The 4 Week Summer Challenge!

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Ok you guys! Are you ready to start the 4 week summer challenge? Will you commit to 28 days of healthy and nutritious meals, workouts, and lifestyle changes? If you’re anything like me you are somewhat surprised that it’s already summer, and that July (where did June go?) is a week away! Did you have a goal to be uber fit this summer? Or to lose weight? Or focus on your diabetes management – did you want to stabilize your blood sugars, or get your A1c down? Or perhaps you want to try some new recipes and prepare more meals? Whatever your goal, this challenge will help you stay accountable (to me!) and on track!

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My 4 week healthy summer challenge is all about YOU and YOUR goals. And so, with that in mind, I have created some helpful templates for you to print out and work on your health – nutrition, activity, and diabetes – goals. Not sure where to start? Focus on one goal per section. Keep your goals SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. And be sure that the goal means something to you – WHY do you want to achieve this goal? Does the goal connect to your values or to your current or wannabe identity? Remember that it is never too late to become the person you want to become – yes, this may sound a little fluffly (trust me I’m one of the most scientific and pragmatic thinkers out there) but I still know the value of constant evolution and goal setting.

Your thoughts and habits make up your actions, so start by thinking about your vision for yourself. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Your vision can and should be ambitious and limitless. Let you vision excite you! Not sure you can realize your vision? Perfect! Then consider the actions and goals that you need to complete in order to get closer to your vision. Fill out this template first:

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Next up you need to plan your 4 weeks – the more you write down your plan, the more likely you are to be successful. So, what will you focus on this week? (Be sure to print out this template every week). Which meals will you make? What groceries do you need? In terms of your diabetes management, what can you focus on this week to get closer to your chosen goal?

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Now that you have your week planned out, it’s important to log about what actually happened. Did you workout? What did your blood sugars do before and after your exercise? How much insulin did you have on board? Tracking all of these numbers and trends may seem exhausting but they will give you a good sense of how your body reacts to different types of exercise. If you are tracking your weight take down your numbers once a week. (No need to focus on your weight every day.) If you are trying to focus on your nutrition, use the nutrition log to write out what you ate, and how you felt – feeling healthy and energetic will help you choose the healthy foods over the less nutritious ones.

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Now that you have your plans and actions in place, stay consistent! Work on these behaviors for 4 weeks and reward yourself once you hit your goals. Heck, reward yourself every week. Need the extra motivation to stay on track? Be sure to come join my facebook page and follow me on social media – @SweetRunMD – so that we can push one another to get after our goals. If you’re a type 1 athlete and need a bit of extra support to achieve your performance and diabetes goals, let me know. I take on a select number of Type 1 clients over the summer months. Let’s connect.

Happy summer, and happy challenge-ing!

xo

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Motivation 101

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On Sunday I did my second facebook live chat (you can find the video on my Facebook page: The Health Club with Dr. Anne Marie Hospod) all about motivation. All too often we find ourselves searching for motivation, and not moving forwards with our goals. But why? Why is motivation so hard to find? And what can we do to sustain our behavior after the initial excitement and motivation might (read: will) wear off?

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Taking a selfie and procrastinating because I was NOT motivated to ride. Why is motivation so hard to find sometimes? #spotthepump

Today I want to share a few of the myths and facts about motivation. Like you, I struggle with motivation and sometimes want nothing more than to sit, relax, and wait for motivation to come knocking on the door. The truth though is that I will be waiting a very long time if I am simply wishing on motivation to show up. Here’s the real kicker:

Motivation is overrated. We don’t need to be motivated to act. We need to act, to be motivated.

Hear me out. Motivation comes from action – from the consistent and repetitive behaviors that make up our habits. Think about it. When you perform a task, repeatedly, it becomes easier to perform. You get better at it. You gain confidence. Your body and mind know what to expect, and you are more likely to complete the behavior or the task after you have already completed it a few times. The trick then is not to wait around for motivation. Rather, start acting. Take the first step. Then the next step will follow.

Action breeds action.

What about sustaining your behaviors? What can you do to ensure that you’ll be motivated for more than those first 2-3 days of a new workout routine for example? Studies have shown us that there are a few components to the successful maintenance of behaviors. Ready to learn all about them? Oh yea you are!

1. Motivation Maintenance: Once you have a bit of motivation, be sure to self-reflect on why you’re motivated in the first place. You can be motivated to perform an activity because:

1) You enjoy it (Sounds simple right?)

2) You are satisfied with the outcome (You are excited to get to that literal or figurative finish line – you want to see if you can become THAT person who does ________, or who completes _____.

3) At last, but perhaps most importantly, you are motivated because the activity or the behavior connects to your values and/or your current or your desired identity. Who says that you can’t change things up? Always dreamed about being a runner? A triathlete? A sailor? A writer? A long distance swimmer? Go for it!

2. Self-regulation: You’re more likely to keep performing an activity or behavior if you monitor and regulate your progress. Keep track of your learnings, your challenges, but also your successes. Also, be mindful of when you default back to your automatic reactions – ex. do you reach for a cookie whenever you are stressed? Can you catch yourself in that moment and regulate your behavior so that you react differently? Maybe go for a walk? Maybe start small, eat half a cookie, and do 10 minutes of dancing to de-stress instead. Regulation means that you are aware of your behaviors and you take control over them.

3. Resources: Being motivated to continue a behavior is about so much more than simple, individualistic, will power. You need to have the resources to participate in the desired behaviors. You need to have the basic resources to get started, and to keep going. Make an inventory of what you’ll need – from material things to support – and map out where the gaps are. Can you find just the right number and mix of resources to get started? Do not wait to have all the resources – you don’t need all the bells and whistles when you start training for a triathlon for example – but make sure you have the basic gear to be safe, and to be able to enjoy the activity.

4. Habits: Because consistency is king, or queen. We don’t speak enough about the importance of consistent and repetitive actions. Be consistent. What does this mean? Realize that every little trial, little action, little behavior choice, gets you closer to your goal. Do not focus on completing a great goal in 12 months. Think about today. Think about this week. Think about a stretch of time – I like to focus on 3-4 weeks at a time –  when you will work towards being consistent with a certain action or behavior.

