Change For Good

happy young man jumping  and drawing 2016 in the air

One of our core missions here at Lyfebulb is to inspire change, which happens to be a popular topic this time of year.

It’s no secret the new year brings with it the notion of change and self-improvement.  And as far as I’m concerned change is a good thing!  It opens up space for small but powerful lifestyle improvements.  Whether that’s healthier habits, cooking, or even breathing, small changes add up (these are all great goals, by the way!).  As my mentors say: small hinges swing big doors.

I’ve shared my top three tips below, which will help you establish achievable, inspired (and inspiring!) goals.  But first, start with this question: If you could wave a magic wand, and really get what you want in the next (insert time period), what would that look like?

State your goal in the positive

Say what you want, not what you don’t want.  This will help keep your mind focused on the positive, which impacts the small, daily decisions.  It’s much easier to make changes when we work toward something, rather than pulling away from something.  For example: “I’d like to incorporate more whole foods to my diet”, instead of “No processed foods.”  Other ideas might include:

  • Drink more water
  • Spend time with a good book each night
  • Experiment with new veggies in my diet

Goal should be initiated and maintained by self

While it’s important to surround yourself with individuals who inspire and motivate you, it’s equally important we set goals that don’t rely on someone else changing.  In other words: look to others for support and motivation, but don’t make them the cause of change.  Here are some examples:

  • Start a new blog to document my favorite recipes
  • Practice yoga for 20 minutes every other morning
  • Smile at strangers on the street

Size matters

Your goals should be large enough to be worthwhile yet small enough to feel attainable.  I love checking things off my to-do list; it makes me feel productive and validates my efforts.  The same thing goes for our goals.  Be realistic.  Maybe you’d like to join a book club that meets twice a week, but you know that might put a strain on your schedule.  Instead, you join one that meets every other week, knowing you can follow through with your commitment with ease.  Here are some other “sizable” goal ideas:

  • Workout twice a week
  • Get to bed 30 minutes earlier at least three times a week
  • Cook one new homemade meal each week

 I encourage you to jot down a goal or two taking these tips into consideration (did you know? writing your goals down on paper will help hold you accountable) and revisit it regularly to ensure your thoughts and actions stay aligned.

If you’re looking for inspiration we invite you to check out Lyfebulb Connect where you can find support and resources dedicated to improving the quality of life for those living with chronic disease.  Here we use our stories and experiences to encourage and inspire one another in making changes – but it all starts with you.  What changes do you see for yourself?  To borrow the quote from Gandhi: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Diabetes Burnout

I’ve seen it before. Nine years back, slumped on my kitchen floor, unable to move another step. It got me so good, I couldn’t even figure out how to get up.

I sat there in a puddle until my husband recognized what was wrong and what needed to be done.

It wasn’t low blood sugar that demolished me, though. It was burnout. And at that moment in time, it had burnt every last piece of me.

I had been fighting diabetes for a solid twelve years without any support. Sure, I checked in with my doctor every three months to have my efforts graded based on one solitary blood test and then sent away. But that was the closest I ever came to talking to any person besides my husband about diabetes.

I was fighting alone and I was starting to lose. The fix was to find other people to fight alongside me.

After my husband demanded that I take the day off work and spend some time for myself, I went online to find other people who were fighting diabetes the same way I always had, through adventure.

Over the next few years, I dove in deep with the amazing crew of people living right around the corner from me who were running marathons, racing Ironman, and going on climbing adventures as a way to deal with diabetes.

Over time, the diabetes burnout faded and was replaced by a fellowship that, not only increased my knowledge of the disease, but surrounded me with people who understood the emotional aspects of a life-long situation that has the ability to suck the life out of the best of us.

I began to share my story with people who might not have had the built-in community that San Diego is so blessed to have. And for the past seven years, I have been going on outrageous adventures and sharing them with anyone who wants to listen.

In 2011, I sailed 100-miles down the Florida Keys alone because my first endocrinologist told me that as a person with diabetes, I would never be able to sail alone again. In 2012, I wrote and published a book about that first trip, Islands and Insulin, an adventure in itself. In 2014, I led a team of Type 1’s in a 12.5-mile Swim Around Key West. 2015 brought another 100-mile trip, this time on stand up paddle boards in the Intercoastal Waterways of North and South Carolina.

Every adventure gave me a year of intense physical training, which, as we all know, is essential to having good blood sugars. Each one introduced me to a new group of people.  And each stretched me as a person as I learned to share my story with larger audiences, a very difficult thing to do as a naturally introverted person.

Now as I finish out 2015, I have begun to notice the signs again. Each September, I begin to dream and plan for the next summer’s adventure. This year, I couldn’t decide on an adventure. The natural excitement this time of year usually brings was noticeably missing.

I stopped writing. I stopped posting anything on social media. I stopped reaching out to make plans with friends. I climbed further and further into my introverted cave.

I let myself off the hook and decided that, for all of October, I would not do any work for the Sea Peptide Salties, the website I run as a vehicle for sharing my story. When October passed, and I still had no excitement, I finally realized the scope of what I was dealing with.

