Better health marker (day 16)

I had a jam-packed schedule yesterday and no opportunity to post. But other than telling you of my mostly non-eventful List of the day, not a lot to talk about here. Oh, and I was very tired.

Today I have not yet been to the gym, because I have to get bloodwork done this morning. It’s a fasting test, and I had little desire to go to the lab all sweaty and gross. Seems unsanitary.

But anymore, I am always excited about having blood drawn and receiving the results from my doctor. I am expecting no unpleasant surprises, but still – it is exciting to find out for sure that in the last few months I have not sinned so grandly as to have him contemplating a new round of sugar-controlling drugs.

The scale again seems to be stuck in one place, having traded the same 0.3 pounds back and forth this week. But at least it’s not increasing. Between stress, busy days, and veering off my eating strategy to accommodate the busy days, meals out with clients, and the overall stress, I am happy to go down 0.3 pounds one day and watch it come back up in 0.1 pound increments the next few days.

I also feel a bit stuck in my Lists of the day. I am doing them, I am mostly enjoying the moments. But they are not presently sparking joy for me. My mind is elsewhere much of the time, and while I know it happens, it sucks all the same. I like it when the gym is my universally happy place, where I can forget the rest of the stuff that populates my life and just focus on moving my body and feeling the muscles doing their best work. I am doing well enough; the rest of my stuff is not distracting me to the point of breaking my typical habits. Working out problems while moving from exercise to exercise is usually less prominent than it has been this week.

Yeah, this is tiny cupcakes in the measurement of problems and issues.

Big, huge, giant comfort is that the habit is now ingrained enough that I am almost on autopilot when mapping out my daily schedule and how it all fits together. While I have to go later today (because it’s a fasting blood test, I do not exercise on a completely empty stomach, and that whole sweaty and gross seems unsanitary thing noted above), it never once occurred to me to blow off the gym in favor of work. I just rearranged things so I was up and toiling at 4 a.m. while I keep an eye on the clock for time to prepare to head to the lab. Hopefully it’s not too busy. But even if it is, I am not scheduled for anything else until 11 a.m.

Not always crazy about the way my work-life balance progresses, but I am managing and it is working more than 70% of the time. The other 30% – nights and weekends – it’s an evolving process. Once I recognize that I am at capacity, I will force myself to sort it out better.

Until then, I will just careen along juggling all my stuff and try to get back to a regular sleeping schedule.

#august2017, #better-health, #diabetes, #diet, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #health, #healthy-eating, #lab-tests

Wow! It’s been 2 YEARS!

Yesterday marks 2 years since my first training appointment with the fab trainer J. It’s a Very Big Deal in my world, and I am not someone who celebrates my birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, my wedding anniversary with M, etc.

But training anniversary – it’s a milestone. Considering my checkered history of starting and stopping exercise, that I am still diligently pursuing fitness and exercise every single days – it is a Very Big F**king Deal.

I did not commemorate it last year. I made note in my personal journal, but at that time I was chasing my first year consistency milestone – which for reference did not happen until October last year. So this year I celebrate my training anniversary. Next year, maybe it’s something else; time will tell.

Being a no-specific-goals and not-chasing-the-scale person, I address my gains and progress far more generally, as in all the ways regular exercise has made me a healthier, happier, more confident, more balanced in my imbalanced personhood.

Diabetes control. I have now been off the insulin and prescription drugs for about 16 months and my A1c is remaining on the low side of normal. This. Is. Huge. Yes, I have made some alterations to my diet, but nothing super dramatic or in my estimation completely far enough. Mostly, I’m in the gym daily doing something. Most of the time its at least an hour of resistance training, although there are days when I do 30 minutes including warming up and call it good. But I’m very aware of the trends and impacts of what I’m eating and more importantly how much I exercise have on my blood sugar. I still test 4 times daily and keep an eye on my averages. Whereas in the beginning I was averaging in the 180s – with a couple of different insulins and an oral medication cocktail as well – now my 7 day average runs 98 to 100, peaking out at 112 in the last few weeks due to reasonably unusual stress-eating patterns and a lot more carbs than usual. But since >140 is my target, I was not freaking out about 112.

Resting heart rate. M is a lifelong trail runner and pretty damn serious about it. Before a groin injury last year, he was running 20 miles every day for almost 2 years. For him, this is normal behavior. For me, no, not happening, not ever. But one of the things runners talk about is resting heart rate. When we first rejoined the gym in 2015, I took some time and checked my resting heart rate for 10 days or so and calculated that my resting heart rate was 93 or 94, on the high side of normal (60 to 100 BPM) for adults. Pretty much expected for a sedentary woman in her 50s. These days my resting heart rate is somewhere in the 70 to 72 BPM range, and I know this because the first thing I do upon waking every morning is shut off the Fitbit vibrating on my wrist (from silent alarm) and look at my heart rate. It has been as low as 61, but that was more an outlier reading. I do not do a whole lot of dedicated cardio, so I’m pleased that this is now trending toward the lower end of normal.

