I have been an athlete for most of my life. Though you sure wouldn’t think it if you saw me today… I played soccer from age 5 – 10, horseback riding from 8 – 14, cheer leading from 12 – 14, then varsity tennis and badminton from 14 – 18. Plus every summer I’d spend hours every day on the lake skiing, wake boarding, sailing and browning away in the sun.
I was a skinny kid, always in the top percentile for height and the bottom percentile for weight. I had serious health issues from around age 8 but they didn’t catch up to me until college. I had chronic sinus infections. My knees were blown out, sending me to PT a couple of times for limping, pain and instability. I had chronic tendonitis in my right hand and shoulder. I was in pain every day from the endometriosis. I had cluster migraines that would send me to the ER with a towel wrapped around my head. Oh and I started gaining weight, a lot of weight.
I tried a few times to play sports again but my knee and shoulder injuries just wouldn’t let me. When I lived in Seattle, I got turned onto running. I used to think (and still do) that running is pretty boring, however the pacific northwest is gorgeous, and the weather was good enough I could do it year round. So I did that for 2 years, running 2-4 miles a day. It made me feel virtuous, though didn’t prevent me from continuing to gain weight and was the final nail in the coffin for my knees. I was limping all the time now and my left knee would randomly give out without warning, taking me down hard. I felt old…
After 3 months of painful physical therapy, and a diagnosis of “stupid IT bands”, I was told that running wasn’t a great idea for me. So back to the drawing board!
After my diagnosis of diabetes and losing 60 lbs, I decided to try tennis again, since I love it and am a glutton for punishment. Every Saturday I’d play for 2 hours, turning my cheeks bright purple, sweating buckets while my arms and legs would grow pale and frozen. By the time I drove home I could barely walk and would crash for the next 4-6 hours. Turns out my blood sugar would spike while playing, sometimes over 200, then afterwards would come crashing down around 40-50. No wonder I felt like shit. I kept at it for a couple months, playing around with my protein, eating carbs beforehand, etc but no dice. I still would like to play but I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to again.
I couldn’t handle anything more strenuous than walking. Seemed like the end of the line when it came to me and exercise.
My friends over at DiabetesForums.com suggested that I try weight lifting instead of cardio exercise to control the liver dumps. I have always had a poor image of weight lifters and wasn’t interested in bulking up, drinking protein powder mixes or wearing MC Hammer pants so that seemed out. But then someone brought up Slow Burn. It’s a way of doing strength training that doesn’t involve countless reps and sets or living at the gym.
Work out for only 30 minutes, 2x a week? Easy on the joints? Prevents muscle loss and strengthens bone? SIGN ME UP! I picked up Slow Burn Fitness and tried it at home for a few months. I liked that I could do the workout without sweating, joint pain or a huge investment in equipment. It also didn’t screw with my blood sugar, which was a big win. So I have been doing Slow Burn 1-2x a week since September. I think I have reached the limit of what I can do safely at home, and am trying out a new program. More on that in my next post.
I don’t have some overarching “today I learned” platitude. Just sharing my rocky journey with fitness and blorpitude.