases.

GoodRX can help with medications and prescriptions

Using a budget to pay for medical care is important if you do not have health insurance. Find out the price of how much a doctor visit costs before you go. Alert the doctor office that you are a self-pay. Apply for medicaid through your state government program to see if you qualify.

As a part of my testimony, taking care of myself required strategy and sacrifice. This included planning for medical care, funding medical care, home care intervention, and a continuity of care. Diabetes came into my life but I decided not to allow it to control my life. And this choice changed my life for the rest of my life.

References:

Statistics about Diabetes. ADA, http://www.diabetes.org

American Heart Association, AHA, http://www.heart.org

Women’s Health; CDC Women’s Health, www. cdc.gov

Directory of Local Health Department, http://www.naccho.org

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THE TOOLS WE USE

It is important for empowered women to rely on the tools in their toolboxes to encourage insightful change and to produce achievable outcomes. It has come to my attention that the word, “toolbox” is a term, object, or function that is most prevalent in a male-dominated society but as always, I have a story to tell. And yes, it literally talks about tools to be used to provide a better understanding of the figurative interpretation of the word, “toolbox”.

When I started this life coaching business, I decided that I needed an office. So, I bought a desk. The assembly of the desk was easy enough. I only had to follow the instructions on the instruction manual and use the parts and tools that were provided. The tool that was provided included a funny looking wrench (I think) and it also required a screwdriver. I couldn’t use any screwdriver, it had to be a Phillip’s screwdriver (has two blades in a shape of a cross). I knew that if I wanted to successfully assemble my office desk, it would be fruitless to try to use any other screwdriver on a screw that is designed for a a screwdriver that has two blades and that is in a shape of a cross. Most importantly, the tool (screwdriver) that I used didn’t care if it was handled by a man or woman ( I know. I just personified this inanimate object but you get the gist.) Being a man or woman did not stop the fact that my office desk was completely assembled. My toolbox is unique to me. And the tools that I use from the toolbox are unique to my determination in producing achievable outcomes.

This month’s survey was entitled, “ICU Growing Looks in the Toolbox. The purpose of the survey was to help us to identify the tools in our own toolboxes. This survey was sent to several people but only 3 responses were recorded. If you are interested in completing the survey, click on the link above. The survey consisted of six questions. First question: When you think of a toolbox, what comes to mind? Next question: Do you know the tools that are in your toolbox? Third question: Select from this list the tools that are currently in your toolbox. Next question: Which tools in your toolbox have been frequently used? Fifth question: Which tools in your toolbox have been underutilized? Last question: How has utilizing the tools in your toolbox shaped your life?

When you think of a toolbox, what comes to mind? Of the recorded responses, 2/3 of the participants answered a set of skills or competencies. 100% of the participants answered that the toolbox was something to organize and to carry tools.

Do you know the tools in your toolbox?

Of the recorded responses, 1/3 of the participants answered yes. 1/3 answered no. 1/3 answered maybe.

Select from this list the tools that are currently in your toolbox.

There were 14 skills for participants to choose from. Of course they could choose more than one skill. I think we have both innate skills and acquired skills. Participants also had the option to list a tool in which they possess that is indicated in the survey. The listed skills were intuition, social networking, creativity, humility, linguistic intelligence, emotional intelligence, empathy, accountability, perseverance, respect (including self respect), positive thinking, resiliency, technology savvy, business savvy, and conflict resolution. One of the skills listed for the “Other” category was hope. Yes. There are hard and soft skills present in this list. Of course there are other skill sets that can be included as well. And, the survey says….

1/3 of the participants said they had intuition, humility, emotional intelligence, technology savvy, and business savvy in their toolboxes. 2/3 of the participants said they had linguistic intelligence, empathy, accountability, respect, and positive thinking in their toolboxes. 100% of the participants said they had creativity, perseverance, and resiliency in their toolboxes.

Which tools in your toolbox have been frequently used?

