My 12 Health & Fitness Tools

After sharing my food/fitness/diabetes story, I want to talk about tools that helped me lose 25 lbs and get (more) fit over the past year. I am not some amazing physical specimen, but I hope that something here might work for you, too...

Sorry, but these are NOT sexy, high-tech solutions.

Quite the contrary; my tools are very simple:

  • Books (okay, I buy on Kindle, is that high tech for you?!?!)
  • Websites
  • A few physical gadgets

Yes, low-tech might be boring, but these things have been great reference materials and have kept me accountable. Which, in my opinion is the most important thing. Don't knock it if it works. 

**Included are several Amazon affiliate links (in gray) and buttons, which do not cost you anything additional if you choose to purchase, but we get a small percentage of the purchase price to help to support our travel and blogging activities. Thanks for your support!


"It Starts With Food" Book: This is where I started two years ago. Mind-blowing. Contains very detailed descriptions of what grains and sugar -in particular- do to your body and how to re-set your diet to reduce cravings and move in a healthier direction long-term. It's the basis for the Whole30 (of which I've completed 2) and Paleo programs.


"Well Fed" Cookbook: This is a cookbook spin-off of It Starts With Food (above). I was very excited for the first Well-Fed cookbook (there is also Well Fed 2 which I have not read). I cooked a lot of whole foods before starting to eat Paleo, but this had some great concepts for organization, shopping, meal planning and prep. 

If you are not accustomed to cooking whole foods, or are looking for ways to cook once or twice per week and create flexible meals for the rest of the week based off of your pre-prepared ingredients, this is a great place to start.

Now that I am doing more meal planning ---Imagine that! Me, plan ahead!?!?---and have less time to cook every day, these cookbooks are a great fit for my (our) lifestyle. Time for me to start reviewing and planning our recipes. I'm already using several recipes and concepts from the first book and I look forward to digging into Well Fed 2. 

Diabetes Solution Book: The Holy Grail. THE guidebook for Type 1 Diabetes management and low carb eating to control blood glucose levels. The author is an 81 year old medical doctor and engineer who has type 1 diabetes for the last 69 years. After suffering serious complications due to high blood glucose levels, he revolutionized diabetes self-care and developed the low carb eating plan for diabetes in the late 1960s to botain normal blood glucose levels (using himself as a test subject). Dr. Bernstein went to medical school at age 40 so he could teach others what he had already learned from his years as a diabetic, successfully reversing many of his long-term complications.

This book is incredible, but strict stuff. Not for the faint of heart but it works like nothing else I've read/seen/experienced to control blood glucose levels. 



I tried MyFitnessPal, SparkPeople, MyPlate by Livestrong and others but I prefer MyNetDiary w/ optional Diabetes App for the metric food inputs, more whole foods listed and the diabetes trackers. Integrates with Fitbit, Jawbone and Withings.  You can get the app for Ipad/Iphone for $10 on the iTunes store. is my favorite free yoga website where you can search through a variety of styles, class lengths and fitness levels to find the perfect at-home yoga class. Classes are all beautifully shot in a professional studio or gorgeous natural setting and the instructors are all seasoned professionals. You can also download your favorite classes for a small charge, which is perfect for when you can't stream video. 

A DIGITAL FOOD SCALE:  Simple, simple. Costs less than $15 and it's crucial for accurate inputs of non-processed foods into your online food tracker program (such as MyNetDiary, as listed above). You can get some cool bluetooth digital scales that connect to Ipad apps for automatic food tracking, but that is not where I am right now. Simple is fine, just make sure it has a "tare" function. This food scale on Amazon is similar to mine. 

A PEDOMETER (OR WEARABLE FITNESS TRACKER): I had a pedometer and really liked it. Then I shattered it on the tile floor when I forgot that it was clipped to my belt (damn tile floors!!).  I wanted a fitness tracker but it is too hard to get one to Argentina, and I'm cheap, so I've done without.

One thing that helped keep me on track with walking (my every-day workout) is to have a non-flexible walking schedule (I had to get my daughter to school every day).  If you need to see your numbers to stay accountable, get a pedometer at the least or a wearable fitness tracker that can sync to an online program such as....

MAPMYRUN / MAPMYWALK / MAPMYFITNESS: Using these programs can show you where you've gone, track your steps and keep you pushing forward. I love to see my maps and log a new entry (Yes, ahem.. I am SO analog and log the routes by hand after they are completed). You can also sync with all the major wearable fitness trackers to automate your fitness and connect with your friends to see how everyone is doing and stay accountable. Do you see this common accountability thread here?? ;) 

WHOLE30 WEBSITE: The companion to the Whole30 book and It Starts with Food (listed above). Positive online community in the forum, recipes, sample menus, shopping lists (including specialty lists, such as Vegetarian Whole30, GAPS Whole30 and Nightshade-free) and answers to all your questions/real-life situations when starting a Whole30 diet re-set or beginning a paleo eating plan. 

