Join the Fit with Diabetes Challenge
Editor’s Note: Christel is a Los Angeles-based speaker, writer, diabetes coach and diabetes advocate. She has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1997 and written several articles on Beyond Type 2’s Diabetes and Exercise page.
Beyond Type 2 met up with Christel Oerum from Diabetes Strong for a chat about fitness and her next Fit With Diabetes Challenge which is kicking off on January 3.
Christel has type 1, but she also has professional training experience that pertains to safely and effectively working out with type 1 diabetes, no matter what your level of fitness is. Here’s what she had to say about the program that can change the way those with type 1 think and feel about working out and the physical and mental health that can follow.
BT2: Why did you decide to do the Fit With Diabetes challenge?
CO: I created Diabetes Strong as a website dedicated to diabetes and fitness because I was missing a place online for guidance on how to safely and effectively exercise with diabetes.
Every week, I receive a lot of really good questions from my readers and the people I train about how to manage blood sugars when working out, what to eat for good nutrition and blood sugar control, as well as more emotional questions on how to get motivated or how to manage the fears of hypoglycemia.
In my Fit With Diabetes Challenges, I (and a team of diabetes experts) take people through all of the different aspects of exercising and eating healthily with diabetes in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step fashion and give them the tools they need to be successful.
BT2: What can people expect from the challenge?
CO: This challenge will focus on what people living with diabetes needs to know about exercise, mental health, nutrition and weight management when living with diabetes. So we’ll be covering a lot. We will have weekly workout plans, meal plans and articles about how to manage both the practical and mental aspects of healthy nutrition.
For example, psychologist and diabetes expert Dr. Mark Heyman is writing a post about how to start a weight loss program without compromising mental health and self-worth. I really look forward to reading that myself.
We will also focus a lot on setting people up for success when working out, which means controlling crazy blood sugar fluctuation. There will be posts written by me and other diabetes and fitness experts (like Ginger Vieira and our Diabetes Strong fitness editor Ben Tzeel) that will give everybody
The formula I’m talking about is the right level of insulin and carbs that will make your workout efficient and keep your blood sugars from going through the roof or tanking completely.
We’ll also be getting our sweat on, so I’ve created workouts that we’ll be doing two to three times a week throughout the challenge. Since the challenge is for people of all ages and fitness levels, the workouts are just suggestions and people will be able to do their own workouts instead if they like. The important part is learning how your body and blood sugar reacts to exercise and learning the tools to exercise successfully.
Lastly, there will be a weekly meal plan and a lot of more general diabetes management and health advice, like how to reduce your A1c and how to deal with high morning blood sugars, because learning those things can have a huge effect on your health and diabetes management.
At a high level, the Fit With Diabetes Challenge consists of five main things:
- Daily activities or “challenges” that take you through everything you need to do in a step-by-step fashion
- Articles covering the most important topics on diabetes and weight management
- Meal plan with seven days of main meals and snacks
- A workout program that you can do during the challenge (home and gym workouts)
- A Facebook support group for challenge participants in which you can ask questions, share your experiences and connect with other people who want to be Fit With Diabetes
BT2: How do you think the challenge can help people living with diabetes?
CO: My motto is “there is nothing you can’t do with diabetes” and one of my goals is to support people living with diabetes in living healthy, active lives. There is no reason why people living with diabetes shouldn’t be active—in fact, we are one of the groups that can benefit the most from exercise.
What I’ve found is that when you get active and stay active, diabetes actually becomes easier to manage. When you exercise, your insulin sensitivity improves, meaning you need less insulin and, in my experience, you’ll see less blood sugar fluctuations.
BT2: Where can people who sign up find support and ask questions?
CO: After you sign up on for the challenge on Diabetes Strong, you will receive a welcome email with a link to a private Facebook group for challenge participants. This is a great place to meet other people with diabetes and ask questions. My husband and I are in the group multiple times each day to answer questions and moderate the discussions.
I’ve again and again been amazed by the incredible support and camaraderie there is among people living with diabetes. Seeing people reach out and support each other to the degree I see in our group is heartwarming and makes what I do all worth it.
I look forward to seeing you in the Fit With Diabetes Challenge!