A while back, when I was perusing the world-wide-web, I came across the Animas Sports Weekend on a couple of blogs. I read a number of different people’s accounts of the weekend and by the end of my reading I knew that I HAD to attend one of these weekends. Having been diagnosed so long ago and with a distinct lack of engagement from my side in terms of HCP’s and available resources, until fairly recently, I was under the impression that exercise drops blood sugars and it was as simple as that. It was my sister who actually alerted me to the fact that this was not completely correct and that different types of exercise could in fact affect your blood sugars in many different ways, I was therefore super keen to learn more.
I was delighted to discover that the registrations for the next weekend were to open the following week so I quickly spoke to my sis and we decided to sign up together. I was pleased that Cal decided she wanted to come with me as the thought of going alone was slightly daunting! That being said, many people on the weekend were there alone and by the end, we were all chattering away like we had been friends for years, so if you are considering going and don’t have a pancreatically challenged friend or relative, do sign up and go along, you will make friends in seconds!!
The pre-weekend information provided by Animas was very good, we had lots of e-mails with information on the agenda and about Animas and with contact details and social media info on the ‘Animas Heroes’ who were a group of T1D’s, highly involved in the planning and execution of the weekend.
Agenda wise, we started with registration and coffee on Saturday morning, it took place at Burleigh Court which is a hotel and conference centre within Loughborough University. In the welcome lounge, there was a refreshment station piled high with lovely looking pastries and muffins etc – it was hilarious watching everyone eyeing these up and a fun game seeing who was going to make the first move! Was this a test? Would we be judged as ‘bad’ diabetics if we delved in?! This was very short lived as after the first person made the brave leap in to the sugary, carby waters, many others quickly followed suit! After all, isn’t the whole point that we can eat the same as someone with a fully functioning pancreas as long as we manage our insulin accordingly?!
The first talk was by Dr Alistair Lumb and was about the whole concept of exercise and diabetes. He talked about the different types of exercise and their effects on blood sugar, management strategies for this and the differences between pumps and MDI when it comes to exercise. This was really interesting and my mind was somewhat blown by all the science and information, I literally cannot believe I have been living my life up until now without this knowledge!!
Throughout the whole weekend there were coffee, tea and a variety of snacks available and the vibe was very relaxed meaning you could go and help yourself as and when you fancied.
The second speaker was James Moran who is a diabetes dietician and gave us some really useful information about the best things to eat and drink before, during and after exercise.
I was pleasantly surprised by the awesome lunch on offer in the conference centre restaurant, they had a salad bar stocked with all my faves including smoked salmon as well as 4 or 5 hot options and a decadent and very tempting dessert buffet. We knew that we would be putting the theory learnt that morning in to practise after lunch with some exercise sessions therefore some people chose to have a nice big lunch for energy purposes whereas others chose to eat a bit lighter for fear of being too full to run or cycle! Cal and I opted for a big bowl of salad with plenty of protein as both of us try and stay fairly low carb if possible.
After lunch, we let things settle with another quick talk from Dr Lumb before heading down to the exercise facilities. We were split in to two groups, half of us started with a run and the other half with a spinning session before swapping over.
Given that this was a sports and exercise weekend, everyone was very keen to get involved and put in some good effort to both running and cycling however, there was no pressure from anyone to push yourself beyond where you felt comfortable. I have always been a HORRENDOUS runner therefore, I started out at a jog and then very quickly fell in to a brisk walk with the lovely Annie (@understudypanc) where we made a valiant attempt at solving all diabetes related problems in the world! I may be rubbish at running however, I do go spinning at least once a week so I knew this was where I would come in to my own. Following a quick drink of water, loo stop and blood sugar check, we mounted our bikes and started peddling for dear life. The spinning class was SO MUCH FUN! The instructor was a lovely young girl who played awesome music and I was gutted when it ended. I always find that the music makes such a difference and this was top notch, we even managed to get in a little dancing whilst peddling.
As you can imagine – at this point the room STANK to high heaven with 50+ people there sweating profusely therefore, we did some quick stretching and made a swift exit to check in to our rooms and shower before dinner. Throughout the exercise we checked our blood sugars and following the information received that morning, it was really interesting to see how they responded to the aerobic and anaerobic exercise – things were starting to make a lot more sense (after 25 years – oops!!!!)
Cal and I had opted to share a twin room so we went up and got ready for dinner together, both buzzing after the afternoon of exercise.
Dinner was preceded by a talk from Roddy Riddle who is a true inspiration to all of us T1D’s as he has completed a number of highly physically demanding challenges all whilst managing his diabetes perfectly. Animas provided each of us with a drinks voucher for one complimentary beverage from the bar and the atmosphere during Roddy’s talk and dinner was jovial and fun – who would have known that a few hours earlier, very few people in the room had ever even met before!
Dinner was a 3 course affair and was really tasty. The hotel were super helpful as the veggie option was frittata and being a veggie that is allergic to egg this wasn’t really going to work for me – they provided me with a super tasty salmon salad with no questions asked. I cannot tell you how much fun we had over dinner – I laughed until my face hurt and really bonded with fellow delegates! Following the conclusion of dinner, we retired to the bar for one last tipple before falling in to bed at about 11pm. Many others stayed up WAAAY later but after my 5am start I was pretty sleepy and knew we had another full day on Sunday so my sensible head won out and decided bed before midnight was essential.
As day one seems to have taken up a lot of words, I will leave you in suspense for day 2 which will follow in a separate post….