Weight management. While I would love to tell you I have dropped significant amounts of weight in this 2-year journey, truth is it is all of 22.3 lbs. My highest recorded weight was 217.9 about a month before I began working with J to this morning’s 195.6. In the last 2 years I have not ever posted real numbers on the blog, and it gives me twitches of anxiety doing so right now. But what the Hell – I value my safe space and need to honor my desire to continue to be candid and transparent about the struggles as well as my successes. I have never been brave enough to have my body fat measured, so I cannot tell you how much fat has burned off or muscle added, but I can say I see and feel a lot more firm mass where there was once squishy fat. M is not an effusive complimenter, so when he says something nice, I know he means it. The struggle to believe his positive comments is also far less now than it once was, because I see the subtle new muscle-y lines and creases where there were fat wrinkles before. Always, if I want to know what he thinks or is thinking, I ask. But he has spontaneously commented more than once on the muscle I am adding and the slowly disappearing fat. Whereas I am obsessed with and examining the remaining blobs of batwing flab on my arms, M is stating that he wishes I could see my back, because where it was once a sheet of fat, there is now more clearly defined and visible muscle.

Let’s also talk about other numbers associated with the better health quest and the last 2 years.

Sessions count. For the record, we completed 32 sessions in 2015, 99 in 2016, and 49 to date in 2017, for a total of 180 sessions in 2 years. I know because I blogged about all 99 sessions in 2016, a lot of them in 2015, and majority of them (thus far) in 2017. Plus I went back through my history and painstakingly counted to be accurate.

Personal training and better health costs. The average cost of training at my club and purchased in blocks of sessions has been $50/session, so that is $1600 in 2015, $4950 in 2016, and $2450 in 2017 thus far, or $9000 for 2 years of training, most of which has been twice per week. This is in addition to the monthly membership dues for use of any of the gyms in the chain. Gulp.

On the surface, that sounds like a lot of money, and in reality, it IS a lot of money. However, I put this into perspective by evaluating the cost of diabetes treatment for me. In 2015, insulin costs alone totaled $5691 – and that was the negotiated drug price under my insurance plan for the 2 different insulins. This does not include the oral medications I was taking, the needles, the testing supplies, the labs, and the in-office medical visits. The sadder part to me, before I started my regular exercise routine, my blood sugar was still not in very good control. My total medical costs in 2015 were $8867 with a $6000 health insurance deductible before Anthem began paying for any services or supplies. In 2016 my total healthcare cost was $1902 ($4000 deductible plan), and thus far is 2017, it’s $683 ($2000 deductible plan).  It seems like my healthcare costs are higher for as healthy as I am, but getting down in the weeds I believe it is primarily because I utilize bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and it is significantly more expensive than the synthetic equivalent ($142 per quarter for bioidentical versus $10 for 3 months of synthetic), so I am not completely prescription drug free. But still, big drop in medical supplies and services once I was able to get off the diabetes drug regimen. Glucose test strips are not cheap either, but like the training, completely worth it for the knowledge of what is going on with my body and sugar processing systems.

While the fruglistas in my realm or even reading this might get the pinchy-grinchy face about continuing to invest in personal training, logically pointing out that I now know enough to continue on my own, all that I get from training days cannot be measured in dollars and cents or amount of weight moved to and fro or sets and reps or even calories burned. It is also not about ongoing motivation and accountability, neither of which are or should be part of the personal trainer job description, at least in my very strong opinion on the subject. During our sessions or when I am there on my own pursuing practice, J is not crucifying me with the hairy eyeball if I fail to do minimum reps on whatever List of the day, nor is he the rah-rah-rah-ing to keep going when I want to collapse in a sweaty heap. I have learned an enormous amount in the last 2 years, and yet for all I now know, I also know there is an infinite amount yet to learn. And that’s just the tiny slice of exercise techniques and training styles I want to pursue.

Training day feeds the little professor in my mind that craves knowledge and understanding. While I now know lots of variations on lots of exercises, there is always something more to learn irrespective of adding additional weight to make it more challenging or forcing body to adapt. Good form does not just happen, and once good form is finally learned, there is better, deeper tweaks to layer on top of the basic good form that makes body work harder and grow stronger.

