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Of Icicles and Ellipticals.

It’s cold.  Freakshow cold, to the point where it hurts to stand outside for more than a few minutes.  Chris actually built a shelter for The Cat That’s Not Ours (aka “Fluffy”) because it is cold as a witch’s’ nipple outside.  (Can’t say “cold as a witch’s tit” because that phrase is creepy, but I almost said it by accident in front of the Birdzone and had to switch gears swiftly, leading to “witch’s nipples.”  Birdy looked at me quizzically but then was distracted by the coughing fit I immediately and intentionally fell into.)

Right-O.  Anyway, it’s cold, and I haven’t been outside to run in over a week.

Actually,  I ran outside once last week.  Wearing the heaviest running pants I own and one of those sweatshirts that’s made of magical fabric that keeps the wind from cutting through it, and a hat and gloves, I was still freezing.  It was not the most pleasant experience, mostly because I had to keep watch for patches of ice on certain areas of the road and did I mention it was freezing?

Over the last few months, running outside has been the exercise I enjoy doing the most.  Previously, I liked working out at the gym because I liked the comforts of temperature control, places to stash my diabetes supplies, and the ability to go pee whenever I’d like.  (Sorry if that’s TMI, but as soon as I’m unable to access the bathroom, I immediately have to use the bathroom.  It’s like a mental gallon of water.)  But after a few months of exercising outside, I preferred the running trail to the treadmill.  It wasn’t boring, it felt really good to be outside in the sunshine (even if it was chilly, or blazing hot), and it was good motivation to follow-through because once I was two miles out into a run, I had no choice but to turn around and run (or walk) back.

I prefer being outside, on all levels.

But the cold.  The crazy cold that’s settled in for the last few weeks has made exercising outside a real challenge.  Which means I’m making attempts to exercise at home without becoming bored.  A few issues with that:

  • The ellipmachine in our basement is convenient, but it’s kind of boring.  So I’m trying to use my ellipmachine time to catch up on TV shows I’ve missed, or wouldn’t otherwise have watched.  In the last few months, I’ve watched all available episodes of Veep, The Carrie Diaries, The Colbert Report, and New Girl (It’s Jess!).  However, watching a TV show while exercising gives me the built-in timer of “once the show is over, so is the workout.”  This is not always the best plan, because some days I need more release.
  • I am also afraid for Loopy’s life because as the foot pedals of the elliptical machine cycle around, she tries to bat at them with her paw.  It’s a secondary workout in itself, keeping her out of the room.
  • Chris recently cleaned out our garage, with intention to stick my car in it during snowstorms, but so far, we haven’t followed through on that and instead I found a jump rope in there and have been trying to use it.  There are some benefits to being slightly shorter, and being able to effectively jump rope indoors with low ceilings is one of them.  (Related: How did I do those Jump Rope for Heart fundraisers in middle school, jumping rope all frigging day long?  Now I feel accomplished and exhausted after ten minutes.  Getting older is weird.)
  • Same Loopy issue applies here, though, only for different reasons.  She doesn’t try to grab the rope while I’m using it, but she stands in the corner of the garage and watches me, making herself dizzy.  She worries me.
  • And weight training is an at-home option, but one I take (literally) lightly.  Since being diagnosed with diabetic eye disease, I have avoided any kind of strenuous lifting because I don’t want to fritz out any delicate connections in my eyeballs.  So my weight routines involve body weight and free weights ranging from 5 – 10 lbs.  These exercises are less boring than the ellipmachine, and are easy to switch up.
  • But the exercise I get most often (and most aggressively) is Kid Play.  My child is not the biggest fan of sitting still, so running around the house and random dance parties are nice little doses of sweatabetes.

Even though it’s as cold as the potentially pointy parts of a witch, I’m still making the efforts to get some exercise.  (Sometimes chasing a mouse becomes exercise.  True story.)   Any tips for at-home exercise ideas would be awesome.

19 Comments Post a comment
  1. For real, the kid play is the best! I swear my daughter and I danced to “What Does the Fox Say?” a gazillion times this past week. My head is still a ring-a-ding-a-dinging.

    01/8/14; 11:29 am
  2. Cindy Parkin-Zenti #

    The hubby and I got so into our walks last fall, it was quite a let down when the weather got rotten so fast this winter. I have fallen back in love with my treadmill. I do the same thing – time my workout to coincide with a favourite show. I started working from home last year, so I’ve also decided that the hour I have saved in travel time back and forth will be now used as exercise time. It’s worked out really well! But I will be happy once the deep freeze we have in Canada right now subsides because there is nothing to compare to a long walk!

    01/8/14; 11:35 am
  3. We have a treadmill in the basement that has a modest TV in front with a Blu Ray/Netflix box attached and a good stationary bike that I ride while watching Netflix on my iPad. Though I would much prefer to go to the Y. When the weather is good, though, it’s all outside.

    01/8/14; 12:02 pm
  4. I have recently become a HUGE fan of Beachbody and their workouts. I have been doing 3 of their programs at home – Les Mills Pump, Les Mills Combat and Focus T25. While they aren’t the cheapest of fitness programs, to me they were totally worth the cost. The best thing about T25 is that the workouts are only 25 minutes. Granted it’s 25 minutes of nonstop activity but it’s great for that reason! And you only need a small-ish space, a DVD player, resistance band or dumbells and your own body for it. Since I started with these, it has been the longest that I’ve kept up with exercise ever. But that’s just my tip =)

    01/8/14; 12:31 pm
  5. Hi Kerri,

    You pose an interesting question about exercise restriction for those with diabetic retinopathy. I decided to review the subject.

