Chilly Feet and Warm Boxes!

Ann Bartlett Health Guide
  • As I’m sitting here thinking about what to write, it occurred to me that it’s cold outside and I have two fires going in my home. I’m parked in the dining room chair gazing at the crackling fire for thought of what to write and cold weather thoughts enter my mind.

    As a kid growing up in a suburb of Philadelphia, winter was fun, sledding down mountain roads, riding horseback in fresh snow, sleigh rides, cross-country skiing. They are some of my most vivid memories. But do I remember being cold and in particular my hands and feet? I worked at the barn in the freezing temperatures, but I don’t remember being cold… How could raw temperatures in the teens escape my memory? The reason, of course, is energy output!!

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    My basal temperature is lower than average. My husband laughs at me because I run in long sleeves and tights until it hits 75 degrees! I’m never in the cold standing… well, maybe once, helping sell Christmas trees at my step son’s HS cross country fundraiser. And yes I chattered prices to everyone! Were my feet cold? Yes and my hands and even my stomach when I tried to find somewhere to warm my hands! I got home and jumped into the hot tub and then itched for an hour as the circulation moved thru the tiny capillaries easing my feeling of cold! But for the most part, I’m high-energy output once outside.

    Two years ago, I went snowshoeing with friends in Stowe, Vermont. For my friend Mary Anne and her husband Bob, sub zero temperatures were thoughts to dress appropriately, but never hesitation…. “Layer a jacket over the vest when the thermometer reads minus 22 degrees.” For me, I was looking plump! But after we got moving I shed everything but my pants, gloves, and polypropylene shirt. Even my hat was shoved into my backpack! I love that feeling of exertion! It teaches me about myself; builds confidence in what I can do and it offers insight into my limitations.

    People who live with diabetes are not generally cold weather cats! I’ve been diabetic for 37 years. Diagnosed when I was 5, the science and understanding behind the disease was a progress in work. My father, who had a heart of gold, thoughtfully listened to what the doctors said, “Her feet will get cold easily” and decided I would be plagued with circulation issues. So he and I had a ritual of rubbing my feet, which I must admit was so relaxing and comforting!

    My mother was just the opposite. I can never remember a time when she was barefoot. She was always clad in extra warm slippers and all of her children subsequently wore slippers! To her, cold feet were less about diabetes and more about heredity! Her approach to cold weather; she promptly threw me out in the snow and said, “Have fun!” And I did for hours!

    These days, I think I handle my circulation with just the right amount of integrated wellness. My formula, since childhood is to keep the feet warm at all times, exercise enough to push the heart rate up and integrate massage and non- traditional forms of healing!

  • One of the many reasons I’m a massage therapist is because I’m dedicated to my own health and I need to be! What my endocrinologist hates most is that I manage well with mix of traditional and non-traditional methods. The reason, they don’t like it, is most don’t understand it. Well, sometimes I don’t either, but if it helps it’s clearly not hurting. From my position, every person living with diabetes should make a regular appointment for massage, figure it in to the budget like any other “must do”. It increases circulation, promotes relaxation, increases cellular metabolism, improves sleep and raises healthy body awareness. An experienced massage therapist can make a difference in how you feel!

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    Other integrated ideas that I use are saunas. My husband loves hot tubs, but over the years I’ve found that a regular sauna helps increase blood flow and cleanses the skin. Saunas offer many benefits. I sleep better, feel relaxed and skin tone feels softer. Often, I find my blood glucose levels are lower the following day. Research says that the difference between a sauna and a hot tub is that saunas raise the core temperature insignificantly compared to hot tubs. Therefore it’s heating the skin and increasing the circulation and the organs of the body remain unaffected by the heat. As people who suffer from malfunctioning endocrine systems, our organs have to process unwanted materials and we tend to accumulate more because we can’t always process “daily life” well. By sitting in a sauna our skin can shed some of this unwanted material more effectively then waiting for it to process through our often overburdened kidneys and liver.

    Some tips before a sauna, drink plenty of water! I usually don’t get in unless I have a 33 oz bottle in my belly and I continue to drink following to ensure I stay hydrated and happy! Don’t go in if you feel the onset of any cold or flu. Check with your doctor first before hoping into a sauna, and if you are unfamiliar with saunas look for information before dismissing the idea. For more information:

Published On: January 26, 2007