Diabetes Alert Day: Secrets from a Health Coach and Competitive Power Lifter!

March 22 kicks off ADA’s Diabetes Alert Day, a one-day “wake-up” call asking the American public to take the Diabetes Risk Test to find out if they are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Alert Day kicks off ADA’s “Join the Million Challenge,” which runs through April 22 with the goal of rallying ONE MILLION people to take the Diabetes Risk Test.  

 In honor of Diabetes Alert Day, and my Dad who lived with Type 2 diabetes, I want to introduce Ginger Vieira, a health coach, writer, and diabetes expert at  www.Living-in-progress.com and author of her new book “Your Diabetes Science Experiment.” She’s lived with Type 1 diabetes and Celiac disease for 12 years. As an avid athlete, Ginger has set 15 records in drug-tested powerlifting with her best lifts being a 190 lb bench press, 265 lb squat, and a 308 lb deadlift.

I was introduced to Ginger by Loretta Jamar [@nurseloretta] because Ginger acted as a health coach to her teenage son struggling with his new diagnosis of diabetes.  He found Ginger’s YouTube videos much more interesting and helpful than the typical doctor or mommy “speak”!

Ginger’s Guest post:

100 years ago, living well with diabetes wasn’t an option. Today, a person living with diabetes can live a full life. We can play sports in school, go the prom, go to college, get married and have children. Today, we can have careers, set athletic records and win golden medals in the Olympics. Today, life for a person with this disease is almost limitless.

The only catch? You have to get your diagnosis and take full responsibility of your disease.

Unlike many other illnesses, the most common symptoms for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are hard to miss when you stack them all together: unusual thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, irritability, blurry vision, unexplained weight-loss, and extreme hunger.

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes also include frequent bladder and gum infections, cuts and bruises that are slow to heal, and tingling and numbness in your hands and feet.

The diagnosis in the hospital is the easiest part: a quick prick of your finger and a urine sample will tell your doctors whether or not you have diabetes.

Living with this disease every day is not easy and it’s not simple, but it’s absolutely possible to live well with diabetes.

The secret? The secret is to take on this diabetes as a new challenge that you will face every day.

Do you have to do it perfectly? No. In life with diabetes, “do the best you can” is your only goal.

Living with diabetes is about much more than just checking your blood sugar and taking your medication. It’s about being proactive, resilient, and determined.

When I see a high or low blood sugar on my meter, I step back and ask myself, “Okay, what happened here?” I’ve learned through my own endeavors in powerliftng, and in everyday life with this disease, that there is a reason behind every number. Some of those reasons, I have control over, and some I simply don’t. But understanding why my blood sugar was high or low prevents me from ever feeling guilty about my imperfections as a person with diabetes and helps me to prevent it from happening again.

Living with diabetes is also about paying attention to the small details, designing you own “controlled experiments” and taking responsibility for what is in your control!

One of the most challenging aspects of living with diabetes is trying to balance your blood sugar during exercise. When I first started focusing on competitive powerlifting, I knew I didn’t want that aspect of diabetes to get in my way and interfere with my progress.

What I learned, and wrote about in depth in Chapter 9 of my book, is that even if I wasn’t diabetic, I would absolutely eat carbohydrates and protein before exercising. As diabetics, we tend to resent that we “must” eat carbohydrates before exercise, but as an athlete, I know that it actually fuels my metabolism during my workout and increases my athletic performance! It’s crucial!

I also learned another secret–the best time of day for me to exercise without having to worry as much about my blood sugar…  It’s about exercising first thing in the morning on an empty stomach when your glycogen storages are empty because your body is forced to use fat for fuel and therefore your blood sugar won’t be reduced. This certainly isn’t something I made up or discovered, but it is very UNKNOWN in the diabetes community. Original promoters of this exercise approach are bodybuilders, but it is scientifically accurate and is something I practice DAILY. Learning about this physiological aspect of the human body has made using the stair-master much easier for me!

Living with diabetes, today, is about taking charge of your own health. 100 years ago, we didn’t have that option.        Today, I’m grateful that along with my diagnosis, came the ability to take control of this disease and live a great life.

Thank you Ginger! And don’t forget to check out her new book “Your Diabetes Science Experiment” and her awesome YouTube videos. My personal favorites: #12 My Diabetes Rant, #13 Insulin Is NOT A Cure, #16 Diabetes Burnout, #20 Your Diabetes Pizza Restaurant, #25 Diabetics Are Awesome!

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