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Posts tagged ‘exercise’

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.]

Pell Bridge Run.

When my friend Liz asked me to do a race with her in November, I was more concerned about whether or not I was home to participate instead of concerning myself with the specifics of the race itself.

“November 10th?  Sure, I’m home that weekend.”

And then I looked at the details:  it was a a 4.2 mile race over the Pell Bridge in Newport, RI.  At 6.30 in the morning.  On a Sunday.

A Facebook message to my friend:  “Liz, I finally followed directions and signed up. But this shit starts at 6.30 in the morning? Blargh.”

But what sounded like the absolute suck was a really amazing experience, watching the sun rise as several thousand runners crested over the bridge, moving towards a common goal.


Performance-wise, I struggled, but that’s okay.   Lots of rookie mistakes in play:  a terrible night’s sleep (< 4 hours), a new infusion set put in morning of, a fasting blood sugar of 298 mg/dL that required an aggressive correction bolus (so that I would come down in time to not have the desire to pee on the peak of the bridge), and too much insulin on board (IOB) when I met the rest of the racers at the starting line.  Thankfully, I reduced my basal rate at 4 am when I woke up, so I didn’t have my normal dawn phenomenon rate in play.

CGM check 20 minutes before the race:  158 mg/dL with an arrow pointing straight down
Meter check for confirmation:  139 mg/dL.
Bananarama:  Ate a banana without bolusing for it, and chewed a Shot Blok to get some carbs coursing through my system before setting off.
Packing heat:  And I had my Spibelt with two sleeves of Shot Bloks, my Dexcom receiver, and my meter.  I was ready for anything.

At 6.25 am, five minutes before the starting gun, I was 108 mg/dL on the Dexcom with an arrow pointing due east, so I hoped the banana/Shot Blok combo was enough to see me through.  But as the gun fired and runners started up the bridge, I felt that telltale heat washing over my body in waves of oncoming hypoglycemia.  I popped another shot blok, but shaky hands told me I needed to consult my CGM, so 3/4 of a mile into the race, I acknowledged the 50 mg/dL  and the down arrow winking back at me.

“You can go screw,” I thought.

I had to slow my pace down to fuss through the low, but after a few minutes (and thanks, in part, to the adrenaline that surely helped spike me closer to range), the down arrow disappeared and was soon replaced by a gently sloping northeast arrow on my Dexcom graph.  I continued down the bridge, and then through downtown Newport, towards the finish line.

It was early, it hurt, I was a little sluggish post-low, but my legs responded to my requests, and I kept going.

Thoughts of “I can’t do this,” were replaced by, “Oh hell yes I can.”

I’m not a fast runner.   Not a graceful one, either (more of a plodder).  But I get there.  And even though diabetes was a bit to blame for delaying my sprint across the finish line, it is fully to blame for bringing me to the starting line.

(And this run gave me a great Big Blue Test to log – 139 mg/dL at the outset, 158 mg/dL at the close, after 4.2 miles, 44 minutes, and about 40 grams of carbs.  Exercise for the freaking WIN!)

Guest Post: See You in the Slipstream!

Virtue Bajurny calls herself  “a Type 1″ and has had diabetes for 20 years. Until finding Connected in Motion she hadn’t been able to meet and befriend another Type 1. She lives in Toronto, but now calls Connected in Motion home. She is a social worker and is currently working as the Community Manager for Connected in Motion.  And today, she is writing about the Slipstream.

“The term ‘slipstream’ describes the wake of fluid or air behind a moving object, which (because of its velocity and air pressure) helps create a suction that pulls following objects forward. This means that if you are, for example, a cyclist following another cyclist you will require much less power to maintain the same speed than if you were riding solo. In other words: you’re still doing a lot of work, but not as much as you would be if you were doing the exact same activity on your own.

So, why are we talking about this effect in a diabetes blog post? Well, for me, the two have a lot to do with one another. Every year for the past five year’s Connected in Motion has hosted something it calls Winter Slipstream. It’s a weekend where a bunch of type 1s get together for outdoor activity, indoor chat sessions, and hanging out. Like the slipstream described above, there is always a funny thing that happens that weekend: diabetes feels easier when you’re dealing with it in the group.

This past year was my third Winter Slipstream and early this fall I was fortunate enough to attend the Western Slipstream event on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada. Something that struck me at this last event is where I am now, a place I don’t think I could have arrived out with Slipstreams. First, I went from knowing no one else with diabetes for fifteen years to have a ridiculous amount of friends with type 1 now. Those friendships have proven an awesome source of support.

Second, I keep thinking about high ropes courses: the first time I encountered them at an event I only just got up the ladder to the high ropes; the second time I made it part way across the first challenge; and then at Western Slipstream I did the whole course!

To me, this point just illustrates the support and encouragement of Slipstream weekends—people are there to help you through however far you want to challenge yourself. I feel like often we, as people with diabetes, are told what to do with our diabetes. Having people around that get what the challenge of diabetes is like, trust that I know my own situation best, and meet me wherever that might be really feels like a breath of fresh air in my life with diabetes. I feel so lucky to have this ‘slipstream’ in my life now; it’s allowed me to achieve things personally, professionally, and diabetes-wise that I never could have imagined if I were outside of it and on my own.

The CIM Team, in partnership with Riding on Insulin and with the support of Insulindependence, are excited to bring the energy of the Slipstream to the Pacific Northwest in October. This will be the first time that the Slipstream has traveled outside of Canada and they are excited to see where it will take them in the future. Click here for more information and to register: Pacific Northwest Slipstream.

In the meantime, keep in touch with the CIM Facebook Page or Twitter, and check out some previous Slipstream experiences on their YouTube Channel. 

Hope to see you in the Slipstream!

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