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Posts tagged ‘exercise’

Walking with Friends.

I think it’s safe to say that the threat of snow is behind us.  (If not, this cat is going to be pissed.)  And now that the weather is improved and exercising outside can be A Thing, I’ve taken to long, fast-paced walks around my neighborhood in the late afternoon, spending about 45 minutes each night clearing my head and lowering my blood sugar.

“Bye, Birdy.  I’ll be back in about an hour.  I love you,” I say to my daughter, kissing her on the head as I put my headphones in my ears.  “Are you sure you don’t mind if I leave?” I ask Chris, and he always says, “Of course not.”  But still, I feel like a crumb because I’m headed out by myself, leaving my family at home.  I’m removing myself from “family time.”  It feels like I’m ditching them.  (And I want to write that last part in a teeny, tiny font because it feels crappy to admit it.)


But it’s not like Birdy cries when I leave.  (To be honest, she barely gives me the time of day when I leave, especially if she’s eating dinner or watching TV.)  And it’s not like Chris can’t, or doesn’t want, to spend time with our kid.  The guilt I feel isn’t handed out by my family, but instead it’s something I apply to myself, rubbing it on thick and heavy, like sunscreen.

I go because I know exercise is important not only for my physical body, but to help calm the circus that’s constantly performing in my mind.

When I run, I like to listen to music that my feet can keep pace with (this is my favorite running playlist at the moment), but for walking, I like to listen to podcasts.  And lately, I’ve been spending my nighttime walks with the DSMA Live team (Scott, George, and Cherise, and occasionally Lorraine and Bennet).

Last night, I was listening to the most recent episode of DSMA Live, where the three co-hosts were chatting with one another (no scheduled guest), and the topic of conversation turned to self-care.  George, Scott, and Cherise were talking about the tangled web of diabetes life in balance with non-diabetes life stuff, and how it can be a challenge to make sure your own oxygen mask is on first, so to speak.

I loved hearing this concept explored, out loud.  Self-care is necessary for a healthy run with diabetes, but sometimes self-care is unfairly reassigned as “selfish.”  I feel guilty about taking time to go to the gym or go for a walk or run, but I shouldn’t.  I know I shouldn’t.  I can’t take good care of my family if my own health is compromised.  Self-care feels selfish when I’m leaving my family at home so I can go exercise, but I need to shake that sentiment off in pursuit of better.

In the chapter on Diabetes and Parenting in Balancing Diabetes, Melissa Baland Lee said this:

“I hope my child learns about self-care,” offered Melissa.  “My husband and I are from families where self-care was never modeled for us.  We saw a lot of self-neglect at the expense of caring for others.  Caring for yourself was considered selfish, but I hope that my generation of mothers is teaching their children that we care best for others when we meet our own needs, too.  I want my children to watch me count my carbs and go to the doctor and meet others with my condition.  I want them to know that we don’t hide in the dark with our worries or our obstacles.  We take care of ourselves so that we can live life to the fullest.”

Her words stuck in my head for months and resurfaced again when I was listening to the podcast as I took my walk.  It was easier to push any guilt away, knowing I wasn’t the only parent or PWD who struggled with self-care.

“Self-care isn’t selfish,” is something I thought about with each step, listening to my friends chatting in my ear while I walked, knowing my actions were rooted in the desire to become a healthy old lady who refused to give in to diabetes.

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.

 

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!

My Diabetes App Wishlist.

After a long day of diabetes rule-following and making an attempt to log all of my actions [insert laugh track here], I started drumming up another diabetes application wishlist.  Because I’m beyond tired of having five different devices that speak entirely different languages/require different charging cords/can’t work on the operating system I use/hate the idea of integration.

I’m in wicked curmudgeon mode today.  But stay on my lawn for a few more minutes, because I have a list, a la Veruca Salt.

I want a diabetes application:

    • … that auto-magically siphons the results from my glucose meter and logs them in a lovely, color-coded graph and logbook on my phone and on my computer.
    • Yes, I want my data on my phone and my computer, because while my phone is with me constantly and is good for everyday spot-checking, I like having the bulk of my data stored on my computer so I can see a week at a glance, a month at a glance, and a clue as to what my A1C might be at a glance.
    • I want to be able to email all of this data as a PDF (because Excel and I have a less than harmonious relationship) to my healthcare professional and whoever else I choose.  Or I can print it and put it into a blood sugar binder that I do not currently have but would have if my logbooks were this easy to compile.
    • And then, the data from my pump should just as easily be pulled off and graphed neatly alongside the data of my glucose meter.  Insulin doses plotted alongside blood sugar checks, with the option to add a smiley face when I fucking well feel like it because some days deserve a big, fat smiley face.
    • (Frowny faces and other emoticons would be a nice bonus, to add in accordance with my whims, as emoticons are sometimes the only recourse I have against a day that’s been truly and mind-bogglingly ridiculous in those ways only diabetes can be.)
    • It should go without saying, but I’ll say it:  the data from my Dexcom should follow the same sharing and integration platform, living in logbook and pie chart harmony with my glucose meter and insulin pump.  And all of that data should be visible on all operating systems EVEN A MAC HOW ‘BOUT THAT?!
    • I want to be able to look at this data in several different ways: at-a-glance, where I can see how my day is going (similar to the One Touch Reveal app); how a week looks, where I can see data broken into high-level pie charts, detailed logbooks, and a bunch of in-between options; and what I’d call an A1C level-glance, which would give me data (detailed and high-level) about how all of my numbers have tracked over the course of three months.
    • All of this data should move from my devices to the application without needing to cobble together proprietary cables.  Bluetooth is fine.  Cloud is fine.  Bluetooth cloud with a side of hazelnut iced coffee would be ideal.
    • Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if the application also synced up with my FitBit (or Shine or whatever other fitness tracker is the thing in use these days) so that I could see how exercise plots against blood sugar checks or insulin doses?  Yes, yes it would.
    • Another excellent detail would be if the application, upon access the diabetes devices, would confirm that each device is synced up with the right time zone.  So when I travel and the clock on my phone is updated, so are my devices.
    • And lastly, NO DONGLES.  I can’t handle that word. It’s too silly.

I know this kind of application isn’t flashy enough, and doesn’t benefit each respective company enough to actually work together and create something cohesive and workable, with an easy data flow and an even easier user interface, but whatever.  A girl can dream, right?

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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