There had to be more than one diabetes charity, surely?
To my delight I stumbled across a charity based only 15 minutes down the road from me. Small world, ay! They are called the Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation and despite being a small outfit, they have a big message; Staying well, until a cure is found.
Over the last year I have taken part in their Bootcamp event, have been brought to tears by their message of hope, have done a sponsored walk in their favour and have popped in for several cups of tea with their team. They make a really good cup of tea, FYI.
To my delight, they asked yours truly if I would like to write their tale end news piece for their February newsletter.
Um, would I ever!?!
I chose to write my piece about exercise because that is one of the true keys to success when 'staying well' with the 'betes, so seemed to fit quite nicely with their aims.
Unfortunately they don't have an online version, so I have copied it all down for you below. But check out their website on this link for more info on what they do and if you can, pop in for a cuppa sometime. I'm sure they won't mind......
My name is Anna and I am many things. A daughter, a sister, a wife and a friend. I love to surf and snowboard but can do neither whilst standing up. I love Autumn, Cornwall, black and white photography and animals. I am also a type 1 diabetic, juvenile onset, insulin dependent - the beast has many names. Diagnosed at the age of four, I must have been through every stage of acceptance in the book; I was the child who couldn't understand it, the teenager who fought against it, the young adult who reluctantly accepted it into her life and am now fully fledged (but still very young at heart!) adult who manages to negotiate each day with reasonable success.
For many years I struggled to achieve anything which looked like even basic control. In fact for me, 'stable' was a place you kept a horse, not something you could expect from diabetes. So after fighting against it for far longer than I care to remember, I finally took up the suggestion my team at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth made, of trying an insulin pump. Even though the pump is still something which is only available on the NHS for type 1s who meet certain criteria, going onto a pump came with a wealth of information about carbohydrate counting, exercise and cutting yourself some slack when things go a bit 'wonky'. All of which can make a difference without ever having a pump.
Perhaps the biggest realisation for me was about the benefits of exercise. Having avoided it for many years and using excuses like 'my control just isn't reliable enough', starting exercising on a regular basis was one of the turning points in my diabetic control. I started going for walks in the country or strolling to and from work every day, all the while noticing my insulin requirements dropping almost by the day. I found that whilst cycling and for several hours afterwards, I needed only 10 per cent of the insulin I normally need in order to keep my sugars in range. I found that yoga brought my sugars down nicely every time and even my 10-minute cycle to and from work has my sugars in check by breakfast.
Earlier this year a friend even convinced me to try 'Body Combat'. Whatever you are thinking about how intense it sounds trust me, it's tougher! Imagine being with 50 other people while high octane music blares out and an instructor who apparently has limitless energy shouts through a microphone,while you attempt to mimic them (and fail drastically), all the while using moves from martial arts and - if you do it like me - 90s rave. Now also imagine that this exercise propels your fitness, energy levels, self confidence and general well-being faster forward than anything else you've tried.
So what is the key to exercising? As I found out, it is to treat it like an experiment. When trying a new exercise try to eat similar foods before and after and do it at the same time of day. Take a little carbohydrate (like a banana) before exercise to give your body a little boost, even if you need to inject for it. Be confident and don't write it off after the first attempt. It took me weeks of body combat to discover exactly the right formula and now I am at the front panting away, enjoying every minute and reaping the blood glucose benefits.
The message I want to get across is that it doesn't matter what form of exercise you do whether it is team games, high intensity cardio, a gentle stroll or even stretching; moving your body in any way allows your body to use the insulin you either put in or still produce yourself much more effectively.
And frankly, it makes you feel top notch!