You already know that getting active is an important part of diabetes management. You and your diabetes are one of a kind, and your workout routine should reflect that! Running, yoga, mountain climbing, the choice is yours. But just because getting active is a big deal for people with diabetes, doesn’t mean they can’t treat themselves every now and again.
It’s all about finding the right balance. Eating in moderation and making an effort to get moving will help you throughout your diabetes journey. We talked to Jamie, a Monster Tamer living with type 2 diabetes. Jamie told us that he tackles his type 2 diabetes head-on every single day. Keep reading to find out how Jamie gets active as a person with diabetes...
How active were you before you were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes?
Throughout my life, I’ve always been active. From a very young age I played football and only stopped when I reached my early forties. On top of that, I played squash, golf, tennis, cricket and ran a little. As I got into my forties, work and family life pretty much took over, so finding opportunities to exercise became more difficult and I didn’t really have the motivation to exercise just for the sake of it. I had always trained in the past so I could play a sport.
I was diagnosed with type 2 in May 2018. Prior to this, I was using a fitness tracker and during 2017 I covered about 1000 miles, mainly walking in all its various guises. I had become a seasonal exerciser, so my activity levels in the summer were much higher than those in the winter. Looking back now I personally think winter lethargy was a key factor in the weight gain that led to my diagnosis.
How did you feel about incorporating exercise into your daily routine?
When I was diagnosed it was a real wake up call and a great source of motivation. I felt very ashamed, so much so that I have told very few people. My @type2nme Insta account is also very private, none of my followers or people I follow are people I know. I wanted a vehicle to help me and others where I could be totally uninhibited, warts and all.
Fundamentally I enjoy exercise, I enjoy a challenge. As my children have gotten older and since starting my own business 7 years ago I have a lot more time for me. I was never good at making time for me but now I have to.
I was a bit wary of overexertion, 6 years ago I ruptured my ankle ligaments while making a 5-a-side football (a variation of association football) comeback. It took me 6 months to recover, so I knew I needed to be careful. I chose walking because I knew I could do it every day and I did not dread doing it. It’s really important to find something you like doing.
What are your favourite ways to get moving?
My exercise routine is really based on walking in all of its forms and different levels of intensity, you really can do it in any way and in almost any type of clothing. I break it down as follows :
- Yomp - Proper gear on, on-road or cross country, high intensity, focused on speed and significant distance, elevated heart rate into cardio zone, plenty of hills. If you see someone you know, ignore them, you are in the zone :)
- Walk - No need to put on sports gear but a brisk walk before work or at lunchtime, quick pace, decent distance, focused on good rhythm, heart rate in the fat-burning zone - again trying not to stop even if you say your best buddy or Mum :)
- Stroll - A dog walk, a walk with someone else or both, more relaxed, social, not worrying about speed or distance, just enjoying the moment.
- Amble - A short walk into town, the key is you are walking and not driving, talk to who you like :)
In 2018 my total walking distance measured by an activity tracker was 1800 miles, in 2019 2000 miles, 2020 1900 miles.
Although the 2020 distance was less, I had made a conscious decision to increase intensity
and distance. I walked 2 marathons, one of which was The Virtual London Marathon, I also raised over £2000 for various charities including The Samaritans and The MS Society.
I picked up a foot injury while walking the Virtual London Marathon, so I started cycling. I now walk, cycle and do a small amount of running. As my confidence has grown, I have found that participating in virtual events is a source of great motivation and satisfaction. I am currently in a team of four who are travelling along Route66. We have 400 miles to go, having covered about 1900 miles since the 1st of November.
Can you talk us through your daily diabetes management routine?
I find the key is consistency, something which I struggle with. Having to be mindful 24/7 365 days a year is hard work, but being consistent does work. This means 3 meals a day and avoid snacking in between. I am currently using an app to track my food and, of course, exercise. Eating food that I enjoy, but food that I know well, for example I have developed a protein based porridge for breakfast, replacing some of the oats with almond flakes and coconut. Lunch is normally something protein based, eggs are a quick easy option. Dinner is more flexible, we are a family of six, so it’s not always easy to have a specific meal plan, but I find if breakfast and lunch are fine, and then the evening meal can be more relaxed.
I try and do some exercise every day. Not always intense or long, but it has become my good habit. Come wind, rain or shine I make sure I find the time, and most of the time I do something. I tend to do a lot on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday, rest on a Monday, and then build back up on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Every now and then I do a spot check blood glucose test, but find these days that I need them less and less to affirm my status.
My approach is now more relaxed than it was when I was first diagnosed, and I am more flexible on food types than I was and less nervous about getting something wrong. I know now I can control it. I came off medication last October. Now I am waiting for my next diabetic review in April/May, which will hopefully confirm that I have kept my HbA1c in good shape without the need for medication. My blood sugar monitoring would certainly indicate that I am on target.
How do you find the motivation to get moving?
I love a challenge and I am determined to stay on top of my type 2 diabetes. I want to live a full, happy and active life. I get excited about exercising, about my next challenge or goal. I get out of bed at six in the morning on weekends so I can exercise, and then when I get back, I often go for a dog walk with my wife or walk into town. I don't want to feel ashamed of my type 2 diabetes.
I have entered the Virtual London Marathon and I have set personal targets for 2021; the only person who I really compete with is myself. Striving to do a little more than last year, keeping on top of my weight, blood sugars, blood pressure, cholesterol etc - it is my responsibility.
I would also like to highlight mental health. I was in a bad place when I was diagnosed, life was hard. Addressing and coming to terms with my mental health has been paramount in my
recovery, the impact of it should not be underestimated.
I have found social media to be a source of inspiration and motivation. I hope my Instagram feed helps. If I inspire one person, then it is worthwhile.
What’s your favourite way to treat yourself after a workout?
On weekends, my wife and I normally have a walk of some sort. After that, my favourite treat is a decaf flat white coffee and a cake. Flap Jacks are a decent choice, but every now and then something more decadent.
- Pick an exercise you enjoy
- Find a way to motivate yourself, e.g. events, friends, targets
- Try and exercise 365 days a year
- Be mindful but don't let diabetes control you
- Mental health is as important as physical health
- All things in moderation
- One bad day is not the end of the world
- Forgive yourself
The mySugr website does not provide medical or legal advice. mySugr blog articles are not scientific articles, but intended for informational purposes only.
Medical or nutritional information on the mySugr website is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult a physician or health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.