Adventuring with Emily – by Emily Wilson

Emily Wilson is a Kiwi adventurer extraordinaire who recently completed a self-powered trip (cycling, hiking, pack-rafting) from the top of New Zealand’s North Island to the bottom of its South Island for Diabetes Awareness Month.

Beta Change is excited to celebrate amazing women with diabetes in honour of International Women’s Day 2018, and we are proud to feature a few of Emily’s backcountry prep techniques that she recently shared with us in this Global Postcard!

1. Packing 

I’ve got many things that I always take regardless of the terrain, length of the trip and activity: 

  • My two insulin pens and testing kit are a high priority;
  • Zinc or sunblock to protect my lips and nose from the sun, wind or snow; 
  • Good quality wool socks like icebreaker socks, gotta keep the feet in tip-top shape; 
  • 1 or 2 emergency sport gels (I personally hate the things but they work well if I’m having a big low, which is very rare, thank goodness!) 

2. Planning

I’m always analysing what I could do better and more efficiently with my diabetes on adventures and racing so I can get the best out of my body. I record my activity, everything I eat, how much insulin I’ve given and my levels in a little notebook so I can reflect on the timing of my doses, the ratios, and what food has worked. 

I’ve always been really dynamic and flexible with my approach to my diabetes and in everyday life, but especially when it comes to multi-day, multi-disciplinary adventures in the backcountry. It’s only through [food, insulin, and BG] recordings and being really in tune that I can pick up on patterns and make the necessary adjustments.

However, because my trips are always different, it’s hard to say whether one approach that worked in the past will work again. 

In general, I eat slow-burning whole foods, although oftentimes this kind of food just won’t last in the heat or weighs too much – so I end up eating more fast-acting or high-GI carbohydrates than I’d like! I increase my basal insulin and drop my NovoRapid when I’m out there. My overall insulin requirements drop over subsequent days.

3. Preparing for the Return

I always come back from an adventure or trip feeling really joyful and blissfully tired! Sometimes it’s hard to enter reality again and it is even harder when you are tired. If I’ve had to eat some food I’m not used to while on the trip, then I can have high blood sugars for a few days after – which doesn’t help either. I’m usually able to rationalise whatever negatives might enter my head when I’m being hard on myself!

I like to do breathing exercises, like yoga and stretching. I always have good conversations with friends and I’m just really appreciative that I can get out and do what I love. 

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