Get Moving for Your Mood

Our happiness is predetermined ~ 50% by genes. This leaves us with a huge opportunity to take action to smile, or want to smile, more often. Overall our brain is like a muscle, the more we influence happiness, the more likely or more easily it can be to attain. You see, happiness is part of a chemical process of neurons and dopamine receptors. If we don’t exercise doing things that enlighten our mood, those receptors can decrease with time and age.

Thankfully here we can hit 2 birds with one stone here! Aerobic exercise is one of the best ways to improve mood. Not only can we look at activity for fitness, heart health, and weight loss, but overall we can improve our happiness and mental health too.

Therefore, maybe weight loss should move to way wayside, and overall mental and physical health should be capitalized? Not a bad idea and research proves that focusing on health, in general, is better and more productive than focusing on losing weight.

As someone with diabetes, exercise impacts my blood sugar control, but that doesn’t hold me back from doing interval training, yoga and heavy lifting weekly. Also, I asked a few friends from “Females with Type 1 Diabetes, Type 1 Diabetic Athletes Group, DMs Supporting DMs,” Facebook communities what their activity looks like, and this is what they had to share:

I have played soccer before and after my diagnosis, and crossfit 5-6 times per week. Crossfit keeps my blood sugar more level than soccer ever did! The most significant differences that I notice are overnight readings. My insulin sensitivity is very manageable as I am more aware working out… When I am not active or in the past when I have not been working out, it was much harder to notice my insulin sensitivities! Being active and staying fit has changed my life incredibly! My diabetes is pure motivation to get to the gym when I can hardly stand to do anything that day! It has really pushed me to have the desire to see within range blood sugar numbers and I know that being active is the only way I will accomplish that. Type 1 diabetes using the Medtronic 530g! Diagnosed for 10 years and 7 months! – Katelyn Partridge 

I start every day with a 2-mile walk with my dog. Then after working 8 hours depending on the night I play racquetball, tennis, do Zumba or yoga. In the winter I ski on the weekends. In the spring and summer, I do distance cycling. Exercise has helped me lose weight, maintain decent blood sugar control and it makes me more sensitive to insulin. Besides that it makes me feel good. Omnipod pump and a Dexcom. Type 1, dxed May 1975. – Clare T. Fishman 

I’ve been t1 for 24 years and got a Dexcom 2.5 years ago. It really helps with hiking. You can see a drop coming before it happens and eat some glucose to maintain nice flat lines. – Kate Sullivan 

I was a competitive dancer most of my youth and started really working out again two years ago. It changed my life and I started to feel strong and empowered again—my insulin needs dropped from 75 units a day to 45 units a day and I’ve been on a pump for 14 years…as I realized I could workout with diabetes as I had a fear that it would hold me back I found a passion in running and have now completed 5ks, 10ks and working towards my first half marathon this spring! I realized when I believe in myself, I can do anything I set my mind to. Diagnosed with Type 1 on st patty’s day 1997. – Amanda Jolene Smith 

Grew up racing BMX and mountain bikes nationally, competed in fitness competitions for a few years and now do CrossFit 4-5 times a week and stay active with my kids! Competing and exercising with diabetes can be tricky, but if you watch your patterns closely, with trial and error you can figure it out. Building muscle and staying consistent has been the best for me with managing diabetes! Also, this was crucial for two heathy pregnancies with diabetes too! Type 1 for 25 years since age 14, currently on Medtronic pump and CGM. – Allison Sigler MacKenzie 

I make it a point to exercise at the gym at least 3 (but I shoot for 5) days a week, with “active rest days” the rest of the week. Anything more than a gentle walk means I have to take extra insulin, but it’s totally worth it. Besides the benefits to my physical health, I dervive huge mental health benefits, too. When living with a chronic disease, we have to take every opportunity we can to feel good about ourselves, and to feel strong. This is how I keep my head up, and keep going on. I’m looking forward to rocking the NEXT 31+ years, whether they find a cure, or not. I got this! T1 for 31 years (pump/CGM), and active for 2 years… – Dana Coltrinari Burke 

