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JT’s #RealT1DLyfe: Channeling the Difficulties of Chronic Disease into a Compassionate Career in Medicine

Living with Type 1 for the last 15 years has been simultaneously absolutely exhausting and a compelling/ continuous opportunity for personal growth and empathy-building with other patients of chronic diseases.

My grandmother came to live with my family when I was seven- in very poor health. Unfortunately, like many living in remote rural settings, she lacked access to routine healthcare, and her diabetes had already begun damaging her nerves, affecting her sight, and impairing her kidney function by the time she was diagnosed. My experience with diabetes became even more personal five years later when my own diagnosis was similarly delayed in rural East Texas.

After earning my BS/ MA in Biology and running track at Baylor University, I moved to California to attend Stanford Medical School, and am currently applying to attend residency in Ophthalmology.*Editor’s Note: JT has just been accepted to the program at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, congratulations JT!  During medical school, I’ve been able to start a Bay Area running group and training sessions for young and newly diagnosed diabetics to learn to manage their sugars during exercise. I am also a Dexcom Warrior and Lyfebulb Ambassador, and currently conduct research demonstrating how internet search traffic can be used to locate pockets of patients in need of diabetes-related surgical procedures or healthcare, such as diabetic retinopathy screening programs.

We all know how difficult diabetes can make everyday life – as patients, family members, significant others, across the board. Having been a patient dealing with a chronic disease that affects you every minute of every day has definitely given me a unique perspective and empathy for patients that I wish more doctors could experience. It’s very difficult to see the underlying stress, fear, and frustration that accompany a chronic illness like diabetes. In that way, being diabetic has pushed me to become a better physician and I am so grateful that I get to talk with and encourage other diabetics in the hospital regardless of which service I’m working with.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out! Jonathan Tijerina jdt2015@stanford.edu @jonathan.david.tijerina

Optimizing Diet and Exercise as Tools for Managing T1D: Thoughts from an Entrepreneurial Certified Diabetes Educator

Colette finished her Master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition to become a Registered Dietician and a Certified Diabetes Educator. She is also a board-certified Sports Dietician, inspired by her former career in professional bodybuilding.

I have been living with Type 1 diabetes since 1984, signifying 35 years with the disease. I have watched some of my dreams come true including the Dexcom G6, a better basal insulin (Tresiba) and a noninvasive way to take insulin, Afrezza.  I understand the physiologic benefit to being on an insulin pump, especially those that DIY close loop their pumps and have basal modulation to help keep blood sugars in range, even if you don’t quite get the carb counting correct.

My issue with wearing all these devices comes with being a professional athlete.  Although I don’t compete anymore, I still try to live my life around a bodybuilding lifestyle, which means going to the gym five to six times per week.  I never liked being attached to a pump and having to find that perfect spot to put your infusion site.  I wear a weight belt when I train, which rules out my entire midsection, leaving only my right and left glute and outer thighs.  That didn’t work too well for me and I developed severe lipohypertrophy. Now, Afrezza and Tresiba offer me more freedom with much less worry around low blood sugar due to its fast in / fast out absorption.

While waiting for advances in T1D management, I have found that the best advice is to minimize the amount of insulin you need to inject before each meal and maximize your insulin sensitivity so that you don’t require that much basal insulin.  It is also crucial to keep in mind that the more carbs you eat, the more basal insulin you will need.  Insulin is NOT predictable, especially the injected, rapid-acting insulins.  In order to perfectly time them, you really need to inject 20-30 minutes before you eat in order to match up the peak of the food with the peak of the insulin.  To manage this difficulty more effectively, try to have your blood sugar < 100 mg/dl before eating.  That way, you have less insulin resistance.  It is also important to differentiate between the two sources of glucose when a person with diabetes eats – liver glucose and food glucose.  The best approach is NOT a keto diet because it is too difficult to sustain long term and, quite frankly, who wants to eat all that fat!  A true keto diet is comprised of 70% fat. We need more antioxidants and micronutrients than what can fit in the remaining 30%.  My T1D management diet philosophy includes high protein, moderate healthy fats and high fiber carbs such as legumes, vegetables, bean pastas, low carb wraps, spaghetti squash/acorn squash/butternut squash, and artichokes. Keeping the fiber high offsets how quickly carbohydrates turn to sugar, thereby giving insulin time to work and suppress the liver from producing glucose. It also allows for more variety in one’s diet and the one thing that the ketogenic diet lacks: fiber.  I have been following this diet throughout my competition years and continue to do so now.  This is not a fad diet, but instead a way of life and approaching food choices.  Understanding the unpredictability of insulin, we can infer that the more we need to take it, the more unpredictable it becomes. Optimizing diet as a tool is simple: eat the foods that require less insulin to ensure greater predictability and better blood sugar control.

