If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor has probably recommended weight loss as a means of lessening symptoms and reducing the risk of complications. And we all know that, in addition to diet, exercise is a great way to shed pounds, add lean muscle mass and improve virtually every area of health and wellness. However, as a diabetic, it’s important to fully understand your illness, as well as how exercise will affect your symptoms. Keep reading for everything you need to know about getting in shape with diabetes, including information on which exercises you should avoid, and which ones you can use to reduce symptoms and enhance health, appearance and quality of life.


Getting Started

Before beginning an exercise regimen, it’s important to understand your unique needs as far as your illness is concerned. Diabetes affects patients in vastly different ways, so an awareness of any specific symptoms or complications you may be experiencing is essential. For example, complications like nerve pain, numbness and vision loss should be taken into consideration before starting a workout routine.

Next, close monitoring of your condition is also crucial in protecting health and preventing injury. Keep a close watch on your blood glucose, and pay attention to how exercise affects your sugar levels. For added convenience, compact monitors like the Glucose Sensor from Dexcom are small, yet powerful, and are easily transported to the gym, on walks or wherever your fitness plans may take you.

Lastly, since many diabetics experience nerve damage in the feet, wearing the proper footwear is extremely important. Cotton socks are a must, as are shoes that are not only well-fitting, but designed for the specific activity on your agenda.


Exercises to Avoid

If you are in the early stages of your illness, you should be able to carry out most any exercise, safely and effectively. However, if you’re experiencing complications or can’t seem to get symptoms under control, you may want to avoid workouts like the following:

  • Heavy lifting. While strength training can be an effective way to burn calories and build muscle mass, too much heavy lifting should be avoided.
  • High-impact exercise. Since high-impact workouts like running, tennis and plyometrics may be hard on the feet, legs and joints, they may not be the best fit for individuals with diabetes.


Exercises to Enjoy

As long as your doctor gives you the green light, feel free to enjoy workouts like the following:

  • Light strength-training. As far as weight goes, you should feel resistance but shouldn’t have to strain.
  • Walking. Walking is a great exercise, and is suited to most any fitness level. For added benefit, try picking up the pace every few minutes, then returning to your normal speed.
  • Yoga. Yoga is not only a great way to lose weight and build strength: it may also help keep the symptoms of diabetes in check! Be sure to start out with classes for beginners, and make sure your instructor is aware of your condition and any other health problems you may be facing.
  • Swimming. Swimming is low-impact cardiovascular exercise, which means it burns calories without causing undue stress to the body. What’s more, swimming is a great workout for building strength and endurance, as well as tacking on lean muscle mass.
  • Dancing and aerobics. These workouts are fun, effective and keep your fitness routine fresh and inviting. Check your local gym for classes, or just get moving in the privacy of your own home!


Now that you have all the information you need on diabetes and exercise, you’re free to get started on your workout routine. For added benefits, be sure to pair your exercise regimen with a balanced, diabetic-friendly diet, which will amp up energy, promote weight loss and keep your body in top working condition.

Are you still on track with your New Year’s resolution to lose a few pounds? Have you looked in the mirror lately and told yourself now is the time to start working out? Or is it a possibility that you want to tone up and give yourself a physical challenge?

Whatever motivated you to consider the gym should also include (at least) an interest in training safely.

You wouldn’t want to rush off to the gym, start exercising, and succumb to one of the common fitness injuries … would you? Of course not.

It’s just as important to educate oneself about safety at the gym as what you’re going to do once you get there – which is why I’m covering five all-important items to remember before you head over ….

1. Practice the Proper Form(s)

It is absolutely crucial that you practice proper form during exercise otherwise you run the risk of injuring yourself. As an extra insult to injury … if you did happen to injure yourself from bad form you’re also now out of the fitness routine which is going to lead to weight gain (and mental hardship).

So …

Take the time to learn this form before you head over to the gym. Education is your friend.

Once there you can go ahead and ask any additional questions.

2. Understand the Macro

I’m going to take a guess …

You’re not the fitness type that over-examines and gets a craze about every little micronutrient going into their bodies, are you? It’s just too much work.

