Archive for September, 2010

I really only have one thing to say about this: OMG!

September 16th, 2010

You know I read a lot of blogs and try to peruse the internet for the latest and greatest idea/study/happening.  Today has a winner that might beat everything.

INSTANT RECESS.  For adults.

Check it out!  Dr. Toni Yancey came up with the idea and I can’t tell you how much I adore it.  Instead of taking a coffee or (heaven forbid!) cigarette break, the entire office takes an exercise break.  Ten minutes of simple, basic moving about and then back to the grind.

I bet you 95% of those who take the exercise break go back to their desks with smiles on their faces.  Maybe more.

I think part of the problem here is that some people have had some experience with exercise being boring.  So they don’t want to do it.  So they don’t do it.  And when they hear how much they should do it, they want to do it even less than before.

So how do we fix that?

We make exercise fun.

I have a bootcamper who finished her first month with me and announced “I thought I hated exercise.  After I came to bootcamp, I realize that I don’t hate exercise!  I hate the gym!!” 

How wonderful!!

This is why I stress to everyone that it isn’t about hating what you do for exercise.  If you want to stop calling it “exercise” for crying out loud don’t call it exercise.  But move yourself.  Get your heart rate up.  Get off the couch.  Get outside.

Go have fun.  Play.  Take a break from the sucky parts of your day.  Get moving and get smiling.  Talk to each other, even if your words come out in gasps.  There isn’t competition at recess, unless it’s who can make it to the swings faster or go higher or zip faster down the slide; whatever it takes to have more fun.  Even for ten minutes!

I bet if you mention this at your next staff meeting you will NOT get only angry stares and glares.  I bet at least one other person will think this is a great idea.  Shoot; send a link to this post to your boss!  As our world values efficiency and expediency more and more, our overweight bodies have become less efficient.  Who wants slow employees?  We all want a vivacious workplace – no one wants to hate heading to the office every day.

So let’s get it started with an Instant Recess.  Ready?  Set?  GO!!

Who is a Sleeping Beauty?

September 15th, 2010

I had a weird night’s sleep last night.  Being a daily blogger now, this kind of thing makes me want to write about how important sleep is to our general health and fitness. Thank goodness I receive the IDEA Fitness Journal and can read articles about sleep!

First, we know we feel better when we get enough sleep.  But are you aware of all the physiological things that happen when we don’t get enough sleep? 

Sleep serves three main functions for our bodies:

  1. It serves as energy restoration period from daytime activities (recharge!)
  2. It affords bodily protection at night when sensory capacities are down-regulated and
  3. It affords the brain needed time to consolidate important experiences and memories for learning

So how much does the average person need to sleep to reap the benefits?  Most adult men and women need 7-8 hours of sleep a night.  Infants need 14-15 hours, toddlers need 12-14 hours, preschoolers 11-13 and school-age kids 10-11 hours.  (My cats need 20+ but that’s a different story.)

However, if you don’t get adequate sleep you will fall into the “chronic sleep restriction” category and susceptible to impaired metabolic and neuroendocrine function, glucose regulation, and waking behavior


With an elevated sympathetic nervous system resulting from a chronic lack of adequate sleep, evening cortisol production increases.  This has shown to increase food intake and the accumulation of abdominal fat.

Double ick.

More critical than cortisol, however, is the interference with glucose metabolism that chronic sleep restriction causes, establishing a high association between sleep debt and [type two] diabetes.

Quadruple ick.

You’ve probably noticed in your own life that when you get tired you begin looking for external help: many people begin to consume more high-energy foods and drinks when they suffer from chronic sleep.  Additionally, the fatigue one feels inhibits physical activity and increased sedentary behavior—just what you DON’T need when you are dealing with increased cortisol production and impaired glucose metabolism!

