Alissa's Fitness Blog

Alissa's Diabetes and Fitness Blog


Discussion of Diet and Fitness as a tool to manage Diabetes

Alissa :             Dave Goodin who is my trainer, has helped me get into shape, and allowed me to be able to compete in figure competitions. Dave, what are some of your titles and tell me about yourself?

Dave Goodin: I have a Master's degree in exercise physiology from the University of Texas. I competed for 32 years in bodybuilding, and the last year I competed was actually in men's physique. Before I was a personal trainer, I was a coach. I coached football, basketball, track, and power lifting so I have been involved in fitness for my entire adult life.               

In terms of titles, I was the first person to ever win the NPC Texas Overall Bodybuilding Championship twice. I have five world championships in bodybuilding, three Mr. Universe titles, and Pro Mr. International. My most recent win was at the 2009 IFBB Masters World Championship.

I've had a really good run in my own competition bodybuilding, but along the way, over the last 20 years, I've trained many, many people for competition, very successful.

Alissa:              Tell me that your shows that you have and the shredder show that I've competed in 2014.

Dave:               The Texas Shredder Classic I started it up in 1998 and we've had it every year since then. It's been bigger every year. Coming up here on April 11th will be the Texas Shredder Classic Sanction with the WNBF. We also have the Texas State Naturals which will be October 24th, 2015, and that will be our sixth year for the Texas State Naturals. 

Alissa:              I've been working with you for the last year. I'm a diabetic, and you've really helped me as a diabetic in training and getting into shape so that I'm allowed to compete. How do you train clients with diabetes differently?

Dave:               In terms of the training, the training is really not different with diabetics. One thing that I do have to do when training a diabetic is to be more cognizant of warning if they're starting to get shaky, if their blood sugar gets too low, and I then handle that appropriately at the time.

Where the difference lies is with the diet. Working with the diabetic who wants to get into contest shape to compete, the important thing is to be very mindful of the types of carbohydrates and the amounts of carbohydrates that they're taking in.

They're taking in relatively small amounts of carbohydrates at a time, and carbohydrates that are lower glycemic so that they're releasing more slowly into the system.

Alissa:              How much cardio should you do in addition to training?

Dave:               The thing I tell all my clients if they want to compete is that you want to do as little cardio as you can while still losing the body fat that you want to lose. Now, for the general fitness client that just wants to be healthier, then I would recommend 30 to 60 minutes of cardio four or five days a week but for our clients who want to compete in bodybuilding, figure physique, bikini, those types of things, the amount of muscle that you carry is extremely important.

The cardio can have an effect of tapping into muscle protein for energy. We want to keep the cardio to a minimum. Generally, I've never had any women that didn't have to do any cardio to get ready for a show. Generally, women have to do more than men. It's just a fact of life.

I've had some men that I was able to train for shows that didn't do any cardio at all and got their body fat down fewer than three percent and were just completely shredded and muscular. Again, like I said, the thing I stress to my clients, do as little as you can get away with while still losing the body fat that you want to lose. 

Alissa:              Post season when for somebody like myself who stops competing goes into a transition diet, and then maintenance. What are your thoughts and how do you advise other people who aren't training to compete but want to go onto a healthy eating regimen or maintain what they look like post season to stay fit and healthy?

Dave:               I would say that your normal person who is not competing, generally, they want to look better during the summertime when they might be going out to the lake or they might be going to the pool. Basically, what I would do for them is basically a bodybuilding or figure competition style diet to bring them down leaner than normal so that they look good at whatever, if it's going to the lake during the summer, going to the pool, or sometimes people will, like I've had ladies that are getting ready for their wedding and they want to look good in the wedding dress.

I'll diet them down pretty much like I do a body builder or figure competitor but it's not as extreme as someone who wants to compete. Their body fat levels don't have to get to unnaturally low levels like competitors do. After the event, after the summer is over or after the wedding is over, the smart way to approach it is to gradually add calories back into the diet very systematically over a period of time, and allow your metabolism to speed back up so that you can increase your calories without dramatically increasing your body fat.

Alissa:              Are some people better at certain types of competitions or is it important to find one's niche?

Dave:              Absolutely, yeah, people have different things that they're good at. Even in the bodybuilding world and I’ll say that encompassing bodybuilding competition, fitness, figure, bikini, men's physique, and women's fit body, that's all those things, come under bodybuilding competition. They require different types of structures.