5. Physical and Social Environment: Remind yourself that changing and sustaining behaviors (ie. staying motivated and being successful in the long term) relies heavily on your environment. Does your home and work environment support you in making the healthy decision? Are you able to step out at lunch for a 30 minute walk? Does your spouse or family support you when you tell them that you want to no longer eat out? Having social norms and social supports that help you further your goals is vital. Look around. Think about your environment. Do your closest friends and family get excited when you tell them about your goals? If not, can you find a few other passionate ‘YES’ people to push you in the right direction?

So what do you think? Is motivation something that you struggle with? Did you realize that there were so many components at play when it came to sustaining behavior?

If you listened to my facebook live you’ll be excited to start up on my 4 week Summer challenge starting next Monday! I’m setting up a 4 week challenge so that we can all work together to tackle a few health behaviors – nutrition, activity, and diabetes management (if you’re a Type 1/2). I’ll be posting the details of the challenge this weekend, as well as fun and motivating templates and guides to help you set your goal, plan out your nutrition and meal strategies, and a diabetes and exercise log book to track your trends. So be sure to come back this weekend to download and print out the free goodies, right here on the blog!

Until then, start to think about what health behavior you want to focus on, and how the goal connects to your values and your identity.

Let’s make this the best. summer. ever!

xo

 

 

 

How do you Fuel?

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We hear a lot about the benefits and pitfalls of many different diets – from high carb to low carb, from high fat to minimal fat, from vegan to paleo. It’s hard enough to choose the healthy way of eating when your pancreas is fully functional. When you live with Type 1 Diabetes though, you have to be extra aware of what you’re eating so that you can estimate the correct amount of insulin without going too low or too high. When you’re also an athlete with Type 1 Diabetes the challenge of nutrition and fueling becomes that much more complex.

I’ve blogged about the basics of fueling the type 1 athlete, and even held a facebook live event to share my knowledge with you. Diets are individual, and although I spoke of the importance of carbs for endurance training (based on my experience and studies that I read), there are Type 1 athletes who maintain their energy with more fat in their diet, or less meat – ie. Everyone can fuel differently if it works for them and their diabetes management.

With that in mind, I wanted to share some interviews with a handful of Type 1 athletes – from a runner who recently committed to a healthier lifestyle, to a relatively new Type 1 endurance cyclist, to an Ultra runner who fuels with a plant-based diet, to a mountaineer who manages to switch up her diet based on her hikes and studies. You’ll notice that each one of them has different reasons for choosing the diet and the fuel that sustains their activity. If you’re stuck in between diets and are not sure on which diet is best, know that the best diet for you is one that YOU can sustain, that YOU enjoy, and that works for YOUR individual goals – both in life, and in diabetes management.

Ashika Parsad (ashikaparsad.com) – Outdoor Adventurer

In her words: I’m an outdoor adventurer living in Vancouver, BC. I love exploring the outdoors all-year round, whether pushing for a summit or camping next to an alpine lake while challenging my Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). I hope to inspire others by sharing stories and I hope to be inspired by like-minded Type 1s within our community.

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Photo courtesy of: ashikaparsad.com

  1. Year of Diagnosis, Management (MDI, Pump, CGM?)

Year of Diagnosis: 1994, Management: Omnipod and Dexcom g5.

  1. How would you describe your diet? If you are LCHF (Low Carb, High Fat), Vegetarian, High Carb, etc, when and why did you change your diet? Or have you always been eating this way? If you changed your diet, what differences have you noticed with your diabetes/exercise management?

I’d say my diet is relatively balanced. I stick to roughly 30% of calories from carbs, 35% from protein, and 35% from fat. I stick to complex carbs and spread them throughout my meals to help mitigate spikes. I’ve attempted LCHF and found it hard to stick to. One thing that’s made me a little iffy on following a LCHF diet (despite obvious benefits from others I’ve heard who follow this diet) is the lack of long-term research on its effects. That said, everyone’s body is different, and I understand it’s best to eat according to what works for you.

I use an app called MyFitnessPal to track my calories/macros – I find it user-friendly and I love seeing the daily spread of exactly what I’m eating and where my calories are coming from. I do change the 30, 35, 35 split according to activities. For example, if I’m out for a short run, this split works fine. If I’m out for a 2-3 day hiking/backpacking trip, I’ll likely go heavier on carbs.

I’ve eaten this way for a long time and I don’t have much trouble with blood sugar management. This balanced system seems to work for me.

  1. Why do you eat this way? (Energy? Weight loss? Health? Etc..)

Main reasons for eating this way is are better blood sugar management, energy (when I need more carbs due to demanding activities), and more importantly, for the flexibility. I’m not bound to eat very specific foods and with a packed schedule, I can easily come up with snacks and meals that cover my calorie/macro split without spending too much time thinking about it.

  1. What is your sport or activity of choice? How many hours per day/week are you active?

I enjoy weight training and endurance activities. With my lifestyle, I’m active for an average of at least 2 hours/day. Monday to Friday I spend roughly 4 hours weight training and about 1-2 hours running/jogging. On weekends we’re usually out hiking for anywhere from 6-10 hours (depending on the season).

  1. Do you change your diet depending on your daily activity? (For example, do you eat carbs only for recovery? Do you increase your fat intake during a long ride? Etc..)

On weight training days, I have quite a bit more protein. During long-duration activities, I eat more fat. On days where I don’t get up to anything at all (usually due to school, studying, etc.), I eat lower carb.

  1. Do you follow certain rules or are you more relaxed when it comes to your meal preparation and planning? – Ex. No food past 8pm, Calorie limits, Macronutrient ratios, etc.

