Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Case of the Food Diary Guilts

Yesterday I wrote about going to the diabetes centre for my dietician/nurse check-in. I talked about printing out two weeks of food data from My Fitness Pal. It's a great way to share my food diary and makes my life much easier.

It also makes me second guess everything I've eaten in the last few days.

Since I'm diligent about putting everything I eat into My Fitness Pal (even on those really bad days), it means that they get to see it too.

So I've had all sorts of conversations in my head about what I should and should not eat this week.

Like the conversation about whether or not I should have that chocolate? If I do, they'll see it. What if they compare the time I ate the chocolate to my blood sugar graphs and see a spike? Maybe I should just save it until next week and then have the chocolate. That way no one will know but me.

No way. I'm totally allowed to have chocolate and, if there is nothing bad in my food diary for two weeks, they won't believe it anyway. Nobody is that good. Have the damn chocolate.

One hour later: bloody hell. My blood sugar is spiking. I'm so going to get in trouble.

Or my daily conversation about nuts.

I often have some nuts as a mid-morning snack. I have a container in my lunch bag with almonds, cashews and walnuts in it. Most days I have five of each which is a great. Add a clementine or two and it's a wonderful snack. Not too calorie-heavy but enough to keep me happily full until lunch.

This week I look at them and wonder if I should have a few more just to show the dietician how diligent I am about trying to get healthy fats into my diet and how much protein I try to pack into a day. Even though it means extra calories which, technically, means that I probably shouldn't have a post-dinner frozen yogurt bar.

Twice this week I brought a big container of chopped veggies for lunch. I mashed up an avocado, poured a healthy amount of Frank's Hot Sauce over it and happily dipped fresh carrots, cucumber, red pepper and cherry tomatoes into it. Follow it up with a cup of Kefir with fruit and it's one of my favourite lunches. Since we didn't have any leftovers in the fridge for me to grab I was more than happy to have two days of this yummy feast for lunch.

Until I thought about how that would look to a dietician. The same breakfast and the same lunch two days in a row. No beans? No quinoa? Not a ton of protein. No variety in the veggies.

Tsk tsk.

Then I remind myself that they are also going to read about my five runs, four cycling workouts and 30k of walking on the golf course. And I decide not to worry one whit about what is or isn't in my food diary.

If they don't like it, well then bring it on!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Type A Diabetes

I have an appointment at the Diabetes Centre next week.

It's one of the appointments where I meet with a nurse and a dietician. Not the appointment when I meet with my endocrinologist.

So no blood work is required but I do need to arrive with a two-week food diary that tracks everything I ate.

When I need to keep a food diary I usually just print out a few pages worth of charts and then carry them in my purse for two weeks, dutifully writing down every little thing I put in my mouth.

This time I decided to see if I could print out reports from My Fitness Pal. My Fitness Pal is the food tracking app that I've been using faithfully now since last December. The one that has been keeping me honest and showing me without a doubt that I need more protein in my diet.

Turns out that you can indeed print from My Fitness Pal.

There's a nice little printable report you can generate that allows you to pick a date range, say the last two weeks, and then print all the food you ate (broken down by meals) as well as all the key nutritional info (carbs, protein, fats, sodium, fibre, sugars etc). It also shows any exercise that I did that day.


Add to that the reports I'm going to print from Diasend to show my blood sugar trends and I'm going to show up there with all sorts of fabulous data for us to comb through together.

Oh, and I can't forget my blood pressure data that I've been tracking for the past few weeks (before and after workouts as well as at random times during the day).

They are either going to love me...or put a note in my file that says "Watch out, this girl has Type A diabetes".

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bruised Forearms

Last Friday I squeezed in a massage between the end of my workday and a 9-hole round of golf with Doug.

I booked it to give my legs some tough love.

Instead, I decided to see if we could improve the condition of my sore elbow.

I explained the symptoms. We discussed the last year - lots of golf, lots of typing and writing at work, lots of swimming. We decided that this issue has been slowly developing over a fairly long period of time. And that my attempts at self-treatment were not really helping much.

