Diabetes and exercise: A powerful combination

The biggest factor for me in taking control of my Type 2 diabetes has been making moderate physical exercise – primarily walking – a part of my daily life. While changing what I eat has certainly helped that effort along – it takes less effort for my body to burn off smaller amounts of food than it did when I used to binge eat with every meal – it’s the regular exercise that has made the biggest difference. Alongside eating less, getting exercise in daily makes it easier for my body to metabolize food without boosting my blood glucose levels in response.

This video describes an annual public service campaign aimed at increasing both blood glucose testing and short amounts of daily activity for diabetics of all kinds, including Type 2. Next month, November, is National Diabetes Month and diabetics of all kinds, from all around the world will participate in the Big Blue Test to prove – to themselves, their followers, and the folks who love them.

If you or a loved one are diabetic, please see this link for more information about how you can take part.

Exercising for diabetes control: Doing something scary

This time last year, I was dealing with pre-race jitters and preparing for my first duathlon. Tomorrow morning, I’ll complete my second duathlon and, while my preparation has been lackluster at best, I’m in a very different place than last year.

I remember being absolutely terrified that I either wouldn’t finish the event or would finish dead last. This year I have some of those same thoughts but they dissipate when I focus on what’s really important.

What’s important:

  1. My health & happiness – my blood work is amazing, my endocrinologist doesn’t want to see me again unless something changes, I’m being fitted for my permanent dentures next week because the dentist is finally satisfied that we’ve saved my remaining teeth, my life is generally filled with things that interest and energize me, and I have so much energy that even a really tough day at work doesn’t leave me wanting to bury myself in a hole and sleep for a week.
  2. My family – TCB and I have never been happier, I spend plenty of time with my mom and dad, and all five of the kids are doing well for themselves.

What’s not important:

  • The opinions of 899 women I’ve never met and who have no idea who I am, where I’ve come from, or how fabulous my life is.

So, if I have to walk more of the second running leg than I’d planned, who cares? If I’m the last person into the Transition area after the run and the last one back in after the bike, who cares? TCB and Candace will be at the finish line, waiting for me, and there will be yummy brioche French toast and Deep Stretch yoga class afterwards. It’s approximately 90 minutes of my life and I will survive – how else should a 47 year old with a full-time job, a husband, five kids, two grandkids, laundry to fold, and a house to clean look at an endurance event on a single day in the middle of an amazingly happy life?

10723703 1482147522066825 450169952 a Exercising for diabetes control: Doing something scary

Happy Sunday (by the time you read this), friends!

Living With Diabetes: Remembering to take medication

I was approached by The American Recall Center to participate in “Talk About Your Medicines” month, a public service effort during the month of October. I received no compensation nor other consideration for this post and the ideas expressed are entirely my own.

talk about diabetes medication Living With Diabetes: Remembering to take medication

For several years, I took between five and nine different medications at a time as part of my Type 2 diabetes treatment plan. While I am currently able to control my diabetes with careful attention to what I eat and a physically active lifestyle, I know how vital it is to take medications as directed for effective diabetes self management.

I used several key strategies that helped me remember to take my medication:

  • Some of my medications – including Metformin, one of the most common medications for treatment of Type 2 diabetes – were to be taken twice daily, with food, so I purchased a small container with 14 separate compartments, to allow me to see at a glance if I’d taken my breakfast and dinner medications.
  • For my injectable medications – including Victoza and, later, insulin – I used a small, pre-filled pen device to inject myself once a day. The easiest time for me to remember to inject myself was at night, as part of my bedtime routine: I washed my face, brushed my teeth, moisturized my skin, and gave myself an injection in my abdomen, all before I went to bed.
  • My husband usually ate dinner with me and, if he didn’t see me take my pills, he’d ask if I’d forgotten about them. (This one can be touchy, depending on how you feel about others being involved in your diabetes treatment plan, but it worked well for us.)
  • I couldn’t take my medications as prescribed if I didn’t have them available, so I took advantage of my pharmacy’s automatic renewal service, which not only filled the orders before I ran out but also called our house phone with an automated reminder when it was time to pick them up. Combine that with the convenient Pharmacy drive-through window and it was nearly impossible for me to run out of my medications.

