If I’m being entirely honest here, I’ve never been a big fitness person.
I never felt comfortable playing sports at school. My school wasn’t very supportive of amateurs. We were rarely taught how to play sports. Many other kids had grown up playing for their local sporting teams, so at school it was assumed that we knew how to play. There was always a culture of winning, and having the best people on the team. It could never just be about having a go, and having fun.
I would always dread High School Phys Ed class. I would use every opportunity to excuse myself from changing into uniform and participating. I always made it clear that I was no good when it was sign up time for the Sports or Swimming Carnivals. I would come along and sit in the stands all day, just so that it would be on my attendance record.
I’ve wanted to love fitness over the years, badly. I always felt like I was an unhealthy person as I went through school, just because I preferred books and computers to sports shoes.
It’s not like I haven’t tried, either.
I attended the gym on a casual basis for a while, but I never found the motivation or satisfaction to sign up for a full membership.
I’ve tried to get into daily running so many times in an attempt to get fit. For so long I have dreamt of being able to run a full lap of the park without puffing and collapsing to the ground once it’s over. But I have never been able to keep it up.
I am just not a fitness person.
“Is it diabetes? “Will it go away?” Those were the very first questions I can remember asking my Dad on that day in the emergency room back in 2010. When he told me that I would have diabetes for the rest of my life, my heart sank. All I could think about was where I had gone wrong over the years. Was I too chubby? Did I eat too much junk food after school? Was I too lazy? Should I have taken an interest in Phys Ed class?
Of course, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. There was no definitive cause of my Type 1 diabetes, and there was nothing I could have done differently to prevent it.
Managing Type 1 diabetes has given me a big boost of confidence in my health.
I have finally accepted that I am not, in fact, an unhealthy person. I also know that being healthy is not limited to a dedicated fitness regime.
It’s about good food choices. I’ve learned so much more about my food, even though I had a fairly healthy diet prior to my diagnosis. I’m pretty proud of the staple foods in my diet that I’ve switched to Low GI, including my breads, my muesli bars and my cereals. I’ve cut out most of the sugar in my coffee and tea, something I thought I would never be able to do. I now drink water rather than cordial. I believe that anything in moderation is fine, so long as I know how to manage it. Cake included.
I can also tell you what any kind of food I eat will do to my blood sugar levels.
Being healthy is about taking extra care of myself. When I was stressing out about a twitchy eye last year, I made an appointment to have it checked out right away. When I had cold feet in the Spring, I went to the podiatrist to be on the safe side. I stay hydrated, which keeps my energy levels up in a job where I’m active and on my feet all day. I start and finish work early, which gives me a few extra hours in the afternoon for my wellbeing (and all of my diabetes appointments!). I wake up, and go to bed at the same time each day. I’m also not ashamed to admit that sometimes I need to take some time out, too.
Finally, being healthy is about being active in ways that I enjoy, rather than forcing exercise on myself. Tracking my step count through the Health App on my iPhone is a task that I have come to enjoy. I’m always challenging my daily step count, which is often in excess of 15,000 steps. Spending time outdoors really calms me down. Whether it’s going for a walk on a mild day, cooling off at the beach in the heat of the Summer or simply sitting outside with a coffee.
Being a second home to a friend’s dog keeps me pretty active, too. I love travelling, and I hope to do more of it in my lifetime.
There’s also nothing wrong with being lazy when I want to, either.
Don’t ever let your peers, or your stereotypes define what healthy should be. Define the word “healthy” in any way that you would like it to be.
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