For Better and For Worse

Exercise routine nets positive and negative results on diabetes.

RachelBy Rachel Baumgartel

Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!

April 2007 — I wanted to toss the bathroom scale out the window. Denver's uncharacteristic cold and snowy winter had led to two months lacking in exercise and full of carbohydrate-rich comfort foods. The consequences were being seen on that scale in the form of a dozen pounds for me and a slight increase in weight for Greg.

The numbers on the meters were not being nearly as cruel as the scale, which made it easy to put off exercising and eat forbidden foods. I convinced myself that the scale didn't really matter because the meters were telling us we were doing well. Deep down, I knew that this behavior would eventually lead to higher blood sugars and additional weight gain for me, but I was unmotivated to change.

Then our vacation plans intervened in the downward spiral. A relaxing week celebrating our fifth anniversary in late April sounded good to us. What better way to relax than on a beach vacation, especially after the long stretch of bad weather? But we knew we wanted to head to the beach without the extra pounds gained during the cruel winter.

All this talk of paradise led to the purchase of an elliptical machine for our home. It was a good alternative to my outdoor walks, which had been thwarted by the inclement weather. Greg was interested in using it, too, though I knew I would be the main user.

Within a couple of weeks of assembling the equipment, I was experiencing some buyer's remorse. I still hadn't managed to work out more than 20 minutes without becoming tired or sore. Where was that woman who trained for that charity event by walking 20-30 hours a week only a few months before? A friend encouraged me by telling me that before too long, I would get used to the exertion on muscles not previously used in exercise. So I plundered on.

I realized the elliptical workout needed a couple of adjustments. I noticed television while working out distracted me, so I started listening to an mp3 player, just as I do when walking outside. Also, I started exercising some days after work, rather than restricting myself to the morning. It required eating dinner later when I exercised in the evening, but I found it a good way to wind down from my hectic job.

Two months later, I am regularly working out on the elliptical for 30-35 minutes at a time. The weather has improved, so my preferred outside walks are also part of my exercise plan. And surprisingly enough, I have caught Greg on the elliptical for brief stints.

As far as food goes, we have returned to balanced and healthier meals at home. I started a stash of healthy snacks in a drawer at work instead of reaching for the candy jar at the receptionist's desk. Greg adjusted his insulin and eating schedule to attempt to lower his A1C.

Unfortunately, there is not a happy ending to our winter of reckless eating and inactivity – at least not yet. Despite all the exercise and watching my food intake, I have not budged from the number I saw on the scale two months ago. I have also seen my meter average inch up to numbers I hadn't seen previously. The thing that is most discouraging is that Greg's A1C level has risen since December, not fallen like we hoped and like what we saw on the meter.

So we'll be heading to the beach without having lost those extra pounds and with a little more diabetes baggage. I am hoping we will come back with new attitudes and new strategies for treating our respective types of the disease.

Read more of Rachel's columns.

dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.


Last Modified Date: December 06, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
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