5 Lessons Learned: Lazy Ass to 5K with Diabetes

running-track-4-1531543-640x960Over the past few weeks, I have undertaken what could be for me, one of the most drastic lifestyle changes in my entire life.

I have committed to running a 5K this spring.

This is big. I’m a card-carrying lazy ass, making fun of those crazy runners, grimacing (although people tell me they are smiling) as they are supposedly making their lives better. Tearing up my lazy ass card is monumental. I’ve tried to exercise before, with less than positive outcomes, but this time… I’m committed.

John asked me what is different this time.

This time, I have a goal and it’s not to run a 5K.

It’s to be healthier: for me, for him, for The Kid. All the other times, it was “to get in shape” or “to help control my diabetes,” and not surprisingly, I found reasons to avoid it. (“I can control my diabetes without exercise…” or “I look like I’m in shape…”) I want to be able to live a long time, play with my daughter, and have fun. I’m not doing it to be a role model or an inspiration. I’m not being altruistic; I’ve had enough of being a lazy ass. It’s time.

But in doing so, I want to share what I’ve learned so far, just in case you need a little nudge off the couch, my fellow couch-potato with extra sour cream and bacon.

  1. Only you can rid of the barriers and excuses. I have a lot of fears about exercising, some of which are unfounded, but some are legit. I knew that I should start getting regular exercise (I hate filling out medical questionnaires and marking: No, I don’t exercise at all. Hahaha.), but I was scared about something going wrong with my heart or having bad lows. My cardiologist cleared me (He told me that I was lazy and that was not an excuse I can use.) and I have learned what has worked for me regarding my basal insulin and how to keep stable. Those excuses out of the way made it harder for me to avoid doing this. The “I am so busy!” excuse was lame, but it was the one I always used to mask the fears. Before I started, I actually sat down with my calendar and made appointments with myself to work out. Figure out what your excuses are for not exercising and then get rid of them.
  2. You can’t do this on your own. Sure, there are some people who can get up off the couch one day, put on sneakers and bound off into the wild. (I haven’t many many…or any… but I’m sure they exist.) Unless you are one of those mythical unicorn exercisers, help is needed. Peer and family support is crucial (and not just for exercise!), so I let my husband and my online friends know that I was not going to be a lazy ass anymore and welcomed their encouragement. I also knew that I needed structure (and not just a “let’s go for a walk” exercise program, because cold, rain, I’ll walk when it’s better weather, what if I’m 2 miles from the house and I have a bad low), so I joined a gym close to my house with great hours and hired a personal trainer. (I got a deal, otherwise it wouldn’t have been possible.). He understands that while I am the expert in my diabetes, he will help create a workout that helps my diabetes stay manageable. (P.S. I hate him, in the nicest way possible.) Even if you don’t hire a personal trainer, you can still get on a treadmill and begin to walk. Just let others know you are doing it.
  3. What the heck do you listen to when you exercise? Answer: Pod runner – This is what drives my feet when I’m on the treadmill. While there are apps out there that will tell you when to run and when to walk and tracks it all for you, I went “old school” based on a recommendation from someone I trust – and he didn’t steer me wrong. It’s a podcast. (I like podcasts. We produced one back in the day.) I’m doing the “First Day to 5K” series and the music is (hopefully) set to your pace. (It’s electronic dance music and changes for walking and running/jogging with a series of beeps to tell you when to switch.) There are other interval series: Gateway to 8K, Freeway to 10K,  Begintervals, and hundreds of free workout sessions. I hate being in a gym and having music that I don’t like or doesn’t match what I’m doing (Cooling down with upbeat music? No.) Does it track your runs? Nope. It just keeps you moving, which for me, is half the battle. When I strength train, I use Pod Runner and their DJ mixes.
  4. You feel great. And then you don’t. Keep Going. Pace yourself. I worked out and the next day, I was sore. A little sore. A few days later, I met with the personal trainer and went through a modified, shorter, strength training workout that kept my heart rate up. The next morning, I couldn’t move without whimpering. It wasn’t a sharp, debilitating pain, but more of a “hey, what’s up with these muscles that haven’t been used since Reagan was in office?” pain. I’m feeling stronger and can last longer than when I started, but there is a reason why some people say to wait a day in between workouts until you get into the groove.
  5. Everything changes. That’s what Buddha says and it applies to exercise, too. My food choices are more “nutritious.” I pull a banana out of the bowl rather than salty carbs. My insulin needs are dropping, especially my overnight basals. (I’ve had lows at 3am more frequently, so I’m taking steps to ensure I don’t drop at night.) My energy level is rising. I’m changing. Expect that you will change, too. Small steps.

