Category: Health and fitness

Diabetes won’t hold me back: Part 1- Atlas Mountain trek

imageHaving diabetes doesn’t have to hold you back from doing the things you want to do.

Diabetes is a part of my life but it isn’t my whole life. I have never let it stop me from achieving the things I’ve wanted to do. It’s all about being able to adapt whilst getting it to fit around the things you want to do. Travelling is one of those things I’ve never hesitated to do.  I recently travelled to Marrakesh, Morocco and had the opportunity to hike up the Atlas Mountains.

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Don’t you dare let diabetes stop you! You can do whatever you want to do! Don’t make it your excuse and don’t give up on any goals you may want to achieve. Work with it, continue on your path, being mindful of diabetes but without putting any limitations on yourself. DIABETES-DOES-NOT-HAVE-ME

Amina xx

Positivity Jar

Diabetes living is undeniably a struggle. It’s relentless and arduous in every sense. This life-long illness’ is far from enjoyable.

Many may say that diabetes does not define them, which is true. However, what is also true, is that it will always be present and  looming in the shadows. It’s almost like a force that you can’t escape. Repelling it would be detrimental to you in every way and embracing it would allow you to nurture and manage it better.

Yes, we have insulin, but insulin is not the cure that we all wait for with bated breath. The day that they announce that there is a cure, I dare say I probably won’t believe it.  Taking our insulin on a daily basis definitely helps us sustain. It is most certainly an asset to us, prolonging our existence. However, continuing with a frequent, restricted routine can be gruelling on the mind and body.

I must admit, many a time I’ve quietly felt fed up with diabetes, I’ve wished it away but also I’ve patiently endured the tests placed in front of me. It can be hard to remain positive about having diabetes but what I try to do is find things to keep me motivated and steer clear of any negative feeling which may creep in. Ultimately I want to be happy, healthy and live hassle free. I want to be the one in control of my health.

Also, I’ve realised that sometimes in order to gain that positivity it also means I have to occasionally have my down day. I mean everyone has a down day, diabetic or not.  So if you’re feeling down, then I say, just feel down.

The question is, what do you do to bring yourself out of this negative state you find yourself in? In that moment, at your lowest point try to find something that will help you or remind you about being in a happier mind-set.  Don’t let the negative feelings consume you.

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Something which I started recently is my diabetes positivity jar. I basically write down all the things that keep me motivated. Things that have happened and have had a positive impact on me and things that keep me patient.

Keep track of all the positive

It could be a memory or memories, a picture/s or just a word. It’s totally up to you. Collect them in a jar or a box and when you feel down just sit and look through them.Look at them and remember that moment and how you felt about it. Be proud of the things you’ve achieved and the challenges you’ve overcome.

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Here are a few other things that I do to keep my mind positive.

  • Fitness – A big one for me is working out. This is a great way to release some tension and de-stress. Plus you’re getting fit in the process. You’re active, moving and taking charge of your diabetes. At the moment I’m following a workout programme called PIIT 28 by Cassey Ho. I will be doing a post on this once I’ve completed my first 28 days.

 

  • The Munchkins – My kids are another huge motivator for me. They keep me on my toes, make me smile and make me want to retain my health.

 

  • Loved ones – My support system – My family and friends are a great support system, when I’m feeling a little down. Don’t be afraid to share it with them, laugh, cry, talk it through with them but don’t hold it in.

 

  • Set realistic goals – Don’t let this condition take over your life and be a hindrance. Just because you’re diabetic it doesn’t mean you can’t do the thing syou want to do. Check out my two inspirational guest post, by Chirstel and Tobias from TheFitBlog and Angelica Chavez. They don’t let their diabetes get in the way. Don’t limit yourself. You are more than capable of doing so many great things. Let diabetes be that driving force which makes you see new things and do new things. Set realistic and achievable goals and push for them.

 

  • Be thankful – I’m thankful for the insulin that I’m so lucky to have access too. You can read my post on access to insulin. Many people around the world aren’t as fortunate to have access to insulin. Also I remember having to inject 5 times a day and it reconfirms my appreciation for both my insulin and my pump.

 

  • Control the D – Try to stay on top of the blood glucose taking, the insulin doses, everything. Take it one step at a time, find a routine that you’re comfortable with. Write down you sugars, make a note of patterns and adjust when needed (seek advice if you’re uncertain).

 

  • Change your environment – If you’re at home, take a long walk or drive. Whatever you choose, take that time to really de-stress and hash it out.

So my friends, please don’t give up. You can do this, have faith in yourself and remember things don’t change overnight. However, it has to start from somewhere. Try to surround yourself with positive people and begin to think positively about taking charge of your diabetes. If you work on your strength in mind and body, your strength can only grow. You are much stronger than you know.

POSITIVITY

 Amina xx

 

 

Guest Post continued: The Fit Blog Part 2- Nutrition

How important is nutrition to you? What types of food do you consume on a typical day before and after a workout and also when maintaining your BG’s?

