Sunday, May 3, 2015

Remembering to Look Up

With the threat of snow safely past us, it’s safe to say spring has reached Minnesota.  And it’s absolutely glorious.

Like many of my neighbors who seem similarly euphoric to be outside without having to wear a coat, I’ve been taking as many walks as possible.  In an effort to shake things up yesterday I went rollerblading for the first time of the season. 

I love rollerblading, but I’m not good at it.  I am graceless, my balance is non-existent, and when falling I tend to catch myself with my face.  I can only rollerblade on newer, smooth paved trails or there’s no hope of staying upright.  Despite the danger to my limbs, it’s a great workout and it’s pretty fun.

As I rolled along yesterday I enjoyed feeling the breeze, the tranquility of being removed from the noise of traffic or the TV, and the pleasant muscle exertion that made me proud of working out without the panic-related doubt during intense workouts that makes you feel like you may pass out or die at any second. 

But after going along for about twenty minutes, I realized I hadn’t glanced up more than a few times to take in my surroundings.  In fear of tripping over a stick, a crack in the asphalt, or Heaven forbid, a snake, my due diligence was robbing me of enjoying the natural beauty of the wetlands and woods surrounding the trail.  Was it necessary to stay fixated on the ground to prevent myself from ending up on it?

I continually struggle with the same question regarding managing diabetes, and I have yet to answer it.  What is the right balance between living a healthy life and enjoying it? 

More and more I am realizing that the two approaches must be integrated—that you have to discover healthy ways of eating, exercising, and thinking about things in ways that appeal to you.  When I used to separate the two and switch back and forth between the two--controlling diabetes or living a “normal” life—I never did well with either one.  Guilt or doomsday feelings of long-term effects always follow you when you live like a non-diabetic, and when you do try to pay attention to it you feel cheated of the “normal” life you still envision as part of your world. 

I’ve been working to find more ways to live healthy that not only don’t feel like punishment but are actually enjoyable.  I signed up for a couple 5ks to keep me motivated to jog.  I’ve experimented with different salad toppings and dressings that effectively distract me from my constant craving for a cheeseburger.  I joined a new gym (that I hopefully will actually use ;) ). 

I doubt, however, that the search for true balance is over.  It seems even when I am keeping tight control of my B.S. the energy required to do so shifts my focus too far one way and I don’t focus on enjoying every moment, or I start to envision false limitations. 

For now I’ve decided to take the same approach as I did when rollerblading: scan the ground ahead for potential pitfalls, but keep my head up and enjoy the view.