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Diabetes Details 5: Exercise

Last night I spent two hours at karate.  (Got my promotion form for 3rd brown belt — woo hoo!)  It was a good workout, but the class only meets once a week, so I’ve started trying to ride the exercise bike a few times a week too.

There are a few reasons for this.  My day job is very sedentary.  I spend all day sitting at a desk answering questions, and then I come home and sit at a different desk and try to catch up on writing-related work.  (If you’re going to do the writing thing, it’s a good idea to do something active, just to keep your body from atrophying altogether.  /Soapbox)

I’m also doing it for my mood.  Yesterday was a craptastic day at work.  Two hours at karate, and I was completely past it.  Today was worse.  A half-hour of pedalling and watching The Daily Show, and I’m in a much better space.

Finally, exercise is good for the diabetes.  The disease heightens the chances of trouble with the majority of your internal organs, so exercise is a good idea to help counteract that.

But there’s a problem.  You see, a good aerobic workout affects your metabolism for 24 hours or more.  In my case, it’s a very noticeable effect, because it means I need less insulin for at least 24 hours after riding the bike.

If I were to get the same amount of exercise every single day, I’d be all set.  I’d just need to adjust my baseline dosage for post-workout mode, and remember to take less insulin at meals.  But because I can’t do this every day, it means I get the joy of trying to manage two baseline rates, as well as calculating two dosage ratios at meals.

Add to this the fact that my insulin needs vary from day to day anyway, depending on stress, exhaustion, activity, the phase of the moon, and Shadowstar only knows what else.  So the exercise throws yet another variable into the mix.  I’m pretty good at estimating my needs, but it’s not an exact science.

The ironic part?  Exercise usually helps you lose weight, right?  Over the past month, as I’ve tried to sort out the new dosages, I’ve probably gained weight because I keep dosing too aggressively for post-exercise mode, which drops my blood sugar, which then requires the prompt application of M&Ms.

It really is a rude disease.  But the exercise has been a good thing overall, both emotionally and physically.  I may need to keep testing more often, but I’ll get this sorted out eventually.  And in the meantime, hey–how often do you get a medically valid excuse to eat chocolate?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
bearmountain
Nov. 11th, 2009 01:51 pm (UTC)
As a lifelong dieter and exerciser, I recognize this entry for what it is. You are trying to convince yourself that exercise is too hard and not worth it. Oooooh yes, it cannot be denied. :>) Go and look at the excuses. "I can't do it everyday so I might as well not bother." And "It makes me feel better, but I'm actually *gaining* weight." And "This makes it HARDER to do my dosing." Gosh, it would be easier all around if I just didn't...

The, "I'm gaining weight" is a classic. Trust me. I don't have diabetes and I've used that one myself. On multiple occasions.

Not once did I see the obvious, "I will change my schedule and add 10 to 15 minutes of exercise on the days I don't do full workouts." THIS, Mr. Watson, is the final evidence!!!

You must overcome the little voices!!!!! You must...eat another M&M and think about it...

Seriously, good luck with it. Exercise ain't easy for anyone. PTTTh.



jimhines
Nov. 11th, 2009 01:58 pm (UTC)
Er ... actually, I'm enjoying it, and have zero interest in stopping. The gaining weight comment was because it amuses me that exercise has led to increased candy intake.
(no subject) - bearmountain - Nov. 11th, 2009 02:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mtlawson - Nov. 11th, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Nov. 11th, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mtlawson - Nov. 11th, 2009 02:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
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jimhines
Nov. 11th, 2009 02:00 pm (UTC)
I remember the first time I learned that Ritalin was a stimulant. It took me a little while to start to understand how that could help treat ADHD, but it does make sense now.

That's one of the things I've heard about both freelancing and retirement, too--you have to get out of the house, or it can get way too depressing.
mindyklasky
Nov. 11th, 2009 02:31 pm (UTC)
My father's sugar-balancer-of-choice is Skittles. He actually shudders when he sees them in movie theaters, but they've been literal lifesavers far too many times to count.

Congrats on conquering (or at least being on the road to conquering) yet another aspect of this terrible disease!
jimhines
Nov. 11th, 2009 03:05 pm (UTC)
Heh. I've lost any interest in M&Ms as candy for the same reason.

I don't know that conquest is a possibility until they come up with an artificial pancreas, but I'll settle for beating it into submission one day at a time ;-)
(no subject) - bearmountain - Nov. 11th, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
queenoftheskies
Nov. 11th, 2009 02:56 pm (UTC)
I'm not insulin dependent (oral meds), but I do find that it's difficult to balance the amount I need to eat on a daily basis when I exercise more some days and less the next.

I keep thinking there's a happy medium somewhere, but lots of stress at work and not enough sleep makes it really difficult to find.

Do you test your blood sugar more frequently to determine your insulin doses when you exercise more?
jimhines
Nov. 11th, 2009 03:04 pm (UTC)
I should test more often. Sometimes I do, but not always. I'll also test earlier--normally I might wait until 2-3 hours after a meal, but if it's a post-exercise day, I might check 90 minutes afterward.

It's such a fun disease, ain't it?
dean_italiano
Nov. 11th, 2009 03:07 pm (UTC)
I only had gestational diabetes, and that was enough for me! Instaed of exercise, it was babies growing that threw everything off day to day and I cried in frustration, often. Now that I'm able to exercise (a wee bit) I can imagine what it would be like to have to continue that up and down. But you're right, we have to get out and do stuff. I'm fitting in the doing stuff part but because the treadmill is in our basement, I still have to work on the getting OUT part. Alas, wee babies. LOL!

