As requested, I thought I would share my go to stretch routine. I do this after any type of workout in order to lengthen my muscles, maintain flexibility, and to ease the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that is bound to make an appearance the next day.
If you want to follow along, I would recommend a short pulse raiser to start. Jogging on the spot for a few minutes should prepare you. Let me know what you think?
I’ve been Managing diabetes as a dancer for a few years now so I thought I would share some of the ways that I am able to deal with it as well as I do. I mean, I’m not perfect as it is pretty complex job at times but I have been able to refine certain ways of working with it in order to help keep my blood sugars steady. Before I get into it, you have to understand that what works for me might not work for you. It is a very big game of trial and error. If you follow me on Instagram you will have noticed that I have to make adjustments fairly often and I often use this social platform as a way to keep track of how certain exercises affect my blood sugar. So, tip number one is to start keeping notes of your blood sugars, what you ate before class and how much your bolus was. You will begin to see trends which will give you something to work with.
Pay Attention to Different Teaching Styles and Genres of Dance
If you are already taking dance you may already be aware of the pace of certain classes, but if you’re thinking of going to a new dance class, don’t assume that all classes work the same way. I mean, yes, generally, most contemporary dance classes follow a specific structure but some teachers work much quicker than others and allow much less time for water breaks. Whenever I know I am going to be working with a new teacher or choreographer I always let my blood sugar run a little high before class just in case of a low – a high during a dance class is much easier for me to deal with than a low. Also, just in case there is no one in the class who knows you’re diabetic you should let the teacher know before class starts. I generally dance amongst friends which is why I never warn new teachers. I never tell events co coordinators that I perform at either, but writing this now I will make a note to myself to do so in the future.
Towards the end of a dance class you might feel weak and shaky because of the work load, but if you are unsure of whether it is a hypo or not, just check because the sooner you do that, the sooner your mind is able to focus on the dancing which is the whole reason why you’re there. If you do check and you are low mid class, have some glucose drink or a quick snack and then get back to it as quick as you can. Don’t let it ruin your dancing fun. On average I would say that I check my blood sugar once before class, once during and once straight after. If it is a little low beforehand I usually eat a banana or a granola bar. Same process applies for rehearsals.
Learn About Your Own Training
Hopefully you take some time outside of dance class to practice, if so, this means that you should be monitoring your blood sugar with regards to your own training too. Notice if it differs or shares some similarities to your dance class and mark it down. Usually when I get the blood sugar / insulin combination just right, this means that it’s time to up my game in my own training because my body has become accustomed to what I’m giving it and therefore isn’t as challenging as it could be.
When you have a performance coming up you will likely do a little bit more training during the rehearsal period which will allow you to build up some stamina. If you are committed to building up that stamina, what worked when you learned the dance in the beginning, may not work during the lead up to performance because of how your body has adapted to the workload. Also, if you get really nervous about performance you are more likely to respond to the adrenaline rush which can raise your blood sugar. Be wary of this and don’t be scared to take insulin to cover the adrenaline rush. I can’t say how much it would be for you, but I am starting with the bare minimum and it has helped the last couple of times I performed. Similar to the above I check my blood sugar about 5 minutes before going on stage and as soon as possible when I have finished, length of performance times do vary, but checking where possible keeps my mind at ease and allows me to focus.
Timing of food is everything for me. I tend to eat at least every 3 hours, but depending on what I am doing in those three hours will really dictate the amount of carbs I eat and the amount of insulin I take. If I have morning class I will eat a little less for breakfast and then have a piece of fruit right before I enter the classroom if my blood sugar is at a normal level. However, if for some reason my blood sugar is high, I won’t eat the snack because I know there is room for a drop. Same goes for performances which are mainly afternoon or evening – I will eat a little bit less during the meal before it and then have a snack right before performance.
