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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Working Out a Basal Rate

Now that it's warm weather again and house remodeling has calmed down a bit, I'm trying to get back into my workout groove.  The biggest obstacle, diabetes wise, is trying to figure out a basal rate on my pump so that I'm not chugging juice after working out, consuming the same or more calories that I just burned off.  I'm done some looking around diabetes blogs and community forums to get some ideas.  One idea that has been pretty consistent is turning down my basal rate BEFORE I work out, roughly 30 minutes. 

I am on my company's softball team which usually has a game once a week, sometimes twice a week.  The typical routine is for our team to arrive at the field 30 minutes before the game starts.  We warm up our arms by throwing the ball to our partner starting about 10 feet away and increasing distances until our arms are close to jello.  Then, I make a run down the field to the outfield corner and back, warming up my legs.  I disconnect before we begin throwing, and after running I take a swig of my G2 (low calorie Gatorade) before the game starts.  I take my position at 1st or 2nd base, whichever one I'm assigned, and take a few grounders before the first pitch.  Then, for the next hour, I'm diabetes-free.  I run, I field, I bat, all without worrying about my pump or BG.  Some people may be asking, "Why don't you wear your pump during the game?"  Good question.  The answer:  This little device and all it's fixings is easily worth 5 digits of mula, and I'm not about to risk getting Arnold injured by a line drive to the hip.  He stays safely wrapped up in my bag, away from line drives and bats.

Once the game is over, I reconnect and test.  After my finished G2, I land around 140-150 mg/dL before making the drive home.  I feel good at this number, because if I were closer to 100 I would be worried about going low before I made it home.  I've found that my number keeps dropping after a workout, so landing 20 points above target immediately after the game is fine with me. 

I'm slowly trying to get back to a walking routine which leads to a running routine after about a month or so.  This workout is a little trickier because I'm constantly moving, unlike softball where I get to rest every inning.  When I started back on my walking routine, I was determined to try and figure out a basal rate so that I might actually burn some calories!

I started with simply setting by basal to 50% for our 30 minute walk around the neighborhood.  BG test after:  42.  FAIL!

The next day I tried going down to 25% for 30 minutes.  BG test after:  56.  FAIL!

Disconnect entirely for 30 minutes.  BG test after:  68.  FAIL!

At this point I am frustrated and do some researching (i.e. reading blogs and forums) about how to exercise and lose weight with a pump.  I found Gary's blog where he explained turning down his basal rate BEFORE running!  Hmmm, the concept made sense to me, because you essentially trick your body into thinking you've just eaten some carbs and raising your BG.  Then, you burn off what you just raised, hopefully landing around normal afterwards.

Tried decreasing basal down to 50% for 30 minutes before and disconnect entirely during walk.  BG test after:  86.  Hmmm, technically normal, but I know I'm dropping more.

Decrease basal down to 25% for 30 minutes before and disconnect for walk.  BG test after:  94.  Winner winner chicken dinner!  But, I know I'm still going to drop before dinner.  Hmmm . . .

New tactic:  take the decreased basal rate and spread it out over the time before workout and after.  Set basal to 10% for 1.5 hours, 30 minutes before walk.  Thus creating the raised BG before, bring down during walk, and let coast until dinner.  BG test after walk:  114.  Plenty of room before a low, and still at a decreased basal rate.

So far, this basal coasting seems to be working, but I'll get a better view of it once I get a CGM.  And I'm enjoying my walks with my pup so much more now without fear of going low or chugging juice when we get home.  I'm thinking about getting some of those nifty walking shoes that make your walking more intense, per my friend Jessica's inspiration.

 Does this ad make my butt look big?

I'm hoping one more week or two of walking will get me running again.  I run like a bull in a china shop, but I feel so great afterward.  And keeping up with a 60 lb lab/husky as my trainer should help.


  1. I just submitted a post about basal rate myself. My post is in regards to my 8 year old daughters pump, but I have been having a heck of a time figuring out a good basal. You and I have different reasons for the basal confusions, but the same frustration!
    I really enjoyed reading your post because I am a runner myself and I am always trying to figure out different ways a persom could control blood sugar while exercising. I assume she will be as active as I am and will need some guidance on how to stay safe so I already think about it for her. Your post was very interesting for me to read. Thanks
    my blog is

  2. I've tried the reduced basal rate too and it never works for me. So I recently tried something else....cutting my meal bolus in half and working out anywhere from 1 to 2 hours after I eat...worked on one day but not on the other. The difference? The intensity!!! If I work out more intensely I need more protein during the meal and I need to cut the bolus by 75%. Less intense (walk with hubby and baby) only 50%. Just a thought :-)

  3. Waterpark thought....what about leaving your pump site in and your pump on when not in the water. Keep checking your blood sugar (every hour or so) and if you are running too high bolus. Your activity will take care of a portion of your basal rates and you can correct if you need to. Have lots of snacks and food prepared...go high protein low carb if you are running high and if you are running low or right on track then you can eat higher carb (and only bolus for maybe half of your meal). Obviously this means you will have to wear your site in an easy access spot but it could work. Especially if you reconnect over lunch or when you take breaks etc. Just an idea :-)

  4. It's so great that you've found something that works. Intensity definitely matters, so you might have to tweak a little once you start running.

    Also, I definitely agree with Nicole that whatever leftover meal bolus you have running around during exercise will drive down your BG. Exercise in the morning (before food) is a lot different for me than in the afternoon or evening.

    Good luck! And I'm glad you're not letting your concerns get in the way!

  5. I was told by my endo and nurse educator to decrease basal to -50% for one hour and -30% for 3 hrs after the work out. I guess your sugar will continue to drop for approx. 4 hrs after a work out.

  6. @Nicole(again): Thanks for the input! I'll probably try something like that. The waterpark picnic isn't until June 11th, so I've got some time to prepare. And the park is open to just hubby's company for the day with free food & drink. So, snacks shouldn't be a problem, barring lines, of course. ;-) I'll certainly write a post about it later and let you know how it went.

  7. All right -- I'm stealing this idea.

    I get so frustrated when I walk my ass off and then have to eat when I get home.

    Thanks for being my guinea pig!

  8. @badpancreas: Ummm . . . you're welcome . . . I think? ;-)

    It's all good. Hope it helps you, too! =)


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DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, nurse, certified diabetes educator (CDE) or any medical professional of any kind. (But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express!) Therefore, please do not use any of my postings as medical fact. I am simply a blogger expressing my highs and lows (pun intended) with diabetes. For changes in your medication, exercise regiment, or diet please consult a qualified physician.

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My name is Holly and I live in north Alabama with my hubby, two cats, and a dog.