Monthly Archives: April 2013

Why I’m quitting the gym

We all know exercise is fantastic to control our blood sugars, increase insulin sensitivity etc. which is why I joined the gym in the first place. I thought that seeing money come out of my account every two weeks would motivate my stingy ass to pump some iron. I was running every second day and keeping my BGLs mostly in range, but I thought I could improve.

It HAS been good, I’ve lost 10 kgs since joining (through body pump and spin I’m pretty sure!) and gained a lot of muscle and tone…but I just can’t do it anymore. After my contract runs out in a month I’m done.

I go to a women-only gym, not because I want to avoid men or like the colour pink, but because it was the closest gym to me and had hair straighteners in the changing rooms. I think this was my first mistake though, because it seems as though everyone there – instructors and  clients alike – place a huge emphasis on going to the gym to get conventionally “hot”. The place is plastered with posters of size 8 models dressed in Lorna Jane, with bold slogans blasting “GET FOXY!” or “BIKINI BODY CHALLENGE!”.

Do you want to know how I get a bikini body? I put a bikini on my body. My size 14, thunder thighs, 10E, junk in the trunk body. Fuq da h8ers.

Additionally, the emphasis on diet is really getting to me. I spend every single day of my life counting food – that’s how I treat my diabetes, that’s just how I roll. I’d rather ignore all those numbers as soon as I bolus, but the gym makes food and numbers omnipresent. Instructors talk about how “bad” certain foods are, how many calories we’re burning, and I usually end a class feeling deflated, fat, and super guilty about the pasta I had for lunch before the gym. Why should foods be bad? (Why are bad foods always so extremely delicious? Surely calling sticky date pudding “bad” is a bit of an oxymoron?!) It’s like my Catholic guilt, but instead of feeling guilty about my moral sins I’m feeling guilty about my dietary sins. WHY should I feel guilty about a delicious homemade plate of lasagne?

Essentially, I’m sick of instructors telling me that food is only there to be burnt off.

I’m at the gym to be healthy. I may not conform to society’s version of what healthy should look like, but my doctor says I’m healthy and that’s good enough for me. I have a great a1c, fabulous cholesterol and perfect blood pressure.  I don’t want instructors telling me how to get rid of my flabby arms or massive thighs because you know what? That ain’t going to change. When I was 16, weighed 10kgs less than I do now and danced 10-15 hours a week, I still had huge thighs and an arse the size of a bus.

I don’t like my gym telling me that I’m not healthy just because of my size. My body fat percentage is higher than average, my BMI puts me in the morbidly obese range. On paper I look like the worst diabetic in the world. But in reality – I’m fine. I spent months in recovery trying to stop seeing food as numbers and as the enemy, and although diabetes knocked that around a bit, I’ve still made headway on that. I don’t want the gym undermining my efforts!

I have nurses, doctors and endos talking to me about my body constantly. I don’t need my gym telling me I need to ‘lose more, do more, BE more!’ when the people that know what they’re talking about think I’m fabulous.

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Owning Up

I’ve just finished Week 4 of uni. This means that I’ve spent the past 4 weeks awkwardly looking around whenever my pump goes off.

“What was that noise? Haha yeah who would still have a Nokia 3310?!”

(spoiler: that prehistoric beeping noise is me)

Owning up to that noise isn’t as simple as saying “Oh, don’t worry, it’s just my insulin pump”. In a perfect world, my tutorial would smile and nod in a knowledgable way, say “Oh! Ok!” and we’d get back down to business. However, because most of the world don’t know that pumps actually exist, it gets a bit more complicated.

I’ve tried owning up to it a few times, but it never went well. People ask what it is, I say that I have diabetes and it’s my insulin pump, someone asks what an insulin pump is…before we know it my tute is knee deep in discussing insulin requirements of a young adult and my tutor is steadily getting more pissed off because no one is paying attention to his slideshow on the conjugation of the present subjunctive. Sorry Maxime.

Additionally, the thing about my course is that I’m never with the same people each semester. My uni is one of the biggest in Australia, thousands of people do Arts, and it is very unlikely that I’ll see the same people again. I don’t mind telling someone that I’ve begun to be friends with, but that’s more a Week 8 or 9 thing, not when we’re all still sussing each other out! I can’t be bothered! One tutorial a subject, four subjects a semester, twelve weeks in each semester, three year course – that’s two hundred and eighty eight (I think? I dropped Year 10 maths) classes in which I may need to go through my diabetic introduction, and really, I’m there to learn! Honestly, I just don’t feel like telling people that I have diabetes unless a) I’m hypoing all over them and need help or b) someone makes a fat diabetes joke. You should see me breathe fire when b) occurs…

Don’t get me wrong, I love educating people! I love telling people about type 1 diabetes, how it’s different, why it requires a lot of work etc. However I only tell them when they ask. Unfortunately I can’t hide diabetes, it’s a visible ‘invisible illness’, if that makes sense. People are genuinely curious when I prick my finger, which I completely understand. It’s not that I’m ashamed of having it, or don’t like educating, it’s just that I meet a lot of people in my day-to-day life and that sometime I get tired of explaining why I’m beeping. It’s nice to feel a little normal sometime, you know?

I just don’t like going on and on about it in front of a lot of people in one room. In my experience, that always defines me as the ‘diabetic girl’, which I hate! Once people are aware that I’m diabetic, suddenly my sneaky BGL tests and priming in class are noticed.  I suddenly feel judged for my food choices, whether people mean it maliciously or not. I find myself trying to eat my Tuesday morning blueberry muffin in short bursts, stuffing as much as I can in my face before someone turns around and says ‘Wait, aren’t you diabetic?’

Side-note: It’s weird, it doesn’t seem to matter that however many times I tell someone that my pancreas is just mechanical, and I can eat hot chips/ice cream/etc. if I want to, they still feel the need to comment.

But really, above all, I hate that being diabetic usually becomes my defining feature in my semester long relationship with the people in my classes. I don’t want that to be my defining feature. I haven’t owned up to the Animas beep in my Italian class yet, and last week signora Rossi said ‘Georgie, you’re always smiling! You read this role play out with me, I want to see if you can be grumpy. Va bene?”

That’s what I want my defining feature to be, a smile and a positive attitude, not my crummy pancreas.