Some Truths About Diabetes

So I’ve been seeing a lot in the news lately on diabetes and the (sometimes) confusion over what Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes is. Since I’m about promoting health, wellness, and being fit I think it’s really important for people to understand and be educated on the types, how they develop and more importantly, are you at risk ?

Understanding it can be crucial to your overall health or someone you love.

Type 1 (formerly called juvenile onset) accounts for 5-10 people out of 100 who have diabetes.  Symptoms usually start in childhood or young adulthood. Medical care is often sought when individuals become seriously ill from sudden symptoms of high blood sugar. Episodes of low blood sugar are often common.

It cannot be prevented.

Type 2 (formerly called adult onset  or non-insulin dependent diabetes) can develop at any age.  It commonly becomes apparent in adulthood although there is a rise in children. Type 2 accounts for the vast majority of diabetes. 90-95 out of 100 people will have it. The person may not have symptoms before diagnosis.  There are no episodes of low blood sugar unless the person is taking insulin or diabetes medicine.

It can be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle, including maintaining a healthy weight, eating sensibly and regular exercise.

Both types of diabetes greatly increase a persons risk for a range of serious complications.  Although managing and monitoring the disease can prevent complications it still remains the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure. It also is a critical risk factor for heart disease, stroke and amputations.

The biggest difference in the two ? One is not preventable.

The other? the individual has much control over as it is lifestyle driven… meaning the choices you make can determine whether or not you will develop it.

Being overweight, not exercising,  & eating poorly all contribute to the development of Type 2.

Ok… I am rather passionate about this particular disease… that people know and understand the serious import of it. My mother nearly died in 2001 with undiagnosed diabetes and had a blood sugar level of 960 when admitted at hospital.  Yes, you read that correctly. It’s a miracle she survived. However, great damage had already been done from years of neglect to her body.

Kidney disease, eye problems, wounds not healing, and ultimately, amputations of parts of her foot before she passed away last year were all things she dealt with. She had also undergone two kidney transplants that had not worked out and was on dialysis for the last few years of her life.

It is a silent, horrible and destructive disease. Living in denial does not stop the damage that occurs. Just because you might feel “ok” doesn’t mean that the disease isn’t damaging your organs and body in critical ways.

If you have diabetes it is so very important to check and manage your blood sugar levels.

I was recently talking to someone who acknowledged that they had  pre-diabetes and then laughingly said… “Oh, but I don’t really do what I’m supposed to or what my doctor says”

It took everything in me …. everything…. to not reach out… grab her by the shoulders… and shake her…. and grit out… “Do you know what you’re saying? Do you know what you’re doing to your body? Why aren’t you taking care of yourself ???”

No… I simply smiled and told her she really needed to take care of herself…  but silently struggled with wondering why someone would be so flippant with such a destructive disease.

Why? because like so many others she didn’t “see” anything going on and assumed it couldn’t be so bad.

Keep in mind there are a variety of risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes

  • Over weight or obese
  • Immediate family members with diabetes
  • African-American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian-American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander
  • High blood pressure 140/90 or above
  • HDL (good cholesterol) level below 35 mg/dl or a triglyceride  level above 250 mg/dl
  • Cardiovascular disease

Keep in mind that those stats…. 4 of those 6 risk factors are heavily influenced by lifestyle. Meaning you have a large level of control over not getting this disease if you take steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

We must be proactive in our own healthcare. To stay on a path of health and (hopefully) avoid this disease consider taking these steps.

  • Consult doctor and understand where your blood sugar level is. Know what your numbers are! Understand what normal is and see where yours line up.
  • If required get a home testing kit to check your blood sugar through the day.
  • If you are overweight, get started to drop a few pounds. A 10-15 lb loss can greatly change your numbers.
  • Get regular and frequent exercise 5 days a week.
  • Stop eating fast foods, sugars, processed or refined foods and stick to healthy nutritionally dense foods This will also help your cholesterol levels.

Taking small steps and using preventive care will go a long way to keeping you healthy for you and your family =)

That Stupid Cancer

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Hello blog world. Yes, I’m still here…and alive….but boy has life been going down hard and fast in my world the past few weeks.

I’ve missed all of you, my 1.5 readers. I’ve thought about what to write and how to write it. The words piled up in my head among other thoughts waiting to be put into organized, readable context.

And somehow…. weirdly… I’ve struggled with sitting down and getting it done.

This is a post on life.

I promise to resume my health/athletic(y) blogs soon.  But even as we do things to maintain a healthy body and mind, there is this big thing going on around us called life…

And you know what? There are times life is just freaking…. hard…brutal, take no prisoners, hard.

