Folsom Triathlons

Race Report: Folsom Triathlons

June 13, 2016

Race: Folsom Triathlons

Distance: Sprint

Location: Lake Natoma, Folsom CA

Date: 06/05/2016

“Courage isn’t having the strength to go on – it is going on when you don’t have strength.” – Napoléon Bonaparte

I knew RA, (Rheumatoid Arthritis), had plans to reap havoc on my body the night before my race when I went to stand up from the sitting position and pain in my right knee almost had me laid out on the floor. Pain all night in my knee and in my hips poured into race morning. RA was like “Oh you’re racing today? That’s cute.”

Hence the hardest part sometimes about being a triathlete with RA – no matter how hard I train, or how prepared I am going into race day, it can all be derailed in seconds without reason or warning. When this happens I have two options: 1. Don’t race, or 2. Don’t let the disease detour me from chasing my dreams.

Because I’m headstrong, I usually choose the later. (Through 13 years of battling RA, I’ve learned what I can push through and what I cannot. However, I can only use my best judgment – again the disease is completely unpredictable and I must suffer the consequences regardless.)

This race held lots of firsts for me: first race of the season, first one post total wrist fusion, first one racing my sponsored bike, and first race having a coach. This triathlon season I’ve been working harder than ever before, and was stoked to start racing.

At the same time, I was also extremely nervous. All the normal race nerves, but I was mostly nervous about my new wrist in the swim leg. Any triathlete would understand why – it can be violent in the water. Getting kicked, hit, and even swam over is a normal occurrence in triathlon. If I were to take a hard enough hit to my wrist in the swim, it could’ve forced me to pull out of the race or even worse break my wrist.

Dina 2Training details leading up to race day:

My main event is Olympic distance triathlons, so my training thus far has been focused mainly around Olympic. I’m usually training 6 days a week, (with a couple of those days having two workouts on the same day), and one rest day per week. As a triathlete with RA and many other chronic pain conditions, I sometimes require additional rest days and also changing scheduled workouts to adapt to how my body is feeling on any given day. This is a constant struggle which results in me feeling like I’m not able to train at my “full” potential.

Nutrition leading up to race day and on race day:

As far as day to day nutrition goes, I eat to help treat symptoms and to help control my disease. For me, this means lots of whole, natural, real foods: veggies, fruits, chicken, fish, nuts, whole grains, etc. This diet matches up nicely with a triathletes diet/ nutrition needs. Win- win! When it comes to nutritional supplements for training and racing, my trusted favorite is Hammer Nutrition products. The regulars in my regime are: premium insurance caps, mito caps, tissue rejuvenator, race caps supreme, endurolytes, heed, recoverite, and hammer gel.Dina 3

Race day:

Woke up earlier than normal to give myself enough time to ice my flaring knee and use my tens unit before leaving the house. Arrived at the race venue shortly after transition area opened and hobbled around setting up my gear and bike before the rush of triathletes. Then found a bench that I could put my leg up and ice my knee/hips. Got to ice a couple of times before getting my wetsuit on.

Decided that it would be wise of me to get in the water much earlier than my wave start for two reasons: 1.So that I could see how it felt to swim with my wrist brace on (I hadn’t swam with it before, and wearing it was the only way I could help protect it), and 2. Let my body get accumulated to the cold temperature to avoid lower back cramping and spasms (my body doesn’t play nice with cold water. See my Nationals race report).Dina 4

Started the swim towards the back of the pack and to the outside, but I still took some kicks to my wrist. They hurt, but not enough to pull me out of the race. It was enough though to slow me down out of fear. I was scared the entire swim, which forced me to swim very cautiously and slowly. Swimming isn’t my strong suit anyway, so I tried not to let it upset me too much and focused on playing catch up on the bike.

In T1 I struggled trying to get my wrist brace off so I could get the wetsuit off. Then I had to put the brace back on for the bike leg, just in case of a crash or fall (plus I promised my Ortho surgeon I would). The bike mount area was a mad house – way too small of a space for the number of people racing and it was on an incline which made it a total recipe for disaster. Again, I was scared that I would crash right there and hurt my wrist so I waited for a clearing so that I could take off as safely as possible.

