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Posts from the ‘Exercise & Fitness’ Category

Guest Post: Adventure D!!

Hi!  I’m on the road again this week (ADA and a quick visit to Canada and then down to Texas … hence the digital tumbleweeds here), but thankfully, a good friend from across the pond has stepped in to say hello and share a little bit about why she’s created a really col project called Adventure D.  Please welcome the lovely Anna Presswell and check out her story.

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Not a word you might expect to hear all that often from the lips of a child.  But one I was using routinely by the time I was knocking on the door of my teens when describing my life with type 1 diabetes. “Not many kids have it,” I would say, excusing people of their lack of knowledge; softening their embarrassment as the quizzical looks on their faces gave them away.  Reflecting back, I suppose I was also describing the number of occasions I had connected with another person with diabetes. Diagnosed at four years old, I’d lived half of my life with diabetes by the time I met another person my age with type one, and it was utterly implausible that we be allowed to speak to one another – what with him being a boy, and everything.

It was two decades later, now cocooned by the warmth, support, and sense of belonging that I had discovered in the DOC, and with at least 200 go-to friends with diabetes in common, that I realised how isolating diabetes could be. I guess it’s true what they say:  sometimes you just don’t know what you’re missing.  It was around the same time that I first made the commitment that whatever I did with my life it would involve getting shoulder-to-shoulder with other people affected by diabetes, so that I never had to use the word ‘rare’ again.

We’re not rare.  We’re incredible. We just aren’t always connected.

So when my brother, Chris, a seasoned kayak and sailing instructor, told me that he’d been thinking about a project to bring people with diabetes together, I was all ears.  Chris had been told some years before that people with diabetes would struggle to take on some of the adventurous mountain hikes he so loved, because of the drastic effect it would have on blood sugars.  Well, for Chris that explanation just wasn’t good enough. To sit it out: because of diabetes?  No.  That simply won’t do.  So we sat.   And we planned.  And we hatched.  We moulded thoughts and bent ideas as to how we could create something for people affected by diabetes, by people affected by diabetes.  And with a touch of time, a dash of courage and a pinch of determination, Adventure D was born!

Adventure D aims to bring people affected by diabetes together for the purpose of peer-to-peer support, education, and to enjoy adventure activities in an environment mindful of the challenges that diabetes can pose.  And because my family were raised with diabetes being something the whole family helped each other to take on, Adventure D also includes family members and loved ones – people who also live diabetes day-in, day-out – at our events.  So have you ever wanted to try ocean kayaking?  Do you want to feel the elation of standing on your first wave?  Or feel the excited chill of the ski-slope air on your face? Then check out our website and come and join us for our first event, a ‘Get Kayaking’ weekend in Chichester Harbour, West Sussex, England.  The weekend will have you learning everything from basic skills to advanced techniques, and playing (um, winning!) water-based games.  All equipment and tuition are included, as well as all carb-counted meals which are prepared by the on-site catering team.  And the accommodation? Well, what was once a military vessel has now been converted to a high-spec floating conference centre with 180 degree views of the harbour.  Sound good?  We think so, too.

Just take a look at the photos!

So come and join us, get connected, meet other people with diabetes, and let your adventurous side out!

You can find us on our website, on Facebook, or on Twitter or look out for updates on my blog, which led me to the DOC.

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A little bio action from Anna:  “My name is Anna and I am many things: I am a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend. I’m a wannabe surfer, an animal lover and an amateur photographer whose very best work is only slightly North of mediocre. I love the outdoors, naps and chocolate of any kind.  I am also a Type 1 diabetic (insulin dependent, juvenile onset, the beast has many names).  Diagnosed in Germany at four years old, it was only as I turned 27 and started blogging at Insulin Independent, that I discovered the advancing powerhouse that was the diabetes online community.  Now, living in Hampshire, England, I have the honour of having met and become friends with countless people affected diabetes, thanks to that come-as-you-are community spirit.”

Mommy’s Little Pack Mule.

Running alone brings out the Spibelt, and I cram it full of my on-the-move necessities:  glucose tabs, Dexcom receiver, keys, and phone.  Even though it’s reasonably streamlined and doesn’t bother me too much to tote around all that stuff, it’s a bulkier system than, oh, I don’t know … making my own insulin.

But lo!  The child rides a bike!  And insisted on having a bicycle basket!  To which I said, “Yes!  Excellent idea and can you please carry all my shit, too?” only I did not cuss at the child!

The miles might be logged a little slower than when I’m by myself, but there’s nothing more convenient than making use of her bike basket to carry all my diabetes stuff, and I love sharing some outside play moments with my daughter.

And she likes being in charge of such important things, since she is a “big girl” and can “carry the glucose tabs because then if I want a very, very, very small bite of a glucose tabs, I can just reach in and have one, right, Mawm?”

“Sure.  But only if you make sure you slow down if I need a glucose tab, okay?”

Bartering with my happy little helper of a diabetes pack mule.