Don’t Ever Let Diabetes Stop You
This is more important than anything else. The other day I was in class and I had to stop mid-way through to check my blood sugar, it was a convenient time because the teacher suggested that we work on our own for a few minutes in order to go over the movement. Whilst I was pricking my finger and waiting for the number on my meter to show up I realised that when I stood up I would have to work harder than anyone else in order to catch up. I have this mind set anyway. I am one of the hardest working people in the room and diabetes, rather than letting it slow me down, I use it as fuel to speed me up. I have to pick up and retain movement quicker so I have time to fit in the diabetes thoughts too.
I hope this helps. Please email me if you have any questions because dancing, although it is quite a challenge to manage, it is also a way to help you attain a steady blood sugar and is a way to increase in insulin sensitivity. Similar to other cardiovascular activities.
Last night I attended an insulin pump user group and to be totally honest, before attending, I didn’t even know there was such an event so was really unsure what to expect. Upon arrival, during the buffet, the first thing I noticed was how strange it felt to hear so many pump beeps at the same time and to see so many pump users in one place. It was comforting in a weird way. The sandwiches and fruit were tasty, but I must say that I was slightly upset that they didn’t have the carb count of the food – especially the cakes. (a girl can dream thought, right?) After the buffet we moved into another room where we were given a talk and a Q&A session. I’ll share the main points below.
Richard Webb spoke about his research and findings from the 4 year study he had been doing with type 1 diabetics who had transferred from MDI (Multiple daily injections) to insulin pump. To sum up, he found a positive difference in HBA1C, blood pressure and overall quality of life. Additionally, he found that there was no real difference in eating habits, weight or overall caloric intake. I thought that was interesting considering the amount of flexibility the pump offers in terms of eating. He said that people tend to eat less, but more often. Not necessarily more quantity.
CGM & Libre
There was a lot of talk about CGM and Freestyle Libre and how they are both better than testing blood sugar with finger tips. I’ve tried the CGM and can’t fault it. It clarified so many things for me which you can read more about in this blog post. I’m yet to try the Libre so maybe I should try it and do a comparison post? Quite a few people were resistant to pay for either and questioned when the NHS might fund it. The response from the speakers was that once we can prove how much money it will save the NHS; that is when it will be funded. Also, Libre is cheaper than CGM but doesn’t offer the detail that CGM does in terms of arrow trends etc.
Side note: for those who don’t know. The NHS is the National Health Service in the UK.
A lady put her hand up and was asking about site changes and what you can do when you feel like you’ve fun out of space. The general response was that you should just make a note of where you put your sites in order to rotate them effectively. You see, if you keep using the same spot you will end up getting lumps underneath your skin and possibly even scar tissue from where the cannula has been sitting. I am totally guilty of using areas that I know don’t hurt as much but listening to how overused, cannula sites contribute to rising blood glucose levels is enough to motivate me to pay more attention. I’ve actually changed my cannula to my back this morning.
I’ve spoken about travel, in detail, in this post here. Have a look and you will get a few pointers from there. I will also update with any additional information I took from the pump user event.
Do you have these kind of groups in your city? I’m not sure how regular this one is, but by the sounds of it – everyone could use a diabetic buddy in their lives.
Alongside macronutrients, it is also vital that you pay attention to micronutrients and water as they play a crucial role in human nutrition, including the prevention and treatment of various diseases and conditions, as well as the optimization of physical and mental functioning. Furthermore, if you are not fully satisfying your micronutrient needs, your macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat) will not be utilized effectively. You’ll end up wasting your time, energy, and training, and leave both gains and health goals unrealized. So really make sure you are eating a variety of nutritious foods and you shouldn’t have to focus too much on the micronutrients. Low calorie foods such as fruits and vegetables have higher nutrients densities so it is good to aim for your 5 a day. Below you will see an example of some of the necessary micronutrients.
