On Good Advice and Lasting Mantras

I read so many articles and blog posts on health and diabetes and technology and business that sometimes my head just spins.  But it usually doesn’t take too long for some sort of theme to congeal for me — some thought thread that connects to my life and inevitably to this exasperating health condition that permeates it.  This past week, the thread that emerged was words to live by.

Fortune magazine ran a cover article featuring a number of hot-shot execs talking about "The Best Advice I Ever Got."  Larry Page, the Stanford-grad founder of Google, for example, was advised early on to "look at the link structure of the web."  Good idea!Fail_by_paige

My personal best-advice-received was only a few years ago, post-diagnosis, and surprisingly, came from
a woman I barely know and don’t even like very much.  I was at the gym, apologetically trying to fit myself in to the front a crowded aerobics class, when this rather unfriendly Super-Aerobics-Babe sort smirked at me openly and said, "Be bold."

At the time I was simply annoyed and a little confused by her words.  But since, I’ve decided that’s about the smartest thing anyone ever said to me.  No more apologies for being who I am.  Having this stupid disease, I’m lucky to be alive.  Lucky to be healthy enough to jump around in an aerobics class at all.  Lucky to have been able to reach out to so many people via this blog and discover a whole community of like-minded souls.

To give credit where it’s due, the so-called "Glucose Goddess" Laura Menninger told me several years ago that she feels the same way about her diabetes.  The mantra she lives by is "accept no limitations."  That I also aspire to.

I know that it’s sometimes hard to swallow all this "make the best of your chronic illness" dogma.  But as Birdie over at Aiming for Grace points out, if nothing else, having diabetes forces the opportunity to pay close attention to your body, to your health, and ultimately, to life itself.  One might call this practicing extreme self-care (I need to check out that book by Cheryl Richardson).

Meanwhile, I was giving some thought to actual mantras — those repeated incantations that help us conjure up energy in the face of adversity.  Whenever I tackle a difficult workout, when I’m panting and ranting as I jog up that last leg of a hill, for example, or gritting my teeth on those last 5 miles of my bike ride, I find that whispering this mantra to myself helps: "failure is not an option."  I REFUSE to stop running and walk.  I REFUSE to cut the bike ride short. I REFUSE to accept limitations.

I love the way Ranae Whitmore wrapped it up when she was asked about her mantra for extreme weight loss: "be kind to yourself and never give up" she said.  Excellent words to live by.

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btw, if you’re really interested in mantras in the traditional spiritual sense, check these out: Mantra Therapy for Diabetes, a music CD; and A Boon to Diabetics, a book by the Swami Sivananda, including the Yogic panacea for diabetes (I kid you not).  Live long and prosper, my Friends.


19 Responses

  1. Scott K. Johnson
    Scott K. Johnson May 20, 2008 at 8:44 am | | Reply

    Mine is “I CAN DO THIS!”

    Great post Amy.

  2. tmana
    tmana May 20, 2008 at 8:56 am | | Reply

    For self-care, it’s that I wish to “live with (D), rather than die from it”; for slogging on in Life (not a run, a ride, but Life), it’s “Not Surviving is *not* an option.”

  3. CALpumper
    CALpumper May 20, 2008 at 9:05 am | | Reply

    Great post Amy.

    Here’s to great mantra’s:

    Life is too short. It is what it is so Live, Love and Laugh. (especially when it seems so hard to do).

  4. Erin
    Erin May 20, 2008 at 9:52 am | | Reply

    I did that with exercise, but I worded it differently. I would set the clock on the elliptical or treadmill or bike to 45 minutes and tell myself I could stop after 20 minutes if I really felt bad. By 20 I usually was like, oh, I can make it to 30. After 30 I’d say, well, 15 minutes more is nothing. The only times I ever didn’t go the full time I set for myself ended up being when I went hypo. (Grrrr.)

  5. anne
    anne May 20, 2008 at 10:20 am | | Reply

    I use mantras all the time when I am exercising, especially running. It can have a huge effect on my motivation and my ability to run faster, longer. I think “Smooth, strong, fast” (or whatever I need to remember at the time) with each word falling on every 3rd step. This is a good reminder that I should do this while swimming, too, since my thoughts then are more along the lines of “When will this be over?” and “Why am I not swimming faster?”

  6. Terry Keelan
    Terry Keelan May 20, 2008 at 12:01 pm | | Reply

    Every morning I sit on the edge of the bed and say to myself:

    “I don’t care if it hurts. I want to have control.”

    I stole the line from Radiohead’s “Creep”, but it has helped me focus, quit smoking and pay attention to my health.

    My exercise mantra is simply to count from one to eight at whatever rhythm I happen to be on at the moment.


  7. Susannah Fox
    Susannah Fox May 20, 2008 at 1:28 pm | | Reply

    I love that Fortune article! I can think of 3 great pieces of advice I received many years ago:

    1) Shed the childhood nickname, claim my adult identity (or as a friend put it, “Susy makes the coffee; Susannah runs the meeting.”

    2) Identify tree shakers vs. jelly makers (people who like to stir things up vs. people who like to get things done). Both are needed, but it’s good to know who is who at the outset of any project.

    3) Every day is a job interview.

  8. Lauren
    Lauren May 20, 2008 at 1:31 pm | | Reply

    “Be bold” is probably the worst advice I can imagine, at least for myself. The best is, “Stop, wait, think it over and figure out the most prudent way to proceed.” Not a very glamorous slogan, but it keeps me from being impulsive and creating impossible situations for myself.

