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Rise to the Challenge

Diabetes affects people of all ages, regardless of which type they have. Therefore, having some coping mechanisms is VERY important. Having diabetes can be a challenge, but you do not have to let it stop you.

My advice for those with type 2 diabetes

Learning to live with type 2 diabetes takes a new mindset and learning curve of "YOU". As a type 2 diabetic going on 4 years battling, I wanted to share steps I have implemented to last some "rounds" in the ring while living with diabetes.

Enter the draft

You can benefit greatly by becoming involved in the diabetes communities in your local area or even on social media. You'll learn that you're not alone and you'll probably pick up helpful information and tips, like getting an assist from Russel Westbrook. You'll also most likely learn about upcoming diabetes-related meetings and events in your area as well. One of the things I did was jump into a few Facebook groups about eating trends, food consumption, and beneficial foods. It was like entering the draft lottery.

By finding and connecting with others, it can be helpful for people who feel isolated because of their condition, or who feel limited because of their condition. Knowing there are others who understand makes a huge difference. When I found out I had type 2 diabetes, I was shocked and stunned - like I got hit on my blind side by a defensive linebacker. It took me a while to get up and dust myself off. BUT I DID! Talking to others who have been dealing with this disease longer than I have was very helpful. It's like having a mentor.

Form a team

Consider starting a diabetic support group if you don't already have one. You can set up a website or social networking site for members to stay in touch, and you can meet at your choice of venue, like Starbucks or church. You can also keep your group informed of events and organize outings, gatherings, and meetings. Think of it like forming your own All-Madden team. Everybody is here for one reason, TO WIN! When you have that group of like-minded individuals around, rooting and supporting, battling diabetes will feel like running out of that tunnel on game-day.

Take control, be your own team captain

Even though regular doctor's visits are crucial, people with type 2 diabetes are responsible for themselves on a daily basis. It is up to you to implement an exercise regimen and eat the right foods to manage your diabetes. You must learn to test your blood sugar and administer any necessary medications, and learn to trust your instinct when something doesn't feel right.

By learning these basics, you can lower your stress while living with diabetes. You have to hold YOURSELF accountable. Changing your eating habits with the right foods will lower your risk of high readings. And simply walking or exercising every day, works wonders. Find ways to make your new lifestyle change, FUN! Take control by using it as a way to try new foods and experience new things around you in your area. Be your own team captain.

Don't be too hard on yourself, learn some new plays

If you have type 2 diabetes, it can be easy to beat yourself up. It's almost like losing the conference playoff game. You go through the sea-saw of emotions of "what ifs". Lifestyle choices can impact type 2 diabetes, so you have to move forward and into a healthier lifestyle. As mentioned above, now you have to take control and make changes. Stressing over the diagnosis and worrying non-stop doesn't help, but hurts. Maintaining good stress levels is beneficial in managing your type 2 diabetes. I had to learn that the hard way. After I got out of my self-destructive dark place, I vowed to live a better and much more fulfilled life. Living with type 2 diabetes as an MLS/NFL Sports photographer, I use the field and sideline as my gym.

You shouldn't waste your time or energy worrying, yet enjoy your life by maintaining a better lifestyle. For me, I used this as a catalyst moment for self-improvement, and you should too. Treat this time like watching a game tape of your opponent. Study and research diabetes and your body. Find out what makes you run high and low and attack accordingly.

Break out that playbook

It is easier to stay on top of things when you have a plan. Like having a playbook to get the most out of meals, when attending or going out to eat. Check your numbers EVERY morning to give yourself a good starting point for the day. It's like an Olympic runner getting to the starting line knowing you have to pace yourself throughout the day. Keep a log of your meals and levels. This will help with maintaining your glucose. It's like having an iron-clad playbook that helps against your opponent (diabetes). If something is not working then you switch up the game plan like Coach Bill Belichick.

I hope what I have shared helps with maintaining sugar levels. I know it can be a challenge but keep running the plays with the notion of winning the game. If at the half, something is not working, then switch it up and adjust your attack. We in it to WIN IT!

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