Don’t Be a Jerk

Let’s play make believe for a few moments.

I want you to imagine that I have a brand new client.  A client who has never trained before.  They’ve never set foot in a gym.  They’ve never even exercised at all.

They finally summoned the courage to make a positive change, gave me a call, and we’ve made arrangements to get started.

The next day, they walk in to the gym, and we make brief introductions.  We hit the gym floor and I ask them to do a body weight squat.  They make their best attempt, however there are multiple things that aren’t correct.

I say, “That was terrible.  Is that seriously the best you can do?”

Despite me being rude, they make a second attempt.  This time they try as hard as they can to mimic the image they have of a proper squat, wind up going lower than they have the stability for, and end up landing hard on their butt.

Amidst their frustration and embarrassment, I loudly say “Wow, you are really terrible at this!  You should probably give up.”

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Let’s imagine one more scenario, shall we?

Let’s say my two year old daughter, Sophie, sees her older sister, Lila, riding her bike.  In an attempt to mimic her older sister (a more than regular occurrence) Sophie climbs up on Lila’s bike, and completely topples over.

Ignoring that Sophie doesn’t have the skills, or ability, yet to ride her sisters bike, I say “Are you really stupid enough think you can ride that bike?  You’ll never be as good at this as your sister.  You should just give up.”

(SIDE NOTE: I hated writing that last example and would never speak like that to my daughters.  Just for the record.)

If you were to witness either of these situations, and hear my subsequent responses, you would most likely think that I was a huge jerk.  In fact, you’d probably think some much stronger words than that, but I won’t type them here because my mom reads this blog. (Hi mom.)

And you would be completely justified.  Those would be terrible ways to treat a new client, or my daughter.

However, here’s the twist.

While witnessing someone being treated like that would make our blood boil, isn’t that how we treat ourselves?

Isn’t that how we talk to ourselves?

We make some positive changes to our lives, and the second we screw it up we say, “Why am I so terrible at this? I should probably give up.”

We get motivated by others to exercise, but before we ever hit the gym we say, “how stupid am I to think I can make the same progress they have?  I’ll never get to where they are.  I should just give up.”

This isn’t a rare thing.  In fact, it’s incredibly common.

This kind of treatment would never be acceptable towards someone else, yet we treat ourselves this way…

ALL.

THE.

TIME.

We speak to ourselves harshly.

We cut ourselves down.

We expect ourselves to be capable of things we don’t yet have the skills or abilities for, and when we fail we only reaffirm the negativity we have already been sending our own way.

Can I ask you to do one thing?

Stop it.

Seriously, stop it.

If you are attempting to do anything noteworthy or challenging, you’re going to mess it up.  Probably a lot.

Probably way more than you’re comfortable with.

But, that’s a huge part of doing something worthwhile.

Messing things up HAS TO HAPPEN to get to the next step.  It’s not something you get to avoid.  It’s part of the process.

So please, stop it.

Stop being a jerk to yourself.

Stop treating yourself in a way you would never let someone else be treated.

Because, the truth is…you deserve it just as much as they do.

 

Credit Card Fat Loss

Vacations.  Aren’t they great?

No work. Time with family. Lots of play and rest. Usually some really good food.

A well earned reward after a lot of hard work.

But, they never come cheap.

You have to get to where you’re going one way or another.  You have to pay for lodging, and food, and excursions, and maybe a rental car.  Things can add up pretty quickly.

I’ve approached the expense of vacations in two different ways.

The first is, unfortunately, all too common: the old credit card. Plane tickets? Credit card. Going out to eat every meal? Credit card. Adventures in your vacation spot? Credit card. Rental car with “Yes, I’ll take the upgrade!”? Credit card.

Man, was I living large.

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The second approach I’ve taken is the “save before you spend” approach.  You know, the super boring one.  A few hundred dollars one month.  A few more the next.  Keep it up until you have enough for your vacation.

Two very different approaches toward the same goal.

Both approaches have their pros and cons.  Let’s look (briefly) at each.

CREDIT CARD

Pros:

-I was able to go on vacation sooner than if I had saved for it.

-I was able to do “bigger” because I wasn’t limited to what I had saved.

CONS:

-I spent more than I should have

-That interest rate adds up.  I paid a lot more in the long run, and wound up way behind financially.