By the way, I had started my Garmin as a swim instead of in multisport mode and I didn’t realize it until after the race. So when I got going at a good pace on the bike, I started to scroll through my watch looking for my pace but none of the stats were making sense. I had no clue what my speed was, how much time had elapsed, or what mile I was on. My knee was hurting but overall I was feeling pretty strong one the bike, so I tried to pace off of how I felt. I ended up asking someone what mile we were on about half way in. Towards the last couple miles I started recognizing the course and knew I was almost done. I sped up trying to empty the tank, but when I got off the bike I felt like I could’ve gone harder.

Dina 5Running has always been my strong suit, at least it had been until this race. As soon as I started out on the run course the impact killed my flaring knee and hips. The heat also started to hit me. Very quickly I started to realize all the things I did wrong leading up to the run. For starters, I took my pain meds before the race for my knee and hips – I never do this. I didn’t hydrate enough to account for the pain meds being in my system. On the bike, I forgot to take my electrolytes plus I didn’t drink enough water.

I believe the combination of these things played a role in causing me to get heat exhaustion on the run leg. The pain was slowing me down significantly, but the heat exhaustion brought it to a whole other level of suck. I remember getting the chills and then goosebumps – shortly after that I threw up. The rest of the run I felt nauseous, disoriented, and sharp pains in my knee and hips each time my feet struck the ground.

Once I crossed the finish line I hobbled straight to the med tent where I tried to regulate my body temperature, hydrate, and ice my pained joints. I was so disappointed in my run, but was relieved that I finished. After such a grueling experience, I was thinking that I’d be lucky to break top 5 in my AG. My boyfriend and I were just about to pack up to go home when they posted printed results. Out of curiosity I checked, and was shocked to see that I placed 2nd in my AG!Dina 6

Podium? How did that happen?! Missed 1st by 2 mins, and also missed a qualifying spot for USA Triathlon Nationals. That was a bummer for me because my run was what caused me to miss 1st. Hard pill to swallow because I’ve never had such a horrible run before (for some perspective, I run faster in training runs). Aside from the run, I managed to clock my fastest bike split I’ve ever had – which landed me at the fastest split in my AG. Overall (OAF), I ranked 15th in my division.

None of this would have been possible without my amazing coach Stephanie Artis who pushes me outside of my comfort zone, and my incredible sponsors: Hammer Nutrition, Rudy Project, Love The Pain, Kinetic Cycles, Pearl Izumi, and Team Freeplay – thank you all for believing in me. Can’t wait for the next one!

Dina 7Dina Neils – Titanium Triathlete

CreakyJoints SpokesAthlete



IG: @titaniumtriathlete


Twitter: @titaniumtri

7 Ways that Sacred Bathing Can Support Your Health & Wellness


No water, no life. No blue, no green.

-Sylvia Earle

Bathing has long been said to be good for our physical health. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that diabetes patients who spent thirty minutes in a tub of warm water lowered their blood sugar almost thirteen percent. Japanese research revealed that a ten-minute soak can improve the health of men and women. Bathing is good for the immune system and it decreases stress.

There’s a long history of using bathing medicinally.  The term “balneotherapy” relates to spa treatment, hot baths and natural vapor baths.  Resorts add minerals or essential oils to naturally-occurring hot springs.  Balneotherapy is used for illnesses like arthritis, skin conditions and fibromyalgia. The term “hydrotherapy” is a part of medicine that uses water for pain relief and treatment. It uses the temperature and pressure of water therapeutically, to stimulate blood circulation and treat symptoms. Hydrotherapy often includes water jets, underwater massage and mineral baths or jacuzzis.

Four years ago I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Triple negative breast cancer and I had to go through a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation for 8 months.  This was a challenging period and it brought a few things into clear focus for me: my self-care, my need for continued relaxation and a newfound desire to connect daily to Spirit.  This was challenging as a busy psychologist and mother of two kids under 4 at the time.  At first I could not take hot baths after radiation but after I started to recover, I was able to take regular baths again.

I found that the one place that my husband and kids left me alone, was in the bathroom.  I was able to train them to give me 25 minutes of silence in there.  This became my, ‘me time’ to integrate visualization, prayer, meditation and more.  I developed this daily ritual and came to call it sacred bathing.  This was a regular healing time and dream time.

Today most of us are under chronic stress, especially those of us with chronic illness.  It is so important to take this time out for yourself.  A sacred bath is your spiritual and emotional hygiene.