Don’t think that I’m all “spring in my step and a song in my heart” right now. Exercise is work. I’m still in the motivation process, but I am finding that I get off the couch easier, so it’s a start. What about you?

Keep Calm & Do…

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It’s big. It’s blue. It needs you.

I’m not talking about an overweight Smurf. (But if you want to keep the visual of Papa Smurf as you read this post, you go right ahead.)

The Big Blue Test is on like Donkey Kong for 2013 and if you’re pancreatically challenged, you can help. (Don’t worry – if you’ve got a working pancreas, have I got a deal for you. Hold on the line, please.)

You know how I prefer to avoid using that E word, right? Exercise. (Shiver. Grimace.) But when it’s for a good cause and can help other people, I’m going to do it – so join me.

My friend, Manny, explains it well. (And I get to see my amazing ninja, George Simmons, play basketball with his equally amazing son, so I love this video.)

Here’s the official scoop:

Since 2010, over 40,000 people helped themselves while helping more than 10,000 others. Most participants in the Big Blue Test experience an average blood sugar drop of 20% and by every Big Blue Test result a donation is made by the program sponsor to help others around the world with diabetes in need.

The Big Blue Test is a program of the Diabetes Hands Foundation that encourages people with diabetes to test their blood sugar, exercise for 14-20 minutes, test again and share their experience on BigBlueTest.org. For every test, people with diabetes in need receive life-saving supplies through Big Blue Test grants that are awarded to humanitarian diabetes charities in the US and around the world, made possible thanks to the program sponsor.

In 2013, the Big Blue Test grants will benefit two US-based initiatives (each will receive US$2,500) and an additional US$5,000 will support projects in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

This year, we’re seeking to reach 20,000 Big Blue Test entries, which will translate into a donation that will help save lives.

Help yourself and help others. Get active, join the movement: do the Big Blue Test every day!

Now, for those with diabetes, you’re already testing. Test, go dance to your favorite songs in your living room (toddler not included, but I use one for comedic relief), and then test again. Then post your results.

Lather, rinse, repeat. Don’t like to dance? Walk. Run. Swim. Bike. Aggressively push a grocery cart around the store. Just test, get your groove on, test again, and post.

But wait! There’s more!

mySugr, an app that helps make diabetes management fun, is also challenging us with the BBT challenge. Log your results and they’ll give you some free “Pro Days”. It’s not just a win-win. It’s a win-win-win – a win for you, a win for the Big Blue Test, and a win for those who need our help.

If you’re not a person with diabetes, then you can still participate. (See? Didn’t forget you.) You can donate directly to the Diabetes Hands Foundation here.  You can spread the word by sharing this post with your friends. (Because, let’s be honest. I bet you know at least one other person besides me who has diabetes. There’s a lot of us – both Type 1 and Type 1 can participate…)

There’s so much good to be had from 12 to 14 minutes of moving around…so let’s all keep calm and do this.

Together.

 

Fab Five Fridays: The Zombie Apocalypse Edition

This is obviously not my hand. It doesn't have puncture marks on the fingers.
This is obviously not my hand. It doesn’t have puncture marks on the fingers.

I’m not into “Wordless Wednesdays” (Mostly because I like to talk about the image that I share, which defeats the purpose of “wordless”), but I’m all about alliteration, so I’ve decided to start my own weekly thing: Fab Five Fridays (Because then I can talk about stuff I want.)

