I have heard a lot recently that I am fat. I am. Didn’t used to be but things have gone from bad to worse in the last 10 years or so that are creating accumulated affects. Back in high school I was into weightlifting a lot. It helped keep me exercising and even had another benefit that I had never thought of. Years ago I read an article about insulin resistance and they said weight lifting with heavy weights can help combat insulin resistance. I don’t know the facts behind it but I can tell you from experience that if I quit lifting for more than a week my blood sugars started swinging back and forth, high and low, like Tarzan on his way to save Jane. Once I got back into lifting again it would stabilize. Due to job issues and the subsequent money issues that for some reason seem to follow them, I had to quit going to the YMCA and working out.
I can hear the next question already. Why can’t you just work out at home? I don’t have 700 pounds of weights or a hip sled or sturdy bench to use them with. Next question? Well then why not try running or biking to stay fit? From what I read in that article it does not have the same effect on insulin resistance. I did a little more digging into this and found some good reasons. Did you know that if you jog your metabolism goes up pretty high but after you stop it is back to normal in about 30-90 minutes? Lifting weight does not send your metabolism into orbit like running but it will stay elevated for 36- 72 hours. Why? Look at how weight lifting works on the body. You over strain the muscles which damages them. Yes lifting weights actually does tear muscle tissue. Now you body has to repair this damaged tissue and build it back in and this time with reinforcements to keep from happening again. It is not an over night process. It takes a few days to be back to pre-work out condition, ok better than pre work out condition.
The result of this lower standard in activity is very evident especially to me. Others who have known me for years can also see it. I never saw myself as huge or even strong. That is why I kept at it so hard. There is always someone stronger faster bigger. I had a slimmer waist. bigger arms and was way stronger than I am currently. My waist is almost 40 inches now and the stomach has Dunlop’s disease. For those of you who have never heard of this affliction it is when your stomach has “done lopped over your belt”. Can you see my hand in the air right now? Also at my peak which was only maybe 7-8 years ago I was benching 300 lbs. on the bench press and better than 800 on the hip sled. If you stuck a bench in front of me today I would be lucky to get better than maybe 160 off my chest. I am shedding a tear right now thinking about how far I’ve fallen.
The doctor has noticed my lack of exercise also. My blood sugar graphs do a good rendition of a roller coaster on paper. Not good. Working 3 shift is not helping any. I have found myself sleeping a far different schedule than if I was working days again. Some days I get only 3-4 hours and then it catches up to me and I crash for about 10 hours. The job is only 8 hours but there is an almost 40 minute drive each way to get there and back. That 8 hour job is taking 10 hours out my life each day. Again not helping.
Of course food intake is very big factor in getting this fat. The first time I saw an endocrinologist he had me write down what I ate so he could get me back on track. He flipped out when he saw how much I was eating. I never added it up but from the amount of food listed I’d say it was around 4000 calories a day. A lot you say? I stayed at 210-220 for 10 years with that level of food consumption. I was that active. I have heard that body builders are so active that they are eating better than 5.000 calories each day. I’d have to say that at 6% body fat they are not over eating.
The reason for this little tirade this morning is an article I read that listed 2 competing theories on why people develop insulin resistance and its relationship to obesity. One says fat is caused by a hormone imbalance and the over eating and lack of exercise is not the direct cause but a symptom of the imbalance. The opponents say is from eating to many calories. A big difference is in the role insulin plays in this theory, One side says insulin suppresses appetite and the other says it amplifies appetite. Take your pick.
My personal issue with this is my own observations. It didn’t matter over the years what my weight was or whether I was buff or fat. I have always had a fat gut. Here’s the point I feel needs to be made. I have always taken the insulin in the stomach and legs. Only places I can reach without learning to be a contortionist. That is where the fat seems to be concentrated. Again I have never been ripped like Arnold in his hay day but I was never very fat either. Why was the stomach fat so pronounced if the insulin didn’t have something to do with it?
