Monday 25 April 2011

Training Schedule Week of April 25th to May 1st

The rain is back, and it looks like it's staying for the week, so I'll be back indoors for most of my workouts. Here is the tentative schedule for this week. 

Monday ~ Yoga / Cycle 30 minutes, fast
Tuesday ~ Yoga / Run 60 minutes, pace
Wednesday ~ Cycle 60 minutes, moderate
Thursday ~ Snowshoe 2 hours, moderate
Friday ~ Yoga / Run 70 minutes, easy  
Saturday ~ Run 40 minutes, pace
Sunday ~ Cycle 3 hours, moderate

Shoutout to the DOC

Just a super-speedy shoutout to the DOC:

My son has had type-1 diabetes since 2005, yet I am still new to the social networking community of diabetes advocacy. I have always been an advocate for my son, and for diabetes, but, until recently, it was more on a community level, with my local JDRF chapter. Since jumping into the DOC scene via Twitter, Facebook, Wegohealth, TuDiabetes and the many other social networking sites, I have been absolutely amazed at the level of dedication, compassion, and support displayed by DOC members. This is a truly wonderful community and the more I get to know about it, the prouder I am to be a member.

Since joining the "DOC" community, I have discovered a renewed sense of passion and optimism about diabetes. I think that for a while I was experiencing a certain amount of diabetes burnout. Every year I would get out and fundraise, I've headed up a parent group at JDRF, I've ridden across my province to promote diabetes awareness, but my actions were all solitary. I didn't have a group of type-1 individuals or parents that I felt so connected with. Strange considering I've never met any of the "DOC" clan, yet I feel like I'm getting to know so many great people.

So thank you, DOC members, for creating and maintaining such a terrific support system for the thousands of us living with type-1 diabetes ourselves, or via a loved one.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Dental Problems and Type-1 Diabetes; Is There a Link?

Monday afternoon I took my type 1 son to have 2 cavities fixed and we're back there again tomorrow to have another 2 cavities dealt with. 4 cavities at the last cleaning, and 2 at the cleaning before that. It seems that every time we go to the dentist, my 10 year old has new cavities, and yet his brother and sister do not. So it got me thinking, is there a connection between type-1 diabetes and increased dental problems?

We all know that type-1 diabetes can lead to a number of pretty scary side effects, especially if not controlled well, but in all my D reading over the years, I can't recall ever seeing a direct connection between type-1 diabetes and cavities. So I decided to do a bit of research on the web, and found that while there are countless articles on increased risk of gum disease in diabetics, there doesn't appear to be a definitive connection with diabetes and cavities. 

All 3 of my kids have basically the same dental care routine. None of them are perfect, but they're good enough for the most part, and yet only my type-1 child is prone to cavities. Perhaps he doesn't brush as thoroughly, or maybe he's simply just got "bad" teeth, if there is such a thing. But it's really got me thinking now, is there a direct connection between type-1 diabetes and increased cavities?

Monday 18 April 2011

The Ultimate Jambalaya Recipe

About once a week I like to include a recently tested recipe in my blog, and I do this for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I love to cook and I especially love trying new recipes. My family knows this, so they are always ready to try something new, knowing it might be "a keeper," as my 7-year-old daughter says, or might never be served again. Secondly, as a mother of a child with type-1 diabetes, I pay attention to what my son puts in his body and I like his food intake to be as healthy and balanced as possible. Finally, as someone who likes to participate in endurance sports, such as running and cycling, I'm always on the lookout for recipes that have great nutritional value, or a good carb-fat-protein ratio.

Last week I tested a recipe I had been eyeing for a few weeks; a slow cooker recipe for Jambalaya, a cajun all-in-one meal that I adore, but have never made in the slow cooker. This recipe (below) is unique in that it is as close to a complete meal as I have seen for Jambalaya. It's low calorie and low fat, especially when it comes to saturated fat, and yet still high in fiber and protein. Plus, for those of us cooking for a type-1 diabetic, this meal is relatively low carb with only 35 grams net carbs per serving (or less for someone with a smaller appetite). Throw in a glass of nonfat milk to round out the meal, and it's still only 47 grams of carbs. And for those who are cooking for picky eaters, there are lots of possible substitutions with this meal; you can substitute chicken for clams or shrimp, change the chorizo to a regular sausage, or even add a low fat sirloin steak, without really changing the taste or nutritional value of the meal. 

