Archive for January, 2011

We Have To Be So Smart!

January 11th, 2011

Reading the introduction to Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink, Ph.D.  I am amazed at all of us living with diabetes.  Seriously.  Wansink says the average person makes an about 200 food or food-related decisions every day.

Those of us living with diabetes are WAAAAY above average.  I am a bit frightened to think how many decisions about food those of us with any type of diabetes make in our average day. 

I for one think about what will taste good, what it might do to my blood sugar in the near and far term, what kind of caloric hit it will take, what I ate an hour ago, what I think I’ll eat later, what I ate yesterday, what exercise I plan on performing in the next few hours, whether  I know what all of the ingredients are in the food or whether there are hidden sugars, whether there is a lot of fat or fiber that may slow down my digestion… and that’s just what I’m thinking as I type right now! 

I do a lot of it so often I am not sure I am actually consciously aware of most of my (more than average) food decisions.

Beyond that, Wansink’s position is that manipulating these (average) decisions is done far before any decision is actually put in front of us: advertisers, packagers, marketers, even architects and interior designers all play a role in our food choices.

And he isn’t even factoring in a disease like type one or type two diabetes.

 Wansink discusses how whether we eat in bright sunlight or a dark movie theater, or whether we eat off a small green plate or a big red one, or whether the food is 90 degrees or 92 degrees when we put our plate down on the table all have subtle psychological influences on our food choices: how much we eat, how much we enjoy it, whether we regret eating it later and so forth.

Those of us counting every carbohydrate need to be aware of at least some of this because, simply, we are counting the grams of carbohydrate in the food we put in our mouths, not what we put on our plates.  (Or our bag or box or carton or what have you.)

Yes, those of us living with diabetes have to be pretty darn smart.  We have to be so smart that we can sometimes outsmart ourselves!  Managing our food choices requires being aware, as much as possible, of many of the psychological effects external factors have on what we do and what we eat.

Sounds difficult.

But we can do this.  We’re smart, you know. 

Pretty darn smart.

Learn from your Dog: Have FUN with Exercise!

January 10th, 2011

Have you ever had a dog?  I haven’t been so lucky to live with a dog but I know a few fairly well.  I know that they have learned to spell some of their favorite 4-letter words like “f-o-o-d” and “w-a-l-k”.  I know that they know the patterns of their humans better than their humans do.  I know that if you walk within 4 feet of their leash and have spelled “W” “A” “L” and “K” within the last 5 minutes they will be all over you. 

They wag their tails at the thought of going for a walk.

They get to be outside, they get to see other people and other dogs, they get to smell smells they don’t get to smell inside their home and yard, they get to bond with their human, they get to go as fast as their legs will carry them in pursuit of FUN.

Wow; kind of makes exercise sound like it has a lot of benefits!  A dog kept pent up without time for exercise becomes destructive and anxious.  I think the same could be said about adults and children.

With or without type one or type two diabetes, all kids need to be active as they grow just like adults need to stay active. 

An online article caught my eye today from Men’s Health: 20 Ways to Raise a Healthier Child. (Now, I’m not saying I read Men’s Health very often.  Sure, I’ve stolen a workout or two from the magazine, but it isn’t one of my go-to resources.  I promise.)

Did you know that kids with active dads are 3.5 times more likely to be active themselves?  And not only that, kids with active moms and active dads are 6 times more likely to be active themselves! 

So set an example for the kids in your life.  All the kids in your life, not only for your own children.  Make movement FUN, make activities SOCIAL, make them EVERYDAY OCCURRENCES and you will all benefit from being more fit both physically and mentally. 

Day 1: All you need is a ball and a little creativity. Throw a football, catch a baseball, kick a soccer ball, or whack a tennis ball against a wall. Use old tires for targets, as you might see in a football skills competition. Even a game of catch has social and physical effects.
The benefit: Develops agility and hand-eye coordination.