Living with Type 2 diabetes is stressful, regardless of whether or not you are taking medications as part of your treatment plan, and having strategies that work for you is critical to achieving control of your diabetes symptoms. Do you have techniques you’ve incorporated into your diabetes self management plan to remind you to take your medications as prescribed?

Project Me: December and 2013 reviewed

My only goal for December was to make an appointment with my therapist to deal with my anxiety and the binge eating, binge shopping, and horrible obsessive/compulsive behaviors that accompany it. I saw my therapist at the beginning of December and just talking to her made things inside my head a lot more calm. She asked me to keep track of my moods, particularly when I’m feeling more anxious than usual, so that we can isolate any common triggers. We also talked about letting things just be and challenging my constant need for order with the thought, “What would happen if I just left that mess over there? Will anyone be hurt? Why do I care what others think?” I’m doing more of both of those behaviors and definitely feel less anxious than I was before our appointment. I’d like to follow up with her next month but my work schedule is a little insane in January, so we’ll have to see.

This being the last day of the year, I’m also going to take this opportunity to review how I did with my goals for 2013, which were:

  • fasting blood sugar reading below 130 mg/dL – done and dusted; my fasting blood sugar readings this time last year were hovering near 200 (very dangerous) and now they are consistently below 100 and usually closer to 90. [Clinical recommendation for diabetics is fasting/pre-meal readings between 70 and 130, so I’m right in the middle.]
  • triglycerides reading less than 150 mg/dL – done; last time I had blood work done, my triglycerides were below 100 without any medication, so I’m thrilled by that. [Clinical recommendation for diabetics is triglycerides of under 100, so I’m in the clear here.]
  • body weight at or below 169 pounds (putting me into the Overweight category on BMI scale)  – as of this morning, I weigh 167 pounds with 37% body fat, for a BMI of 29.6, officially Overweight. I weighed in on February 1st of this year at 244 with 49% body fat and a BMI of 43.2, officially Morbidly Obese. [I still have 27 pounds to lose in order to be within the Normal weight range for my height.]
  • waist measurement of not more than 39 inches – this was the goal I was most concerned about. At the beginning of the month I still had 1-1/2 inches to go and that just didn’t seem achievable to me. I wrapped the tape measure around me this morning and told myself it would be OK if it wasn’t 39 inches or less. I mean, seriously, look at eveyrthing I’ve achieved this year, so if I miss on one out of five, that’s not too bad. I checked in the mirror to make sure the tape was straight, squeezed my eyes shut while I exhaled deeply, then looked down to see the tape end directly below the big “39”, and I cried – I hit it perfectly. I have lost 14 inches from my waist since February. I know it shouldn’t matter so much to me, but it does. It really, really does. So damn proud. [Clinical recommendation for a healthy woman is a waistline measurement of less than 32-1/2 inches, so I’ve got quite a way to go to get there but I am SO MUCH CLOSER than this time last year.]
  • an improved quality of life as perceived by me – this was my “wild card” goal for the year. There is no quantitative measure to show how much my life overall has improved but here are some important (to me) data points:
    • I’ve made it a point to schedule time with my parents every other month in 2013 and have already set up monthly get-togethers for the first four months of 2014. My life is better when I stay connected with my family.
    • TCB and I have taken more vacations together this year than in any previous year of our relationship. While it’s nice to be able to travel on my own, when we do things together, everything just feels more “right”. We have both scaled back on our volunteer obligations and spend more time together being active every day instead of running around like crazy people trying to fit everything and everyone else in. If it doesn’t tie back to our goal of making and maintaining a happy, healthy family then it goes to the bottom of the list. (And we’re OK when we don’t get anywhere close to the bottom of the list most weeks.) We have subscriptions to two local theater companies and have attended five live productions since October, including one last Sunday.
    • I still fight with my depression but not as much as in the past. I recognize it when it comes much faster than I used to so that I can start to deal with it, and once that’s happened it’s well on its way out.
    • I stopped ignoring my dental problems, had 15 teeth extracted (that’s half of them), and am now on a schedule of regular dental exams and cleanings.
    • I walk a 5K before breakfast, five days a week. I take Pilates Reformer classes twice a week. This year I completed a Sprint Duathlon, Couch to 5K, at least one 5K event every month, and I started a group at work that walks two miles every afternoon.
a year of walking Project Me: December and 2013 reviewed

This is the face of a happy, healthy woman!