So where I’ve been the last couple weeks in life…..

to start with, my son unexpectedly lost a close friend in a tragic car accident. This friend was also to have been one of his groomsmen in his September wedding. He has lost many friends in the past few years of his young life. Once again my heart ached for him, his friends, and the young mans family at his swift removal from this world. As I sat at his memorial service and saw his beautiful face, my heart was pierced at how wrong it felt that this 22 year old young man was gone.

No words… simply no words… could make this right…or take away the pain from his family. Nor could I as a mother, absorb it for my son.

During this time, my husband had gone in for his yearly check up. He mentioned to the doctor he had a lump on the side of his neck and thought it was a swollen lymph node. Doctor sent him for a sonogram that day. A few days later they called wanting him to have a CT done (this was on a Friday) Monday we saw the doctor who told us the report indicated possible malignancy, but without a needle biopsy they can’t officially confirm. Somehow, they got us in that afternoon. He returned to Houston  afterwards where he had been working. We could only wait now for the biopsy results which they have promised to have for us by Wed. ( amazing and fast indeed, right?)

Both of us were positive and upbeat knowing we had to take these steps to rule out the dreaded “C” word.

Cancer.

I mean, it wouldn’t be, right? Why would it?

Wed afternoon I got the call from him. Results were in.

Tests confirmed he had thyroid cancer.

How does one respond? How does one act? I felt semi-numb and felt myself immediately kick into the zone I go to when difficult things come. Stay focused. Keep on task. Think about what I can do or what needs to be done.

Cry or freak out later if need be. That serves me no purpose when I need my head about me.

Meanwhile, hubby had immediately ended his contract where he was working, closed out of his apartment and was headed home. I felt helpless not being able to be there and help him after getting that news or knowing he’d have hours to drive home thinking about it.

Things were already unfolding though as we had an appt. the next day with the surgeon to discuss everything and surgery was set for Friday.

When I say things moved with lightening speed and were all beautifully orchestrated is putting it mildly. We know and personally believe God’s hands were all over this. No one gets the diagnosis and then two days later is having surgery to remove it. I can’t tell you how unheard of this is.

Thyroid cancer as we’ve been told is highly curable and treatable. But whoa… still… you have…. cancer.

The surgery went well, doctor felt he got all cancerous tissue and removed thyroid as well as the tumor. A short hospital stay and we had him home. The next step now is a one time radiation treatment that will literally kill any thyroid cells left in his body, but only those cells. How cool is that ?

Of course, we’ve made all kinds of jokes teasing him about being radioactive and glowing. Or with his neck wound if it had been Halloween he would’ve made an awesome Frankenstein 😉

You must…  need to…..find humor… and moments to laugh… when you are feeling scared, anxious or worried. Laughter relieves and relaxes tense moments.

We met with surgeon on Thursday to remove sutures and discuss the next step. Right now, that’s what it’s about, the next step to crush this thing, get him better, but most of all, to keep living life.

That’s been my goal as we’ve moved through this. To not let it define our lives or be the “thing” that has center stage.

Beautiful, glorious life is still going on.

Things to be celebrated. Moments to be shared. Laughter to partake in. Tears to cry. Family to be loved on. Friends to be appreciated. Feeling your partner nestled next to you during the night.  Normal days to be embraced. Sunrises to be seen.  A full, bright moon hanging in the dark night sky. The sounds of your kids voices to be treasured. The smell of your grandson. A hot shower. A good meal. The smell of coffee brewing. Waking up and knowing you’ve been blessed… entrusted… with another day.

Another day…. a pure, precious, breathtaking gift so often taken for granted.

Do you ever just wish, you could wrap your arms around it ???

So yes, we are looking forward to many more days. His prognosis is very good. We are doing all things necessary to ensure his complete health and removal of all cancer cells.  His attitude has been good and he’s strong and determined…. um….stubborn…. to use his word….well… he was under the influence of drugs after surgery when he said that… does that still count ??

Like, he admitted that to his nurse… I think that counts… don’t you ? 😉

It’s ok… stubbornness can be quite useful in life .. ask me… I might know a lil about that haha

So as we’ve moved through these past 2 weeks of difficulties in losses of loved ones and treasured friends, and dealt with the unexpected, dreaded “cancer”, and contended with other life issues going on I’ll tell you what we have been confident of….

God has been with us. He has been our Strength and Peace and I know He is our Provider. I don’t understand a lot of what happens in this world or life… I’m merely human with a very limited, short perspective in this vast world and universe… but by faith I rest and trust in One who is bigger than I am.

I just want to encourage you, who are reading this right now. Life might be smooth sailing and you have no current issues…. they will come…. or you might have just gotten out of difficulties….Or you could be having a life like I’ve dealt with recently.