In endurance training, athletes walk a fine line of pushing their bodies to their max without pushing too hard for too long. Without any athletic stress the human body will not get any stronger. Runners run longer each week. Weight lifters increase their weights and reps. Paddlers will paddle more and more miles.

But, if too much stress is applied, athletes will go into the dreaded “over-training.” Their bodies no longer get stronger and faster; they get weaker and sicker. It can take three to six months of serious rest to get back to training again. There are no short cuts.

However, if an athlete recognizes the signs of impending over-training, a zone doctors call “overreaching”, and can rest appropriately, they can avoid a six-month hiatus. A few days or a few weeks off, followed by a redesign of the training plan that brought them to the brink of over-training in the first place, will fix the problem before it becomes disastrous.

My lack of interest in next year’s adventure and my desire to drop off the face of the diabetes world were early warning signs of impending over-training.  After spending every waking moment fully invested in my day job, in helping my kids to grow, in enjoying my relationship with my husband, tending to my diabetes, and in going on and sharing my wild adventures, I was overreaching.

If I kept up that pace, I would burn out. I would throw in the towel on the Sea Peptide Salties. I would have to take off years to recover. And we all know, with a disease like diabetes, you don’t get to take years off without some horrible consequences.

If I was going to do a good job with my health over the next 58 years of life that I have left, and continue to try to help others, I had to do something before I got to over-training.

As soon as I discovered this, I scrapped my plans for another 100-mile adventure in 2016. But I can’t motivate myself to exercise unless I have some sort of adventure on the books, so I had to do something.

I needed something simple. Something more medium-sized. Something that takes about ten minutes to plan. And I needed to do it with someone I know so well that I won’t be stretched to be outgoing with people I don’t know.

With those requirements, the adventure I had to go on became clear. It would be an overnight backpacking trip with my best type 1 adventuring buddy, Michelle.  After an afternoon planning, the trip was set.

Hundreds of hours planning, training, building a team, securing sponsors, and getting media coverage had now been taken off my schedule for the next year. I was left with the unheard of “Free Time.”

After making this decision, the first time I found myself sitting and not doing anything, I realized it had been about three years since I spent any time doing nothing. Every minute had been utilized to accomplish one goal or another. Most days it was well after nine at night before I sat down for the first time. Well, more accurately, collapsed.

And now I was watching TV, playing with my kids more. This November, I turned off my automatic sprinklers and watered my yard with a hose, just because I had the time to do it and because it was so relaxing. I sat in the sun, and just sat. I didn’t return emails or write blogs or work on the Adventure Academy. I just sat and did nothing.

So far it has been amazing. My desire to go out and paddle again is coming back. I am excited to start writing again. Slowly I can feel the overreaching start to fade. I am coming back out of my cave.

We all walk a fine line between wanting to do everything we can to combat this disease and doing too much. And we have to walk this line for the rest of our lives (or at least until one of the many cure possibilities makes it through the FDA and we get our insurance to cover it).

There are so many amazing things we can do to stay healthy. We test. We shoot up. We analyze data that would make any statistician cry. We worry and cry. We exercise and stress. We share our heartache publicly. We support others in our community. We fight our insurance companies to do what is right. We fight our politicians to do what is right. We fight employers to treat us with dignity and compassion.  We try not to worry our loved ones with our ups and downs.

But if we fight too hard, if we don’t look up once in a while to notice when those first signs of over-training arise, we will burn out.

With all we have to carry, we need to remember that it’s ok, every once in a while, to let ourselves off the hook and just kick back. To sit in a chair and enjoy the beauty around us. To surround ourselves with people who let us be ourselves without having to try.  To not accomplish anything for a day, or at least for an afternoon. To do nothing.

As this year wraps up, it may be a good time to take stock of your current level of burnout. Are you at a point where it may be necessary this year to let go of a few things that you have convinced yourself you have to do, so that you can still do diabetes well? Maybe you just need a good weekend off. Maybe you are at your prime right now and can carry a few more burdens for those of us who need a momentary rest.

Whatever your level of burnout, take stock this year. Take stock every year. Don’t let diabetes burnout sneak up on you. Attack it before it gets the best of you.

Core Fusion Barre at Exhale Spa

exhale

When I first moved back to New York City after graduating from law school, my sister Karin introduced me to Exhale’s Core Fusion Barre classes.  At the time I was quite intimidated by the class at the Upper East Side location, across the street from the Carlyle.  But, considering how toned and what awesome posture the regulars had, I gave it a try.  New students can take advantage of certain discounts, and at the time, they were offering one week unlimited classes for less than $50.  I went for it, but after a few classes, I could barely sit down I was so sore.

A couple years later I joined Exhale SoHo and participated in their monthly unlimited class program.  This studio is smaller and a bit less intimidating than the Upper East Side.  They also have a discounted monthly plan at $155 per month, as compared to the regular New York City monthly plan, which costs $265 per month.  I fell in love with core fusion at Exhale SoHo, and felt myself becoming stronger with every class.  However, when I switched jobs, the SoHo location was no longer convenient, and I canceled my membership.