Calcium – milk, yogurt, spinach, and sardines
Vitamin B12 – beef, fish, cheese, and eggs
Zinc – beef, cashews, garbanzo beans, and turkey
Potassium – bananas, spinach, potatoes, and apricots
Vitamin C – oranges, peppers, broccoli, and bananas
Fiber is needed because it promotes the normal movement of waste through your digestive system. The ideal amount of fiber is directly related to how many calories you consume on a daily basis. The average recommendation is around 10-15 grams per 1000 calories per day. So if you eat 2000 calories per day you will need between 20 to 30 grams of fiber. It may vary depending on how your body responds so use your bowel movement as a gauge. Note, if you are currently eating a lot less than your required amount for your caloric intake, it is important to increase slowly otherwise you might end up feeling constipated quite quickly. The best sources of fiber can be consumed through a variety of fruits and vegetable as listed above.
Did you know that even if you are mildly dehydrated it can affect your performance in the gym or at work? Water is central for the overall functioning of the body and plays a massive part in how you look and feel. The minimum amount of water you should drink on any given day, in addition to coffees, teas or juices, is determined by your size and activity level. I use the formula used by The International Sports Medicine Institute which is 1/2 ounce per pound of body weight if you’re not active (that’s ten eight-ounce glasses if you weigh 160 pounds), and 2/3 ounce per pound if you’re athletic (13 to 14 glasses a day, at the same weight). By consuming the correct amount of water for your body it will help you lose body fat and your body will eventually stop holding onto water because it knows that it is consistently getting enough of it. A good way to gauge your hydration level is by judging the color of your urine. The clearer it is, the more hydrated you are.
I know this sounds like a fair bit of information to take on board, but the more you educate yourself the easier all of this healthy eating stuff will be in future.
Let me know if you have any questions and don’t forget to check out my online training programs as I’ve space for two more clients in October.
I didn’t know jet lag and high blood sugar had such a strong relationship until returning from my wonderful vacation to Cuba, Mexico and Vegas. I’ve travelled long haul before, but this time, since returning, my blood sugar has been insane.
When I landed back in the UK I went straight home to get a shower, then straight to uni and have barely stopped since. A week of juggling jet lag, high blood sugar, dancing, a shit load of theory work, work and life has been a learning curve to say the least. I’ve experienced numbers in the 20mmol range, even with a pretty similar diet to what I am used to. But, because it takes 5 days to recover from jet lag, depending on length of time travelled and number of times zones crossed, I am putting my crazy diabetes down to the fact that I was away for longer and crossed more time zones than usual.
According to the NHS, jet lag not only affects the body clocks sleeping and waking pattern, it also plays with your circadian rhythms too:
And in relation to diabetes, the Diabetes Library suggests that “Sleep deprivation and misalignment of the circadian rhythm can cause serious endocrinologic dysregulation, which directly affects the appetite and satiety centres of the brain.”
So it’s confirmed – I can rest. I spoke to my endo and he said it is likely a stress response and that I should use the “sick day” rules to control my insulin. I’ve had a temp basal on +60 and it seems to be doing the trick. I was actually pleased to see a hypo because there were point when I thought my blood sugar would never come down.
Hopefully you can learn from my experience and take a bit of time to adjust to your routine when you get back to your home city. And be sure to monitor your blood sugar closely. If you BG is unusually high, take some extra insulin until you start seeing a healthier trend again.
Have you experienced jet lag and high blood sugar before?
Sometimes, when looking to be inspired, I watch TED talks. They have an app and a range of different clips on Netflix. I watch them because they inspire me in writing, doing better and generally pushing myself to aim for bigger and better things. The speakers are experts from all different fields; choreographers, writers, entrepreneurs, chefs etc. The most recent one was from an African writer who was talking about Single Stories. As an example of a single story she used her experience as an African Female who moved from Africa to America for college. Now, before her roommate had even met her she had assumed that because she was from Africa she would be poor, listen to tribal music and wouldn’t speak very good English. This wasn’t the case at all.
This got me thinking about my single story and if that has changed since my diabetes diagnosis. Have I gone from being Rowena to being that diabetic girl? I certainly hope not. Do people think of diabetes when they think of me? As a diabetic person, what information do I implant into peoples brains about diabetes?