Stay strong. Know this will pass. Breathe. Live and deal with only the moment you are in, running to far ahead can only offer fear and worries that might not ever even happen and only steal the joy from your current day. Appreciate random moments. Stop and smell the flowers. Value small things. Wear the fun dress. Get out the “special” dishes… use them for all their worth.  Turn up the music and sing loud. Do that thing you want to do.

Most of all…. live…. embrace your life…  and don’t let your circumstances define you.

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Does Exercise Have Benefits?

uncle sam exercise

Hey boys and girls =)

You think I lost my mind with the title of this blog, don’t you ? Little Ms. Fitness Girl asking such a weird question?

As blog ideas go, I get inspired from all kinds of sources in my life to write on. Recently, a comment came up that made me ponder, do people REALLY question that purposeful, physical activity is good for their bodies, and their minds? Heck, it benefits all aspects of who we are as individuals.

I know, I know… many of you feel like…. this….. you need to work and move past this stage…. you can… it will take effort on your part.

hate exercise

But in this day and age of so much information and knowledge we possess, can people still remain largely ignorant to the fact our bodies are made for movement? Need movement for health and wellness? That intentional exercise has benefits that keep us strong and healthy ? And in turn, that gives us energetic and productive lives ?

The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of brisk cardio activity 5 days a week (this is an activity that gets you out and increases  and sustains your heart rate for at least 30 minutes) for people who would benefit from lowering blood pressure or cholesterol they recommend 40 minutes of aerobic activity to lower risk of heart attack and stroke. They also recommend two strength training days a week as well for everyone.

What are other benefits to regular exercise ?

It controls weight and helps in weight loss.

It combats health conditions and diseases. Being active actually can “boost” your good (HDL) cholesterol and decrease unhealthy triglycerides. As I shared in a previous post on my labs, for me, this is true. My HDL was high and my tri’s were very low. I credit it to adequate and consistent exercise along with healthy eating.

Exercise can improve your mood. Blow off steam. Get a little emotional lift. Feel mentally empowered. It definitely can lift your mood.

It boosts your energy. Hey… that purposeful exercise you “practice”? it comes into play in the rest of our day when you need strength and energy to do tasks.

It promotes good rest. Trust me, physically working your body will help you sleep well 😉

It’s good for your sex life. Regular physical activity leaves you with a high level of energy and looking better which can have a positive impact in the bedroom. Win/win.

Exercise can be fun! The important thing is to find what you enjoy and can be passionate about. Don’t find just one thing, find a couple activities to shake it up, keep it fun and interesting. Find the thing that you can do and stick with it. Become an expert at it.

Exercise is not an instant gratification activity but it can begin to have some immediate benefits… like just over all feeling good that you went out and got it done… it’s mentally empowering. It can also bring about a sense of well being and peace.

However, with consistency and time, it does really cool things inside our body that we don’t see. Our heart and lungs get stronger, our resting heart rate can get lower, blood pressure can drop, cholesterol levels can change. Our body goes through amazing changes as exercise adapts it to new physical demands. No one knows this better than a distance runner 😉

Exercise can also combat or protect from various diseases and health conditions… isn’t that motivator enough?

Other suggestions for “extra” movement in your days…

Look for ways to move more. Take the stairs, park farther out at the store, get outside and do some yard work ( I love using a push mower simply for the extra work it gives my body to do it) garden, play with your kids, go ride a bike anything that gives you some extra movement in your day.

These activities though, don’t take place of those 30 minutes (or more) of heart pumping, sweat inducing, exercise ( fast walking, running, cycling, swimming, rowing… get it ?)  make sure you get that time in…. anything else is gravy.

And finally, after awhile, making that investment into yourself to do purposeful exercise, your body begins to change. The outer look (aesthetically) almost becomes a by product of what you’ve been doing. I don’t know anyone who isn’t happy with those changes that show up from an investment of hard work.

Understand too, that this is a habit and a daily discipline you will have to school yourself in until it becomes something you can’t imagine NOT doing. Trust me, you will get to that point. You just need to be as intentional and purposeful about it as anything else you find to be important in your life.

Your health and well being IS important. Shouldn’t you do things to be pro-active about keeping yourself healthy and well ?

You are definitely worth it =)  Do you have a favorite activity ?

exercise benefits

Me? Do Yoga?

Yoga.

Did I breathe that word out loud ?

For years it conjured up in my head visions of people in white gossamer clothing getting in touch with their inner selves and eating tofu.

OK, admittedly, I am a bit more educated on it.

It’s supposed to help with flexibility, strength, better posture, help you with your breathing and over all reduce stress and make you feel more calm. Who wouldn’t be down for that ?

