I don’t know if I’ve written about this previously (my mind doesn’t really work anymore) and I really don’t feel like digging through old posts. But a few months ago, I signed up for Orangetheory Fitness. My mind, body, and type 1 diabetes (t1d) needed some exercise, and I liked the idea of group fitness. I’ve participated in Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping (kickboxing and resistance bands) in the past, and the group fitness mentality was very motivating for me.
Orangetheory (OTF) is known for their strenuous workouts that are 60 minutes long and promote an afterburn. Workouts are built on a cycle of treadmill workouts, row machine, and free weights. My head really liked the workouts and the energy of the coaches and other gym-goers, but it turns out, that my t1d hated it.
It always takes extra planning when it comes to t1d and exercise. I always like to head into workouts with my blood sugar higher than the target range, because I know that once I start moving my blood sugar will be dropping – this in addition to suspending my insulin pump basal delivery.
So that’s what would happen, I could start my workout even in the 200 range and be dropping below 70 within 30 minutes. I always had my glucose tabs shoved in my leggings pocket. On multiple occasions, I had to end my workouts early or risk severe hypoglycemia.
And then the strangest thing happened – after my low blood sugar, it would shoot crazy high, like 300s high, for hours after my workout. It would take significant insulin corrections to try and bring it back down. Frustrating to say the least.
So not only was I having to end my workouts early because of low blood sugars, and consume calories that I was hoping to burn, but then I had to feel like crap from hyperglycemia for the remainder of the afternoon.
After the first couple instances, I took to doing some research. What was going on? I thought exercise was good for diabetes?
In all my 25 years of being t1d and being fairly active for the majority of my life in various sports and exercise programs, no one told me that too strenuous activity is actually BAD for blood sugars.
During strenuous workouts that last longer than 45 minutes, your body starts pumping out stress hormones. In addition, your muscles are working harder, so your body releases more glucose to fuel your body. This is all perfectly fine for a healthy person with a normal-functioning pancreas. But it can be difficult to manage, and dangerous, for type 1 diabetics.
This information would have been good to know before I signed up for $99 a month for eight classes, but I guess I only have myself to blame for not doing research. I’ve already cancelled my membership based on cutting some costs to help with my transition to freelance work, but my membership doesn’t run out until the middle of January.
So for now, I am going to try and scale way back on how hard I exercise when I go to OTF, which is hard given the energy and competitive environment.
I plan to re-join our local YMCA in January once OTF is over. At least here I can design my own workouts and pace myself.
I’ve decided I’m at a place in my life where I’m not exercising to lose weight. Sure, if it happens, great. But it’s not my motivation. The reason I need to do regular exercise is to keep up my strength and energy (for chasing around two active boys), and regulate my blood sugars, which can be done with significantly less effort.