Full name: Alanna Swartz
Age: 30 on Saturday (Happy birthday Alanna!)
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
#T1d since: 1990
Animas vibe w/ CGM right?: Yep!
Tell us a little bit about your new job and what you do? I am the senior fundraising and development coordinator for JDRF Nova Scotia. I manage the Walk and outreach programs including support groups for families, teens and adults.
Our connection: We know each other through social media! We have never met in person but we have some friends in common via Connected In Motion.
What type of exercise do you enjoy or have expertise in? I lift weights. Heavy ones.
What is your current workout routine? I am a creature of habit! I always warm up with some jumping jacks and box jumps. I will then do some variation of: squats, deadlifts, clean and jerks, bench presses, flies (free weights and barbell work). After I do my heavy lifting I will stretch for a few minutes to loosen up, and then I will run on the treadmill, use the stair climber, bike or row for 30 mins at top heart rate and 5 mins to cool down. I will then do a good solid stretch and usually a sauna for extra sweating.
How do you prep to workout? When I know I am going to workout I always check my blood sugar 1 hr before go time. If I am 9.0 or above I will not lower my basal rate. If I am between 6-9 I will lower by 50%, if I am between 4-6 I will lower by 80%.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of working out as a t1d? Judging if I have enough sugar in my bloodstream to effectively workout AND avoid lows. I think I need glucose on board for my lifts to be effective, so I try and stay around 7-8 while lifting. Battling lows is important, of course, so ensuring I am eating right during the lead up is just as important as my actual numbers.
What is the most rewarding part of working out for you? Mental stability 🙂 I forgive myself, and take it easier on myself on workout days.
What tips do you have for those trying to become active with t1d? Test. Test again. Then test. If you have access to a CGM-use it. But don’t feel like you have to run a marathon or become a power lifter. Just getting outdoors more, or even getting to the mall can count as activity.
What support system to you have in place to keep your spirits up? My partner is a huge support for me. He doesn’t do the gym, but he always tells me how proud he is of me, and shares my happiness when I achieve new things. He is always congratulating me on doing things that are good for me and supporting all of my healthy decisions. In part I am doing it for him. I want to be around for a long time to grow old with him and we both know that I have extra challenges with T1D.
But I also have my support group online! We check in regularly on Twitter and share successes and frustrations. We are a global group that helps each other in the non-judgemental and strategic way people with diabetes need. Everything that is moderately active is an achievement. In a world where people are running across countries and completing marathons and triathlons, we can feel that our very real and regular efforts aren’t enough. This group is online to show that what we are doing is enough, and when we aren’t doing enough we nudge each other to help ourselves and do it for our families and friends. It really is the best place to turn when we need anything. There’s no judgement or bragging just doing and caring. You can read more about it at my blog post here.
Please list your athletic accomplishments! My athletic accomplishments huh? This is tough for me, I usually keep things pretty quiet. I keep it quiet because I am fat, and I have fat friends who are very sensitive to feeling like their nose is being rubbed in weight loss crap again. But I don’t work out to lose weight. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being fat if you are taking care of yourself. I think that if I lose weight the best benefit would be having a better selection of clothes. But I have my struggles. I still have my struggles every single day with self deprecation and self loathing. I think it is engrained in me as a woman, and as someone living with diabetes that I should be ashamed of how I look, so airing my accomplishments is something so personal I don’t usually do it-I don’t see the point in me saying these things. I won’t be any more proud of myself! Soooo, I won’t get in to specifics.
I will say that when I started power lifting I set my weightlifting goal for dead lifts with my trainer and I have successfully reached that.
I do around 75% longer stints of cardio before feeling exhausted.
I taught an elderly man how to properly dead lift!
But the most important athletic accomplishment for me is that I have let up on hating myself. It still creeps up, but I can now look in the mirror and not feel ashamed. That is a HUGE step for me. More than lifting any weight or running any distance.
What message do you have for other t1d’s who are apprehensive about being active (for whatever reason)? T1D is scary. It can rob you of years on your life, and so much more. But there are ways to get around it. You just have to work a little harder than most people. The best thing you can do is meet other people with T1D and work out with them. Bounce ideas of them and report in with them regularly. Nobody else can understand what living our life can be except each other.
Any other words of motivation? Just stick with doing what makes you feel good, and don’t bother with what anyone else thinks.
Thank you Alanna for sharing your fitness story.