Fortunately, there are many options for us to create good sleep opportunities for ourselves and our family members.  The University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter (2008) offers the following suggestions:

  1. Cut down on caffeine consumption in the late afternoon and evening.
  2. Do not smoke or use any other products with nicotine before bed, as nicotine keeps many people awake. [Don’t even get me started on this one!!]
  3. Create a “noise-free” sleeping environment.
  4. Create a sleep-friendly bedroom by doing the following: use comfortable linens and pillows, put up darker shades, replace a worn-out mattress and keep the bedroom cool during sleep hours.
  5. Drink fewer fluids after dinner, to minimize trips to the restroom.
  6. Attempt to deal with stressful issues during the day and put them away at night (seek professional consultation as necessary).
  7. Set a regular time to go to bed and a consistent time to wake up.  Keep to this schedule.
  8. Avoid brining work projects and personal paperwork to bed.
  9. Avoid bringing food to bed.
  10. Limit naps to a maximum of 30 minutes and try to take naps earlier in the day.

Good luck, sleepy heads!

I Love When the Experts Agree With Me

September 14th, 2010

I get a fair number of questions from the people in my life about what I eat, what I don’t eat, whether I think X food is good or bad, etc.  It comes with the territory, I think, of being a personal trainer/bootcamp instructor and basically putting myself out there when it comes to diabetes as well.

So I really love when I read something that an expert says that mirrors something I just said last week to someone, or something an expert said that put tactfully something I wish I could have said but didn’t say because I’m not the most tactful person.

Oh, and because I just adore being right.

Today’s example (of me being right, in case you missed it) is found in the September 2010 IDEA Fitness Journal and has to do with using agave syrup rather than sugar. 

So, the expert (Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD and New Mexico’s 2009 Outstanding Dietician of the Year) shares that as a fructose sweetener, agave syrup has about the same number of calories per teaspoon as white sugar.  It is sweeter than table sugar and honey, so you can save some calories by using less.  Because of its high fructose content, it is touted as a sweetener with a low glycemic index.  But be aware that this may not be true across all agave products.  Agave’s fructose content varies, depending on the source of the nectar and how highly processed the syrup is.

Bottom line?  Sugar is sugar is sugar.  Agave syrup still contains calories, so as with any caloric sweetener, use it moderately and examine product labels to know what you are getting.

Here is what I know about any type of sweetener people are told is the next greatest thing: It’s still the same.  As the expert states: sugar is sugar is sugar.

Sure, the different types of sweeteners may hit your blood stream slightly differently than one another, but overall, we find ourselves again at healthy eating being something requiring moderation every day.

I know it’s a drag in some ways, but is it really that challenging?  How differently do you think we would eat if we didn’t hear the latest infomercial or see the brightest bag on the grocery shelf?  How do you think you would eat if you had never heard the term “glycemic index”?  For that matter, how do you think you would eat if every time you went down the cereal aisle you only looked at the shelves above four feet? 

(I decided years ago that for me, I don’t need to put more chemicals in my body if I can avoid it.  As a result of that decision, I stopped consuming artificial sweeteners of all types (no Splenda, no NutraSweet, no Equal, etc) and try to only eat foods with ingredients I can pronounce.  I’m nowhere near 100% with that, but I am happy with my decision and don’t regret a thing. 

I’m all for eating real sugar and real butter rather than laboratory invented foodstuffs.  Like I said, I’m not anywhere near 100% but it’s a goal of mine to eat with as minimal factory intervention as possible.)

Urban Dare Report

September 13th, 2010

My Urban Dare Partner wrote up a fabulous report of our adventure in San Francisco on Saturday.  It’s so great and pretty and well-formatted I hesitate to copy it, so please head over to Wet Dog and check it out!

Wet Dog Blog: Urban Dare San Francisco 9-11-2010

We weren’t sure how fast we were going to make it from point to point, so when we arrived (45 minutes before the announced start) I lowered my basal for 90 minutes.  Once we got our questions, I was so focused on the task at hand I didn’t think about much else!  I did check and was 167; perfect for an unknown adventure. 

We were on our way to the three-headed Buddha and Peggy turned to me and asked if I needed to eat or check or anything.  I said nope.  A few minutes later we got to the Buddha and I checked.  I was 60.  (I now suspect Peggy is in fact a D4D able to smell a falling blood glucose level!)

I ate a Gu and had half of my sandwich as we tried to get the guy to do a cartwheel.  (One of the highlights of my day.)

Then we were on to the next stop!

I don’t think I checked or felt a need to check the rest of the way.  When we got to the end, I was 147 or something like that.  I hadn’t bolused since the race began.  Go exercise!

Anyway, a ton of fun and an activity I would recommend to anyone, anytime.  So much fun!!  (And yes I know I’m a shorty.)

