I have done something new in the past week. It is time for me to be stepping it up when it comes to my health. I was sent information from a friend in an email, about a medical study at the local university. As a person with type 2 diabetes, I was able to apply. I made a call, and I am glad I did.
When I connected with the person working on the study, I was asked some questions on the phone. They needed to know when I was diagnosed, and what medications I was taking. I went through them all and made an appointment for the first session. When I did, the person I was speaking to asked me when I would like to do the second part of the qualifying session. I chose Wednesday and Thursday this past week.
Next, I was given a brief overview of what would happen. The first session was to fill out the paperwork and to get my measurements recorded. They needed my weight, height, waist and hip circumference. Two blood samples were taken, one by a nurse, and the other by the person I would be working with. The nurse used a needle to get a blood sample, similar to when the doctor sends you for bloodwork. They needed to establish some baselines for my sugars and lipids. The second blood test was just a finger prick, similar to what I do to test my blood sugars myself. It is for a 3 month average of my blood sugars, called an A1C test. We went over the numbers, but I do not remember them all. I was assigned a number for the study.
The Bod Pod
I was told on the phone that in the first session, I would need to go into something called the Bod Pod. It was described as an oval machine, shaped like a spaceship. Of course, I asked for the details of what it was used for. It uses changes in air pressure to get an estimate of the fat and muscle percentage in your body. It sounded neat, and then I asked one more question. With the description of the Bod Pod, I asked if they played any Lady Gaga music while the test was running. I made my contact person laugh, and he surprisingly admitted nobody had ever asked him that question before.
Since I am a blogger, and I have this category, I wanted to document the interesting parts here. We will start with some pictures of the Bod Pod.
As you can see, it has a seat inside. I was asked to wear something similar to a bathing suit for the test. My Zumba clothes worked for this purpose. There are magnets to hold the door secure during the test, and there is an emergency release button if for any reason a person would want to stop the test. It has never been used, and I did ask if the person who I was working with for the assessment wanted to test it after my test was done. My offer was declined, as it was uncertain if it would affect the calibration of the expensive machine. I did not test the emergency button.
For a few moments, I could pretend I was Lady Gaga arriving at a music award show.
The person who was assessing me to see if I would qualify for the study did agree to help me with pictures for the blog. They use the equipment for their job, so they are used to it, but for someone like me, it was worth documenting the whole experience.
Since the machine uses air pressure to record the measurements, I was advised of this. I was also warned that just like my ears, the machine may pop while the test was running. Thankfully, although I felt the pressure changes when it was running, it was not a huge difference, and my ears were not affected. For statistical reasons, they run duplicate tests for certain qualifying factors. This test was run twice and will be necessary again once or twice while the medical study is being conducted.
I had to wear a swim cap also, to help with the test. It was okay for me to wear my stockings in the Bod Pod. At the same time the blood tests were run, my feet were also checked. One side effect of diabetes is neuropathy, which affects the nerves, especially in feet. I have had this test before, and I usually feel the apparatus on my feet when it is lightly pressed on the sole of my feet. After completing these tests, I was able to go home, with a pedometer to wear for 7 days, to get a baseline average of my current activity level.
The fitness test.
Day two had a new test to run. First, I was given an explanation of what to expect. I would be fitted with a heart monitor to start with. I do not have a picture of this because it was put right under my sports bra (which I am SO glad I wore that day!)
Next, I was set up for the apparatus to measure my oxygen levels. If you thought the Bod Pod was glamorous, you haven’t seen the best parts yet. I had to wear this frame over my head, which would be attached to a tube that was placed in my mouth. The air goes in on one side, and out the other, to be measured in another machine. I was advised to drink a bit of water before it was in my mouth because my mouth would get dry during this test. The paper towel was there for me to use for saliva. There was a part of the tube made to catch any drool dripping around the mouthpiece. So attractive, I know.
There were goals to beat in the fitness test to qualify for the study. A speed was selected, and the incline was increased at several intervals. I was shown a clipboard with numbers on it. They ranged from 6 to 20, and since I would not be able to talk during the fitness test, I would point at the number which corresponded to the level of exertion I was feeling when asked. I was also advised to give a thumbs up or down as answers to questions and to move my hand back and forth by my neck if I needed to stop for any reason.
To get the most accurate measurement of the air I was breathing, I also had to wear a nose plug. I walked on the treadmill, and if you know me, and you caught the musical reference above, you probably guessed that I had a song in my head while I was walking my way through this test. I will reveal it soon. First, I want to assure you that my breathing was fine once I got settled into the test. I did feel short of breath near the end, but with increasing intensity for the duration, it was to be expected. When my heart rate was checked as okay, and the machine to measure the oxygen I was using as I breathed was full, the test began.