How I act and manage my diabetes will give someone a story about it and I would prefer for it not to be a sob story. Yes, it is challenging but if I get it right I can feel well and energetic. That’s why I try my best every single day to keep it in check. I will never tell someone that I can’t eat something because I am diabetic, I will tell them that I don’t want to eat it because it is not good for me. If I’m having a crap day at managing my blood sugars I won’t tell a non-diabetic about that because I don’t want them to feel sorry for me or to assume that it’s my fault. When I am in dance class and I have a low, I will not make a scene; I will test and act accordingly. You get where is coming from? How I act will determine how another diabetic is treated. How someone’s mum manages their diabetes will affect how people see mine. An example, I have a friend whose mum is Type 1 who doesn’t exercise because of hypos. Thus, because her mum doesn’t exercise because of hypos, my friend is under the impression that I should be very careful around exercise.
If you know someone who has Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes you will obviously have an idea about it and a story to tell if the conversation calls for it. If you’re diabetic, you will understand that people have a “single story” about diabetes and some people will not change their idea of it even if you shove it in their face. The most common “stories” are that it is a self-inflicted medical condition brought on through eating too much sugar or it is believed that we can’t eat sugar at all. I live with type 1 diabetes and I can firmly tell you that both assumptions are incorrect.
Where does that leave me now? I guess I just have to make sure my story of diabetes is a one that won’t mislead people for years to come. What do you think about your diabetes story? What impression do you give to other people?
Have you followed me on Instagram and Twitter yet? As of next week I will be posting my weekly workouts, my before and after blood glucose and some of my meals. My timetable is sorted and I can’t wait to get into it.
There are a few good things about living with diabetes, you read it right. Initially, I did only think there was one and that was obviously food related; see my Perk of living with diabetes post to understand how I came to this conclusion. However, I’ve been in search of a few more and I have come up with the following.
How many subjects can you say you are an absolute expert on? It has been said that it takes 10000 hours to become a master of a certain subject / field of expertise. So, if this is true, at time of writing this post I have been diabetic for around 2 years and 5 months, which is equivalent to around 21168 hours. That makes me an expert two times over and will keep increasing until there is a cure. Remember, we don’t get the time off when we sleep / go on holiday so every single hour can be accounted for.
A good excuse not to share food
I’ll happily share anything I own, but I don’t share food (obvs unless you are diabetic and lowJ). Now that I am diabetic, when I am eating something I have the perfect excuse not to let someone pinch a few or my carbs because I’ve already bolused for it. I’m giggling as I write this because everyone takes it so seriously, even if the food is only worth less than 5 carbs.
Changes to Your Own Lifestyle Rub off on people around you
When you make the effort to treat your body with more respect by eating healthier and exercising more, the people around you will begin to consider the choices they make too. For instance, one of my friends really cleaned up his diet when he realised how many carbs were in certain foods he was eating. He would check and say “you’d have to bolus x amount for this amount of carbs” and he eventually phased most of those sugary food out of his diet.
Deeper Understanding of Your body
Although diabetes is the most confusing thing ever, it has also given me a deeper understanding of my body; what irritates it is, what foods it works better with, what exercise very effective. Highs and lows tell us a lot about what is going on inside and if we pay attention to that we can really fine tune management to stay as healthy as possible.
I know this might not sound like a big thing to brag about, but gym bunnies who are not diabetic would love to have our discipline when it comes to carbs. Especially the IIFYM group of flexible dieters out there. They might have a slip here and there without much consequence and will thus learn / progress a bit slower. However, when we slip or miscalculate we have from hypers / hypos to remind us to calculate the food properly next time.
I could pretty much eye ball the portions of most fruit, veg, potatoes, pasta, rice and breads. Although it is still good to weigh them where possible.
It shows us we are strong and can adapt to any situation
Aside from the other diabetics, I don’t know anyone who actively makes themselves bleed every day in order to stay alive. We do this with a smile on our face and get on with the rest of the day.