Someone who is naturally much more muscular would fit better into bodybuilding. For a woman who is smaller and has a harder time putting on muscle but she's shapely, she would do better in bikini. Yeah, you want to take your structure and find if you're going to do that type of competition which division fits you better.       

Not everyone is cut out for bodybuilding competitions. Some people are great runners. They could never look good in a bodybuilding competition but they're good at running or tennis players. What I encourage people to do is find something they like in an athletic endeavor, and stick to that and go all out for that.

In any type of athletic endeavor, no matter what you do, weight training, dieting, and cardio are an integral part of any athletic endeavor and can help you do better.

Alissa:              What is your opinion on supplements?

Dave:               Supplements definitely have a great place, particularly for competitors or any kind of competitive athlete to fill in the gaps in your diet. I've had people who say, “I eat really healthy. I eat vegetables, I eat fruit. I eat chicken and beef. I mix it up and try to cover all the bases,” but still, depending on how long something has been on the shelf, it loses vitamins and minerals so by taking supplements, you can fill in gaps in your diet to make sure that you're optimizing the results of the efforts that you're putting in the gym or out on the track, or whatever kind of training you're doing.

Alissa:              I am an all natural body builder, as I know that that's what your career has been. I don't believe in steroids and I’d never put them into my body. With all my hard effort and training, and diet, I do it completely natural with my supplements being just vitamins. Your show is a WNBF show. Tell everybody what that stands for.

Dave:               The WNBF is the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation which means that every show that is sanctioned by the WNBF is drug tested. Every single athlete has to be drug tested for each show.

Alissa:              What is your opinion on the use of steroids?

Dave:               I advise people not to use them. I think that number one, they're illegal without a doctor's prescription and anabolic steroids, unless you have some sort of muscle wasting disease, no doctor is going to give you a prescription for anabolic steroids. It's risking your health because your endocrine system is so intricately balanced.

If you’re taking anabolic steroids which mimic the male hormone testosterone, your endocrine system is going to adjust your other hormones to try to reach homeostasis. 

Alissa:              Dave, thank you so much for this interview. You have been such an inspiration to me. I really admire you and I can't thank you enough for how you've worked with me so patiently through my diabetes and my fitness training to get me to a place where I wanted to be and all of my accomplishments. You've given me drive and motivation to continue going. I owe it all to you, my accomplishments and how far I've come.

Dave:               It's been quite a pleasure working with you for the past year, and I'm certainly very proud of how far you've come, what you've done in terms of figure but one of the things that I would like to express to your followers who are following your diabetes blog is that not only have you gotten in tremendous shape, but the really cool thing is that through the weight training and the attention to diet, you were able to dramatically decrease the amount of insulin that you were having to take.

For diabetics, it's cool if somebody looks good. That's great but when you can reduce the amount of insulin you have to take, it's much better for your system and that's I think to me the point I would like to drive home with diabetics is that this bodybuilding lifestyle with the weight training, the cardio, and the attention to diet, that it's so good for your health.

There's really nothing better you can do. You have been a prime example that being a diabetic doesn't have to limit you. That doesn't have to limit what you do. Maybe you can't eat desserts all the time and things like that but in terms of what you can accomplish athletically, it doesn't have to limit you.

Living the healthy bodybuilding lifestyle, it can definitely not only improve the way you look but improve your overall health and your dependence on insulin, be able to reduce the amount of insulin that you have to take. I think that's really cool because when you first came in here, you were on the insulin pump.

I don't remember how long it was. Was it like two months that you were able to get off the pump?

Alissa:              Yes.

Dave:               I know that was a really, really big deal for you because that was such an imposition to what you were doing, and you're always having to move the pump around. I thought that was a really awesome deal when you were able to reduce your insulin dependence and get off the pump.

Alissa:              Thank you so much, Dave. I really appreciate this interview and everything you've done to help me. You have given me such motivation and drive to succeed. I look forward to our next training session.

Dave:               Of course. 

I interviewed my endocrinologist, Dr Blevins, founder of Texas Diabetes and Endocrinology in Austin Texas on managing diabetes while training for athletic competitions.  Please leave your comments at the end, I'd love to know what you think!

Alissa:   What is your opinion on professional athletes competing in sports such as myself who live with Type1 Diabetes?