Is There Such A Thing As A “Bad” Diabetic?

September 10th, 2010

A lady made a comment the other day about her mother being a “bad diabetic” and herself struggling with living with diabetes.

It made me really sad.

I don’t want anyone thinking they are a “bad diabetic” because they have natural mood swings, food cravings, moments of weakness in the face of temptations, moments of forgetfulness or even denial.

Those are things that make your normal, not things that determine your merit in the face of a complicated and unrelenting disease called diabetes.

 Let me also be clear on another thing: your response to your disease will affect and possibly damage your relationships with those you love and those who love you but it can truly only physically hurt YOU.  There is no second-hand smoke when it comes to diabetes.  No one else can catch it, and in that same vein, no one else can do what you yourself need to do after you’ve been diagnosed.

So it’s up to you, for better and for worse.

But I still cringe when I hear someone refer to themselves as a “bad diabetic” because they want birthday cake, or because they ate potato chips, or whatever.  I know it is most often said in jest but there is real truth and fear behind those words

Yes, listen to your doctors and diabetes educators.  Yes, listen to the guidelines broadcast throughout the country and medical community.  Yes, understand what is going on with your blood sugars in response to your food and medication.  Yes, participate in your understanding of your disease

Learn what foods make you feel healthier and what foods make you groan an hour later.  Learn how exercise can make you feel physically and mentally.  Learn what it takes to treat yourself well and how that feels.

But relax a bit on your self-criticisms.  Don’t let a number determine how you feel about yourself.  Please don’t let those little gadgets tell you how much you are worth in the world.  Be more than your disease.  Don’t let the fear of failing to be a “perfect” diabetic turn you into thinking you are a “bad” person or “bad” diabetic. 

I don’t even think “perfect” really exists.  And I know there is no such thing as a “bad” diabetic.

Treat yourself kindly and intelligently.  You deserve it.

25 Facebook Responses. Oh My.

September 9th, 2010

I came home from my Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend with four awesome trophies signifying my hard work and running accomplishments.  Tuesday evening I took a picture of all four of them and posted them to my facebook page.

What a disastrous idea.

3 medals and a toenail-- each a trophy I earned

I had 25 responses to this one photo.  And they were not all in the “congratulations you rock” kind of way.


I got to have a discussion of how, and if, I care for my diabetic feet.


That is what we needed to discuss in that photo?  Wow. 

I can rationalize these responses into the commenters caring about me because they saw I had a bruised toenail, a lack of a knowledge of marathon running (a result of running 35+ miles/week for several months, bruised and missing toenails are a consequence of the sport), all sorts of rationalizations to avoid telling well-intentioned souls they have completely missed the mark.

But I’m really, REALLY tired of that rationalization and benefit of the doubt I give to others who feel free to offer unsolicited opinions and share unrelated concerns because they see me primarily as a diabetic. 

I usually don’t hear it from people who live with diabetes—it’s the ones who don’t have diabetes who feel a need to remind me I have a disease.  Hmm.

If I had a black eye after a car crash, would you tell me my diabetes might make me go blind someday? 

Did you realize that those comments assure me you see me NOT as Amy first, but as a diabetic?

What a shame.

You’re missing out.

You’re missing out on ME. 

It makes sense why many of us don’t talk about our diabetes.  Why should we?  If we know that whatever mood we’re in will be blamed not on our minds or emotions but on our blood sugars, what worth do we have as individuals?

It’s too bad; I am a complete person AND I have diabetes; they don’t eclipse each other.  They shouldn’t, and if you let someone in your life appear before you as a diabetic first, you are missing out on who they really are. 

Diabetes is hard enough, but when we feel our identities shrink in the face of the disease it is almost intolerable.  I ran all those miles, had all that fun, met all kinds of people and ran alongside people from all over the country for two really fun hours.  I trained for nearly two years to earn one of those medals.  I traveled to cities and towns I’d never seen and saw countless sunrises on the way.  Sure, I brought glucose with me and stopped to check my blood sugar I don’t know how often.  But that wasn’t what you saw.  You saw my toe.  My “diabetic” toe.