Exercise is also another key component to my success. Similar to making dietary changes, this also was not without struggle.  Given that I love to weight train, high volume, high intensity weight training sessions involving my legs and back would often raise my blood sugar > 100 mg/dl.  I would have to take insulin on an empty stomach before my workout in order to keep in normal range. Interestingly, it is typically the stroll in the park when your blood sugar drops because it is non-stressful and does not promote the secretion of adrenaline and cortisol.  Don’t be surprised if you need insulin to workout, as it was common practice for myself for quite some time.

My last suggestion is to not be afraid of the lows.  My patients would rather be low than high. Although all too often our doctors want us to stay high where there are less short-term consequences, I stand by this statement. If you are wearing a CGM and more aware of your trends and predictability, incidences doctors worry about like insulin shock and passing out should not be happening.  If you ate something and think you might have taken too much insulin, be prepared with 1-2 glucose tabs.  You often don’t need that much when taking smaller amounts of insulin at each meal, especially if also following a low carb lifestyle. Even if you took one extra unit, we aren’t talking about a severe low.  It is also always important to choose a straight glucose source rather than food. If you take a glucose tab, it won’t cause that same reaction as food, resulting in more predictable rebound sugar and less weight gain.

The reality is we can’t just stop taking our insulin, but we can help it work better and be more user-friendly. Minimalizing the amount of insulin you take is one step towards better management.

To summarize, Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, meaning there is no cure at this point in time. However, through efficient application of dietary practices and the implementation of a fitness routine, you can create a maintainable lifestyle that will ultimately make your diabetes more manageable.

Inside the Patient Entrepreneur’s Mind: Jon Margalit

Jon Margalit

Managing a chronic illness is challenging, whether it is your own or a loved one’s. Starting and running a business also poses unique challenges. If you struggle with a chronic illness, have started a business, or want to start a business, this blog series can help guide you. “Inside the Patient Entrepreneur’s Mind” offers key insights into chronic disease and mission-driven entrepreneurship by some of the most innovative patient entrepreneurs in the world. 

Jon Margalit is CEO & Founder of Complete Start. 

As a patient entrepreneur, can you describe your personal experience with IBD from diagnosis through your current daily management and how this experience drove you to innovate the space?

To make a long story short, I am a very social and outgoing person who enjoyed immensely being out with friends networking, in all types of social settings. I was also an avid gym goer and black belt martial artist. Once diagnosed with Crohn’s, I had to deal with all kinds of drugs and steroids to mitigate the ill effects of the disease and as a result transformed into a guy with acne all over who was afraid to leave the house at the risk of being too far from a comfortable bathroom.

With that being said, after trying different types of drugs, I realized really quickly that this wouldn’t change until I took matters into my own hands to find solutions. After some research, the one thing I found I really had control over was what I was consuming. I focused on what I could control and immediately thought to myself if I study this, and become an expert in food science, perhaps I might be able to make some drastic changes in how I’m feeling and looking. Inflammation causes the digestive tract to shrink so we [the IBD community] have difficulty digesting whole vegetables and roughage. I had the idea to freeze dry and grind them into a powder to consume micronutrient rich vegetables without digestive issues. I bought a freeze drier on amazon to test the idea.

What makes Complete Start unique and how does it meet an unmet need of the IBD community?

