Archive for the ‘Weight, Weight, Don’t Tell Me– Does it have to do with what I eat?’ category

The Mind of a Diabetic, Take 41,578

August 20th, 2012

I never really know what I’m going to blog about.  Sometimes I wait for inspiration, and every day suspect maybe it won’t come.  Like today, for instance…until I remembered a funny thing that I’ll say I’m blogging about but really it’s just a funny story and hope you enjoy it. 

My mom’s birthday was Friday (in case you missed it; don’t worry I signed your name to the card) and my parents and my husband and I went out to dinner on Saturday.

We went to a fancy little place that was fun to try for a special occasion.  They have a three-course prix fix menu… each of the courses has four options.

Lucky for us, the chef sent out an amuse bouche after we ordered and before our first course arrived.  YUM.  Seriously; who would have thought that cold squash soup needed a few leaves of Brussels sprouts and three drops of maple syrup?  Sounds disgusting but was delicious.

So we’re eating and chatting and enjoying ourselves through our entrée course (have to love that my dad and I ordered “poulet deux” or something and my mom asks what the other thing on the plate is next to the chicken… it’s another piece of chicken! …guess which of the four of us didn’t take French class…), just like normal people.  They weren’t huge portions so I don’t think I had taken any insulin for anything yet.  (This was NOT an Olive Garden kind of place.)

And then after the entrée the waiter comes out with some sort of little drink for us—it was some sort of milkshakey cinnamon sugar sort of thing.  I’m not sure what it was called, but let me tell you: WOAH was it sweet.  I took one sip (of the two sips in the glass) and handed it off.

And me being me, I said something like “there isn’t enough insulin in my pump to drink that!” as I bolus for the sip I had just ingested.  (Yes it was that sweet that I bloused for one sip.)

And we’re still all chatting along, talking about our days, and my dad asks me what my next course is.  I had just been talking about where I ran that morning, so presumed he meant where I would next be running an organized race.  I start telling him all about all of my plans for the next few months… and because he’s my dad, he lets me keep going until I’m done.

At that point he says: “well, that’s all well and good, but I was talking about your DINNER course; it’s dessert and I thought you were out of insulin.”


Cheese course.  And, I didn’t mean it; it was just a really sweet drink, Dad! 

I thought it was funny.  Maybe you had to be there.  It’s just not something that someone who doesn’t have diabetes would even think about, so I thought I’d share it today.

Anything You Want

August 2nd, 2012

It’s important to START getting yourself where you want to be. 

You may surprise yourself along the way.

Is it fitness?  Is it body weight?  Your blood glucose levels?

Making a change for the better when it comes to any of them, I know from experience, requires patience and understanding of yourself and what you need.

It requires planning and flexibility.  And a fair amount of understanding.

Not to mention it requires determination!

This all sounds like a lot of work and a lot of changes and a lot of work and stress and did I mention a lot of work?  Gah; it’s no wonder people would rather spend a gazillion dollars on fix-it-fast “solutions” that sound good but don’t work.

And yes, the work is all worth it. 

But did you know, even if you don’t get to a size 4 overnight, that what will happen is that you will start feeling better about yourself almost immediately?  As soon as you start to make the changes you need to make, you will see that you ARE working on the goal, and you may start to understand that you WILL achieve it in time.

Baby steps are, after all, still steps.  Stumbling and falling and getting back up is still movement toward your goal.  Keep at it; keep on keepin’ on, and you can get there.

It’ll be great when you reach your goal, or mini goals along the way, and can then look back at where you are today and say: I’ve accomplished a lot of good things for myself.  Good job, Me.

I’m telling you: it’ll be great.  So, start today by simply determining what the first few steps are: do you need to clean out your cupboard?  Skip some desserts this week?  Try a walk each day for ten minutes? Bring your BG meter with you to the office? Sub in some fruits or vegetables instead of boxes or bags?

These are things YOU CAN DO.  You don’t need to schedule an appointment, or get a job, or go to school.  You just need to START.  That’s all!

Go after your happiness; it’s there and it’s waiting for you.

Parents Are People, Too

October 3rd, 2011

Just because you’re in charge of a kid, or even more, a kid with diabetes, you still need to carve out some time to take care of yourself, too.  Why?  Because you teach your children how to care for themselves when you take care of yourself.

It’s super important.