Your success at the gym is just as much about the effort you put in there as the effort you put into keeping a healthy diet. In all honesty it really just matters that you make wise, healthy decisions for your body rather than trying to track and quantize everything.

Keep your eye on the bigger picture (the macro), eat what’s good for you, exercise for health, and you’ll just fine when you’re at the gym.

3. Learn the Equipment Basics

Let’s just say that some people … well … somehow use gym equipment in such a way that’ll make you scratch your head and wonder in disbelief.

Don’t be this person.

Not understanding how a piece of equipment works will not only cause a few shifty eyes in your direction but a very real risk of injury.

There are many, many resources available for you to learn the basics of equipment (such as this one). Do your research before you head in to the gym; save yourself from embarrassment and injury.

4. Grasp the Gym Standards

There are lots of weights, machines, and sweaty people moving about in the gym. The energy is pumping but this shouldn’t blindside you from the real safety of the location.

Some of these physical items worth knowing may include:

· Determining if exposed cords and other pieces of equipment could cause injury

· Knowing how to use an AED defibrillator in an unexpected case of cardiac arrest. Don’t ruin the good statistic!!!

· Providing CPR and other basic medical help if professionals aren’t around

It may not seem like something on the top of your list but do keep these types of items in mind before you hit the gym. You never know … it could prevent a nasty injury or even save a life.

5. Assimilate to the Culture

There are always those individuals at the gym which will make you feel out of place. They seem as if they don’t belong because they’re already in great shape. These individuals may put you off because they sling around terminology you don’t quite understand.

You don’t have to fully assimilate with this fitness culture but it would be worth your while to learn a bit of the lingo and nice gym etiquette. This way you can get in, do your workout, interact, and be on your way without feeling out of place and awkward.

So …

Don’t turn a motivated trip to the gym into a dreadful trip to the doctors. Get educated about your exercise regimen, what you’re consuming, equipment and their uses, general safety, and working well with others. By doing so you will not only gain those muscles and trim the fat but you’ll gain peace of mind knowing you’re not setting yourself up for injury and disappointment.

We hear it all the time: “stress is just a part of life.” While it is certainly true that an adult life is, often, a stressful one, there is no reason to simply swallow all of that pressure, anxiety and stress. In fact, letting it get the better of you is bad for you. Science and medicine have told us over and over again that stress isn’t just a mental issue. Stress is a physical issue. When our minds encounter stress, it is our bodies that bear the brunt of its influence.

There are a lot of different ways to deal with and work through stressful situations. Some people work their stress out through exercise or hobbies. Others help themselves feel better by helping others. Chip Wilson, for example, the founder of Lululemon Ahtletica, channels his stress into his foundation Imagine 1Day, a charity dedicated to educating children in Ethiopia. Others take time away to be alone and “get away from it all.” Still others learn to meditate and to practice mindfulness.

It’s Not All Hogwash

Your first reaction when you hear the words “mindfulness” or “meditation” might be to roll your eyes or to snort derisively. That’s because, as Liz Kluze points out in The Atlantic, a lot of us were raised to believe that eastern philosophy had not root in reality and was an excuse to get out of problem solving.

It’s also true that, in some respects, mindfulness and meditation have been co-opted by the profit makers and snake oil salesmen. In the fall of 2013, The Economist took a closer look at those peddling mindfulness and meditation products in its article “The Mindfulness Business.

The real truth, though, is that mindfulness and meditation are powerful therapeutic tools that people can use to counteract stress and anxiety. Some people find that it is a powerful motivation tool as well. If it weren’t so helpful and it didn’t yield such good results for those who are able to master it, it wouldn’t be such a target.

So what is it? There has to be more to it than simply staring at a wall and not thinking, right? Right!

What Mindfulness and Meditation Actually Are

Believe it or not, there is a high level of focus that is required for mindfulness and meditation. There is language about “clearing your mind”, sure but most people find their way into these practices by focusing intensely upon something. It might be a spot on the wall. It might be a candle flame. Some people chant, focusing all of their attention on the word and how their bodies feel as they say it. Yes! It turns out that the “ohm” that so many people giggle over, has a real purpose! Meditators find that by focusing so completely on that one thing, they’re able to “clear their minds” of everything else.