On my own, I am ill equipped to seek out that knowledge or how to evaluate what’s real and what’s bullshit. Even if it’s real, solid, sound information, I lack the background and the experience to understand or figure out on my own if it has realistic application to me and my life and pursuits. Perhaps if I had the time and inclination to experiment, probably injury myself in the process, and learn from those experiences I would be able to get along without training days. But I would rather invest in someone who has the interest, experience, and ability to evaluate information and then strategically apply and teach me. For that alone, trainer J is worth his weight in precious metals.

Then there is the byproduct of gaining mastery over body evolving and adapting to experience: confidence. The intimidation that comes from being a clumsy and awkward middle aged woman in the gym trying to exercise was my lifelong normal. Now, I am gym people; I belong in my club. The big boys’ room with the weight machines still gives me pause, but I am well armed with lots of pairs of big-girl capris. I remind myself that I got this, I need the weightier weights contained therein, and no, I will not be pushed around, damnit! This is the pep-talk I have with myself when I go in there to claim my bench and pursue my List. It’s rare anyone bothers me – if anything, I’m more disturbed by people occupying equipment I want to use to text or read their email – but my gym crazy lurks and waits to trigger the fight or flight response.

J reminded me of his experience getting started on this journey. It makes me laugh now, but at the time, I was none too pleased with the way my lift-off was handled by the gym’s management.

M and I rejoined Memorial day 2015. The membership manager at that time was the poster child for gym membership sales – young, taller, good looking, fit young man. We signed our paperwork and of course he inquired about our goals for membership. I told him I was interested in perhaps a few sessions with a personal trainer to learn how to use some of the machines safely, etc., but it would have to be someone with a lot of patience because I am clumsy and really exercise dumb. He signed me up with a 3-session package, asked if I had a preference for gender of trainer (nope, just patient), and said he’d have trainer J call me to schedule my first appointment.

Tick tock. Weeks passed, no phone call. Finally I get an email from the then-fitness manager, who made it sound like I was dragging my feet or being the problem about getting scheduled. It was irritating, to say the least. I get that salesmen generally overpromise and underdeliver, but since I felt their goal would be to sell me more sessions, I could not understand why trainer J or someone else had not contacted me earlier about scheduling. Of course, J had had no idea that he had a new client to contact. Then his manager, this irritating Veronica person, sends me an email making it sound like I am the problem, so I was a little sharper than typical in my reply. But trainer J followed up and called me the next day, a couple of times and a couple of messages (because I was at work and busy and honestly could not return his call immediately), and set-up our first appointment. Just after Veronica left the club for greener pastures, J told me about she had said to him that I was “difficult” and unlikely to turn into much of a client. Boy, was she ever wrong.

And here we are, 2 years later, training twice a week, in the gym for practice nearly all other days. I’m a great training client and responsible tribe member. I am far healthier, happier, more confident than I think maybe ever in my entire life. I have worked hard to get here, and I will (hopefully) continue to make good choices every day for the next 365 days ahead. While not chasing numbers on the scale, maybe I will start reporting them here each month when I do my monthly weigh-in. Having an obesity doctor for your primary care physician does have this very minor downside.

I am braver than I realize, and stronger than I imagined. And right now, I am pretty pleased and proud of my efforts. I earned this little victory lap.

Take that, icky former manager, wherever you are now.

 

 

#blogging, #diabetes, #diet, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #inspiration

PT-39: New brand of review

Thursday morning, training with J. Funny, but after weeks and weeks of his congested tones, I had grown accustomed to the way he sounded congested and stuffed up. It seems odd to me now to recognize a different quality to his voice when we are talking and working.

Key Takeaways

When I was driving to the gym this morning and thinking about training today, I was idly wondering what we might be doing. J being sick on Monday, going on vacation next Wednesday (so no training next Thursday or the following Monday) means three straight weeks of single training days. I mean, I am well aware most of the rest of the tribe trains with him once a week, but my creature-of-habit-ness means I have given over to the twice per week pattern and is burned into my mind as our groove. When something else comes up – vacations, illness, holidays, wild hairs, phase of the moon – and our sessions are cut to once per week, it impacts me and the pattern we have established. My thought was today’s session should just have some fun, throw out the List of the day and just work at whatever J’s test kitchen comes up with in the moment. As it happens, that is what we did.

We began our day with J’s loosey-goosey plan to go through, update, enhance an older plexes List, only we would be focusing on adding weight and lowering reps on certain choice exercises. I say “loosey-goosey” because we had an hour today and we would not be reviewing again this week. It’s also me, which we can play it by ear and I’m neither going to complain or worry that I am somehow falling behind or worse. The training pattern as it has evolved works really well for me, and if we spend our next few single session per week going over choices exercises from this plexes List I am content with that. As it was we did not approach the weightier weights much, although at the rate we are moseying along we may someday soon be downstairs in or around the big boys’ room where the heavier than 30 lb. dumbbells reside. No rush at all, but it seems a natural progression.