Some weeks it may be a Fab Four Friday because I can’t count or I’m feeling very Beatle-esque. Other weeks I could be spouting out a whole bunch of stuff that may be more than five, but finding stuff that’s really fabulous. I want to introduce you to people, places, things, and let you also peek into the secret cubbyholes in my head – and this is the way I’m doing it. Most of it will be diabetes related, but I’m not all diabetes so you never know…

Here we go… Fab Fünf Freitags (Fab Five Fridays): The Zombie Apocalypse Edition…

1. Ever watch Zombieland? Hysterical 2009 movie about how wry, dry-humored youngsters survive a zombie apocalypse… and that’s all I could think about when I read the articles this morning about the  potential Type 1 vaccine. The vaccine could be the equivalent of a “double tap”, which is one of the rules that the main character comes up with to ensure the demise of any zombie he meets. (Don’t ever think one hit will kill a zombie.)

The researchers have seen promising results in shutting down the autoimmune response that kills off the dysfunctional immune cells (which in turn kill off our beta cells) without shutting down the entire autoimmune system. It’s so cool to think that this might work, but I keep wondering if zombie immune cells would go down even with a double tap… or just rise up again later on?

This vaccine isn’t for those of us whose beta cells are like Elvis… they’ve left the building. But, for those who are in the early stages where beta cells are dying but not dead… it’s pretty cool.

Cool blog post from Stanford (where the research is happening) here: Can a series of DNA vaccine shots halt type-1 diabetes progression? 

The much longer (and more medical jargon-y) is here: DNA ‘reverse’ vaccine reduces levels of immune cells believed responsible for type-1 diabetes, study shows 

If you want to see the abstract at Science Translational Medicine that started all this fuss, it’s right here: Plasmid-Encoded Proinsulin Preserves C-Peptide While Specifically Reducing Proinsulin-Specific CD8+ T Cells in Type 1 Diabetes (Note: That certainly doesn’t sound quite as sexy as “Type 1 Vaccine! Hooray!”, does it?)

2. If you want a great personal account of an ER visit, you have to read Mike Hoskin’s post over at Diabetes Mine: Diabetes Care in The Hospital: It Ain’t Pretty – not only is it sobering (and I am so glad that his mom is OK!), but filled with great information that serves to frustrate me more. It appears that PWDs are taking our lives into our own hands by going to an ER these days – and I’m not sure who is to blame for that. You probably have an opinion on this topic, so take a gander at it…

3. While it’s been out in Europe since 2009, the Medtronic MiniMed Veo insulin pump is now getting some love here in the U.S. – and it’s long overdue. This article by Bloomberg: Medtronic Insulin Pump Cuts Deadly Night Blood Sugar Lows gives a great description of what it’s supposed to do and what Medtronic wants to do in the future.

The feature known as “threshold suspend” stops insulin delivery for two hours after blood sugar drops to a dangerous level. The study presented at the American Diabetes Association’s annualmeeting in Chicago found insulin pumps with the suspend function slashed low blood-sugar levels at night by 32 percent compared with those that didn’t have it.

Just 32 %? Really? Come on over to my house, researchers. I’ll show you that number is greater.

Medtronic isn’t alone in this “your pump can do everything except brew cappuccino” game. Animas also put out a nifty little press release about their closed loop system trials… and you can read about that here.

You might be asking yourself: what are they after? Here’s the FDA explanation of variations of the new generation of pumps.

I think camps are going to begin to form along the lines of who uses a Dexcom versus who uses a Minimed CGM… what do you think?

 

4. I’m trying to get my sweatabetes routine up and running these days, but the badasses over at Insulindependence have taken PWDs getting active to a whole new level. They have an award ceremony this year with a YouTube campaign, and my friend (and yours) Scott Johnson is one of the nominees. In his nomination video, he gives his words of wisdom on exercise: patience, educating yourself, and drawing on the support of the online diabetes community. He needs our support – go watch his short video and help him get the votes he needs for the $5,000 award. (There are a lot of worthy nominees… I think they all should get $5,000!)

