In February, Diabetes Social Media Advocacy started a Blog Carnival. They will post a topic for bloggers to write about each month. I was late last month, so did not participate, although I did see several other procrastinators post at the very end. This post is my March entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival. If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetessocmed.com/2011/march-dsma-blog-carnival.
When I was first diagnosed with diabetes back in 1984, the importance of exercise was really stressed. At the time, I lived in Arlington, VA and worked in Washington, DC. I walked a lot because of walking to the subway and pretty much everywhere I needed to go, but I did not do any kind of formal exercise. I decided to take up running.
When I started running, I could barely make it to the end of the block where I lived. I was determined that I was going to run so every day, I would mark the spot where I stopped – picking out a crack in the sidewalk, a bush or whatever was around. The next day, even if it was only one step further, I would go further than the day before. It was exactly one mile to run the area in the apartment complex I lived in. I remember being elated when I broke my first mile.
A few months after I started running, I moved and my new apartment was right next to a bike path. I kept at it and my barely making it to the corner turned into 10 miles. I was running 6 days a week. There were some days that I was tired but I would start out anyway. There was a little park about a mile into my run. I would tell myself if I got to the park and was tired, I could turn around and go home – that would still be 2 miles. Most days, I would keep going but there were days that I would turn around go back. There really is something to be said about runners high!
For me to fall in love with running was really a big thing because when I was in high school, I was a horrible runner. My brother once bet me that he could run faster backwards than I could run forward. He did not beat me, but it was a pretty close race and I only won by a hair!
At some point, I quit running and then discovered the treadmill. I love my treadmill! Pre-neuropathy, I was able to go pretty fast. I am not able to go fast anymore, but it still feels good to get on the treadmill and move.
When the doctor came into my hospital room the day after my big foot surgery and started talking about t he bone he had removed from my foot, one of the first thoughts that popped into my head was wondering if I would ever be able to use my treadmill again. I was afraid to ask that question – don’t ask a question if you don’t want to hear the answer! It took another year for my foot to finally close, but when it did, I brought up the treadmill. He told me as far as my foot goes, he did not have a problem with me using the treadmill. He was concerned because of the neuropathy that I would fall and felt a bike or swimming would be better. I don’t like stationary bikes and I hate swimming and I wanted to do the treadmill. I felt like I won the lottery the day that he told me I could get back on the treadmill.
I think it is important to find an exercise that you enjoy doing. I know I can push myself harder doing things that I like than trying to force myself to do 100 sit-ups. Exercise is mentally invigorating. If I am in a bad mood or upset about something, I can get on my treadmill and my whole mood/attitude changes.
Back in my running days, I had a Sony Walkman and would listen to music when I ran. Now I have a Sony Discman and make CDs with some of my favorite songs on. Recently on CSI, they found a Discman and made fun of it. I still use one and like my Discman! I always enjoy listening to music and that helps pass the time while on the treadmill.
Exercise really helps with blood sugar. I know I need less insulin when I am exercising regularly. Blood sugar can also make it hard to exercise. When I was running, I would eat a peanut butter and raisin sandwich before running and that would help keep my blood sugar up. I switched to drinking juice when using the treadmill. I later changed the time of day that I use the treadmill and was able to drop the snack. I really like to exercise in the evenings and that is the hardest time of day blood sugar wise for me with exercise. Now that I have the pump and can play with basal rates, I have been thinking about going to back to using my treadmill in the evenings.
One thing I hear a lot on message boards is people saying that they have to eat a snack and it defeats the purpose of exercising. I don’t feel that way. There are a lot of benefits of exercise so it is good to do regardless of whether you have to snack or not. When I was drinking juice before getting on the treadmill, I counted the calories in the juice in the total number of calories I planned eating for the day. If am eating 1200 calories a day and need 100 calories in juice, I don’t look at it as I am eating 1200 calories plus need an extra 100 calories for juice. That 100 calories in the juice is included in the 1200 so I have 1100 calories left for other stuff.
If you watched Piers Morgan interview Brett Michaels on Wednesday night, you heard Brett talk about exercise: “I say this to everyone who is diabetic who is able still to do it, is to get out and move. You gotta move all the time. It keeps the blood sugar down. It makes you think positive. It really helps a lot.”