Dr Blevins:          Any athlete or is planning to be one can  pretty much do any sport that exists and it’s very important to do what you’ve done which is to get a team consisting of a nutritionist, a doctor-type and yourself.  You’re the most important part because you’re there every day and you get to observe what happens to your blood sugar with various activities.  You really have to define what’s best based on your own body’s responses.  You have to not only train but be super careful about carbohydrate intake and its effect on your blood sugar.  You’ve clearly had considerable success, which is very impressive.  I think it’s good to have a team.  And every athlete I know of ….has a team. 

Alissa:   I have learned how my body responds to exercise.  How can others learn their body’s response to exercise and managing diabetes?

Dr. Blevins:         You have to learn your own body’s response to exercise.  Some exercises will raise your blood sugar – especially exercises with rapid bursts, some will lower.   Every individual is a science in and of themselves.  Those are the two main concepts.  It’s very individual - there are certain rules, for example with the rapid burst exercises, your blood sugar will go up afterwards.  If it’s more of a distance running or aerobic exercise, where the glucose is dropping, you have to adjust your treatment to accommodate that so that you can compete successfully – You want your blood sugar in a reasonable range.

Alissa: How often do you feel that somebody who is competing like me should be seen by an endocrinologist and followed?

Dr Blevins:  I think close initial contact is reasonable.  If somebody has problems, availability is important, probably once every few weeks.  Once the formula is achieved that works best for you then you don’t have to do it that often.  The most common sport I see are people participating in is marathons, triathlons, things like that.  Make sure your feet are well taken care of, make sure your heart status is known and that you’re able to do that kind of intensive training safely.  It’s a big deal too that people not just jump into something without some degree of assessing whether their blood pressure, feet, heart are all ok.

Alissa:  So being that I’m you’re first fitness competitor athlete and having worked with me over the last year to get me through an accomplishment and learning what my regimen, diet and program, training is it encompasses a whole lot of areas to succeed.  So if somebody else like myself , being I have this fitness blog , were to go and want to compete in a figure or fitness or bikini competition – what would be the advice that you would give them , that I can also help them with .  And what are your thoughts on losing body fat quickly – how does that impact blood sugar.  Those are the key things that I was wondering. 

Dr. Blevins:   I really think the blog is a good idea, because I think when people talk to each other about what their experiences are it really helps.  You can find someone with type 1 diabetes and take their experiences, you know, everyone is going to be different.  You may also find someone’s advice you really don’t want to take – I think you have to be discriminating and careful about it because some things that are good for other people may not be good for you.  I think that comparing notes is really potentially very helpful.  I’ve had a lot of runners talk to each other.  I don’ think you want to go on a radically different diet quickly.  You want to do things gradually and moderately, remembering, after all, that you do have diabetes and you have concerns about your blood sugars and you don’t want to go on a crash diet, no more than you want to start exercising in a crash sort of way.  You want to work your way into it and be careful with yourself and your health. 

AlissaSo like for me, working with the team of people I work with, I’ve been advised that about 2% body fat loss per week and maybe a pound at most a week is advised – for me within a 12 week period.  So really it depends on the person, but right now, my body is at 13% body fat and when I compete it needs to be between 6% and 8%.  I have to stay at 13% right now for the next 2 weeks to build muscle and to stay healthy.  And then after that my diet starts decreasing, reducing carbohydrates, and I’m sure my blood sugars are going to be changed again, so when that happens what  do you suggest to help me self manage?

Dr. Blevins: Your insulin sensitivity can change when you increase your muscle mass and even if you change your fat percent and you have to be very careful and aware that your requirements might change.

Alissa: So what do you do to compensate for that - do you suggest follow-up appointments?

Dr.Blevins:  I think a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) may be very helpful in letting you know.  But close monitoring, careful monitoring, eyes wide open – that’s the bottom line. 

Alissa:  Sounds good thank you very much!


For those of you who felt guilty for eating unhealthy at your Super Bowl Party, today is a new day!  Here are some tips for getting back on track. 

My suggestion is take a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise of any type, walking, running, biking, gym time etc. Try to eat some protein such as grilled turkey breast or chicken, unsealed tuna, water, grilled fish etc. 