They’ve done studies where they looked at moderately obese children (5-9 year olds) and focused not on the kid at all—they looked at the parents.  By educating the parents and specifically training them in ways to make good, healthy choices their kids lost about 10% of their body weight, and kept it off for two years.

It isn’t just about you, and it isn’t just about your kid.  It’s about making good choices for EVERYONE.

But.  How. Do. You. Do. This. Amazingly. Difficult. Job. On. Top. Of. Your. Other. Jobs.

Some suggestions from a recent ACE magazine article:

  1. Take the kids along for the ride. “The best way for me to exercise is to take both kids out in the jogging stroller. Once or twice a week I meet some other moms at the walking trail. Pushing 60-plus pounds of kids and stroller up and down hills for an hour is a pretty good workout!” recommends Danielle Rattray, mother to Owen (4) and Hannah (1).
  2. Ask for help. Lean on a spouse or partner to watch the kids for a few minutes and go for a quick workout. Working parents often want to spend every non-working moment with the kids, but sometimes carving out a few minutes of personal time can make all the difference. “It’s hard not to feel guilty taking time to exercise by yourself when I already feel like I don’t get to spend enough time with [two-year-old] Xavier,” says Amber Curran. “But it keeps me happier and less crazy, so I figure that benefits him as well.” After all, she says, “No one wants a nutty mother!”
  3. Make a game of it. Barb Ruvarac, mother of school-aged children, Samantha and Zach, pushed herself to meet a predefined number of steps each day. If that means staying up late to get the steps in, so be it. “When Samantha went to bed I would finish my steps on the treadmill to reach 10,000 steps. Some days I’d only have to walk for 30 minutes, some days it would take longer. Then, I graduated from walking to running. Then my husband signed us up for the Shamrock Shuffle in 2010—first running event ever! And by May of 2010, I’d lost 20 pounds and two dress sizes!” Barb is now an avid half-marathoner and highly active role model to her highly active children.
  4. Prioritize. In describing her commitment to exercise despite working full-time and raising a nine-month-old, Beth Read uses an analogy that we all can relate to: “Like they tell you in the airplane…put on your oxygen mask first before assisting others.” Whether that means waking up before the children or staying up a little bit later, getting a few minutes of physical activity sets the stage for a more productive day and well-balanced person.
  5. Set goals. Tackling the most challenging health struggles becomes a little bit easier with goal-setting. Try this exercise: Write down three goals—a nutrition goal, a fitness goal and a behavioral goal. Operationalize this goal as much as possible by trying to make sure that the goal is SMART. Specific: What is it exactly that you hope to achieve? Measurable: How will you know if you got there? Attainable: Make sure it is something realistic that you are going to be able to achieve with some moderate amount of effort. Relevant: Choose goals that really are meaningful to you and that will help you feel like you’ve really accomplished something. And Timely: Set a date for when you hope to achieve your goal that is far enough in the future to give you time to meet it, but not so far that you will lose interest before reaching it.
  6. Commit to setting an example. It’s simple: Kids pay attention to what their parents are doing. Despite the many barriers to physical activity, taking the time—even if it’s just a few minutes per day—to engage in physical activity sets a powerful example for children. The repeated opportunities to see how you eat and play make it easy for kids to remember the experiences. And kids are motivated to copy their parents’ actions.

You aren’t alone in thinking this is a big giant task.  It is, and you’re lucky to love your kids enough to find a way to make it work for both of you.

You can do it!!!

Whoomp There It Is

September 30th, 2011

We’ve got new cardiovascular recommendations, Ladies and Gents.  The American Heart Association wants us all, by 2020, to improve our cardiovascular health by 20% and reduce deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20%.

That seems like a lot to accomplish in eight years.


Taken from the IDEA Health and Fitness Association’s September newsletter, the goals set by the task force assigned to make this all come down to 4 Health Behaviors and 3 Health Factors:

The new Impact Goals document declares that as men and women raise their levels of physical activity by increasing the intensity, frequency and/or duration of that activity, they experience much healthier lives. Moreover, coinciding with the release of the new AHA goals, new evidence suggests that low cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is as strong a predictor of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and other health causes of mortality (referred to as all-cause mortality) as are well-established risk factors such as smoking, obesity, hypertension and diabetes (Lee et al. 2010).

