Diabetes was the best thing that ever happened to Andrew Lawless. That’s because he grew up in a… um… less than perfect environment. In Lawless’ own words: “I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 11 years old. That’s when the beatings stopped at home.”
Is it any wonder, then, that he might have a different perspective on diabetes than many other PWDs (people with diabetes) do? In fact, Lawless says diabetes let him thrive in a way he hadn’t been able to before his diagnosis, and that throughout his life it never occurred to him to view his diabetes as a hindrance.
Like many people with type 1, he didn’t personally know anyone else who had it and he assumed that most people with diabetes viewed it the same way he did. But that changed, thanks to the Internet. When he engaged on Facebook with fellow PWDs, he was shocked at how “downhearted” his fellow T1s were, how grim they were about the future. “There’s a lot of despair online,” says Lawless. He was amazed to discover such darkness. Lawless has had diabetes for 40 years, but says, “I never, ever thought about diabetes as something crippling.”
Comparing his own attitude to what he was seeing online, realized he had found his calling, which prompted him to write a book. He sat down and worked night and day for nine weeks running, staying up until 3 a.m., to write "Blood Sugar in Check, 7 Steps to Health and Happiness with Diabetes,"which is now available in paperback and eBook format on Amazon as well as at Barnes & Nobel and Kobo.
(We have a special giveaway for D'Mine Readers today, so be sure to read on and enter the contest before June 28!)
A Behavioral Focus
Unlike many diabetes books, in this one there’s a distinct absence of physical, hands-on how-to advice, and a minimal discussion of diet, exercise, or other medical management tools. Instead, BS in Check focuses on what Lawless calls the "diabetes mindset,” which he defines as the behavioral challenges that he feels get in the way of good diabetes management. This is because -- although I’m sure many people would disagree -- Lawless feels that diabetes is technically easy. It’s the brain part that’s tricky, he says. That, and the fact that managing diabetes requires you to change your behavior in all facets of life, which Lawless notes, are "not items discussed in the doctor’s office”
In the genre of problem-solving books, Lawless has adopted a step-by-step methodology for his work:
- Understand What’s Holding You Back
- Create Your Wheel of Diabetes Mastery™
- Design Your Personal Diabetes Plan
- Find Your Diabetes Flow
- Condition Yourself For Blood Sugar Success
- Overcome Unconstructive Blood Sugar Management Patterns
- Embrace Your Diabetes Lifestyle
If this looks like some sort of executive coaching program, it’s because Lawless’ professional DNA is showing through. He makes his living as an executive coach, largely helping female executives “overcome their fears that they aren’t good enough, and help them have a voice.” He tells us that for his new book, he adopted the tools he’s found most effective in his coaching work.
A prime example of this is his trademarked "Wheel of Diabetes Mastery" concept. The wheel is a graphical way for readers to self-analyze their strengths and weaknesses in the areas of Diabetes Management, Physical Well-Being, Emotional Resilience, Financial Security, Family Support, Spiritual Awareness, and Career and Growth. The author then uses this tool as a springboard for working first on areas of weakness while taking pride in areas of strength. Lawless says his tools are designed to “speed up the discovery process” that will allow people to develop a positive mindset for dealing with diabetes.
He also guides readers though creating lists of what he calls “going-away things,” such as feelings of being overwhelmed, anger, depression, resentment, and guilt—things in diabetes that you want to disappear. Once the list is complete, a second column is used to log all the reasons that you haven’t “resolved” the items on the going-away things list, as a first step to figuring out how to make positive changes.
Lawless says he didn’t write the book to make money, which is a good thing because most authors (myself included) know they won’t. Rather, he says felt he had to do something to help his fellow PWDs. That said, he is actually launching a side business of individual diabetes coaching, based on the book.
Reviving the Term "Diabetic"
Speaking of PWDs, one thing I personally enjoyed was Lawless’ return to using the label “diabetic,” which -- at least here in the USA -- is a controversial issue but seems to have been soundly defeated by the proponents of the more linguistically clunky Person With Diabetes (PWD), which we're all currently compelled to use in professional writing. In Lawless’ own words: “For me, having the label of 'diabetic' is a badge of honor. I see more and more young people with type 1 diabetes not hiding their insulin pumps anymore. This is the way it should be, and I wholeheartedly support this attitude.” He’s also not afraid of a little profanity, “where I found it important and relevant.”
Damn, I like a diabetic who swears. But that’s just me.
Although Lawless tells us “I don’t give diet advice,” the book repeatedly advocates an alkaline diet—which is basically low-carb vegan eating—and yoga. This, combined with the step-by-step look-inside-yourself coaching approach, gives the book a bit of an eastern “Patience Young Grasshopper” flavor. Eastern thinking doesn’t work well for my own ingrained Western brain, and self-analysis generally turns me off. But that said, this sort of method enjoys great success in other fields such as the executive coaching that gave birth to the book, various wealth management seminars, goal achieving workshops, and even youth violence programs -- so clearly this approach works for many people. I agree 100% with Lawless when he writes near the beginning of Chapter 1, “Nothing about diabetes can hold you back unless you allow it.”
I’m in favor of any tool that allows anyone to free him or herself of elements of diabetes that are holding them back, and for the right kind of people, this book could be a great tool to help them overcome their barriers. Speaking of tools, as a companion to the book, Lawless has developed a range of online content, including a workbook, PDFs of his forms, and a video mini-course—all available for free download.
Is this book what PWDs are looking for? That’s hard to say. If you Google “diabetes books to read,” not too surprisingly your top hits are Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution, Gretchen Becker’s The First Year: Type 2 Diabetes, Michael Bliss’s excellent history of the discovery of insulin, Diabetes for Dummies, Ginger Vieira’s Dealing With Diabetes Burnout, Stephen W. Ponder’s Sugar Surfing, and the newest from Adam Brown, Bright Spots and Landmines.
Clearly, there’s no trend here.
But I don’t recall seeing any other books in the diabetes library that quite so narrowly focus on the brain and behavior side of diabetes, complete with a set of tools to understand those elements and change them in a productive fashion for long-term health. So it seems like a fresh and useful addition to the bookshelf, and although written from a T1 perspective, as the book deals with mental processes -- not nuts and bolts -- it has utility for both T1s and the vastly larger T2 population, who suffer every bit as many mindset issues as we T1s do.
Win a Book Copy for Yourself! (Now Closed)
Interested in winning a copy of Blood Sugar in Check for yourself? Thanks to Andrew Lawless, DiabetesMine will be choosing one lucky winner. Here's how to enter:
Send us a social media comment including the codeword "DM InCheck Book"or email us directly using that subject header to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You have until Friday, June 28, 2019, at 7pm PST to enter.
Winners will be chosen using Random.org, and announced via Facebook and Twitter on Monday, July 1, so make sure you're following us. Please be sure to keep tabs on your Facebook messages and email, as that's our only way to contact winners.
Good luck, D-Friends!
This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Christine Sauer, who was chosen by Random.org as winner of this contest!