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Have you ever heard of an ‘Everesting Challenge’? No? Neither had I until recently. It involves a cyclist climbing a single hill the number of times that’s required to reach a total ascent of 8498 metre to equal Mt Everest. Oh – it gets better. It has to be done in a single ride. It’s known as one of the toughest cycling challenges in the world and I’m exhausted just writing about it. Now I know what it is, I can confidently say that I will never be completing this challenge.

But Neil McLagan is, and he is doing it for a really good cause. He will be raising funds for Insulin for Life (IFL) Global. I’ve written about IFL Global before, and have done some (volunteer) work before, promoting what they do.

As a refresher, IFL Global is a not for profit organisation, raising awareness of the lack of insulin and diabetes supplies in developing countries. The organisation collects and transports insulin and supplies and then distributes them to clinics and health professionals in these countries, as well as offers a complications screening program in places where this simply does not happen.

IFL Global’s mission is that no one should die because they can’t afford or access insulin. Their efforts save lives and help those with diabetes survive and thrive in their communities.

Obviously this is something that I will support – not by starting to do extreme cycling, but by promoting those doing it. And that brings me back to Neil McLagan.

Neil will be undertaking his ‘Everesting Challenge’ by climbing Admiral Road in Bedfordale, Western Australia more than eighty times. Apparently, that is going to take him more than eighteen hours. It’s not the first time that Neil has undertaken this sort of challenge. Last year he rode solo and unsupported from Sydney to Perth raising funds for another diabetes cause. Over twenty days, he spent a total of almost 180 hours on his bike, riding a total of 4011kms (almost 2,500 miles). He says that his ‘Everesting Challenge’ will be one of the most physically and mentally difficult single day challenges. He’s not kidding!

Oh – did I mention that Neil has type 1 diabetes?

He is hoping to raise AUD$20,000, along with a lot of awareness about Insulin for Life Global. Without the work they do, a type 1 diagnosis for many people in the counties where they have a presence would almost certainly mean a drastically shortened life.

This is where you can help.

Look – if you’re inclined to get on a bike and ride it for the equivalent of climbing Mt Everest while fundraising for IFL Global, all the power to you. Please let me know and I promise to throw more than just a couple of bucks your way.

But if you’re like me and would prefer to sit in a café reading about people like Neil, you can still help.

You can make a donation by clicking here. Every donation counts – don’t ever think that $5 won’t make a difference.

And you can follow Neil’s story by liking his Facebook page here and following his adventures, and sharing it with your friends.

Please do consider making a donation to Neil’s efforts. Insulin for Life Global is truly a very important cause and is making a massive difference to the lives if people with diabetes.

For work, I signed up to a new healthcare app that would magically and algorithmically measure my health. Health apps frequently annoy the bejeezus out of me. You can tell the ones that have never met a real person and that the boffin who is developing the app lives a lonely life in a cave without regular contact with anything with heartbeat. (Shout out five million to my fave app, MySugr, because it is developed BY people with diabetes FOR people with diabetes so it, you know, works.)

Anyway, to sign up for this one, I had to fill in a few details about my health and wellbeing and then I got a final health score. It was pretty thorough. I added things like my most recent blood pressure, cholesterol reading, height, weight, food (which, despite ridiculously frequent mentions of cupcakes and doughnuts on this blog is mostly fresh, home-cooked and healthy), exercise (ha!) and health conditions. I ticked the ‘no’ box for every single one of those, except, of course, type 1 diabetes.

My overall score came back at 65%. I then was given a list of measures that I could take to increase my health, most of which I already do (other than exercising to which I am a conscientious objector).

I decided to test this little app and re-entered all my data with one little change. This time, I ticked the ‘no’ box for every single health condition.

The magic little algorithm spat out a new result. Suddenly, I was now 90% healthy. The suggestions to improve this number focused solely on doing more some exercise.

So, here’s the question. Am I significantly less healthy because I have type 1 diabetes?

My answer to that question is no. When I consider the level of attention I give to my health today as compared with before being diagnosed with diabetes, I would say that I am a lot more in tune and interested in my health now. I couldn’t tell you what my blood pressure or cholesterol was before I was diagnosed. Can now! I have regular check-ups and screening for things that probably would have slipped under the radar before.