There was a short warm-up period, to adapt to the treadmill and the breathing apparatus. Once I found my groove, the incline was increased. It was increased by one increment until it reached 11.0. At this time I was asked if I wanted to keep pushing or stop, and I chose to stop.
I qualified for the study.
The good news is, although I will need to repeat the measurements and tests, it will not be every time. I will have to wear the heart monitor every time I go, but that is not an issue for me. It is the lease intrusive piece of equipment I have to wear. Except for testing and measurement days, I will be working with a trainer to help me work on my treadmill game. I will want to push myself as I get used to walking regularly again. It is going to be a good change for me, and my hope is that I excel while I am participating in the study. I will not be getting paid for my participation, but if I can lose some weight and increase my activity levels, it will be worth it to me.
The study is testing to see what the impact of regular exercise is on the A1C levels in people diagnosed as pre-diabetic, and people like me, with type 2 diabetes. As the study progresses, I hope to have more to share here. At this time, I am glad I Trusted My Gut and applied for the study. I needed a change, and this could be just what the doctor ordered.
The song I had in my head when I was on the treadmill on day 2 was Good As Hell by Lizzo. As I finished the test on day 2, after I was unhooked from all of the apparatus, I told the people in the room, “I would like to thank Lizzo for getting me through this fitness test.” My statement was met with laughter, as it was intended.
A while back someone gave me a smart band to wear at Zumba Class. I already had a pedometer, but this levels it up for me. It also keeps track of my heart rate, which I also use now that I can.
It has been helpful to keep an eye on my heart rate. I am able to work out a little harder because I know when I check it, the smart band will tell me if I am working my heart too hard, or not enough.
I report my steps on the Zumba page also. When I started, I was told you can get up to 5,000 steps in a Zumba Class. As there is a movement in the world to get a minimum of 10,000 steps every day and walk your way to a healthier lifestyle, getting 50% of those steps done in an hour is a HUGE ADVANTAGE. So if you are thinking that it is just another dance aerobics class, you are setting your standards for Zumba too low.
I average around 4,000 steps in a class. Sometimes less, sometimes more. My goal is to have it increase to the 5,000 steps (or more). Since I got the smart band, another member of the Zumba crew is using my pedometer in class. She is averaging 5,300 steps a class. I have got to say, she is definitely in the Zumba Zone. It is absolutely possible, and realistic to aim for 5,000 steps while in a Zumba class.
What else do I love about Zumba? The Zumba Crew, the music, dancing, and having fun! I don’t do all the moves, I’m not always confident that I can do them all. I am changing how much I do all the time. Some days I push myself. Some days just being there and going through the motions is all I can do. But I go, and I participate, however I can.
Sometimes I have to stop and check my blood sugars. Most of the time, they are normal. If they are low, it means I have to drink a juice box before continuing my workout. If they are still low after that, it means I need candy and to lower my insulin dose before the next class.
I have missed a few classes this spring because I have been sick. Nothing serious, but I was not able to go in the last few weeks. I look forward to going back this week. Monday is Victoria Day so the next class will be Wednesday. If I am feeling better, I may just push myself to hit 5,000 steps. It is something to work towards, and when I get there, I will aim higher.
It is Monday. I got up, went to work, then I went to Zumba. I got a surprise when I was getting ready for class.
Someone anonymously had a Heartrate Monitor Smartband delivered to me before class started. It was such a nice surprise! When I say the Zumba Crew Rocks, I really mean it!
It didn’t turn on when I tried it on. But I am glad I did because I had to learn how to take it off! I took it home and plugged it into my computer. It didn’t take too long to charge. I have 2 days to get used to it before I can try it out in class.
I don’t know how to set the time and date on it yet, I will have to google that, I am sure. But it is already measuring my heart rate, steps, distance and calories for me. That is so neat!
I wear a pedometer in Zumba class, that is how I know that I had 3531 steps today. It will be interesting to wear both in class Wednesday to see how they compare for the steps. From what I see here, my resting heart rate is 67. I hope that is OK. When I exercise it will be a more important number to watch, I am sure. The good news is that it is not capable of sending or receiving text messages, so I don’t have to take it off at work. It is going to take some getting used to. I will have to figure out how long the battery runs before I need to recharge it. I am hoping there are some tips online for it, as I am interested in seeing what else it does. I don’t know why it buzzes and vibrates, but I know it does. That could be entertaining.
To whomever this gift is from, THANK YOU! I need all the help and encouragement I can get in this journey to be a healthier version of myself, and it really means a lot! I will take good care of it, and in turn, it will help me take better care of myself! What a wonderful surprise! 😀
It’s time for another Zumba story! I enjoy going to Zumba twice a week, with a great group of people. It is a steady group, and there are some of us that are regulars, and some that come once in a while, and there are even people who join the group and become regulars. We call ourselves the Zumba Crew.