Dr. Richard K. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution Website: Additional information and online forum for Dr. Richard K Bernstein's plan for both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes management. Includes excerpts from his book, Diabetes Solution (mentioned above) and includes numerous supporting articles, research and patient testimonials. 

Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes UNIVERSITY on YouTube: Dr. Richard K. Bernstein's online resources, with an incredible amount of sort video sessions answering questions and addressing recommendations about his diet/blood glucose maintenance plan for the treatment of Diabetes.

TypeOneGrit Fan Page on Facebook:  Facebook page and FB online community for Type 1 Diabetics following Dr. Bernstein's recommendations for diet and optimal blood glucose control. This is the most strict of the Dr. Bernstein groups and dedicated to those trying t achieve A1c level in the low 5% and upper 4% range, in an attempt to reduce and reverse long-term diabetic complications through the maintenance of normal (non-diabetic) blood glucose levels. A closed group for Type 1 Diabetics (and parents of juvenile T1 diabetics) that requires vetting prior to acceptance. 

This group has been incredibly supportive and full of additional information about Dr. Bernstein's plan, along with recipes, research and real-world experiences. It's like family. 


So, yes, I might be SO 2005 in my technology here, but This works for me.  Please Leave a comment to share what works for you. 




Food, Fitness & Type 1 Diabetes: Lisa's Story

Food is a very personal thing. There is no one-size fits all in the real world and I'm convinced that what's right for one person may or may not be right for the rest of us. I also believe that if you've found something that might lead to self improvement, you need to give it a fair chance. If you've found something that works for you, you have to stick with it.

Easier said than done, I know.

I am not a nutritionist, a doctor, a fitness guru. I just want to share my story in the hopes that it might help someone out there find their own path. There are so many people looking, searching for answers. I hope to serve as a guide.

The Back Story:

Like most people, my relationship with food has been complicated and flexible (more like dancing and gyrating, but we'll get into that...)

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (I will refer to it as T1D) in late 2002. I had just turned 26. My mom and brother both have T1D, so I grew up around diabetes and didn't think it would affect my life too greatly. I knew it. I thought I understood it. I used insulin injections for a while, then switched to an insulin pump after a year. With the exception of two short stints on injections when I was traveling in recent years, I have used an insulin pump for the great majority of the last 13 years.

I was newly married and gained weight, as many newlyweds do. I remember huge glasses of orange juice, and matching my portions of pizza and Thai take-out with my husband. We were both chubby, but happy. I felt like I could eat anything and as long as I covered it with insulin and I did. My A1C levels were good, but I probably still produced some background insulin (appropriately called the "honeymoon period" after T1D diagnosis).

In order to gain control of our eating habits, we latched onto the South Beach Diet in 2005-ish and both lost weight. Portion control was key, along with the tough initiation period that broke your addiction to simple carbs.  The thing with South Beach is that you gradually re-introduce carbs and herein lies the downfall. 

Like most "diets" we slipped away from those better eating habits as the years passed.

Jump forward several years:

I had two beautiful baby girls, 4.5 years apart and although I lost all my pre-baby weight after my first pregnancy, my second wasn't so easy. I was at the heaviest (non-pregnant) that I had ever been, 175 lbs.

In late 2013, I had heard of Paleo eating and the Whole 30 and was trying to cut down on my carbohydrate intake to lose weight and gain better control of my T1D & blood glucose numbers. October 2013 I completed by first Whole 30 month and it changed my entire outlook on how I could feel. I started at about 173 lbs and lost about 10 lbs in a month. I felt amazing while not eating dairy or grains, but tons of protein, fruits and veggies.

Then came the holidays and a 6 week road-trip around Argentina in Feb 2014 with hours in the car and more restaurant eating than I care to admit (plus the tragic thinking of "Oh, I can have that. We're on vacation!!") The weight was back and what I had learned on the Whole 30 just months before went out the window.

Here's the visual evidence. This is hard to post: 

Feb 2014 - Our Road Trip through Argentina. Lisa at approx. 170 lbs

Feb 2014 - Our Road Trip through Argentina. Lisa at approx. 170 lbs

March 2014 was my second Whole 30 month and much harder than the first. It was also the start of daily exercise, bringing our youngest daughter to preschool everyday. I walked 5 km round trip, half of that pushing a jogging stroller along bumpy suburban sidewalks. I walked fast and felt strong. I felt great. The weight came off again and then some, totaling 23 lbs lost in a year.

