Amy’s T1D Adventure: Cancun – Relaxation, Recovery, & Resolutions

Beach in Cancun

[Here’s a guest post series from Amy McKinnon, a One Drop user and 27-year-old ex-advertising executive who recently swapped her NYC apartment for an oversized backpack to explore the streets of Latin America for six months. Amy has lived with type 1 diabetes for 15 years and tries her best to balance blood glucose levels, marathon training and a high-carb raw vegan diet. Now she has thrown travel into the mix. EDITOR’S NOTE: Amy is a performance athlete and consumes a high-carb diet. At One Drop, we believe that a low-carb approach to food reduces the risk of high and low blood glucose incidents and can effectively reduce blood glucose levels overall. However, we want to share a variety of personal experiences so we can all learn how other people live their lives with diabetes. Always consult your doctor before making changes to a prescribed regimen.]

When everything that’s “good for you” is bad for your T1D

One Drop blood glucose logI spent my first day in Cancun cuddled up with my travel teddy, still running to and from the bathroom, and wishing I was back home with my Dad and Stepmom to look after me. I so badly wanted to be home after Cuba, feeling sick and all alone. As much as I try to convince myself I can be 100% independent, it’s times like these I wish I had someone looking after me.

diabetes management

I managed to crawl out of bed and eat some fruit and have some tea at the hotel breakfast buffet. Fruit probably wasn’t the best choice for my stomach… Drowning my body in electrolytes and water I gathered the energy to take a walk, drop my laundry off, and buy a soup and salad for lunch. Even though Google was telling me I should stick to foods such as bread, savory crackers and rice, I knew those foods would raise my blood glucose, so I desperately tried to stay away from them. I didn’t want to have to deal with being sick PLUS high blood glucose levels. I had enough on my plate already and my diabetes was behaving.

… So breakfast and lunch didn’t sit well, and I gave in and had sushi for dinner while I lay in bed watching a recommendation on Netflix: Narcos, the documentary series based on Pablo Escobar’s rise to Colombian drug kingpin.

Exercise + Vegan Food + Spotify = Recovery

The next day, I was finally starting to feel better. Unexpected things happen when you travel, and as long as we are healthy and alive everything will be okay. I reminded myself of the privilege it was to have this travel opportunity — Cuba was just a bump in the road.

Having not exercised since I arrived in Cuba, my mind was dying for some sort of release. I went down to the gym and managed a slow 1.5 miles on the treadmill and some sit ups and squats. The adrenaline from exercising felt good even if my body didn’t totally agree with it.

Today was going to be an active day in general as I was moving hotels – most hotels in Cancun were fully booked considering it was peak tourist time and Christmas. Trying to find an available hotel was like trying to find a needle in a hay stack.

By lunchtime I wanted to walk, as my blood glucose levels were slightly high, and I enjoyed the freedom of being able to go where I wanted. I walked to a restaurant called Vegan Planet where I indulged in a spirulina juice, raw salad and lentil soup.

I also splurged on some chlorella tablets to detoxify the body. Chlorella, among many other nutrients, provides the body with ample amounts of chlorophyll which is naturally found in dark leafy greens. Chlorophyll boosts the immune system, detoxifies the blood, and I could tell my body was screaming for some nutrients.

On my way back, I swung by the supermarket to buy some fruit for Christmas Day — it was going to be a very fancy solo affair. I even bought kale and spinach – rare finds in Mexico!

As I relaxed for the afternoon, my blood glucose levels were coming back into range and I think that helped speed up my recovery. I even managed to sneak in some evening yoga poses to stretch and relax my body as I listened to Christmas tunes on Spotify. I was back to smiling and feeling grateful. I knew my Cuba experience wouldn’t defeat me.

vegan - diabetes

And Merry Christmas to me!

I woke up with a perfect blood glucose of 95, sent out some Christmas messages, and had a delicious breakfast of toast (my tummy was still upset) and fresh fruit. I went back to my spacious room and found a 55 minute yoga class on YouTube by my incredible New York yoga teacher, Elena Brower. Just hearing her voice bought back so many comforting memories and started my Christmas off right.