As shared earlier, macronutrient ratios. I don’t follow a daily calorie limit because things can sometimes get in the way of following a strict meal plan. I have more of a weekly calorie goal and I set high/low days when I know I have an upcoming event or something to attend where my calorie intake may be higher. My calories are also higher on weekends when I’m out on longer adventures. Again, I try to keep my diet flexible within reason, so meal prep and planning doesn’t become a chore, and so I don’t feel guilty if I’m not able to follow it.

  1. Lastly, what is your main challenge with nutrition, activity and type 1 diabetes? Have you found any helpful solutions to share with others?

My main challenge with nutrition, activities, and type 1 has always been keeping my blood sugars from falling dangerously low. I’ve found some quick acting carbs that seem to do the trick for me: Shotbloks, Gu gels, and a worst case/stubborn low solution – Gatorade powder. I mix the powder into water or keep it under my tongue for quicker absorption

Tina Sartori – Runner

In her words: Tina’s connection to the T1 community and outdoor adventures started at Camp Huronda where she worked for 17 summers, the final few as the Assistant Director. Currently she is the Executive Director at Montessori Academy of London, where she tries to get on every outdoor field trip possible, and provides support for students with T1 & their families in her school. She lives in London with her husband Kary and 9 year old son William. Together they share a passion for fishing and baseball.

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Photo courtesy of: Connected in Motion

  1. Year of Diagnosis, Management (MDI, Pump, CGM?)

Omnipod and Dexcom User, dx 1993.

  1. How would you describe your diet?

Keto, but I also follow the guidelines from Dr. Bernstein (The Diabetes Solution) as far as carb and protein amounts for each meal.

If you are LCHF, Vegetarian, High Carb, etc, when and why did you change your diet? Or have you always been eating this way? If you changed your diet, what differences have you noticed with your diabetes/exercise management?

I went through a bit of a Diabetes Revolution around December 2017 as that October, I passed into my 25th year of being Type One and wanted to celebrate with some big goals. What I didn’t realize at the time, is that it would turn into a total health re-set. What initially ignited all of this was reading Adam Brown’s book, BrightSpots and Landmines.

I really dove into this book and started following his guidelines for eating lower carb (less than 30g at each meal), became more dedicated to my fitness and wanted to finally lose the extra pounds I had been carrying around. This is when I set the goal to run the half marathon with CIM in Ottawa. The more I started focusing on how I was eating and looking for lower carb recipes, I started to learn about the Keto diet.

  1. Why do you eat this way? (Energy? Weight loss? Health? Etc..)

I really started eating this way just based on the advice in the book, but also thought it would help with weight loss, to reduce the amount of insulin I was using and improve my A1C. A couple of months into my training, I refined my eating even more and I was following a Keto diet, utilizing the app Lose It to track my macros as well as calories. Once I got the hang of it, I stopped tracking everything so carefully as I read another book that I found fascinating – The Diabetes Solution and learned about the Law of Small Numbers. I now more closely follow these guidelines for eating (certain amounts of carbs and grams of protein for meals) but I am not 100% hard core…lol.

This way of eating, along with my half marathon training has provide some great results. I have lost 25 pounds, reduced my insulin use by 40%, my A1C flows between 5.8 – 6%.

4. What is your sport or activity of choice? How many hours per day/week are you active?

Currently it is running (3x a week, for 2-4hrs.) yoga and HIIT classes (one each). In a perfect week, I would be active 5 days, but when things get busy, because of the half, I rarely miss a run, but will drop one of these other 2 classes. Once the half is done, my HIIT classes will pick up again, running will drop to once a week, as well as training for an extended day hike I am doing with CIM in August in BC on The Rockwall Trail will become more of a focus.

  1. Do you change your diet depending on your daily activity? (For example, do you eat carbs only for recovery? Do you increase your fat intake during a long ride? Etc..)

Being Type One and eating Keto, it was hard to find information on how to fuel for running endurance distances as most marathon nutritional plans focus on carbs and that was not how I was fueling my body. Thank-goodness for the internet! When I go for long runs (over 1hr) I do make sure I have had extra protein and fat. I will often eat a protein bar before I head out. Otherwise I normally don’t do anything differently. I don’t eat carbs to recover after long runs either. I use Nuun or salt tabs when out for long runs to replace electrolytes without adding additional carbs and this has worked well. I only take on carbs if while running my sugars start to drop. I have used Sport Beans as well large rockets on route.

  1. Do you follow certain rules or are you more relaxed when it comes to your meal preparation and planning? – Ex. No food past 8pm, Calorie limits, Macronutrient ratios, etc.

I did this a lot when I was first starting out. Eating this way does take planning and is not always as convenient or easy. Adam’s book suggests no eating after your dinner meal and I try to stick to this, but find it challenging as I have always been a nighttime snacker! Some days are better than others. When I was first eating Keto I used a calorie calculator from Diabetes Strong to find out how many calories my body needed to function and then how many to lose weight, while also tracking my macros (20% carb, 50% fat and 30% protein) at the same time. I did lower my fat percentage because I was trying to lose weight. Often with Keto eating it is said calories don’t matter, but because I was trying to lose weight, I did track them. Now because I am following Dr. B, where the numbers are easy to remember (6g/12g/12g and 3g/4g/5g), I don’t track my eating anymore as it is very routine.

  1. Lastly, what is your main challenge with nutrition, activity and type 1 diabetes? Have you found any helpful solutions to share with others?

In January I was getting weekly newsletters from Diabetes Strong that contained a lot of information about fitness with Type One and ideas for meals. Adam’s book and Dr. B’s book were great resources as well as some Facebook Groups (Easy Keto Family Meals, TypeOneGrit, Keto Backpackers). My biggest challenge has been all the adjustments I have had to make with my insulin. Finding the right temp basal for the length of run I am doing is still a struggle at times. Having a CGM has been very helpful. I find it frustrating when Diabetes ruins your exercise plans – a persistant low cuts your run short, you can’t spontaneously leave for a run, your sensor expires when you were counting on it….the list goes on. What I find has helped the most through all of it is my network of other T1’s that I can bounce ideas off of, share information with each other, ask questions and celebrate successes.