To create a sacred bath, clear your bathroom of extra clutter, light a candle, put in some Epsom salts, essential oils and an appropriate crystal into your bath water.  You call in Spirit (whether that’s your Higher Self, God, the Goddess or your angels) to receive guidance while in the sacred waters.  Then you make a prayer and state your intention.  You relax in silence, do a specific meditation around your intention and listen for guidance.  Afterwards, you journal about any inspiration you receive.  This normally takes 25 minutes.

Below are 7 ways that taking a sacred bath can help you when you are experiencing chronic illness:

  1. It Connects You to Spirit So that You Feel Supported: When you feel lost or alone it can be helpful to connect to your Spirit and Higher Self. This wise part of you can see the bigger picture.  It moves you beyond your ego and limitations so that you reconnect with your essence and remember that your Spirit is stronger than your body.  This may not be true for everyone but it was very helpful to me.  If I had a difficult surgery it would help me to know that my angels were with me.  You can regularly connect to your Divine team through meditation and prayer.
  2. It Helps You to Be Present: Your sacred bath is a place to just be. In this sacred space you leave the past and future behind.  You don’t have to think about that next doctor’s appointment or procedure.  You can just relax, luxuriate in the essential oils and Epsom salt and surrender to the moment.  When you practice this regularly in your sacred baths it can carry over as a reminder to be really present in each moment, outside the bath too.
  3. It Shifts You from Fear into Love: When you have chronic illness you can spend a lot of time in fear.  When I was undergoing a lumpectomy surgery, chemo and radiation I was often concerned about getting an infection, being tired or in pain.  Each procedure had a variety of complications.  I knew that it wasn’t good for my immune system and mental health to spend a lot of time in worry.  So, taking a sacred bath can be a time to wash all that fear down the drain and focus on soaking up the unconditional love of Spirit.  You can use that time to focus on all the love in your life and what you are grateful for.  Again, this practice can later be carried over into your days as well.
  4. It Shifts You Into Your Healing Nervous System: Often we handle stressors while in our Sympathetic nervous system, which handles “fight or flight.” We prepare for defense, followed by exhaustion. In contrast, our Parasympathetic nervous system rebuilds our body, stimulates digestion and aids physical and emotional healing.  We enter this nervous system when we relax, like when we take a sacred bath.  We can practice making this shift regularly in our sacred bath and then notice which nervous system we are in during our daily lives as well.
  5. It Washes Away Limiting Beliefs, Centering You in A Positive Frame of Mind: We all have fears, limiting beliefs and moods that stop us.  In a sacred bath you picture all that negativity going down the drain, so that you’re only soaking up love around your intention.  This energetic shift often leaves you feeling peaceful and inspired.  This allows you to feel more hopeful instead of focusing on what might go wrong.
  6. It Connects You to Your Body: When we are going through chronic illness often we feel angry at our bodies for inconveniencing us and causing us pain. We may feel disconnected from our bodies and feel like doctors and people are working on them from the outside.  But, no one affects our body more than us.  Your sacred bath is your time to connect to your body and to ask it what it needs and listen for guidance.  Sometimes we don’t make this time to slow down and listen.  You can create regular time to hear and meet your body’s requests for more play, sleep, laughter, nature etcetera.  You can also picture yourself being healthy, radiant and energetic and anchor those feelings in your body.
  7. It lets You Experience Pleasure & Relaxation Instead of Pain: Again, when you are chronically ill you may have to undergo surgeries, shots and painful procedures.  Sometimes you may generalize this and feel like your whole life is about pain. Taking a sacred bath is pleasurable and sacred time for you to love yourself and your life again.  You need to put in time for self-care, for dreaming positive things about your future and to look forward to on a regular basis.

I hope this process that has helped me will also be helpful to you.  Remember that you are the hero/heroine of your story so you need to take good care of yourself and keep moving forward.

My Best in Love,


Alone Time


Alone time.

One of my favorite questions to ask my clients as a survivorship coach is: “What will it take for you to care for yourself in the way that you care for others?”

What comes up for you when you hear that question? I see a common theme among survivors, including myself in the past, of not exercising self-love and self-care and always seeing the need to care for others first. There are times when we don’t even know what serving ourselves really looks like until we dig deep to find the answers. Yes, for me a blowout and getting a mani-pedi makes me feel better, but that is external. What makes us feel good on the inside?

