I know a lot of people who are younger than me who surprised at my daily physical activity regime. They usually say they can't do what I do because they don't have the energy, or they have aches and pains. On days when I don't get any physical activity, I am tired and sluggish and hurt as well. Moderate exercise makes me feel better. I would rather take a few hours a day and walk or bike than watch some mindless television program. Sure, I don't know the next Idol contestant, or who is going to be voted off the island, but I would rather live my life than watch some TV writer's version of life.
I Ride Slowly
One evening, a fellow cyclist at our local city harbor remarked that if I rode any slower, I would be riding backwards. That was easy for her to say, she is half my age and in very good physical condition. I hike six miles every morning, and bicycle ten miles every night. I am not racing anyone or trying to prove anything to anyone, so my pace is relaxed to moderate. There is a time commitment I have made to myself and work everything else around this.
Low Blood Sugar Makes Me Ache
I have hypoglycemia, a condition where blood sugar levels drop too low. When this happens, I get really weak and tired, achy (like you feel when you get the flu), and break out in a cold sweat. Unlike diabetes, where a person's blood sugar level fluctuates from very high to very low, mine just drops – like a rock.
The best answer for me, raise the blood sugar – but do it slowly, over several hours. If I try to raise that level by eating too much sugar, my body reacts by burning that sugar (as it should), but it burns way too much – essentially running me out of fuel.
When I was first diagnosed, my doctor prescribed a high protein diet – lots of beef and little or no carbs like potatoes, breads, and similar things that turn into sugar. There is apparently no effective medication to solve this issue and I hate taking drugs anyway, so a change in diet is the preferred remedy. The damage that results from eating that much protein is not good, you know – small things like heart disease, high cholesterol, and on and on and on. Gee, the remedy is worse than the illness.
A few years later, my doctor changed the diet and now it is supposed to include a reasonable amount of protein along with complex carbs which surprisingly include breads, pasta and potatoes. Those things were forbidden before. I learned the medical profession changes opinions all the time based on new findings about something related to our health or food supply.
Burn Sugar Slowly
Those complex carbohydrates convert into sugar more slowly than sugary sweets and candy so my body doesn't do a knee-jerk reaction and start burning sugars at a high rate. I have a sweet tooth so you may say, well use things with artificial sweeteners. That doesn't work either because those sweet substitutes fool my body into thinking I've eaten sugar then it kicks in the extra cylinders to burn the sugar that isn't there, effectively dropping my blood-sugar level to unacceptable levels. So, artificial sweeteners don't work well for me.
Just like your car, if your body doesn't have any fuel, it doesn't go very far. In my case, it doesn't go very far or very fast. If you are riding your bike, you need that fuel. At the end of my work day, I try to ride my bike and if I don't get fuel for my body, I won't be able to ride the distance I want to ride.
Eating a heavy meal before physical activity is a bad idea. After eating a heavy meal, I just want to take a nap. The other obvious disadvantage to eating a lot before exercise is that regurgitation issue. (Ick)
They Love Me At The Convenience Store
I stop by the convenience store on the way to my riding destination and pick up a couple of beef jerky sticks and a cinnamon pastry. This combination works for me, I get the sugar spike from the pastry then the beef sticks and the cinnamon help keep my blood-sugar level steady. (Cinnamon is a good spice to stabilize blood sugar.) They love me at the local store because I usually spend about $2.50 on these snack items, which means I spend $75 a month on junk food!
If I am trying to ride my bike to save transportation costs, my cost per mile is thirty cents, compared to about ten cents to drive my car that same mile. Not an economically good decision – except when I factor in the health benefits of riding the bike.
I have to consider myself lucky in the health arena. I haven't been to see the doctor in years, there hasn't been a need and I'm a firm believer in the old adage 'don't fix it if it isn't broken.' I believe my good health experience is a combination of good genes and daily physical activity. You can do this even if you're disabled.
If you don't believe you are able to get any physical activity, just take small steps. Don't overdo it, especially at first. Walk to the corner and back, but do it once or twice every day. It won't be long until you're looking forward to that walk and you'll make it around the block. If you have a dog, take it with you, the dog will love you that much more.
You don't have to beat the world's record for speed or distance. You just need to get out there each and every day, even if it hurts a little.
So, turn off the TV, stop making excuses and get outside. You'll feel better.
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