It does not take a large number of exercises or multiple blocks of plexes to get my huffy puffy going. From what we did today, there were no straw or stick houses safe from my huffing and puffing.

No matter how well I think I know something, no matter how proficient or competent I may feel, there is always another tweak or change that affects the way an exercise feels to me. Funny how J cannot yet read my mind – he really needs to work on that. (*smile*) But I said something about I should know the things we were fine-tuning and digging into today and through is mantle of experience and philosophical studies heard that as “ought” or my own near and dear negative girl’s enunciation of “should” in this context. I actually meant it as I should learn and know about these things because going forward, into the future and building upon them, they will be the little tricks and tweaks and more perfected form that may save me from potential injury. They are subtleties I should have in my toolbox.

While this was not a teaching day, not a review day, and not even a technical review day – those are the normal series of steps that come with new exercises – it was more a skills review and enhancement day. Love that. These are all things that have shown up in one form or another on various Lists as the weeks and months have passed, and I have done well and become capable. New plateau approaches.

My idea of “fun” in training is relative. I love all of it, even if I actually despise some of the exercises I am learning or we are reviewing – there is always at least one that is either on the nemesis List or has been in the past. Does not seem to matter; little professor living in my mind likes the challenge that comes with learning and striving to improve and perfect. I suppose there could be a day when I’m sitting down to write a recap and bitching, moaning, complaining about how much I hated every single second of what we went through. It could happen. And someday pigs will be flying through sky under their own power and delivering packages from Amazon enroute to becoming pork chops and ham steaks. I have fallen hard and madly in love with exercise; anything seems possible to me now.

What We Did

Power squats (20 lb. dumbbells)
Inchworms

Bulgarian split squats
Stiff-leg dead lifts (30 lb. dumbbells)

How It Felt

If I stop and think about it, I would be almost embarrassed about going through four exercises in our 60 minute allotment of time, especially things I am mostly very familiar with. But nah – not my style, not for a very long time.

Today was actually a lot about basic skills I know and should integrate more deeply into my routines. While we talk a lot about pretensioning the muscles, it is still pretty far from automatic for me. Then there are the small adjustments that make for a smoother, more consistent movement pattern. Or the many ways I overthink the exercises that intimidate me.

The power squats – been awhile since we have been here looking closely at these. It was timely that this came up today, because lately here, I have been examining what my knees are doing and what direction they are pointing when doing squats. There are moments when I ponder using a mini band around the legs to ensure I feel those knees pointing in the correct direction. On the power squats, they are relatively straightforward. Squat down in a controlled manner, then power up on the elevation portion. Like pop tarts (because just plain toast is boring for the purpose of this analogy). Usually I think pop tarts when these are combined with an overhead press, but in reality the pop tart analogy is applicable here as well. We did these with 20 lb. dumbbells today, although I do believe the intent is to eventually utilize the weightier weights for lower rep sets.

J initially taught me to do inchworms as a substitute for the burpees that continually appeared in my Sunday morning pilates classes, and they have remained a standard for any List where burpees might appear, primarily the cardio-focused or huffy puffy based. Honestly, want to see me at my most lumbering and awkward, cruise by for a gander at my inchworm technique. Not. Pretty. Today we worked at them pretty intensely and morphed them into a inchworm-hybrid, where I am starting to get the little jump at the end that is part of good burpee technique. In my mind, these have been renamed as baby burpees, where I walk it out like an inchworm, take a couple/few steps back toward raising myself back to standing upright, then bend knees and jump forward. Oh my – these are so hard. But like everything I have conquered and overcome in this journey and better health quest, I will just keep trying, keep practicing until body learns. Someday I may ever master the art of a burpee. For now, though, the inchworm/baby burpee will remain in my nemesis stable. They, along with my arch nemesis the push-up, will have to be things I do a few times per week outside the List of the day until the small improvements become more routine and second nature.

We went over a lot of things with Bulgarian split squats, everything from how to anchor the rear foot to how far to be away from the bench. We did a fair number of these, a lot of them bodyweight as I experimented and struggled to find the right spot for my foot on the bench, the distance between forward foot and the bench, and making the minute adjustments to improve my posture and form. I learned how to slide my foot back to the anchored sweet spot without stopping or lifting my foot in between reps, and I remembered to focus more on what the rear leg is doing rather than so exclusively on the forward leg on the floor. Exercises I struggle mightily with to learn and gain some proficiency with tend to stick with me. However, once I gain basic proficiency, it is easy to cling to just meandering along and getting through it. Bulgarians most definitely fall into this category. These are not easy, everyone I know seems to dislike these to greater or lesser degrees, and enhancing my skills only benefits me long-term.