Life is a continual journey for all of us. Over the last few years I have realized for myself that if I don’t do something for myself on a daily basis that feeds my soul and frees me up internally, I get angry or resentful later in the day. It took me a long time to realize that all of the excuses and stories I was creating in my head for not having some alone time were detrimental to my health. Some of my excuses were: “I have to clean the house before I go out for my walk.” Or “I just need to get this file completed or that phone call made before I went for my walk.” Little did I know these were excuses I was making based on old patterns and beliefs that went something like – you need to take care of everything else before you take care of yourself.  This is a load of BS!

During the winter months I got off track from taking my walks because it was too cold out, but when spring and summer came I knew something was off.  I needed to take a step back from all of the “doing” that I was involved and just Be with myself and nature. When I started going for my walks ALONE again, I felt so much lighter and I felt like my whole world began to open up again.  It was the physical part that I needed to light me up again and just being outside and one with the Universe and throwing all of my heaviness out to the Universe was what finally opened me up again. I began to feel clearer and lighter again. I just have to stay committed and not revert to my old patterns. We all need reminders.

What can you do today to recharge your inner being to get back to who you are at your core?

I look forward to your comments. Xo Gina


Gina Costa CPC, ELI-MP

Certified Professional Coach


New Beginnings Coaching Services, LLC



Even if you’ve never done a single push up in your entire life, during this quick and informative video, you will learn exactly how to perform a push up from beginner to advanced; no excuses! By the time the video is done, you will have everything you need to get started immediately.

The only requirement is making the time to fit it into your day. The good news is it will take less than 5 minutes, and we all have 5 minutes to spare, especially for building our strength and giving ourselves the gift of health! The feelings of empowerment that come with seeing our physical abilities and strength grow are indescribable. Choose to give yourself that gift of confidence today!







Yoga is the Magic Word


I woke up at 4 am this morning to a Blood glucose reading of 4.9. Not really a big low for someone living with diabetes, but low for me, especially because I know my body. I know that if I go back to sleep I’ll be too low. I’ve been on long-acting Insulin for over a year now and I still feel like I’m on a learning curve, discovering what food trigger highs, how much insulin triggers lows and using diet and exercise to keep me stable.

It all takes discipline. Something that comes quite naturally to me. When people ask me where I find the motivation to stay so focused the answer is simple, Yoga.  My Yoga practice keeps me sane. I owe my passion for yoga to my teachers. As a young adult, I lived in a small town in Australia and took up yoga with two yoginis who had studied with Patthabi Jois in India. The practice they shared was like a dance. It transformed my body and shaped my mind and taught me that I could achieve anything. I couldn’t get on that mat early enough. It’s all I wanted to do and the only thing that really made me happy. I wanted to be like them and achieve what they did. Their mastery made me want to excel. I was competitive and I still am. But now I compete with myself. It’s like a game. I wonder some times if its dysfunctional to always strive to do better.

I often use the word hate. My partner is always pointing it out. He says no one should hate anything and insists things can be uncomfortable or challenging, but that hate is too strong a word.  Nevertheless, I hate having diabetes. I hate having to check my blood sugar, not being able to enjoy a variety of foods without fear of lows or highs. I hate that with all the new technologies there is no definitive cure and I hate going to sleep at night with the fear that I won’t wake up in the morning. I hate that this disease strikes children and that it’s so random and unpredictable. I hate, hate, hate diabetes!

There I’ve said it.

I truly feel that the expression of anger is a healthy emotion. My anger has helped me to accept my diagnosis.

And anger keeps me disciplined.

The other side of discipline is relaxation, the essence of yoga. With every moment of mastery in a posture, there’s a deep sense of letting go. As one muscle tenses the opposing muscles releases. The postural practice is one of tension and flexion, opening and closing, day and night, feminine and masculine. It soothes and invigorates and constantly seeks harmony. It’s the perfect complement to any challenge.

A yoga practice demands your attention, it pulls you out of the need to identify with all the thoughts, worries and anxieties about your condition. It gives you a mental and emotional break from living day in and day out with diabetes. Wherever you place your attention during the practice that’s where the energy goes.

So what kinds of practices work? Is it the postures? The breath? Being mindful? In my experience, it’s all of the above.  To practice correctly you have to execute the pose, breathe deeply and be completely mindful. It doesn’t matter what pose you do. If you are there, the magic happens. In fact, it’s impossible for you to be absent. Because without you there, present, there would be no yoga.

