Pumping Iron with Diabetes

There are a few things that terrified me when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. First and foremost, needles, giving myself a shot was weird and unnatural in my opinion. Second was losing my limbs, this fear still hasn’t gone away whenever my endocrinologist does a foot exam I tense with fear of not feeling that little prick on certain areas of my foot. And last, but not least working out, I thought because I had diabetes it was too risky for a high or low. I never really discussed it with my doctor; I just assumed there was no room in my life for it. I was in a dance class at the time and dropped out because I was worried that I would no longer be able to keep up, and that I would hurt my feet causing them to be amputated. I tried another dance class later on, but because I was so afraid of having low blood sugars I would eat a lot of carbs and not give myself insulin to avoid the possibility of a low. That technique would mainly leave me feeling gross and wear down my energy during class. I decided to just give up because it was just too difficult with my diabetes. And then I started to realize I was out of shape and lumpier then I remembered.

I decided it was time to face my fear and joined a boot camp class. Day one I walked in with my water in one hand and my apple juice in the other, I was committed. The main thing I wanted to make sure I did before class was talk to the instructor about doing this workout with my diabetes. He told me I would be fine, but to make sure I had everything I needed in case of my sugars changing and let him know when I needed a break. That gave me the confidence I needed and I really enjoyed my first class. I have to admit wearing my insulin pump on my shirt has been a nice icebreaker. I have people ask if it is a heart monitor, some just come out and ask me what it is, I even had a gal tell me it looked fancy, and then of course people are really interested in how boot camp works with my diabetes and because I am still learning I have been sharing the day by day experience with them.

When diabetics exercise they can experience high blood sugars or low blood sugars. When you work out, your muscles use a lot of glucose or sugar that is released from your liver. When you have diabetes, you may still have insulin in your body from a previous meal. Although you may have given yourself the correct amount of insulin for that meal, because your muscles are using more sugar than usual it is likely to experience low blood sugars. High blood sugars can happen during an anaerobic work out because the liver will release a larger amount glucose you’re your system and as a diabetic you do not produce the insulin required to bring that sugar level down.

Here are some precautions I take while doing boot camp. I usually will eat something before I work out for the extra energy I need, like an apple. Instead of bringing a water bottle and a juice box to class, I switched to drinking Gatorade. It has enough carbs in it to fix a low when needed but not a crazy amount that will make my blood sugars raise a considerable amount. I also, pay attention to my body to see if there is anything out of the ordinary happening. I get sweaty and shaky when I have low blood sugars, so if I begin to sweat more than usual or am having a little more trouble finishing a rep than usual I will stop and check my blood sugars to make sure I am not dropping. When my blood sugars are high my body feels drained and my mouth gets dry, if I feel either of those things while working out I will stop what I am doing and check my blood sugars. I am probably more anal about checking my blood sugars than I am on a regular basis, but I need to be.

The main advise I can give to anyone with diabetes for exercising is plan ahead for any situation. Check your blood sugars as if your life depended on it, because well, it kind of does. Talk with your doctor prior to starting a workout regimen to make sure your body can handle it, some people with diabetes that are already experiencing complication can aggravate their complications when exercising too hard. And lastly, don’t be afraid of what may happen when exercising, its inevitably never going to be a consistent thing, no matter how hard you try and in the end it will most likely help you prevent diabetes complication 


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