So here it is:

large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 sweet green pepper, chopped
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
cloves garlic, chopped
1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/2 pound chorizo, in 1/2-inch pieces
1 can (6.5 ounces) chopped clams, rinsed & drained
1 can (15.5 ounces) red kidney beans, rinsed & drained
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 can (14.5 ounces) stewed tomatoes
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1.5 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
0.5 teaspoon salt
1.5 cups instant brown rice
1/2 pound small shrimp
3 scallions, thinly sliced 

1. In 5- to 5 1/2-quart slow cooker, layer onion, celery, peppers, garlic, corn, chorizo, clams and beans.
2. In bowl, mix broth, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, seasoning and salt. Pour into slow cooker.
3. Cover slow cooker; cook on high heat for 5 hours.
4. For last 10 minutes, stir in instant brown rice and shrimp.
5. To serve, garnish with scallions. 

Nutritional Information (Based on 8 servings per recipe)
Amount per serving: Calories 360, Total Fat (g) 13, Saturated Fat (g) 4, Cholesterol (mg) 70, Sodium (mg) 980, Carbohydrate (g) 43, Fiber (g) 8, Protein (g) 21.

Training Schedule Week of April 18th to 24th

It's looking like it's going to be a terrific week. The weather forecast is for sunny skies all week, so all of my runs and cycling can be done outdoors. Yippee! It is a 4 day weekend too, giving me much more time to workout. Here is the tentative schedule for this week. 

Monday ~ Cycle 45 minutes, fast
Tuesday ~ Yoga / Run 60 minutes, pace
Wednesday ~ Cycle 60 minutes, moderate
Thursday ~ Run 70 minutes, easy / skiing
Friday ~ Cycle 6-7 hours, easy
Saturday ~ Run 35 minutes, pace
Sunday ~ Run 90 minutes, easy

Wednesday 13 April 2011

From the non-Blog Archives: "Team Dylan Intent on Finding a Cure"

As our family gets set to launch this year's fundraising campaign for the JDRF TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes in Vancouver on June 12, 2011, I've been looking back at some of the walk/fundraising highlights of the past 5 years, and I stumbled across this article, featured during our fundraising campaign in 2008. I was reminded of how powerful and helpful the media can be in getting out a message and how, as diabetes advocates, we can never underestimated its ability.

This article appeared in my local community paper after I sent a brief email to the paper telling them about Dylan and the upcoming JDRF walk. A reporter responded, inviting us to come in the news office for an interview and she ran the story the next week. Super easy.

From the North Shore News, May 20th, 2008:

"Team Dylan intent on finding a cure
With the help of his family and friends, a youth ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is leading the charge to raise funds and awareness for children who share his diagnosis.

With the help of his family and friends, a youth ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is leading the charge to raise funds and awareness for children who share his diagnosis.

North Vancouver resident Dylan Thomas, 7, a Grade 2 student at Queensbury elementary, was diagnosed with juvenile (type 1) diabetes, the most severe form of the life-long disease, three days before his fifth birthday. More than two million Canadians have some form of diabetes and more than 200,000 have type 1.

For two years Dylan was given three insulin injections a day along with three blood tests to check his blood glucose levels. Six months ago, he began wearing an insulin pump to better control his blood glucose. Today, he fully monitors the pump himself, with the exception of every three days when it's time to change the infusion set which his mom Jen Aragon helps him with. According to Aragon, while the change has certainly made an impact on Dylan's life, it's far from a cure. To support research efforts, for the last three years, their family has participated in the JDRF's Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes, and this year is no different. The family-oriented event is intended to increase awareness about juvenile diabetes as well as raise funds to support research efforts.

Aragon is the team captain of Team Dylan, which is currently comprised of 31 friends and family intent on raising a minimum of $10,000 for the cause through their participation in the five-kilometre walk. Aragon says she expects the team to grow to 50 members by event day.

The local walk is being held Sunday, May 25 at Burnaby's Swangard Stadium. The national event attracts more than 45,000 Canadians annually. In 2007, $6.5 million was raised and organizers hope to increase that total to more than $7 million this year. The JDRF is the leading charitable funder and advocate of type 1 diabetes research worldwide.