It turns out that, when tendonitis happens, it's usually because of tight muscles.

Two seconds into my forearms being worked on, we both knew that we were dealing with very very tight muscles.

My massage therapist focused on trying to loosen up the almost solid muscles in my forearms.

I focused on breathing and trying valiantly (and successfully) not to faint or vomit right there on the bed.

A little while later, my blood sugar had shot up to the high teens and my forearms were red and throbbing.

Through the haze of pain I could tell that they were much improved. So much so that I felt nary a twinge in my elbow.

I left and headed straight for the golf course. Nine holes later, my elbow didn't hurt at all.

My forearms however we so bruised and sore that the wind hurt. The feel of my sweater on my arms hurt. Thinking about my arms hurt. Icing my arms felt fabulous.

The next morning I woke to find visible bruises on both arms. And nary a twinge in my elbow.

And Sunday's 9-hole game with Doug and some friends didn't hurt my elbow one bit.

Forearm massage number two is less than two weeks away. Here's hoping the second time isn't nearly as brutal as the first.

Oh, and I played so well on Sunday that my handicap dropped again. My goal of getting it under 40 by the end of the season may need to be re-evaluated if this keeps up.

Maybe I'll get really ambitious and aim for 35.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Earn Your Easy Week

"Earn your easy week."

Is it weird that about 9k into my 20k long run the voice of Coach Troy, star of my favourite Bending Crank Arms video, popped into my head?

In that video, the toughest cycling video we have, Coach Troy tells us that it is a very challenging workout and suggests that we take the next day as an easy day. He then laughs and says that the day after that and possibly the day after that will also be easy days.

And during the video, when we are holding squats for 60 seconds on trembling legs or when we are pushing through a five-minute, hardest gear on the bike, slog, he will say "earn your easy day".

I've done that video enough to know that I would never do it the day before a long run and I would not be able to do it the day or two after a long run. Bending Crank Arms is a Wednesday workout or it doesn't happen. It's just too tough to tack on to another tough workout.

So on Saturday, as I was nearing the half way point in my long run, his voice popped into my head.

"Earn your easy week."

This 20k run is always a tough one in my half-marathon training cycle. It's the third Saturday in a row of long runs that are getting progressively longer (16, 18 and then 20k). My legs are tired and achy.  My body wants a rest.

It's an important run though. Running 20k on tired legs is part of the training. After that run, I get an easy week of 5k runs and a 10k run next weekend. Then the last part of the training cycle begins.

race day

No run in the training is as tough as that 20k. Even the 22k, which is longer, is easier because I do it after coming off of an easy week. No tired legs to contend with.

So when I started to channel on Saturday Coach Troy, it felt right. Don't just finish the run. Finish the run well. Earn your easy week.

And earn it I did.

I ran 20k. I stopped only once, at 12k, to refill water bottles, check my blood sugar, and assure Doug that I was fine.

Every step I took was a step I ran.

I sipped water or Nuun every kilometre as is my new routine. I kept my heart rate in check. My ears did not plug up. My energy did not flag and my blood pressure before and after the run were almost identical.

I finished my run well and I earned my easy week.

Thanks Coach Troy!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Triathlon Training or the Lack Thereof

Why is it that I am extremely regimented when it comes to half marathon training...

...and yet extremely lackadaisical when it comes to triathlon training?

I have had my long run distances written out for two months now. They are posted on a sticky note in my office. Every Saturday I dutifully run the distance I am supposed to run. Every Monday when I get to work I cross another run off my sticky note.

I have a triathlon the weekend after this half marathon I am training for and I won't be doing anything specific for it other than swimming at the pool and cycling either on the trainer or outside if it ever warms up enough to do so. I don't build up. I don't taper. When I swim I swim for 45-60 minutes and when I cycle I cycle for about an hour. C'est tout.

