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Operation Transformation - A National Movement


The tv show Operations Transformation is more than just a fluffy piece of entertainment. It's a national movement. And, for me, it's the most uplifting programme on telly today.

 

No, I swear I'm not crazy... or easily entertained!!!

I only began watching the programme a number of years ago, when the creators partnered with Diabetes Ireland to create more awareness about type 2 diabetes. It was only then that I realised this show is about so much more than getting five people to lose weight.

And I got hooked! Unlike any reality TV show that I have seen, it's not about putting people down or pitting them against each other.

Operations Transformation is advertised as a health and fitness programme. It airs on RTÉ One in Ireland. The show is a cross-media event broadcast via radio, web and television and it's been running (ha, ha, pun) for nine years.

 

The show motivates and inspires people and communities to come together to become healthier. They are partnered with Sports Ireland who help organise nationwide walks in over fifty locations all around Ireland.

It encourages everyone to take back control of their lives, no matter what your demons are.

How does it work?

Five leaders are selected and are supported and guided by a panel of experts in the fields of fitness, nutrition and psychology in order to reach their individual goals. The show broadcasts over a period of seven weeks but most leaders continue on their journey sucessfully.

The leaders are chosen on the basis that there is someone for everyone to relate to. The meal and exercise plans which have been created for each leader are published online so that viewers can follow the plans also.

 
The first two programmes of the series introduces all the leaders, who they are, what they do and why they want to do Operation Transformation. Let me warn you, it's a cry-fest. Well, no it isn't I'm just a big SAP!
 
You find out that these people are not just battling their weight; they have darker demons buried inside that are holding them back. Being overweight is just a symptom of what ails them.
 
This programme also gives you an insight into just how difficult it is to decide to lose weight and that you're crazy if you think there is a quick fix and that support is key. Why do it by yourself.

Why am I writing about this programme?

I think this programme is an Irish phenomenon and could be replicated elsewhere.

 

And this programme is educational; I was happy with my weight but the truth is that when I go clothes shopping I am definately not. 

 
As a person with type 1 diabetes I feel that the food I eat is healthy most of the time! I did pare it down a number of years back to drop some baby weight and it worked. And I get my 30 minute walk into my day 4 times a week so I couldn't be bothered trying to add more exercise. 
 
But when the show introduced me to leader, Noeleen who is 5" 3" in height and 75 kgs and officially obese - I woke up! I'm 5" 4" and 72 kgs!!! Yikes! Too close for comfort.
 
So while I really don't want to change the way I eat - I starting to think I need to move more to officially be healthy. Let's face it who doesn't!
 
All the leaders are inspirational this year and along with Noeleen, I'm especially interested in cheering for Chef John Conmy who has type 2 diabetes. During his fitness test during the programme he was discovered to have heart disease. He wasn't aware he had it and this programme may have saved his life. 

 
And then there's Clare Scanlan, who's has not been able to move past her grief after losing her 15 year old son to sudden adult death syndrome two years ago. 
 

The show has teams up with Sport Ireland, who organise nationwide walks in over fifty locations all around Ireland. The highest number to date who took part is over 19,000 people. Every year this numbers climbs and climbs.

 
People are doing it! Taking back control of their lives!

Diabetes Complications are Not a Sign of Failure

The complications of diabetes are real and people are living with them. People are also living in fear of them. Myself included. I am actively trying to overcome this fear because if I do end up with complications I don't want to feel like it is the end of my life. Or that I failed to manage my diabetes well enough. And I certainly don't want to be made to feel that it's my fault.

I don't believe just because I am doing everything in my power to manage my diabetes that I will be spared. I believe that if I have type 1 diabetes I still have the risk of developing complications. I strive to keep that percentage of risk low but it will never be zero.

I will not stop trying!

Image from http://www.coolnsmart.com/failure_quotes/

So, when a friend of mine, who has lived more than 50 years with type 1 diabetes and who lives with a number of the complications of diabetes, comes to our T1D meet ups and people imply she didn't take of herself, I get a little "upset"!

My friend has survived taking care of her diabetes when there was no such thing as a glucose meter! Imagine never know what your blood sugar was?!?

She has survived during a time when the phrase "carb counting" might as well have been a foreign language in Ireland. It didn't exist!

We also did not have Rapid Acting Insulins until the late 1990's. So, even if we did practice carb counting, it wouldn't have been much good to us. Sure, we could do a certain amount of carb counting on the insulins we took only twice a day but we couldn't fine tune it like we can today.

