Getting to the Next Level: Smart Choices


Lisa Miadovnik, MSc, CSEP-CEP

Lisa Miadovnik shares her thoughts as an exercise physiologist with a Masters degree in Health Science. Her knowledge in diabetes stems from family experiences, from working in diabetes research, and from completing a program in Diabetes Education. She is also going on her 8th year of training as a member of Team Canada in synchronized skating.

Lisa’s constant motivation to “do well” started when she put her first pair of figure skates on at age 7. It is that desire, along with many other lessons learned in the ice rink, which have helped her to accomplish goals in her academic and professional life.

In this article, Lisa shares some of her personal stories to help people with Type 1 Diabetes accomplish their own goals. Whether you want to manage your diabetes well and train to be a big-time athlete, a professional musician, a world-class surgeon, or anything in between, Lisa sends a resounding message in this series of articles that you can do it!

Smart Choices

Welcome back to the 3-part article series on Getting to the Next Level!  

Whether in your diabetes management, sport performance, academic pursuits, or any area in life, there are common skills that help you get there. The 1st article covered Resilience and this one will talk about the importance of making Smart Choices. Article #3 (still to come!) will discuss Self-Motivation.

It’s a fact of life; success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes repeated smart actions and smart choices that work toward your goal. I lost a lot of friends growing up, with the well-rehearsed line, “I can’t – I have skating.” Being a competitive athlete meant sacrificing free-time and missing out on parties or trips because of skating. It meant walking with friends to McDonald’s for lunch, and sneaking into a café next door to order a salad or healthy sandwich while friends chowed down on burgers, fries, and milkshakes. You have probably faced similar situations with your diabetes, where your friends have scarfed down candy, chocolate, chips, soda, and every other carb-loaded food you can think of. You may have been there wishing you could eat whatever you wanted without a care in the world, instead of having to eat those snacks in moderation and then needing to take carefully-calculated insulin at the same time. Being responsible and making those smart choices can be really difficult at the time, but they are crucial to your success.

It is important to remember that while you should be proud of every smart choice you make for your goals, the best results come from making those smart choices regularly. That doesn’t mean you always have to make smart choices, just that the more you make, the more likely you are to achieve your goals. Remember though, succeeding in life is not like succeeding in a video game; you don’t always do something good and get the reward right away. That’s why it’s so important to remember your long-term goals!

If you want to excel in hockey, you’ll have to make smart choices. If you want to excel in your diabetes management, you will have to make smart choices as well. You may have to skip on the piece of cake if your blood sugar is high, or go for a walk or jog to get your blood sugars down, when you’d rather sit down and play games on your iPhone. You’ll have to check your sugars throughout the day even though you might not want to; go to see your diabetes care team instead of enjoying free-time; or spend hard-earned money on diabetes supplies instead of other things. While smart choices might be hard to make, in the long run, the reward at the end is always worth more than the sacrifices made along the way. In 15 years if you’re playing in the NHL, do you think you’ll regret missing out on some things because you put hockey near the top of your priority list? In 50 years if you’re living a great life with no diabetes complications, do you think you’ll regret making those tough decisions that put your diabetes first? Whether you want to excel in hockey, in your diabetes management, in school, or any area of your life, you’ll have to make smart choices. I can tell you from my own experience, the day that I got to compete for Canada at the World Championships was worth every single hard decision I made growing up that helped to get me there.

So decide today, what are your long-term goals? Do you want a scholarship for hockey? Do you want to live a long and healthy life without diabetes complications? Try to come up with 3 to start. Once you’ve thought of a few long-term goals, decide on a few short-term goals that will help you reach your long-term goals (for example, maintain a healthy A1c, avoid lows, minimize highs). Then, go one step further, and decide what daily smart choices you’ll need to make to get you there.