It goes with that saying – you never know what you’re capable of until you try. Being forced to manage diabetes has taught me that I am ready for anything life has to throw at me because I know I will adapt and handle it.
Insulin pumpers are technically Borg
Speaking of adapting, my GF / friends always jokes that I am like seven of nine from Star trek because of my medical devices that could be passed as borg implants. Seven of nine was part of a collective and is very efficient and smart. I’m happy to be compared to her so I’ll take it.
I would loooove to hear anything you have to add to this. Let’s not take diabetes so seriously so we can keep smiling.
What is the perfect diet for diabetes? Well, like I always say it is individual to the person. However, when living with diabetes there two main diets that always pop up and have proven to make life managing diabetes that little bit easier. For instance, most doctors recommend a low glycaemic diet because the carbs are released at a slower pace in comparison to carbs with a higher glycaemic carbs. The other popular diet is a low carb diet – mainly recommended for blood sugar control, but not so much by doctors, more so by people living with diabetes.
What is HIGH / LOW GI?
High Glycaemic foods include white rice, cereals and sugary drinks.
Low Glycaemic foods include brown rice, oatmeal and sweet potato.
Low Carb Diet
A low carb diet involves reducing the amount of carbohydrates that you eat on a daily basis and replacing the missing carbs with extra fats and protein, although some people forget to do that and end up severely undereating.
Anyway, it’s obvious why low carb diets are great for diabetes control – to put it simply, there is less chance of hyperglycaemia if you are not eating a lot of carbs on a regular basis.
The low carb lifestyle can be very tough and can leave you feeling somewhat unhappy in other ways which is why I would never recommend it to my clients. I believe a healthy balance is the most effective and sustainable diet out there. Not cutting whole macronutrients sources from your diet.
Saying that, there are people who seem to get along well with the low carb lifestyle and I am happy for their adherence and control.
But, again, I am not one of those people. Ever since I was a kid I have enjoyed carbohydrates more than the other macronutrient sources; protein and fat. I didn’t eat much meat which is a very dominant food source in the protein department and I avoided fats, mainly because I thought they would make me fat; but that’s a story for another post. Anyway, the point is, diabetic or not I like carbs and I am willing to continue eating them providing I can stay healthy and strong. Which I am.
Things to Consider
If you are considering adjusting your diet for diabetes sake, you have to ask yourself what is going to keep you happy. You see, there is no point in having great diabetes control if the strategy you are using to meet that level of control is making you mentally ill; miserable, depressed and isolated without the foods you enjoy.
Ask yourself the following…
Can you see yourself making small changes each week, maybe switching from white potato to sweet potato? Swapping white bread to brown bread etc. If so, great – a low GI diet could work for you. If not, consider something else.
Low Carb / No Carb
Could you see yourself a year from now not eating any of the carbs you enjoy including fruit, vegetables, pasta, potatoes etc? If so, great. If not, don’t worry – try the above.
Overall, the diet for diabetes, as stated earlier, is going to be personal to you. If you do currently eat low GI food and struggle with diabetes control, think about the timing of your insulin and see how you get on with that before you go cold turkey on the carb front. Oh, and check out my carb counting tips to ensure you are calculating accurately.
Also, remember that diet does not always mean weight loss, it’s about lifestyle choice and should be seen as something that you can adhere to in the long term. Food is not the enemy, even if you are living with diabetes.
Managing diabetes takes time, dedication, experimentation, patience and knowledge. Great blood sugar levels are not achieved just by taking a couple of shots of insulin and doing a bit of exercise here and there. In fact, it’s very far from it as there are so many variables that can affect the success of the insulin; the amount of food you eat, the exercise you do, your height, weight, resting activity levels, stress levels etc.
With all of the above in mind I would definitely say that the key to diabetes management is understanding your own body and how it responds to all of the above. To do this you will have to monitor, assess, and make changes, but most of all BE PATIENT.
