Diabetes has been a part of my life for 19 years. I don’t let it control my life and pretty much do all the normal activities just like any other person. Anyone with diabetes should live their lives to the fullest and never let it control your life. Of course I have setbacks just like anyone else but I also have success all while being a Type 1 Diabetic.
IN SCHOOL WITH DIABETES
My diagnosis with diabetes came at the age of 9. The most challenging aspect was eating snacks in front of my classmates all the time and testing my blood sugar. Many years went by with me feeling like I was different and not normal compared to others.
I was always active and became a very competitive athlete. Participating in sports in school really helped with my diabetes and reduced my body fat greatly. I started playing soccer, football, track and field, and basketball. I was 160 pounds when I was diagnosed with diabetes in 3rd grade and graduated high school around 170.
UNDERSTANDING AND ACCEPTING
During middle and high school years I developed a much greater understanding with my diabetes and how to control it better. Taking anywhere from 4-7 shots a day and testing my blood sugar 2-4 times a day are the most challenging aspects. When I was young I didn’t really understand what diabetes was or how to properly control it, but I eventually became more aware of how my body felt with high and low blood sugars, and taking shots at school became more comfortable and I started to feel like a normal teen.
I continued playing different types of sports in high school such as football and wrestling. High school sports made a great impact on my life in many ways. I found participating in something every season made managing my diabetes easier. We all know how important physical activity is for every person but it is especially important for anyone diagnosed with diabetes.
My first years of college was a major challenge with activity levels lowering. I gained about 60 pounds in less than 2 years and my nutrition was terrible. I continued to lift weights but did not watch what I was eating, and my blood sugar was out of control because of this. Fast food and alcohol consumption were regular occurrences. When I started focusing on nutrition more and burgers and beer less my weight decreased dramatically. Cutting out the fast food and reducing alcohol consumption was difficult but it really is the best choice.
COMPETING WITH DIABETES
I started lifting weights around the age of 13 and loved every moment of it and by age 21 I became more interested in bodybuilding. In 2011 I decided to compete in my first bodybuilding show that would take place in the spring of 2012.
Since then I have competed in 12 bodybuilding shows and earned my pro card in 2014, and won a pro show in 2015. I compete in natural bodybuilding that is fully drug tested.
Bodybuilding has helped me become very healthy and competing has also helped me to focus greatly on nutrition. Doing cardio year round also helps increase insulin sensitivity and take far less insulin. I encourage all diabetics to exercise to improve their health greatly. Running is my favorite form of cardio and I believe is a great form of stress relief. For more information read my article, Diabetes Management Through Bodybuilding.
MORE OF A BLESSING
Diabetes can be challenging. Low and high blood sugars can affect mood, training, and many other aspects of life. I would say though being diagnosed with diabetes is more of a blessing than a curse because I was forced to manage my nutrition from a young age and became a much healthier person. I always take my health very seriously more and more every year because of it.
Ryan grew up in Richland Center, Wisconsin, and graduated from UW-Platteville, majoring in Health and Human Performance. He is a certified personal trainer, and Pro Natural Bodybuilder. In his spare time he enjoys hunting, fishing, running, and exploring historical sites and state and county parks.
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