Confronted with how to define and measure ideal cardiovascular health, the task force identified four health behaviors and three health factors:

4 Health Behaviors

  • nonsmoking
  • body mass index < 25 kg/m2
  • physical activity (150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity exercise, or a combination of these two)
  • consumption of a diet that promotes cardiovascular health (emphasis on a low glycemic load, high fiber, high marine omega-3 fatty acids, high polyunsaturated to saturated fat ratio, and low trans fat content)

3 Health Factors

  • total cholesterol < 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
  • fasting blood glucose < 100 mg/dL
  • blood pressure < 120/80 mm Hg

Clearly those of us with diabetes have missed the Avoid Diabetes Boat (some of us by a long shot).  However, we still can do so much to reach fantastic levels of cardiorespiratory fitness we are missing another bigger boat if we don’t do our best to keep up with the other recommendations.

Let’s get after it.


Crunch That.

September 19th, 2011

Over the past few years, I’ve stopped doing the 10 minutes of abdominal work at the end of every bootcamp hour that I was taught to lead when I started years ago.  Here’s why:

crunches don’t get you much.

Core strength is important, of course. But you’ll strengthen your core anyway when you are doing other exercises with proper form!

(I think everybody loves crunches during bootcamp since that’s a time I’ll let them lie on their backs!)

I’m pasting in a portion of a discussion below, taken from a continuing education provider that has given me loads of great information.  The article points to several studies that
were published in the New York Times last monthIt’s worth a gander if you care about your core strength!

Are Crunches Worth the Effort?

When researches at Indiana State University began research on strength of core muscles vs athletic performance, the results were not what they expected. The thinking was that those with sturdy cores would perform better on physical performance tests. However, the results showed otherwise. But don’t give up on those core exercises yet.

While Indiana States results were not expected, other studies have shown novice runners do benefit from stronger cores. Those with better core strength were able to
reduce their 5K running time.

While studies vary across the spectrum on whether strong cores help with performance, what is known is if you train for your sport, the core strength will come. So what
does this mean for us? Avoid performing dozens of crunches. In fact, 6-8 good quality crunches a few times per week are best. Perform them correctly by maintaining the natural curve of the spine and lift only enough to feel the first bit of contraction. And remember, we all have a “6-pack,” but some of us need to reduce the body fat.


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?

To Continue The List of Healthy Options to Feel Good About

August 30th, 2011

I just love that Prevention magazine somehow came up with a percentage by which these changes can improve your health.  I’m betting they have similar percentages for health improvements for taking stairs versus elevators, drinking coffee versus tea, and maybe even crossing the street on a flashing “do not walk” sign.  (Okay probably not that one.)

It’s precisely the kind of article that keeps me buying magazines.  Full of short, fun ideas that just might work.  On this list (there were only 12 on the original list so this is it) my favorites are: 8, 9, and 12.  Which ones look good to you?

7. Keep your doctor on speed dial

Health boost: Slash medical mistakes up to 25%

Don’t assume that no news is good news when you’ve had a checkup: Physicians fail to inform 1 out of every 14 patients whose abnormal test results are clinically significant, according to a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine; among some doctors, the number of no-calls was as high as 1 in 4.
Delayed diagnoses can be linked to thousands of serious injuries and health crises—and even deaths—each year.

“If you are subjecting your vein to a needle, you have a right to know what the test is for and why it matters,” says Katz. Talk with your doctor about when you’ll hear about results, and if she finds something that requires treatment, when you might expect to hear from her again. You can always follow up with her after that date.

8. Squeeze your [spouse]’s hand

Health boost: Slash stress by 200%

A brief hug and a few minutes of holding your {spouse]’s hand can fend off stress, according to a study reported at the American Psychosomatic Society. Researchers asked two groups of participants to speak about a stressful event, an exercise that typically causes a spike in blood pressure. BP readings of those who did so without holding their spouse’s hand before speaking were more than double those of people who held hands; their heart rates also rose twice as much.

9. Strike a warrior pose

Health boost: Ease back pain by 56%

Spending time on a yoga mat can significantly reduce chronic lower-back pain, according to a study from West Virginia University. Researchers  asked 45 people whose back pain caused mild to moderate disability to do a 90-minute yoga workout twice a week for 6 months. Compared with patients who only continued whatever therapy they’d already been doing, the new yogis reported significantly less pain and better function and fewer symptoms of depression (down almost 60%). They also continued to see these benefits even 6 months later.

