Archive for March, 2011

Last Day of the March Challenge

March 31st, 2011

You know I’ve been encouraging you to figure out ways to ask for help all month when it comes to living with your (or your child’s) diabetes.  It’s important.

I had a strange afternoon yesterday, and it showed me the total awesomeness of strangers and it has been making me grin ever since.  How lucky are we to be a part of such an amazing world??

(Okay so it has been rain-free and sunshiny and today it’s going to be in the 80s so I freely admit I may be a little wacky just because of the change in weather!)

I thought I’d close out the month with a reminder that we could ALL use this skill in our lives, with and without diabetes being a part of it.

Check out this little story a reporter wrote about a woman at a Texas road race:


Before I ran my first half marathon six years ago, Barbara Sucher sent me an email. She wished me luck, said she knew I could do it, and then told me this, which I’ve thought about every time I’ve run a half-marathon:

“In a race, I always write the Winston Churchill quote ‘Never give in’ on the back of my legs. Many, many people have told me how inspiring that is and that it keeps them going.”

Barbara is 66 now, still running marathons and half marathons. Last Sunday, she ran an amazing 2:12 at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon , finishing third in her age group. Elated, she headed for her truck on the huge Cotton Bowl parking lot.

“I knew where I’d left it, but an ambulance came by and I got a little off track,” she says. “I continued to search until I was getting cold and a little panic-stricken.”

Suddenly, Barbara says, she tripped on buckled pavement and landed face first. Totally stunned, she just lay there.

“A very nice man named Andy rushed over and asked if I was all right,” she continues. “I couldn’t even think of who I was or anything else about me…Finally, I realized I was wearing my Road ID and I pointed to it. He tried calling the numbers and finally left a message for my daughter, Kelli.”

Then he told her, “I won’t leave until someone comes to get you.”

Other people stopped by, too, offering to help Barbara find her truck. She couldn’t remember what it looked like, but thought it was a Toyota. They set off searching, and she could hear them calling out to one another. She finally felt able to sit up. Andy kept watching until Kelli called and took Barbara to the emergency room.

A CT scan of Barbara’s head showed two enormous bumps. She hadn’t broken anything, hadn’t bruised any ribs. She finally began “to get my senses back,” she says. “But I have a huge and startling black and green and red eye and look pathetic!”

Her point of telling me this, she says, was — well, basically to say thank you. She knew her fellow runners were cold and tired, yet they went out of their way to help her.

Life can turn on the proverbial dime, or on the twist of an ankle. It can be tripped up by a 3 a.m. phone call, or by a piece of concrete on a parking lot. When that happens, what a blessing it is to have people around to make sure you’re OK; to guide you to where you need to be; and to make sure, if at all possible, that you never give in.


Let the concepts of asking for and giving help and what those two actions give you in return carry you well past the month of March.  Let it be something you always hope to share, in either form, wherever you go and whatever you encounter.

All my best to each of you!

Leading A Charmed Life?

March 30th, 2011

Joslin directed me to a WebMD Health News article today.  The title: Why Some May Avoid Type 1 Diabetes Complications: researchers say more than just blood sugar control may be at work for some patients.

So of course I read it.  (Especially after my eye visit yesterday when my doctor said she saw no diabetic retinopathy!)  I didn’t understand the other proteins, the ones referred to as advanced glycation end products… there are times I just need to draw a line in the sand of how much of some of these things I need to understand in a day.

Continuing on through the article, they quoted one of the experts as saying “those with diabetes who are free or mostly free of complications [after 50 years] are leading a charmed life.”  That one didn’t make me happy or motivated to seek that guy out.  I think a large part of what he calls “charmed” involves quite a bit of work every day over the course of several decades.

The author won me immediately back when she quoted another expert who said that most of the [Joslin 50 years of living with type one diabetes] medalists “do fairly rigorous exercise at least three times a week, 45 minutes or more.”

So check it out: EXERCISING DOES NOT REQUIRE LUCK, GENETIC GIFTS, TALENT OF ANY KIND, COORDINATION, INTELLIGENCE, MONEY, or anything, really.  You’ve seen that people without legs can exercise, and do!

