How Diet and Exercise work so well together, and how learning to love both make life so much more enjoyable for me.
Diabetes and exercise go hand in hand whether you have T1, T2 or are pre-diabetic. And let me tell you right off the bat that I was NOT always athletic, in fact I was far from it for most of my life. I spent my childhood and teenage years too intimidated, embarrassed, and anxious to exercise both because of being overweight and having T1D. On top of that, I had no idea where to start, so doing nothing at all was the easier option for me for a long, unhealthy time. Then something changed…I met and started dating a guy who played roller hockey when I was 19, and still more than 40 pounds overweight. I had been losing weight slowly up to that point through nutritional changes alone.
One day he suggested that he teach me how to rollerblade, that it would be fun, and I literally laughed out loud. I mean really, me, on rollerblades, he had to be kidding! But alas, I really liked him and I decided to try it out. The real surprise to me was that I ended up being pretty good at it! Not at first, but by the second time we went out I had the basic hang of it and that gave me an amazing feeling that I had never felt before. It was confidence in my physical abilities, my ability to train my body to do things I thought I would never do. And that feeling really was addictive. Case-in-point, today 12 years later I am still addicted to the high of being stronger than I was yesterday, to being able to do more than I used to be able to do with this amazing thing we call a body that we only get one of and is only limited to the limits we set on it in our minds. I was always confident in my intelligence and my ability to accomplish educational goals and things like that, but when the physical side came into play a whole new part of me began to awaken, and it can for you too.
As if the feelings of accomplishment weren’t enough, I immediately began noticing some major additional bonuses from the newly added exercise. First, I needed less insulin! Yes! As a diabetic, needing less insulin or any medication should always be a top goal. The more insulin you take, the more ability your body has to store carbohydrates as fat, the less you take, the less your body will accumulate fat, and almost everyone wants less fat on their bodies so it makes sense to take action to lower your required amount of insulin. Second, my blood sugar levels were much more consistent with far less highs and lows than I had before I introduced exercise into my life. Plus I began losing fat more rapidly, sleeping better, and feeling more confident about myself in general. If someone said to you that they have this special thing you can do for 30-60 minutes a day that will cause so many improvements to your life, health, energy levels, and confidence that they are too numerous to list, would you be interested in doing it? Most likely yes, and if not, you are not ready to or interested enough in changing at this point.
Exercise is that special thing that will cause all of those positive changes, plain and simple. No matter what level of experience you have at this point, whether you absolutely never do anything or you are a sporadic exerciser, adding CONSISTENT exercise to your weekly routine will be life changing especially if you have any type of diabetes. I’m not talking about going out and running a marathon either, you don’t even have to try anything like rollerblading if you don’t want to. But if you do want to set either of those things as a goal that would be a good idea. Setting a specific goal for each upcoming 3 month portion of the year is uber helpful in keeping yourself on track, and also for tracking progress which is always fun and fulfilling.
Challenge yourself to commit to the cheapest, most accessible exercise ever: a 30-45 minute walk 3 times this week, outside or on a treadmill, whichever is more appealing to you. Walk at your own pace and don’t try to push too hard too fast, just like anything new in life, exercise is a progression. Don’t over-analyze, just get up and go. Make sure to keep an even closer watch on your blood sugar levels when you do start moving more, and if you are experiencing more than 3 low blood sugars per week, you need less insulin daily. Talk to your endocrinologist or diabetes care specialist, or feel free to comment below and I will answer all questions personally. Then all you have to do is continue reinforcing that healthy habit CONSISTENTLY until it becomes part of your routine and you have an urge to learn something new or progress to another level with exercise. Now get out there and start feeling stronger, and more energetic today!
What is your relationship with exercise as it relates to your diabetes? Are you ready to overcome some of those old, stale worries now that you have some new insight? Leave a comment below and let me know!