Maybe it's because a triathlon is three different activities, and none of them too long. I never worry much about finishing because I know that I can fairly easily complete each of those distances on their own. And if I slow down a bit, I have enough energy to complete them in a row.

I could never just go out and wing a half marathon. Run a few 10k runs and then somehow pull off twice that on race day. I've been running this distance for years and have never once thought it was remotely easy to do. Even the training knocks me out.

And yet every triathlon I have done has been done without following any kind of triathlon training plan. I just swim, cycle and run and then, on race day, do them one after the other wearing a special outfit.

Is that weird? Do other people religiously follow triathlon training plans the way I follow half-marathon ones?

I have an Olympic distance triathlon coming up in July. The first and only other time I have done that distance I did not follow a training plan. I just took it one activity at a time and tried not to burn out before the finish. I didn't burn out and it went fairly well.

Should I try following an actual training plan this time? If so, why? I'm open to it of course but if my triathlon goals are to a) finish and finish strong and b) have fun doing it, then do I need to do any more than what I'm doing?

I do all three sports because I like them and they help keep me healthy. I string them all together on race days and call myself a triathlete because it's fun and I really enjoy it.

Why make it any more complicated than that?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Little Trust Goes a Long Way

I was thinking a bit about trust yesterday.

I was thinking about it as I sat at the hair salon having my hair coloured and cut.

I was thinking about it because to both of the wonderful ladies who take care of me, I said the same thing: "I trust you. Do whatever you think would look nice"

I came out with a new chopped hairdo with lovely highlights for spring.

I could have come out hating what they had done but I knew without a doubt that they would have fun but leave me feeling good about what they had done rather than horrified.

Some people I trust completely.

If they give me a running schedule to follow, I follow it without question.

If they recommend a product, I go out and buy the big bottle without even trying it first.

If they tell me to read a book, I buy the hardcover rather than take it out from the library, because I know I'm going to love it.

They know me well enough to know what will and won't work and I know them well enough to know that they know that.

Other people might give me a workout routine and I'll say a sincere thank you and then go home and change it to suit my personal taste.

The thing is that I'm pretty sure if I had my hair cut by someone that I didn't trust and they gave me the exact same haircut that I got yesterday, I probably wouldn't like it as much. But because it was cut by someone who listens, knows me and respects my boundaries, I love it.

So it's not so much about the haircut as the person cutting it.

Strange how that works eh?

All that to say that I got my hair cut yesterday, that I make up my own half marathon training plans but always ask Doug for feedback on them, and that I'll read any book my mom tells me to read.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

(De)hydration experiments

Last Saturday I did my 18k training run for the Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon I'm doing in June.

After the 16k run the week before, when my ears plugged and my blood pressure tanked, I decided to be a little more focused on hydration.

Usually I don't bring any water with me when I'm running 12 or 14k. Once I hit 16k, I still don't usually bring water but Doug often comes out to meet me two thirds of the way through my run and I drink then. In fact, no matter how far I'm running, I only tend to bring water with me when it's a) really hot out or b) Doug isn't meeting me en route with water and snacks.

This time I wore a water belt with a full bottle of water and a full bottle of Nuun (electrolyte mix without any sugar in it).

My watch beeps every kilometre and the plan was to take a sip of water or a sip of Nuun every time it beeped.

I stuck to the plan and, by the time Doug met me at 13k, I was completely out of Nuun and just about out of water. I refilled my water, had two edisks (electrolytes with a bit of sugar) and continued home still drinking every kilometre.

Guess what happened?

I ran 18k without my ears plugging.

My pre-run blood pressure was 112/78 and it was 104/56 when I got home.

Still a drop but much better than the 112/80 to 78/52 drop of the week before.

Also, my heart rate was much easier to keep in check. Instead of struggling to keep it under 170 like I did last week, I was able to keep it under 160 for most of it, only reaching 170 in the last 2 kilometres.

This Saturday I'm slated for 20k so I'll do the experiment again and see how it goes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Elbow Recovery

I've been doing some pretty focused rehab on my right elbow for the last five days in an effort to get this tendonitis under control.