A few months later I noticed that I had become much more lethargic, and that I missed class.  So I purchased individual class packs that work all over the city.  I am already seeing a difference in how I feel after a few weeks back on the core fusion wagon.  These classes are addictive!  My favorite locations are Exhale Central Park South, and of course, Exhale SoHo.

So what exactly is core fusion barre?  It is a total body workout that consists of small repetitive movements.  Classes generally begin by marching in place, swinging your arms, and getting the blood flowing.  After a few additional warm-up exercises you hit the floor for a series of push-ups and planks.  Then the class moves on to weight work, which includes several series of light and heavier sets of weight exercises, focusing on the triceps, biceps, and the back.  Once you have exhausted your arms, you do a nice stretch at the barre, and then work on your thighs.  You squat in various ways until your legs begin to shake only to switch to glute exercises that will cause your butt to shake!  The class ends with a focus on the core, and then a nice relaxing stretch.

I am so happy I found these studios as recommended by my sister a few years ago.  I have tried various other classes, including bar method, pure barre, and physique 57, but core fusion barre at exhale are by far my favorite.  If you don’t live in a city with an exhale location, they also sell DVDs so you can do the workouts at home!

Looking forward to a more toned me in the weeks to come!  Exhale is definitely a Lyfebulb favorite.

Diabetes Doesn’t Have You

Chris Dudley played basketball in the NBA for 16 years. The Yale graduate gained notoriety around the league as a voracious defender, energetic rebounder, and formidable shot blocker. He played Center as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New Jersey Nets, Portland Trail Blazers, New York Knicks, and the Phoenix Suns. Dudley was born in Connecticut, but grew up primarily in the San Diego area of California where he started playing basketball. A bit of a late bloomer, Dudley played Junior Varsity basketball through his junior year of high school when he was first diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 16. Committing to Yale University during his senior year, Chris Dudley played for the Bulldogs from 1983 to 1987 before becoming the first ever Type-1 Diabetic to play in the NBA when we was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the fourth round of the 1987 draft.

Dudley’s professional career achievements include playing in a total of 886 games, scoring 3,473 points, 375 assists, 1,027 blocked shots, and 5,457 rebounds. The NBA rewarded Dudley with the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 1996, and USA Today named him the Most Caring Athlete in 1997.

I was fortunate enough to interview Chris Dudley about his experience playing basketball as a type-1 diabetic.

It was in his spring semester in 1981 after his sophomore year that Chris Dudley started to experience the classic symptoms of increased thirst and frequent trips to the bathroom. His close uncle had diabetes, so after advising Dudley and his dad to test his blood glucose level (BS) at a home test kit from the local pharmacy, he realized he had T1D.

Initially shocked, Dudley remembered that the life expectancy for diabetics was well below that of non-diabetics in the early 80’s. Nearly as important to the 16-year-old was the question of whether or not he would be able to keep playing basketball.

Lucky for Dudley two main factors kept his spirits high in this tumultuous time. One, his endocrinologists in San Diego were fairly progressive in that knew the value of athletics in maintaining steady glucose levels. Although not a lot had been confirmed in this time as it related to the effect on sports and diabetes, his doctors did not deter Dudley from continuing to play. Second, Dudley looked to National Hockey League star Bobby Clarke for inspiration. Bobby Clarke was drafted into the NHL in 1969 as a diabetic, ultimately winning two Stanley Cup Championships and being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987. Clarke inspired confidence in Dudley that achieving athletic success was possible for a type 1 diabetic.

Most diabetics typically receive their insulin through two methods: multiple injections via an insulin pen or syringe, or through an insulin pump. Through the bulk of Dudley’s career, he received his insulin through multiple injections, as pump use had not been as highly advertised until the early 2000’s. Dudley commented that he wears the pump to receive his insulin currently, and would have considered wearing the modern day pumps back in his playing days, had they been available.

Other than his impressive doctors back in San Diego, Chris Dudley credits a particular nurse, Molly Meyer (who worked at Yale where Chris played in college) as incredibly instrumental in helping him out to manage his diabetes when it was most important and the level of play was at its highest. When asked about the most important person who currently helps Dudley the most with his diabetes management, he notes that his wife, also named Chris, is responsible for keeping him on top of his health.

Exercise of any kind with diabetes can be arduous. Playing basketball at the highest level for 16 seasons certainly presented unique challenges for Chris Dudley. When I asked him what the hardest aspects of his career were, he spoke about all the spikes in bis blood sugar from adrenaline he experienced, playing night after night in front of ten of thousands of screaming fans. The schedule of an NBA player also presents plenty of variables that may affect his glucose level management, from altitude of certain cities to back-to-back games on the calendar. The lag time for insulin in the 1990’s was also closer to 45 minutes, rather than the 15 to 20 minute absorption rate diabetics are blessed with today. This meant Dudley had to operate with a tremendous amount of foresight to try and keep optimum BS levels for game time.

I asked Dudley to share with me his average game day schedule, including testing times, in order to get a better sense on how regimented an NBA player with diabetes’ agenda must be.

