My DSMA Blue Fridays Photoshoot-Spanish Style

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone,

It’s the second installment of my thrift store dresses in blue.

We wear blue every friday to support those affected by diabetes.

I’m not sure the origin of this dress but I feel like it has a Spanish flare to it. Spain is known for its passionate, romantic and ultra-sexy dance styles so for Valentine’s Day, I think this fits well.
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Remember to use the hashtag #BlueFridays when you participate.

And since it’s love day, don’t forget about the Spare a Rose, Save a Child initiative. Help save a diabetic child’s life by donating, which will provide funds for much needed supplies like insulin, strips and access to doctors.

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How are you wearing blue today?

J

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Photo Essay: Spare a Rose, Save a Child (Life for a Child Program)

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How many of us stare at our meter, then cringe and complain at our blood glucose reading?

We feel our hard fingertips and needle stings, grunt at error messages and faulty sites.

Although our frustrations shouldn’t be dismissed, they are definitely #firstworldproblems. Many in developing countries don’t have access to insulin, meters, strips or even doctors.

You can make a difference for someone living with diabetes. The difference between life and death.

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This Valentine’s Day, consider donating to the International Diabetes Federation Life for a Child program. Spare a rose in your bouquet on love day and give hope to a child who needs it.

See the faces of those you are helping.

A full list of blogs and sites helping to promote Spare A Rose, Save a Child via Kerri Sparling’s Six Until Me

Sending love to diabetic children and their families around the world,

J

Canadian Diabetes Association’s Stress, Depression and Type 1 Diabetes Talk

Hey, I know you!

Towards the end of Leah Drazek’s presentation on mental health and type 1 diabetes, I happened to spot someone I had met at the JDRF type 1 adult support group in November.

I don’t know about you, but when I see someone and know they are type 1 as well, I get this surge of excitement and happiness. My face changes. I smile. And I feel 100 times better. Does that feeling ever go away?

We updated each other on how we were doing with our diabetes management, what’s been happening since we last saw each other and offered words of support. It was short and sweet, and although I didn’t know it at the time, it was something I really needed.

It’s just like being in a room filled with other type 1’s out there. The room was packed at the ING Direct Cafe in downtown Toronto, and I saw people of all ages and cultures. It was the first time I saw such diversity. If you read my previous post titled What it’s like to be the only Chinese type 1 diabetic you know, I think you’d understand how much this meant to me.

And from the audience to the speaker, that feeling continued on. As Drazek went through her slides listing stats and symptoms of mental health and type 1 diabetes, I started giving myself internal head nods and inside saying, “Yes! I’ve felt that. Oh! I can relate completely. I’ve been there!”

My note highlights

  • People with type 1 diabetes are over 3x risk of developing depression
  • Risk factors for developing depression with type 1 diabetes: female, poverty, few social support, stressful event, longer duration of diabetes, poor glycemic control, presence long term complications, physical inactivity
  • Symptoms: sadness, lack of pleasure in almost all activities, significant weight loss/gain, sleeping longer than normal, loss of energy, agitation, impaired concentration
  • How to deal: use supports such as family/friends, counselors, family doctors
  • Drink more water, less coffee, listen to music, exercise, spend time with people you like, positive self talk, antidepressant/anxiety medications, drink more h20
  • Be open and honest with your diabetes health care provider, they can better guide and provide resources

My live tweets: Canadian Diabetes Association’s Stress, Depression and Type 1 diabetes

Drazek shared personal stories about having a panic attack, how family changes impacted her stress levels and even what her blood glucose levels were before and after a recent car accident.

What made the experience worthwhile was having a fellow type 1 diabetic speaking right in front of me, being vulnerable and sharing her life in a very raw and honest way.

I walked away with more confidence, feeling less alone, and after exchanging numbers with my support group buddy, possibly a new friend.