The saying that you can’t outrun a bad diet is very much true. So nutrition is very important for me. If you are looking to make changes to your body, mood, and diabetes management, getting your nutrition right is the place to start. What you eat is actually more important than how you work out. I eat 6 small meals throughout the day consisting of low glycaemic carbs (oats, sweet potato, and rice), lean protein (chicken, fish, and eggs) and fats (coconut oil, nuts, avocado).

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“TheFitBlog offers some amazing, cost effective meal plans for example the Female Fitness Program. It’s a general workout and meal plan for women but can be used by everyone, so it doesn’t mention diabetes at all, Untitled-14but it definitely works for people with diabetes (as it’s the program Christel used when she first started her fitness journey).

There is also an opportunity to have Online Personal Training. Christel works directly with clients and creates a custom- made workout meal plan weekly follow-ups and all the things that you would expect from a personal trainer. For Christel’s clients with diabetes, she is able to help them with diabetes management, especially when it comes to working out.

 

 

Are there any specific foods you would advise a diabetic to have when working out?

Yes, but it depends on what kind of exercise and the individual’s goals. If you want to build strength, you need a good low glycaemic carb (oats, sweet potato, brown rice) and protein (chicken, fish, egg) before your workout and a higher glycaemic carbUntitled-16 (white rice, banana, rice cake) and protein (whey shake or eggs) after your workout, accompanied by insulin. You actually need that insulin spike after your workout in order to feed your muscles and build strength and volume. Don’t be afraid to eat, and insulin is not the enemy!!!

“As diabetics, we are constantly counting how many carbs we’ve consumed in any given meal. A lot of us are inclined to follow a lower carb diet to keep BG levels under control.”

How many carbs do you have in a day?

Let me start by saying that I’m not a fan of no carb diets. They don’t fit my goals and I don’t think you need them in order to have good blood sugar control. My standpoint is that carbs aren’t the enemy as long as you eat healthy carbs. Eating too many of the high glycemic carbs are what’s going to mess with your blood sugar and your waistline. Right now, I’m doing carb cycling which means I have about 100 g of carbs for 2 days, then 125 g on day 3 and then 225 g on day 4. Bear in mind that that’s my bikini prep plan. If it was off-season for me, I would most likely be eating more and when I get closer to competition day, I’ll be eating less.

Do you keep a record of this? 

Absolutely! I use an app called MyFitnessPal. It’s brilliant and it’s free, hurrah.

What evaluations do you conduct on a new diabetic client who wants to begin a fitness regimen?

I always have new clients fill out a questionnaire about their health, workout experience, previous injuries, diabetes control, etc. I also ask them to track their food and beverages for a few days before our initial phone/FaceTime/Skype session. This allows me to understand what their starting point is so we can discuss goals and set expectations. I want to create a plan that will get the individual the results they want but it also needs to be safe and sustainable. I’ll never promise a 50 lbs weight loss in a month and I don’t expect clients to do what I do.

How do you ensure that a fitness program is effective?

After the first meeting with a new client, I create a customized workout and meal plan. We then have regular check-ins and status updates (how do you feel, your weight, diabetes management, perhaps progress pictures, etc.). Based on the clients’ status, I will make any adjustments necessary to his/hers workout and diet. I’m also available for questions on Facebook messenger or text when needed. Everybody is different so a cookie cutter approach won’t work

“When it come to my diabetes management, I’m so fortunate to have the support of my husband. He’s there through most hypos, he’s even become quite good at counting carbs and always encourages me, when it comes to working out.”Untitled-18How does Tobias help you with your diabetes management, motivation and fitness?

Tobias and I have been partners in crime for 16 years now so he knows the ins and outs of living with me and my diabetes. I’m very independent when it comes to my diabetes management. For me the most important thing is that he understands that sometimes it just sucks, and I’ll complain, but I’ll get over it. He actually wrote a very sweet piece on how to support a diabetic spouse on TheFitBlog, check it out.

I want to say a big thank you to Christel and Tobias for sharing TheFitBlog with us. Christel is a true inspiration and has given me hope that I too can be successful when it comes to maintaining my fitness goals. Better understanding of my insulin sensitivity, carb ratios, learning how much insulin and food to consume around workouts and not over correcting my low BG’s will definitely not limit my ability to reach my true fitness potential.

Amina xx

Guest post: The Fit Blog Part 1

I’d like to introduce husband and wife, fitness instructors, Christel (who has type 1 diabetes) and Tobias. Through their blog, TheFitBlog, they share CNT1their passion for a healthy and fit lifestyle, whist giving people the support to succeed with their fitness goals.

How did you start TheFitBlog?

Tobias and I have always had the desire to do our own thing. The summer of 2015 it all came together and we decided to take a leap of faith and make our hobby and passion our occupation. TheFitBlog is a general health and fitness site while the “Fit with Diabetes” section on the blog is my platform to discuss health and fitness from a diabetes perspective.

When I started working out more seriously, I searched without much luck for good information online on how to successfully combine training and diabetes management, so I had to figure it out on my own. TheFitBlog is my chance to share my experience and learnings with others.

How long have you had type 1 diabetes? How did you find out? What steps did you take?