5. I got an email from Harriet Bridges and it went like this:

I am a 24 year old Type 1 diabetic living in the UK, currently conducting some health psychology research regarding diabetes. I am looking for participants with diabetes (any type) to complete an online survey in order to help me raise awareness of the need for better psychological support for individuals with diabetes worldwide.  The link is: www.surveymonkey.com/s/important-diabetes-survey

I took the survey and now I want to see the overall results, because the survey was interesting! Take it if you have time and help a PWD and fellow DOCer out!

That’s my fabulous five for this Friday. (Got something you think is fab? Share it with me! Shoot me an email from the contact page!)

An Extraordinary First Step…

HeartI’m not going to keep you in suspense…

I didn’t die of a heart attack while exercising yesterday.

That being said, I did learn a few things because of my first official exercise attempt since accepting the Roche/Duracell offer to challenge myself to do something extraordinary. Armed with a heart monitor and the Duracell powered Accu-Chek Nano blood glucose meter, I set off to take on the world…which in my case, was the playground.

It’s hard to fit in a regular exercise routine with a toddler, especially when I’m playing single stay at home mom. She’s with me 24/7 right now while we’re sorting out the houses (Buying and selling homes back to back is not for the weak!) and so I can’t say: “Let’s go for a 1/2 hour walk around the block a few times!” She hears: “Let’s scream if you put me in a stroller, but if you don’t do that, I’ll turn it into a ‘pick up a rock, put down a rock, pick up a stick, run around and lie in the middle of the street’ walk.” We haven’t had much success, as you can surmise.

So, I bribed her with the playground and chose to walk briskly around the pirate ship structure that houses slides and bells and things for her to do. It may not have been a perfect exercise routine, but it worked for me.

What I learned:

  • My resting heart rate is even higher than I thought. The heart monitor that was given to me to participate in the program showed that I hovered between 10 and 20 points of the minimum target heart rate for my age (which is old, people… don’t let the face fool you…). I’m so grateful that I was able to have it on and monitor it throughout the exercising so that I was able to see that my fear was unfounded. I didn’t have to exert much to get into the target range, which was good because…
  • I’m out of shape. That wasn’t new to me, but more of an affirmation that I can’t really shrug the whole “I don’t need to exercise” part of the diabetes lifestyle off anymore. Ten minutes into my walk around the playground, watching The Kid climb around like a spider monkey on crack, I was breathing pretty hard and thinking to myself: “When does the great endorphin high that everyone talks about kick in?” (Hint: It didn’t. Ever. Got to figure that out.)
  • The Accu-Chek Nano rocks. It’s smaller than most meters, which means the case is smaller and takes up less room in my purse. (This is a big deal for me and for a lot of female diabetics. Don’t discount that.) I checked my new Nano against my existing meter and both readings came back close to each other, so it’s as accurate as the other meters/strips out on the market. Quick, easy, and much different from my very first meter, which was ironically, also an Accu-Chek. (The 1983 model, which was a two minute, wipe the blood off with a cotton ball and hope you don’t wipe off the reagent on the strip one. Good times. Good times. We’ve come a long way.) I’m going to play with the reminders when I’m not sweating.
  • My blood sugar pre-prandial was 131. I ate my normal breakfast (mmm….peanut butter on a Thomas English muffin and a cup of coffee. OK, two cups of coffee.) and after exercise, it was 68, even after dosing a little less for the increase in activity. I will have to play with the compensation factor when it comes to introducing exercise into my life. Do I add carbs or do I decrease insulin? That’s a question I ponder. What say you, DOC?Pre and Post
  • I did have an extended low after exercising. I remembered that this could happen, so didn’t panic until I was two hours into being under 70 with a no bolus lunch and glucose tabs under my belt. You can guess what happened… my blood sugar shot up. The Accu-Chek Nano clocked me at 275 (which coincided right with my CGM) and I slowly dosed to bring myself back to normal levels. By dinner, I was fine.
  • I sweat a lot for a thin girl.

