Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving + Holiday Hoedown Update for Week 1!


Hope everyone enjoys a wonderful holiday!  I'm so looking forward to it!  We'll be doing the arduous journey of about 1 mile to Mr. Handsome-and-Handy's brother's family's place and sharing the day with them.  We'll be bringing fresh fruit (salad or tray, I'm still deciding) and steamed broccoli, as well as rolls and pumpkin pie, and they and our sister-in-law's family will be doing all the other stuff.  (They always BBQ their turkey, which makes it nice and smoky and crispy...yum!)

I'm so humbly thankful for all of the good stuff during the year.  I'm especially thankful that we had good news from Mr. Handsome-and-Handy's eye appointment yesterday.  His eye pressure is back to normal and all of the restrictions (riding in a car, driving, exertion, reading) are done!  He has a bit of fuzziness, but the doctor said that ought to clear up when the dilating eye drops wear off. Follow up appointment in a couple of months. WHEW! Thanks, everyone, for the good thoughts, prayers, etc.!

Holiday Hoedown - Week 1 Update

I'm also grateful for my upbeat and very interactive team, the Tinsel Vixens!  Woot!

This past week I was up .4 lb, which I'd be fine with if I wasn't a couple of pounds up from my "happy" weight.

However, I will claim success on meeting the team goals of at least 3 fruit or veggie servings per day (and even though I eat a lot of veggies normally, the weekend was a bit harder that way) and exceeded the 30 minutes x 3 days goal by doing my personal goal of 30+ minutes x 5 days.

I didn't quite hit it all the time with reining in the eating as much as I ought to have done, but I did bring my lunch each day and packed good, healthy stuff.  I was especially proud of meeting my basic exercise goals, because the past week was pretty crazy, and I had to do the stationary biking after everyone else was snoozing away for the night, instead of wandering off for a long walk/run or going to the gym at lunch during the week.  I was also proud of me for getting in 2 strength days instead of just one.  Even though the 2nd one was kind of short, it was more doing something outside of class that was the point.

Blood glucose numbers were also looking a lot better; will report later, as my meter is not handy at the moment.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holiday Hoedown! + Weekly Update, 11/17/10

Hi Everybody!

It's been awhile since I've done the "Weekly Update" posts.  Here are the past month's goings-on:
4*(5*(work, eat, supervise homework, ooo candy! squeeze in workout) + 2*(birthday party, supervise kids' school projects, eat, workout)) + Halloween events + company over + cookie baking + helping @ school +  date night + date breakfast + appointments for ankle problems + work lunches out + Diwali work event + sporadic half-marathon training + >1 week of new windows getting installed = crazy month for Opposite Family. (And I probably even missed some stuff)
And that's JUST THE START of the holidays!

Feeling Fall-Challenged

Most of you know that I log my food over on "Pubsgal Eats" (usually), taking pictures and showing what I've been eating, with sometimes the odd recipe or commentary, although I've been a bit sporadic about that lately.  I feel like I've really been...I don't know if "struggling" to take good care of myself is the right word. Maybe a feeble kick or two in my mind, but not in my actions, if that makes any sense.

I think this is a pretty common occurrence in the fall. I was dealing with the *same stuff* with respect to daily feeding last year:
"I'm not doing so hot with my eating at home...I've pin-pointed it to stress-feeding, and I need to figure out a better outlet than grabbing salty, high-calorie snackage." - Pubsgal, November 2009
So the scale is only up a couple of pounds and in my "maintenance" range (I claim a 5 pound range, and am usually at the lower end of it); big deal, huh?  But what worries me is my fasting blood glucose trend is off.  My post-meal numbers are generally pretty good, but my fasting ones are a good indicator to me of when everything is truly on track.  Last week, I had 2 readings over 110 and 3 of 120 or greater - a trend that worries me, but I think I can rein it in with better food habits, especially in the evening.