There are products on the market that are similar in nature, but we are the only ones completely organic and non-GMO. Our goal is to deliver the most complete and clean digestible nutrition for customers. As a result, the cost to produce has vastly increased. I quickly realized why our competitors didn’t produce the same quality of product because it narrowed the customer base. We are sticking to offering a premium product at price, staying true to our goal. 

Are there any other unmet needs of the IBD community that you think take priority in working to address? How are patient entrepreneurs well-suited to meet these needs?

 I think that the key to making a widespread, massive impact is to create more awareness for the products, services, and support that are available, so I’d love to focus more on community building. When I was first dealing with Crohn’s, I was not aware of the products, services, and people out there that were available to help me overcome. Out of instinct and pain I sought them out and created resources for myself, which was key to remission. If I could go back in time where that community already existed, and someone introduced me, then things would’ve been easier to deal with and I would’ve found a way out much faster. My goal is to try and bring us together in a community form beyond just introducing patients to Complete Start.

Where do you draw your inspiration and motivation from to keep forging ahead as an entrepreneur in the healthcare industry?

The real answer is I was initially afraid to leave the house. I was afraid to be seen and covered in acne—steroids destroy you. Now, I want everyone to know that the fear they are feeling is not just them and someone like me can help alleviate those fears and show them the path. If I was able to breakthrough and overcome, they can too. It’s others in the community and the validation that I get from them when they reach out and say I read your story and it made me believe that perhaps I can get there too who inspire me. Other people continue to fuel my fire and my desire to keep getting out there to make sure that others are aware and can receive the comfort of a blueprint for healing. 

Lastly, what do you do for fun to manage the stress of running a business as both a person with IBD and an entrepreneur? Do you have any similar advice on work-life-disease management balance to others out there thinking of starting a business to meet an unmet need of a chronic disease patient community?

Absolutely. There is one key and I think that it is just as important as food—it’s exercise. I mean it very passionately—I am a daily hardcore gym goer and when I go to exercise, I go hard. When I do, I feel tremendously better. Movement and consistent exercise is the only way to complete the healing puzzle and again, that is another element that people have control over. Jon Margalit exercise fitnessI would recommend to anybody who is suffering out there first to test, then heed to Dr. Sandborne’s advice of eating what makes you feel good, and you’ve got to be consistent with exercise. Don’t just go through the motions—do it with purpose and passion. Push yourself physically because there is no bigger healing element in the world. The blood flow, endorphins and sense of accomplishment after a workout is the single most impactful driver to get me into remission. Two things people will never regret are eating vegetables and working out. The exercise is the stimulus to the right blood flow and right state of mind to tackle disease and career—both mental and physical battles. There is no better way to deal with the pain and discomfort of IBD than exercise.

All Roads Lead To Wellness: How Our Different Backgrounds Led Us To Lyfebulb

Katie:

In May of 2019, I joined Lyfebulb as the new Community Manager. Like many patients (including Ambassadors and Entrepreneurs) part of the Lyfebulb community, my health journey has not been easy. I struggled with chronic, neurological Lyme disease for close to a decade. The lack of awareness of this chronic illness prolonged my receiving of adequate treatment because of the inability to get properly diagnosed. Once diagnosed, I spent years researching all that I could about chronic Lyme and making all possible lifestyle changes within my control (diet, exercise, sleep hygiene, chemical-free product substitutions) to get myself out of a state of illness and into one closer resembling “wellness”.

After I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and observed marked changes in my symptoms, I learned how important support drawn from shared chronic illness experiences are to improved disease management and in certain cases, remission. Through this realization, I went to culinary school to learn the intricacies of preparing healthy yet still delicious food so that I could more thoroughly stay true to my commitment to wellness. My chronic illness ultimately taught me how to thrive in life, directing me towards likeminded people who have had similar health journeys.

