Countdown to Spring!

Officially, spring is T-9 days away. Finally! Of course, I live in New Hampshire, so we’ve still got at least a foot of snow on the ground most places. I can’t call spring “over” until mid-April at least. But the world is defrosting a little bit. I saw grass for the first time in months yesterday! I’d almost forgotten what it looks like.

And along with spring comes the beginning of the derby season! Officially our season doesn’t start until the beginning of April, when we can move into our regular season practice spot. During the offseason, we’ve been getting our skate on at skateparks and indoor rinks. When skating isn’t an option, we’ve been getting together to go over WFTDA rules and strategy. Our goal this season is to learn the rules so well that we have no penalties–we’ll see how that one goes 🙂 And, our training committee added a few new members to help run off-skates conditioning routines. We did maybe three off-skates session last season, and even though many of us don’t like it (hey, we’re there to skate), we can’t argue that it’s not good for us to do more. Training has said that they’re going to set aside practice time to do off-skates conditioning throughout the season. One of the newer committee members has even suggested we do a group 5k!

On my own time, I’ve been hitting the gym to do some jogging and weight training on my own. I haven’t been the most consistent with it, so recently I’ve booked some time off on my calendar in hopes that having the actual “appointment” would make me go. I’m way too scatterbrained to remember to go if I don’t have a reminder, as I have learned this winter. I don’t particularly enjoy running on the treadmill because it’s so boring (seriously, you’re running nowhere), but it feels very safe for me because I can keep a jar of glucose tabs and my meter on hand in case my blood sugar goes low. If I’m running outdoors, I need to carry around a fannypack or some kind of backpack to keep that stuff on me, and there won’t necessarily be people around to help me if I have a severe low blood sugar, unlike on the treadmill at the gym.

Plus, I really don’t want to be running over snowbanks and piles of slush.

I think it says a lot about how far I’ve come, both physically and mentally, since the start of last season. I was pretty shy and anxious when I started playing derby, and I didn’t have a lot of locally-located friends at the time. I also wasn’t in great shape–I could barely run, I had little muscle strength, and I had absolutely no idea what I needed to do to get my blood sugars under control. I spent the first couple months of the season barely being able to make it through a practice because I just couldn’t figure out a routine. (To be honest, I’m surprised I stuck that out–it’s incredibly discouraging to see everyone else working out and having to sit down and wait because my blood sugar is too high or too low. I’m also really insecure about it because it can look like I’m being lazy or like I’m giving up too easily. I haven’t had the most supportive teammates and coaches in athletic groups in the past, but my league has always been amazingly supportive of me.)

I’m giving it one last push to gear up for the season–I’m hitting up the gym to go through as much of the rest of that couch-to-5k program (I just finished week 4!), and I’m working on strengthening my derby muscles. I’ve also started doing some short conditioning exercises in the morning when I’m getting ready for the day. I set a second alarm on my phone, partially to make sure I actually get out of bed, but mostly to remind myself to do the exercises: side planks on each side (currently 60 sec each; goal is to increase by five seconds each morning), 15-20 slow lunges (I’ve always had a problem with lunges), and ten push-ups (I could do so many at the end of last season and now I’ve lost that!). At the gym I’m incorporating weights to my lunges and squats, and I’m doing some upper-body exercises as well. I refuse to start off this season totally out-of-shape. I want to get on the track and kick some ass as soon as possible!

So, T-22 days until we move back in and start setting up for the season. And I’m gonna make it count.

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Baby steps

There’s about a million articles out there about changing your current habits (or creating new ones). Write on a calendar, make a gold star chart, set yourself reminders, et cetera, et cetera. And for anyone who’s trying to reach a new goal or build a new habit, I highly recommend to try them all out! See what works for you and what doesn’t. What I swear by might not work for you, and what doesn’t work at all for me might be just the thing for you.

(I like to treat life like one big science experiment, personally. Try all the things!)

Try all the things

(Man, I love science experiments.)

I think that the one thing that every successful new goal setting method has in common, though, is to take baby steps. You can’t expect yourself to just wake up and be able to run a 5k. (Well, okay. Maybe you can. I certainly can’t.) You’re not going to master calculus overnight. A sweater will not be the first thing you knit*.

I am not good at setting goals and actually remembering to do them. I’m absent-minded and I have to write it down in five places if I need to get something done. I’m terrible at habits–I set an alarm to go off at 9:30PM every day to remind me to take my Lantus, and I still manage to forget once in a while. You’d think I’d remember to take my life-sustaining medication, right? Nope. I am that level of absent-minded.

But I’m trying a new thing. Well, it’s not that new–it’s something people have been saying forever. Do it first thing in the morning. And I’ve always been like “I have no time in the morning; I’m slow and I get into work at 7:30.” (I’m really good at excuses.)

So this is cool because it has three effects: one, I’m getting out of bed ten minutes sooner by hitting snooze one less time. Two, I’m starting off my day with a little bit of exercise. And three, I’m actually getting in my small baby steps routine of side planks, lunges, and push-ups.

I shouldn’t count my chickens before they hatch. I think I’ve only been doing this for a week or so. My derby league has been focusing a lot on conditioning, since we don’t have a skating space right now. We didn’t focus much on off-skates exercise last season. And not that I’m complaining (I would so much rather skate than run), but we definitely do need more of that. It’s only going to help us if we get better at cardio, agility, and strength training. And some of the strength training we’ve been doing has made me realize how much I need to work more on my own.

