Archive for September, 2011

Go Climb A Glacier

September 13th, 2011

My family seemed to vacation only at national parks when I was a kid.  I swear we were always driving to one park or another.  (At least for a squirmy kid like me, it felt like that: drive, drive, drive, set up the tent, deal with bugs, spend an hour with the camp stove, deal with bugs, go up a hill, go faster down the hill, deal with bugs, repeat.)

My favorite national park tee shirt said “GO CLIMB A GLACIER”.  I wasn’t old enough to come up with other words the shirt alluded to, but I got the gist and loved the fact my parents let me wear it anyway.

Sometimes, it really is all about the tee shirt.

But OTHER times, it’s about the National Parks!

The Journal of Forestry came out with a great set of facts on National Parks. They say that each year more than 170 million people visit national forests for recreation. And the physical activity associated with these visits burns 290 billion food calories. That equals enough french fries laid end to end to reach the Moon and back – twice.

How awesome is that?!

They looked also at what people do when they visit a National Park.  They said that hiking, walking, downhill skiing, fishing, relaxing, camping, and driving for pleasure are among the primary activities accounting for about two-thirds (68 percent) of all visits to the national forests.

What else is there to do at a national park?

Oh.  S’mores.  Of course!  I forgot.  (How could I forget S’MORES?!)

I love the fact I lived in a national park for three summers when I worked at Bearskin Meadow CampThat’s the kind of experience you just never get out of your bones or blood.  (Nor should you.)

The whole topic makes me want to visit a national park as soon as I can.  Maybe I’ll even climb a glacier when I’m there!


September 12th, 2011

A lot of people, at least with type one diabetes, say they don’t have a functioning pancreas.  That isn’t entirely true.  Our pancreas serves to produce several necessary things: insulin, of course, and digestive enzymes and various other hormones.  So for those of us with type one, it’s our beta cells that live in the land of those “Islets of Langorhans” that we’re missing.

It sounds almost like a place found at Disneyland, that Land of Langorhans.


At the cellular level, insulin grabs glucose and helps transport it into the cells.  If you’re like me, you learned this about thirteen thousand times in the four days you were in the hospital at your diagnosis: insulin is the key that unlocks the doors to your cells so that your body can use the food it eats.

Yup.  The key.   INSULIN IS THE KEY!

But then there is that other, much less discussed, function that insulin serves in our bodies.  Insulin doesn’t just help your body use glucose. 


It essentially helps your body store fat, too.  THAT one I only learned a couple of years ago.

THAT one I would have liked to have known a long time ago.

Insulin doesn’t do anything with the fats themselves, but it can serve to prevent the BREAKDOWN of your already-stored fat.


So it’s important to keep yourself on as little insulin (be it self-made or self-injected insulin) as possible.  One way to do that?  Why, remain as insulin-sensitive as possible!

How can you do that?  Two primary ways: (1) don’t need as much insulin to cover the food you eat (keep away from those big boluses to cover high-glucose spikes) and (2) EXERCISE to keep your cells happy and burning glucose as quickly as possible.

Exercise is awesome for more reasons that I can list in my “less than 500 words/blog” goal.  BUT, one of the reasons is that exercise helps to activate glucose transport… to me, in my life, that means that my insulin becomes SUPERCHARGED when I do cardiovascular exercise, or a weight training circuit that keeps my heart rate elevated.  (Love that supercharge!)  I simply don’t need as much insulin in my body.

If you exercise long enough to decrease the amount of glycogen stored in your liver, you ALSO get to replace that for the next day or so… my husband reminded me last week that I tend to go low the night after a half marathon.  (I’ll have to remember that next time.  I mean, I’ll have to remember that this Sunday because I have another half then!)  If I planned
better for it, it’d be like FREE EATING a little.

Hey, you’ve got to get it while you can.

(It’s also good to know that everything changes AFTER you’re done with a bout of exercise.  If you’ve had a lowered basal
rate, you may need to take a little bolus to cover a blood glucose climb.  Additionally, you need more insulin immediately after a strength workout to shift amino acids from protein into muscle cells where they can be used for muscle growth and repair.  It’s complicated, as you know.)

INSULIN ROCKS even if it’s complicated and challenging and makes those of us who have to manage our levels externally sometimes want to pull our hair out.

No matter what, I still like it.  Life really sucked when I didn’t have any insulin.  This way is MUCH BETTER.

Don’t you agree?

Taking a VACATION?!

September 1st, 2011

While I cannot take a vacation from my diabetes or its continuous monologue… I CAN take myself on a vacation WITH my diabetes.  So I’m going!

I’ll be running the Kauai Half Marathon on Sunday and then lazing around on the island for the remainder of the week.  We might do a bike tour, might take a sunset cruise, and may just do nothing at all.  (How great is that?!)