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Workout Stuff

Diabetes and Hiking – What to Pack and Expect

Hiking is one of my favorite weekend activities.  Living in Southern California, I try to take advantage of the weather as much as I possibly can.  After all, I pay more for pretty much everything to live here, so I better enjoy it!

Hiking

Lucky for me, I have a friend who writes a blog about hiking, both in Southern California, and other places she’s traveled.  She is always looking for people to go on hikes, so lucky me, I get to go along all the time.

First time hiking, I didn’t know what to expect with my diabetes.  I took my Camelback and some glucose gel/tabs just incase, but did not expect anything to happen.  I had been having highs with Crossfit, so I totally did not expect lows on my hike.  WRONG.  Holy cow.  Holy low hell.

The first time it happened, I had taken insulin in the morning to correct my morning blood sugar.  So I decided to not correct my blood sugars in the morning before a hike.  This helped, kind of, but sometimes left me high through most of the hike.  The other times I went low, I had been on the higher side of normal, but still plummeted.

I asked my doctor for advice to not go low, and she suggested eating about 10g of carbs every 30 minutes.  Umm.  The point of a hike is to burn calories?  At least for me?  So I really didn’t want to waste my hike calories on eating to just not go low.  And I told her that.  So she suggested doing a temporary, lower basal setting on my insulin pump.  For those not familiar, the basal rate on an insulin pump is the constant drip of insulin you area always getting.  If you take insulin shots, it’s basically the replacement for Lantus/long acting insulin.

The next time I went hiking, I set my basal rate to 50% less than I normally get, about 30 minutes before we got to the hike.  It worked!  For the most part, that has been the key to keeping my blood sugars from being too high, or dropping too low while hiking.  I still sometimes have lows, or sometimes have to take some more insulin on my hike because the lower basal rate makes me go higher.

Hiking

So in preparing to hike, I have a few essentials I always take with me. This Camelback bag has been phenomenal for hiking.  A friend gave it to me when I first moved to San Diego, and I wasn’t really sure I’d ever use it, and now I use it almost every weekend.  I can carry water and all the essentials without completely weighing myself down.

I always keep a debit/credit card, my license, and some cash with me just in case of an emergency of any kind.  For my diabetes emergency planning, I make sure to have glucose tabs, a glucose shot or gel, and a snack with fat and protein in it.  I’ve honestly found that the gels/liquids work a lot faster for me than glucose tabs.  For the snack, I really like KIND bars with nuts because the carbs/protein/fat ratios are pretty good if you notice you’re getting a little lower than you’re comfortable being, but not quite low enough to treat.  Or you just plain don’t want a glucose tab!

The diabetes supplies I also keep with me (not pictured) are my insulin pump, which also has a monitor, strips, finger poker (does that have an official name I’m not aware of???), glucagon, and my phone, which receives my Dexcom continuous glucose monitor (CGM) readings.  I honestly don’t know how I would hike, or even be as active as I am without my CGM.  It alerts me when I am starting to approach going low, so I can more easily prevent a low.

I love hiking, and overall, when I really watch my blood sugars around hiking, I am able to take less insulin overall the days that I hike, because my body absorbs the insulin I do have a lot better.  Aerobic activity such as hiking does wonders for helping maintain normal blood sugars and keep insulin levels low.  It’s a great activity for diabetics, as long as caution is taken and emergency supplies are on hand.

Happy hiking!

Megan

Hiking

 

Diabetes and Crossfit – My Experience So Far

Information on Diabetes and Crossfit is hard to come by.  There’s little to none, especially that is helpful.  In writing about my experience, I hope to be able to help others that are struggling to find the delicate balance between the disease that constantly controls their lives, and doing something they love.

The first time I tried Crossfit, I absolutely hated it.  Why?  I sucked, I was dizzy, and I wanted to puke.  And that was after just the warm-up.