J

Links:

Canadian Diabetes Association

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Contact List

American Diabetes Association Depression Information

 

The dreaded “before” photo & taking on the Inches Challenge

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I’m a big fan of my gym. Here’s why:

  • Trainers are friendly and so helpful. Every time I go in, I call on one of them to see if I’m doing an exercise correctly. I always have a good experience and walk away feeling empowered and not intimidated in the slightest (the latter being a big deal for me).
  • They provide lots of fundraising initiatives. For Christmas, one of the trainers dead lifted the total weight of how much food was donated. For Movember, donators could purchase from an exercise “menu”, appetizers being $2, a main course $5. I bought a few appetizers and purchased squats. At the end the trainers had to do all the exercises that were purchased from the Movember menu. I won a poster and free passes to the gym 😀
  • New programming. Last month I took part in two olympic lifting sessions (power clean and dead lift, which I’ll blog about later) and had a blast doing it. And now, I am taking on the Inches Challenge.

So the photo above explains it all. On Thursday I had my measurements taken and sat down to talk about my goals. You can decide your end date to the challenge. I have decided it will be a year from now.

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For the most part, I want more definition. I want to build muscle and decrease my body fat percentage. 2013 was definitely a year to push myself when it came to fitness and this year, I want to continue to grow and dedicate myself to my health.

Taking a “before” photo was nerve-wracking. It took 10 seconds at the most, but standing there, in form fitting gym clothes to bare every curve in front of a lens that I wasn’t shooting was no easy task. I wouldn’t have dared to enter something like this 5 years ago.

I’ve never been a person that was proud of my body. I struggled long and hard and resounded a while back that it just wasn’t in the cards for me to be really fit. Being diagnosed, and all that has come with it, has really changed my perspective on things.

We hold so much power in our thoughts. We are much stronger than we believe. I’m thankful to be part of a fitness facility that helps build my self esteem and provides me with a comforting environment where I can say, “Yes, sign me up! I can do this.”

Find a place, whether it’s outside alone on a trail or a group class with an energetic instructor, that makes you feel comfortable. An environment that makes you feel strong, that encourages you to step outside of your comfort zone.

It makes all the difference. And with that, you will be another step closer to conquering your fears and reaching your goals.

Body Fat 33% & going down,

J

Count me in: My first Nike Training Club class at the Academy of Lions

 
Count Me In

 

I was surfing around last week and discovered that there are FREE Nike Training Club classes in Toronto.

Switching up the old routine is never a bad thing in my option. Your body gets a little out-of-the-ordinary shock. New environment. Different people. Right price. Count me in.

RSVP’ed on Facebook If you want to give these classes a try, RSVP early, they fill up fast. 

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The classes available in Toronto are held at the Academy of Lions, a fitness facility that houses some pretty mean crossfitters.

(FYI: I have never done a crossfit workout.)

I’ll have to admit I was a bit intimidated by the setting. And I knew no one.

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Enter our NTC trainer Paluna Santamaria. She’s been leading NTC classes for 6 months and has been a personal trainer for 10 years. Her directions were clear, enthusiasm was way up and she demonstrated a lot. Modifications were given often (and I took some of them as my butt was getting kicked).

After a nice warmup, all of us lined up into rows and did all kinds of sweat-filled moves. Line by line we tackled burpees, sprints, high-knee jumps and all sorts of fun stuff. At one point we split into two groups, half of the class would stay in a low squat while the other would be football shuffling. Ab burn? Check. There was a lot of that too.

I chit chatted with a few girls and overall, the atmosphere was quite friendly. What was most rewarding for me though was the applause my classmates would give to each other without direction.  It was a nice booster that kept me going when I really felt like hitting the floor for a good nap.

Taking a class like this was pretty hard for me on a mental level. Since being diagnosed I’ve been very careful as to what type of training I do. My blood glucose levels have gone wacky for different kinds of workouts (leaving me feeling very ill) so I was apprehensive.

