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Working in the health and fitness industry, you get to meet some amazing people. Kate is a friend of ours, she works at Result Fitness in Durham City Centre. Having known Kate for a few years now, we asked if she would write a blog to share her story of training with Type 1 Diabetes. She very kindly agreed. Please read on to be inspired and reminded that no matter what happens in life, don't let anything stop you from doing what you love! If you want to follow Kate's continuing progress check out her Instagram @katie.siobhan

 Stop. Think. Assess. Backtrack. I’m right in the middle of a set – lunges, my favourite exercise. I’m sweating, heart is pounding, I’m shaking and feeling tired. All signs of a good workout right – it’s what we want; to know we’re pushing ourselves to the max and getting a good workout which leaves us feeling tired, but like we’ve achieved something. Perfect. I’d continue on and finish the set…however in the back of my mind little alarm bells start going off and I need to focus on the situation and consider many factors. Why? As a type 1 diabetic these signs are exactly the same symptoms I get when having a hypo. Is that a word you’ve never heard of? Welcome to the world of living with Type 1 Diabetes – where every day of your life feels like a science experiment.

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I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 6. My mother knew something wasn’t right from my behaviour - “You were tired. Very tired. Very quiet. Loss of weight. No appetite. Thirsty. Sweet tooth which you never had before. Sad. No energy. Night sweats. And you got even sweeter. Not grumpy at all” (I well up every time I read that) It was Guy Fawkes Day, 1993. I remember being in the nurses room, and her asking me if I’d brought clothes with me to stay in the hospital. Completely oblivious, I thought the hospital was having a firework display and we were staying over to watch it! I was indeed disappointed when what followed instead was being admitted to hospital with a blood sugar reading of 30.0 (A non-diabetic is usually around 4.0 – 5.9) and introduced to a world of needles, injections, blood tests and insulin. I can’t remember ever being upset, or it actually hitting me that this was now going to be my life – what sticks out the most is the green jelly and ice cream I used to get!


What is Diabetes?  Contrary to popular belief – there’s more than just one type. Type 1 and Type 2 are the most known of, and are therefore commonly mixed up. Say you’re diabetic, and 90% of the time people think its Type 2. Upon hearing it’s actually type 1 I have, 50% will usually respond with “Oh, that’s the bad one, isn’t it?” along with a slight grimace. Thanks.

You cannot tell which type of diabetes a person has by looking at them. In general, people with diabetes either have a total lack of insulin (type 1 diabetes – that’s me!) or they have too little insulin or cannot use insulin effectively (type 2 diabetes). The causes and developments of each are different. There are many common identifying factors for each type however there are always exceptions. Diabetes.co.uk outlines the differences below, however still stating “differences are based on generalisations - exceptions are common. For instance, the perception of type 1 diabetes isn't strictly true: many cases are diagnosed in adulthood.”

Common differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes

Usually diagnosed in over 30 year olds

Often associated with excess body weight

Often associated with high blood pressure and/or cholesterol levels at diagnosis

Is usually treated initially without medication or with tablets

Sometimes possible to come off diabetes medication

Type 1 Diabetes

Often diagnosed in childhood  

Not associated with excess body weight  

Often associated with higher than normal ketone levels at diagnosis  

Treated with insulin injections or insulin pump  

Cannot be controlled without taking insulin 

Simply put, as a type 1 diabetic – my pancreas does not produce insulin. I pretty much have a useless organ floating about in my body. Why do we need insulin? Because it helps the body produce energy by allowing sugar (glucose) to enter our cells. Pretty important. Due to not having a functioning pancreas, I therefore need to inject insulin to ensure I maintain good control of my diabetes in order to not develop complications such as heart disease, nerve damage and amputation, and vision problems.

Since diagnosis, each day brings constant blood sugar level testing with my meter to make sure I’m in the desired range, numerous injections to correct the blood sugar levels (if needed) and also to cover the food I eat. (Why? Glucose comes from the food we eat!) Too much insulin and I’ll have a hypo (hypoglcemia – low blood sugar) and too little will cause hyperglacemia. Both are incredibly serious – an untreated hypo can potentially result in a coma or death, and prolonged episodes of hyperglacemia can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis which if left untreated can also result in death. I wish it was as simple as knowing exactly how much insulin to inject based simply on my current blood sugar reading, and as much as a massive nerd I am and really enjoy weighing out all the carbs I eat and working out equations of x being the required insulin dosage when every 10 grams of carbohydrates in food equals one unit of insulin added to what the correction dose is when y =current blood sugar reading take away 6 and divided by 3 - all in order to get the dose amount…. I have to think about SO much before injecting. The list of factors which affect your blood sugar is endless and all need to be considered to either reduce or increase the dose amount. Food. Stress. Sleep. Alcohol. Being Ill. Hormones. The weather. Time of day. And the biggest one for me? Exercise.

