• Fresh Views

    Peaks and valleys in life


    “The Path Out Of The Valley Appears When You Choose To See Things Differently.” ― Spencer Johnson, Peaks and Valleys: Making good and bad times work for you–at work and in life


    Hilltop village of Eze, France

    Provence and the southern coast of France have long been on Tami and Deb’s travel to-do list.  From the beautiful Luberon valley and it’s fields of lavender to the hilltop town of Eze in the French Riviera. We look forward to sharing with you some photos and experiences from the peaks and valleys we encounter on this upcoming journey. There will be many amazing views and lots of time spent soaking up and “imprinting” those views.  As you may know, we use the practice of imprinting (described here in our blog) as a mindfulness exercise. When you are in the moment and enjoying a special view, feeling, experience etc., take a moment and a breath, to capture everything and imprint it in your mind forever.  Not only does it help you appreciate what you have and acknowledge gratitude in the moment, it also creates an opportunity for you later when life may be more challenging.  You can recall your imprinted memories when you feel overwhelmed.

    On the theme of peaks and valleys, peaks and valleys are a routine part of life. And part of life with diabetes without a doubt. However, when life feels like a rollercoaster and the peaks and valleys are constant, that may signal it’s time for a new approach. Peaks and valleys are opportunities for change.

    Let’s use continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) as an example that’s part of life with diabetes for many. When looking at CGM tracings, such as the one below, it’s not uncommon to see peaks and valleys. It’s easy to see those peaks (or time above range) as negative and a “problem.” And as for the valleys “below sea level” – that plunge into an uncomfortable low blood glucose – you don’t care for those either. Rather than thinking about these peaks and valleys as “problems” to be “fixed”, is it possible to take a step back and think differently?

    Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) tracing for a 24 hour period

    While  the many peaks and valleys on this CGM report might create a sense of frustration and fatigue, how might we use a solutions focused approach to manage thinking?

    We know from Adam Brown, interviewed in our recent blog on Diabetes Bright Spots and Landmines, that there are 42 factors that impact blood sugar.  Some of these factors are much easier to measure and manage than others. Maybe you’ve been sick or struggling with a very stressful life event. You need to give yourself permission to just say, “Some days diabetes is like this.  Some days I don’t know why I’m not in range, and I’ll see what happens tomorrow,” without feeling guilt, blame or shame. Sometimes it’s hard to really know what’s happening, and a “problem-focused” approach isn’t going to help.

    In looking at the tracing above, you see blood glucose in range between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm. That’s where to start. What was going on then? What can you learn from this time in range to repeat and help see more time in range in the future?  

    Let’s look at an activity tracker record as another example.

    Activity tracker report of steps taken over 2 different weeks

    In taking a quick glance we see definite peaks and valleys in activity. Rather than focusing on the “problem” of the day there’s only 22 steps tracked, (maybe the activity tracker battery died??), instead let’s focus on the day where there were over 13,000 steps! And the day where there’s over 10,000 steps. What was going on those days? How did this individual successfully fit that many steps in? How can that occur more often to help achieve physical activity goals?

    As you look to the next week, month, or year. We challenge you to consider peaks and valleys as catalysts for positive change.

    And check back over the next few weeks as we share some peaks and valleys that we encounter on our journey.

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  • Fresh Views

    Decision Fatigue: Tips to decrease the burden


    Photo from the gardens at Bed and Breakfast on Tiffany Hill near Asheville, NC

    When was the last time you packed for a trip? It can seem like a million decisions to make: How many days do I need to pack for? What will the weather and temperature be like? What type of scenarios do I need to plan for? What shoes? And the list goes on and on. Now, factor in all of the extra supplies that living with diabetes requires. It may leave you with decision fatigue and mentally exhausted from making so many decisions. We now find ourselves experiencing this first hand, wrapping up a million loose ends in the office and packing our own suitcases to hit the road for work, then for a few days of relaxation and beautiful new views.

    What is decision fatigue?

    If you are not familiar with the term “decision fatigue”, it basically means deteriorating energy and focus following a long session of decision making. It can result in making less than optimal decisions.

    Just day to day life may leave you experiencing decision fatigue…what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat, when to exercise, how much to exercise, how to remember to take any medicines  at the right time and in the right dose, when to check blood glucose, when to go to bed, what to do for self-care and stress management…and the list goes on and on. Various sources estimate that an adult makes about 35,000 conscious decisions each day. That number of decisions may sound unreal, but in fact over 225 of those decisions each day focus on food alone. We also know that if you follow all of the diabetes self-care guidelines and incorporate all of the related action items into your daily routine, it consumers over 2.5 hours a day! And that leads to more decisions. How many of the recommendations do you or can you incorporate? How realistic is it to try to do “everything”?

    Embrace a minimally disruptive approach

    You may have heard of the concept of minimally disruptive medicine or MDM.  If it’s new to you, it’s a very interesting approach to managing diabetes, focusing on balancing workload and capacity with the ultimate goal of reducing the burden of treatment of having a chronic condition. The idea is to customize clinical recommendations and guidelines and create true person-centered care. So medicine is not one size fits all. Making the conscious choice to individualize guidelines may help decrease decision fatigue. (This is just the tip of the iceberg of MDM, we hope to write more about it in a later blog)  Having to weigh all of the options regarding care, and making daily decisions increases the burden of living with diabetes.

    4 Solution- Focused Tips to decrease the burden:

    When there are many decisions to be made, sometimes it is challenging to know what should come first, what is essential to your health and well being, and what can you postpone, delay or decide not to do. You can prioritize your issues and concerns in order to design solutions that work for you.