At the age of 27, I now work for Lyfebulb in order to help build the chronic disease community that I wish I had from the start of my health journey–especially during my sickest years. Chronic illness strips you of hope and the natural instinct of a chronically-ill person is to curl up and isolate from the rest of the world. My goal is to encourage others who are either creating community or innovation around their disease to come together so that we can make the impact of patient-driven innovation and messages of how to thrive with chronic illness, or of wellness, that much stronger.

Jamie:

I joined Lyfebulb in June of 2019. My role includes the development of partnerships, execution of Innovation Summits, and the management of Lyfebulb’s Patient Entrepreneur Circle. I came to Lyfebulb with a different background than most of my colleagues. Unlike Katie, Karin, and our extended community, I do not suffer from chronic disease, nor do I have loved-ones who do – or so I thought prior to joining Lyfebulb.

Though fortunate on to this end, health and wellness has always been a high priority. With northern California roots, it was instilled upon me at a very young age that it is more than just a lifestyle choice – it is necessary to keep the body and brain sustainable.

Formally, I geared my educational studies towards art history and business. After school, I landed a dream job in the field at an art market transparency company. Four years later, I found myself feeling unfulfilled. Though art will always be a passion, I sought out to find a field where I could make more of an impact.

I found Lyfebulb by chance, attending the UnitedHealth Group Summit activation event for depression and anxiety. Shortly thereafter, I joined the Lyfebulb team and brought the UHG Summit to fruition. Though grateful for my time spent in art, I am grateful to have returned to my path of wellness and health, and look forward to where it will take me.

New Workout App for People With Diabetes – And Christel is an Instructor!

Have you ever dreamt of working out with a trainer who understands diabetes, who might even live with diabetes, and who gets what it takes to get through a workout without wonky blood sugars?

Well, that trainer could be me!

Today, my 12-week fitness program “STRONGER”, that I developed for GlucoseZone, is available in the GlucoseZone app. I’d like to personally invite you to come train with me. To join me for a program that will push you to be a stronger version of yourself.

Sign up HERE and use the “STRONGER” code to get 30% off your monthly subscription

The beauty of joining GlucoseZone is that you’ll get access to not only my program but to 6 other exercise programs, as well as live workouts, all developed specifically for people living with diabetes. You can do all of the workouts in your own home or bring it to the gym.

Regardless of your fitness level, you can find qualified instructors to take you through the workouts that are right for you, and always with your diabetes in mind.

One of the reasons why I’m so excited about working with GlucoseZone is that it’s the first-ever clinically validated digital exercise therapeutic for people living with diabetes, and it’s endorsed by the American Diabetes Association.

Stronger Getting Started

Sign up HERE and use the “STRONGER” code to get 30% off the monthly retail (You’ll only pay $9.09 per month) when you sign up for the GlucoseZone app.

 

Connect with Christel on Facebook: @DiabetesStrong; Instagram: @diabetesstrong_ig.

Moving for Your Body

Let’s be real, working out can suck. Like really, really suck.


Growing up, running was always my punishment for the other sports I played (tennis, volleyball, and softball). We would run if we missed, run if we lost, etc. Running was never something I got to do, but had to do, rather. I’d had a distorted view of working out (outside of playing sports competitively) and I saw working out as punishment for what I ate, etc.

By pushing my body too hard, at the age of 21, I’ve already had shoulder surgery, five stress fractures in both my shins and lumbar spine, as well as four cortisone injections. So after years of putting my body through intense workouts to train, I am finally working out to heal my body and mind.

So what shifted in my love-hate relationship with “movement”? My mindset. While I used to view running, cycling, swimming as the enemy or the “worst part” of training, I now view it as something I GET to do. I get to move my body, as quickly or slowly as I please. I get to be outside. I get an hour to move how I want to– however feels good for my body. 

I used to push myself through a run when I could hardly walk, or through shin splints on a long run, now I don’t. Now, I run or bike when I want, put on a great playlist, and enjoy the movement, the celebration of what my body CAN do. I practice yoga daily because it is sustainable for me, and I love the mental and physical reset it provides for me. I focus on how it feels, what I need, and am very consious of my blood glucose levels when working out.