I’ve always had a hard time with lunges. I have trouble with my form and it causes my inner thigh muscles to tie themselves in knots. So I don’t do as many lunges as I should because they’re difficult, when really I need to suck it up and do more so that they become less difficult. I asked the head coach what I should do to fix this, and he said that just doing a few every day will help for now. That’s my top priority right now. The push-ups and side planks I’ve added because I’ve lost a lot of the strength that I had built up at the end of last season, and I really miss being able to do a set of twenty push-ups.

Man, I am really starting to regret letting my end-of-season fitness go to waste…

*Actually, a sweater was the first actual project I knit. I didn’t know what gauge was and knit something three sizes too big for me. I don’t recommend doing it that way.

Obligatory “My Year in Review” Post

Happy New Year’s Eve! I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m excited to head down to Boston later on this evening to ring in the new year with some friends. And, as ‘tis the season to reflect on the past year, here are some highlights:

Derby things:

  • Learned to skate and passed minimal skills assessments with a lap time of 4:51 on my 27 laps
  • Learned skate maintenence (how to take skates apart, clean them, and put them back together)
    Had a great first season with my league
  • Got the “Diabetes Cleatus” award at the end of season party (which deserves a “lol”)
  • Learned to drop into a half pipe at the skatepark
  • Guest skated with another league (and had a great time)
  • Started this blog and have actually stuck with it so far
  • Upgraded my skates from Riedell R3s to Antik MG2s (I love my new Antiks, too!)
  • Went to the Northeast Derby Convention in May

Diabetes things:

  • Got a CGM (continuous glucose monitor)
  • Got a medic alert tattoo–”diabetic type 1” permanently resides on the inside of my left wrist now
  • My A1/C (90-day average) was 7.0 earlier this year, which is the lowest I have on record
  • Started to get the hang of avoiding awful blood sugar spikes after meals (especially after breakfast)
  • Started this blog and have actually stuck with it so far (hey, it’s a diabetes success too)
  • Finally found a food/insulin/exercise routine that allows me to make it through derby practice, after two months of struggling
  • Started to accept that setbacks happen and I can’t expect to be perfect on the first try (or the second, or the third…maybe by the 50th I’ll get it)

Other things:

  • Traveled a couple of times for work
  • Spent a day and a half in London (!!)
  • Bought a new car when my old one finally kicked the bucket
  • Found a really great group of friends
  • Got a pretty big promotion at work (ha, take that, imposter syndrome!)
  • Attempted level 4 of the HSK (汉语水平考试, Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi)–didn’t pass, but I just barely didn’t pass, so it still counts as a success in my book)
  • Got comfortable experimenting with  brightly-colored make-up–I’ll get around to posting some of my bout-day looks eventually; I LOVE wearing brightly colored eye-makeup (any excuse to do so)

I don’t do New Years Resolutions (why bother waiting until the new year?  Just start new habits today), so I don’t have any of those to add, but: here’s to rocking it even harder in 2015.

[Personal Progress] The good, the better, and the silly

The good news: I made it through the first day of week 4 of the couch-to-5k program, which is two weeks further than I’ve ever gone before. It definitely pushed me (so I was ready for the next level), though.

The even better news: my blood sugars were stable enough to make it through the workout–granted, I did have to eat some glucose tabs halfway through and I needed more sugar after I finished, but hey, looks like I’m starting to nail down a pre-gym routine!

The silly news: I knew I had to eat glucose tabs halfway through because I checked my blood sugar (just in case–I’ve had problems dropping too quickly for my CGM to keep up with in the past) and had to pause the workout because I accidentally flung my vial of test strips somewhere and spent five minutes running around trying to look under machines to find them.

I guess I should start with an explanation, right?

My name’s Danielle, I’ve had type 1 diabetes since I was five years old, and I just hit my one-year anniversary of playing roller derby.

First of all, the fact that I’ve stuck around this long and succeeded in derby is a miracle in and of itself. It’s not easy to balance diabetes and exercise, and it took a lot of wicked supportive teammates to help me get this far.

I skate with Seacoast Roller Derby located in New Hampshire, USA. I’m primarily a blocker, but I enjoy jamming too. (The tough part of jamming is the toll it takes on my blood sugars, but I’ll get into that on another day.) If you want to see me talk about derby, here’s a video interview I did a little while back.

So why am I blogging? Recently I was sitting around thinking about cross-training. I’ve hit a point where practice alone isn’t enough to get me to the level I want to be at, which means that I need to start looking at other options for exercise. The problem with picking up another sport (other than the fact that I’m lazy :)) is that any new sport or form of exercise comes with a period of “how the heck do I figure out a new routine for this.” It took at least a couple of months with derby before I really figured out what I need to eat, how much I need to eat, how much insulin I need to take, and how often I need to test my blood sugar when I skate. And that’s just for practice–I’m actually still trying to figure out what I need to do for bouts!

In my “think, think, what should I do for cross-training” talk, I found myself saying “I wish I could just get a personal trainer who works with type 1 diabetics! Then I’d have the support I need and the knowledge to help me figure out a good routine.” And while I’m sure there are personal trainers out there who do work with type 1 diabetics, there probably aren’t that many of them, and bam! Idea for a blog was born.

I’m no personal trainer. I studied linguistics in college and now work in an office, which is about as far from personal training as you can get. So I can’t provide professional advice, if that’s what you’re looking for. But I at least want to start a log of what I do, what works, what doesn’t, and how I feel about it. Maybe if I start talking, someone will listen. And maybe if someone listens, I can get some good advice in return.