Taking an Athlete’s Approach to Managing Diabetes
Last updated: April 2023
We know that type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that impacts how your body turns food into energy. There are also various health conditions that people with type 2 diabetes are at higher risk of developing, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and neuropathy.1
As a person with type 2 diabetes, I know that I need to consistently manage my blood sugar to prevent complications. While there's currently no cure for type 2 diabetes, there are many ways to manage it through lifestyle habits. Diabetes management aims to keep your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible.
Taking an athlete's approach to diabetes
As we all know, living with diabetes can be a challenge. Every day is a constant battle to the finish line. Keeping a solid handle on your type 2 diabetes management can help prevent or delay serious health problems associated with diabetes. Sometimes I like to take an athlete's approach to my daily diabetes management.
My career keeps me moving
As a professional sports photographer, I constantly move on the field's sidelines. My biggest challenge has been measuring my eating time and attempting to juggle or predict my blood sugar highs and lows to determine how much to eat.
Keeping the team in sync
Therefore, keeping my blood glucose in check is like Andy Reid keeping his Kansas City Chiefs in sync to win the "Big Game." Nevertheless, the body does what it needs to do when needed.
Overcoming the weight stigma associated with diabetes
I remember first being diagnosed with diabetes and wondering how to maintain it due to the stigma of being overweight, coming from a cultural background that places importance on eating.
When I got approved to work the sidelines, it was tough. After that, I remember my business partner coaching me through each day to keep my mind off of having diabetes.
Famous athletes also have diabetes
He looked at me and said, "You know there are athletes with diabetes as well, right? Not everybody who has diabetes is overweight."
That statement confirmed the same thing my diabetes specialists had said to me. I was surprised because I thought there was no way athletes could develop diabetes. After all, they stay in tip-top fitness.
Scrubbing the game tapes
After I got home and did some "game tape scrubbing," I learned the truth: many professional athletes have diabetes, both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Some of these athletes have been very successful despite their condition.
For example, Jay Cutler, a former NFL quarterback, has type 1 diabetes. Cutler was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 21 years old. Cutler has been a successful quarterback in the NFL and has played in several Pro Bowls.
Another example is Lauren Cox, a professional basketball player with type 1 diabetes. Cox was diagnosed with diabetes at 12 years old. Cox has been a successful basketball player in college and the WNBA. Like many others, they manage their diabetes by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and taking insulin.
Breaking the stigmas through sharing publicly
These are just a few examples of professional athletes who have diabetes. There are likely many more who have yet to make their condition public. Hopefully, one day I will get to talk diabetes with other athletes about their journey and struggles with diabetes.
Inspiring others to manage T2D
Professional athletes and many others who live with diabetes inspire many people. To any person newly diagnosed with diabetes: it is possible to live a long and healthy life with diabetes. And beyond that, it's possible to succeed in athletics!
Build your team and gain support from them
Just know that if you are new to the type 2 diabetes world, please understand there are communities locally and online like us who are here to be a beacon of light.
Keep in mind if you are living with diabetes, there are many things you can do to manage your condition. It would help to talk to your doctor or healthcare team about eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly. You should also be aware of diabetes signs and symptoms and how to treat them.
Understand that there are others, from athletes to celebrities, who all are battling the same fight. You are not alone.
This or That
Do you feel diabetes has an impact on your dating life or romantic relationships?
How often do you find yourself craving sweet snacks?