Fast forward about two years, and I decided to give it another shot.  I saw a gym with a deal on a fundamentals course, and signed up.  That was the beginning of the end.  Just kidding, it’s never-ending.

From everything I’ve ever been told, exercise is expected to lower blood sugar.  I went into Crossfit thinking I would need to watch my blood sugars for lows.  Boy was I ever wrong.  Once I started taking classes, I noticed my blood sugar would be fine throughout the class, but rise drastically about an hour later.  And then NOT GO DOWN.  It was like I was pumping myself full of insulin and my body rejected all of it.  For typically the entire day.  Luckily I wasn’t going into DKA (a harmful, potentially deadly state of high blood sugar) because I wasn’t super high, but I was higher than I felt comfortable being all day long.

Not only was this freaking frustrating, but as I was gaining muscle, I was also gaining fat from all the insulin I was taking, and absolutely NOTHING fit me.  I felt terrible.  I knew I had to do something.  Others mixed diabetes and Crossfit and excelled…so why couldn’t I?

So I took it to the Googles.  I figured someone with Type 1 diabetes had dealt with crazy blood sugars and written about it.  Or maybe a doctor posted an article about it.  So I Googled “Diabetes and Crossfit.”  But nothing.  I found nothing.  One post by Robb Wolfe, but it barely covered enough to help.  So I changed my search to “lifting and diabetes” and then “lifting and insulin,” and that’s when I found the craziest, but most helpful information.

Turns out, body builders have used insulin for years to get gains in the gym.  Hold up.  What?  Insulin makes you fat.  That’s what I’d always learned.  Insulin = fat.  But apparently there’s more to the story than I knew.  Here’s the very basic version of what I depicted.  Insulin takes nutrients to your cells.  This includes your muscles.  When you workout, insulin takes nutrients to your muscles.  The way body builders are using insulin, is by taking it around their workouts so that more nutrients get to their muscles than their body would deliver on its own.  INSANE!!!

Anyways, from intense workouts, the liver can produce glucose in trying to feed the muscles.  So this gave me enough information to realize that I need to actually take insulin during my workouts.  But how much?  And when?

As I was trying to eat pretty low carb at first, I started taking 1 unit of insulin right after my workout.  This was hit or miss for me.  Sometimes it worked perfectly and I never saw a spike.  Sometimes I saw a slight spike, but the insulin took care of it.  Other days I still went high.  And then there were the lows.  It was a mess.

What I’ve found to work the best so far, is to eat healthy carbs immediately following my workout.  This seems to end the glucose being released by my liver.  In regards to the insulin for those carbs, I take it before the last chunk of my workout, which is 15-30 minutes.  I also correct my blood sugar at this time if necessary.  About the time I finish my workout, I am seeing the insulin start to work, and it’s the perfect time to eat.  By doing this, I rarely see a huge spike an hour after my workout, but as anyone with diabetes knows, it’s never perfect.

My go-to post workout snack is a banana with my protein shake.  But word to the wise, did you know that the ripeness of the banana can affect when it hits your blood sugar?  A super ripe banana has already converted to glucose and will be absorbed more quickly by the body to be used as energy.  With a green banana, the body has to metabolize the fructose into glucose, and it will not hit your blood stream as quickly.

Diabetes and Crossfit

 

 

My guilty pleasure post-workout is a Perfect Bar, mostly because my gym sells them and the Peanut Butter flavor is to die for.  The mix of fat, protein, and carbs seems to also be perfect for my blood sugar if I take the insulin for it 15-30 minutes earlier.  And yes, I couldn’t even wait to take the picture before eating this one.

 

 

 

As with all things diabetes related, this may work for me, and not for others.  Mixing diabetes and Crossfit is hard, but that doesn’t mean that a diabetic can’t do Crossfit.  Hopefully it’s a starting point and some good information for anyone going through the struggles I have had.  I plan to put more effort into analyzing my blood sugars and different types of workouts, and of course write about it.

Happy lifting!

Megan

Crossfit