    I have seen so many patients with problems far, far worse than mine. I remember my T1 diabetic aunt telling me in a solemn tone that I would probably have to give up popcorn, because it’s one of those foods that’s very hard to cover with insulin. I wanted to cry at the time, because I was 2 days diagnosed and feeling overwhelmed, but now I realize how ridiculous I was. I was also being ridiculous to think I’d need a day off work to adjust and feel sorry for myself. It was so much better for me to continue with my normal life, and just regard diabetes as another necessary daily annoyance. I have many moments of wanting to throttle people who say ignorant and hurtful things, but I try to remind myself how truly fortunate I am.

  9. Angela
    Angela May 20, 2008 at 2:34 pm | | Reply

    I especially like Ranae Whitmore’s “be kind to yourself…” I live by this. So I had a bad day and ate too many cookies. So what? They made me feel better and I’ll take care of the diabetes better tomorrow. I’ve seen so many diabetics who seem to enjoy depriving and tormenting themselves, but this mentality is just so destructive and unnecessary.

  10. Doctor David
    Doctor David May 20, 2008 at 9:19 pm | | Reply

    Great post!

    My mantra comes from Dune:
    Fear is the mind killer.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.

  11. jef
    jef May 21, 2008 at 12:45 am | | Reply

    I usually have a mantra of, “Keep it together” when I’m really low and need to stay focused on getting something into my system.

    I basically will myself not to black out and get the task at hand done. I don’t recommend this to anyone :)

  12. Sunil S Chiplunkar
    Sunil S Chiplunkar May 21, 2008 at 3:50 am | | Reply

    Dear Amy:
    Your open-minded, lively, and conversational blog is always spellbinding like a mantra! Please find out about Swami Ramdev or Baba Ramdev – his Pranayama and Yoga – this Swami is mind boggling. Swami Ramdev is from India, and will visit USA – I think in June 2008. Please do not miss finding more about him, and if possible attend his Yoga science camps (usually free of cost) in USA. Bye!

  13. Sunil S Chiplunkar
    Sunil S Chiplunkar May 21, 2008 at 3:58 am | | Reply

    Your blogpost is spellbinding!! Please do check out Swami Ramdev or Baba Ramdev and his form of Pranayama and Yoga – it is mindboggling. He will be in USA, I think, in June 2008. This swami is from India.

    Great blogging as usual from Amy.

  14. Jo
    Jo May 21, 2008 at 10:18 am | | Reply

    We need buttons that say “Be Bold” on them!!! Love it! Reminds me of my grandmother writing SMILE on all the mirrors in the house.

  15. Michelle
    Michelle May 21, 2008 at 10:56 am | | Reply

    I have two, depending on the situation.

    “breathe in, breathe out, move on” is my standard one. to me it just simply says that I can get past whatever it is that’s irking me or bothering me (slow line at the grocery, or despair over diabetes in my child)

    and my second which was taken from a part of a prayer that I had heard once and this is the only line I remember, “I am exactly where You want me to be” in times of great crisis it has helped me to remember that no matter what, I am not alone and abandoned and that there is a plan for all of this.

  16. Weightloss » Blog Archive » On Good Advice and Lasting Mantras

    [...] AmyT added an interesting post on On Good Advice and Lasting MantrasHere’s a small excerptI love the way Ranae Whitmore wrapped it up when she was asked about her mantra for extreme weight loss: “be kind to yourself and never give up” she said. Excellent words to live by. *** *** ***. btw, if you’re really interested in … [...]

  17. Sarah
    Sarah May 23, 2008 at 11:42 am | | Reply

    I have to say my favorite is a Gandhi quote: Be the Change You Wish to See in the World.

    There is a ritual I created that acknowledges that time is all we have in the world, so be sure that the time you spend is on things that are important to you. I will log how I use my time at least one day per quarter to analyze how I am spending my time. Sometimes I find it is time to re-evaluate how I spend my time. It works with the above statement while it helps emphasize that if I deem something to be truly important I will spend time addressing and dealing with it. This leads me to the mantra associated with all of this:

    It isn’t what we say that is important, but rather what we do.

  18. Julia
    Julia June 2, 2008 at 11:52 am | | Reply

    I am addicted to smoothies, whenever I am streesed I have atleast 3-4 of them and put on weight because having diabetes I just forget on the sugar content and 1 cause of disbetes is stress(God help me). Just to let all of you know may be it helps you too….I have substituted Purple in all of my smoothies and now i do not put on weight as there is no suger in purple and it tastes great. You can get it at GNC and drug stores. I put purple in smoothies and alcohlic drinks if I want to have one.
    In case you people want to check out the site it is…www.drinkpurple.com
    Trust me I think purple is for diabetic patients like us so that we can enjoy without worrying!!!!

  19. Marion
    Marion June 3, 2008 at 1:03 pm | | Reply

    I am new to blogs and leaving comments. When you ask for a website I put the Drinkpurple website in the box because I don’t have a website.

    Anyway I wanted to comment on Julia’s post. I drink Purple also and I love smoothies too. I just wanted to point out that Purple is not sugar free. It has no added sugar but the fruits that it is made from have sugar. The antioxidants that this drink has are amazing too. They call it the most powerful antioxidant drink on the planet. It must really be catching on because I saw Paris Hilton with Purple on Entertainment tonight.

    This stuff really taste good and is really good for you.

    Take care

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