What did I do then...and need to do now?  Probably just kept returning to what I'd trained myself to do:

  • Space small meals through the day, balancing carbs and proteins.  
  • Aim for my 30 grams of fiber per day.  
  • Grab "free foods" instead of the nuts or "meat doggies."  (That still makes me chuckle, Debby!)
  • Weigh and measure portions.
  • Bring healthy lunches to work 4 days per week.  
  • Move the problem foods out of sight/reach/mind:  Put the nuts up on the higher shelf in the food closet and perhaps get my husband to hide the rest of the kids' Halloween candy (rather than put it in a place that's not the kitchen but that I still know about).

On the other hand, I still feel this:
"I'm not too freaked out about the holidays, oddly enough. Sometimes it feels like a precarious balance, getting all the healthy stuff I need in my diet and allowing for enough of the stuff I love to eat (that doesn't fit into the first category), so that I don't feel deprived and like this living healthy stuff is not worth it all. Not to mention getting in enough exercise to keep me content! But I'd say that's the biggest difference between last year and this one. Last year, I was so afraid that taking a rest day unscheduled or making an "active rest" day out of a workout day would totally switch my track for a return trip to Couchville. This year, I feel (paradoxically) more free to change up my schedule as needed, because the need to workout is now a part of me. I trust it like I didn't before." - Pubsgal, November 2009
Other than some fine tuning - which I've done before and will need to do over & over again - things are still good overall.

Enter...The Challenge!

So even though I usually don't do challenges, I could not resist the latest team-based on over on Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans:  The Holiday Hoedown!

The team I'm on, the "Tinsel Vixens," are a group of gals who want to focus more on healthy habits than number on the scale.  That's my kind of challenge!

Our goals will build over the weeks, and there are challenges for all the teams.  For week 1, our group's goals are:

  • 30 minutes of exercise 3 days per week; track time in Daily Mile (Will definitely meet or exceed with half-marathon training and my "prescribed" type 2 diabetes regimen of at least 30 minutes x 5 days, and I already track on Daily Mile - I'm there as "Pubsgal," if you want to connect there.)
  • 3 servings of fruits or vegetables per day (Since veggies are my main carb source, no problemo there.)
  • No negative self-talk ("Damn straight there ain't gonna be negative self-talk, Pubsgal!  Now drop and give me 20, ya crunchy granola California freak!"  <- Er, that last part is actually an endearment from my Inner Boot Camp Instructor.  I'm rather proud to be a crunchy granola California freak. ;-)  

My personal goals for next week are:

  • 7-day blood glucose average goal and fasting numbers: Post meal average less than 120, all fasting numbers 110 or less. 
  • Weight goal: Maintain or lower.
  • Food goals:  Lighter eating if dinner is after 7 p.m.; it's perfectly okay to not clean a measured-portion plate.  Reach for "free food" snacks instead of the high fat/salt/calorie snacks. Pass by some of the "just a taste of this" and "I'll have a dab of that".  Oh, and aim for bringing healthy lunches rather than eating out. 
  • Make 2 of my workouts strength workouts.  (I'm good about going to CardioSculpt class, can improve on doing something on my own, which might help me from getting too sore at class.)
  • Get in a long walk/run this weekend.
  • Misc. goals: 7 or more hours sleep/night (which means being in bed before 10 p.m.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Can a Soup Can Workout Impact *My* Blood Glucose Levels? (Big Blue Test)

Well, I had fully intended to do my Big Blue Test at the proper date and time.  But then, I had to get in a long run/walk, and I thought (ha!) that I'd have time later in the day to do a test.  Little did I think that I'd be so enthralled by the day that I'd go a little over 8 miles!  Well, wouldn't you with this kind of a view?

And I came across this during my stroll and though it was pretty darn funny.

Maybe the same could be said about the gelato I ate at the halfway point.  I had originally planned on going 6 miles, but it turns out my meanderings took me 7.5, so I did some neighborhood loops to get it to 8.

Afterward, I thought to myself, "Whew!  What a workout.  And if I were doing my half-marathon, I'd still have 5 more miles to go.  Yikes!"

So Big Blue Test got tabled until today.

Belated Big Blue Test

My experiment for Big Blue Test ( was to see what impact seated, upper body weight exercises with soup cans would have on my blood glucose levels.  I was curious about this, because upper body strength exercises might be one of the few options for people with limited mobility.