I know it sounds like a lot of work, but here’s the way I see it… experimenting every so often in order to maintain decent blood sugar, will take up much less time and energy than dealing with hypers and hypos every day. That’s really exhausting. I mean, of course I would rather not be playing around with blood glucose levels, but sometimes you’ve just got to do what you got to do.
Anyway, as I said earlier, if you are trying to figure out what works best for you, patience is everything because, again, there are so many variables.
My tip for maintaining patience is to know why you want to achieve a better level of blood glucose. An obvious one is that you want to achieve good health. However, sometimes this is not enough to motivate you, especially when you look fine on the outside and can’t see the potential damage of crappy levels on the inside.
Try to think more about immediate benefits of good blood glucose levels.
For me, my motivation is that I want to I want to dance to the best of my ability every day for the rest of my life. This is difficult to achieve if my body is preoccupied with high or low blood sugar levels. Also, healthier blood sugar makes me happier in general and I feel that I am much nicer to be around if my levels are in range. You must know what I’m talking about here… Cranky hypos / hypers are not fun.
Choose your motivation for finding out what works for you and keep a note of it close by.
Start your experiments with something small; if you are spiking after a certain food, experiment with the timing of your insulin or if you feel shitty after eating a certain food, try eating it at a different time of the day, less of it or none of it at all.
Write down the results.
If you feel like you are doing a really great job, reward yourself. Buy yourself something nice and say well done. No one else is going to do that for you because they have no idea how much of a victory it is to be able to manage and maintain health whilst living with this disease. Celebrate all of your achievements with diabetes.
I hope this helps. I really try to give you advice that you can use as a starting point to find out more about yourself. We are all different and what works for me might not work for you. There is never only one way.
Having recently lost a couple of pounds I have been reminded that weight loss and insulin reduction go hand in hand. I mean, it is something I already knew but my basal manipulation has been a bit different this time round. Knowing that I would have to reduce my basal insulin when I started losing fat, I was prepared with night time alarms to make adjustments.
I’ve noticed that when I lose as little as 1lb in weight my insulin dose needs to change too. Despite small adjustment each day, the past week I have woken up most nights with very low blood sugar, the lowest being 1.5mmols. Luckily I keep my Lucozade in my bedside cabinet and was able to treat it quickly.
Anyway, without trying to scare you, I hope this will prompt you to do something about your background insulin / pump basal rate if you plan on a diet. Do extra blood sugar checks and if you are waking up lower than usual it is definitely time to adjust. Especially if you are cutting calories alongside exercising. I would start by reducing in small increments 0.05 and keep adjusting until you get it right. Speak to your diabetes team if you are really unsure.
With the plan that I will lose 1 pound per week over the next 4 weeks, I will monitor how much insulin I have to reduce by and update this post.
With regards to hypos interfering with dieting…
I’ve said this in a few of my blogs before, but when a person is trying to lose fat, they have to be in a caloric deficit, i.e. burning more calories than they consume. However, I have received tons of emails from fellow diabetics who are frustrated that they can’t lose weight because they have to eat to treat a hypo.
“I’ll never lose weight if I have to keep eating the calories I burn off in the gym”
I always tell them “Yes you will, there are other ways around it.”
Night time hypos that are treated with carbs that I haven’t already accounted for… I just make a note of how many carbs I have eaten / drank. Usually 20 during the night as I like more than 15 to be sure when I sleep – and then I just subtract those carbs from one of my meals or snacks the next day. This ensures that I am still in a caloric deficit.
I do something similar with day time hypos, although this is never really a problem because I like to eat every 3 hours anyway and have probably planned the carbs and just won’t bolus for them. If not, I subtract the carbs from one of my later meals.
I hope this makes sense. Please comment if you have any questions. I know it can be difficult to calculate everything and to feel like you are stuck, but the fact that you are trying and reading this post says a lot about how your future will go. 3 carb counting tips for diabetics has proven to be very useful for otheres. Take a look.