Yoga these days can be misrepresented. It’s splashed all over the media as something that young vegan, smoothie drinking girls do in bikinis on the beach.  Don’t get me wrong. I think those girls are beautiful, but that’s not yoga. The practice of yoga is for everyone, any size, any age. There is a practice that’s perfect for you. I encourage you to find a teacher you gel with and a practice that feels right.

Inspired to get motivated or want yoga to help lower levels? Choose an active practice like power or vinyasa yoga.

Want to relax, restore and rebuild your adrenals? Try yin or a slower form like hatha.

Ready to develop discipline? Choose a style of yoga that has the same set sequence. The mind loves repetition and routine.

Wanting to come to terms with your diagnosis? Explore nonphysical styles like Bhakti or Karma yoga. Both Bhakti and Karma yoga are styles which ask you to give of yourself in devotion or selfless service. When we step away from what’s in it for us and give. We forget our ourselves in the offering.

Want something practical you can do right here and now to get the ball rolling?

Try this quick breathing and moving vinyasa:

Sit in a comfortable cross legged seat, straddle a bolster, or if you have any knee or lower back issues sit in a chair with your feet firmly planted on the floor.

Interlace your fingers at the center of your chest


Inhale and extend your arms out in front


Keep inhaling and reach your arms towards the sky with the palms facing upwards. It all happens in one continuous movement.


Exhale, unclasp the fingers and release the arms down by your sides


Inhale take your arms behind you, clasp the fingers with the palms facing each other and reach your knuckles towards the ground


Exhale relax your hands on your thighs with the palms facing upwards


Repeat this sequence five to 10 times.

When you finish the vinyasa sit quietly observing the sensations in your upper body and notice the breath becoming calm and imperceptible

You can do this sequence any time you need more energy, or to get motivated to do a longer practice.

Rachel’s Bio:

Rachel Zinman is an international yoga teacher with over 30 years experience who was first diagnosed with diabetes in 2008 at the age of 42.  It took nearly six years for her to accept and understand her diagnosis of type 1 LADA diabetes because she refused to believe that she couldn’t cure herself with yoga and alternative therapies. Her personal journey from denial to acceptance led her to discover that even though yoga couldn’t cure her condition it could definitely help her to manage the volatility of the disease. Now her mission is to give back and share how yoga helps her to manage her health each and every day. To find out more about Rachel and her new book on Yoga for Diabetes visit and


Punch Fitness


My routine at Punch Fitness is obviously driven by my personal trainer, Villi Bello, but I do influence him somewhat by indicating what I want to target.

Last week I came to the gym after 10 days of intense traveling for Lyfebulb and I was jet-lagged and exhausted!

We decided to do more gentle work, but still get a good cardio and strength mix in.

We began the workout with boxing while weights were attached to my arms, the elliptical machine, and lots of exercises involving my core and arms.

I think the plank is such an optimal work-out since it includes a large part of the body at once, and Villi asked me to do it one-legged with the other leg moving to the side and upwards (as pictured above).

I also enjoy the TRX machine, which we used for lunges, arm bends and simple thigh exercises.

We did two kinds of crunches, regular ones to the center, and ones where you twist from side to side.

Finally, we did push-ups, on the knees and on my feet – with two legs on the floor and for a few brutal seconds, on just one leg at a time!

Villi always finishes my sessions with some nice stretches and asks me to drink water before I leave the gym – my jet-lag was gone and I ran outside into the beautiful spring weather!

Upper Body 250 Blast


In this workout, we focus mainly on upper body exercises.  Because of the high amount of sets you will also see an increase in your heart rate, making this cardiovascular as well.  If you’re looking to get the most out of this workout, I’d recommend taking as little rest as possible.  Push yourself to get through as many rounds as you can, with little rest in between!

Mixing up your workouts is essential to getting lasting results.  When working with my training clients, I like to use a combination of strength, cardio, and interval training.  The Upper Body 250 Blast is an example of something I’d use in a session and would pair with some interval cardio training to get a full-body pump.

Upper Body 250 Blast

10 Dips

10 Push-Ups

10 DB Shoulder Presses

10 DB Bicep Curls

10/side Rotating Planks


Dips: With your hands shoulder-width apart and fingers facing towards your back, use a bench to hold your body weight right at your waist.  Your feet will be in front of you on the ground, slightly bent to support your body.  Slowly lower your body until your shoulder joints are below your elbows and push back up until your elbows are nearly straight.  Repeat for a full 10 repetitions.

