As a Type 1 of 25 years whose mission in life and chosen career is empowering others living with diabetes to live out their passions and not let diabetes stop them, I love to share the stories of other inspirational diabetics who are doing just that. Rodney Miller was diagnosed with diabetes in 1987 when he was 4 years old, and spent two weeks in a coma due to severe DKA. He grew up on a cattle ranch in southern Oklahoma where diabetes was simply a part of his life like any other. No big deal was made of it, he was treated no differently for it, and he was told that he could do anything he wanted.
The Beginning of Bodybuilding
Over the next 20 years, Rodney struggled to keep his blood sugars in a healthy range. They were erratic, his body was weak, he was overweight, and now he had a wife that he loved deeply and a baby on the way. Being a father and wanting to see his child grow into adulthood was Rodney’s catalyst for immediate and drastic change. He knew that losing weight would help with blood sugar control, so he decided to join a local gym and work with a personal trainer. Quickly after that, Rodney became fascinated by bodybuilding. With almost no prior exercise background, he set a goal to build muscle and learn all that he could about nutrition in order to prepare for a bodybuilding competition.
From Struggle to Strongman
Due to his dedication and consistency, Rodney managed to transform his body. He dropped his body fat from 32% to 18%! However, it became apparent to him that he was not built with the right proportions for his original goal of competing in bodybuilding. Feeling at a loss, he entered the gym one night and found a flyer for a powerlifting meet. He thought to himself, “I already enjoy doing these lifts and going heavy, so why not jump in and compete?”
Just like that, with very little training, Rodney competed at 210 pounds and won second place in the deadlift and first place in the bench press. He discovered that he truly enjoyed competing, and all the training and nutrition changes had greatly improved his blood glucose control. His body was fitter, stronger and less prone to illness.
To date, Rodney has competed in eight different strongman competitions. Last year he was able to deadlift a car to help raise money for diabetes awareness. He also lifts atlas stones, throws kegs, and pulls firetrucks, semi-trucks and more! “It has been extremely fulfilling showing diabetics everywhere that it doesn’t have to define who we are — I am a strongman first and a diabetic second.” Rodney is also an admin for the Type 1 Diabetic Athletes Facebook group, which is an incredible wealth of knowledge, advice, support and acceptance.
Bolus and Barbells and Beyond
Now Rodney’s passion has inspired him to take things to the next level. He put together an incredible live event called Bolus and Barbells taking place on June 11, 2016 in Austin, Texas that will be the first of its kind: a Type 1 diabetic meet up with peer speakers/athletes that all have Type 1. In addition to that, there will be several lifting events throughout the day. Attendees will train and engage with people who KNOW what we go through in the day-to-day life of living with Type 1.
I asked Rodney what Bolus and Barbells means to him. “Bolus and Barbells combines my love of fitness with my devotion to Type one advocacy,” he explained. “I want to reach as many Type 1 diabetics as possible, and give them the information and support to achieve understanding of their condition so they can reach any goal they desire. The support from the diabetes community has been astounding. Everyone recognizes that this type of support doesn’t yet exist, and we are filling a desperately needed void.”
I’m beyond grateful to call Rodney a good friend. He is one of the most genuine, caring, kind, generous, passionate people I know. He does everything from the heart, with the intention to be of service and add value to the diabetes community and his breadth of knowledge when it comes to nutrition and fitness as it relates to Type 1 diabetes is astounding. For more information on attending or supporting Bolus and Barbells, visit the website at www.bolusandbarbells.com or send Rodney an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.