Since exercise, and I do mean rigorous exercise, can lead to so many benefits and is one hallmark of a long life with type one diabetes, and since exercise requires so little of us other than carving out the time it takes to work up a sweat, my vote remains in favor of exercise as a way to deal with and combat some of the unwanted outcomes of type one diabetes.

In fact, I’m now re-energized and heading out for a nice long run to celebrate.

Who’s with me?

My Favorite Doctor Visit is Today!

March 29th, 2011

I was all set to blog this morning about diabetes and exercise and let me tell you, in case you haven’t noticed, I have a heck of a lot to say about it. But then I realized maybe you can relate to something I’ve got going on this morning that doesn’t have anything to do with exercise.  I’m curious now if you do!

So I’m all set, starting to write in my head what I have to say about exercise as I’m rushing around my house, trying to clean up because surprise the dinner we are having with friends tonight turns out will be at OUR house and wow I pretty much made it through the fitness convention weekend threw all my stuff on the ground and collapsed, and I’m rushing because I have a doctor’s appointment in a little over an hour and my house is a mess.

An hour. From now.

And I need to shower.  And get ready.  And my CGM is blaring at me that it wants me to calibrate.


But you know what?  Not one part of me is anxious about my doctor visit.  Why not?  Because I get to see my favorite type of doctor today.  All of my annual visits to all of the specialists (alright fine CGM you win I’ll go check right now)—so where was I—all of the specialists my life with diabetes requires me to see, and today is my favorite one.

It’s my favorite because I have the least anxiety when I see this doctor than any other doctor (dentist included).  It isn’t the personality of the actual professional (although my very first doctor did sing me the song every year that I later danced to with my husband at our wedding so that guy gets a gold star)—it’s the subject of the visit.

It’s my eye doctor!  (The song was “Once in Love With Amy” and I can still hear my original eye doctor warbling it to me in his office for the first time, 23 years ago.)

My dad has what I consider terrible vision, so the fact I have worn glasses since the seventh grade I kind of blame on him.  It’s nice to have a health-related something that I don’t think is related directly to my diabetes.

Very nice.

Amazing to think that if I didn’t have diabetes, I’d maybe see a general doctor once every two years.  Can you imagine?  But I’d still see an eye doctor, and I’d still see a dentist.  But the eye doctor doesn’t make horrid noises or make me spit, so the eye doctor would still win, hands down.

Sure, my eye doctor will ask me about my diabetes, and sure, she is checking for retinopathy and all sorts of other things that ARE related to my diabetes, but it’s still a different kind of visit for me.

It’s weird, but seeing my eye doctor almost makes me feel normal.  No wonder it’s my favorite!

A Weekend of Workouts

March 28th, 2011

I know some of you saw me posting on facebook all weekend long about the different lectures and workouts I attended at my fitness conference.  I hope it wasn’t annoying to you as I broadcast my activities every 90 minutes!

It was so fun. 

I had such a great time!

I did notice as the weekend progressed that my blood sugars were running higher than I expected during rest times, and I also saw my heart rate was higher than I expected it to be during the same periods.  

I was more exhausted than I thought! 

The adrenaline I must have relied on to keep me going as my physical energy dwindled workout after workout was making itself known.  When I’m at an event and I’m excited to be there and do whatever the activity is, sometimes I confuse the excitement and the adrenaline.  Seeing my blood sugars and heart rate rise cued me to recognize the adrenaline.

Dang!  I wish I could have the energy of the Energizer Bunny who can keep going and going and going.  I need to rest way more than I’d like.  (I have a lot of exciting things to do, thank you very much!  And it’s fun stuff!)  I know with absolute certainty that the exercise I do and the active life I lead gives me a great amount of energy that I probably wouldn’t last a moment without it.

 I still haven’t processed much of what I learned this weekend and many of the ideas that passed before my eyes I’m afraid continued through my brain and out: it is nearly impossible to retain all of that information and those ideas in such a concentrated amount of time.

But it was so much fun.

So I’m taking today off of exercise, and I might take tomorrow off as well.  I went back to bed after I got home from bootcamp this morning and re-woke at 11am.  My muscles are recovering, but this whole week I’m going to try and get extra sleep when I can.

I think I’ve probably earned it.

Exercise as Medicine?