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There are many reasons why I love exercising - the ongoing challenges you can put yourself through, the variety of workouts you can do, the goals you can set, the physical and mental aspects of it, the nutritional side of it, the results of consistent hard work, and of course the happy endorphins! The benefits and rewards from maintaining a healthy lifestyle are vast and varied – for diabetics, this includes helping to increase insulin sensitivity and therefore not needing as much insulin to process carbs. However, in order to enjoy the exercises and benefits, and in order to reach those goals, for someone with diabetes it’s not so easy. It’s difficult. My doctor’s general advice of “Before exercising, if taking insulin – half your dose” was just a starting point. Different types of exercise have different effects on your sugar levels – that’s one thing I have to consider before a workout along with numerous others: Am I in a blood sugar range I’m comfortable with? When did I last eat, did I take insulin, if so – how much? Do I need to take more to counteract a rise or do I need to eat something first in order to prevent a hypo?

During my workout – how do I feel? Should I test halfway? Why am I sweating so much; are my legs shaking from this never ending leg workout or am I having a hypo? Am I lacking energy because my levels are now high or have I just completely tired myself out from the workout?

Afterwards - When will I next be eating? How much insulin do I take post workout to make sure my levels don’t drop too much as a result of the exercise? Over time, and through numerous experiments, trial and errors, review of my own blood sugar levels reactions before, during and after a workout; I’ve learnt what works for me and how to react to the answers to all the above questions. It’s not guaranteed the outcome is always the same (some random factor may come into play) but it’s made me 100% more confident in working out.

Starting out and learning how to make my diabetes and exercising work wasn’t straight forward. In fact, some days were down right exhausting (and still can be) but I did it because I love exercising.Because I don’t want Diabetes to stop me doing something I love and have a real passion for. Rather than fight against it, or ignore it, I’ve tried to learn as much as I can about it. Leading an active and healthy lifestyle definitely contributes to maintaining good control over my levels – the two go hand in hand.

One of the reasons why I started my Instagram account was to not only have a place to share my love for fitness (and food…there’s a lot about food on there) but to also raise awareness about Diabetes and to hopefully help anyone who has reservations or is hesitant to start exercising. Diabetics can work out and enjoy exercising just like everyone else. As a personal trainer at Result Fitness, I’m incredibly thankful that I have the opportunity to also work with diabetic clients. It is so rewarding seeing them learn, applying different methods to their regime, helping with trial and errors/experiment and watching them become more comfortable with the idea of exercising while learning what works best for them.

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There is also an amazing community on Instagram – other diabetics sharing their stories and their suggestions from their own personal experiences, leading to discussions to find the best way to apply or amend a suggestion to suit an individual as what works for one person may not work for another. It is definitely a good place to learn, educate, help and have a good rant now and then!

Exercising and Diabetes. Is it impossible? Of course not. Is it hard? Some days are harder than the others but I can’t stress enough how worthwhile it is. Diabetes does not control me; instead I look at it as a part of my life that I –thankfully -can control.  It shouldn’t prevent anyone from doing anything – especially when it comes to exercising and living a healthy lifestyle. Powered by patience, strength, positivity and insulin of course…anything is possible!                   

