Finally bit the strength training bullet

Exercise -  - 7

When I saw my endo a few months ago she said looking at my lab work, “If you fell on your wrist you’d likely break it.” A not so subtle way to say my bone density stinks in my upper body. Sure, I walk like a demon which helps my lower half, but I still have osteopenia, the beginning of osteoporosis. “I can start you on a medicine you’d take for five years,” my endo said still talking. (Was she really still talking? All I could think of was I was going to break all my bones if I fell down.)

“I don’t want to be on another medicine (that would mean two insulins, levothyroxine for my hypothyroidism, calcium and Vitamin D and a bone density med). Then she asked, “Have you ever worked with a trainer?” The answer is no but the thought got planted in my head.

I’ve long known I should be doing some kind of resistance training. Maybe now, I thought, I have to bite the bullet. I could walk a dozen miles on any day just for the fun of it, but squats, c’mon, does anyone like doing that?!

Yet, luckily for me at this same time I was watching a series of videos on functional fitness. That’s a type of fitness training that will keep you strong and agile as you age. You’ll be able to pick up a pencil or a thirty pound box without gasping and throwing out your back. Better yet you’ll be able to climb the subway stairs and make it back to your apartment. But you won’t get a buff body. That sounded just about perfect for me as I’m about to turn 62 and have no desire to have my body buffed.

So now Andrew, my intrepid trainer, and I have turned my apartment into a gym. Andrew is just what I wanted: thoroughly professional, expert in functional fitness, gentle yet firm and he watches me like a hawk to see what my body is doing, which is usually something different than what he just showed me to do. I’ve learned faster isn’t better and resting even between reps is a good thing.

I can’t say I love strength training, but I can say it does’t repel me as it used to. I’ve only been doing this shy of two months, but I do think I’m standing a little straighter and steadier, more solid in my core (yes, I’m picking up the lingo) and stronger overall. Our sessions are an hour twice a week and then I do a one hour session in between on my own.

I expected my blood sugar would either shoot up – as it does if you’re really working hard anerobically, or down, as when you do aerobics. But I can’t yet confirm what it does. I will continue to watch. But I do feel I’m on the way to being more resilient physically, more flexible, better balanced, stronger and more centered. And, the next time I’m about to take a spill which I hear old people do a lot, I’ll have a greater chance to sidestep it.

There’s also of course another benefit. When my husband and I sell this 700 square foot 1 bedroom apartment, we can advertise it as living space, two offices and a gym!

A sample diabetes food menu in desperate need of updating


I read this in a recent edition of a diabetes magazine put out by the AADE (American Association of Diabetes Educators.) I happen to be a member of AADE and highly respect anyone who goes into diabetes education and comes out the other end as an educator. But why, when guidelines have caught up to the 21st century to say we should treat people with diabetes as individuals, do we put out a single sample menu in a food article?

And a particularly poor sample menu and absolutely old school, old thinking. Cheese is suggested for both breakfast and lunch. Refined carbs like an English muffin is suggested for breakfast. As is fruit yogurt which is full of sugar. Why frozen vegetables rather than fresh and if you’re going to suggest a tortilla, why not a whole wheat one?

My bet is everything gets dumbed down to appeal to the masses. But why assume the “masses” need dumbing down? If I only had this menu to work with I could immediately make it healthier with a few switches. Plain Greek yogurt with some fresh fruit replaces the fruit yogurt. A whole wheat English muffin with banana and peanut butter and take the cheese away. Add some beans to lunch with a green salad and take the cheese and crackers away. Sauté a piece of fish at dinner or broil a piece of chicken or make pasta primavera and go for fresh vegetables and maybe half a sweet potato.

Don’t assume people can’t do something before you ask them if they can. We can offer people healthy options they can do with a little ingenuity.

Grain Brain author and neurologist David Perlmutter says, “Fat is your friend, carbs are not”

Perlmutter says carbs are shrinking your brain and causing higher rates of Alzheimers. The author of Grain Brain in this interview says it’s faulty science that led us all to abandon fat and eat more carbs. If you’ve read my writing before you know I am all about eating low carb and healthy fat – avocado, nuts, seeds, olive and coconut oil.

So why does the American Diabetes Association and Heart Association continue to push carbs and make us scared of fat? Well, it’s hard to turn the Titanic around;  they changed the American diet and sold us on the fear of fat and embracing carbs. I’ve heard it more than once now our bodies require protein and fat but do not require carbohydrate. If you lower your carbs, you start burning fat, healthfully, for energy.

What we eat affects our gene expression, it influences which of our genes turn on.

Why are we treating the symptom rather than the cause of type 2 diabetes?

I’ve always been told type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. No matter what you do your beta cells will over time produce less and less insulin. Yet, many people with type 2 diabetes who lose weight, change their diet and get moving get off medication and live as though they no longer have diabetes. So, what’s the story?

Dr. Jason Fung, a kidney specialist, gives an insightful talk about just this. In his words we are “treating the symptoms of diabetes, high blood sugar, rather than the disease which is insulin resistance.” Type 2 diabetes he says doesn’t have to progress if you deal with insulin resistance by losing weight, eating healthy and being physically active. By time most people have had type 2 diabetes ten years they are on multiple medications, including taking up to 100 units of insulin a day. Sure, their blood sugars have come down but their diabetes has only gotten worse.

“People with Type 2 diabetes have too much insulin,” says Fung “so we need to reduce their insulin not add more, that’s crazy. It’s like giving an alcoholic alcohol.” Frankly, I couldn’t agree more. As a type 1, I believe in the benefit of keeping my injected insulin low, by eating a low carb diet, to keep my blood sugars more stable. A high sugar/refined carb diet spikes blood sugars making them much harder to keep in one’s target range. Fung also talks about the benefit of fasting toward the end.