And when I think about friends the same age as me – an age where we start to be reminded of the sorts of things about which we might want to speak with our doctor – I know that I definitely more on the ball than most of them.

Perhaps I have had to reshape what being healthy really means. Maybe pre-diagnosis I would have considered needing to medicate myself each and every day while monitoring my health closely would equal being unhealthy. But that’s not how I think. I think that I am healthy – and part of that is because I do those things. I am not ‘healthy even though I have diabetes.’ I am just … ‘healthy’.

Am I in denial? Have I rewritten what healthy means to accommodate my health condition?

Or is it true. I am healthy. And sure, I could be healthier, but that has to do with laziness and I don’t mean the laziness of my beta cells.

That time I exercised.

That time I exercised.

I accidentally bought an Apple Watch last week.

It was the day before we left for Friends for Life and we were in the Apple Store so Aaron could buy one and then I tried one on and thought about how awesome the Dexcom Share thing is (even if we don’t have it in Australia yet) and convinced myself that the watch was pretty much a medical device and got a little indignant that I couldn’t claim it on my health insurance and justified the purchase by considering the tax I could claim back before heading to Orlando. And then I breathed. (Need help justifying a purchase? Just ask me!)

The Apple Genius pointed out all the features to us and kept focusing on the health apps. I smiled and nodded and stopped listening, because: exercise. I just kept thinking about how cool it would be to take calls on my watch. Like Inspector Gadget.

I set up my watch to do the things that I thought I would use, and decided that I would also set up the activity and health tracker stuff. Gender, weight, height, activity level (low) etc. etc.

Monday was the first day that I actually bothered to check the data. By midday, I was surprised to see that I had done almost 10,000 steps. Somewhere in a part of my mind that is rarely accessed, I remember that we should aim for 10,000 steps a day. I was nearly there! By the end of the day, I had completed nearly 20,000 steps.

I need to admit at this point, that Monday was a travel recovery day for us and we spent it at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, wandering the park and being terrified on roller coaster rides. There was a lot of walking. A. Lot.

The next day, MasterLab kicked off and I spent most of the day sitting in a conference room, walking the long halls to refuel on coffee. My watch started reminding me to move. Every so often, I would feel a gentle pulse on my wrist and this message would flash up:

‘Great,’ I thought. ‘Now my watch is judging me.’

I got to the end of the day and found myself disappointed to see a total of only 9,000 steps – nowhere near the previous day’s activity.

The rest of the week in Orlando saw me regularly checking my steps and doing all I could to make sure that I hit at least 10,000 steps a day; a goal, I am pleased to say, I smashed.

I certainly didn’t get an Apple Watch with the intention of using it as an activity tracker (I have a Fit Bit lying unopened in a cupboard somewhere at home which I could have used had I wanted to do that), but it is a feature that I probably will use sporadically.

But the feature is a good way to check in and see just what I am doing.  I’ll be interested to see what my activity is when I get back home and return to normal programming.

And in the meantime, I am waiting, waiting, waiting for Share to be launched in Australia.  Because that is a tracking app I am ALL over.

Things I know to be true:

  • It’s February already.
  • Melbourne seems to have misplaced its Summer.
  • As much as I loved being in New York and had the best holiday ever, it’s always swell to come home.
  • And having Melbourne coffee running through my veins is making me a happy chicken.
  • Being at work is not the worst thing, especially when there is a year of really exciting things on the horizon.
  • I am confused that my computer does not recognise the word Nutella and wants to correct it to Nigella. Which is equally awesome and sexy.

Also – the internet never disappoints.

Frocking brilliant

Sometimes it’s tough for a dame to find a place for her insulin pump. Bra? Good in theory, but what if you’re not wearing a bra? Or your bra is being uncooperative? Thigh strap? Again, great idea, but not great if the thigh strap comes loose and starts rolling down your leg and you end up in the Ministry of Silly Walks. Also, it can look like you are packing heat. Or you end up using ugly (although effective) Tubigrip. Pocket? Usually produces an unsightly bulge that may have people searching for a matching Adam’s apple.

What’s the solution?

Read here about some clever folk who have come up with a rather dashing frock with a secret little place to hide a pump.