What’s more, I don’t check my feet because I have diabetes.  I pay attention to my feet because I worked for a podiatrist for more than a decade, look at them every day when I stretch, paint my toenails myself, sit with my legs crossed and my bare feet underneath me, and am more ticklish than anyone I’ve ever met.  I pay attention to my feet because I am a runner.

But some thought I needed the reminder to take care of my “diabetic feet” because they saw my bruised toe. 

I should have replied “you know, everyone gets bruises—not just people with diabetes.”

Although you don’t usually get bruised toenails from sitting on the couch.

Make sure when you find yourself in a similar spot you remember YOU can eclipse your diabetes.  Don’t let people in your life see things any other way. 

You deserve it.

My Disneyland Report

September 8th, 2010

Many of you may know that I was in Disneyland last weekend for the Disneyland Half Marathon.  I had so much fun I feel kind of dopey writing about it—there is no chance all that fun can possibly come across on a computer screen!!

But I’ll try.

We got there on Thursday and picked up our bib numbers on Friday.  Fun already—the expo was in full swing when we went to pick everything up so I even got to shop!  Not only did I get to shop at the expo… but they were selling RUNNING STUFF to people who ENJOY RUNNING so I was hanging with my peeps.

So fun.

One shop had all kinds of fun shirts; I wanted to buy every single one they had but I held back and I think only got three.  Maybe four; I can’t remember—I was in the Zone. 

On Saturday we had to be at the start line by 6:15am.  Yikes.  No big deal; there were only 5,000 runners and it was a fun run so no one crowded too much.  Super fast, super fun course through both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure.  Yay!!  The Disney runs take you all sorts of places you’ve seen and all through parts of the area you’ve never seen—those parts behind the “Cast Members Only” gates!

Sunday’s half marathon was a bit slower than the 5k (it’s much easier to maintain a faster pace for 25-30 minutes than 90-120 minutes!) but just as fun.  This run was monitored for pacing, so they started us out in waves, according to our predicted finish times.  It was a great way to start since we weren’t afraid of trampling a walker as those of us with less control over our excitement busted out of the gate.

You can see in the Garmin report where I stopped to check my blood sugar: mile 4, mile 6, and around 8.5-9 (my heart rate drops and my pace slows way down).  What you can’t see are my blood sugars: I started before the run around 180, which is a great spot for me to start a long run on a course I haven’t done before.  Excitement got to me and at mile 4 I was 304.  I was smart this time and remembered what happened last time I didn’t eat; this time I took insulin and ate anyway.  I would normally stop again at mile 8 but since I was high at mile 4 I didn’t want it to take that long before I checked again.  The check at 6 miles had me again at 304.  This was a fine result, since I knew I had insulin still on board that hadn’t it, but the sugar had already entered my blood stream.  Holding steady at that point was pretty great for my run.

I was down to 215 when I checked again for the last time.  I knew I still had a way to go so I ate another Gu (25 grams CHO) and kept running.  I did not bolus for that second Gu because I knew how my body would likely respond.  By the time I finished the half marathon I was 141.

Not a bad result.  I felt strong and relaxed during the run and while I would have preferred to keep my blood sugars under 200 for the entire run, that isn’t always possible for Event Day when the excitement is going full blast (did I mention I was BEHIND CAST-ONLY DOORS AT DISNEYLAND?!) and I’m not in control of the course.

I wonder how fast I could have run it if I didn’t stop for blood sugar checks and if I weren’t at 300 for a portion of the run.  I smile when I think about it—I feel like I am making a great showing in my runs and no one else probably knows how it feels to function with a blood sugar of 300. 

Much less set a personal record.

My Disney Half Marathon Medal

Still on the Zen Thing

September 7th, 2010

Since you were born, what has your body done for you? Since you were born, what have you done for your body?  –Zen proverb

Last week I wrote a bit about what my body has done for me.  Today I want to talk about what each of us has done for our bodies.

Granted, those of us living with diabetes are at what some may consider a disadvantage because our bodies don’t function as they were designed to function.  But I don’t consider that a stopping point—I consider that a STARTING point.

It would be easy to say I’m too tired from swings in my blood sugars, too scared of going low, too busy managing my disease to take care of my body.  But as one of my bootcampers said once: “it’s not about easy.”  (Nor did anyone ever claim it would or even could be.)

I’m in this for life.