Twenty-thirteen has been an amazing year of becoming happier and growing stronger, and for the first time since 1998 I won’t start the new year with dread and the knowledge that I still need to do something about my weight. It’s funny: once I stopped worrying about the weight and put the focus on my health, everything in my life improved.

I’m going to get off of the computer very soon until next year, so I’ll share my Project Me goals for 2014 in a separate post. Tell me, though, how did you do in 2013 with your healthy living goals and what will you do more of or differently in 2014?

Workout Wednesday: December 11

3413789541 72be32e71d m Workout Wednesday: December 11

Exercising with Good Housekeeping by Kevin Dooley via Flickr

My newest exercise obsession is mall walking. TCB and I head to one of our many large, local shopping malls after breakfast on Sunday and walk at least one lap of every square inch. We sometimes stop at stores that catch our eye and sometimes not. (We usually do, especially this time of year.) It makes a really nice change from solitary power walking and is something both of us enjoy, so it contributes to our happy marriage, too. Bonuses!

What did I do this week?
Wednesday – 2.9 mile walk around the neighborhood (15,162 steps)
Thursday – 2.92 mile walk around the neighborhood in the morning plus four laps on the walking path at work (18,491 steps)
Friday – Four laps on the walking path at work, plus Pilates Reformer class (15,961 steps)
Saturday – An hour on the treadmill at the gym and nothing else (11,911 steps)
Sunday – 2.68 mile walk in the neighborhood, mall walking, plus Pilates Reformer class (16,437 steps)
Monday – Four laps on the walking path at work (11,833 steps)
Tuesday – 3.49 mile walk in the neighborhood plus three laps on the walking path at work (20,501 steps)

Another contributing factor to my increased step count is that I’ve got Outlook reminders set for 55 minutes after every hour that I’m at work, to remind me to get up and walk a lap on the inside of our building. On a good day, that’s at least eight laps. Not only is it good for my physical fitness but I’m sure it will help with the eye strain I sometimes get when we get crazy at work and I never, ever leave my desk and laptop.

What is your favorite way to get some healthy exercise in during the hectic holidays?

Project Me: October & November review and my goals for the remainder of 2013

[I somehow did not do a check-in for October nor set any goals for November. Can’t fix that now, so we’ll just review how I’ve done with my goals from October before moving on to goals for December.]

My goals for October were:

  1. Stop spending so much time reading other blogs, shopping, and being a social media fan girl and actually start writing here more often – I’ve been a bit better about this and certainly I’ve written more here since setting the goal than I did before, so we’ll call this at least a partial success.
  2. Continue working on eating after 7:00 pm – Well, if you’d asked me before Thanksgiving how I was doing with this, I’d have said that it was firmly in the “win” column, but I’ve been turning to my old way of dealing with stress and anxiety (binge eating); this is not good. It’s always late at night (after 7:00 pm) and it’s always when I’m alone. You’d think the success (so far) of Project Me would have made me more relaxed and less anxious, and to a certain extent that’s true. In some ways, though, it’s actually made me more anxious and compulsive than I was before. I’m at that point now where everyone I meet is taken aback by my slimmer appearance, and most of them remark on the difference. I don’t know how to deal with compliments, particularly not about my appearance, so it produces a lot of anxiety. I’m also obsessing about losing the last six pounds I need to drop before I reach the “Overweight” BMI designation and stop being “Obese” officially. Nothing in my health is going to change in any way from losing those six pounds – it’s just a mental/emotional thing for me and I’m blowing it out of proportion. I must deal with the underlying anxiety in order to keep tight control of my diabetes but it is also a huge source of unhappiness for me and I’m tired of it.
  3. Get my flu shot and figure out what I need to do to get a pneumonia shot – did not do this. Honestly, I never really wanted to, have never done it before, and am fairly certain I’m safe without the shots.
  4. Re-jigger my schedule so that I can fit a weekly strength training session in AND go for an outdoor bike ride -Well, I achieved something close to this – I’m now taking Pilates Reformer classes twice a week, which is great for my strength training needs (and is probably contributing to my fairly drastic drop in body fat percentage). With Pilates early on Sunday morning and Weight Watchers early on Saturday, my only real option for riding my bike is Saturday after WW and that is only possible on days when I don’t have any other engagements on Saturday. I’ve managed a total of two outdoor bike rides in all of October and November and probably two or three more indoor on the stationary bike. Oh well, I’m getting lots of activity now and I’m happy with my body, so I’m not going to sweat this one.