Assuming the game was at home:

    • Dudley would wake up and test
    • Eat Breakfast
    • Prepare to drive into the arena for a pregame shootaround and test
    • Arrive at the arena and test
    • Participate in the pregame shootaround and test
    • Complete a quick workout, this might include a light lift and/or a solid stretching session, all while testing
    • Drive back home and test
    • Take a nap, wake up and test
    • Eat a balanced meal, chock full of protein
    • Relax for a bit and test
    • Drive back to the arena for the actual game and test
    • Get more shots up, complete pregame workout is necessary to get loose and test
    • Prayer/Mediation in the pregame Chapel and test
    • Pregame meeting with the team and test
    • Right before game time test
    • The Trainer will test (4x) throughout game
    • At Halftime test
    • After the game, get changed, test, and drive home
    • At Bedtime, test

If you’re counting at home, that’s roughly 20 times a day that Dudley tested his blood sugar. He notes how convenient it would have been to have been playing professional basketball in the Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) era where he could read a continuous plotting of his blood glucose levels.

Unlike golf, swimming, or singles tennis, playing basketball as a diabetic is complicated in that you are a member or a team. With that team aspect, comes a level of responsibility and accountability to your teammates. It can certainly be intimidating to talk about your issues as it relates to your disease when you are the only diabetic surrounded by others who know very little about your needs. A member of many different teams in many different cities, Dudley asserts that his teammates everywhere were largely supportive. Even though many of peers never quite understood his condition, they showed a genuine interest. When I asked Dudley what may have contributed to such a positive response, he recalled back to early in his career, when he purposively didn’t miss any games or practices. Dudley credits his durability, at a time when his reputation had yet to be fully molded, to be responsible for players around the league to recognizing Dudley would not lean on diabetes as a crutch or excuse to not work hard and hustle.

Despite an incredible display of toughness and durability, like all diabetics, Chris Dudley has certainly had his fair share of hypoglycemic (or low blood sugar) incidents. One can imagine how stressful it must be to in the heat of the moment in a big game, unsure of whether or not you are just tried form running up and down to court or if you’re experiencing an issue beyond your control. What Dudley feared most wasn’t just playing terribly, it was letting his teammates down and embarrassing himself in front of 20,000 fans. When a diabetic’s blood sugar initially starts to drop, the symptoms mirror that of just being tired. Every athlete’s natural response to fatigue is to push through that feeling, to tell your body it can take on more, when in reality there’s a possibility it truly can not. Dudley was fortunate enough to have had these experiences, but was never forced to miss an entire game. The all to familiar act of having to binge drink juice in order to maintain a normal blood sugar level was definitely a phenomenon Dudley says he experienced.

When I asked him about any particular scary moments he’s faced when having a low, he recalled a game he played against the Denver Nuggets. The game was already decided, causing every player to worry less about execution and more about running up and down to the court and scoring to perhaps leave an impression for the games ahead. Dudley’s blood sugar crashed dramatically, and he ended up leaving the game entirely and needing an IV to deliver glucose and replenish lost fluids. In addition to the increased elevation of the Mile High City, Dudley also suggested he might have been a tad ill, which could have contributed to his erratic BS.

Despite occasional hiccups, it is without question that Chris Dudley found success playing basketball in the NBA. In talking about his greatest achievements as a basketball player, Dudley includes his 16 years of playing professionally, being the first ever type-1 diabetic to play in the NBA, leading the NCAA in rebounding while at Yale, and being amongst the leaders in the NBA in rebounds per minute played. Dudley recalls one his most proud moments to be when he won the Eastern Conference Finals playing for the New York Knicks in 1999. It was the first time in NBA history an 8th seed had beaten a 1 seed, beating the favored Miami Heat 3 games to 2 at home in front of their fans at Madison Square Garden.

Outside of the court, Chris Dudley has been serving the diabetic community through his Chris Dudley Foundation for the last 20 years. Operating out of Oregon, he holds camps through which his foundation aims to empower kids with type-1 diabetes. Dudley promotes achieving dreams by through acceptance, staying active, and taking care of yourself. Dudley adds that his foundation has teamed up with the Portland Trailblazers and the Pacific Northwest Diabetes Union to promote healthy activity and encourage diabetics during the Pacific Northwest Diabetes Awareness week.

I asked Chris Dudley what message he would give a newly diagnosed teenager with professional athlete aspirations, like himself all those years ago. Dudley paused and echoed again acceptance.

“You have Diabetes, Diabetes doesn’t have you”

It’s normal to ask “Why me?” but you cannot get too caught up in wondering what cosmic forces aligned for you to be diagnosed with diabetes. Dudley remarks instead that you should work through it.

Looking ahead, Dudley has no end in sight for his annual camp until a cure is found. In fact, he is looking to potentially expand his camp across the West Coast. He will continue to work with the Portland Trailblazer and Pacific Northwest Diabetes Union on Diabetes Awareness week and has some very revolutionary ideas for the NBA. In 2015, American sports leagues have used their influence to bring awareness to such causes as Breast Cancer or Military Appreciation. Dudley has expressed a desire for the NBA to potentially join forces with the American Diabetes Association to raise awareness. The month of awareness is in November, as is the beginning of the season, maybe the two associations could even incorporate a color scheme to be worn throughout the league. I, for one, would be ecstatic to see such a notion actually manifest itself.

