Favorite Things Friday: My SPIBelt

One Friday per month, I’ll write about my favorite things that make life with diabetes a little easier for me.

For most people with diabetes, there’s no such thing as traveling light.

It doesn’t matter if we’re packing for a vacation or taking a brisk afternoon stroll – we’ve got to have a certain amount of supplies on hand in order to be prepared for any number of scenarios that could occur while we’re “away”.

As you can imagine, this can be pretty annoying, especially when it comes to simple matters like leaving the house for 20-30 minutes. It’s not like we can go out empty-handed. We need to stash our purses/backpacks/bags with the appropriate diabetes supplies, and it can get pretty bulky. I used to find it especially cumbersome if I was just trying to go for a walk in the neighborhood and had no choice but to carry a purse with me the entire way, which slowed me down and frustrated me.

Then I got my SPIBelt.

0F419B66-92E1-4DFE-B462-63EB75B95679
My Dexcom SPIBelt

This miniature fanny pack changed everything for me! It looks small, but stretches to hold all of my essentials for when I head out on runs or longer walks. I can fit my cell phone, glucose tablets, and OmniPod PDM in the tiny pouch. There’s even enough room leftover for my dog’s treats and poo bags, leaving my arms and hands free to hold his leash when we go on walks together.

Other features of my SPIBelt include a slit in the pouch for earbuds, a secure clip in the back, and adjustable waistband so it can fit snug to the body, no matter how many layers of clothing I’m wearing. And unlike other armbands, pouches, and drawstring bags I’ve used in the past, my SPIBelt is actually comfortable. It stays in one place, so I’m not distracted by constant movement around my waist. I was definitely impressed by it the first time I took it on a run and didn’t have to keep on adjusting it as I moved. It’s much more discreet and doesn’t look quite as “old-school” as fanny packs or other similar bags.

This particular SPIBelt was given to me by Dexcom as a thank you for participating in their G6 ad campaign, but as I’ve come to find out, SPIBelts are widely available online and in stores.

Three Things I Learned about Myself after Running a 5K

I recently ran in my first-ever 5K race. In the weeks leading up to the race, I experienced a variety of emotions – particularly self-doubt – that made me question whether I could really do it. Would my diabetes cooperate the morning of the race? Should I eat a big breakfast before running, or go into the race fasting? How would I handle correcting a low blood sugar while running? What about a high blood sugar? Was I even competent enough to run?

All of my diabetes anxieties aside, I’ve always hated running. HATED it. I played field hockey every fall when I was in high school, and we were required to run a timed mile before the start of each season. I dreaded this mile because I usually wound up finishing the mile last, or close to last – my asthmatic lungs and negative attitude helped ensure that I would give up running halfway through and resort to walking a sluggish, defeated pace.

So like I explained in a recent blog post, making the decision to go through with this 5K wasn’t easy. But I wanted to take on the challenge and prove something to myself.

AND I DID IT!!! I’m pleased to say that I completed the race on a gorgeously sunny Saturday morning along with hundreds of other runners. I was totally proud of myself for accomplishing this goal, especially since I had less than a month to train for it. Plus, I learned a few things about myself after participating in the race:

  1. I should have more faith in my ability to manage my diabetes. I spent so much time dwelling on the “what ifs” (a bad habit of mine) regarding what my diabetes might do during the race that my stomach was doing somersaults as I approached the start line. But as soon as I turned my music up and started running with everyone else, my doubts vanished. And better yet, I was absolutely fine throughout the race. I didn’t eat anything beforehand and went into it with a blood sugar of 142, and I stayed pretty steady for most of the 3.1 miles (I did start to spike soon after crossing the finish line, but I’m certain that was because of the adrenaline). I simply did what I’d been doing during my past month of training, and my experimentation with fasting vs. non-fasting paid off.
  1. I’m a lot more determined than I realized. I’ll admit that there were a few points throughout the race when I wanted to give up. I was breathing hard and my legs were starting to ache, but not once did I stop running and slow down to a walk. I pushed myself to keep going, even though I didn’t want to, and my determination helped me achieve my personal best running time.
  2. I’m ready to train for future races. This experience awakened something in me that wants more challenges. I’m still not in love with running, but I think I am a fan of trying things out of my comfort zone. I want to continue to get faster and stronger so I can try tougher races and physical tests. It’s almost like it’s an outlet for me to tell my T1D that it can’t stop me – that I’m stronger than it no matter how hard it tries to knock me down.

Training for my First 5K

At the start of the year, I told myself, this is your year. You’re going to be in the best shape of your life and finally run a 5K. I’ve never particularly enjoyed running, which is why the challenge of a 5K was more alluring than a different fitness goal. I felt that doing something I practically dreaded would make accomplishing it that much more gratifying.

But just a few short weeks into 2018, I broke a bone in my arm. I was crushed, because the kinds of physical activity I could do suddenly became severely limited. Instead of taking the injury in stride, I spent a long length of time moping over it. My exercise levels decreased and I stopped caring (for a short while, anyways) about my lean and mean pursuits. All I wanted was to heal, and heal swiftly.

Fortunately, I’ve fully recovered from the fracture, and so have my spirits. A renewed vigor took hold of me in April, and I spent many weekday mornings waking up early to complete a variety of workouts. I started to feel stronger and more confident in my athletic ability. So in the second week of May, just a few days after my 25th birthday, I decided the time was right to register for my first 5K.