I’m sure there are a lot of other benefits too.

Here’s where it’s been kinda in my face for awhile….. it’s supposed to be really good for runners. I’ve read articles about the benefits of yoga as a recovery or strengthening process.

Alright so I’ll admit why I’ve steered clear…. don’t judge me now….

it’s just so… tame… and quiet….and not…  intensely active like I’m used to….

It’s different than flying down the road on a bike… or running a zillion miles… or knocking the heck out of a punching bag.

I secretly wonder if I could handle such a wide shift of physical activities….. being more….still…. yikes.

Ok but then, as I runner, how can I ignore these promises of incorporating some yoga into all my other activities :

It can make you a better runner, improve form and balance, it can also decrease your susceptibilities to over use injuries. It can also improve mental focus which is so important before and during a race when mental staying power is as important as physical strength.

Now….how can I not look at that a little closer ??  Our local running store offers a runners yoga class once a week… and if I can ever get my schedule to bend that way I might check out.

As much as running can build a strong body, those muscles get tight in all kinds of places. Flexibility and fluid motion is  so important in running. Things that are tight don’t allow for optimal performance.

I found some moves that were targeted at runners and even told you what muscles they opened or loosened. I figured… why not? What runner doesn’t want to be more strong and flexible ? So I’ve tried some.

Hahaha….. oh my gosh. You know that term hurts so good? I immediately found places in my hips that were tight… and let me know it. My back…legs… all kinds of tight spots.

On top of holding the pose… you have to remember to breathe… I realized… I kinda sucked at that part 😛

Then you get in this pose…and your “reps” ( which Is how I’m used to operating)  are more like the amount of breathes you take holding that pose.

This is when I pondered :  where is the woman who ran  marathons who’s whining about this pose and attempting to breathe at the same time ?  Here’s what I know thus far…….. I’m breathing hard from pain, not cardio exertion haha

I decided this could be a butt kicking adventure in a different kind of way. I think I’m definitely going to try and add some into my training with the intent it will benefit my body for running. It always comes back to that for me.

So my readers…. who does yoga? Do you like it? What benefits have you seen ? If you’re a runner, have you seen benefits from it ?

Those Necessary Vitamins And Minerals

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The natural way to get your vitamins and minerals….                                                                                                                                                    

It’s an interesting thing when hubby is in the medical field and I drag home my lab reports like a lil kid wanting to flash a report card with all “A’s” to their parents.

I show it to him letting him do his own professional look over when he proclaims that, yes, my HDL (good cholesterol ) at 80 is pretty amazing and everything else does look awesome but, “my potassium is really on the low end of the scale…. I need to eat more bananas or foods to push that up a bit.

For the record, mine was 3.7 with the low number on the scale being 3.5.

Ok, so maybe he was right. That was hovering right around the low end and those numbers don’t even reflect my body when I’m in the midst of heavy training.

Whoa…wait… maybe my dear 1.5 readers you’re sitting there scratching your head thinking… “what is potassium and why do I need to be concerned over it?”

Simplified, potassium along with sodium and chloride is one of your bodies most important electrolytes which are minerals in your blood, urine, and bodily fluids that contain an electric charge.

No kidding right ?? You’re ….electric 😉

Nearly 70% of your potassium is found in bodily fluids like plasma, blood and sweat, while the rest is stashed away in your bones. The adequate daily intake is 4.7 grams but most Americans don’t get enough in their diets… remember it’s flushed from your body in several ways making it a daily ongoing renewal.

This mineral does a lot of other things, like keeping your blood pressure in check among others.

In an average day we lose potassium through urine and sweat, but here’s where I sat up and paid more attention.

Athletes can have a higher loss due to more sweating, more so if you really sweat out a lot ( which I do).  Lower potassium levels can decrease your endurance and energy. Specifically, potassium works to regulate the nerves and muscles, it is also involved in the storage of carbohydrates to fuel your muscles. You need to consume potassium rich foods every day, especially if you’re an athlete.

It definitely is something I will be making a more intentional focus on especially as we move into warmer months where sweat abounds in physical activities 😛

So what will my strategy be? I’ve made a list of high and medium potassium foods, the majority of which I eat. Bananas are a high potassium food so I’ll be intentionally hammering out two a day.

Todays afternoon snack was a banana with some raw almonds =) I’m just going to keep track daily for awhile to see what my intake actually is.

I’m not getting all crazy over it… just some purposeful eating and then careful attention to my performance to notice any changes.

Who would think a mineral could make such a huge difference in the performance of your body?

And remember boys and girls the BEST way to get all of your vitamins and minerals is eating real food….not through shakes, pills, patches, powders or other random drink things.

This is ends your public service announcement 😉