This past weekend I was laid low by high blood sugars. It was extremely difficult for me to wake up on Sunday (this coming from someone who has a hard time waking up any day) and once I was up I was beyond lethargic. That prompted my son to ask if I’d taken my blood sugars that morning. Nope. Holy Cow! The meter said my sugars were at 236!!! I had flirted with 200 on occasion, but 236 was new territory.
I know from past experience that exercise can drop blood sugars pretty quickly. I usually opt for a bike ride, but I was visiting in Queen Creek so my son and I walked around the block. I figured something as easy going as a mosey around the block would result in a modest drop in blood sugars – nothing like my heart pounding up-hill pedaling does. I felt better but was out of test strips so I had no way of knowing how well it worked. I should point out that none of this occurred to me at the time and my son had to insist on a walk or I wouldn’t have done a thing.
That evening, after driving back home and then eating dinner I tested again and was dismayed to see that my blood sugars were still high, at 195. So we went for a walk….. My second “Holy Cow!” moment of the day came after the walk when I tested again. Sugars had dropped to 119!!! Like I said, I really hadn’t expected a walk to drop my blood sugars significantly, maybe 20 points. Granted, we walked about a mile and some of it was up-hill, but nearly 80 points? I was shocked.
Tuesday I read (or rather had the computer read to me) an article on creating rituals. It’s easier to do certain things if you don’t have to think about them. The prefrontal cortex of the brain is what we use to determine if something is important or not. The trick is, after you’ve decided it’s important, is to make it a habit – a ritual. That way the brain doesn’t have to think about it and you just do it because it’s something you do.
Research has shown that we have natural resistance to things and that it takes a certain amount of willpower to do something different – to overcome inertia. We have also discovered that each individual has a finite amount of cognitive reserves and taxing the willpower or reserves makes it more and more difficult to do new things. Only by automating various important things can we bypass the willpower/cognitive reserve tanks and save its contents for really important decision making during a given day. Because of these two things, the author of the blogpost has created certain rituals complete with their own timeframes for completion. For instance, he has established a specific bedtime and has determined to work out when he first wakes up. I have an alarm that “suggests” that it’s 10:00 PM and I “might” want to “consider” going to bed….. I always ‘considered’ it, but most often opted to stay up ’til midnight…. 1AM…. 2AM…. 4AM….. That didn’t work so well for me.
So, I’m going to make a concerted effort to have a pre-determined bedtime, predetermined exercise time, etc. Hopefully this will help me with my cognitive problems by not drawing down my brain account. It should also help me to keep my blood sugars in check by exercising consistently instead of randomly. By planning ahead to do certain things on specific days at pre-determined times I won’t have to think about them but will just do them by default, saving my very limited brain power for more important tasks. I’ll keep you all posted as to how I’m doing.