Binge-Watching Causes Low Blood Sugars.

Dead Poet’s Society.  It might be a film from 1989, but it remains one of my favorites largely in part to Josh Charles as Knox Overstreet.

(He doesn’t care that Chris is with Chet.  Carpe diem!  And there’s a point to this – stick with me.)

Chris and I don’t watch a lot of television, but we have been swept up in the whole binge-watching phenomenon afforded by outlets like iTunes, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.  Even though we were late in getting into Breaking Bad, we caught up last year in a hurry just in time to immerse ourselves into the broadcast of the second half of season five (technology, bitch!)  We didn’t watch The Wire when it was originally broadcasted, but we did rip through five seasons of that show in a hurry.  And we finished True Detective last night (even though I will admit that I didn’t catch everything everyone was saying because the mumbling was oh my).  Binge!!

But we don’t watch every show together. The Good Wife, which I’ve just recently started watching while doing longer, steady cardio workouts at the gym, is my go-to show to watch solo.  Which brings us back to Knox Overstreet, because he’s a lead character in The Good Wife.  And for at least 40 minutes every day, for the last two weeks or so, good ol’ Knox has been helping me earn my steps for the day.

Last week, though, I made the mistake of trying to binge-watch at the gym and mistakenly lost track of time and blood sugars.  Instead of taking a peek at my Dexcom every ten minutes or so, I totally spaced.  Which meant that I did an hour of walking/running “blinded.”  I should have checked my blood sugar.  Instead, I walked to the car in a staggered pattern, not unlike Billy from Family Circus, unlocking the car door and haphazardly throwing all my junk onto the passenger seat while simultaneously fumbling for my glucose meter.

“Yes, I’m sure you’re right,” in response to the triple BEEP BEEP BEEP! of my Dexcom receiver, throwing rage from inside my gym bag.  My glucose meter confirmed the tri-beep with a blood sugar of 33 mg/dL.

It’s funny (not really) how the symptoms are dammed up until I see the number, and then once I am aware of my actual blood sugar, the dam gives and hot damn, panic hits.  My car, for a brief moment, looked like I let a glucose tab dust genie loose from its lamp as I worked through five glucose tabs.  I sat and waited until the feeling came back to my lips and my hands stopped shaking, then checked my blood sugar again to make sure I was okay enough to drive home.

The lesson learned?  If I’m going to spend more than my fair share of time watching Knox Overstreet woo Nurse Carol Hathaway, I need to watch my Dexcom graph closely.  Binge-watching is apparently the leading cause of Sparling low blood sugars.


Spring Cleaning.

Finally – FINALLY – the bulbs planted last fall are starting to make good on their promises.

I don’t much care for resolutions that throw anchor in January, but I am a big fan of spring cleaning.  Organizing diabetes supply closetsRebooting an exercise routine! Scheduling the next slate of medical appointments (endo, primary care, dermatologist for a long-overdue re-examination of diabetes device-related skin rashes)!  Exclamation points because it’s finally above 30 degrees and I’m burning off buckets o’ carbs mulching and weeding the garden!

Oh spring, you are the control-alt-delete of bad habits.

Excited About Exercise … Again?

I’m climbing up on a new bandwagon.

Oh hell yes I am, and I needed one.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve completely fallen off in terms of exercise.  I could blame the endless winter weather, or work, or the endless fuzzy hairballs that are Loopy and Siah, but the truth is, I just got lazy.  Laziness turned into apathy, and apathy turned into a bad habit of not exercising much at all.

Not cool, because my blood sugars/weight/emotions fare best when I’m active.  Sounds trite, but it’s true.

I’ve taken up with a new fitness tracker, and one that motivates me less because it’s tracking activity and more because it’s connecting me with some folks to engage in some friendly “account-a-tition” (accountability + competitiveness).  And that’s the theme of this month’s Animas column:

“… so now I had a way of tracking what I was doing, exercise-wise, and a group of people to help keep me accountable.  THIS was exactly the boost I needed to pull me out of the exercise doldrums.  Now, instead of relying on my sometimes-hard-to-find motivation, I could turn to the DOC to help motivate me.  The application, much like other fitness tracker applications, allows people to cheer one another on, and share daily workout stats.  Were my fellow PWDs logging nine, ten, … thirteen thousand steps per day?  Were they finding ways to eek out a little more exercise?  I was inspired to follow suit. “

Click over to Animas for a read, and since I needed to keep the type of tracker brand-agnostic for purposes of that column, I’ll say here that I’m using a FitBit, and if you’d like to connect, let’s do it!

Seb’s Still Going.

A gorgeous video update from Seb and his team as he runs across Canada:



Go, Seb, Go!!

Outrun Diabetes with Sébastien Sasseville.

“I explained what you were doing to my daughter, the whole running across Canada thing, and she stopped what she was doing, looked me right in the eye, and said, ‘Why is he doing that?’”