Push-up: Start in a high plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders.  Lower your body, making sure to keep your back flat and a neutral neck.  Push back up to high plank.  A modification for this is to lower your knees to the floor instead of being on your toes.  Repeat for a full 10 repetitions.

Dumbbell (DB) Shoulder Press: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and begin with your arms at 90 degrees, palms facing forward.  Press dumbbells straight up until arms are nearly straight.  Come back down to 90 degrees and repeat for a full 10 repetitions.

Dumbbell (DB) Bicep Curls: Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand and palms facing forward at your sides.  Keeping your arms stationary, curl the weights up towards your shoulder and slowly lower.  Repeat for a full 10 repetitions.

Rotating Planks: Start in a high plank position.  Rotate your hips, shoulders and feet while raising one arm towards the ceiling.  Rotate back to the starting position and repeat on the other side.  Do this motion on both sides for 10 repetitions each.

Aubrey Taylor Health & Fitness:

IG – @athealthfitness

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Twitter – @HealthFitnessAT


Fit Fabulous Bride:

IG – @fitfabulousbride

FB – Fit Fabulous Bride

Twitter (same as ATHF)

From Obese to Athlete with T1D: Turning Adversity into Advantage


When the diagnosis of T1D hits, we all go through a similar chain of heavy, sometimes crushing emotional reactions. Shock, disbelief, sadness, anger, denial, pity, confusion, and fear of the unknown. After the initial lessons on when, how, and how much to inject/bolus, and how to check our blood sugar levels, most of us get sent on our way with not a single word regarding the fact that we need to take the proper time to grieve; to mourn the loss of the person we were before T1D altered ourreality forever. Addressing the intense emotional aspect of diagnosis and living with a chronic disease is very necessary and often overlooked by many HPCs.

On August 25, 1994, the day after my 12th birthday and 3 years after my diagnosis, my father passed away unexpectedly at the age of 55. Combined with the unaddressed emotional fallout of living with diabetes, his sudden death sent me into a deep depression fueled by binge eating and feeling completely helpless and hopeless. I ballooned up to 200 pounds, and my A1C stayed around 13% for the entirety of my teenage life.

After years of introspection, and many attempts at healing my broken relationship with food and exercise, my diabetes, and my mindset, I finally came to a powerful realization that it wasn’t my diabetes that was the problem, it was the choices I was making around my self-care that were slowly killing me. I was knowingly killing myself through my choices, and I wasn’t reflecting the person I felt I was on the inside to the outside world. I knew I needed to change and finally begin embracing my power of self-love.

And so the journey from obese to athlete began. What also began was the first intentional acknowledgement of the fact that I never processed my diagnosis emotionally in the ways we all need to in order to move forward, make progress, and truly love and accept our perfectly imperfect selves.

Why Knowing Isn’t Enough

We all know how important our nutrition habits are in determining our quality of health and life. We all KNOW that we should be eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods. We all KNOW that processed, high-carb, high-sodium foods damage our bodies and wreak havoc on our blood sugars. But knowing is not enough; common knowledge is not common practice! Without consistent ACTION, changes simply will not last.

I didn’t lose 65 pounds and mend my depression and binge eating addiction overnight. It took years of trying, failing, and occasionally succeeding.When something didn’t work I had to pick up the pieces, examine what worked and what didn’t, and move on to the next plan of action. I tried many diets. Some aspects of each I liked and some I didn’t, so I took what worked for me, reassessed, and kept trying, eventually building my own diet that I’ve written a book about! Check out Unleash Your Inner Diabetes Dominator on Amazon!

Make Up Your Mind…It Will Be Hard and It Will Be Worth It

Making life-altering changes is not easy, and to sound as cliché as possible, in order to have something you’ve never had, you have to become someone you’ve never been. In order to succeed at changing our bodies, we must first change our minds.Optimal health is a life-long journey that we GET TO be on if we so choose.

Just like we must mourn the loss of our old selves when we get diagnosed, we must also consciously acknowledge the emotional side of change if we want our changes to be sustainable. We must understand, accept, and embrace that we are unhappy with some aspects of who we are now (just part of being human), and that we are ready to let go and create new habits to shape our next level.

Our Minds and Bodies Are Always Connected

Once I began to feel confident about my nutrition choices in my early 20s, I began to take interest in exercise for the first time in my life. Just like learning about nutrition, I had to learn about exercise; what I liked and didn’t like, and how each type of exercise made me feel.

