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Posts from the ‘Exercise & Fitness’ Category

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!!!


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.

The Amazing, Carb-Cancelling Power of Walking.

Last week, Chris and I brought the Birdzone to Disney World for some holiday family time (since we are rarely in the same place at the same time, making trips like this a welcomed changed from the hustle and chaos of the norm).  The weather was much nicer in Florida than it was in Rhode Island (when we left, it was 11 degrees in RI, but 71 degrees when we landed in FL), which meant we were on the move, all day, every day.

Normally, traveling for me equals out to harder-to-manage blood sugars because I’m working harder to adjust to time zones, different exercise schedules, and food that’s unfamiliar.  But for trips that involve nicer weather, there’s usually a lot of walking.  And we logged many miles per day on this go-around … according to my Shine, it was close to six miles every day.  That’s not a ton of movement when it’s crunched into a run, but spread out over the course of a day, it makes the impact of carbohydrates melt away.  Walking all day long is a magical, carb-cancelling activity.

Even the three year old managed to do most of the walking (except when she’d turn to Chris and say, with a drawn-out sigh, “Daddy, carry me?”):

Birdy on the bridge in EPCOT.

Lightning McQueen was an awkward meet-and-greet, because with the other characters, you can go up and shake their hand, or high-five them, or at least say hello.  But meeting a car was strange because they don’t hug back.  Or blink.

Animal Kingdom’s Dinoland section is one of Birdy’s favorite places to visit because she can run amuck, go down slides, play with other kids, and generally go berserk.

But for the week, my Dexcom graphs were crazy, with very few highs and a lot of lows that my body kept revisiting because we were consistently on the move.  So many carbs consumed without bolusing and I burnt through the entire stash of glucose tabs that I brought with me.  Even a temporary basal rate (down to 50%) wasn’t enough to keep the magic of Disney from cancelling out my carbs.

Oh exercise … you are as magical on my diabetes as time with my family is on my soul.

[Cue music that's super cheesy.  Like this.  Balki Bartokomous is awesome.]


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