Amy McKinnon (https://amymckinnonnutrition.com/)- Ultra Runner

In her words: I’m a nutritionist, type 1 diabetic and long-distance runner. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2000, during my first year of high school. I changed to a plant-based lifestyle in August, 2013. This not only greatly improved my overall health and energy levels, but also greatly improved my diabetes management and athletic performance. Over the course of the past 5 years I have run six marathons, qualifying for the Boston marathon twice. In 2016, to raise awareness for type 1 diabetes, I ran 40 half marathons while traveling alone around Latin America. (Amy just ran another sub 3:30 marathon this past weekend!)

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Photo courtesy of: Amy McKinnon

  1. Year of Diagnosis, Management (MDI, Pump, CGM?)

I was diagnosed in 2000 (at the age of 12). I currently manage my diabetes with the Medtronic 640G pump and also the freestyle libre monitoring system.

  1. How would you describe your diet? If you are LCHF, Vegetarian, High Carb, etc, when and why did you change your diet? Or have you always been eating this way? If you changed your diet, what differences have you noticed with your diabetes/exercise management?

I currently follow a vegan, plant-based diet which is 95% unprocessed plant foods. I have been following a vegan diet for the past 5 years but within that have made some changes.

I used to follow an extremely high carb low fat diet but I struggled with the quantity of food I needed to consume to get enough calories, especially when training for a marathon. In the past 3-6 months I have included more healthy fats (specifically almonds, flaxseed meal and chia seeds) into my diet and slightly reduced the amount of carbs I am consuming.

Eating a completely plant-based diet has helped me with my diabetes management dramatically. I need to take less insulin overall and my HbA1c has been below 6 for the past 4 years.

With regards to running as my diet is anti-inflammatory my recovery between workouts has been extremely quick. I don’t get a lot of muscle pain or soreness and I have been able to continue training injury free.

  1. Why do you eat this way? (Energy? Weight loss? Health? Etc..)

Overall health, longevity and quality of life.

  1. What is your sport or activity of choice? How many hours per day/week are you active?

I enjoy long distance running – mostly marathon distance. When I am training for a marathon I train 5-6 days a week. Running most of those days with yoga every morning and 1-2 strength training sessions a week.

  1. Do you change your diet depending on your daily activity? (For example, do you eat carbs only for recovery? Do you increase your fat intake during a long ride? Etc..)

I don’t change my diet for my training. I like to be pretty consistent so my BGLs are more predictable. Sometimes I will increase my calories the day after a race or big training run to replenish my body.

  1. Do you follow certain rules or are you more relaxed when it comes to your meal preparation and planning? – Ex. No food past 8pm, Calorie limits, Macronutrient ratios, etc.

I always try to make sure my food is dense in nutrients. I don’t limit calories although I have tracked them in the past.  I definitely stay away from processed foods and anything cooked in oil. I am pretty strict about those two rules, not only for my health but for my diabetes management.

  1. Lastly, what is your main challenge with nutrition, activity and type 1 diabetes? Have you found any helpful solutions to share with others?

The biggest challenge I find is trying to predict how your BGL is going to react during and after exercise. For example, when I do track workouts I normally drop mid-workout and have to have a gel to bring me back into a normal range.

The other day I started my workout on a bgl of 132 and mid-way through my BGL was 300. I couldn’t figure out why and I was a little frustrated to say the least.

I find knowing your BGL as often as you can before during and after exercise helps a lot. The more knowledge you have in the moment the quicker you can make a decision to do your best to keep your bgls in range or react to a low or high bgl and correct it as quickly as possible.

Siddarth Sharma (@sid_t1d, https://www.thebravestlife.com/030/) – Cyclist

  1. Year of Diagnosis, Management (MDI, Pump, CGM?)

2015, MDI and Dexcom/Libre.

  1. How would you describe your diet? If you are LCHF, Vegetarian, High Carb, etc, when and why did you change your diet? Or have you always been eating this way? If you changed your diet, what differences have you noticed with your diabetes/exercise management?

LCHF/Ketogenic diet. When I got diagnosed, as a researcher and engineer I wanted to understand what my body was doing and find correlation between food, mood, BG levels and energy. An Indian standard diet is very high carb and soon I realised that the lower the carbs, the more predictable BG Levels I had and minimising decisions I had to make and injections I had to take helped with mental health. Through online interaction I was told about lchf and I realised that although my BG Levels were good I was feeling tired because I was not eating enough good fats. Exercise management required a lot of experimentation to again understand my body responses and studying about GLUT-4 receptors helped immensely, insulin dosing strategy and a bit of forward planning has made life in sports easier to manage. Initially there was a dip in sports performance but as I persisted with the diet the performance actually improved.

3. Why do you eat this way? (Energy? Weight loss? Health? Etc..)

My aim is to eat and minimize my daily decisions and live on minimal insulin. LCHF/Ketogenic diet helps with energy levels and weight management which all in turn help with mental health and it’s good to be in a positive circle. Repeatable and reproducible results help in trusting and listening to my body.

  1. What is your sport or activity of choice? How many hours per day/week are you active?

Cycling and Gym. 10-20 hrs a week depending on what event I am preparing for.

5. Do you change your diet depending on your daily activity? (For example, do you eat carbs only for recovery? Do you increase your fat intake during a long ride? Etc..)

As I am on MDI I will reduce my basal rate significantly for a long bike ride and will not change anything for HIT as the BG levels will go up slightly. For a one day event I won’t change anything else but for a multiple day endurance event I will eat carbs on my bike and burn it off without needing insulin and to keep my glycogen stores in check.

  1. Do you follow certain rules or are you more relaxed when it comes to your meal preparation and planning? – Ex. No food past 8pm, Calorie limits, Macronutrient ratios, etc.

The only rule is to avoid carbs and eat as much as I want whenever I feel like it and use the data from CGM to recognise patterns and review basal rates often.

  1. Lastly, what is your main challenge with nutrition, activity and type 1 diabetes? Have you found any helpful solutions to share with others?