March 25th, 2011

I’ve said food (more specifically, simple sugars or juice) is medicine to me to young kids who question what’s going on if I’m low.  I’ve said that exercise is like medicine, as well, particularly for those of us living with type one or type two diabetes.  But is it?  Have I been thinking about things all wrong??

 I read a newsletter yesterday that put a different spin on the “exercise as medicine” idea.  I hadn’t thought of it this way in the past but I love it a lot and I’m thinking of changing my opinion!

 The newsletter comes from Brett Kilika via Todd Durkin at Fitness Quest 10; I’ve blogged about FQ10 and Todd in the past.  Love him.  One of the FQ10 trainers wrote a piece for the newsletter:

“Exercise As Medicine”

By Brett Klika, Director of Athletics at Fitness Quest 10*

In America, too many people view exercise as medicine for an ailment. When you get fat, take exercise until you’re not fat. Exercise is not medicine. You take medicine for a brief period of time until you are no longer sick. Exercise is merely using our body the way it was designed to be used. It’s a lifestyle we were created to lead, not some trendy novelty.

Years ago, we didn’t have to think about creating opportunities to be physical. Very few things in our lives were automated, so our daily activities were enough to keep everything going. Right now, we have very little, if any daily activity requirements. We have to create them. If you don’t use it, you will lose it. You’re body runs a tight ship. It frequently goes through a “spring cleaning” process to get rid of anything it doesn’t need. If we don’t create daily reasons for our body to keep moving, it will stop. When your body stops, it hurts. It’s debilitating and you begin to suffer.

How do you plan to live your later years? You want to be able to walk? You better be walking quite a bit right now. You want to be able to pick up your grandchildren? You better be picking up heavy stuff on a daily basis right now. You want your heart to beat? You better be giving it good reason to beat hard every day! You don’t have to go to aerobics class, lift weights, or play a sport. You don’t have to strive to look like a model. You do, however, need to do something that gives your mind, body, and soul a reason to show up to work.


Perhaps we should re-think exercise in our lives.  As a means to an end we all want.  Let’s work toward that end every day and see what happens! 

I’m here if you’re struggling with exercise and your diabetes

*Brett Klika, Director of Athletics at Fitness Quest 10 is an international speaker, educator, author, and motivator with 17 years experience in the realm of training and coaching. Through writing, speaking, and various other forms of media, Brett educates and inspires trainers and clients all over the world to optimize their lives through wellness.

What Were These Researchers Thinking?

March 24th, 2011

So I should really start out by saying that I don’t intend to bash medical research or studies or what have you.  I think a lot of what they learn and we put into practice is important.

This one, however, just makes me kind of laugh.  It’s one of those “who do they think we are?!” laughs, more than anything.  Sure, it’s good information to have… but did it really require a full-on study?  That one is hard to believe. 

They wanted to resolve an apparently age-old question about blood sugar checks: whether or not you need to wash your hands before you check, and whether you need to wipe away the first drop and use the second drop of blood instead.

(Let me also put it out there that the colder my hands get through the winter the more likely I am to poke myself 3 times before any finger bleeds at all, much less a full drop or for heaven’s sake two drops.)

The way they did the study also makes me smile: they set up blood checks in several ways: (1) without washing hands, drop 1 and drop 2; (2) after exposing the hands to fruit, drop 1 and drop 2; (3) after washing the fruit exposed hands (love that phrase, too), drop 1 and drop 2; and (4) checking while “applying external pressure” to the finger, drop 1 and drop 2.

(Also note please that I usually won’t bleed unless I press my finger.  I consider this a very useful thing.)

Glad I wasn’t part of the study.  I feel I check plenty, thank you.  I hope they at least got paid for the 8 extra checks that day!!

Fancy this: they found the most difference between drops 1 and 2 were in the fruit exposed hands that had not been washed.  Makes sense, as you are essentially cleaning the fruit with the first drop and have more blood (and less fruit) in the second drop since the fruit was washed away.

They concluded (surprise surprise!) that we should wash our hands with soap and water and dry them before we check.  And then if we do that we can use the first drop.  But if we can’t wash our hands we’re supposed to use the second drop.  They also say that external pressure can lead to unreliable readings.