I assembled my equipment:  2 soup cans (approx. 2 lbs each), 1 blood glucose meter, 1 list of exercises.  Since it was a gorgeous day, I took it all to the park during my lunch break.

My last snack was at 10:30 a.m. (dry roasted wasabi edamame and 2 Tbsp chia seeds in green tea), and it was 1 p.m. when I started my test.  I tested my blood glucose levels.  Starting blood glucose level: 101

For 14 minutes, I did the following upper-body exercises while seated:
  • Bicep curls (1st set done alternating arms, 2nd set done both arms at the same time)
  • Triceps extensions (1st set done alternating arms, 2nd set done both arms at the same time)
  • Front raise
  • Shoulder press
  • Side raise
  • Triceps kickback (I didn't kneel on the bench, I just laid down over my thigh.  Bad form, that.)
  • Upright row
  • Shrugs (do these even really do anything?)
  • Bent-over row (These I did do with proper form)
  • Bent-over raises 
I did one set (15 repetitions) of all of these, and then I got through the triceps kickbacks on my second set.  I thought I'd get 2 or 3 sets in and worried about having enough to do - I obviously overestimated how quickly I could do these!

When the timer went off, I retested my blood glucose levels. Ending blood glucose level: 98.  Hmmm...

What happened?

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed by the result.  My test last year - 15 minutes of moderate walking - had amazed me.  (Click here to see that one)

Some possible reasons why today's test didn't work quite as effectively:
  • For me, heavier weights would have probably been more effective.  My upper body is not super strong, but for all of these exercises, I currently use dumbbells that are more than 2 pounds each.  I felt the shoulder raises a little, but otherwise I did not feel any muscle fatigue during these exercises. Also, do arm muscles use as much energy?  Probably not.
  • Strength exercises have a different effect on blood glucose levels than aerobic exercise. From what I've read, strength exercise isn't the best option for lowering a blood glucose reading in the short-term, but it can have a good effect on the longer term.  In the short term, "[s]trength-oriented exercise...generally requires short, repetitive and intensive bursts of movement. This type of exercise can provoke a hormone response known as the 'fight or flight' or 'adrenalin' response that can temporarily raise blood glucose levels." (source:  Somehow, I don't think my soup cans activated this response in me.  Yet in the longer term, strength/resistance training helps build muscle mass, which is more insulin sensitive than other body tissue, and can help regulate overall blood glucose levels rather than post-activity levels.  Plus it helps in other ways, such as with preventing osteoporosis. (source:  
  • Could I be experiencing some issues with insulin sensitivity?  After my test, I took a 30 minute walk.  At the end of that, my blood glucose level was 92, which is only 9 less than my pre-test level.  I would have expected the brisk walk to have a greater impact.  Some possibilities include my menstrual phase (I'm much less insulin sensitive right before menstruation - even without succumbing to the urge to face-plant into the nearest sugar/salt/fat food source) or delayed-onset muscle soreness (which, I've read in The Diabetic Athlete, can impact one's insulin sensitivity until the muscles are healed).  I feel some soreness after yesterday's adventure, but nothing compared to last Wednesday's "Medicine Ball Melange" in CardioSculpt class.  So the double-whammy might be messing with the results a little bit.
Will I try again?  Definitely!  The next version will be sooner after eating something and use the proper amount of weight for me.  I'm also going to test before and after CardioSculpt class and see how that affects my blood glucose levels.

More Reading for the Curious

An excellent article summarizing some of the above points is by Dr. Sheri Colberg-Ochs, author of The Diabetic Athlete, titled "Aerobic Versus Anaerobic Exercise:  What Is the Difference, and Why Does It Matter?" She also has another good article for those dealing with mobility issues, titled "Exercising with Excess Body Weight, Orthopedic Problems, and Arthritis," which includes some specific exercise DVD recommendations.

Try Your Own Experiment!