Before finishing our interview, I told Chris Dudley that I’ve always kept a dynamic Top 4 diabetic athlete Power Rankings, a Mount Rushmore if you will. Diabetic Athlete Gary Hall Jr. introduced me to the idea that diabetes did not have to inhibit your athletic dreams when he won the gold just weeks before my own diagnosis, so he earns a spot. I was playing basketball in high school around the time of Adam Morrison’s heroic performances at Gonzaga, so he earns a spot. Jay Cutler balances his blood sugar levels while playing in the National Football League. Spot. I added myself last both because I came up with this idea and we need a little ethnic diversity. After laughing at my foolishness, Chris Dudley was gracious enough to offer me his Diabetic Athlete Mount Rushmore:

1. Bobby Clarke (NHL): Mentioned earlier in this piece, Bobby Clarke is an NHL Champion and Hall of Famer who had achieved many accolades around when Dudley himself was diagnosed.

2. Ron Santo (MLB): Santo was a star third baseman for the Chicago Cubs from 1960-1973, the Five time consecutive Golden Glove winner also batted .300 and hit 30 home runs in four of his fifteen seasons

3. Bill Collision (Triathlete): Coming out of California, this triathlete was the first ever to win the competition as a diabetic.

4. Chris Dudley (NBA): Chris Dudley was the first diabetic to ever play in the NBA, paving the way for plenty of others to follow in his footsteps. He’s well in his rights to put himself on top of that mountain.

As a player, Chris Dudley embodied grit and determination, he has taken that effort off the court in the present day to encourage and inspire diabetics like him to flourish at the highest level of competition. We should all take a page out of Dudley’s book and accept the terms our lives have given us, but to not be defined or deterred by them. As we work towards both a cure and better methods of management, let this be our battle cry:

“You have Diabetes, Diabetes doesn’t have You!”

For more updates and tips on how to use fitness for diabetes management and prevention. Follow me on twitter @roycHealth !

Beating Those Lazy Days

Friends, it has been weeks since we made our New Year’s resolutions. How can we motivate ourselves to stick to our plans for healthier and happier selves? We know that exercise is good, but also how easy and comfortable it becomes to slack off burning the fat off.

As the saying goes, When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. We’ll break own the three pillars to gym motivation for when being lazy seems so easy: Why you shouldn’t skip the gym, How you can avoid skipping the gym, and You missed the gym…now What.

Why you shouldn’t

Gyms across the country have the slogan “You’ll never say, I wish I hadn’t worked out today” across their walls. Why? Because it’s 100% accurate. You may not appreciate the soreness, or you may feel fatigued later on in the evening, but in a world filled with guilty temptations, one thing about your day that you’ll never regret is that you spent time improving your fitness.

It’s February. Before you know it, you’ll be trading winter coats and boots for bathing suits and sandals. Put the work in now, future you (the one catching rays by the pool) will thank you.

When you work out, you feel more confident. When you skip the gym, you feel more self-conscious. It’s simple. You can’t put price tags on confidence and positive feeling about yourself. Working out is also known to relieve stress and release endorphins. If you care about how you feel, then you know you have to keep a regular workout regimen.

We live in a social media dominated world. Whether it’s a celebrity favorite or your neighbor down the block, you can count on being subjected to photo evidence that other people are working out. A healthy lifestyle is a personal journey, but boy does it brighten your day when you know you too are putting in work at the gym.

Physically speaking, working out has far more benefits than just helping you to look good; but it can actually help regulate your sleep cycle. When you skip the gym, you’ll feel tired and sluggish all day and then wide awake and restless at night. This is easily one of the most annoying phenomenons your body will subject itself too, and the fatigue will negatively affect the productivity of your work week.

Are you worried about food cravings? Do you want to eat a little dessert guilt free? Well when you work out, it’s easier to eat healthier. You feel accomplished about your day’s work and the mindset you have when you return home is to keep the good habits rolling. Also, when you weight train or interval train your body feeds off calories hours after you’ve completed your workout. So if you so please, you can consume a few more calories than if you chose not to work out, without worrying about fat gains.

Remember, if you aren’t getting better, you’re getting worse

How you can avoid it

Now that you have plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t miss the gym, here’s a few tips on actually making it out there:

Your pilgrimage to the gym doesn’t have to be alone. Willpower is much stronger when you have a gym buddy there for support in solidarity. Join a group, carpool, set appointments with friends, whatever is necessary to get you in the room. It still counts if you are only there to not look bad in front of a judging peer.

Take the time to plan out a schedule. Whether it is what you actually want to accomplish in the gym on that day, or when you can make it, it is much easier to stick to a well organized plan. Improvisation is akin to procrastination.

You know what really boosts your motivation? Activities that you actually enjoy. 45 minute treadmill sessions aren’t for everyone. Join a recreational basketball or dodgeball league and get those competitive juices flowing.