Seb laughed.

“So that’s the question I’m opening with – why are you doing this?  Why are you running across Canada?”

“I’m taking this on because I want to inspire people to live life to the fullest.  I want to make it impossible for people with diabetes in Canada not to know about this run, or to be inspired by it.  And I want them to feel like they own this project and they can be part of it.”

Sébastien Sasseville was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002 and since, he’s become the first Canadian with type 1 diabetes to summit Everest, and has also competed in the Sahara Race in Egypt, a 250km self-supported ultra-marathon.  And now Seb is running across Canada.  On purpose, and with purpose.  He leaves this morning (February 2nd) from St John’s, Newfoundland and the goal is to arrive in Vancouver, British Columbia on November 14th (nice timing, diabetes advocate guy).  7,500 kilometers (4,600 miles) in nine month’s time.

“Leaving in February?  I know it’s Canada, but isn’t that a rough time to set out, even for a Canadian?”

“It was always going to take about nine months to accomplish this goal,” Seb said, “and in Canada, you can’t avoid winter for more than a few months.  No matter what, there was going to be snow.  My team and I decided to let the arrival dictate departure.  I wanted to end my run on World Diabetes Day, which meant a February start.”

To bring his type 1 diabetes on this journey, Seb has a few tricks up his sleeve, in addition to the support of his sponsors and his team.

“When possible, I want to split my running into segments during the day.  I’ll run for 2 – 3 hours in the morning, take a break, and then do it again in the afternoon.  I expect my insulin needs to go down about 50% overall, because you become so sensitive to insulin with the consistent exercise.  But my greatest asset will be the pick up truck filled with my diabetes gear.  You know all the stuff we have to bring everywhere with us, at all times?  I’ll have a car behind me at all times, filled with supplies.”

Diabetes-gear wise, Seb will be suited up with the Animas Vibe with Dexcom G4 Platinum CGM, checking his blood sugar on a Verio IQ, with the support of Novo Nordisk, as well.  But what about the low blood sugars that surely crop up during nine months of daily marathons?

“My low glucose treatments change all the time – so long as I know it can save my butt, I don’t care what it is.  I’m not eating those carbs because they taste good, but because they bring my blood sugars up.  I like the gels, sports drinks, and lately, I have to admit – I’ve been chugging maple syrup.”

“Wow.  That’s very Canadian of you!  Please tell me you keep it in a flask on your belt.”

“I should!”

“What is the message you are trying to send to people with diabetes?  Aside from suggest hip flasks of maple syrup?  What’s the takeaway for people who are cheering you on as you make this amazing journey?”  I asked.

“My goal is to inspire people to live their lives to the fullest, no matter what obstacles they face.  There are people with diabetes who think that it’s a limitation and that life sucks,” he said.   “A friend of mine told me that his girlfriend has type 1, and she heard about what I was doing, and she said, ‘What that guy does is not normal.”  You know, like I know, that this doesn’t come easy, and it requires emotional work, and physical work.  Managing diabetes doesn’t happen magically.  It’s just work.  It takes work.  But it’s a lot more fun to feel good about diabetes than to feel bad about it.  That sounds way too simple, right?  But it’s so complex and so simple at the same time.”

“I used to suck so bad at sports.  I don’t have natural athletic abilities,” Seb admitted, which made me laugh because, really?  “I remember the first time I went running after being diagnosed, I went 250 meters and said, ‘Okay, that sucked.  I sucked at it.’ But the things like marathons and triathlons?  That stuff isn’t done by superhumans.  It’s done by people.  It’s 99% work and very little actual talent. It’s about persistence, and determination, and I strongly believe that this kind of stuff can be done by anyone.”

“But what if I don’t want to run across Canada?  What if my goals are different from your goals?  Does the same ‘achieve anything’ apply outside of athleticism?”

“I love that question.”  He paused, and I tried to figure out if he was taking the piss out of me.  “I really do.  What’s important is to find what is going to make you happy.  It doesn’t have to be an athletic feat.  But it has to be something that makes you grow.  And to find that something is so important.  That’s why I say that I wouldn’t ever give diabetes back because it’s become a tool for personal growth.  Not because I like pricking my finger – I would give that back in a heartbeat.”

“So you would keep diabetes not for the medical nonsense but for what it’s taught you?”


This morning, Seb starts his nine month journey. As a community, we can follow along on the Outrun Diabetes Facebook page, and through the website, Instagram, and Twitter.

“Is there a specific hashtag we should follow?” I asked.

“I’m trying to use a lot of inspirational messages, because that’s what I want this to be.  Hashtags like #outrundiabetes, or #canadaruns are good places to start. Or #beingchasedbyabear,” Seb assured me.

“Better than #caughtbyabear,” I said.

“I’m going to try and keep it interesting.  Be on the lookout for me, in a bunny suit, running across Canada on Easter morning,” he said.

We’re going to hold you to that, Seb.  Good luck!!!



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