The differences between a Romanian deadlift and the stiff-legged deadlift were almost invisible to me before today, which is how it is when time passes between styles of doing various things. But I like that we go through the different methodologies from time to time. So, I had to really observe and listen to the differences and feel it in the actual doing. The hinge part I have down pretty well, but honestly, I was having a hard time recalling if I bend my knees doing Romanian deadlifts or not. However, I can feel the difference in these with the dumbbells being closer to my legs and extending deeper toward the floor. I have also been really trying to work my focus on the pretensioning the hamstrings and glutes and keeping everything tight all the way through for the lifting part. I can feel it in my lower back if I forget or allow myself to become distracted, and protecting my lower back is really important to me. J had me experiment with foot placement – who knew foot placement would become another obsessive point for me? There is a definite difference in my back when feet are too far apart on these, and I do find myself sometimes making minute adjustments with my feet if I am pretensioning the working muscles and still feeling something in my back.

Kitchen Sink Thoughts

Trainer J has been sidelined from exercise for almost a week, and now that he is finally feeling better, he really wants to get back to the gym and working out. Always energetic about demonstrating exercise and to illustrate what he is trying to get across to me, today there was this type of enthusiasm that was almost palatable. I can completely understand his eagerness to get back to his routines and how his body craves exercise, but I am also really glad that he is being smart about his health and taking it easy.

While these few weeks of single trainings per week is not ideal, but we make it work. I feel so unapologetically spoiled in my exercise routines. The life and lifestyle I lead is not flashy or exciting, and old friends are either whole heartedly in favor of my efforts or exhibiting destructive and sabotaging behavior. For the most part, I understand and perceive their actions as fear and anxiety. Unfortunately there is no reassurance I can offer that will comfort or satisfy their need for me and others in our social circle to stay precisely the same. Every choice we make, every action we take has consequences; my better health quest is all about making choices that will impact me and each of my days in more positive ways.

There are anecdotal stories all around me about short-term decisions that have avoidable long-term consequences. I’m mindful of that, particularly this week when I am watching a big scrape on my lower leg and the bruising that had developed there before it happened. Diabetics not taking adequate care of themselves while they still had options and having limbs amputated. Fear and anxiety about that fate befalling me far outweighs dealing with friends who worry about my judging them for their choices to continue pursuit of a less healthy aging process.

I am inspired by people making good choices. Little things, big things, trying, failing, trying again. Those who do not give up. Funny part of that, I am inspired by their stories and the ways they share their experiences and what they have learned along the way, yet I do not identify in ways that make me feel like I am on the same level or even close; it’s a place I aspire to reach.

One of the things training teaches me, how to control my fears and anxiety about exercise and my better health quest. Exercises I dislike? Not good at them – yet. Maybe not even competent much less proficient, and I still have some level of anxiety and fear every time I practice on my own. The reasons why are not always clear to me, because even when I mostly know what I am supposed to be doing, I have concerns about doing it right and not hurting myself. Those are quell-able. Then there are the very faint whispers that distract me and break my concentration and focus. Those are a lot more challenging.

Taming my mind to stay with the work lies in building my focus and concentration skills, which is why I appreciate J’s emphasis on pretensioning the working muscles and where I should be feeling the exercise effects. I have evolved into this level of form junkie just to keep my mind on what I should be doing and keeping my eye on the ball. For me, exercise is not an elective option; if I want anything close to a happy, healthy rest of my life. Better health means growing older gracefully, with all my limbs intact.

J asked me earlier if my legs were sore. No, not really, but my glutes feel like I have been sitting on a seat of icepicks from the work we did. That pretensioning and maintaining it – when we spend 60 minutes focused on that, it has an all-day impact.

#concentration, #diabetes, #diet, #emotional-health, #exercise, #fitness, #focus, #gym, #happy, #health, #healthy-eating, #mental-health, #progress

Better health – it’s complicated :(

April is my month for medical appointments. Yay!

Tuesday I was in my endocrinologist’s office having a professional-model continuous glucose monitor attached to my arm. During my adventures in restrictive, calorie counting style dieting, I had daily, sometimes 2 and 3 times daily low blood sugar events. Kind of hard to be watching calories so closely if your blood sugar is dropping like a rock and you’re having slam juice to get back to the normal range.

It is perplexing because I am not on any sort of diabetes medication that would drop my sugar so rapidly. Could be the allergy stuff I have been taking to keep my nose and sinuses under control, but I kind of doubt it. I think in that period it was simply not eating enough calories or frequently enough to keep me going. Protein shake in the morning before gym, gym, then an apple until lunch and another protein shake and then nothing until dinner – my system was unhappy. Once I got back onto my more routine eating schedule, the low blood sugar events have mostly stopped – more like once a week during the day and maybe once or twice per week overnight.