After last Tuesday's golf game, when I realized that things had not improved very much, I went online to see if I could find some at home stretching and strengthening exercises.

I found some, seven in fact, that seemed fairly straight-foward and not too bizarre (online being what it is, there is some weird stuff out there). The seven exercises were to be repeated twice per day followed by icing of the elbow.

I began on Wednesday of last week. One of the exercises in particular was pretty painful and I could not do more than 6 repeats (I'm supposed to work up to between 30-50). And by the time I hit six I no longer had enough strength in my hand to grip my makeshift weight (which, by the way, was a half-empty jar of almond butter).

I stretched, I strengthened, I iced and I went to bed.

The next morning, things felt much much better.

I carried on over Thursday, Friday and Saturday and, by Saturday, I was doing 25 repeats of the movement I could hardly do on Wednesday.

My elbow was still sore but much better and the pain hung around mostly for the few hours after I worked it and then it settled down again.

Sunday, Doug and I had booked a tentative golf game. Tentative based on my elbow.

I was nervous but decided to try it. Worst case, I would play one hole and we would go home again.

We played nine and stopped because it was terribly cold and windy, not because my elbow wanted me to.

There was still a fair amount of sensitivity when I swung the club but the degree of pain I felt last Tuesday was much reduced. So while I didn't cure it in four days (which I never expected to anyway) but I certainly made some progress.

That makes me feel better. Not better enough to get back into the pool and back on the rowing machine but better enough to play golf once or twice a week.

Speaking of golf, we played nine holes and it went so well that, when I entered my score into the golfing scoring system, my handicap dropped. Pretty wonderful way to start the 2015 season non?

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Cost of Fitness

I just placed an order for contact lenses since I'm down to four left. Technically I'm down to eight since it's one per eye but really, I have four contact lens days left.

This time last year I bought a box of 90 dailies and they lasted me pretty much 12 months.

I only wear contacts on days when I want to wear sunglasses so I really only use them for long runs in the sun, summer bike rides, long drives on sunny days or on golf days.

Other than that, I'm a glasses girl.

So 90 daily lenses lasted 365 days, give or take a handful.

Some fitness things last for what feels like forever. Others, not so much.

I bought my bicycle six years ago and the cycling shoes and cycling shorts I purchased that same day are still the shoes and shorts I wear. They're doing just fine so why replace them?

My cycling jerseys are also several years old. They don't have to put up with much friction however since it's my legs doing the work so they still look quite good.

My Garmin watch is so old I can't remember when I got it. At least three years ago. Probably closer to 4 but if you told me it was 5, I'd believe you. It's starting to show its age but, other than those days when it refuses to turn on, it's doing what I need it to do so I'm happy.

My running belt seems ageless but that could be because I only wear it maybe 15 times a year.

My running clothes, on the other hand, have a much shorter lifespan. One season for clothes I wear regularly, two for ones I don't. That's about how long it takes for them to a) start to develop holes in places you don't want holes or b) start to develop that deep down runner smell that no longer comes out in the wash. It's gross I know but, if you are a runner, you know what I'm talking about. If you aren't a runner, just pretend you didn't read that last paragraph and move along.

Running shoes? Well they last 4 months max. That's about how long it takes me to run 500k and, being an injury-prone runner, I don't push my luck much beyond that.

Golf clothes? I'm not sure yet. I'm just entering season two so we'll see. My golf shoes held up well through hundreds of kilometres of walking last summer and I'm hoping they last a second season. I doubt they'll see a third.

I've had the same swim goggles now for two years and they are still doing a wonderful job. Bathing suits however don't survive more than a few months in the chlorine.

All of this can get to be a little much. Even though I can get months, or years, out of my sports paraphernalia, I use so many different things that I feel like I'm always needing to replace something.

Last month it was running pants and shorts.

This week it's contact lenses.