How to Learn Meditation and Mindfulness

While there are some who have found success by reading books, most have found that the best way to learn how to meditate and how to practice mindfulness is to follow the examples of someone who has gone before you. Then, in keeping with eastern philosophy, teach someone who is coming up after you. Some say that’s why Chip Wilson (we mentioned him before) started his YouTube Channel, Whil.

What’s important is that you not give up after your first try. You’re going to feel stupid the first few times you try to meditate and during the first few mindfulness exercises you do. Don’t let that deter you. It can take a long time to learn these skills, but the work will have been worth it when you can cure your own stress and anxiety attacks!


Making My Outside Match My Inside

This is the part that’s going to make you hate me: I’ve never really struggled with my weight. At 35, I’m sure I’m about to (this metabolism has to slow down sometime), but I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had it easier than probably most people reading this site. It’s okay, I kind of hate me for it too and I hope you’ll keep reading.

While I haven’t ever struggled with weight, I have struggled with depression and anxiety and it doesn’t take a genius to know that this is at least partly because I spent the first three decades of my life eating burgers and pizza and junk food like they were going out of style. And barbecue! Holy cow, pun intended, the barbecue. When you live in Houston (like I do) good meat is everywhere and seriously—who wants to give up ribs? Or pulled pork or…right. Okay. Back on track.

Unfortunately, one of the problems with never having weight issues is that you grow up believing that food doesn’t really have an effect on you, but the truth is that it does. Even though you might not pack on the pounds, you are wreaking havoc with your blood sugar, which helps you keep your emotions in check.

I’m a stubborn Texan and I’ll admit that I struggled against the idea of a lifestyle change for way longer than I should have. Finally, though, a few years ago I started seeing a therapist and getting my life on track. Here’s the thing most people won’t tell you: if your therapist is any good, going to therapy doesn’t mean automatically scoring meds for depression or other issues. You have to work through a bunch of other possible solutions first.

The first thing my therapist and I worked on was my diet. Don’t let anybody tell you that fruit is an acceptable substitute for Skittles. It isn’t. But now I don’t feel like smashing my windows when I can’t find them so I guess it’s a fair trade.

Of course, diet is just one component of physical fitness. You also have to, like, get up and move around…on purpose. Exercise floods your body with endorphins, which is sort of like “happy juice” and is great for combating depression and anxiety.

It took a while for me to actually start getting fit. I’m not proud of this but my vanity simply wouldn’t let me. I know I’m not the troll my depression and anxiety tell me I am but I also know that I did not hit the genetic lottery. I inherited my dad’s sweat and body hair—two things that actively work against you when you want to look presentable by working out. Think about it: most body hair can be covered up with sweats or cute workout gear but the layers just make you sweat all the more and as an already sweaty person…you get me?

Plus, apparently there’s some whole philosophy about looking good helping you feel good…and the makeover episodes were always my favorite part of America’s Next Top Model.

After doing my research, I got a prescription for Incredible Hulk strength antiperspirant and decided to fork over the cash for laser hair removal.  Houston has lots of places that offer it and is something that I’d been considering for a long time. When you grow hair faster than Robin Williams you go through a lot of razors and waxing gets too expensive if you have to do it every week. I found a place in downtown Houston, that could do it without requiring me to take out a second mortgage on my house, and started the sessions.

I’d like to tell you that I bought a Wii Fit or an XBox Kinect to help start working my muscles while I was making over my appearance, but I didn’t. Instead I waited until my treatments were done, I knew my anti-persperant would work and I had a cute running outfit and then I went out and did Couch to 5K like my life depended on it…which it sort of did.

I’m almost at the point where I can run the whole 5k (and thanks to laser hair removal, Houston humidity and my pride, I’m doing it in shorts). And as much as I didn’t think I would ever believe this: I’m proud of myself for sticking with it. I’m proud that I can and not sound like a dying horse. I’m proud that I can do more than one push up. I’m proud that I’m not embarrassed to be seen running in the Houston heat (anymore).

And all of that pride and the confidence that comes from accomplishing these goals (however small they may seem in comparison to others) has done more for my mental health than I ever thought possible. I feel lighter, emotionally and mentally than I have since I was a very little kid.

So it turned out I was battling weight issues this whole time—they were just a different kind.