Finding Myself Again
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Being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes means so much more than just a diagnosis. I like to consider it a turning point. In fact, it isn’t the actual aspect of being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) that holds the most importance, but rather, the shedding of your old life, your old self, and entering a new journey that forces you to be stronger than you were before.
I remember the final and most alarming symptom that sent me over the edge into my type 1 journey: I lost 20 pounds in a matter of two weeks and as an avid gym goer, I could hardly believe what was happening. I love the feeling of pushing my body beyond its limits to become stronger and more suited for future endeavors in the fitness world. I was training five to six days a week and I began to feel like I was finally pushing past my plateau and seeing the progress I was looking for in the gym but then it happened: type 1 diabetes arrived and it set me back tremendously when it came to my fitness goals.
There is nothing worse than feeling like you cannot control what is happening to your body. After my diagnosis, I felt so weak and diminished. I had to start all over again, building not just my body but my mindset from the ground up. Staying consistent in the gym is difficult enough in the absence of diabetes but when you add this into the mix, it felt near impossible to ever get back to where I wanted to be.
I remember being so frustrated with myself. When was I going to make it through 15 minutes of any physical activity without my blood sugars plummeting? Why was I experiencing extreme fatigue during every lift? Would these post workout blood sugar spikes ever stop? All these questions were floating around in my head but the biggest questions was: when will I be me again?
My three biggest tips
- Patience. It seems like such a simple word but when you dedicated days on end to forming your body into what you want it to be and suddenly all that progress is lost in a matter of weeks, it can be frustrating. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and not recognizing the person I saw looking back at me. Though it was terrifying, it was my motivation and lit my fire when it came to getting back to where I was before. It didn’t happen overnight and it surely didn’t happen in the timeframe that I wanted it to but I am at a place now where I feel stronger than I did before my diagnosis. If patience does not come easy to you (don’t worry, it doesn’t come easy to me either) I am here to say it is worth it to keep working hard every day because you can be an even stronger person than you were before a setback.
- Separating your workouts from your diabetes. T1D is consuming. It is a full time job that you never get to take a vacation from. You can never call in sick or get your shift covered. You are making your medical decisions for yourself 24/7 and that gets exhausting. When it came to working out, I had to find a way to separate my diabetes from my workouts. Going to the gym is a therapeutic time for me, I dedicate at least one hour every day to solely being invested in my workouts. I tuned everything else out and just focused in on what makes me happy and what my goals are for that days workout. Of course you have to take care of a low or high blood sugar if it gets out of hand, but I give myself grace during my workout time and let the stress of managing my diabetes go. This was a hard tip to learn and it is something I am still working on but it wasn’t until I intentionally started doing this that I began to see the gains that I was yearning to see. My motto is always, “Work out like you don’t have a chronic disease with you every day.”
- Food is fuel. I am sure that all of us can agree that after diagnosis, food was a tricky thing. Learning how to count carbs and figure out how much insulin to give for certain foods can be very frustrating. It wasn’t until I started diligently writing down what foods worked for me or what foods sent my blood sugars into a frenzy that I started to have a sense of normalcy with my workouts. The tighter control I gained over my blood sugar, the more progress I saw in the gym. I think this process of finding what foods work for you is key to really preparing your body to be trained and conditioned like you would like it to be. Choosing wholesome carbs over processed carbs or making sure your protein intake is satisfactory to help fuel your body is crucial for bouncing back from being diagnosed with type 1.
Onward + upward
I am five months into this diabetic journey of mine and I can honestly and proudly say that I have regained my life back. My physique has far surpassed what it was when I was training before type 1 and I can contribute this to the fact that this diagnosis made me appreciate and utilize every second of my time I get to spend in the gym. I feel stronger both mentally and physically and I have type 1 to thank for that.
There are days where I do not want to have this disease but I try to put everything into perspective. I may not be the person I was pre-diagnosis but the person I am now has far surpassed the old me. It is a fight every day but it pushes you past your limits, past your comfort zone. It makes you change in ways that you may have never seen yourself changing. It is more than just a diagnosis, it is a turning point to being a better version of yourself every day.
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