    I haven’t found any evidence in the literature regarding increased risk of retinal hemorrhage in those who lift heavier weights. Although the risk sounds plausible, I don’t know if it occurs much in real life. On the other hand, strength training with resulting increase in muscle mass has substantial beneficial effects for blood sugar control… See this: and

    Some opthalmologists recommend avoiding exercise that causes rapid increases in blood pressure IF you have moderate or severe (recently treated) PROLIFERATIVE retinopathy or macular edema. Not sure if that applies in your case?

    If your retinas are in fairly good shape (retinopathy is not actively bleeding/excessively fragile/or edematous) it seems that the medical literature to date would suggest that the benefit of training with challenging weights outweighs the risks.

    So… maybe you can pick up those heavy dumbbells and kettlebells after all? You’re welcome? xo

    01/8/14; 12:36 pm
  6. Laura #

    I’m using a lot of Jillian Michaels DVD’s this winter – they mix in cardio with mostly body weights (some light dumbells for arms) and are usually 30 min or less. Keeps me warm and at home and they’re effective!

    01/8/14; 12:43 pm
  7. Jane #

    For a short—but extremely intense—workout, I like this:

    01/8/14; 2:52 pm
  8. Kerri Sulcov #

    Did your doctor tell you to avoid strenuous activity or did you decide that on your own? I was diagnosed many years ago with diabetic eye disease and thought the same thing. My doctor said not to worry. My workouts are quite varied, but do include some strenuous activity and my eyes have stayed stable.

    01/8/14; 4:06 pm
  9. Heather L #

    Yoga! You can find lots of options on line (free and paid) but I’m a fan of Also good for mindfulness etc as well as physical. Good luck finding something that works! (I’m not type one, but my almost 5 yr old is…this suggestion isn’t wi any D experience!)

    01/8/14; 6:28 pm
  10. Jake #

    The best workouts I have ever done are crossfit workouts. I was an athlete all my life and a collegiate football player. My diabetes has never been in better control. If you google it, don’t let it intimidate you. Another benefit is that you can drop in at any crossfit gym around the world when you are traveling. I highly recommend it.

    01/8/14; 10:24 pm
  11. Alexis #

    I normally Crossfit, but if I can’t get there I google Crossfit travel workouts. They usually use body weight exercises, sometimes they will use kettle bells, jump rope or dumbbell. But it can be very varied!!

    01/8/14; 11:54 pm
  12. My treadmill is nothing more than a $700 cattle prod that pushes me outside.

    Your sweatshirt is a good start. Add any windbreaker on top of it and it won’t let the heat you’re building up get out.

    A hat makes a world of difference.

    All tights are not created equal. Polyprolene is the magic stuff.

    I did six miles in the “polar vortex” on Tuesday and aside from icicles on my eyelashes at the end, I was warm.

    01/9/14; 8:50 am
    • Gear is good, but sometimes it’s also my daughter’s schedule that keeps me from running outside. She’s not a stroller kid (not even close to stroller-tolerant) so when I’m with her, sometimes the elements combined with the Bird make for late night, inside elliptical’ing. 🙂

      01/9/14; 11:21 am
  13. June S. #

    For those who are easily bored on elliptical trainers, I offer a suggestion. Buy yourself a Kindle Touch. The e-reader will fit nicely on the ledge of the machine, and if you enlarge the print you’ll be able to read while you exercise. To “turn” a page, simply touch the screen. I read at least one (sometimes 2) books per month in this manner.

    01/9/14; 9:21 am
  14. Lindsay #

    I hear ya! I jogged and mostly walked outside this morning for the first time since the week of Christmas. There was some ice patches hidden under the light snow and I slipped and fell on my hip covering myself in snow. Plus I was freezing! I’m definitely over winter! I too, get bored with indoor activity, outdoors is so much better!

    01/9/14; 11:35 am
  15. This is a tough one. When I can’t run outside (which is most weekdays now that it’s dark) I run inside on the treadmill in my basement. It’s not nearly as nice as running outside, and on the weekends I’ll definitely go outside. So far this winter in Massachusetts I’ve managed to be comfortable outside as long as the temperature is above 10 degrees (F) and it’s not windy. Beyond that, I just can’t warm up.

    The key is having the right clothing. I like Salomon stuff. Those Nordic skiers know how to handle the cold weather, and the clothes are made for being in motion. A little spendy, but better than the treadmill.

    01/10/14; 1:47 pm
  16. I’m late to the party, and admittedly, my take on things is just a blend on several comments above…..but here’s how I’ve been managing winter exercise on my snowy Northeast island:

    1. Dressing well. I was really not uncomfortable while running during the polar vortex (9 degrees, -8 windchill) because I had on 2-3 layers. it was worse the next day when the temps climbed all the way to 18 degrees and I thought “Whooo! Tropical!” before removing a layer and heading outside.
    2. Core workouts could be great… can easily do them on a mat and it will help with running. I do a variety of planks and leg lifts on a yoga mat inside.
    3. Agree with a couple comments above about the low risk of weight training. I’ve never seen this as a precaution. I have a history of extensive eye disease (cataracts and proliferative retinopathy), and my ophthalmologist cheers me on in all my physical activity.

    Good luck! I think a post like this demonstrates your obvious commitment to exercise. Go Kerri!

    01/20/14; 12:16 pm
    • I really, really love hearing people chime in re: their doctor’s recs re: eye disease and weight lifting. I’ve always felt cautious about exertion and eye disease, mainly because everyone warned against pushing during childbirth and lifting (directly due to eye disease) during my pregnancy that I held on to those fear for … well, four years now. THANK YOU for chiming in, Caroline!!!

      01/20/14; 1:09 pm

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