How to Look Past the Obstacles: Use this mountain biking skill to live healthy with diabetes (or any life circumstance)

Mike_MTB_ColoOne day on a group mountain bike ride, I was flying through a fast downhill section when I spotted a large tree just off the trail ahead of me. I thought to myself, “That’s a big tree. You don’t want to hit that tree. Better stay to the right of that tree . . . tree . . .  tree”  WHAM! I hit the tree.  Fortunately the only thing damaged was my ego. As I dusted myself off and checked out my bike, I noticed plenty of room to the right of the tree. But that tree was like a magnet. I couldn’t steer away from it. Why? It goes back to an old adage:

“What you look at is where you’ll go.”

In my previous mountain biking illustration for diabetes care, I said it’s wise to keep your eyes on the path ahead of you and not become distracted with things that are not on the trail ahead. It’s easy to do what I did on my bike and get fixated on a feature off the path and end up hitting it. Other people’s misunderstandings about diabetes, fake cures, and diabetes-related Internet scams can all be large trees that are not on the trail. Don’t even look at them.

Mike_MTB_Colo_rocksThere are also lots of other smaller distractions that will take your eyes and mind off your path (sometimes they are even on your path, but you need to choose the right line around them–or bunny hop over them). They will also distract you from the plans you’ve made to live well with your diabetes. Let’s face it, we have a lot of things to deal with in our daily care for our health. Those smaller roots and rocks, tiny tree stubs, and what my friend Ed calls “sidewinders” (loose sticks on the trail lying in the same direction as we’re traveling; these can be really dangerous if you hit them wrong) can make you crash as much as the big, obvious obstacles. They may even be more dangerous.

You know: just a small bag of M&Ms at the grocery checkout (and then forgetting to bolus for it); just a couple of days off from my regular exercise, no big deal; just a few Long Island iced teas with my friends, my kidneys will be OK. Now, perhaps one or more of those things are fine for you; understand, there’s no judgment here. You simply need to know what’s on your path and what’s not, and that comes from wise goal setting and planning, with the aid of an endo, diabetes educator, or other doctor. You need to differentiate what is on your trail and what’s not, and then ride on from there.

Again, the trick is simply to look at the trail ahead of you (your goals), pick a good line (your plans), and then stick with it. Sure, you still may have an “unintentional dismount” (a.k.a. a crash) every once in a while. We all do. Just get up, dust yourself off, learn from your mistake, and ride on.

Keep the rubber side up!

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