Unless you’ve just returned from the last decade on top of a mountain, or the middle of a desert, you are probably aware of the ubiquitous message that exercise is good for us all. And as muscles are the largest users in the body of glucose, it’s especially true for those with Type 2. Work those muscles, and they’ll vacuum up the glucose swirling through your blood!
Perhaps you’ve tried to increase your favorite activities, or begin visiting the gym where you have already paid more than the price of your house in unused membership dues. Many of you likely have great intentions to work-out, but the reality of creating a practice that is sustainable defeats all but the more determined ones.
Of course, if you focus on the actual activity itself, it’s not exactly enticing for most of us. I’ll post more later about how to start or stay with a workout.
There aren’t many people I know who are motivated to go and workout merely by thinking ahead of time in detail about each exercise they’ll do. Maybe there are a few somewhere who, merely by mentally walking through a bicep curl, feel motivated.
I can imagine their inner monologue, especially if trained by a fitness instructor. ‘I’ll walk over to the rack of free weights, pick a five pound heavier than last weeks heavy weight, that’ll win extra brownie points…wrestle it out of its support, probably need two hands for that if it’s the twenty pounder…stagger over lopsidedly ‘cos I can’t carry two at once…plunk my butt down on a large, T-mobile pink plastic blow-up medicine ball to work my core muscles simultaneously…plant my feet slightly wider than my hips for balance, and agonizingly slowly, curl the hand grasping this dumb-bell towards my shoulder…bending the elbow on its hinge…until this dumb dumb-bell virtually crashes into my aching shoulder…before gravity helps it back down to rest on my quads. I can’t wait to repeat that eleven more times, and then switch hands, and do it all over again with my other arm. Few sips of water, then whoo-hoo, I get to start all over again! Must remember to breathe in going up, and out on the way down, otherwise I’ll get hemorrhoids’.
A better alternative I find for keeping motivation high is choosing to recall how I feel after a work-out. If I check in, I notice greater mental alertness, sharper cognitive connections, quicker associations, calmer emotions, less stress or anxiety. All my senses vibrate, awaken, are sharper, pulsating. I’m kinder, less impatient or critical, softer. I’m better motivated by inclining myself toward a healthy state of being.
Religiously testing my blood glucose before, during and after working out, the first few months post-diagnosis showed rewarding, steadily decreasing numbers. Some months in though, a different trend emerged. Testing my glucose level midway as usual, sandwiched between strength training and cardio, typically it might be 60-90 mg/dl or more lower than when I began my workout. Now, my glucose level began to be consistently higher by the same amount.
Feeling disturbed by this reversal, I was baffled as to how to interpret it. After my customary research online, an answer presents itself. The stress on my body from the intense workouts caused my adrenals to release cortisol, causing higher readings. When I lowered the workout intensity, doing a moderate rather than fierce workout, sure enough my glucose levels fell.
A gentle reminder of avoiding extremes as demonstrated by my body, and I grimly set the intention that both Goldilocks and the Buddha would perpetually guide and keep me towards the middle path, the path of not too much or not too little. It turns out helpful for me to perceive the managing of this disease as the Middle Path, a concept I was very familiar with from my study of Buddhism, and my own natural inclination for balance and moderation. I make a mental note, that experience proves to be the best teacher!