My advice to those who have a distorted view of gyms or physical activity, or even just need motivation to start working out is to find something you love, that you can sustain. Maybe for you this is dance, yoga, boxing, a long walk– or a multitude of act ivies combined.

“Speak like you love yourself. Eat like you love yourself. Move like you love yourself.”

Lyfestories: Incorporating Exercise Your Life with an Invisible Illness

Hi, I’m Zoe and I am actively autoimmune!

When I was diagnosed with lupus, I felt like I had lost control of my health and body. As a physiotherapist, I have always believed that movement is key and began to use exercise as a way to take back some control. Whatever the illness, injury or challenge, I believe exercise will support our health and recovery.

In saying that, I know how difficult it can be to motivate yourself to be active. Pain and fatigue, alongside juggling work, family or school plus hospital appointments and medication regimes; exercise can just seem unachievable. Health can fluctuate on a daily basis preventing consistency and progress. Here are my top 5 tips into how I incorporate exercise into my life with a chronic illness:

 

  1. Be kind to yourself!

Sounds simple, but I find adopting the right mentality about why I am exercising, helps to motivate me. A lot of social media is aimed at fit and healthy people, striving for excellence. With chronic illness, we are striving for different goals.

You are not exercising to punish your body. You are not a bad person if you miss a workout. And you should not feel guilty if you cannot keep up with what others either on social media or in the gym are doing. Find what feels good for you and be kind to yourself.

2. Set realistic goals

Find a balance between something realistic but challenging, and something you care about or enjoy doing. Our bodies cope with enough medically, so we don’t want to add to the stress it goes through!

I find comparing where I am and what I want to achieve is very different to the average #goals on Instagram. Realistically running 5k and doing 50 burpees are not possible at the moment. But to aim to get on my mat 5 times a week, whether for a gentle workout, stretch or yoga is attainable and helps motivate me.

 

3. Be flexible

“Be stubborn with your goals, but flexible how you get there”

Health is unpredictable (the number of days I wake up with my list to do and due to how I feel, I achieve zero of them). Add in spontaneous hospital trips and appointments and it can feel disheartening not achieving what you set out to do that day. I try to use these moments to mix up my routines, walk instead of run, stretch instead of workout or on really bad flare days, simply sitting and doing some breathing exercises. Frustrating as it can be, it is about listening to what your body needs.

4. Learn when to rest and when to progress

Lots of my clients used to ask me:

“If I feel unwell should I still exercise?”
“Do I stop if I have pain?”
“Should I keep pushing past fatigue?”

For those of us with invisible illness, if we listened to our bodies every time they were unwell, in pain, or fatigued we would never exercise. That being said, we can be too brave and push past symptoms we should pay attention to. It is a really difficult balance and often ever changing due to drug changes and disease activity.

The best way to find out your limits is to test them! I started very lightly and monitored how I feel during, immediately after and the next day. A gradual increase in activity is a lot wiser than getting stuck in a pattern of over exerting yourself and then needing days to recover.

 

5. How to push through

Everyone has bad days, either physically with raging symptoms, or mentally due to a lack of motivation or simply fed up. It is absolutely okay to have these days off! However, it is often on these days when I am feeling rubbish, getting on my yoga mat can have the biggest positive effect.

Sometimes it is the thought of exercising that can seem overwhelming more so than the workout itself. The process of getting in my activewear and getting out my mat can sometimes seem a big a task as washing my hair aka. huge. One method I use is to break down the task so it seems more manageable. I give myself a target of 5 minutes. If after 5 minutes, my symptoms are still horrible or worse, then I stop but more often than not, I carry on.

 

I hope a few of my tips helped, for more guidance or if you have any questions please reach out to me on @activelyautoimmune or on www.activelyautoimmune.com

How I Started Health and Fitness Coaching

Two years ago I decided enough was enough and I needed to make a change for my own personal health.

There wasn’t anything specifically wrong, but I just didn’t feel good in my own skin and was really lacking energy and motivation.  I knew I was the only one that was going to be able to change that for myself. I started a program after I saw my friend post her before and after pictures on Facebook and decided it was worth a try. Honestly, what did I have to lose right?

