The Benefits of Keeping Track

By Pegsy Latest Reply 2015-03-12 23:47:56 -0500
Started 2015-02-24 19:27:37 -0600

On another thread, jayabee52 posted a link to show how he keeps track of himself with a written record. While I haven't been keeping as detailed a record on myself as he has, I have been recording my glucose readings and A1c regularly. His comment caused me to go back and take a look at the progress I have made. I've really done better than I have given myself credit for.

Seeing how much better I am doing now from where I was this time last year is SO encouraging that I just had to share. I get frustrated sometimes, thinking that I am not making the progress I should be but really, I need to give myself more credit for the progress I have already made.

Keeping track and seeing where you were and where you are now can be very encouraging. If you aren't doing as well now as you were before, that can also be encouraging. It can be the motivator needed to stay on or get back on track.

Over all, I am happy that I have made considerable progress despite a few setbacks. The point is to never give up and go back to old ways. To keep going and keep learning and trying new things that will improve our health. I tend to be very goal oriented. My A1c goal is to be below 5.7. I am currently at 6.4. I was over 11 at diagnosis. I know I was higher than that before diagnosis. I have nearly cut my A1c in half! That is something I should be very proud of.

By keeping track of everything, I have learned that lack of sleep and stress have the greatest impact on my glucose. Followed by exercise and finally diet. It shocked me to realize that I rebound from slip ups in my diet much faster and easier than these other three things. this info has caused me to make big changes in my entire lifestyle, not just my diet.

If you aren't keeping track over the long term, I really encourage you to do so. I keep it all in a spreadsheet on my computer. Some people use a notebook. Some people use a phone app. The point is to store this info somewhere and review it periodically.

If you are keeping track, what info do you find most useful and how has it benefited your health over the long term? I'd love to learn about other people's experiences.

33 replies

electricrd 2015-03-12 23:47:56 -0500 Report

My daughter was diagnosed a month ago and we are still trying to work out the easiest way for her to keep a log. Any suggestions on phone apps? Right now she is keeping a notebook in her purse and just writing everything down.

MarkS 2015-03-02 12:02:18 -0600 Report

Great advice Pegsy. A number of years after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I felt that I was in the twilight zone regarding my progress. So I started to keep track of my blood sugars on an EXCEL spreadsheet along with the time and any significant events that I suspected could be affecting my blood sugar levels. The nice thing was that I was then able to graph everything out and look for trends associated with times of day, issues in my life, and whatever else I recorded. Now with the Medtronic Carelink and automatic downloading of my glucometer results, that's all done for me and really helps to adjust my insulin doing.

Pegsy 2015-03-02 13:34:09 -0600 Report

As a type 2 trying to get total control through diet without meds, I find the spreadsheet to be invaluable. I am hoping to taper off Metformin this year. We'll see what happens!

MarkS 2015-03-02 15:21:47 -0600 Report

Good luck. Unfortunately, only insulin helps me since the beta cells of my pancreas have been destroyed most likely by invading macrophages from Star Wars! (okay, by my own autoimmune response, but it sounds so much more glamorous to invoke Star Wars and maybe even bring in Obi Wan Kenobi)

BB42 2015-02-28 07:37:46 -0600 Report

Congratulations!You found out a lot about yourself and it is so,so good to hear.I am sure you realize you are not alone. Lots of ups and downs with this disease but good life style chnages will always win up. Keep up the good work

Pegsy 2015-02-28 07:52:46 -0600 Report

Thank you for the encouragement! I try hard but get discouraged sometimes. Keeping track really encourages me to stay with it and do the most to protect my health that I can.

valentine lady
valentine lady 2015-02-25 20:54:29 -0600 Report

Hi Pegsy,
Very good discussion. Enjoyed it very much…I used to keep track of all my information but after 6 years of it and it became the same, basically. I quit !! After so many years you know basically where you stand especially if your complaint. Because of your discussion I plan to start a notebook for my foods I consume. Especially my carbs. Thanks for posting. Hugs, VL

Stuart1966 2015-02-25 19:34:28 -0600 Report

While emotionally I understand the attraction to this type of thing, I believe it is typically a mistake. Beginners the pure raw quantity of data one can gather can become literally maddening.

Small doses, particular pieces of the pie, sure.

But dates, time, grams, intensity, log books, flip notebooks, the backs of napkins, burns out more than a few. If it frustrates enough or habitually, most will not return to it because it leaves a bad taste.

Experienced of us, fine. Beginners ennnnngh (concerned cringing)

Pegsy 2015-02-26 06:18:02 -0600 Report

Yes, anything can be taken to excess.

Stuart1966 2015-02-26 09:58:01 -0600 Report

Where do you put all your data, and how much are we talking about: Food diary, sugar diary, stress diary measurements, types/kinds of insulin, times used, quantities of it, location of injection(s), time taken relative to when you eat… 2 hour readings, certain there could be a bunch more, depending on how deep one wants to go… how many factors one tracks?

