Workout Wednesday: Body Weight Video

In this second installment of postings about SweatBetes exercise videos for people with diabetes, Ginger Vieira and I talk about my first attempt at using the body weight video.

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I decided to start out with the body weight video. Silly me, I thought it might be easier because it doesn’t involve any extras like dumbbells. All I have to do is move my body. I combined it with 15 minutes on a stationary bike so I got both anaerobic and aerobic exercise.

Here are my data from my first Sweat-Betes body weight session:

  • Starting BG = 197, a little high 90 minutes after dinner but I felt okay
  • 20 minutes of body weight workout, completed one set of each of the four circuits and broke into a sweat
  • BG reading mid-way = 164, drank a big glass (12 oz.) of water
  • 15 minutes on the stationary bike in my target heart zone
  • Ending BG = 128, down 69 points! Drank another big glass of water

I felt a little light at the end of it. Not really light headed, but the muscles in my arms and legs felt a little loose. Also, since I exercised in the evening and not the heat of the day being sweaty wasn’t all that uncomfortable. The shower after sure felt good. 

Ginger and I talked about my exercise session afterward.

Corinna: I’m going to reveal my ignorance and ask what is a circuit and a set? What makes a circuit a circuit? Does it exercise all parts of the body or something?

Ginger: Great question! So a “set” is the number of times each exercise will be performed. A “rep” is the number of times an individual exercise will be performed in that set. (For example: 10 reps of push-ups in 1 set). But a “circuit” implies that instead of doing 3-4 sets right in a row of the same exercise, you’ll actually work your way through one set at a time of each exercise, and then cycle back through for another circuit and another circuit.

The reason for this is because, for a beginner, you want to give that muscle group time to recover before working it again. For a beginner exercise, if you asked them to do 3 or 4 sets of 10 lunges right in a row, the muscles used in a lunge would fatigue very quickly, and by the third set, you might barely be able to perform 3 lunges! By breaking it up into a circuit, the muscles you used during the lunges are able to recover while you work your upper body, then your abs, and by the time you get back to your lunges, you’ll be ready to do 10 again.

Circuits are also great for fat-loss because you can keep moving by working out different muscle groups, keeping your heart-rate up and limiting the amount of rest-time you need.

As a competitive powerlifter, however, I did not do circuits. Instead, I was working the same muscle group in the exact same exercise for several sets in a row with specific rest time. This is because my goal wasn’t fat-loss as a powerlifting, but instead just building raw mass and strength. So it all comes down to what your level of fitness and goals are!

Corinna: I think I probably managed to complete one set of each circuit in the time you went through two sets in the video. And I certainly didn’t do each of the exercises with the same extension as you did. Thank goodness for having a chair to hold onto during some of the exercises, especially the one where I had to balance on one leg and extent the other behind me.

If I’m not doing the exercises with the same range as in the video how do I know that I’m getting some benefit?

Ginger: A huge part of strength and fitness is being patient with your level of fitness at any given moment while always striving to improve. I’ve had years to practice these exercises and I’m fairly flexible from years of yoga, so it’s only natural that I can lunge or squat a little deeper, etc. But if you’d watched me do those exercise 6 years ago, I would’ve needed the help of a chair, too!

Balance, like you mentioned, is something builds with practice. In fact, these all build with practice! So your goal should be to be aware of what the full form of the exercise is and work your way gradually and safely over any period of time. You may find your balance skills and strength develop more quickly than your flexibility during a squat—that’s okay, everyone is different.

The last thing I want to mention on this, though, is that it’s always better to do fewer repetitions of an exercise for the sake of great form (not necessarily perfect form, but awareness and control over your body) versus having to sacrifice something in order to do a lot of repetitions. For example, I’d rather see someone do 5 awesome, steady lunges, than 15 lunges where they’re falling all over the floor and risking an injury.

Corinna: I absolutely could not do the side plank with a hip dip. Who makes up these names, anyway? Side plank with a hip dip. It sounds like an appetizer you’d order during happy hour. Anyway, any advice on how to start out with this or is there a different (read: easier) exercise I can do in its place?

Ginger: LOL – this is a funny question. Most exercises just have very explicit titles that are used throughout the fitness industry. I really didn’t make any of them up!

The solution for your hip-dip woes would be to simply skip the “dip” part and just focus on lifting your hip off the ground and holding a side-plank. Again, it comes down to being patient with your body and working your way gradually to building your strength!

A big part of what keeps people out of going to yoga classes, for example, is a fear of not being able to keep up with the class, but I can tell you as someone who was once a yogi-novice myself, you have to learn how to be okay with that and know that you’re not the only one whose a newbie. Everyone is learning at their own pace, and progress will be made when we accept where we’re currently at and focus on working towards where we want to go in our fitness!

Corinna: My plan for this week is to stick with the body weight routine. I’ll exercise every other day and post my data and thoughts here. I’m taking it a little slowly since I’m just starting out, am in terrible shape, and don’t want to injure myself. In other words, I want to push myself just not too much. Does that sound weird?

Ginger: Not at all! In fact, that sounds brilliant! If you and I were meeting in the gym for the first time and I was taking your through these exercises knowing that you hadn’t done much exercise lately, I would make sure to give you plenty of rest time (or press pause on the workout video!) and I might only have you do 1-2 circuits of any given workout, because inevitably, you’re going to be a little sore. Soreness is a combination result of the breakdown of muscles (which is a good thing, because they get stronger when they build themselves back up) and also simply from stretching the muscles in ways they haven’t probably been stretched in a long time!

The best thing to do for those sore muscles the following day (and maybe even 2-3 days after your first workout)? Go for a walk! Get the blood flowing and loosen the muscles up. And embrace the fact that you’re sore because you did something good for your body!

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I’ll be trying out the SweatBetes videos and checking in with Ginger over the next few weeks on TuDiabetes. Join the conversation at

If you want to get your own copy of the SweatBetes videos, they are available for download at the bargain price of $5. All proceeds go to support the Big Blue Test.