After yet another one last night and me keeping track of what I ate yesterday, a new thought has popped into my head about the gratuitous sugar I eat. Yesterday was busy, stressful, crazy with self-employment client work, and I had both a decaf coffee-flavored milk drink and a cookie late in the day, normal dinner, and voila – 5  hours later I’m waking up drenched in sweat and low blood sugar. Sucks. Drank a couple of ounces of apple juice and a couple of saltines, and went back to bed. Just a few hours later, when my alarm went off at 4, sugars were low again and my disorientation and fatigue in trying to recovery made me miss my exercise window.

Totally sucks. I know what to do about high blood sugar; I am having a lot of difficulty coping with low blood sugar.

Hence my doc wanting to see what my system is doing throughout the days correlated to how and when I exercise and fuel body. Other than the early days when I was still on insulin, I have yet to have a drive-to-juice event at the gym. The protein shake concoction I drink faithfully before going every time seems to be my safety shield. I just hope this sensor stays glued to my arm for the whole 2 week cycle. The information it provides will be worth the inconvenience that comes with having to think about it and wear sleeved tops everywhere.

This is also the month for my blood tests and rechecking my A1c. My hope and yes, expectation is that there will be little change from its nice on-the-low-end-of-normal results last time. I like having the buffer that allows me to food transgress periodically without stressing about having to be back on the medications. But with this latest and not so great health issue, I am having that sinking feeling that the potential for penalties for any food sins remains with the realm of possibility.

The specter of a ultra low-carb eating style looming large in my future is occurring to me more and more. While I actually feel as if I am doing that now compared to former versions of myself and the types of foods I love and would eat regularly, I know there is always room to make more adjustments.

Before I get there, though, I will be more deliberate in my food treats and cheats. No cookies. No coffee-flavored milk drinks. Those two things are the worst offenders of late. My bread consumption was already down before this latest round of challenge began, although I do typically consume normal portions of potatoes or rice with my evening meal in hopes of avoiding these overnight events. It is really easy for me to forego desserts and nearly all other sugary treats. Candy, particularly chocolate, is a just-say-no item because kicking back the craving after I start is harsh. I haven’t had french fries in months and while M and I do have cheeseburgers while out and about on weekends at least once a month and pizza night is a staple for during-the-week visits with G and K, curtailing our periodic junk food fix should not be much of an issue.

It’s the things like chinese food, with it’s sugar-laden sauces and carb-palooza noodles and such that are probably going to have to be added to my super special occasions list versus whenever I feel like it or am out with friends or on business. There are a lot of healthier choices available, but unfortunately I do not enjoy them nearly as much. But when it’s business or socializing with friends, I will just continue to remind myself it’s all about the company and the food is a very distant secondary enjoyment factor.

But if any of that is a contributor to these low blood sugar crashes, it becomes a lot easier for me to feel less resentment about avoidance.

Eating healthy – it is just hard. Developing the discipline after a lifetime of not having much discipline is not easy for anyone. But now the blood sugar crashes are starting to impact my exercise, and I simply cannot allow something I can most likely control to impinge upon something I have worked so slavishly to implement and maintain. When I am feeling a little sorry for myself – like this morning, when I was feeling crappy and miserable – I feel persecuted and as if I am being somehow punished for trying to do better. Which is such bullshit and a big reason why I do not indulge much in self-pity; it is a complete waste of my time. If lifestyle changes were easy there would not be gazillions of self-help books on the subject and bazillions of experts offering advice and counsel on making it happen.

In the end, I did not end up calling in sick as I was worried might be necessary – after 2 overnight incidents I was having a very hard time making myself wake-up and then once upright, was feeling disoriented and dizzy. Food helps; a little juice at 4 to get me back from 58 into the normal range and a few hours more sleep. The protein shake for breakfast is infinitely better for me than juice, but makes falling asleep very difficult and uncomfortable.

So I am carefully tracking my food and timing for the next couple of weeks, hoping my doc and my dietician can help me sort out where I am going wrong this time. For some reason it is psychologically easier for me to do this sort of loose tracking when it has a direct impact on my overall health versus the more abstract weight loss objective.

While Wednesday nights are typically a for-fun workout, tonight it is the real deal to feed my need to stay on track with it. The world is not going to end if I slack and go light or even if I blew it off and just went home and to bed early. But I cling to my schedule for good reasons and know I have to make an effort or feel negative girl start nipping at my heels.