And who doesn’t love a LBD? Can’t wait to get my hands on – and body into – one of them! Available soon – keep an eye out here.

Two spreads in one

There are many tough decisions in life. Lennon or McCartney? Coffee or tea? Jaffas or Malteasers? (Both, obviously.)

And the most difficult: peanut butter or Nutella? Can’t decide? Then have both! In domestic goddess mode on Sunday (full skirt, frilly apron, high heels and tiara) I made these.

Cookies

And they are were good. And totally bolus worthy!

Here’s the recipe. (And here’s a tip. When freezing the Nutella before making the biscuits, do half on one baking sheet and half on another. Take out one baking sheet, make half the biscuits. THEN take our the second baking sheet and make the second half. Otherwise the Nutella starts to melt and ends up all messy and all over your fingers and you have to lick it off your fingers and then freeze more.)

Oh, and while we’re talking Nutella, let me introduce you to my happy place:

Giant nutella

Support DA-Vic and enjoy the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (WIN WIN!!)

This year, Diabetes Australia – Vic (disclaimer: my place of employment, but I am writing about this because I want to, not because I was asked. Also it is about food. And wine. So there’s that too.) is the charity partner for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Some people may think that this is an odd partnership, but actually, the messages of both DA-Vic and MFWF are strongly aligned. It’s all about people taking an active role in managing their health – regardless of if they are living with diabetes or not. And having a good understanding of the food we choose to eat is part of this.

It’s also a great opportunity to raise awareness of diabetes, reaching people we may otherwise not reach.

Now, everyone knows that I am not really an exercise fan. However, I can definitely get on board this. It’s literally a moveable – well moving – feast where participants take a walk around the Tan, stopping at stations for a delicious five course brekkie. And better yet, 5 per cent of ticket/registration fees will be donated to DA-Vic.

Register here!

Noteworthy connections

Many of you may not know that in a former life I was a classically-trained musician. That ship sailed a long time ago and I no longer play music. However, my husband is a musician and music is a huge part of my family’s life.

I have always been interested in the link between music and health. The Greek God, Apollo, was God of both healing and music, so the connection has been around for a long time!

Music has been used as therapy in a variety of medical conditions from Parkinson’s Disease to recovery from stroke. I am not going to say the healing powers of music can cure diabetes (although I’m pretty sure some fool will tell you that). But, music can be a stress reliever. And for me, reduced stress means less erratic BGLs.

There are also strong links between music having positive effects on mental health as discussed in this information sheet from ReachOut.

I love this so much

I’ve shared this blog before here, but this post from Annabel over at The Understudy Pancreas is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing. Full stop.

I can’t begin to imagine what parenting a child with diabetes would be like, but Annie does such a wonderful job of explaining how her family do it.

The thing that I probably admire most is how Annie never, ever makes her daughter’s (Pumplette) diabetes about herself. She supports her daughter in the best ways possible, encouraging her independence, and being there for her – with what Pumplette needs. Great parenting advice all ‘round, really.

I wish I could reach into my computer and give you a huge hug, Annie. Your darling girl is so great.

Radio Deluxe

When we were in New York, we spent a very pleasant evening at Birdland listening to John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey perform. It was a gorgeous gig, made even more wonderful when they dedicated a song to the ‘family from Australia’.

Each week, John and Jessica have a syndicated radio show (they claim it is ‘live from high above Lexington Avenue in the Deluxe Living Room’, and while I suspect it is actually recorded in a studio, I like to think of them in their living room at home, gazing out over the New York skyline, casually chatting into a couple of vintage microphones) and it is an absolute treat to listen to.

Check it out here. It makes a great soundtrack to the workday!

What do ‘patients’ really think? (Maybe stop using the word ‘patient’ to begin with…..)

British medical journal The BMJ has started a fascinating new series called Do you know what your patient is thinking? This is part of their patient partnership strategy and will hopefully help HCPs better understand all aspects of life with a chronic health condition – not just what …..

The first in the series, Why there’s no point telling me to lose weight, can be read here. New submissions will be published monthly.

