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Here are my top four strategies for actually prioritizing exercise:

1. Find Your Optimal Workout Time
Mine is 6:15 AM. I like early morning workouts because:

  • The rest of my life generally doesn’t get in the way.
  • If something does interfere, I can often manage to squeeze something in later in the day (e.g. multiple short walks, evening run, etc.).
  • I can dial back on insulin for 2-3 hrs post-exercise. (That, in itself, is hugely motivating!)

2. Leverage Technology
Here’s what I’m using right now:

  • Garmin Connect logo Garmin Vivofit / Connect App – a gift from my family two Christmases ago.
  •  5K Runner App Logo 5kRunner App – this $2.99 investment helped me get in shape for my first 5k.
  •  audible logo Audible.com – I listen to books while I run. Actually, I don’t let myself listen to books unless I’m out for a run. I found a Groupon for a 3-month trial. I liked it so much, I continued the membership. (Did you know you can share a subscription with up to 3 other people? How great is that?)
  • Podcasts – I also listen to podcasts while I run. Current favorites include: The Moth, This American Life, New Yorker Fiction.

3. Invite Friends and Family.
I started with just one thing on this list. Once the habit was formed, I added something else, and so on. Here’s what I did:

  • Challenged my husband, who recently got a pedometer, to a 10,000-steps competition. (I know the 10,000 steps are arbitrary, but I still like having them as a milestone. In fact, those 10,000-steps are what inspired me to start running - because I didn’t have time to walk them all.)
  • Recruited a few friends to walk and/or run with me. It’s good for us all, right? Plus, it’s a great way to keep up with friends!
  • Invited a few other friends to go to Zumba with me. Just $5 a class at our local rec center. Great music, great company.
  • Signed up for a neighborhood 5k. Did I mention that I am was not a runner? (See what I did there? Now I am a runner.)
  • Invited my 11-year old to run with me on the weekends. (We take turns playing favorite songs for each other. I love learning what she’s into!)
  • Realized that my neighbor goes to the same gym I do. (Now we go to the gym together.)

4. Vary the Activities.
Here's what I'm doing now:

  • Cardio and weight lifting (2x/week)
  • Yoga (1x/week)
  • Running (2x/week)
  • Fast-walking (1x/week) or Hiking

How about you? How do you stay committed to exercise?

This post was written for Diabetes Blog Week.
The Prompt:
Diabetes tips and diabetes tricks. 

For more perspectives on this topic, click here.

I ran my first 5k yesterday.

I've never been much of a runner. So I downloaded a running app and started training the next day. I registered for a local race (Denver’s Adelante! 5k). Then I recruited a few pals to run with me once a week. The other days I ran on my own. In time, I began to look forward to the trainings as a way to spend time with people I don’t see often enough or to just zone out and listen to music.

With 7 weeks of training under my belt, I was feeling reasonably prepared on the day of the race. I ate an apple, drank some water, and stashed a juice box in my jacket pocket, just in case. My family came with me to cheer me on (it being Mothers’ Day, what choice had they?). I ran most of the way. And since I wasn’t running for any particular time, I was happy to complete the course in 36:12.

The numbers I care more about are the ones on my meter. And I was less happy with those yesterday. Given that I’d been testing and adjusting for weeks to determine a sensible strategy for the run, I was vexed by my body's response. Here’s what the day looked like in diabetes terms:

7:15 Test: 89mg/DL
8:15 Test: 81mg/DL
Eat apple (skip bolus) Preventively, to avoid mid-race low.
8:45 Decrease basal rate by 20% Again, preventively.
9:00 Run (mostly) for 36 min.
9:55 Test: 176mg/DL Woah…
Check site (it’s fine).
Bolus 2.5 units Hope that’s not too aggressive.
Hydrate.
10:10 Test: 172mg/DL Really?
Ponder test strip inaccuracy.
Verify recent changes to pump settings.
Second-guess skipping the apple bolus.
Second-guess the 20% basal decrease.
10:20 Test: 164mg/DL Still?
Bolus 1 more unit.
Head home.
Change site.
Spot a few air bubbles in line. Maybe?
Open new vial of insulin. It’s time anyway.
Continue to bolus against a stubborn high for most of the day. Sheesh.

