Running the numbers

I've been working on this post for three months. Really, I've just been working in general for three months. Three months ago on February 27, I went to my endocrinologist. Not only was my HbA1C a disturbing 7.6, but my weight was an alarming 193 lb. That was officially the heaviest I've been my adult life (I made it to 192 in college before getting my insulin pump and no longer using Pepsi to control my blood sugar).

It was a real low point for me. My doctor was awesome as always and helped me make some significant changes to my insulin pump settings. And we talked about eating less fatty foods. When I got to work that morning I signed up for LoseIt! to track all my calories. I bought a FitBit to track my activity (or at least my steps). I bought a treadmill to put on our side porch and I started Couch to 5K. I ran my first run on that Monday evening after my doctor's appointment.

I expected the weight to just fly off. After the first week, I lost two pounds. Solid start! And the second week I lost another pound. Ok, still progress ...

Then nothing. I would fluctuate between 189 and 191 depending on what I had eaten that day or what clothes I had on. Nothing seemed to change.

Undaunted, I kept doing Couch to 5K. I completed my nine weeks of training on May 5 by running for 35 minutes straight, more than I had ever run before in my life.

For my 35th birthday, I ran in my first 5K. Despite the intense headwind for the entire second half, I still finished with a respectable time of 36:55. I also did it all in my Vibram FiveFingers, meaning I was using great form and staying injury free with only a meer 3mm between me and the concrete. That felt like a real accomplishment.

But after the 5K program, I wasn't sure what to do next on the treadmill. Should I run for longer? I'm already on there for over 45 minutes. Should I try to run faster? I scoured the internet for advice. Somewhere I read:

"If you want to run faster, run longer. If you want to run longer, run slower."

So I just kept plugging along. I kept wondering when all this weight would fly off. I stopped weighing myself because I knew my clothes fit exactly the same if not tighter in the calves. But I held out for this morning's doctor's appointment that it would be a way to see real progress.

I held my breath as I got my labwork done last week. It always feels like I'm studying for a test when I get my blood drawn. I'm hoping for a "good grade" but am never sure what it will be.

This morning, I found out that my HbA1C had gone down to a passable 7.0. Not great, but still reasonable. I guess giving up all those fries and pizza showed for something.

But stepping on the scale, I was gobsmacked to find that I now weigh 196 lb. So NOW I'm the heaviest I've ever been in my (non-pregnant) adult life. That's just great.

My doctor wasn't worried, brushing it off as muscle weight. He also taught me so much in the 15 minutes I spent with him. How the liver releases insulin for up to 24 hours after a low blood sugar reaction. How the adrenaline from a run can make your blood sugar go higher but then when it wears off it goes lower so you shouldn't correct immediately after exercise. How lifting weights lowers blood sugar a lot more than any sort of cardio work. How I probably could just reduce my insulin intake by about 25% for a workout versus turning it off and wondering when to turn it back on part way through the run.

These are all the things I'm still learning after being diabetic for 27 years. I guess when you're eight years old they don't teach you how to drink beers while diabetic and they don't teach you how to run a 5K. They're just working on keeping you alive. It's an ongoing education.

It surprised me how upset I am about my weight. I know it's just a number but I would like that number to not be so dangerously close to starting with a 2. I'm also annoyed that in addition to counting calories for weight loss, I've been counting carbs for 12 years to know how to manage my pump. I'm tired of the math. I realized when I was explaining it to a friend this weekend just how complicated it is. Even though I thought I was being very clear, he kept asking "so you would need juice if your blood sugar went high?" No, stay with me! Insulin and exercise make sugar go down. Adrenaline makes sugar go up. Wax on! Wax off!

I wish exercise with diabetes weren't like such a mathematical word problem. If Genie starts her workout at 6:45am with a fasting blood sugar of 129 and reduces her basal rate by 50%, how many hours after her 45 minute run should she correct if she has a blood sugar of 145 afterwards and how many grams of carbohydrates should she have had before the workout? If only 35 minutes of her 45 minute workout were spent running at 4.3mph and she warmed up with a 4mph brisk walk and a 3.8mph cool down, how many calories did she burn and how long did it take her to actually travel 3.125 miles?

There are some good points to all this.

I can run for 3 miles. Let me say that again. I can RUN for THREE MILES! Pursuit by a bear not required!

I'm running injury free. That's another big one. Last time I tried running, I decided my body was not cut out for it. I lived with frozen peas on my knees and shins. It physically hurt. I wondered why my belly and ass and boobs had to shake so much as if they might actually fall off of me. But since deciding to run barefoot, my form is amazing. I have sore muscles after a run, but I have no pain. NO PAIN. That's monumental to me.

I finished something. I stuck with a schedule and I went out to the treadmill even on days I didn't feel like it and I finished Couch to 5K.

I started something. I am a runner. I'm slow as hell and I still pale at the idea of running 5 miles, but I am a runner. I have found something that I enjoy and that I'm pretty good at (and getting better). I can see this continuing.

I am less stabby at work and overall. I still say work should have paid for my treadmill, but everyone at the office can just enjoy the safety of knowing they don't risk bodily harm by replacing the toilet paper roll upside down (the paper goes OVER!), so long as they actually replace it. That's my gift to them.

I no longer pee my pants while running. I also am less likely to pee my pants while coughing or sneezing (no promises, though). This was a delightful surprise of just working on some kegels during my runs. Anyone who has pushed a person out of their delicate lady parts can tell you that this should have its own medal to earn, maybe a tiny bronzed pair of panties on a giant ribbon to wear around your neck. Also, for anyone who asks why I got a treadmill versus just running around the neighborhood and I will direct your attention to the fact that for the first four weeks of Couch to 5K, there was a good chance I would pee my pants. That's something you don't need to come up at the civic league with your neighbors.

I am stronger. My belly may still be flabby, but you can bounce a quarter off my calves! Did you know you had shin muscles? Because, honey, I have some bodacious shins. I feel like an antelope! Boing! Boing!

I have less Jimmy leg at night. It's still there, but I'm finding those random spasms in my right hip that would throw the poor cat off the bed are fewer and farther between. That's progress.

So yeah, I'm still overweight. But I'm doing the right things and I'll get there. While still in a bit of a funk, I pulled the trigger and signed up for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon on Labor Day weekend here in Virginia Beach. That's 13.1 miles in case you didn't know and let me tell you, I am more than a little nervous about it. But even if I have to walk it, it's something to work towards.

I logged my calories today. I ordered another pair of running sandals last night to try out. I am reading my book on barefoot running to practice my form. I've signed up for three more 5K runs this summer and possibly a 10K. And apparently in three more months, I'm going to run/walk/hobble 13.1 miles all over Virginia Beach. My next endocrinologist appointment is the Tuesday after that run. Let's hope I have some good numbers to show by then. If nothing else I'm wearing my finisher medal to the damn doctor's office.