      Let me start by saying, losing weight isn’t easy. Don’t get me wrong, the science of weight loss is very straight forward, but the process can be both physically and mentally taxing.    So why is it this way? Why is it such a struggle to millions of people around the world? There’s no one answer to this, but I’m going to share some of the reasons I believe make it so hard for people to lose weight.   Note: I’m not getting into the science of body types and medical conditions. Just real world things that we can control.   We ALL Want Weight to Change  So that sounds stupid right? Of course we want weight to change. If that number on the scales isn’t changing nothing is! Right?...Actually, wrong!   Its just not that simple. A couple of reasons our weight might not change can be due to increased lean muscle, water retention through diet off the last couple days, and menstral cycles. So many things affect our overall ‘weight’. In reality, if you’ve been managing your calories, you might of lost a pound or two in body fat and that is the aim. The scales can’t tell you this though.  So we see the weight as a number hasn’t changed and go back to old habits as it’s demoralising!  What should you do then? Take photos of yourself once per month, test with tight fitting clothes to see if they’re fitting better and take body part measurements. This will give a much more accurate indication of actual fat loss.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Unrealistic Expectations, or, Lack of Patience    We all want better bodies. Trust me, there are only a very small percentage of people in this world that are 100% happy with everything about themselves. And why is this? Celebrity profiles, social media and glam mags force us to be constantly wanting what they have. Even though 99% of it is shopped or tampered to make them look better than they really do. It gets in our heads from a young age and sits in our subconscious as an unrealistic dream so we are never quite happy with our image. We have unrealistic expectations.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Linked directly to this, we find ourselves jumping on the old fad diet or workout. ‘6 weeks to a 6 pack‘ ‘lose 10 pounds in 10 days’ ‘toned legs overnight’ these are all typical tag lines of bull shit products or diets. BUT, millions fall for these every minute of every day because it promises fast results. I have spoken to hundreds of people that have tried these types of diet and they got initial results....however....a month later they were back to square one, or worse, they’ve put more weight on! These short term fads are not good for us and negatively affect our metabolism so fuck us up in the long run. They also start a potential cycle of depression and that can impact your whole life.  With weight, or rather fat loss, patience is key for long term sustainable changes. I would NEVER be happy with someone I worked with if they were losing more than two pounds a week (even that can be more than I’d like to see). If they do, they get told to eat more! This normally doesn’t go down too well but it is essential for long term weight maintenance.   Time is on your side, surely reaching your goal in a year or two is better than falling into the yo-yo routine for the next 20 years?    The Rise of Fast Food and Easiness of Ready Made Food    I’m 30 now, and when I was growing up most villages had one or two takeaways. A fish and chip shop and maybe a pizza shop. Sure the likes of Greggs and McDonald’s were everywhere, but the huge rise in private takeaways has had a large impact on people becoming overweight. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it’s delicious. I love a pizza, Chinese, or Indian takeaway but I limit my intake because I know the calories they contain.   Unfortunately, most people have no idea or just ignore it due to the convenience.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Exactly the same goes for processed and ready made foods. They’re quick, easy, tasty, and mostly very cheap. for these reasons, people tend to neglect the nutritional absence and dense calorie values of these foods.   Combine this with the marketing campaigns plastered everywhere from the bigger players, and you’ll find yourself regularly considering a takeaway because it’s in your head and just so easy.   In reality though, you can cook a nice nutritious meal or a healthier option of a takeaway (fakeaway ;-)) in the same time it takes to cook a ready meal or wait for delivery.    Lack of Education on the Basics   Did you get taught about energy balance at school? And I’m not talking about a one off session in Year 9. I’m talking regularly educated on calories for weight loss and gain. Most of us rely on the internet to try and learn a little about weight loss, but surely if it was drilled into us at school from an early age we’d have more control?   If you spent the time now to educate yourself on the basics you could gain control of your weight for the rest of your life.  No bullshit fad diets or slimming group crap, just the basics of calorie management. Do this and I swear your life can change forever!  Any good personal trainer will do their best to teach you this from the off.   There’s too Much BS  This is simple, everywhere you look, in magazines, on TV shows, in shop windows, there’s another miracle weight loss cure/workout/pill/diet. It’s just too much! And it confuses everyone! One day we will hopefully see more strict regulations on the advertising of such crap. Until then, don’t fall into their trap. These people just want your money.     Laziness    No one likes to hear this but it’s so fucking true! We are all too lazy. Consider being alive 100 years ago where everything you did was manual labor and everything you ate was freshly cooked. If you were lazy then, you’d probably die.   In our age, we sit at desks all day, we can get food in 20 minutes with a phone call, we drive everywhere and we can even turn lights on without standing up to press the switch. Then we complain we are too tired, too busy or have other issues that mean we can’t take care of ourselves in the most basic ways. I’m talking about cooking and movement. Yet we all find time to sit on social media for an hour or two a day and binge watch three episodes of stranger things every night after work.   Break your day down with me right now. 24 hours in a day, 8 hours to sleep, 10 hours to work and travel then on average 6 hours to do as you please. You can cook and amazing meal in 30 minutes and you can do a good level of activity in 30 minutes. We still have 5 hours left....     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


    
 We’re just too lazy as a nation, this has happened through the rise and modern day reliance on technology, and most people won’t accept responsibility for their actions.  This is the way the world has turned and only you can change your habits. You’ve just got to start! Move more, sit less, start to prepare a few meals and then build on it.    Final Thoughts and Points   All of this stuff makes it hard to lose weight, there’s no one reason but on the whole, it’s just so fucking confusing with the mixed messages and false information we receive everyday. There’s an army of GOOD coaches out there growing every day trying to educate people. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, we will be able to make a great difference against the money makers.  At the end of the day though, it’s your life, you’re in control! You make your own choices on what you eat and do. Deep down, you have to take responsibility. So go now, educate yourself on how to actually manage your weight and give yourself at least 12 months to hit your target.  So to recap;   - Weight is just a number. Understand this doesn’t tell the story of your health or appearance. Photos and measurements are key.   - Losing weight is hard! It can be confusing, depressing and both physically and mentally draining.   - Don’t believe everything you see in the media and don’t try to be someone you aren’t.   - Be patient and realistic.   - Limit fast food and processed foods, don’t cut them out, just limit them.   - Cook more! You’ll enjoy your food and learn along the way. Keep it simple at first.   - Educate yourself on Calories and Energy Balance. Once you understand this you can stay in control of your weight.   - Don’t be lazy. It’s easy to think we’re all crazy busy and have no time. But when you reflect on your life and be honest with yourself, you probably have a lot of free time.   Thanks as always for reading, hopefully some of this info is helpful. Please post your comments and thoughts in the comments.   Steven         

Losing weight can be hard, but the science is simple, so let us take a look what we can do to make it easier.