The Law of Small Numbers and Applying it to Training

“Big inputs make big mistakes; small inputs make small mistakes.” from Dr. Bernstein’s book “Diabetes Solution” © 2007 by Richard K. Bernstein, M.D.

When I was first diagnosed, I had never heard of the “law of small numbers” and surprisingly, no one who was charged with teaching me about T1 ever mentioned it. Luckily, another diabetic let me borrow their copy of Dr. Bernstein’s book “Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars” which contained this important information. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it!

An example of how this is applied in diabetes is to keep your carbohydrates lower and you’ll need less insulin to cover. If you make a mistake (or your BG just isn’t cooperating), it’s a small mistake and shouldn’t need a lot of extra carbs or insulin to correct. Conversely, if you have a lot of carbs and get the ratio wrong, you end up needing either a lot of carbs or a lot of insulin to correct and could very well find yourself in a dangerous situation. 

When it comes to training, I apply the same mentality. I check my BG constantly and make small adjustments. For example, if I’m on a run and see my BG starting to drop, I’ll have a small amount of carbohydrate to keep myself in range. If I’m doing an intense workout, my BG may rise and I’ll dose a small amount of insulin. Every 15-20 minutes or so, I’ll check in and make small adjustments. As you learn your body, you can feel what your BG is doing and check less frequently.

In addition, the law of small numbers can also apply to the number of variables affecting your BG. A lower number of variables, means easier control. For example, if you don’t inject any insulin before a workout, you don’t have to worry about the effect of stacking insulin that could send you low during or after the workout. In the beginning, keeping your workouts shorter until you learn how each kind of workout will affect your BG can help as well. 

Sometimes you just need to think small to find success!

Additional Resources: The Laws of Small Numbers – Diabetes Solution from Dr. Bernstein’s book “Diabetes Solution” © 2007 by Richard K. Bernstein, M.D.

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*The content on this site is not intended to be medical advice. Always consult your doctor before beginning a fitness regimen or adjusting your diabetes management strategy.

Published by Jenny Nat

8 thoughts on “The Law of Small Numbers and Applying it to Training

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