10. Grill some fish for dinner

Health boost: Lower risk of dementia by 19%

More evidence that fish is brain food: A study of nearly 15,000 adults  worldwide found that regular fish eaters (those who have it more than once a week) were just one-fifth as likely to have dementia as those who never ate the food. It also found that those whose diets contained the most meat were slightly more likely to have dementia than non-meat eaters. Omega-3 fatty acids (found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna) may help protect nerve cells in the human brain and are known to limit inflammation, which is associated with dementia.

11. Drink milk at breakfast

Health boost: Shed 5 pounds

Women who consumed a large (20-ounce) glass of fat-free milk in the  morning ate, on average, 50 fewer calories at lunch, compared with days when they drank fruit juice with the same number of calories, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers say the milk drinkers felt more satisfied and were less likely to overeat at their next meal. Over a year, that translates to a 5-pound loss.

12. Pour a glass of Pinot

Health boost: Live 5 years longer

A Dutch study following 1,300 men for 40 years found that those who regularly drank up to a half glass of wine each day boosted their life expectancy by half a decade, compared with teetotalers. Study authors say the polyphenolic compounds in wine (especially red) may have heart-healthy effects that are probably seen in women as well. “Alcohol raises levels of ‘good’ cholesterol and can increase levels of tPA [tissue lasminogen activator], a protein that helps break down blood clots; both benefits can help minimize potentially life-threatening ailments such as stroke and heart disease,” says Katz. But remember, because even modest alcohol intake is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, if you are a social drinker, keep your daily intake low—no more than one glass per day (men can have up to two).

You Just Never Know

August 29th, 2011

I’m in love with this information. I really, truly am.  For me, it helps to  explain a few questions I’ve had rattling around in my brain for quite some time.  (Not that there was just the one question… every single answer I find gives me just a smidge more peace!)

I think I’ve blogged on this one before: the NEAT principles?  NEAT = Non- Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.  (Pretty sure I mentioned my dad lecturing me on thermodynamics?)

Anyway, this is just PRIMO INFORMATION HERE, if you ask me.  This is the kind of information that I think should change people’s lives.  (I think it has already changed mine a little.)

It’s information about the differences between structured exercise and regular, what I would consider largely thoughtless activity.

Turns out, and it’s weird for me to say this, but it isn’t always about the structured exercise we do. A lot of our calorie burn (15-50%) comes from our Non Exercise Activity.

One group looked at 16 non-obese participants and purposefully overfed them 1,000 calories each day for 8 weeks.  That is 56,000 calories!  3,500 calories = 1 pound… so that means the researchers fed these poor participants the equivalent of SIXTEEN POUNDS’ worth of calories.  SIXTEEN POUNDS.  (Would YOU sign up for that one?!  Didn’t think so!)  The study participants were pretty much supposed to keep their structured exercise consistent as it had been prior to the study.

Some of the participants gained only 3 pounds.  Some gained 15.8 pounds.

Why the difference?

It comes down to NEAT.  Those who naturally increased their daily activity as a result of the increased calories were the ones to gain the least amount of weight.  They seemed naturally resistant to weight gain. (How cool would THAT be.)

How did they manage that impressive feat?  It’s NEAT.  They worked just a bit harder to maintain their posture.  They walked up the stairs just that much faster.  They probably stood up when chatting on the phone.  They fidgeted.

Maybe it’s a good thing to have ants in our pants.

Who knows, but it just may make a huge difference.

Which Side of the Package Do You See?

August 19th, 2011

Do you look at the front of the package when you decide to buy food in a package, or do you look at the nutritional information label?

You have to love/hate the fact the US Food and Drug Administration works continuously to inform the public about what we have in front of us and how to make “wise choices” about what we put in our mouths. 

They even have a 30 minute video on the FDA website about the food label!

They want you to pay attention to three things on the label: calories, serving size, and percent daily value.  It’s a relatively entertaining video.  (Well, at least the first 3 minutes of it are relatively entertaining… my attention span is not 30 minutes long when it comes to a nutritional label.)  It isn’t a Disney production—it’s more like a video for science class.  But still.

And when was the last time any of us paid attention to only THREE things when it came to food?!

Having lived with type one diabetes for most of my life and having counted weight watchers points for years, me and that label are pretty familiar.