Living Vertical

Steve Richert has lived with diabetes for 17 years. A couple of years ago, Steve wanted to show that diabetes hasn’t stopped him from doing what he wants, so he and his wife, Stefanie, travelled across North America and climbed for 365 consecutive days. Just like with diabetes, there were no days off.

I absolutely love the catalyst for this project. This is what Steve writes on the Glu website:

‘In 2011, I had lived for almost 13 years with type 1 diabetes, and despite the normal ups and downs, seasoned with occasional close calls, it had never stopped me from being me. In fact, it made me who I was. When I was on a trip to visit friends, Stefanie and I drove past a billboard aimed at fundraising for diabetes research. It made my blood boil.

It was a smattering of grim statistics and stock imagery geared to promote the idea that life with diabetes was no life at all—that we are weak and helpless victims of this condition. Before this point it hadn’t ever occurred to me that the message of being empowered had any place in diabetes. I didn’t know anyone else with type 1 diabetes and I assumed everyone just came to terms with it as I did. Seeing this billboard made me aware for the first time of how we are portrayed—and how that can impact someone.’

A film has been made of Steve and Stefanie’s adventure. You can read about and watch Living Vertical: Project 365 here.

Save a child…..

Thinking about Valentine’s Day? Don’t forget to Spare a Rose, Save a Child.

No four words sum up this campaign better than this ‘Flowers die. Children shouldn’t’.

Please donate.  Remember the equation: One rose = insulin for one month. Multiply as many times as you can.

That’s all for now, folks. Happy Tuesday.

Big Blue Test

Generally, I need a bloody good excuse to consider exercising. It’s been well-documented here on this very blog that I am exercise averse and would do pretty much anything to avoid donning a pair of runners to be physically active.

Little inspires me to keep fit and I really have never, ever understood the attraction of a workout.

However, guilt doing something good so that I can boast and be supercilious is a motivator.

Enter, the Big Blue Test.

This is the fifth year the Diabetes Hands Foundation (DHF) is running this campaign which raises diabetes awareness and funds. Since it started in 2010, DHF has donated about $250,000 to charities helping people with diabetes. This year, the aim is to raise $35,000 which equate to 35,000 Big Blue Tests being logged.

In case you need a feel good reason to exercise – there it is!

BUT! There is no time to waste. YOU ONLY HAVE TODAY!

It’s easy, easy, lemon squeezy to take part in. There are only four steps:

  1. Check your BGL
  2. Exercise for between 14 and 20 minutes
  3. Check your BGL
  4. Log it – here. (Or, to be a fancy Nancy, get the iOS or Android app.)

Could. Not. Be. Easier.

By the way, exercise doesn’t necessarily mean running or walking or getting on a bike. Think out of the box. Gardening, vacuuming, walking the kids to school, washing windows can all count as physical activity. I know that I hypo anytime I so much as look at a vacuum cleaner!

And, ahem, for another out-of-the-box idea, a morning, afternoon or evening quickie could not only be the perfect interlude in your day, but also a nice way to log a Big Blue Test. Plus, it’s nice to do charity work with a loved one.

By the way, the Big Blue Test is for EVERYONE – not just people with diabetes. Those with working pancreata (it’s the plural – look it up) simply log their exercise. (And that’s ANOTHER good idea to consider the quickie idea – you get two Big Blue Tests for your buck! Oh, stop it. I said BUCK!)

What are you waiting for? Go!

Take StepsEvery magazine in the supermarket is warning me that if I don’t start moving NOW my body won’t be bikini-ready in time for Summer. I’d tell you that I’m panicked by this, but I’d be lying. Usually, my eyes glaze over and I reach for another block of Lindt Intense Orange chocolate.

There will be no bikini wearing, but there will be moving. It’s time for me to get back on the walkies bandwagon, and what better way to get going than the threat excitement of a fun run.

I’m kicking off Summer by taking part in Take Steps for Good HealthDiabetes Australia – Vic’s inaugural summer festival. And like the optimistic fool I am, I’m going to do the 8km WALK (not run). There are several reasons why I believe I can safely manage to do this. For starters, I can walk – one foot in front of the other and all that.