After class I was able to open up to Paluna, who, by the way, was lifting herself up effortlessly (that’s how it looked anyway) at this bar contraption. I kind of stood and watched in awe. Asked if I could take her photo and she held herself up there for a crazy amount of time. 

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“I want people to move more. We are designed to move more than we think we are,” she told me after class.

I didn’t go into great detail but told her about how I was diagnosed last year with an autoimmune disease aka. type 1 diabetes and how I really made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t let one of my organs dying deter me from reaching my fitness goals.

She hit the nail right on the head for me when she said this:

“Some people feel ashamed when they are ill. They don’t feel confident in approaching instructors. They (instructors) are happy to help you.”

My eyes kind of lit up because I knew exactly what she was talking about and I think a lot of others do too. At first I found the act of having to “confess my condition” very difficult. I knew in order to exercise I had to let people know for safety reasons, but in the beginning, the whole process was mentally draining.

I personally think it’s very important that those around you know your condition. For me having a medical ID bracelet just doesn’t cut it. The more people that know, the better off you are. People can see the symptoms sometimes before you can.

For me, some of my greatest support has come from the people I “had” to tell like members of my run club or trainers at the gym.

“More movement is good for your body and good for your health. You just have to understand your condition.”

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It was then that she explained the story of one of her clients. He’s 82 years old. He’s blind. He suffered a heart attack. And you know what? Even after his ticker episode, he made the effort and was present for his training session with her. He couldn’t do everything fully, but he showed up, and he gave whatever he got.

Paluna says it’s that kind of attitude and outlook that can make your body and mind so strong.

For me, making through the session feeling good and with great bg’s gave me a lot of confidence.

So, I will declare this now: Every day I will push myself to get stronger and faster.

Blood, sweat and tears (quite literally!)

Jessie

*I wrote this review to document my first NTC class. I was not compensated in any way by Nike, the Academy of Lions or Paluna Santamaria.

 

 

 

Testing your blood glucose while running

I assume those reading my blog have no issue with blood. But just in case it freaks you out…

1. Don’t hang out with diabetics

2. Ignore the photo below.

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I’ve been keeping up with my Runner’s World Run Streak (running a minimum of 1 mile every day from American Thanksgiving to New Years).

Today’s run proved bloody. 

It was a “feels like -11 degrees celsius” morning. When I hit the road at about 8:30 a.m. all was well. I got enough sleep, ate the exact same breakfast and was ready to go. Nothing out of the ordinary.

On Thursday I had a bad hypo at 2.7 mmoL (48 mg/dl) in all likelihood to overestimating my dinner carb count. However on Friday morning I was at 16 mmoL (288 mg/dl) before my morning gym session after breakfast. I usually float between 4-8 mmoL, so this 16 out of no where was very surprising and since my control is super tight, it made me feel very very ill. Don’t think I’ve been 16 since I was diagnosed. I also start to get anxious when I see anything above 9 mmoL (which is rare). I hope that puts into perspective as to what the 16 was like for me. My pancreas seems to be on the fritz. Maybe the honeymoon is coming to an end?

So fast forward to this morning’s run. Before I started I was at 7 mmoL (126 mg/dl). Perfect, exactly where I typically need to be.

I checked about 40 minutes into my 12km run (7.46 miles) and my Bayer Contour USB meter said it was too cold to test. I get frustrated with this because my OneTouch Ultra Mini had no problem in the same temperature. With my gloves on I held my USB meter for about 2 minutes and tried to test again. Finally it worked and I lucked out with solid blood.

2.2 mmoL (39 mg/dl).

Problem is I felt fine. Luckily I was carrying a nice full roll of Lifesavers so I started scarfing down about 8 of them. When it came time to test 15 minutes later, I just couldn’t get the meter to read my blood. As you can see, I tried as many fingertips I could muster. The blood came out watery. I tried letting my fingers dry outside my glove (which made my hands cold but that doesn’t matter really unless it’s extremely cold to the point of danger). It still did little and the blood came out “watery”. Testing on the palm? Tried it, still watery. The gloves came off for 5 minutes before testing and the blood was still coming out “watery” and my meter said it wasn’t able to read it.