Aragon, who is also a member of the walk organizing committee and volunteers as a mentor through the foundation to newly diagnosed families, says Dylan's diagnosis came as quite a shock. "I didn't know anything about diabetes before he was diagnosed," she says. "No one in my family has ever had it." Dylan got extremely sick quite suddenly over a weekend and they initially thought he had the flu. He was drinking a lot of fluids, going to the bathroom constantly and was still dehydrated. He was tired and pale and he lost five pounds over 48 hours. A subsequent blood test showed Dylan was diabetic. "He had a blood sugar reading of 51," says Aragon. "His target range is between five and eight, so anything over about 12 is considered dangerous. They figured he was within 24 hours of going into a coma."

Two years later, Dylan's health is regulated and he's very much your average, active little boy, yet his diabetes constantly has to be monitored making it something that's always on his mind.

Dylan's 11-year-old brother Josh, a Grade 6 student at Queensbury elementary, also thinks about diabetes a lot. "If his blood sugar gets too low, he can have a seizure," says Aragon. This has happened to Dylan twice, both times in the middle of the night. The brothers share a room, so Josh tends to sleep with one eye open, she says.

Dylan and his family have issued a call to all community members to participate in this year's walk. "It's fun," says Josh, who adds he enjoys the event as it helps his brother and others with the disease. It's loaded with tons of kid-friendly activities making for a great day, in addition to a great cause, says Aragon. Registration gets underway at 8:30 p.m. and the walk starts at 11 a.m. For information or to become a participant visit" 

Monday 11 April 2011

Dylan talks about his diabetes. Accu-Chek Mobile, Real life moments.

The following video features my 10 year old son, Dylan, and I, talking about the new Accu-Chek Mobile meter, which was released for sale in Canada today. We had the pleasure of testing the meter before it went on sale to the public, in exchange for providing honest feedback to Accu-Chek for marketing purposes. Neither I, nor anyone in my family, is an employee of Accu-Chek, nor were we provided with any script or guidelines on what to say. The views expressed in this video are purely our own.

I am in shock as to what a difference this meter has made. Dylan has always had good blood sugar control, but with this meter he tests more often because it's so easy and convenient to use. The result: his readings are more consistent, and in the "normal" range most of the time. I love it.

Saturday 9 April 2011

Training Schedule Week of April 11th to 17th

So excited for this week - a much lighter work load than the last 2 weeks (both of which were 60 hour work weeks). Doubles only Wednesday and Friday this week, and Monday off! 

Monday ~ Run 40 minutes, pace / Cross train 90 minutes (snowshoeing)
Tuesday ~ Yoga / Run 70 mins, easy
Wednesday ~ Cycling 60 minutes, medium
Thursday ~ Yoga / Run 60 mins, easy
Friday ~ Cycling 60 minutes, medium
Saturday ~ Walk 60 minutes
Sunday ~ Run 60 minutes, pace*

*Tentatively planning to run the Vancouver Sun Run Sunday morning, though if the weather is good, I'll get one last day of snowboarding in before the season ends.

Friday 8 April 2011

Ignorance is NOT Bliss

Well, it's been quite the week amongst members of the DOC (Diabetes Online Community) after it was discovered that Reader's Digest magazine is about to publish a special issue entitled "Reverse Diabetes." Clearly, this title is not only inaccurate and misleading, but it pulls at the heartstrings of those of us whose lives have been affected by diabetes in any form.

An ad for the upcoming issue appears as follows:

REVERSE DIABETES: Your total guide to Blood Sugar Control
Don’t let diabetes control you! This May, Reader’s Digest is brining you an essential guide to diabetes management with sensible, practical ways to adjust your eating habits, stay active, keep your blood sugar stable, and live life on your terms.

Diabetes, whether it be Type 1 or Type 2, is NOT reversible. It's not curable and it never goes away. Sure, with extremely good blood glucose control, the likelihood of side effects can be reduced, but the disease is never gone. Those affected by diabetes know that, until a cure is found, diabetes will always be with them - at work, at school, at rest, on vacation, everywhere.

As a parent of a child with Type 1 diabetes, I have to believe that a cure is out there, but is yet to be discovered. I can't and won't give up until a cure is found. I'll fundraise, advocate, educate, and fight for my son's life. I owe him that. And it is my hope and belief in a cure that enables me to keep fighting and not get totally overwhelmed by this devastating and life-threatening disease.