    1. Simplify the choices you need to make throughout the day. Maybe it’s mapping out a 1 mile or 2 mile path so that you can go on “autopilot” when you go out to walk or jog and don’t have to decide where to go. Maybe it’s pre-portioning out a mix of healthy nuts (or other snack) into zip top bags or small airtight containers in amounts that work for you. Then when it’s time for a snack you don’t have to decide what to eat.

    2. Do hard work early in the day. This is a tip we’ve shared before [read it here]. The mind is fresher and more creative in the morning. Plus,it can help you feel accomplished to get hard things done and out of the way. Maybe it’s planning meals and making a shopping list. Maybe it’s fitting in exercise before noon so it doesn’t get pushed out of the way by other things that pop up during the day..

    3. Schedule similar tasks together. Take running errands for instance. Maybe you need to swing by the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. The pharmacy is next to the grocery store. You know you need to pick up a few things to have on hand for breakfast, so you knock out both errands at once and you don’t have to decide when to fit in the grocery run.

    4. Make the decision to get started. Maybe you’ve been off track with eating and realize you need to renew your focus on portions and associated carbohydrate content but just can’t seem to get started. Make the decision to start by downloading an app to help you get focused. Or start by making a list of foods you eat frequently. You’ll have that at your fingertips to fill in carb count for the amounts that work for you.

    No matter how rational or sensible you are, you simply can’t make decision after decision without paying a mental price. And unlike physical fatigue—which we are consciously aware of—decision fatigue often happens without us knowing. By reducing the amount of decisions you make every day, you free up space for the ones that really matter!

    Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month we wanted to share these resources about Diabetes and Mental Health. As we write and develop our blog and content we actively seek to focus on the need for tools and strategies to support positive mental health. Both diabetes and mental health carry a stigma which may lead to silence and not seeking help or support. Reach out to someone today, you might just be the one thing they need!

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  • Fresh Views

    Bringing order to chaos: A solution focused approach


    Photo from the home-front. Yes that’s a metal hanger in the washing machine!

    Does your life ever feel like this? This was what Tami found when she opened the washer after her son did his first ever load of laundry a few years back! (And don’t worry, he knows this is out there).  How often does life feel the way this picture looks? Things are all mixed up. Things are happening that shouldn’t. Things are where they shouldn’t be, or we don’t want them to be. It’s easy to let our minds dwell on those things.

    However, what if instead of focusing on the problem at hand and stressing, we focus on what actually is going well. In this scenario, Tami confesses when she happened upon this sight, at first she was mad. Then she had to laugh. Then she realized, there are actually some things going well here: He did his first load of laundry on his own! He knows how to operate the washer, and measure the detergent (there aren’t bubbles everywhere!). It’s all dark clothes – there are no white items in there. And nothing got torn by the hanger. In the end, it worked! The laundry got done. Now he can repeat (minus the hanger!)

    Applying this to life with diabetes, do you ever look at your blood glucose and feel like everything is in chaos? This reminds us of “John”…. a few years back he brought his blood glucose log into his appointment. When asked how are things going? What’s been going well this past month? He immediately pulled out his log and proclaimed with excitement…”Look at this one week!” All blood glucose checks were in range that one week, as compared to the other three weeks where he was overall significantly above range. Rather than focusing on those values out of range, instead the focus turned to that one week in range. How did he achieve that? What was going on? He realized that was the week he was on vacation! His stress level was much lower. He made the connection that stress raises his blood glucose and less stress means lower blood glucose for him. It was a moment of realization for him! And a driver of change to incorporate more self-care and mindful focus on stress management when he is not on vacation. He decided to use his Fitbit to track his sleep to ensure he slept 7 hours every night.  He also used a mindfulness app to take 5-10 minutes every day to clear his head during the most stressful time of the day at work. While vacation may be an easier time to take good care of himself, he knew there were small changes he could make to move more in the direction he wanted to go. He was successful in bringing order to chaos with a solution focused approach.


    A beautiful, and orderly, row of painted houses, Isle of Skye, Scotland

    Now we know what you might be thinking…….if only my healthcare provider (HCP) would do the same and focus on those “exceptions” or things that are going well too. Maybe you can lead your next medical conversation in a similar style to John’s? Before you mention a problem you may be having, start by telling your HCP what you’re happy about and something positive about your diabetes management. You can tell him or her that you’ve learned about a solutions focused approach that resonates with you and you’d like to try to do more things that are going well for you. (You could share our blog post about building a therapeutic alliance with your team!) When you focus more things that ARE working well, there is less time to engage in habits or practices that are not working so well.

    We know nothing is ever perfect and that chaos will sometimes rear its ugly head. That’s life with diabetes. So, when you’re feeling like you need to re-focus and reframe, call on those tried and true solutions that work for you.  Keep a list of 3 things to do every time you feel that you need more order in your life. (Re-read our post on making lists here!) Or try to see things from a new perspective. Learn what works for you!

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  • Fresh Views

    How to apply our solution-focused “Triple Crown”


    Deb and Tami at the Kentucky Derby a few years back
    (Look closely in the background and you may see a celebrity you recognize!)