Two months later I was feeling so much healthier, weight started going down (20+ lbs overall), inches were being lost, my insulin was reduced by about 30% and people started to comment on how much happier and healthier I looked. Even my endocrinologist at Joslin was so impressed when I walked in the office and beyond happy with my progress! Yeah to lower A1c’s, Blood pressure and Cholesterol. This was the moment that I decided to start coaching myself. There was no way I couldn’t not share this with others in the hopes they could experience the same results as me.

In the past 2 years so much has changed for me. I now feel so lucky to be able to work with over 100 people to help get them jump started on their own health journey. Many of them with Type 1 diabetes, which of course I LOVE since it’s the diabetes educator and nurse in me. There is nothing like hearing people say, “My clothes don’t fit me anymore” or “I have been able to lose the weight I needed to before trying to conceive” or “I can’t remember the last time I felt this good.” There is nothing more powerful then helping others self esteem increase and just feeling happy & healthy!

I run monthly accountability groups online where we have daily challenges with some fun incentives for them. Why not work out when you can get some fun workout tanks, beach bags or silly gifts from it right? My challengers post sweaty selfies of their workouts, pictures of their meals and we share daily recipes and motivational posts to help keep their momentum going. I also do my best to check in with them every 1-2 weeks or more depending on their need to make sure they are getting their answers to any questions they may have. Who doesn’t want a cheerleader supporting you to reach your goals?

I think many programs out there are lacking the accountability piece and support system.

I truly believe that is why I have been able to continue this lifestyle for the past 2 years and not to mention I have gained financial support for my family and made some of the most ever lasting friendships I could have asked for.

This past July I was able to attend my first Summit in New Orleans and had a chance to work out with Shaun T (my fav) and Sagi and more others. It was truly one of the most inspirational, exciting and powerful events I have ever had the chance to be a part of. Working out with 5,000 people in one room or 25,000 people in the streets of NOLA as the sun was coming up was electrifying. You better believe this mama already booked my return to Summit next year and ready for the Indy 500.

Having lived with Type 1 Diabetes for 25 years I know how hard the day to day struggle is and truly it’s a full time job to just stay healthy.

Eating right, exercising, insulin, doctors appts, eye appts, etc….the list goes on and on for our daily tasks. I feel very fortunate to have found something that encourages and supports me to keep my health first and do that for others as well!


Facebook: @health.fitness.diabetes.mama

Instagram: type1diabetesmama

5 Best Ways to Increase Your Energy, Focus, and Productivity

The energy-in-a-bottle industry is booming. Visit any checkout counter in America and you’ll likely see a variety of energy drinks and supplements with questionable health qualities.

Increasing your energy, focus, and productivity doesn’t come from a convenience store, it’s about how you treat your body. Getting exercise, good sleep, proper nutrition, managing your stress, and yes, maybe a little caffeine are some ways of increasing your energy and focus.

1.Exercise!

You’ve heard this before. If you are feeling drained, you should head to the gym. This is easier said than done when you are feeling lethargic, but the data doesn’t lie. A University of Georgia study says that those who are most sedentary stand to gain the most from light to moderate exercise.
People from all different activity levels can stand to gain from exercise. According to the same study, a group of mostly sedentary people who began a light workout regimen saw a 65 percent increase in energy levels. A simple walk in the morning can help you wake up for the day, burn a few calories, and even reduce stress.

2. Get the Appropriate Amount of Sleep

Setting a sleep schedule that works for you is vital to maintaining healthy energy levels. Being sleep deprived or sleeping too much are both causes of fatigue. Your brain and body need you to sleep!

A University of Rochester study determined that during the day proteins build up in your brain as a byproduct of cognitive activity. While sleeping, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid increases and washes away the toxins. Without this process, the brain cannot function at full capacity. This is why it is hard to focus when sleep deprived.