Day 2: Jump, lunge, and skip to various markers around the house. Or collect a group of objects, such as medicine balls, basketballs, and tennis balls, and toss them for height or distance.
The benefit: Builds strength and flexibility.

Day 3:
Run wild. Organize relay races with neighborhood kids and their parents; create obstacle courses using cones or trash cans. Tow your kids on wheeled toys or in sleds when it snows. Then try the wheelbarrow race with them or set up a course that alternates sprints and crawling around on all fours.
The benefit: Boosts speed; teaches kids to apply and resist force.

(Can you imagine how much MORE FUN these activities would be if you let your dog join in the fun??  Wow.)

Getting Into A Celebratory Mood

January 7th, 2011

I tried to make this week all about motivation but I changed my mind a bit this morning.  I was paging through a book I have about raising kids’ self esteem and thought about how motivational tips and tricks end up meaning nothing if you don’t celebrate your hard work and resulting accomplishments along the way.

I’m serious.  If it means dressing up and going to a fancy dinner, or getting a pedicure, or opening that bottle of wine you’ve been saving, even if it means raising your glass of ice water at lunch, recognize and celebrate as many accomplishments as possible.

What do you have to lose?

I can’t go so far as to say every kindergartener needs a 2-hour graduation ceremony at school, but I will say they most assuredly need one in their family room.  (Cap and gown optional, but seriously fun!)

Nowhere is this more important than when you live with someone with diabetes, or if you have diabetes yourself.  Diabetes, type one or type two, requires such constant and unflagging vigilance with so few measurable “rewards” we must create them for ourselves and our loved ones.

First time your child has given himself a shot?  First time your child checked her own blood glucose?  Three in-range numbers in a row?  Five whole days of workouts this week? CELEBRATE.

Clearly, the celebration here is not the motivation.  But let me assure you, when you watch a young one race around the dining hall at camp collecting high fives for that first shot in his abdomen or first time drawing up her own insulin, you see how much JOY and PRIDE they place in accomplishing these soon-to-be-daily routines.  They know diabetes is a big deal, no matter how you slice it.  Give them some credit for knowing the seriousness of their disease in everyday life, and celebrate to recognize their hard work.

Living with diabetes is difficult in its simultaneous unpredictability and pervasiveness in our lives.  That’s simply the nature of the disease and NO ONE IS TO BLAME for it.  We don’t get any satisfaction from finding someone to blame someone for it, but we get to deal with it on our shoulders all the time.  So take a break from the difficulties when you can recognize a milestone for yourself or for your child or for your friend and celebrate that accomplishment.

When we stop the flow of life to ring the bell and announce a special moment for all to savor, not only do we deepen our awareness and appreciation of life, but we publicly proclaim the place and accomplishments of those we are celebrating.  (Will Glennon, 200 Ways to Raise a Girl’s Self-Esteem)

We don’t have much of a choice when it comes to living with either type of diabetes.  (Do it or die doesn’t seem like a choice to me.)  But we can chose how we deal with making it through a rough spot or a change in management or a goal accomplished. 

I choose to celebrate as much as possible.  Celebrate!

Are You Watching the Biggest Loser?

January 6th, 2011

A lot of bootcampers have been buzzing this week about the Biggest Loser reunion show and new season.  I can’t say I’ve ever seen a full episode (I did just hear you gasp at me) but I appreciate that many regular folks find the participants inspiring.

Since the show has been on for a few years, most of you have probably realized that it isn’t easy to lose 18 pounds in your first week.  Nor, for the record, is it a good idea.  The recommendation of 1-2 pounds per week doesn’t sound good when you’re first out of the gate, but it can last for a good long while if you do it right!  It took years to get to your current weight and it will take a while to get where you want—there are no easy short cuts when it comes to your body!

Runner’s World did a spread in their February 2011 issue and consulted with Robert Huizenga, M.D., the designer of the show’s fitness regime.  He gave some recommendations for those of you unlucky souls who didn’t make it onto the Ranch… and who don’t have five hours a day to spend exercising!!!