It’s difficult to convey how damn squirrely diabetes is to people who don’t live with it every day. The best-laid plans often deliver uncertain results. It can be super frustrating. And yet, diabetes didn’t spoil yesterday; my first 5k was rewarding and fun.

Diabetes Blog Week 2014

This post was written for Diabetes Blog Week.
The prompt
(suggested by Kim of Texting my Pancreas): Change the World.  

I love to cook… sort of.

I love to spend a long, lazy Sunday afternoon in the kitchen, absorbed by cooking's sensuous colors, textures, sounds and smells. To me, it's more than relaxing; it's restorative.

But weeknight meal making (aka the reality of cooking) is another story. I find less pleasure in the rushed, staccato pace of assembling dinner for our family of four with competing schedules and priorities. Productivity experts suggest that the chaos of weeknight cooking can be quelled with weekly meal plans. But despite the well established benefits, I until recently, I had resisted this approach. I was concerned that the task of planning meals might further eclipse the enjoyment of cooking.

Enter MealBoard: a productivity app that combines recipe management, meal planning, and grocery-list making.

MealBoard Screenshot

The advantages to this simple, customizable app far outweigh (for me) the time required upfront to input recipes. Once a meal plan is set, MealBoard auto-magically generates a shopping list. The shopping list is grouped by items' location in the store, and non-recipe items (say, toothpaste) are easily  added. The more I use it, the more useful and efficient the app becomes.

Thanks to MealBoard I wing it less in the kitchen these days, and the making of weeknight meals is more calm. But what of the sensuous pleasures of cooking?

That's when I turn to Pinterest - where luscious photographs nourish the eyes, and culinary inspiration is a mere finger-flick away.

Passion restored, phew.

(Please note: Rather than continuing to post recipes here on I&D, I'm going to pin them on Pinterest. If you're interested, follow me on Pinterest.)

At a recent annual physical, I was discouraged to see that despite a healthy diet and more frequent trips to the gym, I was gaining weight (the unwanted, non-muscular kind). “How could this be?” I asked my doctor.

Dr:   [glancing at medical record] Let’s see… oh, you’re turning 40 next week.
          Happy Birthday! And welcome to your 40-year-old metabolism.
Me:  For real? Doesn’t reaching my target A1c count for anything metabolically?
Dr:   Nope.
Me:  Here’s the thing: I don’t want to gain weight.
Dr:   Great! Do you count calories?
Me:  (Pause) No. I don’t count calories.
Dr:   Have you ever counted calories?”
MeNo. I count carbohydrates.

(She’s my endocrinologist. She knows I count carbohydrates. And fiber. She knows I consider exercise. And stress. And how much sleep I got last night. And what time of the day it is. And what day of the month it is. Every. Single. Time. I. Eat. Calories? Hell, no!)

DrOkay, so from now on you’ll count carbohydrates and calories.
(I’m sorry, did you not hear everything I just thought?)
Dr:  You get 1,500 calories per day. 50% carbs / 30% protein / 20% fat. Got it?

(Damn you, slowing metabolism, how dare you take more fun out of eating?
But… I don’t want to gain a pound a year either.)

Me:  Okay. I’ll do it. I’ll get an app.

That night I downloaded LIVESTRONG’s Calorie Tracker app and played with it for way longer than I should have. It's pretty cool. It incorporates a large database with nutrition info for most of the foods I eat. There’s a place to track exercise. At a glance I can see progress toward my daily calorie threshold. I like this app! It’s going to help me reach my goals. It’s even going to remind me to drink water. Awesome.

         

The following week, my schedule was dreamily predictable. I exercised, ate, worked, and slept at consistent times. I had complete control over the carbohydrates in my meals. There are were no unexpected twists, no curve balls. It was the perfect week to be a carb-and-calorie-counting diabetic.

But, really, who has weeks like that? Life is full of schedule-wreckers. Within three weeks I had fallen off the calorie-tracking wagon. And yet, I like Calorie Tracker and continue to reference it for counting carbs (and the odd calorie).

But as far as a strategy to prevent weight gain, it’s more time in the gym for me.
And maybe I'll consider drinking my coffee black.

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