My running shoes are next on the list since I have less than 150km left on them and am in the highest mileage part of my half-marathon training.

The price we pay for fitness eh?

I'm happy to pay it though because the price of non-fitness is much much higher.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tendonitis Trials

A few weeks ago I wrote about my golf-induced tendonitis in my right elbow. 

I talked about ordering something called a Flexbar and using it to help me stretch and strengthen my elbow so that I would be healed and golf-ready by golf season in Canada. 

Things were going well. They really were. My elbow was feeling better by the day and certainly by the week. 

Then I started swimming and that seemed to aggravate it. Not a ton but I could feel it. It would be tender or sore for a few days after a swim, it would recover and then I would swim again. 

Then I started using the erg machine at my new fitness centre which wasn't making my elbow any happier. Add some upper body weight training on top of that and things were no longer improving the way they had been back in early March. 

Did I mention that I have started colouring? Which, as it turns out, requires my right hand. It didn't hurt during the colouring sessions but  it would be tender for hours afterwards. 

So on Tuesday night, when I headed out for my first ladies' league 9-hole golf game, I was a little worried about my elbow. 

I gripped the club in my hand - no pain in my elbow. 

I lifted the club - pain in my elbow.

I swung the club - pain in my elbow. 

So much for my ambitious goal of being completely healed by golf season. 

I've added some strengthening exercises and some stretching exercises to my routine. I no longer lift anything heavier than a toothbrush with my right hand and I'm icing and resting as much as I can. No swimming this week and no fitness centre either. 

Hopefully I can get it to calm down enough to resume the healing process. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Just Say Yes

I’m a big fan of saying yes. Not yes to every ridiculous request that anyone ever makes but yes to things that are important. Yes to things that are good for me. Yes to things that push me out of my comfort zone. Yes to things that scare me.

If I had not been a big proponent of saying yes, I would not be a runner today. Nor a cyclist. Nor a swimmer, a curler, or a golfer. I would not be a blog writer, nor a public speaker.

The idea of each of those things makes me uncomfortable. Those things were scary, some of them more than others, but they all turned out to be wonderful decisions and I am glad that I made them.

My life is richer because of those decisions and, given the chance, I would say yes again to every single one of them.

Yesterday I said yes to another one of those things that makes my heart pound in my ears and my stomach lurch.

I have done several presentations for Animas now and they asked me to send them a bio so that they could promote me for other presentations. That part was easy and I was happy to make one and email it off.

It was the question that followed that gave me pause.

“Would you be willing to present in French?” “The Quebec team will want to know.”

“Yes” I said. “As long as they are willing to work with me to make sure that I know the proper diabetes lingo in French” was my response. “And if I practice 1000 times with my French-speaking father” I thought.

I then proceeded to spend my 15-minute drive to my next appointment seeing if I could translate the English presentation I did last weekend into French in my head. I went through it sentence by sentence, other than a few words and expressions, and the diabetes lingo, I was able to do it. It wasn’t perfect but it was a pretty good start.

With practice and a bit of courage, I think I could totally do this.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Blood Pressure Droppings

I mentioned yesterday that I had checked my blood pressure before and after my long run.

What I didn't mention was that Doug and I bought an at-home blood pressure monitor a few weeks ago. We thought it might be a good idea and I liked the ability to check my blood pressure at different times to see what it does.

I thought it might also give me a clue as to why my ears plug up on longer runs, particularly in warmer temperatures.

I noticed a few things pretty quickly once I started testing.

I noticed that my blood pressure seems to drop when I exercise. My readings were consistently lower after a workout than before.

I also noticed that my readings at home are always lower than they seem to be in the doctor or the dentist office. Not sure if its mild stress of being in a medical appointment or slight differences in monitors but it is nice to see that my blood pressure, at home at least, it always below 120/80.

Sunday's run though was a little freaky.

I was 112/80 right before I headed out for my run.