    “It’s Breeding

    And it’s training

    And it’s something unknown

    That drives you and carries you home

    And it’s run for the roses

    As fast as you can

    Your fate is delivered

    Your moment’s at hand

    It’s the chance of a lifetime

    In a lifetime of chance

    And it’s high time

    You joined in the dance”

    -Dan Folgelberg’s Run for the Roses

    This Saturday May 4 is the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby! An event near and dear to Tami’s heart since she lives in Kentucky. If you are not familiar with the Kentucky Derby, it is a thoroughbred horse race held annually in Louisville, KY on the first Saturday in May. Three-year-old thoroughbred horses race for a distance of one and a quarter miles at Churchill Downs thoroughbred racetrack. The race has been run every single year since 1875. It is known in the United States as “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” (in reference to its approximate duration). And the race is often called “The Run for the Roses” because a blanket of roses is draped over the winner. It is the first leg of the American Triple Crown, followed by the Preakness Stakes and then the Belmont Stakes. A horse must win all three races to win the Triple Crown.

    While, it is very difficult to get tickets to the Kentucky Derby,  2016 was our year! We thought you might enjoy this picture of us in our Derby hats alongside the red carpet. Look closely behind us and you may spot a celebrity. Attending the Derby definitely “sparked joy” for us!

    Carrying through the theme of the Triple Crown, we want to share with you our solution-focused “Triple Crown” so to speak. (If you’ve been following our blog, you know that we embrace a solution-focused approach to living well with diabetes). We believe in focusing on solutions rather than analyzing the “problem”.  When faced with a scenario that you’re trying to sort out, the three key questions to ask yourself (the three legs of the Triple Crown if you will) are:  

    1. What’s going well?
    1. How did I accomplish that?
    1. How can I do more of that?

    Let’s put that into practice with an example around eating breakfast:

    1. What’s going well? Maybe you’ve noticed that when you eat breakfast, your energy and concentration are better. You feel better. And maybe you’ve noticed that when you eat a breakfast that has more protein and less carbohydrate (such as a boiled egg and a slice of whole grain toast with almond butter, instead of cereal with milk), you feel even better.
    2. How did you accomplish that? Maybe it was that you did your grocery shopping before the busy work week started, getting foods in the house that fit your preferences and needs. And you boiled a few eggs to pop in the refrigerator to have on hand to grab in the morning. And you set the bread and almond butter by the toaster so it’s ready to toast in the morning while you’re brewing coffee.
    3. How can you do more of that? It sounds like it’s related to taking a few moments to plan ahead. For example, Deb buys pre-packaged, ready-to-eat hard boiled eggs at Costco so she can save time.  In the end, these decisions help you achieve your goal to feel better and see blood glucose in range.

    How can you put our solution focused “Triple Crown” into practice now?

    When we hear the above lyrics from Dan Fogelberg’s Run for the Roses, we think of a solutions focused approach. In our interpretation, breeding is your “built- in resilience,” and training is needed to gain skills and foster strength, while something unknown is the solutions you can identify, with a little support, to carry you through life.

    Run for the roses is living your best life. You have one life to live. We want it to be full of possibilities, opportunities and for you to live out YOUR vision of your best life, fitting diabetes in along the way.

    In closing, we knew our “Run for the Roses” adventure was a once in a lifetime experience. But we enjoyed celebrating so much, that we put our solution focused approach into practice. How could we repeat the experience? In the end, it wasn’t going back to Churchill Downs, but it was joining the festivities and live simulcast from Keeneland racetrack in Lexington, KY the following year. Here we are with our husbands. Happy Derby Day!


    Deb, Mark, Tami and Mike at Keeneland Racecourse, Lexington, KY
    Celebrating the Derby via simulcast

    Deb and Tami at Keeneland, Racecourse, Lexington, KY

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  • Fresh Views

    Co-design: How we are engaging people living with diabetes in designing diabetes education services


    A new day dawning

    Please, let patients help improve healthcare. Let patients help steer our decisions, strategic and practical. Let patients help define what value in medicine is. –Dave deBronkart, Let Patients Help

    Imagine with us…… a square table. On one side sits the healthcare team. On the other sits their patient living with diabetes. The healthcare team has created a plan and program of great things for their patient that they think their patient needs…without once asking for any input or perspective of that patient – the one who actually lives with diabetes 24/7/365. What if instead, at that same table, everyone is sitting on the same side. The individual living with diabetes was included in the discussion and decision making from the very beginning. The plan and program was crafted around their input. That’s an illustration of co-design. And that is something we strongly believe in. What if relatable individualized solution-focused education services for people with diabetes were co-designed with people living with diabetes?

    What exactly is co-design?

    The Institute for Healthcare Improvement defines co-design in the following way: “Co-design involves the patients in the design process and works with them to understand their met and unmet needs…..This enables us to incorporate the patient perspective directly and immediately.”   In theory it doesn’t sound complicated, but it doesn’t seem to happen very often. The healthcare profession has a long history of the clinician being the “expert” and the patient being the one to “follow orders”. Often, programs and services are designed by the medical staff, independent of patient input. Some more evolved health systems are adding patient and family advisory councils to get feedback and input. However well meaning, they’re often not facilitated to the full potential.With co-design, everyone has an equal say in creating the solution. It is not spending time just getting feedback about programs you’ve already designed….it’s about including people in the decisions from the very beginning.  

    So instead of the healthcare team solving problems they think exist, co-design allows a multi-stakeholder team to first identify the problem that really exists and then develop solutions together. People living with diabetes know what’s worked for them and what hasn’t, and how they would create a program if they had the chance. This is truly a person centered approach to care.

    How has @AFreshPOVforYou been engaged in co-design?