March 2015- Lisa at approx 150 lbs 

March 2015- Lisa at approx 150 lbs 

I didn't care so much about the weight, though. I wanted to feel strong, fit and healthy.

Here it's July 2015. My daily walks with our youngest have ended as she started school with her sister, much closer to our home this past March. To make up for less time walking per day, I am taking 2 Pilates classes per week and trying to walk more on the weekends. I've also been looking for a yoga class nearby and have been exploring the concepts/motions of MovNat. Their motto "Be Strong To Be Useful". Who can argue with that??

Dr. Bernstein's Low Carb Diet for Diabetes Management: This past January, I re-discovered Dr. Bernstein's Book, "Diabetes Solution" after I bought it on Kindle last year.

Dr Bernstein is an 81-year-old Engineer (his first career) and Medical Doctor (he went to med school at age 40) that has had Type 1 Diabetes for the last 69 years. Dr. Bernstein has successfully reversed many of his own diabetic complications that came from years of high blood glucose levels following this diet that he advocates and discovered in the 1970s. He is currently practicing medicine in New York and accepting new patients.

I first read Dr. Bernstein's book in early 2014 and thought it was extreme and insane. It's an eating plan that is close to the Ketogenic diet, which has been used to treat Epilepsy since the early 1900's. Dr Bernstein's plan is close to what doctors prescribed to their patients at the discovery of insulin in the 1920's. It advocates very low carbohydrates to control diabetes blood glucose levels but even reverse the complications that high blood glucose levels produce. It is tough plan, with a limit of 30 grams of carbs per day, completely through vegetables, meat and dairy. No fruit. Higher fat than you'd imagine. Target blood glucose of 83 mg/dL. My target range is 70-95 mg/dL. 

So, with Dr. Bernstein's plan: 

  • Healthy fats/oils, eggs, red meat and dairy. YES!!!
  • Non-starchy vegetables. YES!!!
  • Nuts & seeds in limited quantities (depending on the type). YES!!!
  • Sugars (as in breads, crackers, pasta, rice, legumes, fruit, etc. -- because they are all turned into sugars in your body) ABSOLUTELY NO!

The first month was a difficult transition, but my blood glucose levels have been normal. Completely non-diabetic normal, with an  A1c of 4.4%. It had been so dramatic of a change that I don't know how I can give this up. I am not hungry, not feeling deprived and my T1D is completely under control. 

I am within a healthy weight range and BMI using all the recommended charts. (Based on some, my weight is still on the high end of recommended, others I fall right in the middle at 5'-10" and 150 lbs).

I feel great compared to the previous ups and downs of blood glucose levels that make a person feel tired, irritable and at times really foggy.

Do I feel less emotional, more clear headed, more ... ME?

I am happy to say.... YES!!!

March 2015-Lisa at approx. 150 lbs 

March 2015-Lisa at approx. 150 lbs 

** The next Health Post will discuss specific tools that I use and recommend to keep track of food and exercise. I'm not selling anything here, but there are things that work for me and keep me accountable on a daily basis.

A Steady Yoga Practice

I am happy to say that my yoga practice is back on track.

After practicing on and off for 5 years and then trying a few different classes here in Montevideo, I have found an instructor and class format that I really love.

Twice a week (I would love to do more) I am waking before my family to spend an hour and a half on my physical and spiritual connection through an incredibly supportive, nurturing yoga environment. In turn, I have gotten physically stronger, my practice has advanced in ways that I would have never previously imagined and I have an unquenchable thirst for more yoga knowledge. Not only a physical practice, I am inspired by the yogis I have met and read about. Of course, I have a long way to go on this yoga journey and I am, in fact just a beginner.

Brad also appreciates the time I devote to my yoga practice as I'm much more grounded and centered after I practice and in fact, I feel like I can be a better wife and mother as a result.

Another wonderful addition to the yoga practice is my increased knowledge of Spanish. I have learned Spanish words and phrases that I never would have ordinarily experienced without taking a class exclusively in Spanish. Between that and increased sanscrit knowledge, it is a language lesson as much as a yoga practice!

I look forward to yoga in Bariloche nearly as much as I do day-to-day life there. With the naturally beautiful environment comes and energy and a force that is perfectly paired with yoga.  As I imagine myself living in such a place, I cannot help but integrate my practice into the equation. T-2 weeks and we will be moving out of our house in Montevideo, with our flight out a few days thereafter. You can guess I'll have my yoga mat in hand.

If anyone wants the contact information for my fabulous current yoga instructor, Cecilia, please email me. The morning studio is very small (with a class max of 4 people) but she also teaches higher capacity evening classes at a nearby gym.