Alright.  Time for a reality check, researchers!  Get outside of your lab/office/clinic and go shopping at the mall at Christmas, or go for a hike on a spring afternoon.  Go to the movies and get some popcorn.  Sit in a classroom and take a spelling test.  Go to a piano or painting lesson.  Play a pick-up game of basketball.  Get caught in the rain or snow.

Then, randomly, realize you want to check your blood sugar to check what’s going on.

Repeat this every day, multiple times a day, and see how often you actually go wash your hands with soap and water, dry them, and then check.  See how quickly your calluses form and you need to press on your finger to get enough blood for a strip… and then double that requirement.

Yeah.  It’s harder than it sounds, isn’t it? 

As for me, no big surprise here, I plan to keep on checking the way I’ve always checked.  (I’ll bet you feel the same.)  But the study does make me smile.  It’s kind of quaint how all the scientists are trying to keep diabetes in a lab or clinic.

I’ll be outside, busy living, if you need me.

More On Motivation

March 23rd, 2011

I seem to be on a “motivation” kick and I’m not sure what that says about me. 

I talked last week about motivation to exercise and motivation to keep exercising.  But what about the long haul? How does one keep at it?

Sure, there are peaks and valleys in anyone’s fitness routines.  I’ve been struggling since the time change, for example, and I usually take time after a significant running event (10k or longer) to work out differently– without running a step—for a few days or weeks.

I sometimes dedicate a short run (less than an hour is short when it comes to marathon running) to a specific idea or specific problem I’m having in my life that I want to work on.  It gets me started and by the end of the route I am always thinking about something else… there is something zen-like about working out, for me, and that is something that keeps me coming back for more. 

In general, though, the following ideas from Breanne George, editor of Women’s Running, are ones I find particularly useful on days I just can’t believe I have to work out.  You can find the full article here, but what follows is my take on four of the seven ideas listed.

Set Goals

If I’m feeling like I’m happy to sit around in the background and while away my days on the couch, I contemplate signing up for a run.  Or, I look at the runs coming up in the next month or so and figure out whether or not I want to do any of them.  If that still doesn’t do it for me, I try something I’ve never done before, just to see if I can do it.  (It’s the kind of thing that gets me searching out the Army physical fitness tests.)  Even if I have to put in some work to accomplish the goal, I’m not laying around eating bon-bons so it’s all good.

Keep Track

This is one I really wish I had started a long time ago.  I thought it was so cool last year when I pulled up the report to see how many miles I logged in 2010.  (Then, of course, I made a new goal to beat that number in 2011.)  I absolutely know I have gotten faster as I devote more attention to my running and I absolutely know I have gotten stronger by lifting heavier weights, but I wish I had a really good “before” snapshot of what my training used to be.  I would love to be able to quietly pat myself on the back for all the work I’ve put in, and all of my achievements.

 Share Goals

I realized a couple of years ago that I actually benefit from sharing my workouts and my running goals with my bootcampers. (I can’t explain why, but I used to think for sure they didn’t care what I was doing for my own fitness.  I was wrong!)  If I tell them I’ve got a marathon coming up, they will check in with me and it just feels nice to have that kind of support.  More support = better living.

Spice Things Up

I do this one all the time.  I can’t stand to run the same route!  I think it’s fun to purposefully run on a street I’ve never been on before, or run a regular route in reverse.  (Although, this weekend it did backfire a bit because I got lost a little and ended up running an extra mile.)  It changes what I do and what I see just enough to keep my mind in the game.

A lot of staying in the game and working out is mentalThat’s what makes it so fun!


March 22nd, 2011

I’ve completed countless half marathons and two full marathons (so far).  When I started law school, everyone said “it’s a [three year] marathon, not a sprint.”  Neither of these are what any would consider “slight” or “easy” accomplishments.

But whenever anyone said that to me, I just smiled and nodded.  They were absolutely right, but I already knew I had it in me.

I live with type one diabetes.

I know endurance.

Someone (thanks CS!) commented on the Diabetes Outside Facebook page yesterday that diabetes is all about falling and getting back up.  I may phrase it differently, but she’s right: IT’S ALL ABOUT GOING THE DISTANCE WHEN IT COMES TO LIVING WITH DIABETES.

Yes, that means a lot of drudgery and a lot of pain in the neck things, but it also means you know what it takes to keep at a difficult task day in and day out.