My goals for 2013 have been published and they include:

  • fasting blood sugar reading below 130 mg/dL – already achieved, need to maintain
  • triglycerides reading less than 150 mg/dL – already achieved, need to maintain
  • body weight at or below 169 pounds (putting me into the Overweight category on BMI scale) – 35 5 more pounds in 24.5 three weeks (not sure I’ll make this one but I’m sure going to keep trying!)
  • waist measurement of not more than 39 inches –1 more inch in 24.5 three months (side note: wow, I lost 4-1/2 inches from my waist since August 1 – must have done something right!)(not sure about the likelihood of making this one, either, but I’m going to push hard)
  • an improved quality of life as perceived by me – well on my way to achieving this!

So, will I work on for the next 25 days?

  1. Make an appointment with my therapist to deal with my anxiety and the binge eating, binge shopping, and horrible obsessive/compulsive behaviors that accompany it. Period. Yup, that’s it. While the spending and the compulsive straightening up around the house are embarrassing and dangerous for my long-term happiness, the binge eating has the real potential to not just damage my body through higher blood sugars, but also knock me right off track with Project Me. This is a big milestone deliverable and it deserves my full attention for December.

So tell me: what healthy habits are you focusing on for the rest of the year?

High Five Friday: A chance to help other diabetics

highfivefriday6 High Five Friday: A chance to help other diabetics

This week I’m excited about an interview that I gave today to a blog with a large, national reach and a substantial focus on diabetes education.They talked to me about Project Me – how I came to start this initiative, how I chose my goals for the project – that sort of thing. I’m hoping that something in my story will help other diabetics who might be struggling to find a way to focus their desire to improve their control of this disease into something actionable and sustainable.

Your turn: what have you done this week that deserves a high five?

Happy Veterans Day & Diabetes Awareness Month

Veterans Day Happy Veterans Day & Diabetes Awareness Month

I borrowed this from the Lilly Pulitzer blog – it perfectly blends my love of all things bright and floral with my patriotic spirit!

Today I’d like to thank every member of the United States armed services for their service and sacrifice. Similarly, I would also like to acknowledge and thank the sacrifices made by the families of service members, too. (Believe me, they also serve.) Less than 1% of the families in this country have a member currently serving in the military. Less than 1%. Please take time every day to thank those in your life who put service ahead of self.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, the aim of which is to increase knowledge and understanding of this disease. Most of you know that I am diabetic, as are about 26 million other Americans. The type of diabetes that I have is called Type II – which used to be called “adult onset” until children under 18 began being diagnosed, too – and I am fortunate that my condition is currently well controlled with diet, exercise, and oral medication (Metformin). At the beginning of the year, I was injecting the maximum dose of long-acting insulin, a non-insulin injectible medication (Victoza), taking a pill to make my body produce more insulin on its own (Glipizide) plus a prescription-strength Omega-3 pill (Lovaza) and cholesterol medication (Tricor) to lower my triglycerides, AND double my current dose of Metformin – to absolutely no avail. I was a virtual walking pharmacy and none of it could get my numbers (blood sugar and triglycerides) into the recommended ranges.