And so I did, and I’ve devoted time training for it since then. It’s far from easy, but I must admit that each time I successfully complete a run, the feeling of accomplishment and pride that courses through my body makes it all worth it. It’s doubly wonderfully when I’m able to achieve in-range blood sugars before, during, and after each run.

I don’t have a convoluted strategy for stabilizing my blood sugar while running; rather, it seems to work best for me if I simply complete a fasting workout first thing in the morning. This eliminates a few variables affecting my blood sugar, including carbs consumed during a meal or insulin on board. I’ve found that I don’t even need to run a temporary basal or suspend any insulin – my body seems to do well if I’m running my normal basal rate. But with diabetes being a fickle fiend, I’m always prepared for a potential high or low blood sugar to occur on a run. In other words, portable glucose and my PDM are my constant running companions.

Race day is just a few short weeks away, and I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to it. Sure, I’m a little anxious, but I’m choosing to focus on the fact that I’m finally taking on something that tests me – and my diabetes – in all the right ways. I should be proud of that alone, but I must say, I’ll be over the moon when I get to cross that finish line.

Sun Salutations and Stable BG: Yoga Does the Trick for my Diabetes

1C08F38B-F61A-4747-BDA2-FD3A32F8315C

Whoa, who’s that dork doing a high-speed yoga routine up there?

Hi, it’s me!!

It’s kind of weird to watch a video of yourself doing yoga – especially when you see how awkward you look because the time-lapse feature on your iPhone sped it up so much.

So why did I film myself doing a yoga routine? Once I get past my self-consciousness, I look at the video to see what needs adjusting; for instance, I could sink a little deeper when I’m in my chair pose. I could also stand to slide my foot a bit higher up my leg, perhaps balance it on my thigh, when I’m in the tree pose.

Aside from looking for what needs to be improved, filming the routine also helps me understand why I do yoga. It shows me how my flexibility has increased, as well as my balance. I also realize that it shouldn’t be a surprise to me that I worked up a sweat during this practice – I’m constantly shifting from the ground to standing to various other poses. My muscles are stretching out and getting warm from the movements, so of course I’m giving my body a workout in the process.

And in turn, I’m also keeping my blood sugar stable. The yoga poses combined with controlled breathing and mind wandering does wonders for both my diabetes and my mental health. More often than not, I ride a straight line on my CGM throughout a yoga practice. It’s a great way to get in the right frame of mind at the start of a day, or unwind at the end of a long one.

Plus, there’s nothing like sinking into child’s pose (lying face down on the mat with your arms extended, your knees apart, and your rear in contact with your heels) or taking a nice long savasana (or corpse pose, in which you lie face up with your eyes closed, arms at your side, with fingers and toes spread open – without letting your muscles tense up) at the end of a practice to reset the mind.

Can’t beat the benefits of yoga.

Cardio Workouts, Stink Bugs, and Diabetes

…What could those three things possibly have to do with each other?

Turns out, a lot more than you think. At least, if your name is Molly, you have diabetes, you do workouts in the mornings, and on top of all that, you have a paralyzing fear of bugs.

All of these things created a bit of a perfect storm last week during the early morning hours. My day started out normally: My alarm blared at 6:15, I rolled out of bed, changed into exercise clothes, and hit the play button on my DVD player. I completed a grueling half hour “Total Body Cardio Fix”, a series of exercises that are a part of the 21 Day Fix program. By the end of the workout, I was sweating profusely, but proud of myself for keeping up with this relatively new addition into my morning routine.

I proceeded getting ready (take shower, get dressed, do make-up). Towards the end of my make-up application, as I was blending concealer under my eyes in an attempt to cover up the dark circles, I happened to spot something on my carpet out of the corner of my eye. I hunched down to take a closer look and initially though it was a clump of stray threads on my floor – but I very quickly discovered it was something else. A nasty, ugly stink bug!!! Ugh, I hate those things. They’re so icky to look at, they FLY, and they release a horrible odor when you smoosh them. There is legitimately nothing to appreciate about them.

E149192F-5932-477A-B574-B3A0147C950E
My hyper-realistic rendering of what stink bugs look like. Those little squiggles represent their malodorous manner. The evil expression, though, is pure speculation on the artist’s part, as she has never gotten close

If you know me well enough, you know that I have what my parents kindly refer to as the “bug scream”. That’s how much I dislike creepy crawlies of all varieties. So as it dawned on me that I was looking right at one, I blood-curdling one escaped my lips and I ran as fast as I could out of my room. Unfortunately, though, I had to scamper back in to grab my test kit, PDM, and CGM so I could figure out what to do while I had my breakfast.

As I paced back and forth in the kitchen, trying to come up with a bug elimination stratagem, I heard a “BUZZBUZZBUZZ” from the other room. No, it wasn’t another bug – thanks heavens for that – but it was my CGM. The combination of early morning cardio and bug-induced mania must’ve done the trick. So there I was, in my absolute prime (not!): shaking, sweating, and most probably looking like a crazy person as I blended a breakfast shake together. Not cute.

Of course, the blood sugar issue was taken care of pronto. The bug issue, however? That was addressed. Eventually…

…meaning that my mother was my savior and eliminated the BUGger (sorry for the terrible pun*) later that evening. Thanks, mom.

 

*Not actually sorry for terrible puns because I love all puns!!!