Rats… You did miss the gym. Well now what?

So despite my words of wisdom and impeccable advice you still couldn’t make it out the gym. Never fear, here’s a few tips on what to do now:

Don’t overeat, feel yourself getting full. You should drink lots of water and other non sugary fluids throughout the day to mitigate your appetite. You shouldn’t hit 1000 extra calories on top of already missing the gym.

Take the stairs, take a walk around the neighborhood, or run all those errands you have been putting off for some time. It may not be the hour long sweat-tacular , muscle crunching workout you had hoped for, but the day does not have to necessarily be lost.

Take some time to analyze the day and see what happened. Be true with yourself on what caused you to miss on a promise you made to yourself. Was it a party the night before? Improper planning? Work to get better or plan ahead to ensure you won’t miss many more workout days again.

Last but not least, get ready to hop back on your bicycle go again the next day. You lost the battle, not the war.

You can do this, I believe in you.

Tips to a Healthier New Year in 2015: Interval Training

As we look towards a healthier new year in 2015, we should start by adjusting our fitness routines that may not have yielded the results we really wanted to accomplish in 2014.

A technique that will both increase your cardiovascular capacity while also build and tone your muscles is interval training. Interval training consists of low to high intensity, explosive workouts you complete with interspersed rest time between different component exercises and regulated time within each set. Your body operates anaerobically during the high-intensity periods while recovering aerobically during periods of lower intense workouts.

Traditionally, tales of losing weight and getting into shape all revolve around lower to medium intense workouts such as jogging, biking, or exercising on the elliptical or StairMaster machine for extended periods of time. The key difference between these types of exercise and interval training is that calorie burning ends abruptly after your jogging session as concluded. Interval training, on the other hand, will cause your body to continue burning calories for 2-4 hours after you’ve completed your training session. You can also start burning fat right away whereas in low intensity workouts it may take up to 20 minutes before a significant amount of fat is burned.

Adding intense circuit training into your workouts will stimulate muscle building hormones. One of the biggest knocks to traditional cardiovascular exercise is the loss of both muscle and fat. Interval training puts your body in a state where you can burn fat and gain muscle at the same time. interval training also develops the cardiovascular system. By pushing your heart rate high during periods of work, you’ll increase your cardiovascular output.

There it is: a way to workout for less time, and burn more calories. Incorporating interval training will better equip you to reach your goals in 2015.

Here’s an example of an Interval Training workout you can do at home with just your body weight.

If you have the time, I also recommend a low intensity quick 20-30 minute bike ride or jog to be fully warmed up.

1. Warm Up: Get on a stationary bike for 20-30 minutes. Stop, get off the bike, and stretch.

2. Bike Sprint: At a low resistance, and sprint hard on the stationary bike for 30 seconds. Aim for 90% of your maximum heart rate. To recover, bring your speed down to a comfortable pedal speed for a minute.

3. Jump Squats: Get off the bike and jump squat, with your bottom out to the and your legs slightly apart. Then jump from the squatting position into the air, landing in the same squat position as before. Do this for one set of 15-20.

4. Shoulder Wide Pushups: Do one set of 15 pushups, with your elbows at a degree angle from the body with your hands shoulder-width apart.

Modification: Do the pushups with your knees on the ground, but do 25 instead of 15.

5. Bike Sprint: Get back on the bike and sprint for 30 seconds (low resistance). The goal is to be at 80% of your maximum heart rate. To recover, decrease your speed and bike for one minute.

6. 16” Pushups: Do one set of 15 pushups, with your elbows at a 90-degree angle from the body, with your hands 4-16” apart

Same Modification: Do the pushups with your knees on the ground, but do 25 instead of 15.

7. Sprint: Back to the Bike. Sprint for 1 minute at a high resistance, aiming for 70% of your maximum heart rate. To recover, slowly bike at a low resistance for 90 seconds.

8. Jumping Jacks: Do one set of 15 or 20 jumping jacks. If you’re strong enough, add two 10- or 15-pound dumbbells. Lift up the weights when you jump out, in an overhead press position, pulling them back down to shoulder height as your legs go back together.

9. Finisher: Increase the bike resistance to double digits. Bike at a decent speed for 30 seconds, aiming for 60% of your maximum heart rate. To recover, bring the treadmill down to a 1.0 incline and drop your speed to 1.9 or 2.0 for a 1-minute walk. Finish with a light stretch.

For Diabetics: 

Your blood sugar will most likely take two turns. During the warm up, should you choose to warm up, you will likely experience a slight dip in your blood sugar, so plan accordingly to be above your comfortable exercise blood glucose level.

However, during the interval training your blood sugar will stabilize if not rise, so resist the urge to start too high or drink sports drinks with a high glycemic index that may also cause your blood sugar to spike while taking a break.

Tracking your Numbers

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Tracking your Numbers: Walking through the process of checking and recording your blood glucose levels through light and moderate Activity. 