As an MDI user I have to plan the whole day ahead and struggle with improving my bike rides. Advice would be to – find your own balance, don’t be afraid of the numbers or of experimenting (we all know what to do if BG Levels go low or high), do what makes you happy and remember it is a process so don’t rush.

So there you have it – a few different perspectives of Type 1 diets. How do you choose what to eat? Are you motivated by proper fuel for endurance? Do you try and keep to certain rules when eating? Nutrition can be challenging but it’s definitely something that helps us live healthier and better lives, not to mention supports our athletic performance.

If you want to reach out to any of these athletes (thanks again Tina, Amy, Sid, and Ash!), or have questions for me about how I trained and fueled for my Ironman journey, send us a note – we’d all love to hear from you.

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The Ironman Finisher jacket, a jacket that means so much, especially to Type 1s!

Happy meal prep and recipe reading,

xo

Fueling the Type 1 Athlete

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Last week I did a facebook live chat on how to fuel the Type 1 athlete. I wanted to share my knowledge and experience with you so that you know the basics of properly fueling for your workouts and your races. And let’s be real, so that you have confidence to keep pushing without worrying (too much) about rollercoaster-ing blood sugars. For those of you who have been reading my blog and following my journey, you know that it has been a challenge for me to maintain steady blood sugars while training (especially while biking) but that I finally reached my Ironman finish line and had near perfect nutrition and blood sugars all day!

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During the Tremblant Ironman I had a great nutrition strategy and my blood sugars cooperated! My mistake though? Not taking in enough salt on a hot summer day.

Here is a summary of the information that I shared during my presentation. I hope that it helps you reach your athletic goals.

When we think of exercise or activity, we should think about the benefits that are provided – from mental and physical well being, to sense of community and self. Physical activity also helps us Type 1s gain more stable blood sugars, and lowers our chance of complications down the line. But none of these benefits are fully take place if we are too concerned with fueling properly, or maintaining adequate sugar levels.

First off, how often should we fit activity into our lives? Adults should aim to achieve 150 min of sweat inducing activity a week, with 2-3 additional strength workouts. Children, on the other hand, should aim to get a minimum of 60 minutes a day of activity. If you have type 1 diabetes you might be apprehensive to start an exercise routine, but it can be done. And done well.

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Figuring out my insulin and nutrient needs for cycling was hard! How does cycling affect you and your BGs?

When it comes to exercise and diabetes, why is it so challenging to stay within range and not fall low, or have our counter regulatory hormones cause us to go high?

  • Exercise can increase glucose uptake into the muscle by up to 50 times.
  • Exercise can also cause you to go high if the type of activity is more anaerobic in nature.
  • Our strategies often change if we are aiming to lose weight or if we are aiming for performance. (Higher carbs are usually necessary for endurance performance, whereas low insulin diets are more helpful when one is trying to lose weight.)

So, time for the fun stuff all about nutrition now – how do I know what to eat and how to eat when I workout? What simple strategies can I share with you to help you on your nutrition and exercise journey? Here are the questions I ask myself before I decide on my nutrition strategy prior to exercise:

Type:

What kind of exercise will you be doing? Aerobic? Anaerobic? Mixed or HIIT (Interval Training)? Base your nutrition decisions on the type of workout you will be doing and the influence that the activity will have on your blood sugars.

Aerobic exercise (running, swimming, walking, etc..) will generally make you go low, after about 45 min of sustained exercise. You will have the potential to go low for 24 hours after aerobic activity, so be sure to carefully watch your levels following the activity. (Starting blood sugars should be a touch higher to make up for the quick drop after 45 min, so aim to start closer to 7-10 mmol/l.)

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Anaerobic exercise (strength work, weight lifting, etc..) will be more likely to raise your blood sugars, although it can still lower your blood sugar after the fact. Confused? Know that you are less likely to go low during an anaerobic workout, but test often to learn the way in which your body reacts.

Mixed or interval training (High intensity interval training, will generally spike your blood sugars quite quickly. These short sprints and quick movements make our bodies go into a ‘fight or flight’ response and the adrenaline release, amongst other things, will cause our numbers to rise fairly quickly. (Starting blood sugars can therefore be lower than for aerobic exercise  – think 5-7 mmol/l.)

Timing:

When are you planning to eat? Before your workout? During? After? Choose the right foods and liquids to fuel your workout and your recovery.

Here’s a quick look at the way I split up my nutrition strategies:

Pre: What I eat before a workout matters more than anything else. It’s the diet that I choose to follow every day, not just the meal right before my activity. Whether you are low carb, high carb, vegan, paleo, or ‘fill in the blank’, my experience has been that a healthy, balanced diet is key to maintaining a strong immune system and an able body to complete endurance workouts. It’s also important to maintain your glycogen stores. Stores usually last about 90-120 minutes.

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A healthy diet is not just about kale. No, really. There are so many options out there! (Photo by Laura Johnston on Unsplash)

I personally believe in a low insulin, nutrient rich diet. From experience I have found that I need to focus on low GI carbs and a healthy amount of carbs for my endurance needs. Low insulin does not necessarily mean low carb though. That said, I understand that some type 1 athletes perform well on a low carb, high fat diet. (Want to learn more about diet trends? Check out one of my older nutrition posts, and stay tuned for a blog post where I interview a few Keto Type 1 Athletes.) Take your time trying different strategies and realize that what works for one person may not work for you. One recommended breakdown of macronutrients would be:

  • 45-65% carbs
  • 20-35% fat
  • 10-35% protein (approx. 1.2-1.6g/kg/day)

In terms of pre-workout meals, it’s important to eat foods that will fuel you for long enough, and not cause you indigestion. Aim for a mix of carbs, protein and fat (these 2 will release energy more slowly) and choose foods that are easy on the stomach. If you are giving yourself insulin for your pre-workout meal, aim to have no insulin on board when you start your activity (ie. eat 2-3 hours before your exercise.)

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Having a big brunch before your run? Make sure no insulin is on board when you tie up your laces. The extra insulin will go into overdrive once you start your activity and you risk going low, fast.