Sleep position is also key to getting proper rest and avoiding fatigue. Having bad sleeping posture can lead to a laundry list of problems including back and neck problems, acid reflux, snoring, premature wrinkles, and fatigue.

According to various medical specialists, side sleeping is the best solution to the issues mentioned above. In order to get better rest, make sure that you choose memory foam pillows and a comfortable mattress designed especially for side sleepers. For further information regarding the benefits of using a high-quality mattress, click here.

3. Don’t Neglect Nutrition!

Proper nutrition is one of the most effective ways of increasing your energy and focus. You are what you eat! Garbage in, garbage out. Getting advice to eat nutritious foods for energy is not news to anyone, yet as a society, we still eat sugary, non-nutritious foods.

There are countless studies backing up a balanced diet, but reading those aren’t likely to change behavior. Try an experiment on yourself. Keep notes of how you feel on your current diet, especially if that diet is high in refined starches and sugars. Then for a few days, cut out the processed foods and eat more fruits and vegetables.

Take note of your energy levels! When you realize that your energy and focus, and therefore your productivity has increased, you may finally be convinced to make those changes permanent.

Nutrition isn’t just what you eat. It’s what you drink as well. Being dehydrated can cause low energy. If you find yourself feeling low during the middle of your day, the first thing you should do is take a brisk walk to the water cooler. The walk, plus the hydration can be just what you need to catch your second wind.

Alcohol can also affect energy levels, especially when consumed right before bed. Having a night cap might help you fall asleep, but on average you’ll be awake again in a few hours leaving you sleep deprived the next day.

4. Consume a Proper Amount of Coffee
Caffeine is a classic and often abused tool in the arsenal of ways of increasing your energy and focus. However, excessive consumption can lead to awful side effects, affecting cardiac rhythm and raising blood pressure.

On the other side, moderate caffeine consumption can improve your focus capacity. According to various studies, 4mg of caffeine per 1 kg of body weight can improve focus and memory. In other words, when used properly, caffeine will certainly increase your productivity!

5. Stress

Stress triggers the body’s fight or flight impulses. This is very useful in short-term circumstances, but when the body is exposed to chronic stress, including job-related stress or relationship stress, many adverse symptoms can arise including exhaustion.

Sleep can be a self-defense mechanism and when faced with constant stress, your body wants to “check out” by sleeping. If sleeping means your body can avoid the stressor, then that’s what your body wants you to do. Rooting out the causes of chronic stress or better managing the demands of your daily life can allow your body to get better rest when it’s time to be restful and therefore have more energy and focus daily.

Conclusion

Energy and focus are valuable commodities. You don’t have to buy them at the convenience store, you can control your energy levels by following the five steps above.

When the body gets proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep there is no doubt your energy levels will rise.

Is It Possible You Should Slouch More?

You’re at work. Your back is killing you. You’re shifting in your chair to try to stay as upright as possible, but it actually kind of hurts.

But, you’ve been told to sit upright, so it must be better for you, right?

“Sit up straight.” “Pull your shoulders back.” “Don’t slouch.”

Are these thoughts that you tell yourself? When you’re sitting at your desk chair? Or while driving? Or even just sitting at the dinner table?

So many of my clients come to me with back pain, and as soon as I get them on a video call, I can see immediately one of the major contributing factors to their pain.

In an honest attempt to protect their spine, they have actually begun to make the issue worse!

It’s not their fault. I used to do the same thing! We’ve been told these things all of our life!

After all, slouching doesn’t look very professional in school or in a meeting.

Did you know that excessively sitting upright can actually be just as bad for you as excessively slouching? Yup, turns out there literally is no research that shows a direct correlation between slouching and low back pain. Crazy, right? I know. I thought the same thing.

That’s why with certain clients, based on what we observe after scheduling a video consultation (click here to schedule your complimentary video consult!), I often prescribe this exercise:

Still confused? Because you’ve been told the spine should always be kept straight?

The body simply loves movement VARIABILITY. That’s why the body doesn’t respond well to lots of sitting OR lots of standing. Neither is inherently bad, but it’s the lack of movement and the over-abundance of the same posture.