Now, it matters that you understand you have to agree that what the FDA says is true for you and your body before you continue reading this.  If you don’t agree, you need to know that and you need to be willing to discover for yourself what works and is good for YOU.

So getting back to the package: do you look at the information box with carbohydrates, fat, and calories and beyond or do you care more about information on the front, enticing you to purchase?

Sayings like “natural” and “gluten free” and “low fat” and “high fiber”.  Those that sound REALLY HEALTHY and encourage us to buy it and eat it
without thinking much more about it.  The government calls them “nutrient content claims” and “health claims” and “allergy information”… and they have some work to do when it comes to these claims plastered on the box!

The FDA has almost as much work to do when it comes to these claims as each of us have when it comes to making good healthy choices for ourselves and our families.

The FDA did start to require additional words when claims are made, in addition to requiring the claims fit within the guidelines (like containing 51% or more whole grain ingredients by weight per reference amount customarily consumed).  At this point, however, I fear these words are like that certain Surgeon General’s WARNING millions of smokers no longer even see.

Also: 2,000 calories is a LOT of food when it comes down to it.  So making decisions based on the information listed for a 2,000 calorie/day diet when a 2,000 calorie diet is way too much for YOU doesn’t make as much sense.  You have to make a lot of calculations.

But wait; if you live with diabetes, that’s what you’re doing anyway!

Party of One?

August 8th, 2011

Do you ever eat at a restaurant and have NO IDEA how much bread you ate?  Or
how much rice or pasta you consumed?  Not to mention the chips and salsa…

I get involved in the conversation and sometimes don’t remember how many pieces of bread I ate until they’ve taken away the basket.


At the same time, bolusing for each piece doesn’t seem to work out very well, either.  (I’m sure I look quite disengaged when I’m hunched over staring at my waistband.  Who wants a disengaged dinner date??)

And what about when they ask if you’re ready to see the dessert menu?

(Geez; I’ve just been eating for 45 minutes and they’re asking me about DESSERT?!)

Staying a healthy weight involves managing several of these aspects of dining out with friends.  For me, it means not only passing up dessert, but also telling the wait staff I don’t want a spoon or fork to “share” with someone else.  (It absolutely astounds me how often this request is disregarded.  And yes, I do factor that into the tip!)

For a lot of people, it means asking the restaurant staff to remove the bread basket or tub of chips as they sit down.  For others, it means trying to hold off on eating anything until the meal itself arrives.

For those of us with type one diabetes, our “full” factor may not kick in at all due to the fact we are missing amylin in addition to insulin, so watch for the pace of others at your table and follow their cues.

Whatever you find that works for you, eating out does require awareness and discipline.

Mindless Eating collected some interesting studies on how groups of people eat compared to those eating alone.  Say your average calorie consumption when eating meal X alone at a restaurant is 400 calories.  When you order that same meal while with another friend, you are likely to consume 530 calories (33% more) and if you are dining with three others (family of four) you are likely to consume 630 calories (58% more).  Heaven forbid you dine with seven others; your likely consumption increases by 96%– 784 calories!

It’s the pace of dining that affects us and our calorie consumption according to Dr. Wansink “…when you eat with a group, the average amount others eat suggests the amount that’s appropriate for you to eat.”

All of these tips and tricks really do factor in when we are trying to learn or re-learn our eating habits to improve our weight and health.  For the first few weeks of any
new focus on weight loss, it may be smart to avoid as many big-meal dining experiences as you can.  But you know you will return so you may as well start in with some smart strategies early.

Eat as slowly as possible, with utensils, and take several “breaks” by putting down your utensils and sipping water.

Order soup, not salad.

Remember that it takes about 20 minutes for anything you eat to register on your hunger scale—so eat more slowly.  By the time you’ve eaten the bread before the meal and the meal itself you should be so full dessert isn’t necessary.

For me, I am always doing my best at this.  I’m always aware of the pitfalls of too many meals out!  Cooking my own meals is a major help, as is planning dinner during breakfast so I know how to eat the rest of my day.

And, above all, I’m glad I’m married to a tall skinny guy.  I’m always trying to avoid looking like Laurel and Hardy when I’m with him.

I always felt like Oliver Hardy when I weighed the same as my foot-taller husband!

Hey, it’s motivation that works for me.

What works for you?