Monday, 30 July 2012

Each little victory: spinning

With all eyes on the London 2012 Olympics, exercise and personal achievement are hot topics of discussion.  Watching our celebrated British rower Sir Steve Redgrave with his own lazy pancreas issues carry in our Olympic torch was certainly a moment to celebrate.  A couple of years ago a moment to celebrate for me was getting out of bed in one motion, eating a bumper portion of fried chicken or getting out of a chair without making that noise.  You know, the one that kinda goes  'oooourgghhhhh', followed by a sharp outlet of breath.  But over the last two years things have changed for me; something shifted.  I got tired of always feeling tired.  I missed the figure I once had and I realised how much I missed being active.  Outdoors had become a place I no longer had the energy or desire for.  

I'm not sure where it was I took a wrong turn in the road, but I hazard a guess that it was a mixture of going to university, where gym memberships and healthy food were a thing of the past and drinking was all the rage, starting a full time job and being exceedingly happy in my relationship.  Damn that happiness. *shakes fist in air*

In the last year however I have been clawing back whatever residual fitness I had left and could force our of hiding, and started exploring a different way of eating and exercising. But while my diet and attitude started to improve, I made no secret of the fact that managing blood sugars during exercise was a challenge I had no idea how to handle.  Failure happened frequently in even my best-laid plans.  Gentle walks in the country led to serious and embarrassing hypos and gym classes led to kidney-bashing blood sugars I could have achieved by saving myself the effort and sweat and chowing down on a bag of sweets instead.  I reached the point where I would go to an exercise session armed with insulin in case I went high, lucozade in case I went low, bananas in case I needed a littler something before exercise, and protein shakes to try and keep sugars stable (again, deludedly) both during and after exercise.

It was on the sports weekend run by Animas that I was given the tools I needed to start understanding what was happening in my body during my exercise sessions.  I learnt to abandon the bananas, get more confident when reducing basals and exercise as regularly as possible to reap the full benefits of more balanced blood sugar levels.

Piece by piece things started to come together.  The kidney bashing reduced, hypos happened far less frequently and eventually I was even happy to try new exercises, having grown in both confidence and skill at managing that beast called Mr Hyde.  I went from being the girl who hid at the back of the class, dressed head-to-toe in hideous black baggy clothes, hovering somewhere between the water-cooler and the exit (or 'escape' as I called it), to picking new classes, actually saying 'thanks' to the instructor afterwards and even bought myself some shockingly skin-tight running trousers.  And I mean spray-on kind of tight!

On the Saturday just gone however, the spray-on tights, tireless pre-, during- and post-exercise blood-testing and the trying to be as patient and scientific as possible, finally paid off.  I had my first real break thorough.   I arrived at the gym, having been hovering around 5-6 all morning and having lowered my basals to 50% an hour before exercise.  I'd eaten a healthy omelette for breakfast and tuna salad for lunch, so I knew I had some protein in board and that I wasn't likely to have any crazy highs.  I tested my sugars and a 5.6 was staring back at me.  A year ago I would never have dreamed of exercising at 5.6.  If I'm honest, I wouldn't have even 3 months ago. 

'Oh hell', I thought.  'Let's just go for it, what's the worst that could happen?' 

Well, contrary to the Dr Pepper adverts, I didn't run into any problems after asking that, somewhat dangerous, rhetorical question.  Halfway through my spin class I tested.  5.1. 

'OK, OK, I'm happy with that, let's keep going and see what happens.' 

I reached the end of the class and nervously tested again.  There's no way I will have scored a hatrick.   But there it was, a perfect 5.2.  The elated and somewhat unhinged grin on my face must have scared the living daylights out of the other spin goers that day, but it would have made a difference even if I'd noticed, or cared.  That was my first great success. The next two hours were made up of 6s and 7s, settling at 7.4, three hours later.


The moral? Keep at it.  The grass on the other side really is as green as it gets...