Working out mixed with being your own personal pancreas 24/7 breeds (exhaustive) highs, and (scary, anxiety-filled) lows.
It also brings a lot of trial and error and a lot of effort that leaves you wanting to skip that next workout all together.
I feel you.
When I was first diagnosed with Type 1 (almost 4 years ago now), working out was my ESCAPE (it still is). I had no idea how to tackle this disease, but I knew I wanted to ensure my body was at its healthiest.
Five, sometimes six days a week I would show up and give it my all.
And while working out all the time is great, it comes with variable blood sugars . . . all the time.
Crossfit, yoga, spin, barre, running, walking, & HIIT each affect the body and your blood sugars in different ways.
While the type of workouts you do foster different blood sugar outcomes, your insulin dosing lays the foundation of your blood sugar levels.
Many people ask how I have good control over my blood sugars, and my answer is always the same: I fail, then I learn and adjust accordingly.
Cheesy but true: “We learn from failure, not from success.”
So after 4 years of frustration, tears, annoyances, fears, and yes, many highs and lows….here is my take on how your dose from yesterday, can affect today’s workout:
My personal story. Dropping low mid-workout after a cheat (higher carb) day:
Thursday’s are cheat days and Friday’s are often my Crossfit days.
What does this cheat day look like you may ask?
On my normal (super clean, lower carb, low glycemic) days I generally consume an average of 50 grams of carbs per day; on cheat day’s I can easily triple this. To start, if I have an Acai Bowl, this in itself contains an entire day of carbs for me! This translates to more insulin needed to cover a meal.
While eating more carbs isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does make it much more difficult to keep your blood sugars happy.
The more insulin you need (bolus) to cover a meal, the increased likelihood of variability.
Think of driving on the road late at night— let’s say 1AM. There are minimal cars on the road which result in minimal likelihood of an accident.
Now, take a drive at 8:30AM during rush hour. The likelihood of an accident is 10X more likely! More cars, more variability; more chances of a collision.
In practice, larger insulin injections start working sooner, last longer, and have less predictable timing.
Two weeks ago my Thursday was full of carbs and lots of insulin.
Lows—corrected with delicious snacks.
Highs—corrected with insulin.
The consequences of these corrections can carry into late evening, mid-night, and early morning.
It’s now Friday at 6:20AM, a new day, full of clean eating, but still suffering the consequences of the foods I chose the day before.
I wake up a little high (180), do my standard 2 unit dose pre (high intensity) work out and head to get my lift on!
So 15 minutes into class the strength training portion of the workout was done, and we started the “WOD”. This included the assault bike, deadlifts, wall-balls & burpees. I was excited and ready.
I get on the bike ready to go and I am like hmmm I feel low…. but I shouldn't be that low. (This was one of those times I REALLY didn't want diabetes to interfere with my mindset of killing this workout! I think we all have these moments of: Reaaaallllllly diabetes? right now? c'mon!)
At the countdown, I started and did the the assault bike anyway.
As soon as I got off I told myself I guess I need to check my blood sugars because I feel really spacey and light headed.
Accu-Chek read: 42
SIGH. I was so excited for this.
I ate an RX bar and sat there watching the class continue their workout for a few minutes & checked again.
Accu-Chek read: 46
WHAT. I guess I am not finishing this workout.
As I am sitting there, I realize yesterday was my cheat day! This meant I dosed a lot more than I typically do and even though I woke up high, I still had corrections active within my body. So that 180 wake up reading didn’t need my pre-workout dosing after all.
The moral of the story is this: The more stacking of boluses and correcting for highs/lows you have in your day, the more you will encounter the “rollercoaster.”
If you encounter frequent lows or frequently fear lows during a workout, try minimizing your carb intake to allow for smaller doses. The law of small numbers: “Big inputs make big mistakes; small inputs make small mistakes,” is something I truly stand behind!
Per usual, send me a direct message or email if you need tips in balancing your lows OR spikes during a workout--I would love to help!
Cheers to happy (less stressful) workouts!
Sources: Dr. Bernstein's Solution