Hang in there, you're doing a good job so far. You're alive! :)
jimhines
Nov. 11th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
Pregnancy is no picnic either. My wife had to get a C section when our son was born. I'll stick with my little insulin pump, thanks :-)
(no subject) - dean_italiano - Nov. 11th, 2009 08:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
melissajm
Nov. 11th, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
Goodness, yes. It's hard enough to stick to an exercise program without your own body making it harder. The only time I manage to be semi-good about it is during swimming season, which is far too short.
alan_yee
Nov. 11th, 2009 04:46 pm (UTC)
"And in the meantime, hey–how often do you get a medically valid excuse to eat chocolate?"

Heh. My mom has diabetes, among other things. She sometimes emerges from her room when her blood sugar is low to eat ice cream or popsicles.
jimhines
Nov. 11th, 2009 08:12 pm (UTC)
I've got a nice big candy bowl sitting next to the bed for this same reason. The only problem was having to train my son not to raid Daddy's diabetes candy. (These days, I've got a big enough wall of books waiting to be read that it serves as a pretty good candy fortress...)
margaret_y
Nov. 11th, 2009 05:01 pm (UTC)
Those of us without diabetes take it for granted that our bodies can handle both exercise and less/more food. Our bodies just automatically take care of it for us. I am feeling grateful today because I've been given a precious gift.
jimhines
Nov. 11th, 2009 08:18 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I miss the days when I could sit down and eat an ice cream sundae without having to think about it...

On the other hand, I do eat a lot healthier these days than I used to, thanks to the diabetes. I'm still not happy about the disease, but that's been a positive thing to come of it.
snapes_angel
Nov. 11th, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC)
Mm, chocolate. Probably not healthy for goblins, though.
jimhines
Nov. 11th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC)
Goblins and chocolate. That would be an interesting scene to write...
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Nov. 11th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
barbarienne
Nov. 11th, 2009 05:40 pm (UTC)
This sort of thing is no joke, hoo boy. Anecdote time:

When I was in college, I got an alarming phone call to go pick up a friend from the hospital. It turns out that he--insulin-dependent diabetic since childhood--had spent the morning roofing a building, then started driving the 60 miles or so to the town where the university was, to start his summer job.

He had miscalculated how much physical exercise the roofing had been. About ten miles before he reached town, he realized he was going into insulin shock and managed to pull off the road, but didn't have any candy in the car.

Some while later, EMTs and police show up to find him slumped over the wheel. One of the side effects of insulin overdose is raging temper, and as B was a muscular 20-year-old, when he started getting cranky, the police jumped all over him. This led to an altercation.

Rather than, oh, I don't know, checking his Medic Alert tag, the world's least competent EMTs instantly diagnosed him as being on some sort of illegal psychoactive drugs. Cuffed and chained down, he was hauled off to the psych ward at the hospital.

Fortunately, the doctor there was smart enough to check the tag, and ordered orange juice be brought. When everyone calmed down, the doctor gave the EMTs a royal reaming out, asked B who he could call to come get him, and that was that. My roommate and I picked him up, we all went to the grocery store for peanut butter and bread, got real food into B, and then...brought him to his destination that day, the summer camp for sick and disabled children where he was to be a counselor to the kids who had diabetes.

Seeing my friend with weals all over his wrists from the cuffs, and literally shaking while he ate PB&J in my kitchen, was alarming, to say the least.

So yeah. You keep those M&Ms with you, buddy. I wouldn't want a repeat of that story to happen to you.
jimhines
Nov. 11th, 2009 08:15 pm (UTC)
Okay, that's scary, and I'm glad the doctor read the folks involved the riot act. Talk about begging for a lawsuit...

My father is also diabetic, and had a similar incident. They assumed he was drunk, but my mother was able to get things cleared up before it escalated, thankfully. Same thing--he wears a medic alert tag, but I guess they didn't bother reading it.

I hate the idea of having to tote a sugar/carb source everywhere I go, but I hate the idea of being in trouble with no way to fix it even more.
johnlevitt
Nov. 11th, 2009 06:12 pm (UTC)
"A rude disease" is a great description. You should be a writer.

And no, the balancing act of having to eat candy to raise blood sugar, which can cause weight gain, because exercise lowers blood sugar -- which you need to do in order to lose weight is not an excuse. It's an irony -- I know.

And better to be amused by it than angered, for sure.
jimhines
Nov. 11th, 2009 08:17 pm (UTC)
I'd probably be more upset if it were a serious problem. I've never had much trouble with weight, and any M&M-related gains are pretty darn minor. We'll see what happens as the metabolism continues to slow down, though...
laughingfalcon
Nov. 11th, 2009 10:39 pm (UTC)
Always keep that little emergency kit of chocolates and nuts in your car! They can be lifesavers when you swing too high or too low. My nephew had diabetes since he was really young and I learned how important that could be since little 5 year olds burn a lot of calories quickly sometimes.

Congrats on making brown belt! I didn't know you did karate! I do hope that between this and the biking you find a really happy medium and feel really healthy to boot! :)
jongibbs
Nov. 11th, 2009 11:36 pm (UTC)
Congrats on the brown belt :)
kelly_swails
Nov. 12th, 2009 04:06 am (UTC)
I've never heard of diabetes discribed as "rude" before. Apt.
vretallin
Nov. 12th, 2009 04:24 am (UTC)
First congratulations on the promotion. That rocks.

In terms of your workout have you looked into sipping a balanced carb/protein shake during your workout to keep everything leveled? Coconut water is also something you could look into. Diabetes is tricky and reacts so differently from person to person.

The book Nutritional Timing goes into concepts on how to work with this and Brendan Brazier in his book Thrive also goes into it and discusses diabetes and eating during workouts for it.

It's awesome you are hanging in there with this. Good luck and hope it remains enjoyable.
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )

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