SAVING

PROS:

-I didn’t over spend.

-I valued my vacation more because I felt like I had really earned it.

-No interest rate to worry about.

CONS:

-I had to wait longer to go on vacation

“Hey man, thanks for the lesson on saving for vacations, But what does any of this have to do with my health?”

I’m SO glad you asked, because it has everything to do with you health.

You see, when people try to lose weight, they often take the credit card approach.

They get there fast.  (extreme tactics and approaches)

They spend too much.  (lose weight too fast)

And they wind up paying more in the long run.  (unsustainable weight loss usually leads to gaining all of your weight, plus some, back)

It’s great and feels good in the moment, but more often than not, it leaves people worse off than they were before.

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Bummers.

A BETTER WAY

You probably already see where this is going, but let’s go there together, shall we?

The alternative to “credit card fat loss” is saving for it.

A little bit here.  A little bit there.

-Eat a few more vegetables.

-Eat one more fruit a day.

-Cook healthy dinners centered around lean protein and veggies.

-Start going for a walk in the morning.

The possibilities are endless, but what matters is that you start putting something in the bank.

Month after month, these small changes add up.  And, not only will you have earned your fat loss, but you will have the tools to keep it.  (For more of my thoughts on this, watch this video.)

I know that “quick” is attractive. I get it.  But quick almost always means a higher cost, and often no lasting reward.

So, please, be patient with your weight loss.

You deserve it.

Diabetics And Diets-Ketogenic

“Diabetics and Diets” is a series here on The Diabetic Trainer where popular diets are explained, examined and their pros and cons are evaluated for how appropriate they are for diabetics.

In case you missed it, check out the first installment of my “Diabetics and Diets” series on Intermittent Fasting.

Just click here.

And now, off to installment number two.

(Number two, haha.)

The ketogenic diet (or keto) is currently one of the hottest diets.  It has been for several years now.

In short, keto is a more extreme version of common low-carb diets. (Think Atkins and South Beach.) It focuses on very low carbohydrate, and very high fat intake.

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Mmmmm, bacon.

By drastically reducing the amount of carbohydrates you take in, your body falls in to a metabolic process called “ketosis”.

In short, this process is a back up system your body has in case it doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to use for energy.  Your liver takes fat, turns it into an acid called ketones, which are then pushed into the blood stream and available for muscles to use as energy.

It really is a pretty cool process.  It’s essentially a fail-safe the body has to keep you functioning without the most readily available source of energy-carbs.

THE PROS

When it comes to the “pros” of the ketogenic diet, there are definitely some big ones.

First, and foremost, weight loss.  More specifically rapid weight loss.  People who are able to get into ketosis and stay there for a period of time tend to lose weight very quickly.  Some people tend to report that their joints feel better, they report less inflammation, and they have more energy.  Pretty great, right?

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There is also some evidence that suggests it can be beneficial in treating individuals with epilepsy. I haven’t dug into this very much, so I don’t have much to say about it.  However, if there is something to this, it would be incredibly cool.

(SIDE NOTE: it’s worth mentioning that keto, and other low carb diets, not only drastically reduce carbohydrate intake, but they also greatly reduce the amount of high calorie, highly processed foods a person is eating.  While foods like doughnuts, pizza, french fries, etc. are made up of a high percentage of carbs, they also have a high percentage of fat.  There is a strong argument to be made that this reduction in fat, or overall calories in general, could be a major contributing factor in the success of a ketogenic dieter, and not just the reduction in carbs.)

THE CONS

Any time you omit an entire food group, in this case carbs, adherence is going to be tricky.  The ketogenic diet is no exception to the rule.  It is a very strict diet, and keeping the body in ketosis is one of the key components.  This requires someone to take in a mere ~20g of carbs a day.  That’s not much. (A half cup of rice in a day would put you over that.)

Also, I think there is a high probability of developing (or increasing) a poor emotional relationship with carbohydrates.  Omitting them altogether tends to make them seem “bad”, and this can have negative effects down the road.

Specifically for diabetics, if you are fairly active, there is a risk of low blood sugars with the ketogenic diet.  Unless you are truly in ketosis, and have been for a bit, any kind of moderate exercise has the potential to drop your blood sugars to unsafe levels.  And let’s be honest, a hypoglycemic episode is no fun for anyone.