The plan here is to relate what it feels like; what is going through a person’s mind when they have an insulin reaction. Mind you this will be only my point of view and experiences. Probably the biggest question people give me is, did you eat. Well yes I did. I have pointed out in a previous blog that this is a three way balancing act. Maybe I worked a little harder than normal. Maybe I was stressed out about something. Yes stress affects a person’s blood sugar. Maybe I am sick that day. Running a fever burns more carbs just like exercise. It is always possible I miscalculated the dosage for my insulin or miscalculated the amount of cabs I am eating. As I said there are probably hundreds of reasons for a low sugar. The most common, for me at least, is increased exercise. If something happens at work and causes me more work it throws any previous planning out the door. Wait isn’t that one of three balance areas for blood sugar? Well what do you know. When the low sugar starts to hit confusion is the first sign for me. In past jobs I have found that having a low stimulus environment is not a good place for me. Without stimulus to concentrate on I don’t always notice when my sugar level drops. Am I just tired at this point? It could be. Something to keep in mind at this point is my mind is not working at full capacity. Some would say that isn’t much to start with. Thinking rationally isn’t always an option. I am currently working third shift so being tired is pretty much an occupational hazard. Heat makes it worse. Oh yeah, it’s summer now. Now that I am feeling tired and confused what do I do? At work, stopping to spend 5 minutes checking my sugar level isn’t always going to work. Things need to get done and if I can’t they will replace me with someone who can. I simply grab my high sugar pop (grape or orange soda are my favorites) or I will grab my bag of Skittles. At this point my doctor is going into cardiac arrest. This is not what they want you to do or tell you to do. I have tried the glucose tabs but after eating the entire container I still had to get more sugar. A small bag of Skittles is 56 grams of cabs most of it sugar. Think of them as sugar pills. The part I like best about them is they are scalable. I don’t have to down the entire bag. I can eat a small hand full and see how that works before eating any more. The soda are not as forgiving Once they are opened you are going to drink the whole thing. Those are about 44-46 grams each can. They are quick but not as quick as Skittles. Here is a lesson on how blood flows in the head. Ever hear of placing a nitroglycerin tablet under the tongue? There are quite few very small blood vessels under the tongue and they infuse the nitro into the blood stream very fast. Catch on yet? When eating the Skittles, I do not just chew fast and swallow. I chew and chew and chew until I feel it has been long enough. This works the sugars out of the candy and under the tongue, where it gets into the blood stream faster. The soda just gets swished through the mouth and into the stomach where it takes longer to get into the blood stream. Think about it. If it was faster to get it into the system through the stomach why place the tablet under the tongue? That is how it normally feels to have a reaction. I can feel it coming and have the time to treat it. There are times however that it is too fast to stop or it happens while I am sleeping. When I first started using a pump this was a bad time for me. I was working second shift then so sleep was actually at night. The first week I had EMS waking me up 5 times. I went from 1.8 units per hours down to I think about .25 units per hour. Now I quit using the pump and am back on 24 hour insulin shots. Here recently I had a reaction at work and it was fast. I felt it coming on and got off the fork truck and made the mistake of believing I had time to wash my hands before getting anything out of machines. Remember how I said rational thinking goes out the window when the blood sugar drops? They found me collapsed over the wash sink in the bathroom. How low was it? They gave me a can Mug Root Beer so I don’t know how much was in it but I’d guess its at least 40 grams. Plus they gave me a bag of Skittles on top of that. A normal meal for me is about 60 to 80 grams of carbs. This was close to if not over 100 grams. I can’t say how long before the EMS got there but I’m sure it was not more than maybe 10 minutes. That is not long enough for much sugar to get into my system, sub-lingual or not. This brings to light another issue. Untrained and even some trained people will keep feeding you sugar to get it up when you just need to wait. It takes time to absorb sugar. Feeding a person twice as much as they need will not speed this up. I have topped out at more than 400 after EMS kept feeding me trying to get it up faster. Doesn’t work like that folks. When they checked my blood sugar that morning it was 84. This brings up another issue I have heard about but can not find anything online about. Does how fast it drops factor in as much as how far it drops when showing signs of low blood sugar? I once heard someone on TV say that the speed of the drop is as important as how far. I have had a blood sugar of 24 and was able to tell the nurse in the hospital not only who I was and what my address was but how to get there from the hospital. She could not believe the test so she ran it again after they started the IV and it was 26 in the other arm. I have held conversations with people when my blood sugar was only in the 40s -50s. Testing at night has found the same to be true. I have felt the symptoms of low blood sugars when testing shows it in the high 80s. So to answer the question asked so many times over the years, yes I can tell but not always do I have the time or do I think rationally to prevent it from getting worse. Anyone else have any insight or experiences with low blood sugars?