The run went well in terms of energy but it was a struggle for a few reasons. My heart rate stayed in the high 160s no matter how slowly I ran. My ears plugged up starting at about 10k and kept filling for the rest of the run. By the time I got home I felt heavy and sluggish even though my legs still felt pretty fresh.

Post-run blood pressure: 78/52 (I checked it twice more to be sure)

That seems to me to be a pretty significant drop.

An hour later, it was 90/59. An hour after that it was 93/58 and two hours after that it was 102/67.

I'm not sure what any of this means. When I look up 'blood pressure dropping with exercise' I read that it can be anything from heart disease to dehydration.

I think at this point I'll continue to do before and after exercise checks to see if this happens again and I'll keep track of the numbers. In May I'm back at the diabetes centre so I'll see if they have anything to say.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Weekend in all of its Colours

What an interesting weekend. What a lovely weekend. What a tough, tiring, peaceful and inspiring weekend.

We drove to Fergus and spent a lovely evening with friends, chatting about health, house renovations and our favourite iPhone apps.

I got up before the sun on Saturday and drove to Listowel where I had the honour of speaking to a roomful of ladies with type 1 diabetes. I met some wonderful people, made a few people cry, and discovered how many people share similar diabetes journeys.

I headed home after my talk via a slight detour that allowed me to enjoy a 2 1/2 hour coffee with a lovely lady that I met at a presentation I did a few months ago. She's relatively new to the world of type 1 and is adjusting to its ups and downs with grace and humour.

I ran 16k on Sunday morning. Due to several factors beyond my control, I didn't do any short runs last week and had not done any exercise for three days. So running 16k was tougher than it should have been. Toss in some warm temperatures, mild dehydration from the day before and 16k took me longer to run than 18k usually does. My heart rate was higher than I liked throughout the run and my blood pressure dropped pretty significantly from start to finish. Happily, my blood sugar held steadily and, with only one date and a clementine, my numbers were stable the entire time.

After my chores were done, I managed to sneak in a bit of colouring time and got to try out the new markers I got the weekend before. Wow! Markers leave less options when it comes to shading and depth but they sure do boost the colour saturation. It incredibly rewarding to watch the colours take over the page and bring the picture to life.

Colouring with pencil crayons for those days when I feel like taking my time and finessing the shades.

Markers - for the days when I don't want to think too much and I want to be rewarded with rich, gorgeous colours in exchange for very little work. 

And through it all, we watched the Masters. We watched hours of incredible golf and we got to know this year's winner, Jordan Spieth. He's an old soul - a 21-year old with wisdom and composure way way beyond his years. I'd love to be able to channel his focus and his ability to manage nerves under incredible pressure. Not that I have terrible nerves or incredible pressure but I am joining a ladies' league and the thought of playing in front of ladies I don't know does make me a little bit jittery.

Happy Monday. Here's to another great week!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Saturday in Listowel

Tomorrow morning, at the crack of dawn, I will be two plus hours from home in a small town called Listowel.

Coffee in one hand, my laptop in the other, I will be speaking to a roomful of ladies who have also been on journeys, big and small, that eventually brought them together for a workshop called Living with Type 1 Diabetes from a Women’s Perspective.

I will be one of three speakers at this event and I get to talk about my own journey. I get to talk about my discovery of running, my love of triathlon, my refusal to say no to things just because they are scary and the strength and support I get from being part of the diabetes online community.

I get to meet new people and exchange a few laughs and probably a few tears. Perhaps even a few emails.

Even more fun is that, on my drive home, I’m taking a wee detour to meet up with a friend for coffee. She is someone I met at my last presentation in November and with whom I’ve been exchanging emails ever since. She’s relatively new to the type 1 diabetes world and I’m going to hear all about her new insulin pump and how things are going in her life.

After that I’m going to drive home, exhausted but very grateful for all the wonderful things that diabetes has given me.

Because, let’s be honest, there is not one part of Saturday that would happen if my pancreas hadn’t decided to take an early retirement. And I’m guessing Saturday is going to be a pretty amazing day.

So thank you diabetes for that.