I run 5-8 miles almost every day. On days I don’t run, my numbers are all over the place. I also do yoga and stretching almost everyday. The mental health benefits from the endorphin release and clearing of my mind is equally as important in managing this disease. Diagnosed 3.5 years ago, at age 51. I use both the Omnipod and a CGM. – Stacey Boehrer 

I mostly run, 3-5 days a week. Running has helped me reduce the amount of insulin I need to take and makes me more fit, which in the long run will add years to my life. I was diagnosed at age 5, 33 years ago. I use an Omnipod pump and Dexcom G5 CGM. – Matt Barnett  

“Control diabetes. Don’t let it control you” I had amazing parents who went through training and extreme patience when they first had to give me insulin and figure out the diet. We were an active family already so it was a little easier. Its crucial to have the support of your family and friends especially if newly diagnosed. It’s a complete lifestyle change! For those of us who’ve known nothing else it’s a little easier to transition through each phase. I tried the cgm for a week but due to the way the alarms were set, I went super high and super low due to overcorrections or overeating. For me it’s hard to change what’s been working- low carb meals, lots of protein and fresh fruits and vegetables, exercise includes walking the dogs, running, playing with the kids, swimming, tennis, basketball and whatever comes in front of me.Type I diabetic for 32 years- only on the pump for the past 7 years. My A1c has been between 5.7-6.5 for the past 10 years but my goal is to get it back to 6.0 or under. – Joella Davis 

The formula for happiness is not the same for all of us, but figuring out what we enjoy is key. Go out and play and make time for personal play. When this is easier said than done, I make a gratitude list on paper or in my head, and quickly realize, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.” Or at least overly stressed. 🙂


Input from Crossfit Owner, Low Carber Managing his Type 1 Diabetes – @Type1CrossFit

I had the pleasure in the last year to cross paths with Eric Pelletier, thanks to social media, and am thankful to see someone also living with type 1 diabetes and not being afraid to push their themselves physically and mentally to be in the best care of their ability. Today’s post captures an interview with Eric, and can be helpful to many others looking for inspiration and understanding on adapting to a healthy lifestyle for stable blood sugars and an optimal quality of life. Thank you for your time Eric!

Please tell us a little about yourself. From your social media updates, I see you are eating rather low carb and perhaps playing with some intermittent fasting (IF)?

You are correct I am still dabbling in IF and trying to maintain ketosis regularly. I also own Type 1 CrossFit in Wheeling, IL so it makes for a badass platform!

A little bit about me? Well I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 28 days old. I am 26 now. For most of my life I was spoon fed a traditional diet (Food Pyramid) and put on an insulin sliding scales to maintain blood sugar levels. As a kid and through high school I was not very athletic; bowling. I was always afraid of what would happen if I went to hard and did not know how to manage my blood sugar levels.

Fast forward a few years, I began working at Naval Station Great Lakes in the Fitness Center and in this location I was introduced to CrossFit. When I heard about it I went home and read What Is Fitness and Foundations and it was like a light bulb clicked on. I was hooked as what I was reading made so much sense. Low carbohydrate diets, coupled with high skill movements, performed in a fashion that maximized results. Yep. I was hooked. 4 years later I am currently located at 9 Huntington Lane, Wheeling, Il, 60090 with Type 1 CrossFit.

What diets or food plans have you tried to control you blood sugar, and what has been the easiest and most successful? Why?

The easiest and most successful program sits beautifully inside my Diabetes management brainchild, but it is a diet void of food allergies or sensitivities, a diet that ensures maximum insulin sensitivity, and optimizes nutrient intake. If I remove things that cause problems in blood glucose levels/are inflammatory, minimize insulin needs, and eat vitamin and mineral rich foods, I don’t see how ANY case of diabetes is hard to manage. Think about this.

You only get one or a zero. Do you eat vegetables at every meal? Do you eat protein at every meal? Do you eat fat at every meal? Do you limit carbohydrates to post workout, primarily? Have you eliminated potentially problematic foods to see what happens? If you said no to any of these things, you are not doing what you could to optimize your health.

