As anyone with type 1 diabetes already knows, managing exercising with type 1 diabetes is difficult. It presents many challenges that normal people with a functioning pancreas don’t have to worry about. Blood glucose levels that are too high or too low impair athletic performance and can also be extremely dangerous. Take too much insulin for a meal before a workout and you can end up with a low blood glucose level putting you at risk for blacking out or immediate death. Other times, you may end up with an adrenaline spike, which causes your liver to dump out a massive amount of glucose and can make your blood glucose levels skyrocket, causing damage to all your organs in the long term. This set of challenges can make exercising a very daunting experience for many type 1 diabetics and is why some may choose to avoid physical activity all-together.
In my experience, I sometimes don’t know what to expect. Some days my blood glucose levels drop and other days it can sky rocket. I know that with muscle building/strength training type of exercise, blood glucose levels tend to rise more rather than fall due to the stress on the body while with plain steady state cardio blood glucose levels tend to drop. Therefore, with my goal of building muscle mass, exercising can be a little bit scary at times. It gets hard to predict the adrenaline spike as sometimes it happens immediately after my workout or other times it happens much later. It is always a relief for me to not end up with a high blood glucose level as it can sometimes take a long time to come down or other times I take too much insulin to cover the spike and end up plummeting. It feels like I am walking on a tight rope and playing with fire at times. However, I cannot let this stop me from achieving my goals. The benefits of having more lean muscle mass for better blood glucose management (and just to have a healthier body) will be worth it in the long run. Plus, the fact that exercising makes me feel so much better and clear headed mentally and emotionally is always worth the constant micro-managing that has to go on before, during, and after exercising.
However, sometimes I do need a little bit of inspiration to keep going and pushing myself and this is when I go to the internet to look for motivation. These are a few type 1 diabetic athletes I have found that have been truly inspiring to me. They do intensive exercising and strength training and don’t let their diabetes stop them from achieving their goals. I cannot let T1D stop me from achieving my goals either. If they can do it, I can too.
- Chris Ruden
Chris Ruden is a powerlifter. He has a birth defect that left him with two fingers on his left hand and he also has type 1 diabetes. He lives his life under the motto: “limitations are self-imposed”. I found one of his videos a while after I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and was looking for some type 1 diabetic athletes for a bit of inspiration/motivation. I later saw that he was a member of the type 1 diabetes athletes facebook group that I joined a while back, which blew my mind. 🙂
2. Jay Maryniak
Jay Maryniak does crossfit and has type 1 diabetes. He is also a member of the facebook type 1 diabetes athletes group that I joined a while back. That is how I came across this first video of him. The first video is an amazing display of athletics (such a strong core, geez) while in the second video he talks a little bit about his type 1 diabetes diagnosis.
I hope this post helps anyone out there with type 1 diabetes find motivation to pursue their health and fitness goals. Although I am sure there are many other successful type 1 diabetic athletes out there to look up to, it is very hard to come across them. I hope this post helps spread the word about the type 1 diabetic athlete rock stars that are out there! 🙂