We also did not know that the tighter your diabetes control, the less likely you were to be at risk of getting diabetes complications. This research was only published in 1993 as the DCCT Trials.

93 years ago we died! Today, we have so many tools, technology and instant access to research that people with type 1 diabetes, who have been told for decades what they can't do are breaking all of those barriers.

So I ask you? Is surviving 50 years with type 1 diabetes and living with complications really not taking care of yourself?

My friends who live with diabetes complications may even say themselves, that they didn't do as much as they should have to take care of their diabetes. And I say you did the very best that you, and everybody else, knew how.

I am so lucky and proud to have friends like Deniabetic, who are helping me overcome my fears.

Post Christmas Blood Sugar Hangovers

The Christmas holiday lasts one whole week if not two in Ireland. Most businesses close their offices from Christmas Eve to the day after New Year's day to give their employees a well earned break.

The schools close for two weeks. This is where my diabetes can become troublesome. I'm a stay at home mother and when my children are in school I have a routine and I get out most days for a good head-clearing walk! It does my head good and it does my diabetes good.
During school holidays, getting out for that little but very important 30 minute walk is.... mmmm challenging. I could do it. If I really, really, really tried but there's always something else I could do too.
A two week holiday is more than long enough for my body, and my diabetes to figure out that my exercise has been all but forgotten and give me a bit of a telling off.
The grey-ness and the wetness of the Irish weather for the last month did not help either! Let's just say we would not have been surprised to see a giant ark after having SO much rain for SO long.
This holiday, my BG's started rise just before New Year's, at a time when I thought I'm almost there and I got away with it. My insulin to carb ratios need to be reduced radically and using trial and error the kids will be back in school before I have it figured out.
I'm also feeling a little of the January blues. The lack of exercise and my elevated blood glucose levels are leaving me deflated and unmotivated to do absolutely anything.... except declutter my house (figure that one out?).
So, I'm anxious to get back to school, I mean for my children to get back to school. :-)

I'm itching to get out for that first regular walk of 2016, to have a routine again and reclaim familiar BG patterns so I can make adjustments.

I also need to come up with a feasible plan for the extended Easter break we will have this year (it's 2 and a half weeks long starting on St. Patrick's Day).

I think I just found my new years resolution! And I think I'm finding my way back.

Midnight and Lows

I wrote about this hypo experience before I got my CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) and so these days crashing blood sugars are not coming at me like oncoming trains and I am able to get off the tracks in time.

A few nights ago, I experienced the feeling of watching a "train wreck" coming towards me and not being able to avoid it. The problem, I think, the fact that I had too many options available to me in trying to prevent my imminent hypo that I didn't know which one was best to choose.

Normally, when I check my blood glucose level two hours after my dinner and they are above my post-meal target, I know that some more insulin is required. On this occasion it was 3 hours after dinner and I was even more sure that I needed more insulin. See the 11.5 mmol (207 mg/dl)

HOWEVER! Approximately 60 minutes after I had given myself more insulin, the big red dot and the sharp dip in my mysugr app told me that my diabetes was not playing by the rules!  My blood sugar level had dropped sharply to  6.1 mmol (110 mg/dl). An otherwise respectable BG number but at this moment in time, especially with the remainder of my insulin dose to activate, I knew I was in trouble and that a hypo was coming for me.

I was already tucked up in bed with my teeth brushed. So, I reduced my background insulin by 50% for an hour and a half to counter the over correction of insulin. (Note to self; that wasn't the right choice - always go for the fastest acting glucose available).

At 12:13am, perspiration steamed off me. Thankfully, I had the wherewithal to check my blood sugars again revealing a 3.1 mmol (56 mg/dl). I took 3 dextrose tabs and lay back waiting for them to kick in. But, the heat coming off my body made me grab 2 more a couple of seconds later.

I tried to lay there waiting again but I became more agitated at having to wait.... and wait, and wait, for the heat and sweat and "jitters" to subside. The seconds felt like hours!

I decided to wait the 15 minutes out downstairs and suck on some boiled sweets to, maybe, trick my brain into thinking I was shoveling glucose into me hand over fist and avoid over-treating the hypo. I pulled out the laptop and tried to document this hypo ;-) Another effort to avoid over-treating-keep my hands busy.

12:37am, 5.8mmols (104mg/dl), still feeling shaky and mildly damp but can safely go back to sleep. After brushing teeth.... again.

And yes, I had the over-correction high blood sugar reading the next morning. Sometimes, you just can't win. But you try, and try to learn:-)

Happy New Year from GrĂ¡inne