Also, I proved to myself earlier this year, that daily walking around a park is actually not too torturous enjoyable, provided you have a friend with you and a football team doing sit-ups nearby. Also, in the last few months, I’ve walked – and I mean seriously walked – around Paris, New York, Barcelona and Marrakech, often for hours at a time. Admittedly, I won’t be able to stop along the way for a cupcake or sangria, but after the walk I will be taking advantage of Summer’s Healthiest Picnic which will showcase healthy living stalls, cooking demonstrations and entertainment.

Plus, I have promised myself a new pair of shoes (runners – boring) for the walk and a new pair of shoes (ballet flats – excellent!) afterwards, so I am looking at this as a win for everyone. Well, my feet.

You can join my team – THE CUPCAKES! – or join on your own by going to the registration page.

Disclaimer

Diabetes Australia – Vic is my employer. I have not been asked to write about this event. I’m just telling you about it so you can a) join me, b) laugh at me c) do both.

I’m all for diabetes awareness activities and the clever folks at the Diabetes Hands Foundation have found a way to not only get people talking about diabetes, but they’re also helping out people in need. Big ticks there, people!

This is the fourth year of the Big Blue Test, the proceeds of which have gone on to help over 10,000 people with diabetes. Each time you take part and log your results, a donation is made on your behalf to organisations helping people with diabetes.

Getting involved is easy as easy can be. Here is all you have to do:

  • Step 1 Check you blood glucose level. (If you don’t have diabetes, skip this step.)
  • Step 2 Get active! Do 14 – 20 minutes of activity. You can walk, run, clean the house, swim, dance…whatever floats your boat!
  • Step 3 Check your blood glucose again.
  • Step 4 Share your results on the right column of this page.

That’s it!  Even exercise-allergic little ol’ me will be getting into this one by getting creative and thinking about the things I already do that can be counted as exercise. 

So do it today – and tomorrow and the day after!  You’ve got until 14 November. And get your family and friends on it too. Why not take some time out of your lunch break at work and get your colleagues involved too? If you run a diabetes support group, how about getting everyone to take the Big Blue Test together. Go on – do it! It’s good karma.

Okay – I know that I spend a lot of time talking about language, and I never use the term ‘test’ when referring to checking my blood sugar levels. BUT – let’s not forget what this is about – raising funds for those in need – not judging numbers and results. 

This post is my April entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival.  If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information here. Here’s this month’s topic:

Does the sunshine and warmth of Spring urge you to change up your exercise routine?  If you don’t have an exercise routine, does it inspire you to start exercising?  And if it’s not Spring in your corner of the world, what season are you heading into and how does it impact your fitness routine?

We’re heading into Winter here. We’re half way through Autumn and until last week, it’s been incredibly mild. Last week’s colder weather has been a shock to pretty much everyone, I think.

Until earlier this year, exercise was something I avoided with great skill and passion. For some ridiculous reason, I started walking and for an even more ridiculous reason, I’ve kept it up. Admittedly, I’m not walking every day as I was over the warmer months. But even now with daylight savings over and the colder evenings setting in, I’ve still managed to go for a walk at least three times a week.

With daylight savings over, it’s dark now by about 5.30pm, so on weekdays it’s impossible for me to walk while it’s still light. I make sure that on weekends I walk early in the day, so it’s not a problem then. The friend I walk with is happy to walk at night and I’ve discovered that the park we walk around is really well lit after dark and there are a lot of people using the track.

Also, and I say this with great trepidation, my walking has become running. And I haven’t fallen over which surely should mean that I qualify for some sort of medal or award. If I’m really honest, I’d tell you that the reason for running is just to get the exercise over and done with faster. I don’t run when I’m with my friend because we have far too much talking to do, but when I’m on my own, I just want it finished so I can go back home and eat Nutella straight from the jar.*

I’m really excited that in six weeks I’m heading to the northern hemisphere for a month and a half. The thought of warmer weather is part of the excitement. Will I be packing my runners so I can build exercise into my day? Absolutely not! But then, I walk a lot when I am travelling. My exercise may be incidental rather than planned, but that’s okay – I prefer it like that anyway!

