Both by necessity and by passion, physical fitness has played a huge role in my life.
I recently traveled to LA and took classes at Lagree Fitness Studio, a gym that centers their program around the philosophy that true fitness must take a holistic view. The length of your workout, how much you can bench, how far you can run — these are all only part of the equation; real fitness goes deeper. As a Type 1 diabetic, I couldn’t agree more. So it was perfect, then, that it was here I also met Ty.
“Hey, I’m a Type 1 too!” he greeted me after noticing my insulin pump. An instructor at Lagree, Ty knows better than anyone about the challenges and joys of total fitness. We had so much to talk about when it comes to living healthfully with T1 — experiences to compare, new developments to get excited about, and victories large and small to celebrate — that we decided to team up this month and share our experiences with you!
Anyone who has ever dedicated themselves to a goal (whether it’s an awesome day at the gym, managing a disease, starting a business, you name it) knows that that the most valuable tool available to you are the buddies who keep you motivated, share their mistakes, and push you to do better every day. Ty and I certainly found that, and we hope you will too!
What’s the most challenging part of your day (relating to diabetes)?
Adam: Trying to stay focused when sugar level is moving around.
Ty: Keeping track of my blood sugar and monitoring how quickly it changes.
What makes you most and least confident about managing your diabetes?
Adam: The most is seeing a strategy that a doctor recommended working — for example, after working out in morning and having my first meal, my doctor recommended the “dual wave bolus”: I give myself the bolus to cover the carbohydrates, as well as additional insulin that is released over a period of time to combat the rising sugars from the workout. The least is seeing a strategy that previously worked now having to be tweaked and changed.
Ty: I no longer am able to sense or feel my blood sugar…..so low blood sugar unawareness sometimes give me anxiety.
What is your motivation to take care of yourself?
Adam: To live a long healthy life! To be there for my wife and my loved ones.
Ty: I want to live a healthy and long life and I know the best way to do that is to take care of myself with daily exercise and proper nutrition.
What are some specific challenges you deal with pertaining to fitness? Both in exercise and meal planning?
Adam: Sugar rising from high intensity weight training, and my energy levels fluctuating accordingly. I purposefully exercise first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
Ty: The main challenge for me and fitness is understanding how long and what I will be doing and how that will impact my blood sugar dropping. I struggle when my blood sugar drops too low with not wanting to eat but rather having to eat to get my sugar back into a normal range. In effect, it has changed the way I feel about eating…..to me it feels like work rather than pleasure.
What’s something new you’ve learned recently about managing your diabetes?
Adam: The dual wave method after exercising! My sugar would always rise an hour or two after working out and having breakfast, and it was a challenge to bring it back down. Now this strategy continuously feeds me insulin, and I’ve noticed my sugar no longer rises like it did previously.
Ty: That the very first artificial pancreas was announced this week which I’m very excited to try as soon as it becomes available! This is going to be a game changer in how my diabetes management plan works.
(Check out the artificial pancreas here!)
Share a funny story (or a few!) about being a Type1!
Adam: On vacation with friends, I forgot to take my pump off when jumping into the pool. When I was mid-air above the water, I realized this was a very expensive mistake!
Ty: Wow…..where to even begin…
What would you say is the hardest thing for non-diabetics to understand?
Adam: That they think diabetes is just something that can be controlled by not eating sugar. And, that it’s not the same thing at all to being gluten-free!
Ty: Most non-diabetics just naturally think you can’t eat sugar which couldn’t be further from the truth. They don’t understand how the body works and how they have islet cells and that they produce insulin which is what we must use everyday to maintain our blood sugar levels.
How do you get through teaching high energy classes (or, having to do them yourself) when your sugar may not be in the best of places?
Adam: I don’t teach those insane classes, but sometimes I have to continue in a difficult work meeting that requires my attention and energy. I try to push through as best I can, but sometimes the diabetes wins.
Ty: I have always had some weird ability to push through or function when my blood sugars are unusually low…..but preparing and making sure I have the proper fuel and snacks with me is the best way to prevent lows.
Favorite pre- and post-workout meals?
Adam: Pre: coffee! Post: egg white omelette (just cooking spray), with whole wheat toast and sunflower butter!
Ty: I’m Italian so basically anything with pasta for me is always a win! For pre-workout meals I sometimes will have a muscle milk shake or grab an AXIO endurance powder and mix it into my water.
Favorite cheat meal? And how do you deal?!
Adam: Giant portions of sautéed broccoli in garlic and oil, and chicken primavera! Sounds healthy, but the portion size is so out of control that my sugar often will rise during the night when sleeping. I’ve recently learned that the dual wave approach works great here, too, to help combat the rising sugar.
Ty: For sure my annual cookie cake from the Great American Cookie Company for my birthday! It’s been a long standing tradition on my birthday. That’s not changing however……I deal by monitoring my sugar and making sure I take some extra meal boluses that week 🙂
More From Ty
If you’re in the LA area, I highly recommend you stop by for one of Ty’s awesome classes. You can get in contact with him on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat (cucar001). Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, just stop by for a class at Lagree:
Private sessions are available upon request! Email him at Tycucarola@gmail.com.