    Supported by a three-year PCORI award, the Intercultural Diabetes Online Community Research Council, affectionately known as, iDOCr, was born (which Deb is a part of). The goal of PCORI is to help patients make more informed healthcare decisions by supporting research that compares the effectiveness of existing, known and proven treatments. All PCORI projects involve patients from the very beginning of every research study or community engagement project. With the iDOCr funding, a stakeholder group was created that represented researchers, clinicians, people working in industry, non-profit organizations and people affected by diabetes (people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes and caregivers). Both English and Spanish-speaking individuals were included.Together, over the three-year award, this team developed a research question that was important to the group with the goal of eventually receiving funding to conduct the study. One of the main outcomes of this award was very interesting to us….although the majority of the iDOCr patient representatives lived with type 1 diabetes, the team decided to develop a research study focused on type 2 diabetes in the Hispanic community, because that is where they saw the need. This is the essence of co-design; preconceived ideas might have encouraged a completely different research question. The team is about to embark on the research study very soon, so stay tuned for more information. You can learn more about iDOCr via Facebook, Twitter and read the Blogs here.

    We also led the development of two videos to educate about the use of person first language in diabetes.  These 2 videos “Why Language Matters” and “Changing the Conversation” were written and produced using co-design principles. The background and supporting information was first taken from the 2017 paper, The Use of Language in Diabetes Care and Education jointly published by AADE and the ADA. We wanted to understand how language has directly impacted people living with diabetes by learning about real world experiences. We also wanted to learn from healthcare providers how they used empowering, person first language in their practices. So, we developed questions and asked the diabetes community to answer them. We were so overwhelmed with responses that we knew people really wanted to share their stories about why #LanguageMatters to them. From these stories we crafted the scripts for the two films and then we sent the scripts back out to the diabetes community to make sure we got it right. Finally, the videos were filmed with those same individuals, not actors, but people living in the diabetes community. The amazing, talented and Telly award winning creative director from Mytonomy, Mr. Kevin Kuchar created videos that we are so proud of and really reflect the true emotion that language can create and why the language we use in healthcare has a direct impact on outcomes and well being. Read our November, 2018 blog Language can change your POV!

    How are we using co-design now?

    Currently, we are using co-design to help us create diabetes services that resonate with people living with diabetes. Our efforts began with a #DSMA Twitter Chat with the diabetes online community. Questions for the group focused around how diabetes education could bring them joy (read our blog to learn about this discussion). From this information we developed a survey to dive deeper and learn more. One finding from the survey was that most people with diabetes are not familiar with the concept of co-design, which told us that it’s not happening much in the healthcare space where diabetes is being managed. We’d like to change this practice and share with others how its done!  Our next step is to hold a focus group. Each step along the way, we are learning new things.

    We’ll be excited to share out focus group outcomes and learnings later this year. Stay tuned!

    As e-patient Dave said, we want to “let patients help” us move diabetes education services forward in partnership with the real experts, those living with diabetes 24/7/365.

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  • Fresh Views

    Relatable Individualized Solution-focused Education: A Sneak Peek from the @AFreshPOVforYou Retreat

    Relax. Refresh. Renew. Play. Sing. Laugh. Enjoy. Forgive. Dance. Love. Hug. Share. Kiss. Create. Explore. Hope. Listen. Dare. Trust. Dream. Learn. TODAY! ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience


    A view of the gardens at the West Baden Springs Resort in French Lick, Indiana

    Last week’s blog focused on traveling with diabetes. In that spirit, this week’s blog comes to you from French Lick Indiana, home of Larry Bird of Celtics fame, and also the French Lick and West Baden Springs resorts. Working together, but on opposite ends of the country, (Tami in Kentucky and Deb in California) means we have to be creative finding opportunities for in-person meetings. Luckily, things came together……. a spouse work meeting in Ohio, and a visit with a son the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University, created the opportunity for our first formal @AFreshPOVforYou board meeting.

    Over the past several months we have been exploring ideas around creating innovative diabetes education programs and services that are co-designed by people living with diabetes or prediabetes. Basically that means, we are attempting to actively involve people with or at risk for diabetes in the design process to ensure the end result meets their needs.

    If you’ve been reading our blog, then you know that we love “fresh views” and spending time together enjoying beautiful scenery and experiences.  We feel energized and are more creative thinkers when we take a break, are relaxed, seeing things from a new perspective, laughing together, and often with a nice glass of wine!


    Enjoying a horse and carriage ride through the Indiana countryside

    Over the past year we’ve been planning, thinking, strategizing, writing and sharing our ideas with others in the diabetes community to make sure we are on the right track. Incorporating our practice of using solutions focused coaching, we’ve been asking ourselves, “What’s working well for us and what do we want to do more of?”  On a personal note, a few of those replies include the following:

    • Do hard work in the morning when our minds are most creative
    • Take activity breaks
    • Embrace humor
    • Incorporate things that make us happy and that we find joy in
    • Express gratitude for what we see and experience
    • Plan for future retreats to keep us on track and advancing our vision

    We’ve taken a set of possibilities and turned them into opportunities and are excited to see our vision for the future starting to become a reality!

    Our March 20, 2019 blog shared learnings from a Twitter chat that we co-hosted with the diabetes online community focused around what would bring joy when engaging in diabetes education services. We had some insightful and amazing feedback. We decided that we really needed to dig deeper, and find more opportunities for people living with or at risk for diabetes to guide us as we design programs and services. So following the Twitter chat we released a survey (which is open until Sunday 4/21/19 at midnight if you would like to participate). There’s been a fantastic response. We have learned that many are not happy with the diabetes education services they have received in the past and there’s great opportunity to innovate and evolve. We had similar responses from both the Twitter chat and the survey.  People are interested in community and learning from others living with diabetes; they want individualized education and not a “canned program”; and they want to be an equal team member whose experience and knowledge is valued and appreciated.

