Thursday, December 27, 2018

Hello, Gym (aka Improving My Health While Nearing 40)

We joined a gym in late July and my diabetes management habits have been noticeably different since then. Combined with lower-carb eating (roughly half the time), I have noticed a dramatic difference in my blood sugars and overall diabetes management and health.

Sure, there are days when I feel so much more tired. Because workouts can be physically demanding and energy-draining. But most of the time, even after working out and when my muscles are whining, I feel invigorated and more on top of my game.

My diabetes data (and habits) show it's working:
  • Insulin Use: During the height of my gym-workouts over the past several months, I noticed that I was using roughly a third less insulin than before -- both my Tresiba basal dose decreased every 24-36 hours, and my monthly box of Afrezza inhaled insulin is lasting noticeably longer and even impacting how often I need to refill my Rx for it.
  • BG Range: Yes, my average glucose has dropped from the low 200s into the high-100s. It's a work in progress, coupled with the fact that I am still experiencing a lack-of-willpower at times in the evening when it comes to snacking. This has been my biggest weakness over time, eating more carby snacks without adequately measuring them -- leading to higher BGs overnight that need corrections in the middle of the night, or even first thing in the morning. Progress, though... I am working on it and trying to limit my evening snacking, as well as weave in veggies and lower-carb snacks instead.
  • 'Lower carb' eating: As noted, we've been pushing toward lower carb for quite a while now -- probably close to a couple years. But over the past six months, I've made a point of being more disciplined on my eating style. By no means do we believe carbs are evil, and we enjoy them quite a bit. We no longer by certain snacks and foods, because (as mentioned above) I have a lack of discipline and willpower and it's better to not tempt myself by having easy access to a food item. There is a lot more produce in hour house these days, though sometimes we buy too much and it spoils. We've been weaving larger portions of veggies into our dinners, which are generally lower-carb about 66% of the time -- (just to name a few examples: organic turkey & brown rice stuffed peppers; squash boats and "zoodles" where you can use zucchini or squash instead of pasta; brussel sprouts, salads, and cauliflower pizza). Of course, there are times we just cave or don't care, and that's what I would say accounts for about a third of our dinner-time choices.
  • Alcohol: Many in the D-Community may recall I'm a fan of beer, especially microbrews. When I travel I like to enjoy a local craft brew and generally I sign on to the #DrinkLocal mantra. However, craft beer is often more nuanced with higher carb counts and potentially even sweeter. So while I still do enjoy microbrews, what's most often in my fridge at home is a lighter beer variety. You may generally find a bottle of the low-carb Michelob Ultra or a Labbatt Blue Light lounging around in there. While a day may come I decide to eliminate beer (and alcohol?) pretty much entirely, that day has not arrived and my health has given me no sign it's necessary as of now.
  • A1C, Not Yet: This isn't a clue for now, since my last appointment in the summer was too soon after these larger lifestyle changes took place and I haven't had another appointment where it's been a full 3 months to warrant a new A1C test.
With all of that being said, there's quite a ways to go.

Why Now?

We're paying quite a bit of money for the gym and at times for the lower-carb food choices, but it's worth it to us.

We have been talking for a few years now about joining a gym, but just had not pulled the trigger on that. Sure, we added some dog-walking and other small exercise components to our daily and weekly routines, but it wasn't anything scheduled and more often we slacked on actually doing what we said we would.

As we both head closer to age 40 (I'm nearing that in February 2019!) it became clear that we needed to make more of a concerted effort to improve our health. On the diabetes front, this has always been on my mind. But over the recent years, I've noticed -- aside from my general "beer belly" growing a bit larger -- that it was more difficult to make long walks, navigate large conference centers, or make the trek up and down parking garage stairs. I would get easily winded. On top of that, my niece and nephew (currently ages 6 and 4) take up my attention more often, and simple things like picking them up, playing "airplane kids," or chasing them around the house/yard gets more tiring.

I swam for four years in high school and a bit recreationally in early college, but that is pretty much the last time I can proclaim to have taken part in any competitive sport or exercise routine. And any workouts or gym experience is now 20 years in the rear-view mirror. Along with any muscle strength that would've been gained back in those years.

So, nearing 40, the time to do something different arrived.

The gym we chose is a half-mile from our house, so on nicer days I have the option of easily walking there as part of my warmup and cool-down.

We've been pretty good about getting into the gym at least a couple times a week, at least up until the holiday arrived. With work travel on my end, some "real people sickness" and the holiday-time, we slacked a bit in November and December. But we're working to get back into the routine.

On days when I didn't make it into the gym for whatever reason, we also have a small amount of equipment at home to use. I've also made it a point when traveling for work to make use of the smaller hotel gyms available.

Also of note: For the past year or more, I've noticed my left shoulder is much more tense and sore. To the extent I can hardly put a long-sleeve shirt or jacket on without a bit of trouble. While it's possible this is a diabetes-related complication known as "frozen shoulder," I'm not 100% convinced of that and my personal trainer seems to think it's just a rotator cuff issue. So we have been doing specific stretches and exercises to battle that... and I've noticed it has helped a little bit. This may be a sign of age and even the need for a new bed and mattress, but that's TBD. At least the bands help and for now, I'm happy with this.

Our personal training sessions end soon, but we have a gym membership through 2019 so we'll be in there multiple times a week getting our workouts on.

Here's to a healthier year as we move into our 40th birthdays.


Rick Phillips said...

Hey Mike, good going dude. Bravo for using less insulin, (my total fell as well) as I lost weight and became more active. It is a great feeling to not buy so much insulin.

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