There is no vacation from diabetes, but you know how to handle that.  You know how to ask others for help when it comes to just needing to share a smidge of the load.  You know how to look a lifetime of checks and shots and counting carbs and worries and mini crises smack dab in the eye and say “I’m still here.  I’m living my life.”

You know that diabetes isn’t about one meter reading, or one meal or one bolus.  It’s not one number, but is instead a mountain of numbers that seem to multiply exponentially over time.   It’s about putting one foot in front of the other over and over and over.  And over.

Every single one of us knows this, and every single one of us accomplishes a great thing every day.

THAT is, to me, endurance.

You Can Do This, Too!

March 21st, 2011

The IDEA Fitness Journal March 2011 has a little article about a trainer and successful client that caught my eye. 

The client lives in Maryland and at the age of 50, weighed 260 pounds in 2009.

Oh, yeah, and she has type one diabetes!

Working with her trainer, she lost 58 pounds in 18 months—practically perfect in every way, given a healthy weight loss rate of about a pound a week while she built lean muscle mass. 

She says that she used to need 125-150 units of insulin each day to manage her blood sugar and she now uses 18-20 units!  She had also been on numerous medications that she no longer needs.  (Since insulin moves not only carbohydrates from your bloodstream into your cells but also moves fat from your bloodstream into storage, the less insulin you need, the better.)

What a great story!

The best part, according to me, is not that she went from a size 20 to a size 10, but that she reports  now that “I have energy for all that I want to do.”

If THAT isn’t a success story, I don’t know what is!

As a trainer, I want everyone to have this same success.  Why let our overweight bodies tell us what we can and cannot do?  I’ve never let my diabetes tell me what I can or cannot do, and let me tell you, living with diabetes is waaaay more work than obesity.

As soon as I realized I was heading in the direction of letting my body determine what I could and could not be or do simply by being overweight, I wanted to change things and fix it.

And I did.

And so did this woman.

It worked for both of us and YOU CAN DO IT, too!  Sure, there will be some hurdles and things to figure out with your diabetes, but isn’t that true of every part of your life? 

I’m just so happy to see that someone else worked to make herself as healthy and fit as possible… and she got there like a champ!  Congratulations to her, and to everyone else who has achieved a similar feat with his or her body and his or her diabetes. 

It’s absolutely possible.

Go for it.

(And of course you know I’m here if you need support, guidance, knowledge and experience when it comes to physical fitness with diabetes.  Just ask!)

Sticking With Exercise (Part 2 of 2)

March 18th, 2011

Yesterday I wrote about the first two of the four most critical factors that stop people from sticking with an exercise program; today I’m tackling the remaining two.

As you know, Dr. Bryant listed the four most critical factors for exercise adherence:

  1. Injuries
  2. Time
  3. Boredom
  4. Results

Now to the tough ones.

BOREDOM.  I’ll put it right out there: this one confuses me a bit.  I think that I get bored all. the. time.  Really!  My attention span is remarkably short; I just hide it fairly well most of the time.

But that boredom, or rather trying to avoid that boredom, is essential when it comes to fitness.  Our bodies get bored with the same workout just like our brains get bored with the same old, same old.  By mixing up our workouts we can kill two boring birds with one stone! 

Get off the cardio machine at the gym and go outside for a walk, run, or interval workout.  Get on your bike and go someplace new.  Try a Zumba class.  Try a rockclimbing class!  There are so many gyms, classes, parks and rec offerings that are currently at rock bottom prices (check out any of the daily deal websites!) I simply don’t think there is a valid excuse for being bored with your workouts.

RESULTS. We all want them.  It’s a major motivator for most of us!  But geez they can take a long time to show up.  Bryant recommends keeping an exercise log, and I absolutely agree.  When you can look back on your log and see how many workouts you fit in, how many miles you logged, how many minutes you spent improving your physical self, that’s pretty cool.  It’s nice and free of judgments—it’s only listing what you’ve already accomplished—and is a silent little pat on the back every time you look at it.  You are capable of making progress every day—why not recognize that?  That progress is a result in itself.

Staying free of serious injury, making exercise a priority, beating boredom and seeing results are each necessary for continual exercise success.  Good thing we are all capable of this success in our lives!

Don’t let anything stand in your way; go for it!!