There were varied responses when answering this question. This is natural because we are not all the same. We have different perspectives about life. We have been nurtured by different environments. We have all had different opportunities in life. On the other hand, there may be some commonalities in the tools that we frequently use. Perseverance and creativity were tools that are frequently used by 2/3 of the participants. Accountability, hope, and resilience were tools that are frequently used by 1/3 of the participants.

Which tools in your toolbox have been underused?

Of the responses provided, emotional intelligence was recorded. Conflict resolution was a tool that was indicated but no participant chose this option as a tool in their toolboxes. It is good to know that the tools we use can aid in our problem solving strategies. It is also good to know that the tools we lack can hinder our problem solving abilities. Social networking was another tool that was indicated but no participant chose this option as a tool in their toolboxes. This type of insight helps us to better understand the areas in which we need to grow. If no one chose this as an option, it can infer that when they decide to grow in this area, it will definitely be something that either participant acquires. And if it is something that they desire to pursue, they can take the risk and hone their skill set by engaging in prolific environments that enable them to do so.

How has the tools in your toolbox shaped your life?

They helped me to navigate through life. This is a response from one of the survey participants. When I think of the word navigate, words such as plans, directions, and guidance come to my mind. That is what I See You Growing Life Coaching does. It provides services that help us to plan our lives by understanding our current situations and where we want to go. I See You Growing Life Coaching serves as a guide for insightful change and achievable outcomes.

I have been able to grow, inspire others to grow and change the course of the direction of my life. This is a response from a different survey participant. I can see the parallel in the participant’s response when compared to the other. The benefit of identifying our tools is to know how they shape our lives. That is what I See You Growing Life Coaching does. We encourage every woman to embrace change and to expect growth. We empower you.

THE EYE-OPENER

Photo by maitree rimthong on Pexels.com

Recently, I watched a show on Amazon Prime entitled, “Suze Orman, the Financial Road Map”. And yes, it was an eye-opening experience. The concepts that were taught to assist in a financial check-up, to serve as a financial elixir, and to potentially increase financial health were retirement road, priority place, emergency fund lane, and the streets of truth and honesty. Well, it was definitely something along those lines. The funny thing is that this episode was a part of the 2015 season.

The things I learned as I watched this episode were simple. 1). It’s not enough just to know how to do something; we must apply what we learn with consistency. 2). Knowing our current reality and patterns of behavior are prerequisites for forward movement. 3). A change of mindset about how I managed my finances in the past was long overdue; and I am ready to embrace this change.

It’s Not Enough just to know how to do something; we must apply what we learn with consistency. You’re like me if you made any of the following statements… I know that it is good to start a retirement account, prioritize my spending, or to start an emergency fund or savings account. You are also like me if you have made such efforts and you were not as consistent as you could have been. Knowing to do something or knowing how to do something is only part of the equation; we must actually put forth the work to get it done. We must be willing to sacrifice some things, some patterns of behavior, and understand where we are so that we can move forward. Uncontrollable finances can cause factors such as stress, obesity, fatigue, working at dead end jobs that can all lead to epigenetic changes in the DNA. IF you want to know more about epigenetics and factors that can modify epigenetic patterns, please visit, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3752894/.

Know your current reality. If you research how much should we put back from each paycheck for savings, you will find suggestions such as 5%-20%. There is a rule of thumb that states that we should have a 50/30/20 rule.This is consistent among multiple resources. 50% of our income should go to expenses; 30% of our income should be discretionary purposes; and 20% of our income should go to savings. I think this is a good optimal goal to strive for if you can clearly see where your money is going. I implore you to figure out a formula that works for you if you are unable to realistically meet this goal. Whatever formula that you choose, let it be S.M. A. R. T.