Stuart1966 2015-02-25 19:17:22 -0600 Report

Hello Pegsy:

You have a very positive spin, on a road not nearly so clear! If you get GOOD results the tracking leads to rainbows and kittens… what happens when our peers get unwanted, unhappy, displeasing, bad results, whether objectively bad, or entirely subjectively "bad".

The sheer number of results outside the ideal/perfect has crushed the strongest of us over time. Those not nearly so thick skinned, or detached can be taught despair in short order, if events or the need for very different ones are strong enough.

Unwanted results are the flip side of serious tracking.
Hideous problem typically with our teen and twenty something peers. A problem of the entire approach to be sure… the pursuit of unattainable "control". Fail to attain it (some perfect/ideal) enough times… leads no where remotely positive.

GeekonBoard 2015-02-25 15:47:15 -0600 Report

Awesome post Pegsy & awesome work!
I, too, have made use of a written log of my BG readings & a nutrition journal. I was surprised at how some of my "assumptions" or thoughts of what was or wasn't healthy actually worked out as far as true numbers go. It is also good for me to see when numbers are improving even when I have the slight setbacks as well. Thanks for sharing & I hope I can keep up the written out journal to help paint a more clear picture of what all is going on, what I'm doing to help/hurt my progress, & ways to see that I'm improving - good stuff!

RebDee 2015-02-25 13:47:46 -0600 Report

My A1c lab is done every three months at the prescription of my endocrinologist. During the time between labs, I bring in my blood sugar meter and have the nurse practitioner take off the numbers so that my endocrinologist can see what I am doing. If she doesn't like the numbers, I get a phone call asking what I am doing that is different and telling me to stop doing it.
I also use to register all of my food and exercise during the day. And now that I have a new phone (Samsung 5) that will count my steps and show my pulse, I think I am set.
Now it is time for lunch!!! Have a nice day.

GabbyPA 2015-02-25 06:35:38 -0600 Report

This is a great practice and it does put in perspective how far we have come (or in some cases how far I have fallen) from where we started. I have log books of when I first was diagnosed back in 2008 and like you, wrote down all kinds of things to find out what affects me. It is remarkable what we put into our daily lives and even what we forget. What worked then, and doesn't work now as we have changed.

I keep all kinds of journals (pitty the family when I will be all kinds of dribble) But they are the mark of my life, and they show me so much about myself. Having them is a great reflective tool.

jayabee52 2015-02-25 02:11:24 -0600 Report

Howdy Pegsy
you have my permission to call me James.

I believe it is always a good thing to log one's BG levels and other items.

I know it was quite important, when my "Jem" was alive for me to record her BG levels several times per day and put it in a spreadsheet to send to her Endo especially when she had to take steroids to control her Lupis flares. The endo studied my spreadsheet and made further recommendations to her care.

I know it is important for me as well, even though I no longer have the intensity care of my Jem to consider. It keeps me focused on keeping my BG levels within a good range, even though I no longer use diabetes meds to control my BG readings.

God's best to you

Pegsy 2015-02-25 06:27:35 -0600 Report

Thank you for sharing James. I am glad you no longer need to use meds to control your glucose. I hope to get to that point. Keeping track should help me accomplish that and keep me motivated. My average glucose in February 2014 was 151. This February it is 129. I'm getting there!

Mallacai 2015-02-25 11:07:27 -0600 Report

Way to go Pegsy. keep at it. And thanks for the suggestion about keeping a record. will start one now.

suecsdy 2015-02-24 22:58:38 -0600 Report

I keep track of my bg in the little logbook that came with my meter and Bayer will send me new ones free whenever I need them. I also make little notes in my log book about the day, wether i'm upset or ate out; anything that might impact my numbers.
My Dr. has a very good patient portal that tracks a lot of things like weight and A1c and even graphs it for me.
There is also a cord for my meter that will upload numbers to the computer , but do not have it yet. There are so many cords around the house that I thought I might check around before I buy.
I would be interested about finding out about sleep. I know i am sleeping better, but is it good enough?
You're right Pegsy, I also have come a long way in the last 6 mos. I need to quit beating myself up so much and be thankful for what I have accomplished.

sweetslover 2015-02-25 07:25:38 -0600 Report

If you find the "sleep" answer, let me know. Last night I logged 2 hours and 45 minutes of sleep with 8 wake periods during that time. Not good. At least it usually doesn't seem to upset my BG.

Mallacai 2015-02-25 11:08:18 -0600 Report

Way to go Pegsy. keep at it. And thanks for the suggestion about keeping a record. will start one now.

Pegsy 2015-02-25 06:33:12 -0600 Report

I'm glad you see the benefit of being thankful for what you have accomplished and not beating yourself up. While we need to be motivated, I think positive motivation is far more helpful. It's great that your doctor provides such tools on a website. I enjoy using the log book on Diabetic Connect along with my spreadsheets. I also record events that can have an impact such as being sick, traveling, not enough sleep, not enough exercise that day, deviation from my diet, stress, etc. Those things have an effect that I didn't realize before.

kaseycs 2015-02-24 21:20:21 -0600 Report

I have a Freestyle Insulinx and it records it and then every week I hook it up to my computer and it gives me an analysis of my readings. All insurance companies pay for it. It makes record keeping simple.

sweetslover 2015-02-24 20:10:59 -0600 Report

Keeping a log is a great idea. It can be so difficult to remember exactly where your health was in the past. I have been keeping BG log, but now I am tracking my exercise, calories burned and consumed, carbs and protein consumed, etc. through my fitbit. I can even track my sleep patterns—what an "eye opener." I don't know what to do to improve my sleep—I have tried many things—so far nothing is working, but at least now I can prove how poorly I sleep.