    To give you  a sneak peek at our next step…..we’ve employed MDR Consulting, a national business research firm to conduct focus groups for us so we can learn more and identify how we might design programs and services that will provide relatable, individualized, solution-focused education (and actually bring people joy)! Our goal is that the voice of the person living with diabetes will be clear and lead the way. For individuals who choose to participate in our online focus group, we are offering a complimentary, 30-minute, solutions-focused coaching session as a thank you for your time. (If you are interested in participating you can complete the survey here).

    We are excited for the future and our next steps. If you’re attending the AADE19 annual meeting in Houston August 9-12, 2019, we’ll be presenting about applying solution-focused coaching tools to diabetes education practice. We’ll share more about our upcoming presentation soon. We are also in the planning stages to conduct a research study incorporating solution-focused coaching.

    Thanks for being on this journey with us. We look forward to sharing our goals and dreams with you and are eager for your feedback.

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  • Fresh Views

    Traveling with diabetes: Focus on diabetes management successes to feel your best and enjoy the trip

    Coastal view in Makaiwa Bay, Kamuela, Hawaii

    Traveling is an important part of our lives @A Fresh POV for you and we live for new experiences, opportunities to learn something new, and, of course, that ever spectacular fresh view!  It’s the time of year when many are on spring break, heading out for spring break, or have just returned from spring break. In fact, Deb just returned from spring break on the Big Island of Hawaii while Tami had a “stay-cation” this year. And so we thought it might be interesting and good timing to ask others living with diabetes how they incorporate travel successfully into life with diabetes.

    As you read on, you will hear from two amazing women living well with type 1 diabetes for over 55 years between them! They are both diabetes advocates and volunteer for the diabetes community. Diane Bajalia is a PODS leader in Jacksonville, FL for Diabetes Sisters (for which Deb serves on the board of directors) and Fran Damian is a volunteer nurse on the medical team for Diabetes Training Camp. Both find inspiration in their volunteer commitments, but also like to take a break and do a little traveling. They shared some tried and true tips for travelling with diabetes with success.

    What works well for you when you travel to stay on track with diabetes management?

    Diane:

    I suppose the first words of wisdom for traveling with diabetes would be to expect the unexpected and try to be as prepared as possible.  When I fly, my carry-on consists of extra CGM supplies, pump supplies, insulin pens, and a full bottle of glucose tablets, as well as protein bars and nuts. Of course, my Kindle, a toothbrush and some makeup are in there, somewhere, as well.  I also put a few glucose tablets in my pockets when I travel. This allows for quick access to treat a low blood sugar while either dashing through an airport terminal dragging a heavy carry-on bag or sitting in an airplane middle seat.

    I love traveling because it is a change of scenery that involves family, friends and fun new experiences! However, what I don’t change is my relationship with my diabetes and my CGM. I have found that I feel better and enjoy my travels more if I remain engaged with my diabetes. There are so many variables that come into play when traveling with diabetes. Many of them, such as flight delays, restaurant meals, and even airport security issues, are out of my control. However, I can be as prepared as possible and continue to use my CGM to Sugar Surf my way through a vacation. I can continue to walk or workout everyday. And I can splurge with foods and drinks and enjoy myself.

    Fran:

    If traveling by plane, I bring low carb snacks on the plane and carry all my diabetes supplies with me. I don’t check them. I wear a pump so I bring a backup of syringes and long acting insulin in case of pump failure.

    What do you try to do more of because you know it works for you?

    Diane:

    I know, for me, that it is easier to manage my blood sugars with smaller quantities of food at each meal. When I travel, I eat foods that I don’t usually eat so mini portions with mini boluses work best. I know that I have a better chance of an “in range” post prandial blood sugar by starting to eat at 80 and using sugar surfing techniques such as smaller frequent boluses or injections.  

    I also walk or go to a gym as much as possible. The residual effects of this are twofold: I feel great and I know that my blood sugars are going to have an extra boost to stay in range that day.

    Fran:  

    Exercise – walk! Find a gym – hotels usually have fitness centers. If traveling for work, I always make time for the gym. My vacations are usually exercise oriented. I don’t ever think being on vacation means I can take a break from exercise.

    Do you have any tips you can share with us?  

    Diane:

    • Easy access to low blood sugar treatment at all times. I leave tablets in my wallet, in my pockets and by my hotel nightstand.
    • Stay calm with airport security … even if it is time consuming, humiliating and frustrating.
    • Walk as much as possible during the vacation.
    • Try new foods and drinks … while keeping an eye on the blood sugar levels.
    • Splurging in moderation is the key for me.

    Fran:  

    I’m fortunate my friends all know I have T1d [type 1 diabetes] and respect my need to take care of it. If they don’t understand, they usually are interested in learning. I think it’s important for travel partners to know enough to help if needed, and also to understand there aren’t many foods ” I can’t have”. Enjoy foods and beverages in moderation, exercise, and check blood glucose often, especially if trying new things.  I really love having a CGM and really appreciate it when away from home.

    Do you stay with your routine or do you give yourself a pass and let go?

    Diane:

    I feel better if I stay with my routine. I think it is hard after 30 years to give myself a diabetes care pass because I physically don’t feel good when my sugars are too high or too low. It certainly happens, especially when traveling, but the less often it happens, the better I feel.  