In order for your goal to be S (Specific) M (Measurable) A (Attainable) R (Realistic) T(Timely), you must truly understand your current reality. Make sure your current reality is visible to you so that it is no longer hidden. For instance, write down all the bills that you are responsible for paying each month. Once you do this, compare this to your monthly income. Determine your debt to income ratio. Will you like what you see? If yes, determine your formula for savings. If not, it’s time to take steps to decrease the debt to income ratio.

I learned that the debt to income ratio represents positive financial situations if it is below 100%. The farther your ratio (%) is below from 100%, the less debt you have. In contrast, the debt to income ratio represents negative financial situations if it is above 100%. The farther your ratio (%) is above 100%, the more debt you have. Then, we can conclude that if our debt to income ratio is equal to 100%, this represents a financial situation that the amount of debt that we have equals our income. The strength of this position is that our debt to income ratio can quickly fall below 100%. The downside of this position is that our debt to income ratio can rise above 100%. Use the current reality of your debt to income ratio to determine your formula for savings.

Changing my mindset. If you are familiar with I See You Growing Life Coaching, then you know that we do monthly surveys. It is important to know how other women feel about topics that are important to women. It is important for I See You Growing Life Coaching to display this data so that we as women can continue to grow from one another. Education is important.

One of the survey questions asked if we knew what it means to be financially secure? 72.7% of the survey participants answered yes, 18.2% answered no; and 9.1% answered maybe. Remember, it is not enough to know something, we have to be willing to have a change in mindset so that we can manage money differently. The participants were also asked if they knew their credit score. 72.7% said yes and they check their credit score often; and 27.3% answered no and they do not check their credit score as often as they should. Knowing our credit score helps us to know our current reality.The participants were asked about the type of debt they currently have. 72.7% of the participants answered that they have credit card debt and student loan debt; 63.6% had medical bill debt; 27.3% had pay-later accounts; 18.2% of the participants answered that they have tax debts or payday loan debt. None of the participants reported that they have fine and legal fees or gambling debt.

Education and support are important. The participants were asked if they knew the difference between gross and net income. 90.9% answered yes and 9.1% answered maybe. The participants were asked if their debt to income was negative, positive, or zero. All participants were employed. 63.6% reported their debt to income ratio to be below 100%; 27.3% answered that their debt to income ratio was above 100%; and 9.1% answered that their debt to income ratio was 100%. The participants were asked to select their retirement accounts. 54.5% answered that they have a 401k; 36.4% answered that they do not have a retirement account; and 9.1% answered that they have a bank IRA.

We are still learning and growing. The participants were asked how much they contributed to their emergency funds. 27.3% answered less than 1% and 1-5%; 36.4% answered that they do not have an emergency fund; and 9.1% answered 5-10%. The participants asked how much they contributed to their savings. 45.5% answered 1-5%; 27.3% answered less than 1% or no savings account.

Growth does not happen without change. The participants were asked what steps they should take to secure their financial future. 72.7% answered they need to pay down debt; 63.6% answered they will start an emergency fund; 45.5% answered they need to start a savings account or find a new means of income; 27.3% answered they need to start a retirement account; 18.2% answered they need to supplement income. 27.3% answered that they need to do them all.

Embrace change. Aren’t we ready to do something different so that we can have something different? Expect growth. It is okay to say that I have outgrown my current reality. It is okay to say that I have outgrown the survival mindset and am ready to pursue a growth mindset. What needs to change about your current reality so that you are able to have more financial freedom in life? What environment do you need to transfer to support your financial growth?

As your life coach, I am ready to reflect and answer these questions. I will examine my responses and be S.M.A.R.T. I will look for help. I will show a willingness to change.

Think ABout it

Recently, I See You Growing Life Coaching had a group of women to complete a survey entitled, “Thinkers Think”. This survey was inspired by a YouTube video, “5 Types of Creative Thinkers”. The types of thinking outlined in the video were lateral, inspirational, divergent, systematic, and aesthetical. The description of each thinking style was also provided in the video.