Pegsy 2015-02-25 06:55:11 -0600 Report

Do you find that poor sleep or too little sleep raises your glucose? Some people don't sleep well because of sleep apnea or hormones. My sleep issues are more due to stress. Learning how to deal with the stress is helping but there are nights when it just isn't going to be good. As time passes, I learn to accept how life is and focus my thoughts on more positive things, especially around bedtime.

Getting more and better sleep is my latest project. I go to great lengths on this! The room must be as dark as possible. I have covered the clock with black tape so I cannot see what time it is when I wake during the night. Seeing the time just causes me to worry about how few hours are left before I have to get up. I turn off my computer and the TV a good hour before bed. I hear that light from electronic devices interferes with falling asleep. I will read for about an hour and I play soft music while falling asleep. I don't usually have trouble falling asleep unless I have had caffeine after dinner. Just a little piece of chocolate can keep me awake for hours. My trouble is when I wake during the night. When I get up to use the bathroom I don't turn on lights. That helps. There is enough light coming in through the bathroom window that it isn't necessary anyway. When I come back to bed is when I have trouble. If thoughts and worries pop into my mind, I play the soft music again and I pray. I used to pray about the things that worried me but that just kept those negative worries in my head. So…I started going through the alphabet, coming up with a blessing in my life for each letter or a description of God for each letter. I rarely make it to Z but if I do, I start over, coming up with a different word for each letter. I have never made it through the entire alphabet since I started this practice. My husband can really be a snorer at times. If he has a cold or is suffering from allergies I just start the night in the guest room. If he snores and wakes me up, I get up and move to the guest room. I spend a lot of time in the guest room! These practices have really improved my sleep but it still isn't as good as it should be.

sweetslover 2015-02-25 07:21:09 -0600 Report

I am already trying most of what you suggested, but so far, no progress. I do NOT want to take any medication to help me sleep. I think a large part of my problem is my neuropathy. I don't experience a lot of pain, but mostly extreme discomfort. I swear—my skin hurts. Don't know if anyone will believe me, but it does.

Pegsy 2015-02-25 07:27:28 -0600 Report

I believe you. I don't blame you for not wanting to take any medication for sleep. I don't either. I took something my doctor prescribed about a year ago. She said it was safe and not addicting. I took it for 2 to 3 weeks. While I did sleep well, I was concerned about long term issues so I stopped it. I was unable to sleep for days after stopping the drug. I checked online and learned that ALL sleeping medications are addictive. Now I don't trust my doctor whenever she wants to prescribe something. No matter what it is or what it's for. I have tried supplements that are supposed to help with sleep such as Valerian Root and Lemon Balm. They help some but not as much as I had hoped they would.

Are you taking anything to help with the neuropathy?

sweetslover 2015-02-25 09:32:51 -0600 Report

I have an over-the-counter cream that I use at night that seems to help some. Other than that, warm showers during the night sometimes help. I don't know if something like tylenol or aleve would help this kind of discomfort. I might try one and see. I am OK during the day—just a problem at night.

suecsdy 2015-02-25 07:51:50 -0600 Report

I tried valerian root and really couldn't tell if it worked or not. Melatonin does help, but if I want a sure thing, I reach for something with benadryl Unfortunately,that works too well and have to be very careful of the timing on that. Had to take some yesterday morning because I woke up and the back of my throat was swollen. It was 4:30 in the AM. It put me right back out and I did not want to get up. Lol

Pegsy 2015-02-25 08:03:53 -0600 Report

Yes, antihystamines do work but they are dehydrating and can be addictive as well. Melatonin worked for me but it raised my fasting glucose and I didn't need that!

Jibber Jabber
Jibber Jabber 2015-02-24 20:08:15 -0600 Report

You are so right..Just because we aren't exactly where we want to be doesn't mean we shouldn't feel good about the progress we have made…as for keeping tract of things…I have rather impressive spreadsheets…my son laughs when he sees them..he told me last week it looked like I was tracking the GNP of 20 different countries…

Pegsy 2015-02-25 07:01:30 -0600 Report

Feeling good about progress made is progress in itself, for me. When first diagnosed I blamed myself for my condition and really believed that I could reverse it. Now I accept that this is my life, for the rest of my life and probably not something I could have avoided. I make the best of it each day and try not to beat myself up on the bad days. Seeing overall improvement is a great reward. I'm sure it will level off at some point but hopefully that will be at a lower A1c and without meds. Even if that doesn't happen, I know I am doing the best I can to manage it and that's good enough.