During: First off, let me share a few simple ‘rules’ for energy needs during workouts of under an hour, between 1-3 hours, and over 3 hours. I like to simplify the strategies as much as possible, so that it’s easy to remember but also so that it’s repeatable.

Under an hour: Water only

1-3 hours: Water, Carbs, Salt replacement (if heavy sweating, or heat)

Over 3 hours: Water, Carbs, Salt replacement

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Don’t forget those liquids! (Photo by Andy Hall on Unsplash)

But how many carbs should I take in? Depending on your experience (fitness) and your needs (are you doing a run or a full day triathlon for example?) you can aim to eat anywhere between 20-75 g of carbs an hour. You don’t really need more than 15-20g per hour if your goal is simply not to go low. That said, the recommended amount is to take in 20g of carbs every 20 minutes. If you are aiming for better performance, studies have shown that a higher carb intake of up to 75 g/hr might be needed.

And what kind of carbs should I eat? Here is where you can choose a higher GI carb – think simple sugars, gels, gatorade, etc, rather than the harder to digest fatty/protein filled foods. These more complex carbs are still good sources of energy but will not take effect until later and might upset your stomach (they are good choices in a triathlon when you want to have energy for a long bike leg of a race for example.) You can also choose to alternate between various sources of carbs (especailly for workouts over 150 minutes) – from glucose to fructose for example – so that you are utilizing different gut transporters.

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Post: Recovery foods are crucial to maintain a healthy immune system and allow your body to properly recover from the completed activity. Recovery foods should be ingested within 30-45 minutes of your workout. Choose a mix of carbs and protein – you don’t have to use protein powders but they do make it quick and easy to ‘grab and go’ a recovery meal. Studies for non-diabetic athletes focus mainly on getting in the carbohydrates, whereas some studies for the Type 1 population has also shown the benefit of taking in protein to stabilize blood sugars post-workouts. Something as simple as chocolate milk works perfectly because it has a great mix of carbs and protein. Remember that if you plan to eat a meal right after your workout, and therefore make your meal into your recovery meal, you might need to take in more than usual.

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A great way to have recovery foods ready is to make homemade granola – add some greek yogurt and maple syrup and you can check off the carbs and protein! (Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash)

Trends:

Lastly, when deciding on your nutrition strategies, think about your trends. What happens when you eat a banana for example before a run? After? How do your numbers fluctuate based on your nutrition decisions?

Trust your trends. Learn to log your workouts, your meals and snacks, and think about whether you are eating and drinking enough not simply during the workouts, but before and after too. Are you eating a healthy diet throughout the week? Are you eating enough for your training volume? Are you allowing yourself to eat your ‘cheat’ foods more often than you should be? The important point to make when it comes to nutrition and exercise is to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Listen to your body and to your needs.

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Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

So there you have it. Focus on knowing the type of workout, the timing of your meals and snacks, and the trends of your diabetes management and you are well on your way to being a well fueled, type 1 rock star!

Are these strategies helpful? Do you have any other ways in which you fuel for your workouts? Every one of us is unique, especially when it comes to diabetes management, so I always love to hear from you. Let me know in the comments below. If you want to read up on the specific studies that back up the information I have shared, check out the Lancet’s piece ‘Exercise Management in Type 1 Diabetes‘, from January 2017.

Stay tuned to my social media (@SweetRunMD) and my facebook page – The Health Club with Dr. Anne Marie Hospod – for my next few facebook live events. And reach out if you or a family member needs my support in managing diabetes and exercise. I take on a select number of clients every month. Next up I’ll be talking about starting and maintaining an exercise routine – ie. Why is motivation so hard to find sometimes?

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Hmm.. Motivation? Is that you? Where are you?

Happy training, and eating,

xo

 

Goals goals goals…

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Is it just me or is it harder and harder to set a goal once you accomplish some really big ones?! Um hello Ironman. I’ve researched and read, and considered and contemplated. I’ve spent a lot of time looking up races and locations, wondering if the venue would make for a nice race-cation. I check flights and hotels, and nearby attractions. I want to choose races that fit my schedule and my life. After devoting so much time to Ironman training these last 3 years I am definitely looking forward to having more free time with my friends and family. I also realize though that I’m such a type A person that I need goals in order to be motivated to follow an exercise plan.

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Love a good goal!

So, drum roll please, here are my races and goals for 2018 (aka the post-Ironman year!):

  1. Race a sub 2 hour half marathon

I’m not the fastest runner but I know that I have it in me to be faster. I have raced in many half marathons and still not hit this time goal. I have been under-trained or injured in a few of them, had a best time of 2:07, and a comfortable time of 2:15.

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I also never followed an actual sub 2 training plan. That’s all about to change. I’m going to find a 12 (March 4th start) or 16 week plan (Feb. 4th start) and get at it! I’m going to race the Ottawa Half Marathon on May 27th since I’m familiar with the course (I’ve crossed that finish line 3 times already!) and it’s an easy drive from Toronto.

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Want to join me? Be sure to register early. This is one of the more popular half marathons in Canada!

2. Run my first solo trail race

A few years ago, I ran the Great Canadian North Face Challenge in Alberta as part of a relay team. I ran through mud and up hills, from midnight to 3am on a narrow trail in the Rocky Mountains. Oh, and in the pouring rain.

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It was an epic experience and one that I definitely look forward to repeating – this time though I want to run during the day, and solo. I’m going to race in a Five Peaks event and I’m sure will have a fun time! Since trail running is often far slower than road running, and a hell of a (fun) workout, I’m going to pick an Enduro race of a little over 10km. This one at the start of September seems like a good fit and it’s conveniently located in my back yard (well, close enough): Heart Lake.

3. Run a road relay race with friends

Part of the joy in running is sharing the experience with friends. Whether supporters or fellow runners, there’s something very special about being able to share the highs and lows with friends who also love running and mean the world to you.