The participants of the survey were asked to watch the quick, three minute video and then complete the survey. They had only one question to answer, “Which type of thinker are you?”

Understanding how we think about things enables us to become better problem solvers. This awareness releases a type of clarity that may prove beneficial in the long run. One thing that has a possibility for a greater clarity is understanding that each of us are very unique and we have our own ways of approaching problems and other situations. Wouldn’t it be dull if we all thought the same or acted the same? This type of oneness could potentially handicap our abilities for expression.

Think about it….expressions are important for understanding others behaviors, their needs, their thoughts, and their feelings. Before children are able to talk, they point and give other gestures to express their wants and needs. Until then, parents have to use their observation skills to determine the needs of the child.

Think about it….expressions are unique to our own individuality. Our expressions derive from our mannerisms, our experiences, and cultural expectations. They are embedded in our personality types, environmental influences and environmental stressors.

Think about it….the uniqueness of our expressions are often made manifest through our creative styles. This may be seen in our fashion, paintings, music, dance, song, writing, decorations, and relationships. The amazing part of this discovery is that it all stems from our thinking and our imagination.

I can imagine that someone may watch the video and find that they can identify with more than one type of creative thinking style. Choose the type of thinking style that comes first to your mind. What if you found yourself to be one type of thinker but wanted to transform into a different type of thinker? Is this possible? I See You Growing Life Coaching cannot expertly answer this question but exposure may be a step in the right direction. On YouTube, there are thinking games that you can play that will help you to think in different ways, simpler ways, unique ways, creative ways; and that challenge you to not to overthink things.

I See You Growing Life Coaching will make the claim that in order to embrace change and to experience growth, mindsets must change. This sometimes means to change our way of thinking or reframing thinking. Reframing provides an opportunity to change our behaviors. A change of behavior happens when we remove harmful, fruitless thoughts in which we have become accustomed and that hinder our creative thinking. And, we replace them with thoughts that are fresh, beneficial, bring growth, and aid our unique expressions.

Without embracing changes in how we think, our unique expressions (our creative thinking abilities) suffer. We sometimes allow damaging beliefs to keep us stuck in the same position, we become too afraid of change, and we refuse to take risks. Every expression that we make will show how we think.

If you are interested in learning more about your creative thinking style, please visit 5 Types of Creative Thinking.

TRYING NEW THINGS

The thought of trying new things can be courageous or frightening. But….what would our lives be like if we did not try new things? For instance, if we did not try driving, we would have to walk everywhere or find other modes of transportation. We would be immobile or have limited mobility if we did not learn to walk as babies. We would get around by¬† crawling or carefully holding on to sturdy objects to cruise along.

Holding on to sturdy objects to cruise along happens because it is safe. The baby is learning to experience upright movement without feeling the loss of control. They simply do not want to fall. They continue to hold on until they are able to walk from one end of the object to the other, walk around the corner of the object, or until they find the courage to take steps without holding on.

Learning to experience upright movement without feeling the loss of control is an idea of what it means to be in the comfort zone. The comfort zone is the place or situation where we feel safe and in control. What is your comfort zone? What is your safe place? Is it staying on a job that no longer fulfills your life’s purpose just to make a living? Is it staying in an incompatible relationship? Is it staying stuck in the same routine? Or…is it something else?

As you ponder about your safe place, consider this. It is important for us to draw on experiences gained from past experiences. These experiences make us feel secure, intelligent, capable, and sustained. But, isn’t it worth the risk to let go or leave behind the familiar and take the risk that will get you closer to the life that you want to live?

In contrast, new experiences can make us feel afraid and anxious. We lack confidence because we have no experience to draw from. Naturally, we sometimes reject the unfamiliar. Unfamiliar places and situations make us feel that we are in someone else’s power and control -especially when they know what we do not or their capabilities supersede ours. Yes. We have made it to the fear zone. We avoid handling tough situations and make excuses as to why tasks are incomplete.