Personally I have also played with intermittent fasting as I find it quite fun, and very good at returning insulin sensitivity after maybe a tough training cycle or a bad eating day.

When you do intense workouts, such as Crossfit, how do you stabilize your blood sugar. Do you eat before/after and what do you do with your insulin dosages?

In my gym I always have juice on hand and insulin around. For me, as long as my blood sugar is in a good range, depending on what the workout is will depend on how I take care of it. Very short couplets get a nasty spike, so I bolus pre workout. Longer (15+) get a spike and then a drop so I will pace at about 80% and make sure to test immediately after to ensure I don’t drop too bad. Strength and skill pieces cause a drop due to the lack of “balls to the wall intensity.”

When you eat or have eaten a ketogenic-like diet, how is your insulin sensitivity affected?

Eating a ketogenic diet or IF, my insulin sensitivity is amazing! Here is a beautiful analogy! Spray perfume in a room and at first you smell it really strong right? After a few minutes you lose the sensitivity to smell it. In order to re-sensitize you have to either spray MORE or leave the room. In the case of the diabetic, MORE means more insulin which leads to fat gain, heart issues, and potentially many more issues. The other option is the remove the need to produce or TAKE insulin. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and in this case, growing fonder means increasing sensitivity  Your body doesn’t realized the potency of what it had (good or bad) until it’s gone.

Before anyone else that has type 1 diabetes attempts a ketogenic diet, what do you first recommend before jumping in? For example, move to a moderately low-carb diet, and then tinker into ketosis, etc?

Be aware, your basal needs will drop DRAMATICALLY! Your body is at a baseline requirement level in relation to the current diet you have and what you are doing. If you make a dramatic change, it only stands to reason that your insulin needs need to change as well. I notice in online communities that this idea is overlooked. If your baseline levels are running lower (hypo), doesn’t it make sense to reduces your baseline insulin? Yes. My recommendation is to first and foremost, remove some potentially problematic foods. Wheat or dairy at first, and if you are eating sugar as a regular part of your diet, and not as a requirement to maintain a normal blood sugar, address that too. Remove one thing, adjust insulin, and repeat.

Kelly: As a dietitian working with many other patients with diabetes, changes need to be adapted slowly. It’s too hard to generalize what to do on a website, as we are all coming from different places. Work with a healthcare professional when making such changes. And of course, I am always happy to help. 

As for food groups or ingredients, are there any certain things you avoid, such as gluten, soy, dairy, etc? How does the avoidance or inclusion of certain foods help manage your blood sugars?

Gluten is terrible. End of story. Dairy, even with no carbs in it (cheese) causes a huge spike. I also find that if I have a big meal with virtually no carbohydrates (save veggies) I have an automatic increase in insulin sensitivity, and by default, lower blood sugars.

Kelly: I want to also add, in case anyone with type 1 diabetes is reading this post, overall this is general information. When eating a low carb diet, which may not include many carbs per meal, you still need to cover your meal for protein can convert into sugar. Please work with your team, myself included, to assess what the best protocol is for you.

How have your labs changed since adjusting your diet to low-carb?

My labs have improved greatly. At one point in my life I have hit 11 on my A1C. Recently I was at 6.5. not too bad for a lifer with this!

Some final thoughts:

Fix your food first. Do not fall victim to the idea that exercise will fix it all. If you eat poorly so as to induce inflammation, insulin insensitivity, and lack vital nutrients, you do not need to exercise. It may actually make it all SO MUCH WORSE.

Ask yourself this, why are you eating so many carbohydrates when the result is the need for insulin. Insulin managements and blood glucose management are the hallmark of BOTH cases of Diabetes. Why would you eat in a way that induces complications to that maintenance  That’s like being allergic to bees and kicking a bee hive. Not only is it crazy to do, but it does NOTHING to improve your health.

Where to find Eric:
@Type1CrossFit (soon to be /type1crossfit)
Email: [email protected]