Saturday, March 31, 2012

Taking Paleo for a test drive

So for the past two months I’ve been eating a paleo diet to see if it would smooth out my blood sugars so I could better handle my busy schedule of dance and school.  Here’s what I’ve discovered during my paleo test drive!
If you’re curious about the Paleo diet check out one of my favorite sites!
Trying a paleo friendly lettuce wrap burger at Flip in Birmingham!

  • Blood sugars are steady as a rock!
    I ate about 50 grams of carbs per day so my mealtime boluses were much smaller than what I was used to.  By consuming less carbohydrate and taking less insulin my lows and highs were smoothed out.  Since I was also eating more fat (Healthy fats of course) any spikes I had were much slower.  I still needed my basal and I made sure I bolused for every gram of carbohydrates, even veggies.  All in all my blood sugars were almost normal.  Wow!
  • I realized that processed foods made me feel sick
    On paleo I made sure to eat foods that were minimally processed.  I ate fresh fruits and veggies, organic meats, nuts and seeds without any seasoning.  I played with recipes to create my own banana bread, brownies, egg muffins and fritattas.  The ingredients were so simple!  For example my banana bread just contained ripe bananas, eggs, almond flour, almond butter and vanilla!  Once I had eaten these unprocessed foods for a while I realized that my body didn’t feel achy and tired.  It was a nice experience to get rid of the chemicals that I couldn’t pronounce.
This is your blood sugars on Paleo...on a good day!

  • I gained weight!
    I know it sounds funny but I actually gained weight eating paleo!  Since I was consuming a lot of healthy fat my blood sugars weren’t too affected, so I thought “fats didn’t count!”.  I always am conscious of the carbs that I eat but I forgot about fat and fat has lots of calories too.  I didn’t gain too much weight but good to know!
  • Feeling full and lots of energy
    I was able to dance and complete my workouts just as much as I was before I started eating paleo.  Even though my carbohydrate intake was low I didn’t experience any dip in energy at all.  
  • I missed my favorite foods
    I love cereal, I’m just going to be honest.  I think restricting myself so much put my favorite foods even higher on the pedestal of things I wanted.  For quite a while I didn’t crave sugar or grains but after a while I needed to have a little bit of my favorites to keep my sanity
My favorite recipe, egg muffins!  Portable and yummy.
  • What did I learn and what will I take away from my paleo test drive?
    The less carbohydrate equals less mealtime insulin equals smoothed out blood sugars.  I’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on my carbs. 
    I also realized that processed foods make me feel like garbage.  Even though I’m eating some crackers or cereal I’m going to make sure I can pronounce (and KNOW) what the ingredients are. 
    Fats still have calories!  Eating healthy fats like Omega-3’s help keep me full and slow down my carbohydrate spikes but overeating them isn’t helpful either.
    Speaking of fats, I love coconut oil!  I had never experienced it before I tried paleo and it’s great!
  • Will I continue with Paleo?
    While I’ve enjoyed my time exploring what paleo has to offer me, I think that my original way of eating (balanced portion control) will be better for me to maintain in the long run.  I have learned a lot and I’ll be making a few adjustments.  I’m definitely cutting out the processed food and keeping my carb intake low.  It’s still a work in progress for me to figure out a healthy, long term way of eating that keeps my weight in check for dance, keeps my blood sugar stable and gives me energy to power through my classes.  In a few more months I’ll let you know how my next experiment goes.   
-Exit Stage Left

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dancing with a Feisty Insulin Pump!

Now that Marsha (my One Touch Ping insulin pump from Animas) and I have been dancing together for 4 months now I feel like I have a good story to tell concerning what it is like to dance with an insulin pump.  
Well, what can I’s rather...uneventful 80% of the time.  I use a tummitote belt and my pump and dexcom stay quiet and out of the way during class.  They don’t complain too much so I just ignore them and continue on with class and rehearsals.  I suppose I’ve gotten so used to that heavy feeling of electronics around my waist that if I dance without them it throws me off my game!   
For modern dance I keep it clipped into a pocket and during floor work you can hear it clunk as I roll across the floor.  It has never torn out or launched itself across the studio no matter how many turns I do.  Fingers crossed it never happens!
One of the 20% moments when my pump decides to not play fair happened last week.  Once in a while my site will hit a nerve or blood vessel and after that all bets are off.  I usually end up bleeding, in searing pain and I have change it in a very angry manner.  I had put in a new site in the morning and I must say I was pleased with how nicely I had arranged the tubing.  You know, those extra pretty sites that never get in the way of your pants and give you great absorption?  Ahh yes, one of those...sigh, where was I?  
I was rolling around on the floor loosening up my hips for class when I rolled over my new site and I felt a horrible, piercing pain go into my butt.  I rolled over, hyperventilating a little while holding my tush.  My company members didn’t seem to notice as they’re used to me doing weird things in the name of diabetes.  The pain faded and the little voice in my head popped up and said “change the site, dude.  It won’t get any better” (yes the voice calls me dude...don’t judge). I decided to power on through and see if somehow this time I wouldn’t need to change the site.  
Class began and certain movements hurt more than others.  What got me was a forward bend.  That was it, I couldn’t stand it anymore.  I got up and ran to the side of the studio my eyes getting misty from the pain.  You would think a tiny needle wouldn’t hurt so much, but it felt like I was sitting on a nail!  My coach ran over to help me and I immediately wanted to disappear.  I told her I was ok and that I just hit a nerve while I was digging through my tights to pull out my perfectly placed infusion set.  Nothing felt better than getting that evil device of torture out of my skin!  A huge bruise was left in its place but I didn’t care.  
The music continued to play and the company continued to dance.  I desperately didn’t want to miss more dancing than I had to so I decided to not put in a new set.  I fumbled around trying to find a syringe to replace the insulin I would be missing for the next hour.    I took a wild guess, filled the syringe and quickly injected myself through my blue leotard.  I pulled off my belt and ran back to the barre to continue with class.  It was strange and freeing to not dance with my pump but I am a creature of habit and as soon as the dance day was done my pump was back at my side.  I love my pump, but sometimes she can get quite feisty!   
-Exit Stage Left

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Dialogue with your Body

After a meaningful conversation with my amazing ballet coach I realized how important it is to respect and listen to my body, in dance and in diabetes.  