I kinda/sorta want to pooh-pooh myself and make my usual derisive comment about me and my first world problems. But something is not right with me lately, and it is becoming a genuine issue for me. I discussed it briefly with my doc yesterday – no, I am not overtraining and continuing my daily exercise is the very last thing I should be cutting back on or concerned about. WHEW! It is possible stress could be a factor, but this was starting to amp up long before the major stressors of last week. Part of me idly wonders if my reactions to the stressors of last week was overwrought because of whatever seems to be ailing me. Which really leaves diet as the next logical subject for exploration. I am going to just hang in and hang on until my labs and this continuous monitoring study are completed and results disbursed, and hopefully my system will settle back down.

Until then, food tracking – I loathe you, but in this instance I can understand the benefit. Getting to bed on time and adequate sleep is back to a highest priority. Gym training and practice will continue as normal, hopefully back on a normal cycle and schedule going forward.

Waiting is hard. But worth it as a step forward in my better health quest. Thankfully no one is telling me I have to actually like it.

#blood-sugar-events, #diabetes, #diet, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #health, #healthy-eating, #hope, #impatience, #lifestyle, #positivity

The air up there, the crash down here

I am ridiculously ignorant about my nutrition needs. I mean, seriously dumb. My doc, my trainer, my ongoing friendship with a registered dietician, and I am still make rookie mistakes. Hopefully I learn from them, probably mostly I do, but unfortunately there is no shortage of complications and complexities when it comes to my body and how it’s fueled.

It was lower body day with dumbbells and everything was proceeding as normal. While my pacing did not feel especially peppy, the judgmental Fitbit’s heart rate reading said I was adequately huffy puffy with this series (average heart rate for the 70 minutes = 133). I am still working at mastery over the Bulgarians, curtsey, and lateral lunges – maintaining the rib-tucking lean still requires extra focus and intensity to maintain – so I was paying more attention to my form first, rep counts second than anything else. I joke that most of my huffy-puffy calorie burn is brain at work, evidenced by the sweat-soaked hair from the steam coming from my ears. Things were going well; I was making good progress on overcoming my low back arching tendencies.

Except it felt as if I were sweating even more profusely than usual, and I was both more thirsty and getting more physically fatigued than is typical for this List and my perceived level of effort. Typically my brain gets tired long before body and then brain tells body how tired it is and the rest of my practice is hard-slog history. Today brain felt fresh, focused, engaged, wanting to go-go-go and body felt as if it were sending out mild distress signals, mostly ignored. Sweaty and gross is a fact of life. Judgmental Fitbit goes fast, slows down, goes fast, slows down. Mostly I ignore it unless I feel weird.

But in midway through the step-ups I started to feel weird, sweat pouring, a nanosecond of light headed. Standing on a box, doing a hip hinge on one foot – even a nanosecond of that type of distraction is a bad sign. It passed so quickly, though, that I was sure imagination was playing tricks, so I continued forging ahead. Rest break seemed to be in order and it helped. Yet by the time I entered my final block, I was starting to get that sinking feeling that something was amiss in my blood sugar. Even if mentally I did not feel I was working extraordinarily hard, body was processing the workout as if I were pushing really hard.

By the end of the second set of final block, I had the light-headed feeling of doom. Third set abandoned because fainting on the gym floor is frowned upon by employees and other members alike. Plus, so embarrassingly public! Yep, full on blood sugar crash at 59 when I tested in the locker room. I usually carry a can of juice with me, but it had been stolen with my other bag a few weeks ago. I always have glucose tablets with me, because M freaks out at the idea of me wandering around without anything to restore balance. They are unpleasant to eat, vastly prefer juice, but short of calling home, I was in no condition to drive. Popped a couple of those ick pills and just sat on the bench until I felt better, tested again and was on the rise at 70.

It was weird, it was unexpected, it caught me completely off guard and by surprise. And the little professor that lives inside my brain has to analyze and understand what happened, so hopefully I do not have a repeat experience.

I was not especially hungry last night due to a bigger and later than usual lunch. Rather than eat something sensible – like a peanut butter sandwich – I chose a protein shake with dried peanut butter instead. Big mistake apparently. The concoction upset my typically cast iron stomach enough that I was up and down a few times in the night. I thought for sure my blood sugar would be lower this morning, but it was shockingly high at 208 (first thing in the morning reading is more typically between 80 and 100, high is anything over 140). But I felt fine, so I made my usual pre-gym protein shake and away I went.

So my village (my docs, J, RD) and my friends – probably everyone except M – says listen to body, it will tell you what it wants/needs. M is a bit less woo-woo about it, suggesting a balanced diet with plenty of lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and some carbohydrates with each meal seems to work best for me. Which is possibly, probably what body is telling me it needs. Just protein and nothing else for dinner is inadequate. Body essentially had a tantrum overnight and spit out what I fed it. Okay, lesson learned. No protein shakes as meal replacement for me into the future.

