Health — July 26, 2019 at 10:07 am

Keeping Life Sweet: A Series on Getting Healthy with Diabetes, Part 3


This is the 3rd installment in a 6-part series by Staff Writer, Maegan Carrasquillo, on living with diabetes.

The funny thing is I really thought exercise was going to be my downfall on this journey. For the most part I don’t eat that poorly and I’ve known for a long time that my diabetes care needed work so I was prepared for that, but exercise hasn’t been a regular part of my life in so long that I wasn’t sure how to approach it. I decided to try what came naturally to me; start small and set goals to have something to work towards.

I started with stretching. As a former gymnast I know how important it is to stretch before exercising to prevent injury. When I’d wake up each morning, I would take 10 to 15 minutes to stretch as much of my body as possible. I was under the impression that this would naturally evolve to exercising without a plan. After a few weeks of stretching and not automatically jumping into exercise I realized that wasn’t how this worked and I started to really think of the best way to get moving.

As a working mom I usually have to schedule things if I want to accomplish them, so I looked at the weekly activities my daughter and I do like work, camp, meals and errands and figured out what time of day would work best to exercise. For me this happens to be in the morning after camp drop-off. If I want to exercise for 30 minutes, shower and still be on time for work, I could either swim at home or jog with my dog.

So how does exercise affect my diabetes? At first, sometimes I would experience low blood sugar. Thankfully, I’m very aware of the signs of low blood sugar and I try to be prepared by keeping juice boxes or gummy candy in my car when I jog so that I can adjust my blood sugar as needed. Juice boxes and gummies have enough sugar content to raise my blood sugar appropriately and they don’t melt in the car which is helpful. I always make sure I’ve eaten something prior to exercising and that I have something to eat soon after as well. I wear an insulin pump which allows me to self-regulate my dose, so I lowered the amount of insulin I give myself while exercising to avoid the drop in my blood sugar and help prevent a more serious problem like a seizure or unconsciousness.

Now that I’ve become more accustomed to exercising, and because I try to keep the duration of my workouts consistent, I haven’t had many other problems. Sometimes if I go on one of the paths with more hills or if I stay in the pool a bit longer than usual I will notice that my hands start to shake or I feel dizzy, and I know I need sugar and should drink some juice.

To be honest, I was expecting to hate exercise or to feel so worn out that I would give up quickly, but turns out, it makes me feel better and I enjoy it. Who knew?! I’ve decided the best plan to fight workout boredom is to exercise in different ways when I can. Both my daughter and I tried some work out videos but those were definitely not for me. Since I love being outdoors and I’m enjoying jogging some days, I’ve found  four different paths near our home and my daughter’s camp so I can change it up as needed so that I not only get to enjoy different scenery but I also get a slightly different workout based on the length of my jog and the levels of difficulty with each location.

My daughter has also turned into a fish this summer so swimming with her doubles as both exercise and quality time. I like to try to swim the day after I jog so that I’m letting my joints and muscles rest and working them in a less stressful way. Swimming works more areas of my body and leaves me feeling more tired afterwards but doesn’t leave my body nearly as sore as jogging does.

I try to exercise for around 30 minutes, four to five times a week. Some days I don’t get as much sleep as I’d like, or we run behind schedule, so exercise just isn’t in the cards. On those days I will either try to swim with my daughter after camp or decide that it wasn’t meant to be that day and move on. On days that I do exercise I feel more positive and I find myself eating healthier so I can remain on track.

I’ve been exercising regularly for about two months and not only have I noticed a difference in my attitude and the way my clothes fit, but in how I get things done. Fitting time to exercise into my schedule leaves me with less free time, and you’d imagine I’d be getting less done but actually I’m able to plan for things better and in most cases, seem to get more accomplished. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made so far, and I decided to try pushing myself ever further. My daughter, my mom and I all signed up for a 5K run at Disney next February and we couldn’t be more excited. Now, that the initial feeling of impending doom over signing up has passed I guess I can channel some of my new positivity and energy into finding the best costume for our run! If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them, and please continue to follow my journey toward good health through this six-part series.

Read Part 4

The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by Health Canada or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. None of the information presented is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. This is a personal account and individual experiences may vary. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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