If you're newly diagnosed and have been advised by your doctor or diabetes educator to use exercise as part of your plan to manage your diabetes, why not try your own "big blue test" and see if your results confirm or deny the effect of exercise on your blood glucose levels? (Unless, of course, your doctor says "No way!" or your blood glucose meter says "WTH?!?!" "250" or higher.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

T-minus 2 Days Until the Big Blue Post!

See a building lit in blue?
Wondering why?
Wondering what the Big Blue Post is all about?

It's all part of World Diabetes Day on Sunday, November 14.  Some things going on that may be of interest to you or someone you care about...
  • Big Blue Test - a program of the Diabetes Hands Foundation (DHF). People with diabetes are invited to test their blood sugar at 2 pm (local time), do 14 minutes of activity, test again and share the results.  I did this last year (here's the post), and it was AMAZING!  I'm definitely going to do it again this year - stay tuned!  (Participants on Twitter will be using the #bigbluetest and #wdd on Twitter this weekend!)
  • View the Big Blue Test promotional video before November 14, and help Diabetes Hands Foundation raise money to help the Life for a Child program, run by the International Diabetes Federation, and Insulin For Life.
  • Walgreens is once again offering free blood glucose screening and a1c testing at participating locations this weekend!  From the press release: "Walgreens...will offer free blood glucose and A1C testing at more than 1,700 stores and Take Care Clinics nationwide Nov. 12 and 13, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The free diabetes health testing events, held in conjunction with American Diabetes Month®, are offered at most 24-hour Walgreens stores and Take Care Clinic locations throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico."  Click here for more info.  (Good on ya, Walgreens, but perhaps not burying it in your press releases would be a tad more helpful?  I didn't see any banner ad on the main page.)
  • See the World Diabetes Day events page to find an event near you!
  • Need more information about type 2 diabetes?  I compiled a dandy list of diabetes resources.  I forgot to mention Dr. Sheri Colberg's web site.  She's the author of the excellent book, The Diabetic Athlete, and her site has some great diabetes & exercise articles.
  • Some bloggers participated in the "Annual D-blog Day" on November 9th.  The theme was "6 things you want people to know about diabetes."  I was swamped and didn't write a post, but I especially enjoyed Kerri Morrone Sparling's (of the blog Six Until Me) compassionate type 1 perspective (click here to read).  Her first point was an especially poignant yet kindly worded observation - not all type 1's (or loved ones of type 1s) aren't quite as kind about the difference.  Would I be?  Would I be if one of my kids had type 1 or type 2 and people were blamethowing out of ignorance?  I'd like to think so, but I'm not sure.  As a non-insulin dependent type 2 person, I only have to help my pancreas, not be the pancreas - that's a whole 'nother world altogether.  Yet helping my pancreas has its own challenges, with regard to willpower in balancing my food choices and exercise; as type 1 folks experience, sometimes you can do everything "right" and still not get the numbers you're looking for all the time.  And sometimes I don't do everything right, and I stumble, and I pick myself up and keep trying.  It's remarkably like trying to lose unwanted body fat, or to maintain the loss of said unwanted body fat...easy-peasy, right? ;-)
  • And I have to give major kudos to diabetes advocate and author Jenny Ruhl and her book and web site, Blood Sugar 101.  I really resonated with her approach, and I'm hopeful that I'll get to thank her in my old age for her role in my still having eyesight and limbs.  I especially recommend for those with type 2 or at risk of developing it her well-researched article, "You Did NOT Eat Your Way to Diabetes"; it was a very healing thing for me to read as a newly diagnosed person with type 2.  

Hope everyone enjoys a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2010 Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Run

Hey, everybody! I think I owe you all a race report! This is for the 2010 Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Run, a 5K and 10K event held the same weekend as our town's Pumpkin Festival. The race was held on Sunday, October 17. The weather was gloomy and threatened to rain, and it did start raining just after the awards ceremony, so glad it held off (except for a few sprinkles) for the race itself!