THE VERDICT

I don’t have an incredibly strong stance on the ketogenic diet, but rather some important considerations.

First, it’s very strict.  In fact, it’s one of the most restrictive popular diets out there.  This makes adherence less likely, and more frustrating.

That being said, if someone likes it, can adhere to it long term, and finds it beneficial, great!  Then they can keep rocking themselves some keto, and I won’t ever deter them from it.

In terms of diabetics, if you are fairly inactive AND are pretty adept at managing your diabetes, then I think keto could be a viable option.  But certainly not the only option.

However, if you’re even moderately active, or are using exercise to manage your diabetes*, I wouldn’t recommend it.  I think the risks for a hypo episode are too great, and it’s just not worth the risk.  There are other, less risky, and less restrictive, ways to have the same effect.

I will concede that diets are personal.  Both in preference, and efficacy.  (Although, to be fair, usually efficacy has a lot to do with finding something you prefer.) If something is working for someone, if it improves their health, and if they can sustain it long term, then it’s probably a good diet for them.  And that’s what matters most.

*Need help using exercise to manage your diabetes?  Drop me a note here and let’s work together to do just that.

Death and the Day to Day

To start, a disclaimer.

The purpose of this blog is to provide exercise and dietary information to diabetics in an effort to help them live healthier lives.

And that’s what 99% of the content on here will be.

But, it’s also my blog, and if I want to write about something else from time to time, that’s what I will do.

Today, I want to write about something else.

END OF DISCLAIMER

Last week, I received news that the father of two of my closest friends (brothers) had passed away.

A heart attack, before bed, and he was gone.

They were devastated.

So was the family.

So was I.

I have yet to lose one of my parents, but I can only begin to imagine how hard it is.

Someone who had been a constant source of support, advice, and wisdom was suddenly gone from their lives.

Hearing their grief, and confusion, broke my heart for them.

It’s one of those situations where you want to do everything you can, but there really isn’t anything you can do.

Fast forward a few days later.

I sat in a chair in the back of a room filled with people who had come to celebrate the life of my friends’ father.

In the middle of the service, people had the opportunity to come to the microphone and share memories, or funny stories of him.

As this went on, I noticed something.

While most people began by telling a specific story, they usually finished by expressing sentiments that spoke more to his overall character.

“I remember one time we (insert specific story).  And that’s the kind of guy he was. (Insert their experience with his character in general).

Time after time, almost without fail, the same pattern repeated.

“I remember one time…

And that’s the kind of guy he was.”

The story they were telling wasn’t the real story they were telling.

It was a vehicle meant to express their overall experience with him.  The story just happened to embody the characteristic they wanted to remember, and share.

Because that’s the way life is right?

It’s not the specific stories, the grand gestures, or the memorable moments that define us.

Sure, we remember them and love to retell great adventures, but rarely is our relationship with someone able to be boiled down to a single experience.

More often than not relationships are built on seemingly mundane things.

It’s the day to day.

The routine.

The things we prove to be consistent with.

Grand gestures towards my wife on Valentines Day are  usually appreciated, but they probably wouldn’t mean much if I’m impatient, cutting and a jerk the rest of the year.

I can take my girls on fun vacations and have a blast with them, but I’m not being a good father if during the average week I’m too busy working or on my phone to give them regular attention.

Because that’s when you display who you really are.

Am I present when I’m sitting at the dinner table with my family?

Am I engaged with my girls as I help them get ready for bed?

Do I take time to connect with my wife and talk about our days on a regular basis?

Do I step out of my busyness to contact friends and tell them that I love them? (working on doing better with this one.)

If can regularly answer “no” to these, then I’m in trouble.

Because what my daughters will remember is a father who was too busy and distracted to invest in their lives.

My wife will learn that I’m not very interested in how she is, or in communicating on a regular basis.

My friends will get used to me not being there for them, and we will grow apart.

I really believe that there is no amount of “grand gesture” that can out do “day to day”.

People can get bored with routine.

Sometimes, life can seem stale when it’s just day in, day out.

I get it.

Sometimes you have to break things up.

But don’t miss out on the magic of routine.

Don’t miss out on the beauty of the day to day.

Because it is in the routine that you define who you really are.

And, it is in the day to day that you display that to others.

Diebetics And Diets-Intermittent Fasting

Let’s be honest, we can all get swept up in fads.