    When I travel, I usually wear my insulin pump. It makes life with diabetes on the road a bit easier for me. However, on my most recent spring break vacation to Mexico, I took a “pass” on my insulin pump. It sat in a drawer at home and I went MDI (multiple daily injections) . Most of the vacation was going to be spent at the pool or beach and I didn’t want to deal with it. I used a combination of Fiasp, Humalog and Tresiba to combat my tacos and tequila. And it worked! DexCom Clarity gave me a “passing” grade of an average blood sugar of 116 for the week.

    Fran:  

    I like to feel well, and have energy, so I don’t push the limits too much. It’s important to consider high altitudes and time zone changes as both can affect blood sugar. Check to see how your body is responding.

    Do you find travel good for diabetes mental health and diabetes distress?

    Diane:  

    I find any type of vacation good for mental health in general. It is a break from the routines, and stresses, of daily life; it is a break from work, from laundry and cooking, and it is an opportunity to enjoy new experiences with family and friends. However, traveling is not really a break from diabetes. I have been in many situations where I have been unprepared for a low blood sugar (think top of a mountain in Spain), I have forgotten my blood glucose meter (luckily you can purchase those without a prescription), and I have forgotten a syringe to get the insulin out of the vial and into my pump (thank you to the kind Walgreens pharmacist in Milwaukee).  The exception to that is traveling to a diabetes event, a diabetes camp, or some type of workshop filled with people who also have diabetes. I have friends that live all over the US that I have met when traveling to diabetes events. Everyone understands the ins and outs of diabetes care and if you forget something, someone else has it. To me, this is the best way to reduce diabetes distress!

    Fran:

    Yes! Sometimes my diabetes management is even better when traveling. Having time to exercise, menus to choose from, and being away from stressful jobs and other pressure.

    Any suggestions for others?

    Diane:  

    Don’t let diabetes stop you from going anywhere – just be prepared! And perhaps expect a little of the unknown.

    5 Tips for Successful Travel with Diabetes from@aFreshPOVforYou

    We thank Fran and Diane for taking the time to chat with us and share their insights with you. Here are 5 travel tips that have helped clients with diabetes that we’ve worked with over the years to have successful travel:

    Tip #1: Wear a medical identification (bracelet, necklace, etc.) that says you have diabetes and notes if you take insulin. Carry a note from your doctor explaining your diabetes supplies, medicines, devices, and any allergies, along with the information for an emergency contact.

    Tip #2: Carry your medical insurance card (and travel medical coverage).

    Tip #3: Keep a closer check on blood glucose. New foods, increased activity, and different time zones can throw your blood glucose off, so check your blood glucose or CGM more frequently, especially before and after meals, alcohol consumption, or physical activity.

    Tip #4: Crossing time zones. If you take insulin and will be crossing time zones, talk with your health­care team before your trip so they can help you plan the timing of your insulin and meals. Keep in mind that westward travel means a longer day (so possibly more insulin will be needed), and eastward travel means a shorter day (so possibly less insulin will be needed).

    Tip #5: If traveling outside the US, make plans for temporary health insurance coverage if your plan is not effective outside the U.S.

    We embrace focus on strengths and things that have gone well, or “Bright Spots” as our previous blog post discussed. The next time you travel, whether it’s a short weekend or a long international flight, think back to your previous travel experiences and identify what worked well for you and times when you were successful. Start your next journey with that in mind. Try to spend more time doing things that make diabetes easier to manage, while still having fun and enjoying your experience. You might want to even consider writing down your diabetes travel successes in your gratitude journal, so you can go back and recall them the next time you travel. We’d love to see your vacation photos so we can enjoy your fresh views! Please share them with us on our Instagram page

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  • Fresh Views

    Diabetes Bright Spots & Landmines: Insights from author Adam Brown

    Finding Bright Spots puts wind in the sails, rather than constantly tearing them down. -Adam Brown

    Adam Brown  is almost a household name in the diabetes community! He is the Senior Editor of diaTribe.org and author of acclaimed diaTribe column, Adam’s Corner as well as Head, Diabetes Technology + Connected Care, for Close Concerns.  He’s the author of the incredible book, Bright Spots & Landmines: The Diabetes Guide I Wish Someone Had Handed Me,

    His practical guide aligns with our thinking at A Fresh POV for You and our desire to educate the community about solutions focused therapy and coaching approach. We appreciate Adam taking time to share insights around finding and focusing more on what he calls diabetes “Bright Spots,” while setting up safeguards to steer away from stumbling upon diabetes “Landmines”.

    Q1: What are “Bright Spots” and “Landmines”?

    Adam: “Bright Spots” and “Landmines” is a framework for evaluating diabetes habits and decisions.

    The goal with “Bright Spots” is to identify what works and focus on doing those things more often. In other words, “What’s going well in my diabetes that I should keep doing? What happens on my best days? What foods and decisions keep my blood glucose in the tight range of 70-140 mg/dL? What puts me in a positive frame of mind? How can I do more of these things each day?” Examples from my own life:

    • Eat less than 30 grams of carbohydrates at one time.
    • Remember why in-range blood sugars benefit me TODAY (I’m happier, more productive, in a better mood, and a kinder person to loved ones).
    • Walk after I eat and to correct high blood sugars.
    • Get at least seven hours of sleep.