Decrease your carbs using portion control. I measure and weigh my food. If you don't have a scale, you can use a measuring cup. Some healthy carb choices would be 1/2 cup of brown rice, 5-6 ounces sweet potato, a nice big green salad with a cup of various veggies. I use balsamic vinegar which is a free dressing with nothing added to it. You can squeeze a lemon or lime in your salad which is also a free food. If you like dressing, we use portion control in my family - measuring 2 tablespoons.

Another way to eat healthy is reading labels and use the portions provided. I try to find foods low in fat and sugar. If you enjoy fruit, most people think it's a healthy choice, and it is if you also use portion control. Fruits that are good options include a cup of blueberries, a cup of strawberries, a medium size banana or apple, a whole grapefruit. I like to put cinnamon and Splenda on my fruit. A low fat Greek yogurt is a wonderful choice to go with a meal.

In my family, if we eat a more unhealthy meal than usual such as Mexican food, the next day I make grilled fish or chicken measuring 5/6 ounces and a steamed vegetable of any kind with brown rice or a sweet potato.  My children take a bike ride or a walk around our block to stay fit and healthy. We try to tell stories to make us laugh and help to realize not to feel guilty but to feel proud of what you have, who you are, and who is a positive influence in your life. It's ok to cheat with an unhealthy meal but it's never too late to get back on track and continue to pursue your goals.

Don’t let diabetes prevent you from having a great time at events like super bowl parties!

 If you live in Austin for any length of time, you soon know that it’s the Cedar Fever capital of the world.  Sufferers of Cedar Fever experience a general feeling of malaise, with symptoms similar to pneumonia. 

I woke up this morning  with sever Cedar symptoms - exhaustion, lack of motivation, difficulty breathing, sore throat, red itchy eyes, congestion and exhausted.  Because my children were home from school for the MLK holiday, I easily could have used this as an excuse to skip the gym.  I contemplated whether to go and my first thought was I could go tomorrow. 

This is when I push myself to go today - no matter how badly I feel .  Part of accomplishing goals is to know what they are and to follow through with a routine in spite of the exhaustion level.  Usually when I’m most exhausted I have my best workouts. I knew from experience that if I went to the gym I’d feel invigorated and set the mood for the day.  I went and had a great cardio workout for 45 minutes.

Later that day, my daughter wanted to go for a bike ride.  It turned out to be a beautiful 70 degree day, perfect for outdoor activities.   Being that my daughter is diabetic, it’s crucial that she gets exercise and I encourage her to be active.  You might think exercising a second time wouldn’t be advisable, but it’s fine to have 2 workouts in a day as long as you don’t overdo it. If you do a high intensity cardio workout in the morning, and you need to support your children or friend to encourage exercise in the afternoon, it’s ok to have a second, lower intensity workout.


Eating Clean While Traveling

My first trip of the year is back home to New Jersey for a wedding.  Weddings or parties can be very tempting opportunities to eat and drink - and cause you to break a diet. 

Make healthy choices such as chicken and fish, light appetizers. Know what your healthier options are.  If fruit or vegetables are available, try to use that as a side dish.  Also limit your carbohydrates(bread products) and increase your protein.  Be mindful of your fat intake.   You can still enjoy your party while eating clean. By limiting desert to one treat and 2 drinks you can indulge but not overindulge.  Use portion control, to not overeat. 

Its most important to keep your goal in mind - don't use a party as an excuse to break your diet and not reach your goal!.   Practicing discipline at a party, will lead to more discipline in other areas.  Consistent discipline will lead to long term success with your goals. Anything's possible if you put your mind to it! If I believe you can believe! 

New Year New You!

I believe in setting goals and not resolutions for the New Year.  Resolutions are easily broken, but a goal can be maintained for a long period of time even if you have setbacks.  

My goal for 2015 is to eat clean maintaining a well balance diabetic friendly carbohydrate counting diet.  Another goal is to compete in several figure competitions in 2015.

I create a daily eating plan and exercise regimen.  I leave it in my kitchen so it is readily available and I have all of my chosen foods prepared in advance for the day.  I also determine a time I will be going to the gym.  Although there are many times I can find an excuse not to go, this is when I force myself to follow my daily plan.  Once you do not follow through with what works best, I find that it's easier to not keep my goal in mind.  

My motto is always say I can and not I can't.  When I tell myself I can, I follow through giving myself the confidence I need.   

First Blog

Look forward to useful and interesting information on Diabetes and Fitness in 2015!