Photography As Fitness

Photography As Fitness

Since January, I’ve been working on a modest fitness goal: lose 10 pounds and start working out regularly again.

So far, so good. I’m down eight pounds, thanks to a combination of healthy eating and exercise, and I hope to reach my goal before the holidays (when I’ll really need to work on my discipline!).

Part of the program involves photography. Landscape, nature, and street photographers already know this, but including photography in your fitness plan is easy. You walk, you shoot, you get some fresh air – each thing reinforces the other. Heading out to shoot is a great excuse to get some exercise.

So that’s what I’ve done. I’ve made it a point to head out, especially during my lunch hours at work, and take a long walk, camera in tow.

The result has been a ton of new street photography experiments. Getting out and exploring Ann Arbor has been a lot of fun. And after a summer of getting outside, I’m really noticing the benefits.

A few tips:

  • Take your lunch hour and get outside. It’s your time!
  • Pick a new route to walk each day. This one’s easy for me, since I’m working in a new city, but note some new neighborhoods or parts of the city you haven’t been to, and go see those.
  • Your camera’s charged or loaded with film, right?
  • Start a project, and look to these walks as a way to accomplish it.
  • Walk at least once a week. After a while, you’ll look for excuses to do it more often.

Win-win, right? Fresh air, slimmer waistline, and an excuse to make photographs.

Something To Digest

A true test of any fitness level is the paczki, a Polish doughnut usually eaten in America on Fat Tuesday. They’re a big hit around Michigan, Toledo, and areas of high Polish-population density. And they’re delicious.

My test came after I devoured my paczki on Tuesday. Because I’m diabetic, I have to be careful about eating carbohydrates. My body doesn’t produce insulin on its own, so if I eat more than my insulin injection can handle, my bloodsugar spikes drastically. Tuesday, post-paczki, this didn’t happen.

To top it off, I also had a sizable breakfast at Rotary: eggs, bacon, and a few pancakes with strawberry jam, plus the usual orange juice and coffee combo.

By all accounts, my insulin shot should have only covered my egg-and-pancake meal. After the paczki hit my stomach, my body would have searched for any leftover insulin to cover the pastry bomb. Finding none, it should have spiked my bloodsugar, turning my plasma into a system-wide poison.

Again, this didn’t happen. When I check my bloodsugar levels before lunch, my machine read “108.” Normal bloodsugar for diabetics is anywhere from 80-120. Mine was perfect.

I can explain this in two ways. First, on my own, I’ve started to adjust my insulin medication to fit the meals I eat. If I eat less carbs for breakfast, I take less insulin after breakfast. If I eat a lunch full of carbs, I take a bit of extra insulin. My bloodsugar level also gets factored in: high bloodsugar equals a bit of extra insulin to take care of it. There’s some math involved, but it’s not too complicated.

Except now, through trial and error, I’ve figured out how much insulin I need when I eat, say, a salad-and-fruit dinner. My bloodsugar has dipped a few times when I took too much insulin after such a meal, but I’ve learned from those experiences. Now my adjustments are much more accurate, and my bloodsugar remains stable.

Before, I would have to eat enough carbs to cover the insulin I took after my meal. I had a set level of insulin I would take after every meal, so if I didn’t eat enough my bloodsugar would crash. Now, I don’t have that problem. I can eat what I want, and adjust the insulin – not the other way around.

That’s number one. Number two is, with my gym membership, I’ve had to adjust my insulin around my meals. Since my metabolism is running pretty steadily these days, any insulin I took would have a bigger affect. When your body is more efficient at burning calories, you need less insulin to make up the difference. This is why healthy people don’t become Type 2 diabetics.

Which makes something really obvious: the body is a wonderful, remarkable machine. This plus this equals that. Excercise plus insulin equals flexibility.

And flexibility is something I haven’t had with my diet in a long, long time.

So when that paczki was finished digesting, I had enough insulin and enough metabolism to cover the beast. Instead of taking more insulin at lunch to cover lunch and the paczki, I only had to worry about lunch. And since I had chili and an apple for lunch, I had even less carbs in my system.

This, friends, is progress. It’s a system that has helped me prevent a lot of the high-and-low swings that are epidemic among Type 1 diabetics. Because my bloodsugar doesn’t crash after I take my insulin, I don’t eat as much – and because I don’t eat as much, I can take less insulin. In fact, if I could subsist on plain vegetables, I might not need to take insulin at all.

But let’s not get crazy, here. I love paczki and fruit and bread too much to let that go. So I’ll work with the system.

And, these days, the system is working great.