Should I have known better and understood the signs I was experiencing? Perhaps. Since I have been off the diabetes controlling medications crashes are few and far between. It did not feel as if I were working extra hard and burning through body’s fuel in an unusually rapid manner this morning. Upset stomachs that wake me up are rare. Higher blood sugar from the stress – probably I should have anticipated this occurrence. But my biggest takeaway is that this experience taught me that I know and understand the signs now. Do not repeat the offending behavior and life will return to normal.

I put a fresh can of juice in my gym bag, just in case. Which of course means this experience is unlikely to ever repeat, because I’m now better prepared for it. And I am so beyond okay with not having another blood sugar crash like that again. After a few days (or weeks) without incident this too will fade from memory. Something to look forward to, even if I cannot hurry it along.

#blood-sugar-events, #diabetes, #diet, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #health, #healthy-eating

Successes

Last week I had my 3 month bloodwork done and received the results yesterday just as I was leaving the gym. For those unfamiliar, I am a type 2 diabetic, presently well controlled without the benefits of medication. Once upon a time, I was on 2 different oral medications, 2 different types of insulin as well as medications for blood pressure (to protect my kidneys) and to control cholesterol.

A year has passed since I took my last prescription medication. These days I take a single low dose aspirin, vitamin D and fish oil capsules. Periodically there is a magnesium powder dissolved in water as well, when I feel like muscles are in rebellion and turning to stone and staying that way permanently.

After years and years of more and more diabetes controlling medications, I have now been medication free for a year. After a year at Kaiser, I am back with my regular endocrinologist to ensure I am staying on the straight and narrow. My A1c – the 3 month measure of average blood sugar – was 4.9 this time, first time ever it has been less than 5 (normal is 4.7 to 6.9 range). I was amazed; there was a lot of sugar and crap food consumed during the holidays.

I am thrilled beyond measure.

My eating remains imperfect, a work in progress. I try. I fail. I try again. Because I still eat the evil carbs and fat, marketing tells me I am not taking good care of myself. From where I was 2 years ago, I’m practically perfect on the clean eating scale.

I am a picky eater, and it does limit me and my food choices. For the most part I have cut out the sugar and most of the junk food. I try and would be faltering badly on eating more protein if I did not supplement with protein powder. Fruits and vegetables are a regular thing, although I admit to not caring for most vegetables and eating the same ones over and over again. Dairy was cut sometime last year, except for the occasional cup of coffee with skim milk and the even rarer ice cream cone or cup. I do eat carbs, albeit much fewer carbs.

In all the ways it matters to me – my overall health and wellness – my overhauled lifestyle shows. The scale? The tape measure? Probably not so much, but I’m not sure because I do not track or measure. I have made my peace with that, because my clothes are sizes smaller and I have definitely added muscle to my frame. All great things.

Plus, I’m much happier and more well-balanced than I was when I started this journey. My confidence has soared! If I have to stay in my size 12/14 jeans forever, so be it. All my blood tests are reading very well – no high blood pressure or cholesterol here. Where it matters most, I’m in terrific health.

And I am still having little breakthroughs in the gym. While it may sound very small cakes to others, I finally figured out a basic concept on the lunge that has eluded me for more than a year. J went over it with me last week on walking lunges and again yesterday with backward reverse lunges – there is a little lean forward on the return to starting position that causes the lead leg to do the work and leaves the rear leg like a kickstand for balance. I have been forgetting regularly, until he mentions it, then I remember and can do it.

Kind of silly, I know, but kind of a big, vexing deal to me.

Today I was doing curtsey lunges, lateral lunges, and these step-up-on-the-box things that sort of feel like lunges. It was the step-ups that I finally realized that the lean forward thing works here as well, and I actually felt it in the hamstring and glutes where I should have been feeling it all along. It was like the floodlights turned on and blinded me and everyone else in the gym in my epiphany.

We have also been working at balance-related exercises, and the finisher for the step-ups is a hip hinge on top the box – basically upper body leans forward and a single leg elevates like a teeter totter while standing on the box. I turned on the focus this morning and enjoyed a nice string of success for 3 sets of 8 to 10 per leg, so that was exciting. Not only all 3 sets concluded, but a full rep range as well. Several of the ladies I know who were working in the room complimented me lavishly, which was hugely flattering. But at the end of the 3 sets, I was ridiculously excited about finally making the connection in the step-up, far more so than not falling off the box while hip hingeing.

A REALLY great week thus far, and it’s only Tuesday. I am very much looking forward to tomorrow in the gym and continuing to ride the happy wave of my small successes.

#balance, #diabetes, #diet, #eat-more-protein, #exercise, #fitness, #gym, #happy, #healthy-eating, #lab-tests, #positivity