Even after a little exercise my blood glucose levels were high – that’s the consequence of eating processed carbs/white bread. After a correction dose and some meditation, I walked to locate some steamed rice to eat with my veggies for dinner and bring my blood glucose back in range.

Christmas came and went and it was time for me to change hotels AGAIN — thankfully for the last time before I headed to my next destination (Chiapas!). I was currently staying in the Hotel Zone in Cancun and expected to be swamped with tourists.

Before making my move, I fit in a nice outdoor run. Ahhhhh that feeling of running with the wind on your face and the hot Cancun sun making you drip with sweat — it felt good. Of course, I had a post-run high blood glucose. This battle seems never-ending with me. But I went for a long walk, and that always seems to do the trick to fix the post-cardio adrenaline-imposed insulin resistance.

Nike running logI didn’t plan on any tourist adventures or sightseeing during my time in Cancun — I wanted to focus on me and getting myself in good health before heading to Tuxtla, Chiapas, where I’d be staying with a local family. I needed to get me right, my diabetes in check, and then I could spend more energy socializing.

I was feeling like I was back in my groove of nourishing foods, exercise and relaxation.  Then dinnertime hit, and I was again having bad head spins whenever I stood up — a couple of times I was prepared to faint. I finished my evening with salty corn chips (not ideal, but I needed that salt) and some coconut water.

Thankful for the old, ready for the new

My last day in Cancun had finally arrived! I was ready for my next destination, excited to meet my new friend and his family and experience the real Mexican way of life. I expected it to be worlds apart from Cancun, which is straight outta Miami if you ask me.

I got in my last run and saw the beach for the first time. Yes, I know, I was in Cancun and didn’t even go to the beach. The thought of dealing with sand was enough to deter me…

I stocked up on snacks for tomorrow’s long travel day and ventured to my favorite cafe for a final hot chocolate, which when I sipped I realized was made with milk, not water. Yikes! No hot chocolate for me!
One Drop blood glucose log

My blood glucose had been on point all day until I decided to have Japanese for dinner, a.k.a. fried rice! How did I ever think that was going to be a good idea?

As 2016 was nearing, I sat in my hotel room and reflected on what an incredible year it had been — lots of ups and downs, incredible personal achievements, optimal health, and experiences that created lifelong memories.

I wrote a list of my New Years “resolutions,” making a conscious decision to focus on internal goals rather than external material ones. I’m proud of my list and thought I’d share with you. 2016 is the year to prosper in every area of life and I can’t wait.

2015, thank you.

  • Thank you for one of the most incredible years.
  • Thank you for opening up my eyes to see life in a way I had never seen it before.
  • Thank you for letting me share my heart, love is an incredible feeling.
  • Thank you for teaching me that kindness, love and internal happiness is all we need.
  • Thank you for all the travel opportunities, with more to come — seeing the world has given me a new perspective on life.
  • Thank you for showing me I can achieve anything I want when I believe in myself.
  • Thank you for sharing your sparkle with me in the simplest ways. I appreciate my life a million times more.
  • Thank you for giving me incredible health. I can’t explain how grateful I am for this.
  • Thank you for all the challenges. I needed them; they gave me strength, patience, gratitude and the lessons I needed to learn.
  • Thank you for leading me down my path. I know my journey has just begun and I can’t wait for it to continue.
  • Thank you for all the teachers who have shown me how to be the light. You know who you are and you inspire me everyday.
  • Thank you for my friends and family. I am the luckiest person to have you all in my life.

2015, thank you.
2016, I am ready for you.

Low carb breakfast recipe




Amy McKinnon
Amy McKinnon

Amy McKinnon is a One Drop user, marathoner, ex-advertising executive, and has lived with type 1 diabetes for 15 years. Amy is currently exploring the streets of Latin America for six months.