It’s important to learn the levels of your own body, and how different exercises can affect your levels over the course of the activity. Throughout and after playing college football I have participated in yoga to protect my body against the pounding that comes with running, playing pickup basketball, and weight lifting. So we’ll use yoga in this scenario because it’s a light to moderate activity that should produce one singular blood glucose action.

Step 1: Test your Blood Glucose Level (BS) 3 hours before the Yoga Session

At three hours from activity, there’s plenty of time to eat any meals or make adjustments necessary before needing to be truly concerned about BS levels. I recommend this initial check just for general safety and to make sure your number isn’t extremely high due to a missed bolus or pump malfunction

Step 2: Re-Test BS 45mins-1 hour from the start of the Session

Yoga will cause your BS level to drop, so BS levels should be slightly elevated immediately before starting yoga. Having a normal resting BS level an hour before Yoga is acceptable if you then consume a snack to be slightly elevated for the start of the session.

Step 3: Test right before the start of the Activity in order to be thoroughly safe against an adverse event. Knowing whether you need to back out or if you can continue is paramount. Testing just before will also give you an exact starting point if you feel your BS going either high or low.

During Yoga:

Be mindful of the drop in BS the activity might cause. Have your testing materials close by so that in the event you feel weak or lightheaded, you can see exactly where you stand. My yoga sessions are only an hour long, so if not prompted I won’t test again until after the activity is complete

Step 4: Immediately After Yoga, test your BS and note the differences between the starting and resulting numbers after an hour or so of activity. Actually write it down. This change will give you a great indication of how your body reacts to low to moderate sustained activity for this amount of time. You can use this information to better estimate future activities at similar intensity levels.

Step 5: 2 hours after yoga you should test yourself again. By this time, your body should be fully recovered and you may be surprised to see either a substantial rise or drop as a result of that recovery. As suggested in Step 4, write down how your BS has changed and make note of this event for future activities.

LifeTime Athletic Gyms

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LifeTime Athletic gyms are extremely popular around the country and in the tri-state area especially. As a diabetic, staying in shape is essential to my glucose-control and overall health. This summer, I attended a LifeTime Athletics gym in close proximity to where I worked.

A 24-hour gym is extremely convenient for diabetics, and LifeTime provides that service. As diabetics, there are unfortunately plenty of instances where my blood sugar is either too low or too high for me to feel comfortable working out. The 24-hour accessibility of gyms such as LifeTime allow me to take some time away from my originally intended workout time, and carefully allow my blood glucose level to arrive back in my comfortable workout range, without having to rush due to limited gym open hours.

LifeTime offers a wide range of equipment and space for varying workout types. I like to incorporate different types of workouts into my weekly regimen such as weight-training intensive or cardio intensive days. Some facilities are deficient in either free weights, weight machines, or cardio machines, while abundantly supplying the other categories. The LifeTime gym exceeded my basic needs when it came to workout apparatuses. The monthly membership is not without a substantial price, but the gyms are full of great amenities diabetics and athletes in general will appreciate such as fully stocked snack bars (for post workouts or lows), spas, and yoga studios.

Lastly, LifeTime does a pretty fair job of creating a community environment within its gyms. Whether it arise from the aforementioned spas, yoga studies, and snack bars, or events such as 5ks, triathlon events, and groups weight-loss challenges, LifeTime provides a platform for strangers with similar interests to meet, greet, and tackle goals with one another.  The idea of community is especially resounding amongst diabetics because we are all sympathetic to each other’s diabetes-complication and are constantly bouncing tips and ideas off one another. The environment at a LifeTime gym is especially conducive to such an open forum. My experiences with the staff and trainers on sight have been primarily positive in that they are friendly and relatively knowledgeable about any questions I may have. I would feel comfortable referring other diabetics to their trainers for advice on how certain exercises may affect their glucose levels.

Overall my experience with LifeTime Athletics was positive. While membership comes at a steep price, the facilities and amenities attached are of high enough quality to justify the price. I was extremely satisfied with the range of options available to me as someone who likes variety in my workouts and health maintenance.

Whether it be at a LifeTime gym or any other, it is most important we diabetics continue to push ourselves to make regular exercise and workouts a priority. I encourage you all to find an activity you can enjoy and make those trips a staple in your weekly schedules.

This is the first installment of many to come in my NYC-area gym review series. For further information and health & fitness tips follow me at @roycHealth.

A Call to Discipline

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Becoming disciplined is quite frankly the best way to control your health. But before we delve further into exactly what becoming disciplined means, we need to make an important distinction: the Super-humans versus the Disciplined.

Super-humans are incredible. Super-humans once ate bacon cheeseburgers at McDonald’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner before turning it around and going vegan. Maybe they bought a two-month frozen meal package or meal replacement shakes and actually stuck to the plan the entire time. They bought that new gym membership and went from never stepping into a gym to working out 7 days a week. They have every meal, workout, and medication calculated so perfectly that they always look and feel great no matter the scenario. Seriously, hats off to the Super-humans.

This message is not for those lucky few, and I do mean few, who can turn it all around in one swoop. This message is for the rest of the people who want to regain control of their lives in ways that are gradual, but lasting. Embracing the disciplined lifestyle is about making enough small changes so that they you can reach your goal of becoming an new self.

