Freedom from Diabetes and Chronic Pain

My Water Therapy

Image of water aerobic class
Image of water aerobic class

One of the habits that I have taken up to help with my diabetes and pain is water exercise.  I must say this is one of the few things that is always enjoyable that I do for my health.

Swimming and water exercise is often recommended for those who have trouble with joints and movement.  It can be cardio, muscle building, stretching/flexing and extremely relaxing.  The resistance of moving in water is over 40 times that of moving out of the water.  Also, the body weight is so much less while in the water, that one can perform movements and stretching that is impossible out of the pool.

I’ve read that you can burn 400-600 calories per hour exercising in the water and I know that at times I’ve dropped my BG levels many, many points during water aerobic classes (once I dropped 100 points from before a class to after the class).  For this reason, I always take a tube of “rescue” tabs with me just in case I have a low while I’m at the pool.  It has happened a few times and I was very glad I had those tablets to take.  One thing I noticed when I did have those lows, was my first symptom was not sweating, which is usually the beginning of my low symptoms.  You don’t sweat in the water, so the shaking and sinking feeling in my tummy was the symptoms of my blood sugar levels dropping that I noticed.  No sweat is another benefit I enjoy from my pool exercising – I’m really not a fan of sweating.

Free from my Body Limits

The best thing about my time in the water is the great sense of freedom I have.  As soon as I step into the pool, my body feels so weightless; I can move my limbs and torso in so many ways that are impossible for me outside the pool. In addition, my pain is almost gone when I move around in the water.  I can’t even describe how good it feels to not be in pain at last.  Sometimes I just wish I could hang onto the side of the pool and take a nap without pain in my hips and legs.

I have a personal routine to my exercise when I’m not participating in a water aerobic class.  I step into the pool, walking around a little and doing a few stretches with my “water tube”.  I use the tube to help me balance and stand tall when walking back and forth across the pool (water walking).

Only in the water can I stand perfectly upright and those back and leg muscles and tendons finally get nicely stretched.  Then I begin doing my laps, which I do on my back with a backstroke.  On the back, because I have never perfected the breathing technique for swimming “free style” or front crawl.

An image of a swimmer backstroking
An image of a swimmer backstroking

I always do 10 labs, taking time at each end of the pool to stretch my back, completing 20 specific power arm exercises at the deep end and doing 10 water squats each time I’m back at the 3′ mark. These water squats are wonderful for building my leg muscles and I’ve had docs tell me that squatting is one of the best exercises we can do.  I can really only do squats when I’m in the water, certainly not the really low ones, and I credit all my water squats with my success in building my upper thigh and buttock muscles back so I can now get up from my wheelchair or recliner much easier.


After my 10 laps, I will have finished 100 squats in the water and 1000 arm exercises with the resistance of my water gloves.  This usually takes about 40 minutes.  Then, I do about 15 minutes of water walking to strengthen and straighten my legs.  After that, I will go to the side of the pool and do several leg flexibility movements in sets of 10 or 20.  Finally, I will just play around by myself twisting and turning in the water, marching, doing jumping jacks, bicycling, and hopping around.  I finish up sitting in the hot tub and doing some final stretches before I hit the shower and go home.  This pretty much wears me out and takes about 1.5 hours to complete.

Water Exercise Equipment

I use swim gloves and I really love them and the extra resistance they give me when moving my arms in the water.  They are so good at building muscles in both my forearm and upper arms and helping with losing the “bat wings” under my upper arms.  I have used swim gloves for so many years now that I feel “naked” if I swim without them.

Using my swim gloves with the webbing between the fingers creates much more resistance for each movement of my arms in the water and also in my shoulders and chest.  The intensity of my workout is significantly increased when I wear my swim gloves.  I order a size medium in gloves.  I have created a Product Review of the gloves I use which you can read (under construction).

I also use a water tube in the pool.  I use it to help balance and stand tall when I do my water walking, as well as resistance when doing specific exercises.  It is easier for me to push the tube up and down underwater with my arms than using water bells.  They tend to hurt my fingers and wrists when pushing and pulling with them.  I also “ride” my tube when I do “bicycling” in the water. These tubes can be purchased during the summer in stores like Walmart or Target.  I use the larger in diameter ones.

I’m lucky that our recreation center provides tubes, bells, balls, and other water equipment, so I only have to bring my swim gloves and towel and rescue tabs.  I notice many other swimmers bring water goggles, swim fins and snorkels when they come to do their laps. I’ve thought about purchasing swim fins, but I’m going to do some research first.

An image of water shoes
An image of water shoes

Oh, I shouldn’t forget that I always wear water shoes so my feet do not get abraded against the bottom of the pool.  This is important for me as a diabetic.  I buy my swim shoes online usually in size 9.5.  I also have a Product Review of these you can read (under construction).

All of these equipment items help to enhance the benefits of water exercise.

A Recent Experience

Yesterday, I was at the indoor pool after finishing my routine exercises and laps and was getting out of the pool into my wheelchair.  I park my wheelchair near the steps into the pool and leave my “rescue tablets” on the seat of my chair just in case.  A lady who had been doing laps in the lane next to me told me that she was surprised that I was in a wheelchair because she had noticed I was moving so well in the water.  I told her I loved the water and she said: “I can tell, you look very comfortable in the water”.

She was so right, I feel completely FREE when I’m in the water and there is practically no pain when doing most of my exercises and movements.  I feel so much less weighty, my legs and back can move in so many stretches and movements that are totally impossible for me outside of the water.