So when I hear that a massive respectable company like Reader's Digest is promoting false information, I feel like I've been slapped in the face. The phrase "Reversing Diabetes" reduces the disease itself to one that is within our control. It suggests that if I simply read this special issue, I will acquire all of the skills and knowledge to eliminate diabetes from my son's life. Do not they not realize that if it were this simple, I would have already "reversed" my son's diabetes?

Misinformation is abundant in health care, and diabetes is certainly no exception. There are numerous magic cures, herbs, supplements, and treatments, that claim to cure diabetes. And there are too many uneducated or misinformed people who that think that my son got diabetes because he ate too much sugar, or didn't get enough exercise, or because someone else in his family history had it. Too many times have I heard, "Oh, I thought diabetes was an adult disease," or "Only people who are overweight have diabetes." I used to get mad when people made such ignorant comments, but over the years I have become less inclined to retort with anger and now simply try to correct them in the simplest and quickest way possible. Ironically, this is the same way in which Reader's Digest presents its information to its readers - in an abridged version.

My hope is that those who do purchase and read this upcoming special issue of Reader's Digest, read it with the same skepticism that they would if reading about a miracle diet, or a sure-fire way to eliminate wrinkles, because if not, we are moving backwards instead of forwards, and that would break my heart.

Thursday 7 April 2011

Cyclebetes National Relay 2011

I was very fortunate to be able to ride as part of the Cyclebetes National Relay in 2010, and I am thrilled to be riding in the relay again in 2011.To add to the excitement this year is a change in the route itself.  This year's relay will go from western Canada to eastern Canada, specifically from Vancouver, BC to Halifax, NS (previous relays went east to west, from Halifax to Vancouver in 2009, and Halifax to Victoria in 2010). As part of the western Canadian team, we will kick-off the ride here  in Vancouver, BC, on August 13th and will ride to Calgary, AB, a distance of 1045km (627 miles), over a 4 day period.

The National Relay is, without a doubt, the most powerful and rewarding event I have ever been involved with, and I will be blogging about my complete experience this year, from pre-ride training, to fundraising, to nutrition, to my daily reflections during the ride itself.

Cyclebetes 2010 riders, between Revelstoke and Salmon Arm, BC

This year's campaign is fully underway, but there are still a few spots open for riders who wish to join in on this life-altering experience!

For a detailed breakdown of where each team will be heading and their daily milage, click here.
For a current National Relay team list, click here.

Jen Aragon (Me) & Richard Biddlecombe as we entered Vancouver on Sept 4, 2010

For general information about Cyclebetes and the National Relay, visit 

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Slow Cooker Thyme-Garlic Chicken Breasts

Like so many of us, my schedule can get pretty insanely busy and at those times, my slow cooker becomes one of the most valuable appliances in my kitchen. Simply throw stuff in, go to work, come back, and it's done! It doesn't get any easier than that. 

I made this recipe late last week and it was fabulous. My whole family loved it. Lots of flavor, and the salad was really enhanced with the addition of the kalamata olives and feta cheese. I served it with a fat free balsamic vinaigrette. Not only is this recipe very low fat, it's low carb and high in protein. Definitely will be making this one again!

3  to 4 pounds  bone-in chicken breast halves
6  cloves  garlic, minced
1-1/2  teaspoons  dried thyme, crushed
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/4  cup  orange juice
1  tablespoon  balsamic vinegar
1  8- to 10-ounce  package mixed greens
1/2  cup  cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/4  cup  pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/4  cup  crumbled feta cheese (1 ounce)
1/2  cup  bottled vinaigrette dressing

1. Remove and discard skin from chicken. Sprinkle chicken with garlic, thyme, a-d salt. Place chicken in 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker. Pour orange juice and vinegar over chicken.
2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 7 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 3-1/2 hours. Remove chicken from slow cooker; cover and keep warm. Discard cooking juices.
3. In a large bowl, toss together greens, tomatoes, olives, and feta; divide among serving plates. Slice chicken from the bones, discarding the bones. Top each salad with some of the chicken. Drizzle dressing over salads. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Nutritional Information
Servings Per Recipe: 6 to 8, Calories 252, Total Fat (g) 8, Saturated Fat (g) 2, Monounsaturated Fat (g) 1, Polyunsaturated Fat (g) 1, Cholesterol (mg) 90, Sodium (mg) 660, Carbohydrate (g) 8, Total Sugar (g) 5, Fiber (g) 1, Protein (g) 36, Vitamin C (DV%) 22, Calcium (DV%) 7, Iron (DV%) 8 
Source: Better Homes and Gardens website

Monday 4 April 2011

Training Schedule Week of April 4th to 10th

Working doubles Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday this week, so I've adjusted my training schedule to reflect that.