As it pertains to weight loss, new studies have shown a large number of successful dieters will eventually regain the weight they’ve lost and then some.  Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle mass, control your diabetes, or any combination of the three, life changes are going to have to be made.

Somewhere buried amongst the old adages that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that it takes 30 straight days of an activity for it to form into a habit exists the unforgiving truth: small, permanent life changes are necessary in order for you to reach your goals. Disciplined people are prepared to make these changes for good.

The key to these small changes is to be realistic with yourself about your current lifestyle, and to find viable components of that lifestyle that you can make tweaks to long-term.Here are a few examples of ways you can make that fantasy version of your healthy self into a reality.

When it comes to exercise, commit to taking the stairs, commit to making a day like Monday (rain or shine) a workout day.

After committing to one mandatory day of exercise, it will be easier to fit in 2 or three other days in the week when it’s convenient. When thinking about diets–njoy a cheat meal: if you worked hard to stay on course with healthy, clean food, then enjoy a cheat meal. You must keep the cheat meal to a MEAL. Not a whole day, or a whole week of binging

Use this commitment to not just cut out the foods you love, but as an opportunity to try new foods. Eating chicken, brown rice, and veggies can be monotonous, challenge yourself to cook up tasty, new, and exciting healthy meals.

For diabetics, set a schedule so that your basal rates are adjusted not only 1 or 2 hours prior to a workout but also a few hours following your workout.The best way for your blood sugars to be consistent is if your pre-game/pre-workout meals are consistent.For a full week once every two months, keep extremely diligent notes of your blood sugars and activities. Release your inner perfectionist. This will allow you to make easier generalizations in the future.


Outside of these quick tips, keep looking for ways to become more disciplined and reach your goals. Coming to Lyfebulb and becoming part of our online community is the first step. Together we can continue the fight!

“Going Low” An Athlete’s Perspective

It’s the reason you keep juice in the refrigerator, a Gatorade in your gym bag, and candy in your girlfriend’s purse. “Going low” can be described as that strange, empty feeling pitted in the center of your core that leaves you anxious, irritable, and even worse, sweaty.

‘Hypoglycemia’ is simply defined as the condition in which your concentration of blood glucose is lower than normal. For most diabetics, we start to experience symptoms somewhere in the 70’s or lower (mg/dl). While this condition can be experienced for a multitude of reasons, every diabetic is well aware that they are especially at risk during exercise.

For athletes, the fear is not so much worrying about the hazards of going too low. We all know the consequences: if left untreated, low blood sugars can lead to seizures or coma. But while it may sound illogical, incomprehensible, and fairly reckless to non-athletes, these serious dangers associated with our blood sugar dipping too low are not usually our main concerns.

The diabetic athlete just hates being told “No.” It is the desire to avoid sitting out of an activity that usually motivates us to stay above normal blood glucose ranges.

We don’t want to have to stop exercising.

We don’t want to sit out of practice.

And we certainly don’t want to distance ourselves any further from our friends and teammates.

The diabetic take on FOMO (“Fear of Missing Out”) creates an unintended consequence: diabetic athletes often overcompensate with high blood sugars.

In the ultimate case of shortsightedness, we sometimes take the immediate benefits while disregarding long term detriments we tax onto our bodies. I know for sure that if I trend a little higher than I should, I may not feel awesome, but I certainly won’t have to sit out. It was this careless thinking that led to me walking around with an A1C pushing double digits for a stretch in my high school football days. My brash justification for carrying sky-high blood sugar levels was that my team couldn’t possibly afford to have me sitting out for any extended period of time. I completely ignored any long-term effects I was causing myself, let alone the extremely clouded judgment and sensation of nausea I experienced when I was on the field.

Thankfully, I eventually saw the error in my ways. While maintaining a blood sugar level in the 200’s did indeed keep from me from going too low, I was sluggish, disoriented, and often a liability to my teammates. I came to realize that playing sports at a blood sugar level only slightly above my normal resting range actually provided me with more energy and allowed me to perform at my full potential. Meticulous preparation and consistent glucose level testing in order to remain in the proper range instantly became preferable to dumping high amounts of sugar into my body before game time and simply hoping for the best.

As diabetics, we have to resist the temptation of immediate security and trust ourselves to find solutions more beneficial to our bodies in the long run. I challenge each one of us to continue to explore the blood glucose levels in which we feel comfortable exercising. Obviously it is imperative that you exercise extreme caution, as there will undoubtedly be challenges along the way in the form of going too low. But in my experience, it was when I truly challenged the lower end of my higher “exercise BG range” that I overcame a lot of my fears about “going low” and ultimately flourished. I found a new range where I experienced a ton of energy, a clear mind, and a higher conditioning level. While you definitely want to exercise at a blood glucose level above your normal, resting level, the key is to find a level that’s not too high.

Through Lyfebulb, consulting with your doctors, and your own safe experimentation, you have the ability to work out and keep up with (or surpass) the insulin producing, non-diabetic athletes in the world. All it takes is patience, persistence, and dedication to the cause.