I can (will) find any excuse possible to not exercise, so I’m pretty sure that as the weather gets even colder and rainier and the appeal of snuggling on the couch with comfort food and a decent DVD gets harder to resist my exercise routine will be tougher and tougher to maintain. But I’m pleased that it’s kept going this long. And it’s going to mean that I’m more than ready for the Run Melbourne in July this year. Stay tuned!

*This is possibly true. #NutellaHeist

At the beginning of this year I started to exercise. (Pause for collective gasp/fits of laughter.) It was kind of an accident. One evening, I decided that I’d like to go for a walk around Princes Park, close to where I live. It’s about 3.4km, so a relatively easy stroll.

Then, the next day, I did again. And again the following day. And it’s become pretty much a regular part of my day.

I don’t know how this happened and to be honest, I don’t really enjoy it. But when I don’t do it, I miss it.  ‘Isn’t it great?’ well meaning, but probably stupid exercise types ask me. ‘The endorphins are amazing, aren’t they?’ say others. I have no idea what an endorphin is and I’m pretty sure it’s a made up word, so I generally answer in the negative.  

Do I feel better? Not really. Do I look better? Well, I’ve lost a bit of weight, but that is more due to stress and minimal eating than exercise. Do I look forward to it? Absolutely not.

Here’s what I do like about it – I’m outside, there are trees and I often go with a friend so we chat for the 30 minutes it takes to do a circuit. And coo at the cute dogs being taken for their evening stroll. And check out the buff footy players training at the park. Really, it’s quite positive.

I have no idea how long this will last. I suspect that colder weather; earlier sunsets and well…my overall aversion to physical activity will result in this being a short-lived fad. But at least my blue runners have had a decent amount of wear.

I will never be an exercise freak, but I have always liked a walk. I drive my family nuts when we are away on holidays because for me, the thought of walking 8 kilometres in a city is a perfectly sensible thing to do. We’ll stop on the way to shop or have coffee, lunch, cupcakes, coffee, doughnuts, cupcakes etc, so really, we’re just walking from one food stop to the next! But to schedule it in with the main purpose being ‘exercise’ as opposed to ‘getting from point A to point C(upcake) is a little alien.

But, I’ve been doing it for a couple of months now. And even though I don’t feel better for doing it, I like the idea that I’m doing it. I get to be supercilious and judgemental at people who don’t do any form of exercise. And I tell myself that it’s good for my health. I’m hoping that I do manage to keep it up for a while, but I’m also realistic. The evening walks around the park are all I’m going for.  There are no plans to run a cheeky half-marathon by the end of the year. Yes, I have known for a long time that a place on any sort of sporting Australian team is out of the question for me. Or at least until air hockey becomes an Olympic Sport. Then I’m in with a chance!

I have an aversion to exercise. I know that this aversion is not healthy. I know all about how being physically active is an important part of diabetes management. I. Know.

But for me, it’s more ‘just don’t do it’ rather than ‘just do it’.

I do walk a little. But usually it’s accidental. I have no idea about exercise fads – I loved the idea of boot camp until I realised that it wasn’t about actual boots.

Anyway. Each year, the diabetes organisation where I work participates in Run Melbourne – a fun run (now there are two words that don’t belong in the same sentence) that raises money for charities.

Last year, I took part in the 5 km walk. Apparently, this was considered newsworthy enough to make my local paper.

I’d like to say that participating in last year’s event started me on a path to regular and meaningful exercise, but I’d be lying. Instead, the new blue runners I bought for the event have sat in the back of my cupboard waiting for their second wearing.

That day has come!  I will be walking again on 15 July.

The reason? Because I’m raising much needed funds for camps for kids with diabetes. You can read about the camps here. Lucky for me, I get to see and hear first-hand what the kids get out of going to camp. They have a great time, meet others who are experiencing similar things thanks to diabetes and offer peer support that extends well beyond the few days at camp. The kids’ parents report that their children return with more confidence about managing diabetes.

If you could spare a few dollars to donate to this program, that would be terrific. In Victoria, we offer places for about 250 kids to attend camp each year. But at least that number again are turned away. We would love to be running more camps and offering more children and teens the opportunity to experience ‘independence through adventure’.

You can make a donation here. Thank you!  And the kids who get to go to camp will thank you, too!

Here I am at the starting line of last year’s Run Melbourne. That’s terror you can see in my face.

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