FFFC: Please introduce yourself to our readers.
CO: Hi, my name is Christel and I am a business woman, fitness model, blogger and type 1 diabetic. I was born and raised in Denmark, but moved to the US six years ago with my husband.
I have always been interested in health and fitness, but it wasn’t until a few years ago (after I turned 35) that I decided to take it to the next level and get in fitness model shape. I wanted to prove to myself that it was possible, even with a full-time job, husband and normal social life.
Last year my husband and I launched www.TheFitBlog.com as a way to tell our fitness stories and hopefully inspire others to live a healthy fitness lifestyle. I am especially passionate about helping other people with diabetes, because I know how much being fit has helped me manage my diabetes and improved my life.
FFFC: When did you first learn you had diabetes?
I was diagnosed when I was 19, so relatively late for a type 1 diabetic.
FFFC: Has being diabetic ever prohibited or inhibited you from doing something?
CO: No. I firmly believe that diabetics should be able to live their life just like everybody else. Of course you cannot become an astronaut or fighter pilot, but other than that, you can do almost everything, as long as you are careful and know what you are doing.
As an example, I backpacked around India for several months shortly after my diagnosis, and even went on a 14-day camel trek through the remote areas of Rajasthan. This was before mobile phones and the internet, so I had to fax my doctor in Denmark if I had any problems, but everything went well. I also dive, hike, and do everything else I feel like, so I don’t feel that my diabetes ever holds my back from doing anything I want.
One of the main reasons why I am so passionate about fitness is that I can see how important it is for diabetics to be fit. Fitness is important for everyone, but as a diabetic, I can see it directly influence my blood sugar control. It’s the most important tool (besides insulin) for maintaining my health, and what allows me to live the active lifestyle I love.
FFFC: How do you manage your diabetes?
CO: Since I’m a Type 1 diabetic, I need to inject insulin to survive. I inject a long acting insulin in the morning and in the evening, as well as a fast acting insulin whenever I eat. So quite a few shots every day, since I eat quite often.
I use CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitoring) to help me keep track of my blood sugar trends, making it easier to proactively manage my diabetes (the CGM is a small sensor with a needle that is attached to your skin and send continuous blood sugar data to a monitor). I also manually test my blood sugars a few times each day by pricking my fingertip to draw blood and using a blood sugar meter, because the CGM data is a few minutes delayed and I sometimes need to know what my blood sugar is right now.
It sounds quite tedious, and I guess it is, but it quickly becomes habit, and there isn’t really a way around it.
FFFC: I understand you are a fitness model – what is your fitness routine to stay in such amazing shape?
CO: I usually work out for 60-80 min, five times per week. My workouts are always based on lifting weights, as that is by far the most effective way to train, if you want to see real changes to your body. I will also do a little cardio when I feel like it, but honestly, cardio tends to bore me very quickly, so I never do a lot. I will also much rather go hiking than spend time on a treadmill.
Right now, my high-level program looks like this:
I do 4-5 exercises for each body part, and 3-4 sets of each exercise. I also make sure to really push myself on each set. It’s supposed to be hard. If you aren’t out of breath and feel your muscles burning on the last rep of each set, you aren’t getting as much out of your workout as you should.
It’s important for me to say that you can easily get in shape without being as much of a gym rat as I am. Eating healthy and hitting the gym three times per week is plenty, if you aren’t trying to get a career as a fitness model. Just make sure to actually lift some weights, and not just spend all your time doing cardio.
When you lift weights and build a little muscle, you also raise your base metabolism. With a higher metabolism, you burn calories all the time, even when you aren’t working out. Also, a little muscle definition looks GOOD J (and ladies, please don’t be afraid that lifting weights will make you “too big”. The very muscular girls you sometimes see in the gym follow a very specific diet and workout regimen to look that way. It’s not something that ever happens by accident).
FFFC: What is your typical meal plan morning, noon, and night?
CO: I try to eat three meals and three snacks every day. I use www.MyFitnessPal.com to track what I eat. It’s a fantastic tool, because it allows me to easily keep track of my daily calories and macros.
Right now, a typical day looks like this:
2,000 Calories – 190 g Protein – 190 g Carbs – 60 g Fat
Breakfast – Oats, egg whites, whole egg, chia seeds (as pancakes)
Snack – Chicken, asparagus, mozzarella
Lunch – Tortilla, Chicken, mozzarella, veggies (as a wrap)
Snack – Bison, sweet potato & veggies
Dinner – Bison, brown rice & spinach
After workout – Protein shape and a half banana
Before bed – Greek yogurt & peanut butter
At least that’s the plan I aim for. Often life gets in the way, and I will combine meals or eat something different. I also go out and eat a good restaurant meal about twice every week, where I don’t care about the calories.
It’s very important for me to have a plan to follow, but it’s also important not to get too obsessive about what I eat. I don’t want my food to dictate my lifestyle. If my husband invites me out to a fancy restaurant, I will never just have a salad. I will eat whatever I feel like. If that happens to be every unhealthy item on the menu, I will just have to work a little harder in the gym the next week.
FFFC: What advice do you have for someone who is diabetic who may have doubts about being able to improve their fitness level?
CO: It can be done! And the best part is, that the better shape you get in, the easier it will be. The beginning will be difficult, because you need to learn a lot more about how your body react to training than a non-diabetic, but you can do it!
Start out by setting a realistic, measurable goal and plan out your journey. Then get in the habit of recording your workouts, what you eat and how your blood sugar reacts. We are all different, so I can’t give a golden ticket to diabetes and fitness, but I can tell you this: If you learn how your body reacts when you for example lifts weights for an hour, you can start managing your diabetes to optimize that lifting session.
Let’s say that you notice that your blood sugars shoot through the roof every time you lift weight. You just learned that the adrenalin spike from lifting weights impact your sugar upwards, and that you need to take more insulin or reduce your carb intake prior to training. It can actually be as simple as that. Knowledge really is everything when it comes to diabetes.
FFFC: Where can our readers go to learn more about you and your story?
CO: You can go to our website www.TheFitBlog.com. We have a lot of articles and blog posts about fitness, nutrition and healthy recipes. We also have a section specifically about being fit with diabetes, were I tell my story and give advice about how to train as a diabetic. If you need help to get in shape, or take your fitness to the next level, we also offer online personal training, meal plans and workout programs.