Today, it dawned on me that in September, when I go back to uni, I will be going straight back into 20+ hours training a week. At the moment I would say I average about 13 hours of training that combines power walking, weight lifting, running, cycling, dance, yoga, pole dance and circuit training. I am really good at managing my blood sugars to what I eat and to how I train. I rarely have a bad hypo (for me, I consider bad to be anything lower than 3.5) and I believe this is down to not stopping any of my training when I was first diagnosed, regardless of hypos. When I was first put on insulin, it took about a week for my blood sugar to come down from 30+ to the normal range of 4 – 7mmols. After the first week on insulin was over, I began to experience hypoglycaemia on a regular basis and I had to figure out a way to stop that as soon as possible.
A typical day at uni would include cycling 5k to uni, 90 minute dance class, quick break, taking another 90 minute dance class, 60 minute dance rehearsal and then cycle home again. As you can imagine, it was a nightmare to look at basal / bolus doses and the food I was eating. As I was new to diabetes and didn’t know a whole lot I did as I was told by the dietician and I took lots of snack with me to eat when I felt low. I was packing cereal bars, bananas and lucozade and would usually have to eat them to treat hypos. After a week of these “extra snacks” I felt like crap and decided I didn’t want to eat these extra carbs and calories because I didn’t need them before I was diabetic so why would I have them now? How would I prevent weight gain if I was eating more? Could I exercise more to burn them off or would that create another hypo?
So what now? How do I manage it now? Well, after 4 months of managing type 1 diabetes around a hectic activity schedule I have found something that is working for me. At the moment I have a semi strict allowance for my calorie intake. Instead of just looking at the overall calorie intake at the end of the day I look at what makes up those calories in terms of my macronutrients. To make up a calorie you need fat, protein and carbohydrate. I will just talk about the carbs for now. My current macro split allows me to eat around 130 carbs per day. I have these in meals and snacks and usually tailor the snacks around my exercise. For example, if I test before I exercise and I am lower than 7 with insulin on board I will eat 20grams of carbs with no bolus. However, if I was higher than 7 with no insulin on board and I really felt I needed the snack I would have to calculate a bolus for it and half the dose. I hope this isn’t too confusing?
Anyway, the point I am trying to get across is that you can manage any exercise if you really want to. The preparation is takes for a dance class is very different to my approach to circuit training. The time of day I train is also a factor. Like, for a fasted morning workout I have to take a small bolus otherwise I go higher and for an afternoon run I would have to lower the basal rate etc. I’m a bit geeky with fitness so I am currently working on a table that will demonstrate how certain exercises affect my blood glucose. If I do a dance class with a new teacher I would not approach this in the exact same way as I do with another teacher who I am already familiar with. It’s all about trial and error and testing.
Oh, one more thing I have to share that is pretty crucial to managing my carb intake. As hypos have to be treated if they occur, I have a window of 15grams of carbs right up until the point I do my last test. This means I don’t calculate them into my meals or snacks. Example, even though I’m supposed to have 130 carbs for the day, my total carb count usually equals to roughly 115 therefor if I need to eat it for a hypo I can but still sticking to my macros. I would rather be a little under than above. I also choose something that is pretty much carb based with very low fat so it doesn’t affect my split.
Please feel free to ask me any questions regarding this post. I think I have confused myself haha.