When I started, I was a long way from the same level and speed as everyone else. When I start a new song, with new moves, I improvise. I will not use my arms if the moves are new, it can be too much to learn all at once. I didn’t spin on my feet for a long time, I marched instead. Sometimes, when everyone else was doing a fancy move that had them turning, I would smile, or wave, and stay facing forward.
That’s one of the things I like about the class I take. I am encouraged to do what I can, and to not feel like I have to be the same as everyone else. There are options. If I don’t want to move my arms, I don’t. Sometimes they do get tired. It helps to enhance the exercise when I move them, so other times, I do. There are times when I can keep up with everyone, and there are times where I go at half the speed. And there are times where I mess up. When I do, I laugh. Out loud. At myself. Usually for zigging when everyone else is zagging.
I wear a pedometer in class, and I broke 4,000 steps today. I like it when I get more than 5,000 steps in a class, and it has happened before, so I always try to get as many steps in as I can.
You have all heard of playing the “air guitar” to a favourite song. At my Zumba classes, sometimes we play the “air drums.” Today we were shown how to do this properly. If you just flap your hands around from the wrists, it is rather pointless. The way to move correctly is to swing your arms from the elbows right through to the hands. Hard. As hard as you can. I also saw a different method on TV, on the show This is Us. There is an actress on that show that went to what was called a “Fat Camp.” I watched her exercise with actual drum sticks. It wasn’t a Zumba class, they were in an air drumming exercise class. We don’t use sticks at Zumba. We could, but it might get dangerous.
So we drum out the beats. We were told to just pound the drums that weren’t there, like we were making the beat ourselves. I was going for it, when a funny thought struck me. As I was beating the air drums, going side to side, and up and down, I thought I’d better watch out for my cymbals. I am well endowed, and that could hurt too! I shared the thought with someone else, and when she laughed, I knew I would write another Zumba Blog post tonight. So I found myself laughing with a new friend at Zumba. I left with a story to tell, and I was also feeling good after a great class.
Here is another Tish-ism for you. In my efforts to live a healthier lifestyle, I have added in two Zumba classes a week. I do my best to be there, barring migraines and having to stay late at work once in a blue moon, I go. Living in Canada, sometimes weather is an issue. I am working on getting more active besides my Zumba classes, but for now, it’s my main activity every week. Winter + Ice = Tish is scared to fall down. So outdoor activities are not a thing for me in the winter, without the proper equipment.
I had a good amount of positive energy today, and feel like my pedometer lied when it read 3700 steps. It felt like a million tonight, at least. I was in the Zumba Zone, and was literally working my butt off. I know what that means. When I go back to class Wednesday, I will be moving a little slower, and maybe in a little pain. The good kind. The kind of pain that is caused from exercise that was done correctly. It also means I worked out my muscles, and that I wasn’t just going through the motions.
At the end of a class, when I feel like this, the first thing that comes to mind is that I Zumba-(ed) too hard.
I don’t like pain. I don’t deal with it very well. Lately I have successfully convinced myself that there is a right kind of pain, and a wrong kind. The right kind means that your muscles worked out and did what they were supposed to do. That is why it is good, it was productive, no matter how bad it hurts. It is neither throbbing, nor a high amount of pain. The bad kind is counter productive. If you rip or pull a muscle, it hurts a lot. I pulled a ligament in one of my legs in elementary school. I was mid-stride and went from running to limping and crying. I had to wrap it and got a few days off from school. I still remember how much it hurt when it happened. I do not recommend trying this, ever.
No matter what is going on, I have come to enjoy going to Zumba. I love dancing. Sometimes it is not the same as what everyone else is doing, but I am still being active, no matter what I have to improvise. That is important.
So when I was in the middle of class today, I really felt like I was completely in my Zumba Zone, and I went for it. There are going to be days that I am not feeling up to giving 120% to the Zumba class. Today was not one of those days. I felt strong. When things work for me, I am all in. I left feeling like I had worked out today. That is a big deal. I am not an athletic type of person. I do enjoy swimming, and dancing. Biking is OK, but I haven’t had a bike for years. It’s the same for skating, I used to skate, but haven’t for years. I walk, and I am starting to pick up my pace again when I have errands to run in the mall where I work, or even just for moving to the break room. I sometimes feel my heart rate picking up, and even am short of breath when I push myself.
What am I getting at? Well, there are days when you feel good and strong, and on those days like today, it is a good plan to push yourself a little bit harder. If you do this, on the days you don’t feel up to the 120% and you aren’t in YOUR Zumba Zone, well, on those days 75% is OK. You are doing the best you can. For me it’s all about how I am feeling, and I know my limits. I don’t think I am to the point I was about six months ago when I could feel my abdominal muscles the next day, but I am on my way back. By the time the weather changes from winter to spring, I plan to be increasing my activity level. When I am ready. And when there is no more ice out there. Until then, I’ll keep going to Zumba, I don’t have any plans to stop for a long time to come.