  1. Work Out Twice A Day—an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening for a total exercise time of 10-12 hours every week.  Huizenga also advised to go to bed early so you can get up early, as sleep is essential to weight loss.  (Sounds like yesterday’s recommendation to recover just as hard as you work!)
  2. Walk, jog, or run for your morning workout.  Huizenga says “people naturally use a higher level of exertion—and as a result burn more calories—with jogging compared with exercising on equipment like a stationary bike or elliptical machine.”  (Think about having to support your entire body and move it simultaneously and you’ll see why.)
  3. Mix It Up Huizenga recommends you alternate circuit training with any aerobic exercise for your afternoon exercise.  Strength training with weights will build muscle mass and speed your metabolism all day long.  (Circuit training = an alternating mix of weights and cardio.)
  4. Work out at an intensity that feels difficult.  This one is tough for a lot of us: “you should find it hard to carry on a conversation for as much of the workout as you can” Huizenga says, and suggests you increase your intensity with each workout.  He also says that an obese adult would have to walk for more than 33 hours at a moderate intensity to lose one percent of their body weight in fat; jogging would result in the same fat loss in 11 hours.

So does this mean you should go out, join a gym, exhaust yourself and starve yourself to be happy?  I don’t think so, and I can’t imagine the folks at the Biggest Loser think so either.  Recognize that long term dramatic weight loss is best done slowly, and you must be committed for a long time to that goal.  You will have to weather some storms, some plateaus, some frustrations and celebrate every victory possible in order to remain focused on the goal of a healthy body.

The best thing is?  This isn’t for only the people lucky enough to win a place on the show.  YOU CAN DO IT TOO.  Sure, the scenery may not be as nice and you won’t have maid service for your stay at the Ranch, but every single thing they do there, you can do, too. 

This one isn’t an elite group: fitness is for everyone.


(Don’t forget I’m here for you and I’m on your side: let me know if you’re looking for specific help from me as a trainer and Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach.  I’ve been there and I know how it feels.)

Finding Motivation- Top Tips!

January 5th, 2011

We all look for motivation from one another; I often look to Todd Durkin and Fitness Quest 10 for some of mine.  (I remember meeting him and telling him a brief bit about myself: he stepped back, looked me up and down, and said “you are UNIQUE!” so I’m now a lifelong fan.)

Todd and his FQ10 crew did a Top Eleven Tips for 2011 last week.  Wouldn’t you know; I recognized a lot of them from some of my 2010 blog topics!  Great minds think alike no matter how unique they are, I guess.

Here they are:

  1. Do Treadmill Interval Sprints to recruit new muscles and activate new areas you aren’t used to using.
  2. Focus on Nutrition since the three main aspects of fitness are (1) nutrition, (2) nutrition, and (3) nutrition.
  3. Find Partners who will help you show up to your workout and lend enthusiasm and support throughout your fitness journey.
  4. Mix It Up to avoid feeling bored with your workouts; try something new and have fun!
  5. Recover Just as Hard as You Work since rebuilding what we break down during workouts is essential to gain strength.
  6. Have Fun
  7. Stretch After Every Workout
  8. Change Things Up try a new machine, new move, heavier weights or faster or slower reps.
  9. Think Outside the Box
  10. Prepare for your life and your days: plan meals in advance!
  11. Stay Fit emotionally, spiritually, and mentally.  You deserve it.

Which ones here speak to you?  Get moving on whichever ones strike your fancy—just GET MOVING!

Start Slowly For Great Results

January 4th, 2011

As I drive to bootcamp in the wee hours of the first days of each new year, I see about 80% more people out and about.  I assume they are working on their own resolutions to get outside and run, bike, or walk.  Unfortunately for them, it doesn’t last for long.  Fortunately for me, it doesn’t last for long—they don’t know how to be out in the dark and some of them drive very sleepily and slowly!