    Conversely, the point of Diabetes Landmines is to uncover what doesn’t work and find ways to do those things less often. “What decisions do I make repeatedly that explode into out-of-range blood sugars values over 180 mg/dl or less than 70 mg/dl? What happens on my most challenging days with diabetes? What choices do I always regret? What repeatedly brings on negative feelings? How can I do fewer of these things each day?” Examples from my own life:

    • Hypoglycemia binge: overeating to correct a low, only to go high afterwards.
    • Eating white bread, crackers, and sugary foods
    • Asking unproductive questions like “How is this this possible?” or “Why am I so terrible at this?”
    • Using all-or-nothing thinking: “Well, I don’t have an hour, so I can’t exercise.”

    Clarifying Landmines upfront helps develop a plan of attack: What safeguards can I set up to avoid them? How can I build routines that reduce the chances of stumbling onto them?

    Most of us are very good at identifying Diabetes Landmines (mistakes), but we rarely ask the opposite (Bright Spots) question: “What is working and how can I do more of it?” Diabetes requires both modes of thinking! And since Bright Spots are often overlooked and undervalued, we must actively cultivate this kind of thinking.

    Q2: How does this framework fit into your book, Bright Spots & Landmines?

    Adam: The book discusses my own “Bright Spots” and “Landmines” in four areas: Food, Mindset, Exercise, and Sleep. I consider these key pillars of living well with diabetes. My #1 goal was to make this book actionable, meaning anyone can pick it up and immediately improve some aspect of his or her life: more time in an ideal blood glucose range; less time managing and worrying about diabetes; less stress and guilt; better relationships and energy and sleep; and a happier mental state. Everything in Bright Spots & Landmines has made a positive difference in my life, and most things include a small step that can be taken immediately. The advice has resonated with people who are newly diagnosed all the way to those with 50+ years of diabetes.

    Q3: How can people get Bright Spots & Landmines?

    Adam:

    1.     Download a free PDF version at diaTribe.org/BrightSpots

    2.     Get it in paperback ($5.78) or on Kindle ($1.99)

    3.     Listen to it for free at diaTribe.org/BrightSpotsAudio or buy it on Audible or iTunes

    Q4: The work we @AFreshPOVforYou are doing is centered around the solutions focused brief therapy approach. How does that align with Bright Spots?

    Adam: It’s easy to come up with a vague list of things I “should” and “should not” do, but Bright Spots and Landmines need to be useful. That means hitting three criteria:

    1. Specific and actionable: “Eat healthy” does not count as a Food Bright Spot – it’s too vague. “Fill half my plate with vegetables” is much clearer.
    2. Realistic and sustainable: “Not eating” does not count as a Food Bright Spot either – it’s impossible to sustain. “Eat slowly and stop before I’m 100% full” is more realistic.
    3. In my control and changeable: “Bad weather” is not an Exercise Landmine – it’s out of my control. On the other hand, “overeating after exercise” is a Landmine that is changeable – I can find ways to avoid it.

    Q5: Tell us about the 42 factors that affect blood glucose.

    Adam: Over the past ten years, I have worn continuous glucose monitoring for over 60,000 hours, run thousands of personal experiments, and learned from some of the smartest minds in diabetes. One of my biggest takeaways is how absurdly complex diabetes is; it’s not as simple as “eat healthy, take your medications, and exercise and you’ll have on-target blood sugars.”

    In reality, there are at least 42 factors that affect blood sugar – food, medication, activity, environmental, biological, and decision-making factors. Many of these factors are barely talked about (e.g., sleep), others are impossible to measure in any given moment (e.g., stress, infusion set function), and we never know what factors are in play in a given moment. Most of Bright Spots & Landmines is about minimizing the impact of those 42 factors. But perfectionism is impossible, given the tools we have and the environment we live in. CGM, coupled with experimentation and reflection, is an amazing diabetes tool to cope with this complexity. Get a full downloadable PDF explaining all 42 Factors here.

    Q6: Would you share an impactful story/experience surrounding Bright Spots that might resonate with people living with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes?

    Adam: The Amazon reviews tell some remarkable stories – people who have dropped their A1c by multiple points, who spend significantly more time-in-range each day, who have renewed motivation to manage diabetes, etc.

    Q7: What guidance would you offer for DEs / HCPs to focus on bright spots?

    Adam: When someone is struggling, the temptation is to focus on what’s going wrong and brainstorm solutions. This “Diabetes Landmines” thinking has value, but it cannot be 100% of the focus!

    A “Bright Spots” orientation – what is working and how can I do more of it? – is just as valuable (and in many cases, far more valuable). Finding Bright Spots puts wind in the sails, rather than constantly tearing them down.

    Here are some questions to help Find Diabetes Bright Spots:

    1. What is going well in my diabetes? What am I doing well that I should try to do more often?
    2. What happens on my best days with diabetes?
      • What do I eat?
      • What does my diabetes self-talk sound like?
      • When and how do I exercise?
      • How did I sleep the night before?
      • What do loved ones do that is helpful?
    3. If I wanted to have one of these Bright Spot days today, what would I do to make it happen?
    4. What times of day or days of the week is my glucose consistently staying in range (70-140 mg/dl or 70-180 mg/dl, depending on your preferences)? What choices might be enabling that to happen?
    5. What is one Bright Spot decision from the past week that – if repeated consistently – would really improve my quality of my life?
    6. What are some small steps that I could take this week to increase my Diabetes Bright Spots? What am I willing to try?