Fast forward to 2010, I became a certified Personal Trainer whose love for physical fitness grew from non-existent into a burning passion, proving that people can change drastically at any time in their lives once the decision to change is made. Now I am blessed to teach others how to think, eat, and move in ways that allow them to achieve a quality of health and life they previously thought unattainable, the same way I once thought about myself.

Change is the price of surviving and thriving. Change gets a bad rep, but in reality is one of the only things we can be sure will always happen consistently. When we embrace change rather than fear it, amazing things begin to happen.

Lessons Learned

My top three lessons for sustainable transformations are: 1) we must embrace the power of self-love before we can make a meaningful and lasting changes, 2) we must recognize that although we can’t control our diabetes, we can control the choices we make when it comes to our self-care in order to live the healthiest, most vibrant life possible, and 3) we are truly powerful when we acknowledge and participate in our diabetes community.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help; managing a chronic disease is not something that is meant to be done alone, and we are not alone. Asking for the help we need is a true sign of strength.Always be willing to share the knowledge you’ve gained through your own experiences by acting as a peer mentor to those who are willing to ask for help. When we embrace the mindset of service and contribution, we realize that we are so much stronger than we think we are!

Meet Daniele Hargenrader

Swimming to Stay Fit


Swimming is a perfect sport to get fit because it helps to use all the muscles of the body. Swimming ideally should be practiced in the sea where you can get benefit of the sea water and the sun. But to get fit you cannot wait for every summer, or to live near the sea! Good swimming pools now exist in many hotels, which means you have access while you travel for business or pleasure, and are also in many fitness centers.

Swimming is also very well suggested for people that have suffered injuries, and in particular for those with issues with the knees and the ankles. A lot of people that have physical problems that cause them to be unable to run, can very swim every day or at least several times a week.

Personally, I have not been able to run well in the past few years. I used to run marathons, play squash and basketball; now I swim at least three times a week.

My training schedule consists of 45/50 minutes of swimming divided in 4 modules as follows:

  • Ten minutes of crowl style starting slowly and the increasing in speed
  • Five minutes of walking in the water slowly
  • Ten minutes of butterfly style also starting slowly and then increasing the speed
  • Five minutes of walking in the water taking both legs to the high level of the chest together in constant action
  • Ten minutes of back stroke always at the same speed
  • Five minutes of walking fast in the water.

I also used to do a few laps in the pool under the water to improve my apnea breathing system. I have trained as a usual scuba diver, so you should be already be trained to do so.

After this period of 44/50 minutes of swimming I suggest, when you come out of the water, to always do a session of stretching for 5/10 minutes.

Remember to use water goggles and ear protection when you swim.

After swimming always drink at least a glass of water in order to hydrate your body.

And finally have fun while swimming!


Simple moves for life – a yoga pose in 7 steps


At 19, I started yoga tough. I couldn’t touch my toes. My hips were tight and my upper back and chest were so muscle bound I could hardly breathe. To top it off I was highly competitive. When I looked around me and saw people doing arm balances, or sitting in wide open splits I was jealous. My need to be the best drove me hard and I pushed myself to the edge. I treated my yoga class like boot camp. But doing it tough isn’t all good. I overstretched, injured myself and stressed my nervous system. I had yogi burnout and I was only 25.

Not long after I fell pregnant, and with the changes in my body came a new perspective. I realized that slow and gentle isn’t a cop out. Instead it’s nurturing and it heals. I began to explore postures that opened me without effort. I rested in between sets. I allowed my body to guide me through the practice.

30 years later I have refined my approach and put together sequences that are easy to implement. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have or how open or tight you are. If you keep it simple and build in stages eventually the body will be open and strong.

One of the central poses of a yoga practice is mastering the down dog position. It’s quite a challenging posture because it requires that you have strong wrists, open shoulders and hamstrings. and a natural arch in your lower back. When most people first attempt this pose they’re arms start to ache, their hamstrings scream and they think what’s the point!  Working into down dog in 7 steps is the key. Each step along the way is a pose in its own right. You can perform the sequence in one fluid flow or just do one a day, one day at a time. Eventually over time you’ll feel light and open in the final posture and be able to easily hold it for 10 breaths or more.

Pose 1

Start in Child pose take your seat to your heels and have your belly against your thighs. Reach your arms out in front and lift your elbows, Breath deeply so you can feel the back of your body breathing.