I’m going to keep taking steps to being healthier and developing an exercise routine. Why?

I watched my daughter play and laugh while I exercised and it was a wonderful reminder that I want to be extraordinary…

For her.

*Disclosure: By participating in this program Accu-Chek is providing me with an Accu-Check Nano meter and test strips for a month. P&G/Duracell has provided me with a heartrate monitor to help me with my exercise challenges (as well as a FitBit Flex). In exchange, I have agreed to write about my experiences in exercise and blood glucose testing with the Duracell powered Accu-Check Nano Meter.

The Start of Extraordinary

Accucheck NanoI’ve talked before about how I’m sometimes my own worst enemy and how I exercise has just never been something I can do for very long. (Thanks, back injury.)

What I haven’t talked about is my fear of exercise. It’s not just the fear of going so low while I’m in the throes of working up a sweat that I pass out. (Although that is a fear of mine.)

My biggest fear of is having a exercise induced heart attack. That’s my biggest fear. There. I put it in writing.

It’s probably unfounded and irrational. I have a high resting pulse rate and it’s always been pointed out to me by nurses when they check it. (They begin their statement with: “Wow…” followed by a look of concern.) I explain: “I’m tiny. I don’t exercise. I drink a lot of caffeine.” I don’t have to go to far into an exercise routine before I’m hitting the target heart rate…and even higher. But here’s a little backstory to my fear…

A few years ago, work had gotten to me and I was stressed out. I began having some pressure in my chest off and on, so when I was at the endo, I mentioned it. Out came the EKG machine and the wires and sticky leads and the next thing I know, he’s staring at the results with a concerned, quizzical look on his face.

EKGI flunked the EKG.

I won’t bore you with details, but I had a thallium stress test the next morning and then a clean bill of health from a cardiologist. My most recent EKG last year was fine and all my blood tests make me look healthy. Still, I have been reluctant to do anything more strenuous than a casual saunter because of my fears of low blood sugars and heart attacks during exercise. The fears may be irrational, but most fears are.

Serendipity occurred a few weeks ago. Accu-Chek and Duracell reached out to me asking me to participate in their Power Through The Extraordinary program. They’ve joined together to put Duracell batteries in all of the Accu-Chek Nano meters and to kick off their partnership, have asked a few of us to set challenges for themselves and share the experience with the online world.

At first, I was confused. The Power Through The Extraordinary team includes the incredible Steve Richert of Living Vertical  who takes his diabetes to new heights – literally. He recently fulfilled Project 365, climbing every single day for a year. There are days I can barely climb out of bed and this guy was scaling mountains and cliffs! Then there’s my friend, Scott Johnson of Scott’s Diabetes, who is rounding his already high energy basketball workouts with the addition of a running program. There’s also Chris Stocker of Life of a Diabetic, who is sharing his mental workout of hurdling though a life of a diabetic entrepreneur. Why me? I think these people are extraordinary. What could I do that would put me in their league?

Then it hit me. I may never climb a sheer cliffside or run a marathon or be a successful entrepreneur, but I can face my fears and begin a regular exercise program. Thanks to Accu-Chek and Duracell, who have supplied me with the tools I need (including the Duracell powered Accu-Chek Nano meter and a heart monitor), I am going to start being…extraordinary, too.

So, stay tuned. I’ll be sharing the good and the bad (and I’m sure the sweaty) of how I am “Powering Through Diabetes” over the next few weeks…Wish me luck!

*Disclosure: By participating in this program Accu-Chek is providing me with an Accu-Check Nano meter and test strips for a month. P&G/Duracell has provided me with a heartrate monitor to help me with my exercise challenges (as well as a FitBit Flex). In exchange, I have agreed to write about my experiences in exercise and blood glucose testing with the Duracell powered Accu-Check Nano Meter.