I’ll even let you in on a little secret. This fundamental principle which I teach my clients in my programs is:

The best posture is the posture that changes most often.

Let me give you a little analogy to help make sense of this craziness. If I were to tell you to hold a bicep curl all day long, do you think you would get stronger? Or at some point, would your muscles actually fatigue and get weak and tight? Yeahhhh… I think you know the answer ?

The same goes for our spine! When we hold our spine straight all the time, we are essentially doing a plank all day long. No wonder our back ends up feeling tight and weak! It needs a rest!

This is counterintuitive, I know. But if you’ve ever experienced back pain, you’ve probably noticed that pulling your knees into your chest feels amazingly good.

Ain’t no coincidence! Want to know why? Because when you pull your knees into your chest, your back is rounding and finally getting the rest it wants so badly!

If you’re curious to better understand how your body’s unique movements/postures are impacting your pain, your health and your fitness, send me an email! Just simply ask any question you may have and I am happy to answer it for you!

You can also click here to schedule a 60-Minute Video Call where we can take a look at what’s going on with your body specifically to determine some concrete actions you can implement RIGHT away to start alleviating your pain.


To learn more about Melanie Daly and her personal training, please visit her website: http://www.backpainpersonaltrainer.com/

D1 and T1: Tips for Killing Your BG and Opponent!

As a Type 1 diabetic for the last seven years, and a lifelong athlete, trial and error with exercise and insulin/eating patterns has been my best friend. No two people are the same, and neither are two workouts. The most important things to remember are to be adaptable, don’t beat yourself up, and get out and move!

While being a highly competitive athlete and T1D can be challenging, being a D1 athlete makes me a more regimented diabetic, and being a diabetic makes me a more disciplined athlete. Here are a few quick that help me be successful on and off the court. Keep in mind that everyone is different though, and I am not a medical professional, just an experienced D1 T1D athlete.

  1. Don’t take insulin before cardio if possible. Before a long tennis match, running, or practice, I try to eat a lower carb meal and avoid taking insulin. Bodies process insulin more efficiently when working out (especially for a long workout), and if I take insulin, I will inevitably go low.
  2. Fats are your friend! I love nut butters, avocados, and coconut oils, especially pre-workout. Because fats are metabolized slower than carbs and protein, they help sustain blood glucose levels pre and post-workout.
  3. Find a low snack that works for you. For me, I love drinking coconut water while playing tennis to keep my blood sugar up while avoiding spikes (which I usually get from Gatorade). I also love apple sauce, and larabars (due to fat content, which helps stabilize) for gradual lows. I always keep energy chews in my bag, too.
  4. Morning workouts>>> I cannot stress the incredible impact morning workouts have on my blood glucose control enough. Late night workouts usually result in 3 a.m. lows. Morning weight lifting helps me maintain BG levels throughout the day.
  5. Make sure your basal levels are adjusting according to your activity level. When I’m in season, I always cut my basal insulin by at least a few units. Talk to your doctor if you find you are running low/high more than usual! Getting my basal insulin in check has been the biggest help in my athletic performance.
  6. Switch it upppp! I love interchanging cardio, HITT, weight lifting, yoga, etc. throughout the week to maintain BG levels and challenge my body. Find workouts that you enjoy! Finding a workout buddy is vital to success.
  7. Be prepared! Never leave for an outdoor run without fruit snacks tucked in a pocket. Whether I’m running, playing tennis, or at the gym, I always have a debit card and low snacks (and insulin and a meter, of course).
  8. Keep track! Keep a log of workout type, duration, and the BG effect it had. I also use an app to track my meals and help me figure out what is the best fuel for active days.
  9. Adrenaline is a factor! My blood levels during practice and a match can be drastically different due to the stressors of competing. Because of this, I have to make sure to keep my emotions in check, and be aware of adrenaline spikes.
  10. Give yourself some credit! Being a T1D is a full time job. That being said, do not let anyone tell you it is impossible for you to be a highly competitive athlete– because that’s far from the truth! #diabadass

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