My quarterly endo appointment brought news of the highest A1C I’ve seen in six years. More than six years. Ouch.
I actually got a peek at the lab results a day or two before seeing the doctor, so I had a head start on the emotional trauma and troubleshooting. I think this was good because I wasn’t completely shell-shocked when receiving the news, and I’d already started troubleshooting by the time the doc and I spoke about it.
Why so high?
Reviewing the past few months I can name at least three things that are different and unhealthy. I want to take a short look at each of them and talk through some thoughts on changes that I hope will help.
Lack of exercise
A few months ago I completed my first half marathon. On a scale of one-to-amazingly-hard, it was pretty much off the charts. But I worked hard during training and had a lot of support from many of you (thank you!). Unfortunately, I hurt myself during one of the training runs and was diagnosed with proximal hamstring tendinopathy. Basically, I hadn’t focused enough on proper running form early in my training, and as my mileage increased and I fatigued, my form fell apart, and boom – I tweaked something. My hamstring.
Or what I thought was my hamstring!
I ran the race injured, and after the race, I stopped running. I think it’s pretty normal to take a break after a big event, and maybe especially so with an injury … but not for this long. But every time I tried running again, it hurt. Even playing basketball was pretty miserable, which is a really bad sign.
I went from running 2-3 miles, or more, then playing basketball, 3, 4, 5 days a week, with a long run mixed in there somewhere, to suffering through one basketball session each week with my buddies on Saturday mornings.
So for the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time not exercising.
I know – who isn’t stressed these days. But for some reason, I was really feeling it.
No major issues, but I’d been feeling like I wasn’t getting the right things done, or that I didn’t have enough time to finish things, or that my work wasn’t the quality I wanted, or that I wasn’t getting back to people fast enough, or, or, or…
There are a million things any of us could add to that list. Stress is funny in that when I give it any room inside my head it just goes on a rampage. I have to make a very conscious decision to say “NO” to the things that aren’t important, or that I just can’t do, and focus on what I can do. And be very clear about not stressing out about the rest of it.
I need to follow my own “NO STRESS!” rule…
What’s one of the best stress relievers?
Shorting my sleep
I need 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night. I’m damn sure I need more than the 4-5 I’ve been getting for the past few months. That’s been the norm until I crash hard every 4th or 5th night. It’s a bad thing when your 8-9 hour nights are sporadic, and your 4-5 hour nights are regular.
Everything suffers when I short myself on sleep. You know what I usually notice first? High blood sugars and stress levels. Imagine that.
This has a lot to do with being stressed and trying to do too much (or too much of the wrong things). I often stay up into the early morning hours working on stuff, but my productivity is severely hampered because I’m tired. But I think that I need to just “push through this last task” or “get this last bit done” before turning in for the night.
I need to recognize that I’m more efficient, productive, healthier, and happier when I’m getting the sleep I need.
What’s one thing you can do to improve your sleep habits?
About the exercise
It’s clear that exercise is a huge problem area, and is also a big part in the other two – stress & sleep. But how can I exercise if I’m still so uncomfortable from the injury?
My endo asked if I’d like to see a physical therapist again, and I immediately said yes. In fact, I walked directly from his office on the 5th floor down to their office on the 3rd floor to schedule an appointment. A week later, there I was.
I spent about an hour with the therapist. After trying a million different stretches and poses and lifts and pulls, the therapist twisted my legs like a pretzel and I finally did a stretch that hit the spot that has been bothering me – and it felt amazing!
I’ve been doing exercises and stretches for three months trying to find that spot and nothing worked! Because I’ve been targeting the wrong thing. It’s not a hamstring issue at all – it’s piriformis syndrome (affectionately known as runners butt)!
Now I have correctly identified the issue, and have a plan – complete with a set of physical therapy stretches and exercises.
It’ll take a bit of time to feel better, but I’m so thrilled to have found the right problem and to have a plan of action. I can already tell I’ll be feeling great again in no time.
I have no plans on running another half-marathon, so don’t even ask. My goal now is to get back to where I was feeling my best, and that was running 2-3 miles before playing basketball. There’s no good reason to do more than that.
Hopefully, this will help with the sleep and stress, and everything together will help nudge my A1C in the right direction.
I have to admit that I chuckled a lot trying to think of safe, but somehow still slightly inappropriate “runner’s butt” images to use for this post. In the end, I wimped out. I hope you’ll forgive me.
As always, I’d love to hear from you guys. Stress tips, sleep tips, productivity tips, and runner’s butt tips, let me know if you have any words of wisdom for me!
I’ll Read it For You
Are you on the move? Let me read this to you…