If you know me or follow me on social media, you already know I geek out on learning more about the human body. I am a huge fan of technology and wearables as well as good old intuition. I don't believe we should all be following the same nutrition or workout plans. I think we should get back to basics with ourselves and honor our intuition. No one can tell you what is best for your body, only you can truly decide that - by listening to the cues your body gives you.
If you're new here, let me give you a brief back story.... My first back surgery was over 20 years ago. I had a laminectomy from a ruptured disc between L4 and L5. My neurologist was concerned about another disc (between L5 and S1), which he felt I would probably have to have surgery on in the next 5 years. During my recovery, I realized the way I was living my life was contributing to the degradation of my health and my spine. After the pain and frustration I experienced during this recovery, I made a decision to restore my health. In my spare time I started to read books and take classes to learn even more about anatomy and health. I knew I didn't want to have surgery again, so I was willing to do anything I could to change the health of my body.
Thankfully I turned my health around and didn't have any issues with the problematic disc until almost 20 years later. My MRI also showed 2 discs in my cervical spine that were herniated, but not bad enough yet to need surgery. Recovery from this surgery was much easier, but my body AND mindset changed after the second surgery.. Many of the things that used to work for me, wasn't working anymore. For the first time in 20 years, I wasn't motivated to workout. My depression I thought I had a handle on had come back with rage and sent me in a downward spiral like never before. My self care and hygiene was gone. When I did try to workout, I struggled with endurance, my strength had decreased significantly in the six months leading up to my surgery to the 2 months of recovery. I made a promise to myself after this surgery to stop pushing myself so hard, stop trying to be who I was, and to release the pressures I have put on myself. As much as I loved competing in body building, I was going to have to put a hold on it. I needed to pour my focus into my health, understand what has changed and do the work to honor my intuition.
I invested in a Whoop to learn more about body, my HRV, the impact of my daily strain, maximizing my sleep and how well I'm recovering. I have become so in tune with my body, I can just about predict what my recovery is going to be based off of my actions from the previous day. I was able to truly SEE what my body was feeling. I soon realized I was highly stressed, and that was having an insane impact on my entire life. I had gotten so good at masking, coping and even lying to myself, I had no idea the damage stress was having on my body until now.
Now this brings me to why I would voluntarily want to pay out of pocket to wear a CGM.....
For years, I have also been pricking my finger daily to test my blood glucose. This is how I taught myself what foods work best for me. I don't think we should follow cookie cutter plans. I think we are all so unique and different, we need to listen and tune into our own body and do what's best for us as an individual. I used to have extremely low blood glucose, causing many dizzy spells, but doctors said I was fine. This is what lead me to buying a blood glucose monitor, so I could learn how to not let it get so low - but that involves A LOT of finger pricking! I was able to keep it fairly stable around 70-90 mg/dL and not have tremendous spikes or drops. Over the years, I noticed my fasting blood glucose climbed from the high 70's to 100-110 mg/dL, sometimes even 115-120 mg/dL. Each finger prick only gives me a snap shot of what my blood glucose is, yet in the last 10 months I have never been able to get a reading below 95 mg/dL no matter what time I took a reading. Once you start going over 100 mg/dL, you are entering pre-diabetic territory and my family is plagued with diabetes, so I do have some concern. I started to hear about non-diabetics using a CGM a couple of years ago. It definitely caught my attention, but it was extremely expensive and really difficult to get as a non-diabetic. Since my numbers are "close enough" to 100 mg/dL and I "appear" healthy, no doctor will write me a prescription for a CGM. Here's the thing - just because my numbers are close enough to normal on paper, it's not MY normal. I feel different and my body is reacting differently. Things inside me are NOT normal. That's one of the downfalls with being so in tune with your body - you know when things are off, but no one believes you because on the surface level you look "normal".
A CGM is a continuous glucose monitor. Unlike a finger prick where you are testing actual blood glucose, a CGM uses a microfilament that is taking readings (about every 5 minutes) of your glucose levels in your interstitial tissues. You are able to see a live feed of how your nutrition, sleep and stress is impacting your glucose. CGM's are used by diabetics to monitor their glucose levels 24/7. Each device lasts 14 days, then you put on a new one. It's incredibly helpful to have insights after you eat and during sleep, as it gives you a better picture of what's going on inside your body. Some insurance companies cover CGMs for diabetics and even pre-diabetics. The thing is - slapping on a CGM won't do the work for you. You have to use the data it provides to make the necessary changes if you want to see a difference in your health. It's not magic, but the information it shares with you is GOLD!
CGMs are different from blood glucose monitors. Anyone can purchase a blood glucose monitor for their own personal use. I was introduced to them with my grandmother, I would help her prick her finger and she would sometimes let me do mine too. Think of a blood glucose monitor as a picture. It takes a quick snap shot of your glucose levels at that moment. A CGM is more like a video - a video that is always rolling.
I will make another blog post about the importance of keeping blood glucose stable, limiting spikes and drops and how it has a HUGE impact on your health. For now, just know it's a big deal and could be the insight I need to understand why my body is reacting the way it is right now. Could it explain why I am having random bouts insomnia, waking up at night, feeling like I have no energy, and struggling with my weight? I already know that poor sleep has a major impact on weight gain, as does stress. My guess is I am having drops and spikes in my blood glucose while I am sleeping. My other guess is it could be stress or cortisol related, this usually happens when I don't stick to my self care routine.
There are two US based companies that I am aware of that as a non-diabetic I could possibly get a CGM through. They are marketing it to people who are not diabetics that want to better understand the relationship between their health, nutrition and glucose levels. Unfortunately, I have been on a waitlist for one of them for several months now, so it doesn't look like that one is happening any time soon. As I was reading more about the second company, I found a company in Europe (where I live) that is geared more towards athletes and maximizing performance. All three of these are using the Freestyle Libre CGM, just running their own app software to collect and transmit the data to you. I chose to go with SuperSapiens, which is the company in the European market. Now I just had to wait until December when they launch!
UPDATE: It's here! Check out my next post in the series - putting on the CGM - https://www.susiebower.com/post/putting-on-a-cgm