Whether it’s music, fashion, or TV shows, there is something attractive about things that are part of the popular landscape.  The whole “everyone else is doing it” mindset can get it’s claws on us, even when we’re well into adulthood.

(Remember Pokemon Go?)

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This is never more the case than with diets.  We all know someone, or have been someone, who has tried a diet simply because it’s popular, and it seems like everyone we know is giving it a go.

This series, “Diabetics and Diets”, will look at some popular diets, the pros and cons of them, and whether or not they might be a good idea for type 1, type 2, and pre-diabetics.

So, let’s dive in shall we?

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is one of the hottest diets right now.  While it gained some popularity several years ago, it has never been more prevalent than it is at the moment.

In a nutshell, Intermittent Fasting breaks up days, or weeks, into two distinct periods.  The first of which, food is consumed.  The second, a period in which no food is consumed, or a period of fasting.

(Because you’re fasting, but intermittently…so…intermittent fasting.  So clever.)

While there are many ways to set up these periods of eating/fasting, some of the most popular are 12:12, 8:16, and 5:2.

Let me explain what those mean.

12:12

This set up consists of dividing the day into two, twelve hour periods.  The first would be a twelve hour period, or window, to eat.  The second would be a twelve hour window of fasting.  For example, you might set up your eating window from 7am-7pm.  This would make your fasting window 7pm-7am.

8:16

This is essential the same concept as 12:12, but with different length windows.  In this set up, your window to eat food would be eight hours, and your window to fast would be sixteen hours.  An example of this would be eating between 8am and 4pm, and then fasting from 4pm until 8am the next day.

5:2

The set up for 5:2 is different from 12:12 and 8:16 in that the numbers represent days of the week instead of hours in a day.  In a 5:2 set up, you eat normally five days a week, and then “fast” two days a week.  I put fast in quotation marks because typically, people don’t truly fast.  The typical recommendation is that on these two “fasting” days, an individual eats roughly five hundred calories on each day.  Although, technically not a fast, five hundred calories is an incredibly small amount of food.

As I mentioned, while these are three of the more popular ways to set up Intermittent Fasting, there are a host of different ways to divide up your day, or your week.

The Pros

Many people (both diabetics and non-diabetics) have had success with Intermittent Fasting.  By creating set times to eat and to fast, it can be easier to reduce the amount an individual is eating during the course of a day, or week.  Of course, this requires a certain amount of self control to avoid eating during the fasting periods.  But then, all diets require some amount of self control, right?

There is also some evidence to suggest that Intermittent Fasting can help improve insulin sensitivity, which could be beneficial for diabetics in controlling their blood sugars, and for those with pre-diabetes to keep diabetes at bay.

The Cons

The first “con” that needs to be addressed, is that there is nothing magic about Intermittent Fasting.  It has worked well for a ton of people, but so have a lot of dietary strategies.

What makes Intermittent Fasting work for people is that they are able to create a caloric deficit, and be consistent.  The two most important factors for weight loss.  While this may not technically be considered a con of this diet, I feel it needs to be addressed as diets that gain popularity tend to come with the assumption that they will work no matter what.

For the average human, there aren’t a whole lot of cons that come with Intermittent Fasting, aside from potential hunger during their fasting window.

However, for diabetics, it could be a different story.

The extended periods of fasting could impact blood sugars negatively.  There is a high risk of blood sugars dropping (hypoglycemia) during a fast.  I know that the possibility of increasing sensitivity to insulin could be attractive to diabetics (including myself), but it is my opinion that there is too high of a chance for blood sugars to drop, and I don’t think its worth the risk.  Especially when you consider there are plenty of other ways to create a caloric deficit and stay consistent.

(SIDE NOTE: if Intermittent Fasting has worked well for you, and your blood sugars are stable, great.  I’m not saying it can’t work for diabetics.  I’m saying I wouldn’t recommend it.)

The Verdict

It is my opinion that Intermittent Fasting can absolutely be beneficial for losing weight.  However, I think it has potential to be unsafe for diabetics.  My vote is to find another plan that provides more stability for your blood sugars.

Stay tuned for more in this “Diabetics and Diets” series.

In the mean time, feel free to drop a comment below with your thoughts, and give The Diabetic Trainer a follow on social media!