For me, this was almost the race that wasn't. My original goal was to run the 10K, as it would have been about the time in my half marathon training that I would have been ready for it. But a nagging pain after running in my ankle led to me table running until I could talk to the doctor about it. But I could still walk, and I needed to get some exercise that day, so why not just walk it? I know not all races are a good candidate for walking, but I was familiar with this one:  the runners in it are fast, but it's also a good-sized race that a lot of people walk just for fun, and the race organizers do a good job of accommodating all racers. Besides, how could I resist a free t-shirt and pumpkin?

I also wanted to try out my spiffy Zensah tights in a race, and this was looking like my only opportunity to do so before the half marathon.  They worked great!  No chafing and they kept my legs warm but not too hot.  I think they will be terrific for Vegas!

Now, you know I couldn't just stroll this thing.  I made it into an experiment:  could I sustain the pace needed to walk the Las Vegas Rock & Roll Half Marathon in less than the cutoff time?  I targeted the pace at which I almost break into a jog, the point at which my rear end starts doing what I call the "race walking waddle."  On a treadmill, this is 4 mph, so I figured 45 minutes for the 5K was a good target.

Like most races, I slept poorly the night before and got up early.  Unlike most race mornings, I ate not the greatest breakfast: 3 donut holes and a cheese stick.  I knew they'd have lots of coffee at the event site, and I would have plenty of time to drink it, so I headed on down there.  I registered and got my pumpkin, t-shirt, and bib.  I also got my lovely, lovely I was ready!  But it wasn't time yet, so there was lots of time to mill around and look for familiar faces.  I saw Thing 2's kindergarten teacher from last year (who was doing her first race with a "baby on board"!  Fun news to start the day!) and her husband.  I saw some moms I knew, and I took pictures for people so they'd have the whole family in there.  I took my bio break.

The race organizers called for volunteers to help hand out goodie bags and medals for the kids' 1K race.  So I got to hang medals on those beaming little faces as they darted past the finish line.  Too stinkin' cute!!!  That made my morning.

The 10K racers went, then the 5K racers.  I started about 3/4 of the way back and to the far right, and the runners dashed past.  I passed a number of walkers and just kept going at a good clip.  At about mile 1, I fell in step with a gal who had planned to run the 10K but whose ankle started bothering her and so she decided to walk it instead.  We walked together and chatted for a little over a mile, up to the 10K turn off.  I then kicked back into speed mode and hauled posterior for the last mile.

Here I am at the finish line!  My time was 44:09 (a 14:13 pace), and I felt delighted!  Although the entry form has separate categories for runners and walkers, the race results lump everyone together.  I was 213/358, and had I remembered to write my age on the entry form (this was pre-coffee!), I would have showed up as 29/47 in my age group.

The demographics of the race are really interesting: the runners make it a fast field and it's mostly middle-aged women.  Some interesting numbers:
  • The largest age/gender groups were the females 40-49 for the 10K and females 50-59 for the 5K.  
  • In the 5K race, 28% of the entire field finished in less than 30 minutes and 9.5% averaged a pace of less than 8 minutes per mile.  
  • For the 10K, 71% finished in less than 1 hour, and 26% averaged a pace of less than 8 minutes per mile.  
  • In the 5K, the top male finisher was 41 years old and finished with a time of 18:31, and the top female finisher was 38 years old and finished with a time of 22:26.  (I think she was one of the group of crazy folks who *swam* down from a beach a couple of miles up the coast from the race site.  The water here is cold, rough, and the weather threatened rain and it was probably dark when they started.  Ugh.)  
  • The top runner in my age group finished with an enviable time of 25:43.  
I'd have to go sub 30 minutes just to squeek into the top 10 of my age group, and I wouldn't have even made it into the top 10 of the women's 50-59 group.

Basking in the afterglow! Aaaaaaah!

P.S. No picture of the days after, where my tune changed from "Aaaaah!" to "Oooooow!" I totally underestimated the power of race walking: it used some muscles that have been dormant even through biking and swimming and running and even just regular walking. My glutes and hips felt the aftermath for days!

P.P.S. The ankle seems to be doing better. My doctor referred me to a podiatrist, who prescribed new shoes and custom orthotics for my athletic shoes. It turns out I suppinate. (Oooo!  I made a punny!) I'll post more details on another day....