We can’t live without our kidneys. Luckily, we are born with two, and if one goes on an extended vacation the other can step up and do the job, but without both, we’re toast. The kidneys are responsible for filtering our blood and getting rid of all the harmful waste materials from the many daily processes our cells undergo. Urine is essentially filtered blood. When you drink fluid containing water, the water adds to your blood volume and your kidney adjusts how much is filtered to maintain a consistent blood pressure. That is why drinking a lot makes you go to the bathroom. Also, it’s why dehydration is so bad for you. Your body needs to get rid of waste in the blood, but it can’t continue taking from the blood volume without anything to replace it (water).
Planning a getaway can often be a stressful endeavor that requires a lot of time and careful coordination. While piecing together the logistics of travel is one thing, we worry that taking a trip also means taking a break but from our normal, healthy routines. Sometimes we find that when we take time off from our day-to-day lives, the “vacation” mentality takes over completely: we eat too much, we drink too much, and we potentially let our healthy habits slide. However, taking the time to travel and break routines is necessary, and can be done without the added stress of disrupting your healthy lifestyle.
Next time you’re traveling, try these simple tricks to help stay on track:
Plan ahead: Nothing revives the mind, body, and soul like getting in touch with nature. Outdoor activities are often readily available and tend to be either free or low cost. Do some research about the terrain you will be on and contact your hotel’s concierge to arrange travel options to and from your activities. If working out outside is not an option where you are going, call a local gym and ask about their visitation policies. If you have everything figured out before you arrive, you’ll be much more likely to actually DO something once you get there.
Eat smarter: Make reservations ahead of time at restaurants that cater to your dietary needs. Once you have it on your itinerary, you can plan your day around it and not risk eating badly because of poor planning. Confirm with the hotel that there will be a refrigerator in the room, then commit to having the first stop on your trip be to the grocery store or local market. If you do not have access to a refrigerator, no excuses! Prepare for the busy day ahead by purchasing food to take with you each morning. Healthy snacks such as fruits and nuts will prevent that low-sugar crash and will carry you through to your next healthy meal.
Hydrate: Dehydration can lead to low energy and feelings of hunger, both of which will hinder your ability to stay on a focused regimen. You are going to get busy and you are going to be out of your element, but this does not mean you have to be thirsty. Bring a reusable bottle with you wherever you go and get into the habit of keeping it filled. Drink a glass of water as soon as you sit down at your table for a meal. Staying hydrated makes all the difference when it comes to healthy living, so there is never a reasonable excuse to let it slide just because you’re on vacation.
Let someone else do it for you: Whether your passion is ocean kayaking or mountain retreats, there are many organizations around the world that offer group trips. Spending a little extra cash to join a group activity takes some of the “thinking” out of it, and might be just what you need to guarantee a successful trip. With someone to guide you, you are sure to come back better, faster, and stronger than before you left.
Most importantly, allow yourself to have fun. Making the extra effort to prepare for your trip will go a long way. With a solid plan in place, you’ll feel healthy, energized and ready to take full advantage of your well-deserved vacation!
Ty Texidor is a San Francisco based CrossFit competitor and personal trainer, specializing in rehabilitation, sports specificity, and CrossFit style programming. She graduated with honors in 2001 with a degree in Sports Medicine, and carries numerous certifications in the field. In 2012, she and her partner founded Destino Retreats, a company that provides hassle-free CrossFit style vacations in various locations around the world.
Many patients with diabetes focus a great deal of their energy on controlling their blood sugar levels. This is important, but is only one of the important goals of an overall treatment plan for a diabetic patient. The major long term problems related to type 2 diabetes are related to the cardiovascular system, and include heart attacks, strokes and peripheral artery disease. There is a large body of evidence that supports aggressive control of blood pressure and cholesterol as well as smoking cessation as factors at least as important as blood sugar control in the prevention or delay of development of these diabetes complications.
Smoking cessation: Quitting smoking may be the most important of all the things you can do as a diabetic to prevent cardiovascular complications. Your risk of these problems goes down dramatically and quickly after quitting, so work with your physician to find a way to quit.
Optimal Blood Pressure Control: For patients with diabetes the goal blood pressure is lower than in the non-diabetic patient, and many if not most patients require a blood pressure medication to achieve the typical goal blood pressure of >120/80. The blood pressure medications in the class called ACE inhibitors or ARBs have the added benefit of protecting the kidney function, and are often the first choice of blood pressure medication for diabetic patients. Many patients will require a combination of 2 or more blood pressure medications to achieve their goal numbers.
Cholesterol Control: Diet, exercise and achieving optimal weight are important in keeping the LDL cholesterol at the goal for diabetic patients of <100, with ideal LDL <70. With goals this low most patients require treatment with a statin class of medication to get to goal. Good news is that most of these drugs are now available as generics at very affordable prices and they are very effective at lowering LDL cholesterol.
Blood Sugar Control: I list this last on purpose. Although it is important to keep blood sugars in control, it can be among the most difficult aspects of diabetes management for many patients. Getting the HbA1C, which measures blood sugar levels over the last month, under 8% is very important, and goal for many patients is <6.5%, but this is not more important than the control of blood pressure and LDL cholesterol which may be easier to achieve.
Be sure to discuss with your physician your progress towards all of these important aspects of diabetes care, and work with them to be sure you don’t neglect any of these issues.