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Almost a decade ago (gulp) I did a Ragnar running race with fellow type 1 athletes (hi guys!) and loved every minute of it. From having our faces plastered on our race van (I was a brunette then) to running at night and only seeing the flickering of lights ahead (what is it with me and night running?!), to trying to sleep in a van in between shifts (it’s as uncomfortable as you’d imagine), my relay road race experience was incredible. There are a number of options to choose from, but first I have to form a group – I can think of a few friends who might be interested… Heather? Will? Jennifer?

4. Complete a short triathlon for fun

After 3 years of preparing and training for my Ironman race, I need a break from the high training volume and sacrifices involved with long distance triathlons.

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Part of me of course loves the idea of jumping right back in and doing a half Ironman this summer but I also have come to realize that I would love to spend my time becoming leaner and faster, and focusing on my half marathon race.

And so, I’ll do a sprint or an Olympic triathlon this summer for fun, and probably hold off on another half Ironman for now.

 

Looking at this list I wonder if I’ll be motivated enough by these ‘small’ challenges – again, having the Ironman goal hang over you for years shifts the way you approach challenges – but I know that I simply need to be consistent. Workout. Sweat. And return to the basics.

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Sweat life in the mountains? Yes please!

How do you set your goals after achieving a BIG one? Do you take a break from goal setting and return to the basics? What motivates you when you don’t have a structured workout plan? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Here’s to returning to basics, and simply enjoying the sweat life,

xo

 

 

 

 

2018 Diet Trends

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If you’re anything like me, you are intrigued by all the diet trends that make an appearance in the New Year. From the Whole30 to a ‘dry’ month, LCHF and intermittent fasting, to keto and vegan diets, there are so many recommendations and plans being shared and advertised this time of year. As a type 1 diabetic choosing a meal plan and a ‘diet’ (I use this term lightly since I don’t believe in severe, all or none, diets) is challenging.

If you want to eat more healthily, lean out, and fuel your body with the right nutrients to be strong and healthy, then you need to pay attention to what, and how, you’re eating. I thought I’d go through some of the diet trends for 2018 to give you a head start, as well as my thoughts on whether to try or ignore certain diets.

My goal is to lean out after an off-season of enjoyment (read: a much lower training volume) and delicious food. It’s also my goal to watch my diabetes management more closely so as to lower my HbA1c (that’s a 3 month average of my blood sugar levels). I therefore want to choose a plan, and foods, that will lower my insulin needs (insulin stores energy/fat) and also give me the nutrients I need to get back to a training plan.

So, let’s get started! Here are some of the trendy diets and my thoughts on whether or not they show potential for healthy living. (Have others that intrigue you? Let me know and I’d be happy to research them and let you know my thoughts):

  1. Whole30

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What: A ‘return to the basics’ plan that focuses on whole foods and meal preparation. This diet cuts out all sugar, all dairy, legumes, and alcohol. It also recommends not weighing yourself for the 30 days.

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Are you one of the many people doing the Whole30 this January?

Why: This diet is a reset diet that eliminates all food that might cause sugar spikes, inflammatory processes, and overall gut unhappiness. The 30 day timeline is realistic and just long enough to start getting you into a healthier routine.

Who: This is a diet that anyone can try – it forces you to re-evaluate your eating habits and teaches you to take the time to prepare meals with whole and fresh ingredients.

Verdict: Although I would find the eliminations hard to live with, I know many people have had success with this plan since it helped them become aware of their eating habits. I wouldn’t recommend cutting out all of these food items all at once, but I do see the benefit in not weighing yourself and returning to a holistic and healthy way of eating.

2. LCHF/Keto Diets

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Ultrarunner and LCHF advocate Timothy Olson. (Tim Kemple/Outside Online)

What: A LCHF diet is just that – a diet that is low in carbs and high in fat. It tends to be higher in protein and meats as well. Starchy carbs and sugars are cut from one’s diet, and the focus is on healthy fats and non-starchy vegetables.

Why: Refined sugars and starchy carbs raise our insulin levels. The idea here is that you can gain similar energy from fat, and retrain your body to utilize these food sources for energy.

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All of a sudden ‘Keto’ books are everywhere!

Who: People who want to lose weight quickly will try this diet since it can produce quick results.  Others who are trying out this diet are the endurance athletes. Many ultra runners have been known to go into ketosis so that they can efficiently burn fat during their long workouts.

Verdict: The challenge with this diet is that you may find yourself eating a lot of meat and a lot of fat. If you take the extreme version of this diet you won’t be eating fiber-filled fruits and vegetables either, and so your immune system and your digestive system may suffer. It would be better to include fruits and vegetables that are low in sugar, and limit one’s meat consumption.

3. Intermittent Fasting

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(Healthline)

What: Intermittent fasting describes plans that cycle between defined periods of fasting and non-fasting. Less of a diet and more of a pattern, intermittent fasting does not tell you what to eat, but rather when to eat. In that sense it’s an ‘anti-diet.’ The most common pattern is the 16/8 method, where you restrict your eating to an 8 hour window. Water fasts are also common – these fasts have you cut out foods for a set amount of time, from 1 day to multiple days, and drink mainly water.

Why: Fasting allows insulin levels to decrease, insulin sensitivity to increase, and gives the body an opportunity to properly digest the day’s food. Fasts also allow the body to switch from burning sugar to burning fat for energy. Since you don’t have to make any changes to the food you are consuming, these fasts are often easier to implement.

Who: Anyone can try a fast, but it is important to still focus on proper nutrition and fueling for your needs. You can fast for health, weight loss, for religious, or spiritual purposes.

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Internist Jason Fung treats type 2 diabetes with intermittent fasting, in order to decrease insulin needs.

Verdict: A fast can be as short or as long as you would like. Allowing your body to rest and giving your body the chance to be without food – cutting out snacking for boredom or routine – is a great idea. Having a light dinner and not eating past a certain time – I will aim for 7pm – are recommendations that are fairly easy to implement. Although intermittent fasting can be beneficial for those living with a chronic disease (diabetes or obesity for example), it can also be used for athletes. You might have heard about ‘training in the fasted state’, where you would fast for a longer duration, such as during a 16/8 fast or a longer 20-24 hours fast, before working out and breaking the fast. As your counter-regulatory hormones go up during the fast (Growth Hormone for example), you can then train harder and recover faster. Training first thing in the morning therefore also has benefits.