Who knew that the idea of a comfort zone was multifaceted? Each stage can be seen as an ongoing cyclic process as we continue to grow, learn about ourselves, and try new experiences.

Looking at this image, it seems that in order to move past our levels of comfort, we have to be willing to take risks and be willing to address those things that put or keep us in the fear zone. Of course, taking risks can be frightening because we do not know what to expect, additional responsibilities may be required of us; and we may be forced to change our habits. We cannot stay in the fear zone. How do we keep moving? We must be willing to continue to learn and to grow. We will have to embrace the unfamiliar.

I remember solving a math problem in which I was not quite familiar. Initially, it appeared to be tough. I felt that I had no experience to draw from in order to solve this math problem. I began to wonder if I had learned this concept in school and forgot to grasp it. Before I made it to the thought that questioned my intelligence, I had to determine what I was willing to do. First, I was willing to be persistent enough to solve the problem. Second, I was willing to acknowledge that I was unsure if I had the skills to solve the problem because no matter how I tried, I was not drawing from any experiences. Third, I knew that I had to educate myself about the concept in order to solve the problem. Lastly, I was willing to continue to practice solving such problems so that this would be a new skill for me to draw from in the future of problem solving. Does any of this sound familiar to you? Can you relate that when problems become too challenging for you to deal with, it is important to take the time to acquire new skills and extend your comfort zone? If you agree, your mindset has moved beyond the fear zone and has entered into the learning zone.

As we continue to learn, we continue to grow. In order for learning to be meaningful, we must understand how we learn. How do you learn? Do you learn by seeing? Hearing? Or, doing? However you learn, it is important to utilize your learning style in a way to assist your growth. In the growth zone, we grow by finiding our purpose. We grow as we pursue and live dreams.. We set new goals to avoid being stuck on this level Finally, we conquer objectives.

Being stuck on one level is the opposite of the growth zone. The danger of making it to this growth zone level is not knowing that once you get here, the process must start over in order to prevent being stuck in a new comfort zone. If we go back to the example of the baby who is holding on to sturdy objects to cruise along because it is safe and learn that she finally let go and tried something new-walking, we will understand that the objective has been conquered. But, if the next objective is for her to climb, she has to start her process over because she has no prior experience to draw from. So the fear starts again because she doesn’t want to fall, the learning starts again, she starts climbing on objects when her parents are around, Her confidence begins to grow. As her confidence grows, so does she. New experiences are constantly offered, and the baby constantly tries until the next objective has been conquered.

If we stop trying, we stop growing. In the latest survey, “The Comfort Zone”, participants responded that 78% of us want to feel safe and in control. 22% were unsure of their comfort level. Let the cycle begin.

Indicators of the fear zone include lack of self confidence (12%); affected by opinions of others (51%); and finding excuses that prevent them from taking risks and moving forward (37%). I think that the participants of this survey made very important steps. Learning more about what frightens us and keeps us from moving forward is empowering. I think it also puts us in a better position to problem-solve, pursue resources, change our social environment to include forward-thinking people, and seek a life coach. The cycle continues.

Indicators of the learning zone include knowing how to deal with challenges; acquiring new skills (11); extending comfort zones by challenging confidence (11%) ; trying new things; or all of them (77%). At I See You Growing, we encourage people to embrace change. Each time we try new things, we learn more about ourselves. We learn how we approach challenging situations; we learn our level of frustration, our level of persistence, our willingness to be accountable, and our balance. Learning pushes us forward.

Indicators for the growth zone include a willingness to pursue and find purpose (22%); to live dreams; set new goals to accomplish; conquer objectives; or all of them (77%). As we can see from our data, most people want to learn and grow as much as they want to be safe in and in control. The fear and anxiety of trying new things can stop our growth. We are determined enough to not let them. We will continue to pursue our dreams. We are willing to move forward to comfort, regroup; and then move beyond our comforts.

We expect growth.