    Thank you Adam for your enlightening solutions focused approach and sharing your first-hand understanding and experience about how to live well with diabetes!  We agree with you that “Bright Spots are often overlooked and undervalued, (and) we must actively cultivate this kind of thinking.” At A Fresh POV for you our goal is to do things differently and encourage building a strong therapeutic alliance by focusing on strengths, solutions, and yes, Bright Spots!

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  • Fresh Views

    Focus on Solutions (rather than on problems): 10 Solution Focused Questions

    Our daily notebook that reminds us of our priorities

    Today we’re sharing with you the cover of a notebook we both keep on our desks to capture ideas and thoughts, and also keep us grounded as to what’s important in life. This week Deb is embracing the last four …Relax more. Worry Less. Play more. Work Less. It’s Spring Break time and she is taking a break with family (and undoubtedly will  have photos of some great views to share when she returns!). Incidentally, “Play More. Work Less” was Tami’s New Year’s Solution in 2017, long before owning this journal! (see more about New Year’s Solutions in place of New Year’s resolutions here).

    If you have read a few of our blogs, you know that our approach is future-focused, goal-directed, with focus on solutions, rather than on problems. Today we want to share with you 10 solution focused questions that you may ask yourself when faced with a challenging situation. Or, use with clients if you are a healthcare practitioner.

    10 Solution Focused Questions

    1. What is different or going differently?
    2. What’s going better?
    3. Think about the positive moments surrounding the situation. Suppose those positive moments were to last longer. What difference would that make for you?
    4. Suppose the positive moments were to last longer. What conclusions could you draw from that?
    5. What do you see as a next step?
    6. In your opinion, what would be a very small step forward?
    7. How great is the chance that will work out?
    8. What might be the next sign of progress or your next step?
    9. What will you be doing differently then?
    10. Who in your life will be the first to notice that?

    The assumption of a solution focused approach is that individuals have some knowledge of what would make their life better and that everyone who seeks help already possesses at least the minimal skills necessary to create solutions.

    If you incorporate these questions or other tools we’ve shared we’d love to hear from you. If you’re a clinician, are these techniques helping you to build a therapeutic alliance with your clients? If you’re a person living with diabetes, does this approach resonate with you and your needs as you manage your diabetes?

    We look forward to sharing some new fresh views with you soon!

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  • Fresh Views

    Finding joy: In life and through diabetes education services



    Tami and Deb “finding joy” in Glencoe, Scotland a couple of years ago

    Joy is strength. – Mother Teresa

    Today is the 1st day of spring! The sun, warmer weather, and flowers in bloom definitely sparks joy for us. On the topic of “sparking joy”, @AFreshPOVforYOU had the opportunity to moderate the #DSMA Twitter Chat last Wednesday 3/13/19. We had a great discussion that delved into finding joy in life, as well as in diabetes education. (We’d like to hear your thoughts too! If you’re willing to share, click the link to a survey here or at the end of this blog).

    This topic of sparking or finding joy, was inspired by @MarieKondo and her Netflix show about her KonMari method. Are you familiar with her and her wildly popular method of organizing, the KonMari method? Basically, it consists of gathering together one’s belongings, one category at a time, and then keeping only those things that “spark joy”. If they don’t spark joy, then you thank them, and let go of them. (The KonMari method also inspired us to get an early start on spring cleaning!)  Maybe you’re not into organizing, that’s okay. But this concept of what sparks joy…it got us thinking about how we could apply it to diabetes and explore how diabetes education may spark joy.

    During the chat, conversation began with what sparks joy for people in their own life, and then turned to when engaging with the diabetes online community (DOC). We asked participants to summarize in one word their experience with the DOC. Here are some of the words people shared: unifying, heartening,  inspiring, awesome, knowledge, enlightening, meaningful, village and yes, joyful!  

    So how can those same words be used to describe engaging diabetes education services?

    We discussed the concept of co-design and wanted to learn if people with diabetes designed a diabetes education program or service, what would they include and how would they design it?  And ideally, what would spark joy for them when participating in a service or program? We heard some really interesting ideas that resonated with the solutions focused approach we are incorporating in our services.  

    Here are some of the thoughts and suggestions:

    • Diabetes is more about the person, than the numbers and gadgets!
    • Experienced people with diabetes (PWD)  teaching newbies
    • Personalized, person centered, there is no “right way” or “one way” to do anything.  Let people choose from a variety of options.
    • Several mentioned meeting people where they are, focusing on strengths, and not worrying about getting “straight A’s”, but realizing everyone is unique
    • Use of technology
    • Self-advocacy
    • Focus on emotional health and goal setting
    • PWD telling their stories
    • Stronger connection to others with diabetes, Interacting with others who have diabetes
    • Be community-based
    • Incorporate personality questions
    • We were really inspired by the amazing @KellyRawlings who thought that “joy” should be one of the AADE7 self-care behaviors for managing diabetes!

    We observed an overwhelming commonality of people wanting or needing to connect more with other PWD as they are learning about living with diabetes. As we closed out the chat, we challenged participants to do something every day that sparks joy in life!  So today, that is our challenge to you too. Do something for yourself, or for others that sparks joy! And if it helps you, track your experiences and feelings in a gratitude journal.

    Thank you to @DiabetesSocMed and Cherise for allowing us to moderate the chat and engage in a fast and fun chat, it really sparked joy for us!

    Would you like to help us learn more about what would make an ideal diabetes education experience?

    At A Fresh POV for you, our goal is to co-design innovative diabetes education services. If you or someone you know has type 2 diabetes or prediabetes and would be interested in participating in a focus group about co-designing education, please complete this survey which will take less than 5 minutes.

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