I have made a lot of changes to my eating and exercise routines since then and have been fortunate to see drastic, positive changes in my health, but lifestyle changes such as the ones I’ve made this year don’t work for everyone – certainly not for Type I diabetics, who must inject insulin with every meal in order to allow their bodies to process the food that they eat – and so more must be done to spread awareness of ways to avoid diabetes as well as funding critical research to find new and better medical therapies for both Type I and Type II diabetics.

Last month, I was approached to participate in an online diabetes awareness-raising activity. The results of the project can be seen here and I’m very proud to be part of such a great group of bloggers with diabetes. Please take a moment to check it out and let me know if you have any questions about diabetes that I can help with. Knowledge is always powerful and it’s one of the best weapons against diabetes, too.

Half empty or Half full? Neither, actually

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on that link, I’ll receive a percentage of the price you pay if you purchase the product from Amazon.

halfway 200x300 Half empty or Half full? Neither, actually

55 pounds gone, 55 more to go!

Somehow, in the last not-quite-seven months, I’ve managed to shed 55 pounds of extra weight. I’ve also lost three medications related to my Type 2 diabetes that I didn’t need once I started eating better and exercising every day. (I’m on the cusp of losing one more, too, which will leave me only taking a single prescription.) I’ve also lost the ability to wear virtually every single item of clothing in my closet and chest of drawers. (I’ve developed a much closer relationship with my tailor, too.)

More important (to me) than what I’ve lost is what I’ve gained since February 1st:

  • Better health
  • More energy
  • A daily workout habit that I don’t just enjoy, I actually look forward to*
  • A closer relationship with my husband (we’re creating a healthier lifestyle together)
  • Enhanced ability to cope with my depression (it’s still there but I recognize it faster and seem more able to push through even in the worst of it)
  • Dedicated, pre-scheduled time for me (my weekday mornings are for working out, Saturday at 7:00 am is my Weight Watchers meeting – followed by an hour at the gym, and Sunday at 8:00 am is my loved/dreaded Pilates Reformer class)

* OK, I don’t look forward to the required training workouts for the duathlon I signed up for in October – they stink! – but when it’s just a single workout that I choose, I love it!

Things are not perfect, however. I still struggle with my almost pathological fear of allowing myself to be vulnerable (or anything less than 100% perfect at all times) and that worries me a lot. Last week I was all set to take a Pure Barre Lite class at the center near my house before I saw the girls heading into class and chickened out. They were all in great shape physically and very petite, so I convinced myself that I couldn’t bear the humiliation of being the only obese person in class.

Interestingly, I’m in the middle of reading Dr. Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, [affiliate link] where she spends many, many pages extolling the virtues of releasing the need to be perfect in order to fit in (or even trying to “fit in” at all). I’ve also recently started following Jia Jiang‘s blog where he not only talks about living life without letting fear of rejection get in your way but actually goes out and courts rejection whenever possible. Once I stopped mentally berating myself for being weak, I started thinking about what these two people – both of whom came into my life, albeit only virtually, at the same time – would tell me about my Pure Barre (non) experience.

I’m pretty sure Dr. Brown would tell me to stop feeling shame about my fat self and how I got this way and also that if the class is for me then no one there will expect me to be anything that I’m not and, in fact, they’ll actually love me as I am for who I am and what I bring to class. Jia Jiang talks a lot about viewing rejection as an important milestone on the journey to eventual success, and that the rejection itself says as much about the other person as it does about the person or concept being rejected. In light of this, I’m guessing that he would tell me to give Pure Barre a try because even if it ends up as badly as I’m afraid it will then I’ll be one step closer to finding a strength & flexibility class that I will love. So, I’m going to class on Wednesday morning and we’ll see how it goes.

I’m learning that this “building a healthier, happier life” thing isn’t for wusses, and the physical discomfort involved is the very least challenging part of what’s required.