Pose 1

Pose 2

Come into cat pose on all fours. Have your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Breathe and relax here. This is a really simple way to strengthen your wrists and open your chest. When you have held the pose for 5-10 breaths return to child pose.Pose 2

Pose 3

Come into half dog. This is a perfect variation to down dog. Make sure your hips and knees are in line as you stretch you arms out in front. Place a blanket under your knees if they are sensitive. Rest your forehead on the floor. Breathe deeply into your chest. Hold for 5-10 breaths and then come back into the cat position, send the seat back to the heels and rest in child pose.Pose 3

Pose 4

If down dog is too challenging and you can’t do half dog because you have knee pain or it’s hard to get down to the floor, place your hands on blocks underneath your shoulders. Extend your spine and breathe. This is also a great variation if you have high blood pressure because the head stays level with the heart. If you don’t have blocks you can also do this with your hands at the wall with the arms extended. If the hamstrings are tight bend the knees.Pose 4

Pose 5

Come into dolphin pose. This pose is great variation to down dog if you have any kind of carpal tunnel problems or weak wrists. It also works strongly to open the chest.  Start the posture on your hands and knees in the cat position, then place your forearms on the floor directly underneath where your hands were. Make sure your elbows are shoulder width apart. Clasp your hands together inhale and lift your sitting bones to the ceiling. make sure you draw your chest towards your thighs. Bend your knees in the posture if your hamstrings are tight. Stay here for a few breaths and come down to child pose.Pose 5

Pose 6

Start in child pose. Inhale and lift your sitting bones high to the ceiling. Keep your knees bent which helps to lengthen the spine especially if you are tight in the hamstrings. Make sure your feet are no wider than your inner hips. Bring your weight towards your hips away from your hands. Feel your spine long and extended. Take a few breaths here and come back and rest again in child pose.Pose 6


Pose 7

To come into the full down dog position straighten your legs, make sure there is no pressure in your lower back or pain in the hamstrings. If there is, bend the knees again. Push the floor away from your hands sending the weight towards your hips. Engage your thigh muscles and breathe deeply into your chest. If you feel tightness behind the shoulders round your upper spine a little to relieve the pressure. Hold for 10 breaths unless you feel fatigued. Come down and rest in child pose.Pose 7

2015 Favourite Five

Melbourne’s mercury is currently set at 39 degrees celsius and there are no shortage of reminders that 2016 is only hours away. 2015 has been a whirlwind of a year. Challenges, blood, sweat and tears littered the way of achieving milestones. Right now, I’m breathing a massive breath of relief for surviving another year and feeling super proud of all that I have accomplished in 2015. Here are my 2015 favourite five.

  1. Passing my PhD confirmation.
    • A huge milestone for me in my PhD journey – being “confirmed” means that my project is on track and supported by my university and school. The process included submitting a detailed research plan and presenting my project to a panel of internal and external researchers who have expertise in my research topic.
    • > Read about how I look after my mental health here.
  2. Travelling to Brussels, Vancouver and Adelaide for diabetes.
    • My first European and Canadian trip! I’ve never really considered myself bitten by the travel bug. Of course I want to see the world and I consider myself to be incredibly lucky to do this now while championing for diabetes whether it be through research or the IDF Young Leaders Programme.
    • > Read about my reflections from my Brussels trip here.
  3. CGM.
    • Diabetes technology is ever evolving but is still out of reach for many due to cost. The convenience and peace of mind of being able to see trends in my sugars is a luxury I am grateful for.
    • > Read about my experiences of wearing a sensor on my arm here.
  4. Continuing to keep active.
    • Exercise or going to the gym is something I go through phrases off. Keeping it a constant throughout the year has been a struggle. Funnily enough my Fitbit has been a key motivator is getting my butt in gear.
    • > Read about how somedays a sleep in trumps gym here.
  5. Being elected as president-elect of the IDF YLD Programme.
    • I am humbled and honoured to help lead the Young Leader in Diabetes Programme towards bigger and better successes over the next few years. In Vancouver, every Young Leader I met and spoke to was filled with such intense passion to help others, it’s now up to us as executive and regional council to turn their projects into successes.
    • > Read my Thank You post to all the incredible Young Leaders here.

Here’s to a productive 2016 with new experiences, friendships, challenges and milestones. 2016, I’m ready for you!