But that’s what the New Year is all about: fresh starts.  I saw the following article on the other day and think it’s a good reminder that there is no such thing as starting too slowly.  (Except when it comes to driving in front of me when I’m on my way to bootcamp and you aren’t driving even the speed limit.) 

Just in case 2011 is the year for you to start running, I provide the information for you and for your body.  Enjoy!

Attention, beginner runner: It’s safe–and smart–to start out slow. Really slow. “Easing into it helps your muscles get used to the impact of running and helps your mind get used to the effort,” Hinton says. She recommends following a run/walk program like the one here three times a week (not on consecutive days). Begin and end each session with a five-minute warmup walk. Repeat a week if you don’t feel ready to move up. When you’re able to run consistently for at least 30 minutes, you can start adding more distance.

Week 1: Run 2 min, walk 3 min; repeat 6 times

Week 2: Run 3 min, walk 3 min; repeat 5 times

Week 3: Run 5 min, walk 2 min; repeat 4 times

Week 4: Run 7 min, walk 3 min; repeat 3 times

Week 5: Run 8 min, walk 2 min; repeat 3 times

Week 6: Run 9 min, walk 1 min; repeat 3 times

Week 7: Run 30 minutes

After you’ve been running for at least six weeks, add intervals to continue building fitness and shedding pounds. Intervals are short bursts of speed that engage the muscle fibers that make you go fast. (Bonus: Research has shown that sprints trigger a fat-frying response in your muscles.) To do them, warm up for six minutes with an easy jog. Then run faster for 15 to 20 seconds. Slow down to an easy pace for three minutes. Repeat the cycle three to five times, then cool down with a six-minute jog. Do intervals once a week and increase your sprint length by 10 seconds each week until you can go all-out for 80 seconds.

Resolutions Take Time

January 3rd, 2011

Yay!!  A New Year!!!  I’m sure at the end of 2010 each of us had mixed emotions reflecting on the year behind us.  Was your A1c where you wanted it?  Is your weight what you want?  Are you eating as well as you want to eat?  Are you exercising as often as your body wants you to exercise?

Maybe, maybe not.

Part of those mixed emotions is for me what makes a new year so exciting.  It’s just like back to school shopping: fresh new binders, books, pens and paper with only hope ahead, even though we suspect a year from now we may not be as excited or as hopeful.

But 2011 is filled almost entirely with hope in these early days.  Not many of us have gotten lab results back yet, our deductibles haven’t come due, and most of us have yet to even return to work or school.  A perfect time to make some resolutions.

Do you have resolutions for 2011 down on paper yet?  They don’t have to expire if you haven’t reached your 2010 resolutions yet, either—you can re-use your resolutions from last year as long as you remain focused.

I spent some time over my break from bootcamp to get certified as a Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach.  Yes, that was a 2008 resolution, but better late than never!  Sometimes life situations cause us to reorganize our priorities… but don’t ever lose your focus on goals that are important to you.

The marathon I ran in January last year was a resolution from 2003, believe it or not.  Yes, my stress fracture in 2004 meant I had to bide my time and strengthen my legs to prepare for both of the marathons I tackled in 2010.  But I never lost faith in myself or my ability to achieve that goal.

I can’t say I made a resolution to lose weight back in April of 2000.  I just knew that waiting another day was only going to delay my reaching my healthy goal.  It took me until October of 2002 to reach it, but man did it feel good when I got there.

Resolutions are wonderful things if they are done right.  I think a resolution involves a lot of hope, a lot of focus, some flexibility, and confidence in yourself and your abilities.  A proper resolution holds with it a fair amount of fear, too—enough to make sure that you really DO want to achieve that goal and that YOU are willing to put in some work to get there

My best resolutions haven’t been accomplished in a single year: they took daily effort and a lot of baby steps and considerable focus.  As you may have read on FaceBook a few months ago: “Discipline is remembering what you want.” -David Campbell

What do you care enough about that you are willing to go after in 2011?