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in December 1997. I’d just finished high school that summer and spent my time working in a preschool, partying hard and eating and drinking everything in sight. I displayed all the classical diabetes symptoms; hunger, thirst, sleepiness, frequent need to urinate and a slender physique. But all of that I simply attributed to my lifestyle.

At one point, my family did urge me to see a doctor, I did, and he was determined I had diabetes. I was admitted to a diabetes clinic as an outpatient and they spent the next two days teaching me about diabetes, how to take my shots, test my blood sugars and how to treat lows. First day of my diagnosis I was encouraged to never let my diabetes manage my life or to be a hindrance and I took that to heart and have lived by it ever since. Eight months later, I left for my first backpacking trip around India and I never slowed down.

How often do you work out?

Hi, my name is Christel, and I’m a workout –holic :-). I’m in the gym 6 days a week right now. However, 2016 is also a competition year for me so I’m working out as an athlete. I compete in NPC bikini competitions and have qualified to potentially take home a pro card later this year. A more normal gym schedule for me is 4-5 times a week and I think that is plenty for most people.Untitled-11

How do you balance working out with diabetes?

There is definitely a learning curve, but once I understood my body and how I react to different kinds of exercise, it’s actually pretty easy. When you understand how your body reacts to certain foods and exercise you’ll know how to adjust your insulin and not have to worry about lows all the time. Of course, I don’t always get it right but 95% of the time my sugars are perfect pre, during and post a workout. My advice is to take a lot of notes and find out how your body reacts to different foods and exercise and learn from it. In the long run, I find that working out makes your diabetes easier to manage, not harder.

How often do you have rest days?

Rest days are usually the hard ones for me since my insulin sensitivity goes down. I have a minimum of one rest day per week. There are some great sunset walks where we live in Santa Monica CA. It’s important to have rest days, since that’s when your body rebuilds and get stronger.

“When I work out, I’ve found that it’s much better for me to work out in the morning opposed to the evening. My sugars have a tendency to drop drastically in the night time, so I lean towards working out in the morning. Being able to stay motivated whilst maintaining good BG levels is extremely difficult.”

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What time of day do you like to work out? Have you found that working out at certain times are better for you and your BG levels?

My advice is to work out the time of day that suits you best. In the morning, you’ll have less insulin on-board so you’ll be less prone to low blood sugar. If your goal is weight loss, you might even benefit from morning sessions before breakfast. I do fasting cardio in the morning and resistance training in the afternoon/evening to build muscle mass. The key is to determine the right insulin level. It will depend on what you eat, your insulin sensitivity and how aggressively you work out.

Do you use a pump or injections?

I’m one of the rare MDI / CGM combinations. Pumps are awesome, but not for me at this time in my life. It’s still an extremely valuable tool and something I recommend for everyone who starts working out. I have very good control with MDI because I’m willing to inject 10 times a day if needed and test my blood sugar just as often.

How often do you test your BG and how do you record your BG levels?

Whenever I feel I need it. So it might be 10 times a day or it might be 8. I have a Bayer meter that saves all my readings so I can just download it when needed.

How do you stay motivated whilst managing low BG levels?

I guess I really don’t think about my blood sugar in those terms. My motivation to do what I do is not affected by my blood sugars. I manage them to allow me to do what I do.

How do you correct your BG levels without ruining the hard work you’ve put in?

By learning how much insulin and food to consume around workouts I hardly ever have low blood sugars during exercise. If I do, I treat it as it is; a medical emergency. I’ll eat 2-3 glucose tablets and either have a fruit strip and continue my workout or simply go home. A few glucose tablets and a fruit strip will never ruin your progress even if you are trying to drop weight. What will derail your progress is if you treat lows with candy or sugary soda.

What advice do you give to your diabetic clients when it comes to low/high BG’s when working out?

I always have clients track their activities, food, sleep patterns etc., and then together we work on determining why and when he or she is going low to reduce the risk of it happening

“As a mother, my schedule can be pretty hectic and fitting in a work out can sometimes be impossible. I like to do quick HIT workouts for a 20- 30 minute period or target one area e.g. my abs. My goal is to be working out a lot more than I currently do.”

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What advice would you give to me and to others who are struggling to achieve their fitness goals due to the hectic lifestyles or plummeting BG levels?

Even a little physical activity is better than nothing. First, decide what you want to achieve. If it’s cardiovascular health, focus on cardio. If it’s building strength, chose resistance training. Since time is a limited resource, you might have to focus your attention to one thing only.

I mainly do resistance training, because I think it gives a better return on the time I spend. Muscles help burn calories and increase your insulin sensitivity, so adding a little muscle mass is great for people with diabetes.

The reason why your blood sugars drop when you work out is that you have too much insulin in your system. So just as you learn your carb ratios over time, put in the time to get to know your insulin sensitivity after different types of workouts and adjust your insulin accordingly.

Look out for Part 2 of TheFitBlog guest post from Christel and Tobias on Nutrition. In the mean time if you want to read more about Christel and Tobias, then check out their blog at TheFitBlog. You can also find them on Twitter , Facebook and Instagram.

Amina xx