I find it a bit difficult to get a good system going when testing. I’ve been trying for months now to test smoothly while running and although I’ve gone out well over a hundred times, it’s still awkward. This is what I use:

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  • SpiBelt to carry all my glucose stuff
  • 1 container of test strips
  • Blood glucose tester
  • Finger pricker
  • 4 Dex4’s
  • Insulin pen
  • Granola bar

I’ve tried many belts and this one sits the best on me while I run. I find no difference in how I can handle testing while running with this belt compared to others so I opt for the comfort of the SpiBelt when I’m out on the road.

My routine: 

1. Turn belt so the pouch faces forward, unzip.

2. Take out strip container, grab one strip, hold in teeth, put container back.

3. Take out meter and place strip in appropriate slot.

4. Hold meter in left hand and take out pricker and use with right hand and stab self (usually left index finger).

5. Switch meter from left to right hand and try to gather blood.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dropped strips, had my meter go flying and just overall got so flustered by the process. When I’m running for time or with a group I don’t want testing to be such a chore, and so awkward. I practice testing on treadmills and out on the road but I’m still not getting it. It doesn’t feel right.

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Here’s what I need your expertise on: 

What is YOUR method for testing while running? What has made it easier for you? Faster?

How do you make sure your blood isn’t watery? Today left me frustrated and when the blood wouldn’t stop pouring out I just left it to air dry (which made a few people look twice as they ran past me). I really want to make testing while running a lot easier but seem to be stumped as to what to do.

Happy winter running and your help is much appreciated,

Jessie

Recap: WDD & my first overseas trip with type 1 diabetes

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The night before my trip I was very nervous about flying. I didn’t want any complications going through customs and the thought of potentially ruining my vacation with delays just lingered around me.

This was my first vacation with type 1 diabetes and drumroll….I couldn’t have asked for a better one.

Airport security: I took everything out of my backpack and had all my goodies in clear bags. I had my letter in tow and as suspected, my basket of needles was halted, reversed and brought through the conveyer belt. I carried a juice box with me and the security guard said, “You’re diabetic?”

“Yes, here’s my letter.”

She didn’t look at my medical note. She took my juice box, scanned it on that fancy machine which has a name I’m not sure of, and off I went. I was thrilled. I hugged my friend and said, “I did it!”. It was a huge sigh of relief.

I knew I was spending World Diabetes Day away from home. I didn’t know how to celebrate, all I knew is that I wanted to be peaceful and happy, and to reflect on this past year with lots of pride of what I accomplished.

Right before my trip I got this wonderful surprise from insulindependence. I had a big smile on my face when I read the handwritten note from Desirae.

World Diabetes Day

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My new t-shirt went right into my suitcase, as did my Connected in Motion race shirt.

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On WDD I donned both tops, wore my pin and celebrated with quiet thoughts about what transpired over the past year.

It has been definitely a rough and often dark time since I was diagnosed. However during WDD and for the rest of my trip, I felt rejuvenated and inspired. I’ve got big goals for my fitness and health this coming year.

I’m going to dedicate more time to weight training, train hard for my second half-marathon and try to find more ways to help other type 1 diabetics here and around the world.

As for my blood sugar levels on my trip, I had one low. That’s it. I floated around my 4-8 range as usual and felt great! I took next to no insulin because of all of the activity. I checked less (I’m usually pricking 15+ times a day), and it was wonderful! I think because of the setting I was able to relax about my diabetes more.

So after a week of relaxation, swimming with sharks and eating amazing tropical fruits, I’m back ready to push it at the gym. I’m ready to crush my health goals!

Suntanned and happy,

Jessica 🙂