When it comes to diets, or food plans, keep in mind what your goal of ‘treatment’ is – do you want to lose weight? Maintain weight? Have mental clarity? Bring more nutritious foods into your meals? Fuel your workouts? Do not simply jump on a trendy plan without considering what your goals are.

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We need to remember that nutrition is imperative for our well-being. How we fuel our bodies and minds will influence our health and longevity. We owe it to ourselves to be smart about our nutrition and our diet, and remember that every individual has a different goal when it comes to weight and health management. If you try something that is supposed to work and it doesn’t work for you, that is ok. Learn from the experience and move on.

Knowing all of that, what will I do? I’ll be combining a few of the philosophies and plans listed above, namely:

1. Eating whole and unprocessed foods, that are low in refined sugars.

2. Limiting dairy and alcohol.

3. Choosing carbs that are whole, unprocessed, colorful and fiber filled.

4. Trying the beginner version of a 16/8 fast, which will be closer to a 14/10 fast – and not eating after dinner so that I can go to bed without any insulin on board.

5. Treating myself (in moderation). After all, life is more enjoyable when we both feast and fast.

What do you think? Do you have any experience with these diets and food plans? Are you a type 1 or 2 diabetic who has had positive results (weight loss and reduction in insulin needs) with intermittent fasting? Let me know in the comments below. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Happy, nutritious, eating,

xo

 

Challenge: Week 12

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It’s almost the New Year! And it’s the last week of the Health Challenge! (Cough cough, ok, so this post is a bit late but with the holidays and a stomach bug, I was out of commission last week.)

For the last week of this challenge I want to focus on a simplified and better version of the classic Year in Review post. You know the ones – these are posts when you look back at the 12 months and think about what went well, where there is room for improvement, and you start to look forward to the New Year ahead. Some people create comprehensive tables labeling the good and the bad of the previous 12 months. Others put on their Martha Stewart creative caps and delineate all of their goals on colorful vision boards. For me though, this year, I want to keep it simple.

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My most liked Instagram posts of 2017 – thank you for all the love!

Here are the few questions to ask yourself when reviewing your year:

1. What are you most proud of? Give yourself the time to pat yourself on the back and say “YES! Great job! You did it!” However big or small, give yourself the permission to be proud of your accomplishments – whether concrete ones like an Ironman finish (woo hoo!), birthing a baby (!) or more personal ones like strengthening broken relationships or challenging yourself at work. Congratulate yourself! You deserve it.

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That time I did an Ironman.

I am most proud of accomplishing my Ironman goal, of being a new puppy parent, having a loving relationship with my partner, and being an auntie to the cutest little peanut.

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2. What did you learn? Any experience can teach you something – about yourself, about your values, your desires, or about others. Take a few moments to think about something that maybe didn’t go as well as planned, or a relationship that didn’t follow the path you had hoped for. We go through life learning from our experiences and our relationships. I am a firm believer that we can make our own decisions and control our lives, but I also believe that there is a certain universal pull towards experiences and relationships that are needed for us to grow. What did you learn about yourself this year, through the relationships that entered and/or exited your life? What did your experiences teach you about your goals? Your wishes? Your beliefs?

It goes without saying that through my Ironman journey I realized that I can accomplish anything that I set my mind to. I also learned that my diabetes can still sometimes be a wild card, as it doesn’t always behave as I want it to. I also learned that I need a mental and physical break after a big athletic goal. My past few months were certainly more on the hibernation than on the productive side, but that’s ok. Balance is key for any endeavor. When the time is right I will get back to it. (And I will show up to swimming Eric… 😉 )

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Letting go of perfection. Diabetes is a hard disease to manage and not every reading can be perfect.

3. What can you let go of? We carry with us goals and/or ideas that seem to fit the life vision that we once set out for ourselves. It’s perfectly acceptable to change these beliefs if they no longer align with your values. There is no need to follow the cookie cutter mold if you don’t like those cookies to begin with! (Does that make sense?) The end of the year is a good time to check in with these long held beliefs and decide whether or not we want to hold onto them. Do you hold onto certain beliefs year after year? Are you afraid of certain situations or crippled by certain stressors? Think about your deeply held beliefs and challenge them. Ask yourself if those ideas are holding you back? Can you let go of the idea of…perfection? Can you let go of the process of….comparison? Can you allow yourself to let go of the belief that hitting certain goals will bring you happiness?  Losing weight, finding a partner, having children, getting a promotion, buying the house, etc …will NOT in and of itself bring you happiness. Happiness comes from accepting and being grateful for what you currently have, and thus being satisfied and content with your life.

So let go of these ideas and start off the New Year able to really commit to being the truest version of yourself. Ignore the ‘New Year, New You’ headlines. The New Year is about you – whole, imperfect, and genuine.

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Be the best version of you. Don’t worry about the ‘NEW’ you. You do you.

After spending the time to review your year and asking yourself these important questions, start thinking about your New Year and how you would like to feel about your 2018 experiences and relationships. Last year I focused a lot of my attention on consistency. I wanted to complete my workouts and become a stronger athlete. I wanted to do my best at being ready to cross the Ironman finish line…and I DID!

For 2018 I am choosing to focus on love. To love and respect my body, eat more healthily and enjoy my workouts.  To spread love to my followers by sharing my experiences through this blog and through an upcoming cookbook and guidebook dedicated to athletes living with a chronic condition. To show love and patience to my diabetes so that I can have a healthy future pregnancy. And of course, to continue to love triathlon and endurance athletics, by choosing new goals that excite and challenge me. (Anyone doing Whistler 70.3? Hmm…)

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From my family to yours, happy New Year!

It’s been a pretty spectacular year and my goodness I have a feeling that 2018 will be even better!

Thanks for all the love and support throughout the year. Look forward to continuing to share my journey with you all in the New Year,

xo