Project Me: July review and goals for August

My goals for July were:

  1. Finish Couch to 5K program (I’ll be starting week 5 of the program this week if all goes well with the surgery), be able to jog 30 minutes straight – I’m very, very close to being complete – just finished Week 7, Day 2 – but I’m not done yet. I’ve developed some sort of mental block about running and I just don’t want to do it. I walk every day, though, so it’s not as though I’m not burning calories, just not running
  2. Make an appointment with a personal trainer to develop a strength training program I can begin – complete fail. I do not like strength training, never have, and while I say that I want to start doing it, in my heart I do not. I’m going to face reality on this one and move it to the backlog for consideration at a later date. [Note that I DID take a Pilates Reformer class this month, though, and that seriously kicked my butt. Nothing like using your ~200 pound body for resistance!]
  3. Reach out to friends & family to make sure that I have scheduled time with at least one person I love every week this month – I think I did pretty well with this one. The surgery at the beginning of July really threw a wrench into the first two weeks of the month because I was on heavy duty pain killers for five days then trying to figure out how to eat semi-regular foods with my new (fake) teeth. Still, I saw my childhood penpal from the UK while she and her family were in San Diego the weekend of July 19th, I went to an event downtown for healthy living bloggers at a great Mexican food restaurant, met fellow San Diegan blogger Kay Lynn for coffee after Weight Watchers, and went to lunch with my BFF, so I think I’ll mark this one as “done”

My revised goals for 2013 have been published and they include:

  • fasting blood sugar reading below 130 mg/dL – already achieved, need to maintain
  • triglycerides reading less than 150 mg/dL – already achieved, need to maintain
  • body weight at or below 169 pounds (putting me into the Overweight category on BMI scale) – 35 23.8 more pounds in six five months
  • waist measurement of not more than 39 inches – 5-1/2 4-1/2 more inches in six five months
  • an improved quality of life as perceived by me – well on my way to achieving this!

Given that, what am I focusing on for August?

  1. Finish Couch to 5K program, be able to jog 30 minutes straight – I’ve started it, so I want to finish. It’s not as though it hurts to jog, I just don’t enjoy it
  2. Attend one Pilates Reformer class per week – if I’m not going to do traditional strength training, perhaps I’ll fall in love with the painful experience that is Reformer class!
  3. Consume no more than 20 ounces of latte drinks each day – I’d gotten into a bad habit of swinging by Coffee Bean on my way to work and after dinner, each time picking up a large latte. That’s 400 calories a day and it’s nearly pure sugar because of the milk, so I’m cutting that in half. I want to chew my calories and I want them to have a reasonable amount of fiber, too!
  4. Complete six cardio workouts of at least 45 minutes each a week – I must increase the number of calories I’m burning if I’m going to make my weight and waist measurement goals for the year. I’m currently doing 5-6 cardio workouts each week but they’re 30-45 minutes each and I really need to do 45 or more for maximum calorie burning. No, I’m not getting obsessive here, although getting at least an hour of moderate intensity exercise per day has been proven effective – by the National Weight Control Registry – at maintaining a significant weight loss, which I hope to be doing by this time next year!
lottalatte strong is beautiful 300x300 Project Me: July review and goals for August

a good month

Given that last month started off with me losing 15 teeth, I think I ended the month pretty well. I’ve been fighting with the depression again for the last 10 days or so but I’m not letting it knock me off my healthy routines. Being able to buy non-plus size clothes now is a great motivator, as is hearing that I look “ten years younger” from work colleagues, but honestly, just knowing that each step I take is a step away from early death brought on my diabetic complications is really the best motivation I’ve found to get the shoes laced up and get me out the door for a walk every morning.

You cannot imagine how good it feels after so many years of adding more and more drugs to my daily routine and still seeing my blood sugar and triglycerides rise and rise to see my well-controlled blood sugar readings each morning! When I wonder if it’s worth it to get up earlier to walk or not to eat a sweet dessert that looks yummy, that’s what I remember: sitting in my endocrinologist’s office on November 29th of last year listening to him tell me that there were no drug therapies left to try and I needed to start daily insulin injections.I’m off all but two of my medications and I have to keep monitoring my blood sugar and adjusting my nightly insulin to make sure that I don’t go too low in the mornings. Is it worth the sacrifice to feel this way? Absolutely, without a doubt!

What motivates you to make healthy choices? And, in a related thought, do you have any great songs that you listen to while working out? I find that jogging/running isn’t nearly so awful if I have great music to listen to, but I’m getting bored with the same songs every day, so I need new material, friends!