Monday ~ Cycle 30 mins, fast
Tuesday ~ Run 35 mins, pace
Wednesday ~ Yoga, Cross train 2 hours (snowshoeing)
Thursday ~ Run 60 mins, easy
Friday ~ Yoga, Run 70 mins, easy
Saturday ~ Run 40 mins, pace
Sunday ~ Cycle 3-4 hours, easy

Friday 1 April 2011

My Name is Dylan and I have Type 1 Diabetes

Last year my 10 year old son had the pleasure of being the Youth Ambassador for the 2010 JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes here in Vancouver, and part of his role was to talk to corporations about what it's like to have type-1 diabetes. He wrote his speech entirely by himself, and delivered it bravely and passionately at numerous different companies around the city. He also spoke to his entire school, plus did a brief presentation at the walk itself, the latter being in front of 3500 walkers. His goal was not for the audience to pity him, or feel that he is any less happy because of diabetes, he simply states it like it is and helps people to understand what it means to be a child with type-1 diabetes on a day to day basis.

He is a rock and I am unbelievably proud of him. With the exception of changing infusion sets, making occasional changes to his pump settings, and supervising his care on an overall basis, he takes responsibility for his diabetes. He counts his own carbs, tests his own blood, and enters all of the data in his pump himself. He treats his own lows for the most part, even in the middle of the night. Yes, that's right, he actually wakes up when he gets low in his sleep, though this is a very new thing, as you'll read below. Before last year, middle of the night lows resulted in a full tonic-clonic (formerly called grand mal) seizure. I never asked him to do all of this, he just does it because he wants to. And while diabetes is in the back of his mind all the time, as it is mine, never has he let diabetes stand in his way of living a full, normal, healthy life - not at 6:30am ice hockey practices twice a week or weekend games, not in the division championship game that his hockey team won three weeks ago, not in karate class, and not when playing with his friends. He is open and upfront about being type-1 and he owns it, it will NEVER own him.

Below is the speech that he powerfully delivered many times in 2010. Following the speech he would do a brief Q&A session with the audience. Pretty amazing for a 10 year old (9 last year).

Dylan speaking at last year's JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes in Vancouver

"Hello, my name is Dylan Thomas. I am a Youth Ambassador for the 2010 Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes in Vancouver. I’m 9 years old and I have Type-1 Diabetes. 

I  was diagnosed with diabetes on November 21st, 2005, 3 days before my 5th birthday. I spent that birthday in the hospital after my parents noticed that something was very wrong. I was drinking a lot of water and going to the bathroom a lot. I was losing weight and I was very, very tired.

On that day my life changed forever. I could no longer eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. The only times I could eat were at meal times and snack times.

Every one of my days starts like this: I wake up and do my blood test, which means that I poke my finger with a needle and put the blood into a little machine that calculates what my blood sugar is. I enter the blood sugar number into my insulin pump, and then enter the amount of carbohydrates I am going to eat and my pump gives me insulin. Insulin that I need because my body does not produce enough on its own. After that I head to school. My School day is like a maze – full of twists and turns, but it can be okay, as long as I am careful. At school I test my blood at least 2 more times: once at recess, once at lunch, and sometimes once in the afternoon if I feel low. If the results of my blood sugar tests at recess or lunch are okay, then I head outside to play with my friends. If I’m low I have to stay inside until my sugar level goes up, which means I can miss recess or lunch altogether. But the worst part of my day is at bedtime. If my sugar level gets too low during the night, I will have a seizure and my mom has to give me a special injection during the seizure to keep me from going into a coma. I have had 4 nighttime seizures since I have had diabetes.

What would a cure mean to me? A cure for diabetes would make me feel free. Free to eat what I want, when I want. To eat my Halloween candy on Halloween and my Easter eggs at Easter, free to be just a regular kid. Right now there is no cure for type-1 diabetes, but we can change that with your help. On June 13th, join me and the many other children, teens and adults with diabetes as we walk to find a cure, so kids like me can live happy and free.

I don’t let my diabetes get me down, but I do want a cure so I don’t have to deal with it every minute, every hour, every day. Thank you for listening and have a great day."