And yes, I'm applying to medical school and switched dance companies...but that'll be a different blog.



Sunday, March 11, 2012

I am interviewed for "The Smart Woman's Guide to Diabetes"!

In leu of no fierce footwork fridays this week I bring to you a brand new interview (with brand new photos) by the lovely Amy Mercer!  Check it out and have a wonderful Sunday!

The Smart Woman's Guide to Diabetes

-Exit Stage Left

Friday, March 2, 2012

“What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”

I wrote this blog last week for Sunday but due to the threat of the tornado rehearsal was cancelled.  Sorry guys, no fierce footwork Fridays, but I think I have something better.

"What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” 
I hear that quote from every inspirational speech I’ve ever heard.  I roll my eyes and lean back in my chair imagining which cupcake I’ll get once I’m out of this lecture.  Seriously though, that quote seems to lack a strong meaning unless you have really have experienced it first hand.  
We think that those who take big risks; like climbing mountains, battling polar bears or even curing diabetes are the only ones that reap the big rewards from their high risk situations, but we deal with risk every single day.  With each risk comes important learning and more importantly growth.  
Take a risk, jump for joy!

My career with dance has been a risky one at that.  Simply landing a job in the highly competitive field of dance is more than half the battle.  You walk into a crowded, sweaty studio where you can barely see the person leading the audition choreography and are quickly judged by a small group of individuals sitting before you.  They may not like your height, or the way you smile or even how flexible you are.  At the end of the day, many times you don’t make the job...but sometimes you do.  I can remember getting my letter offering me a position at The Montgomery Ballet as well as at Arova Contemporary Ballet.  I sank to my knees and cried.  It was worth it.  
A pirouette is a type of turn that can be done in many positions and is a challenge to master.  One must know exactly how much force to use, how fast to turn their head, where to keep their weight and how to use their arms.  Anybody who knows me knows that pirouettes are the bane of my existence.  I can do them just fine but I always fear them.  I am terrified of slipping and falling so I come out of them before I really should.  I miss the last turn because I am scared.  What is holding me back from pirouette perfection?  Fear?  Sometimes you fall out of the turn...but sometimes you do a perfect triple and land it cleanly.  I always know that wonderful feeling when all the tiny variables  are in balance and enjoy it every time.  It is worth it.
Diabetes is risky business as well!  Every single time I bolus on my pump I know that if I miscalculate I could easily go into a coma from the delivery of life saving insulin.  It’s a little crazy.  We risk it when we try different foods.  We risk it by putting ourselves in stressful situations.  We risk it from rage bolusing (trying to take down a stubborn high blood sugar by giving too much insulin).  There is always the risk of falling asleep and never waking up.  I feel like I could go on and on with how risky diabetes is.  Each variable makes a difference in managing this disease but unfortunately the variables are always changing.  
For example, I usually like to bolus 30 minutes before I eat.  It seems to work most of the time.  This morning I planned on having a big bowl of Cream of Wheat as a treat for my hard work this week.  I lay in bed knowing that it would take 30 minutes for my novolog to kick in so I lounged around and checked out twitter.  10 minutes later my vision became blurry and as I looked about the room everything looked soft and fuzzy.  My Dexcom immediately starting alarming the 55mg/dl alarm.  I was confused, this normally doesn’t happen!  
It is always worth it
I checked my blood sugar and it had dropped from 90 to 42 in 10 minutes.  The novolog was working way too fast.  I tried to get out of bed being careful and trying not to panic.  I live alone so I had no help.  I tried to wash my face and put in my contacts and didn’t treat my low.  We all do strange things when we’re low I suppose.  Eventually adrenaline kicked in and I began to shake uncontrollably and felt the most terrifying fear that I was about to die if I didn’t take care of this.  By that time my jaws were too tired too move so I grabbed my emergency glucose drink that I keep in the bathroom and downed it.  I sat on the floor with tears in my eyes, confused, sweating, shaking, unable to see or hear properly.  I felt horrible for about 2 hours afterward.  I ate a big breakfast after but I wasn’t hungry.  
As I sit here my head hurts but I’ve decided to make it to ballet rehearsal.  I have overcome a huge risk.  If my Dexcom hadn’t kicked in, I’m not sure if I would have been able to treat myself in time.  Just knowing the fact that I was able to take care of myself and pull myself back from the brink makes me feel like I’ve conquered something.  A terrifying wall was placed in front of me and I wasn’t sure if I could scale it, but I fought tooth and nail and made it.  It didn’t kill me but it certainly made me stronger.  
No, diabetes doesn’t make any sense.  Dance is difficult.  Anything that is risky in your life like job interviews, going to medical school, even rock climbing at your local wall will make you stronger.  Take care of yourself and pat yourself on the back.  While living with diabetes is tough stuff, managing the risks is worth it.  

-Exit Stage Left