As much as I like to proclaim that I don’t exercise, the reality is simply not true. While I might not partake in dedicated workouts or fitness regimes, there is plenty of physical activity in my day. My job keeps me on my feet all day, and I do enjoy getting outdoors and going for walks through my neighbourhood in the afternoons. Not to mention all of the incidental exercise involved with tasks like housework!
As with every other aspect of my life, my diabetes needs due consideration when I’m active as well.
I’m a big fan of reading offerings that give me practical information I can take away and apply to my own diabetes management at home. It’s one of the reasons why I’m such a big fan of Christel Oerum, a longtime T1D and co-founder of the website Diabetes Strong (diabetesstrong.com). Christel created her website after struggling to find information about exercise and nutrition with diabetes.
Christel has recently launched an e-book, Fit With Diabetes, and kindly sent me a copy which I had the pleasure of reviewing.
The book kicks off with a chapter on goal setting and finding your motivation, which will likely resonate with most readers. Who doesn’t have something at the back of their mind that they’re aspiring towards? Even if your direct goal isn’t fitness related, I’m willing to bet you would find something in this book that will help you reach that goal. Improved blood sugar levels, better nutrition and healthier lifestyle comes to mind.
I was nodding my head as I read through the chapter on Cardio, the main form of physical activity that I tend to make adjustments for. Given that getting up and going to work every day involves cardio, I’ve had no choice but to endure months and months of practice, patience and frustration to finally reach a place where I can work, eat and navigate my blood sugar levels without so much bumpiness.
Most cardio workouts increase insulin sensitivity during and after a workout, causing blood glucose levels to drop. The book provides practical suggestions for reducing basal rates and insulin doses for meals in advance of a workout, right through to avoiding lows in the hours afterward. Christel’s lived experience really shines through as she provides plenty of real life examples for undertaking cardio with both an insulin pump and Multiple Daily Injections.
Have you ever noticed your blood sugar levels starting to rise after exercise is over? One of the lightbulb moments that I had while reading this chapter was that a reduced pre-workout insulin bolus might need a follow up if food is still digesting once the workout is over. Ding!
The book moves into resistance training, and admittedly this chapter didn’t speak to me so much as I haven’t stepped inside a gym in years! Christel talks through navigating blood sugars during these higher intensity workouts, which can cause blood glucose levels to rise.
This chapter is definitely written in the spirit of motivating the reader to get into the gym and move past any personal reservations or fears. There are several pages of sample resistance workouts and illustrations in the book, with exercises that will suit both the gym go-er and someone with basic equipment at home.
For me, however, the most valuable part of this book was the chapter on nutrition. I say this because the nutrition advice in this book makes the most sense, but in my opinion isn’t reaching enough people with diabetes. I’ll have more to share on this soon…
Christel talks through calculating your daily kilojoule (or energy) needs in order to fuel your body and match the energy you expend each day. It was refreshing to hear her recommending carbohydrates rather than avoiding them altogether. Based on her own experience, she recommends a diet of 30% carbohydrate, 40% protein and 30% fat, however of course you could adjust these percentages to suit your own preferences.
Another handy tool that Christel suggests to help track your nutrition is the smartphone app, My Fitness Pal. I’ve been using it myself since reading this book and it is amazing.
There are also chapters on meal planning and recipes, losing weight with diabetes and further advice to support a healthy lifestyle.
The Fit With Diabetes e-book very much runs in similar veins as Gary Scheiner’s Think Like a Pancreas. It wasn’t screaming at me to change everything about myself, nor was it holding back on providing practical suggestions because ‘everyone is different.’ The book is simply there to help you get more out of physical activity while managing diabetes.
Even if you’re not a fitness nut like me, I am very confident that you will find something to take away from this book. You can purchase your copy of the eBook here, and you can also follow Christel at diabetesstrong.com.
Disclosure: Christel sent me a copy of the Fit With Diabetes e-book. There was no expectation that I would write about or promote the book, and all opinions expressed here are my own!