I can’t truly explain that wonderful sense of freedom I get in the water.  It makes me so happy.  However, I never realized that other people could notice that freedom from just watching me.

How often to exercise?

I have set a goal for myself of routinely going to the pool 3-4 times each week year-round.  I am so fortunate that I have access to an indoor pool that I can go to during the fall, winter, and spring when outdoor pools are closed.  At least 3-4 times each week I can enjoy the ability to move my body freely, without pain and disability. WHAT FREEDOM!


Definitely Back on Track

I think I’m Back On Track

After a pretty much wasted month of March, I think I’m back on track.  I’m doing alternate day fasting and I am doing much less nibbling/breaking during my fasting times.  I’m also continuing to do the exercises for my back and hip that I blogged about a few days ago.  I’ve found that these are definitely helping me loosen the tight muscles in my left hip that has been giving me so much pain.  I’ve also found that going to the pool and sitting and stretching in the hot tub for a long time helps a lot.  Speaking of hot tub, I was reading about some health/metabolism benefits to doing hot water exercises.  Here are links to some informative articles.

Continue reading “Definitely Back on Track”

My Cure is in Sight!

My Intermittent Fasting is Definitely Working

I just finished fixing my husband a brunch of bacon, eggs and toast.  And all the time I did not crave food.  I’ve been fasting now for over 42 hours and I did not get hungry while cooking his meal.  Overall, this is the easiest “diet” I haven undertaken to date (and I’ve tried many).

An image of a scale with tape measure.
An image of a scale with tape measure.

I’m on Day 19 of my journey with Intermittent Fasting (IF) to cure my diabetes and lose weight.  I began this journey on December 11th after reading Dr. Jason Fung’s book “The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting”.

I managed to make it through the holidays well and its working.  I started out weighing 260 pounds and this morning I weighed 246.8 pounds.  13 pounds in 19 days.  I’ve averaged a loss of .6842 a day (a little more than a half a pound per day).

How Can I Do This?

I must say that without some support, I’m not sure I could have done it.  But fortunately for me, about 4 days in, a doc in one of the Facebook Intermittent Fasting Groups took me under his wing and began helping me.  Doc Manny (Dr. Manuel Lam) has been wonderful and invaluable in this journey.

I’ve done several fasts of varying lengths:  As follows they are:

20.8 hours
23 hour
42 hours
44 hours
46 hours
22.5 hours
49.5 hours
42 hours
72 hours (which I am in the middle of now.

That’s almost 362 hours of intentional fasting.

Since I’m a Type 2 diabetic, I had lots of questions about how to reduce my insulins during this time.  I was previously taking about 182 units of insulins per day (including both my short and long term insulins).  I did not want to experience any lows and have to eat something during my fasting periods and thankfully Doc Manny (Dr. Manuel Lam)  has been giving me awesome advice about how much to take.  I had one low of 65 before he started helping me, but since then I’ve had no lows at all.  Yesterday, my total insulin used was only 10 units of my long acting Lantus last night.

I haven’t had to deal a lot with hunger during my fasting times.  Whenever I start to crave eating, I drink some no carb organic broth or eat a spoonful of coconut oil.  That seems to work well in keeping me going on my fasting period. Otherwisde, during my fasting periods, I drink coffee, tea and water only.

My fasting schedule right now is fast on Monday-Tuesday-Thursday-Friday and eat on Saturday-Sunday and Wednesday.  On my eating periods, I’m usually only eating one meal (dinner) but occasionally two meals.  I’m trying to keep my calories during my eating times to <1000.   That’s a pretty low number but I’m treating this like Dr. Fung said, basically its like I’m undergoing bariatric surgery without the surgery. Once I’ve lost the weight and am off all my diabetic meds, I hope to maintain with only 2 fasts of 20 hours each week, eating Paleo style when I’m not fasting.  Of course, I’ll have to see if that works when the time comes.

Right now, during my eating periods, I’m sticking to a paleo/whole food eating style.  Low on carbs, high good fats and medium proteins.  I think that helps with my hunger during my fasting periods.  I’ve found that if I eat a normal diet with too much sugar I don’t’ feel well at all that night and I experience more hunger during the next fast.


An image of women doing water aerobics
An image of women doing water aerobics

For 18 days, I did not exercise at all and I’m pretty sedentary, in my wheelchair all day.  Yesterday, I began doing some water exercise,and I plan on doing that at least 3 days a week from now on.  My BGL (blood glucose level) was 193 before I went to the pool and after my exercise of two hours, it dropped 40 points.

I have always had high morning levels (the dawn phenomena).  You can read about that here.  I’m finding that so far, my morning BGL readings are still higher, but overall they are coming down, even in the morning testing.  My meter is showing an average of 164.  Before I began IF, the average was well over 200 (my diabetes was not very well controlled).


I’m so happy with the results I’ve had so far, that I intend to keep on until I reach my three goals:

  1. Getting off all my diabetic meds
  2. Losing 125 pounds (I would weigh 145 at that point)
  3. Getting out of this wheelchair if possible

I’m already achieving significant loss of pain (from my fibromyalgia and hip).  Time will tell and I’m praying my will-power and determination will stay the course.


Thanks for looking at my site and coming to this page. I would love for you to leave any questions or comments below.  In addition, I’m open to new topics to research and comment on as they pertain to my own health and experience living with diabetes.  Please share your interests and questions in your comments.  I also love to hear others stories about how they handle their own diabetes issues.  I will be sending out a monthly newsletter staring in January 2017.  If you would like to receive that email newsletter, you can sign up here.

– Shirley