I certainly haven’t always felt this way; I know I spent time being afraid of my life with diabetes.  Growing up and before I was diagnosed, I was not encouraged to go out and run around—a scuffed knee was a big deal in my house.  But now, I see that scuffed knees heal and I want to get out and encounter the world, interact with it and experience life.

I need my body to help me do that.

So, I take care of my body now in ways I never had to as a kid and didn’t when I was a teen with type one diabetes.  I drink a lot of water to keep myself hydrated.  I try to minimize the chemicals I ingest.  I try to fill up on veggies and fruits before moving to quick carbs or fat-loaded proteins.  I try to fuel my body with quality sources of energy.

Above all, I try to exercise my body so that it knows I care about it. 

I lift weights to keep my bones strong and my muscles challenged.  I run to keep my heart healthy and my joints moving.  I stretch to reward my tired body with relaxation and increased blood flow with the nutrients my body needs.

And I don’t stop. 

Of course I take rest days when I or my body needs them.  But I don’t think exercise is only for a period of time or only until I reach a certain poundage or clothing size.

I was surprised by what happened when I started to exercise my body and get it to a weight it wanted to be.  I felt better.  My confidence rose.  My knowledge that I am a participant rather than a spectator in my life led me to new experiences, new goals, and new achievements.  What amazing benefits.

See, I don’t think any of us are supposed to ever reach the horizon—I think that’s the point.  We need it to be visible yet just out of reach so that we have someplace to dream about, someplace to reach for, and someplace to go. 

Thanks to the way I care for my body, I know I will be dreaming, reaching, and travelling for quite some time. 

Right on.

Joslin Diabetes Center | Tips on Becoming an “Active Exerciser”

September 6th, 2010

Joslin Diabetes Center | Tips on Becoming an “Active Exerciser”.

This Zen Proverb Made Me Think

September 3rd, 2010

Since you were born, what has your body done for you? Since you were born, what have you done for your body?

–Zen proverb

See, now this is a question I think separates the men from the boys, as it were. 

I know that most of us with diabetes read that first question and have a vehement response: my body gave me diabetes.  Gee, thanks.


But then the second question is where the meat is: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR YOUR BODY?

Are you hanging onto your anger at your body over developing diabetes? 

Are you letting it waste away by not challenging yourself physically?

Are you poisoning it with unnecessary chemicals?

Well; are you?

We each get one body.  ONE.  It must last us our entire lives—we do not get another chance at this.  We can’t sit back and passively destroy our bodies.

I don’t want to fight my body any more than I already do with my diabetes: I want to enlist my body as one of my best tools!  Just like I can’t leave my best tools out in the yard all year to gather dust, grime, and rust, I can’t assume my body will be okay if I don’t take care of it.

We need to get moving, get exercising, get thinking about how we can take care of our bodies.  Not only because we “should,” but because we, and our bodies, deserve it.

Since I was born, my body has done an incredible amount for me.  My legs have supported me every place I’ve ever gone.  They have endured four shots a day with only a rare mark to display the unnatural act.  My feet have been bruised, blistered, cold, and sweaty hot yet they have kept me grounded

My waist has appeared and disappeared and reappeared as I grew, matured, gained, and lost weight.  My shoulders have remained high as I faced countless challenges, only reluctantly stooping once in a blue moon. 

My arms have hugged more friends than I knew existed, and held onto my parents when my legs hadn’t yet learned to walk.  They reached for the stars and climbed tree branches and caught footballs and threw red rubber balls and bent and straightened for every pushup I’ve ever done. 

My hands have done more than I ever thought.  My fingers have felt more surfaces and touched more and bled more than most, I am sure.  My hands remain strong to hold a friend’s hand in need, to pat someone on the back for a job well done, to high five a child and to shake paws with a good dog.  My fingers have followed the lines of miniscule type in too many law books and I have watched them quiver when I have been low.  My fingers placed my husband’s wedding band on his finger as we held each other’s hands.

This weekend, my body is taking me for a run through one of the happiest places on earth as I run the Disneyland Half Marathon and 5k.

I couldn’t do any of this if I didn’t have this one body. 

My body has done so much for me, despite some considerable flaws.  But when I look at what I have really received from my body, really and truly, the flaws fade away. 

My body has enabled me to BE, in this massive and wonderful world.

What has your body done for you?