Party Animal Turned Physique Competitor


ally burdge 2I’ve been a person with type 1 diabetes for 18 years, which has had its ups and downs. My control over the last six years has been good due to exercise and nutrition education, but it wasn’t always that way. I was partying every weekend and it was ruining my mindset, my bank balance and most obviously my health. Drinking excessively was also getting me down. I wanted to make changes; I knew I needed to.

I decided then to become a personal trainer, coaching people on nutrition, exercise and life. I got into this business to try and help other people with diabetes become healthier and help control their lives better, like I had learned how to.

For the last nine years or so I have trained in gyms and been in decent shape, but I knew I wanted more focus and better results. I hired a coach and set my sights on a competition. I went from Monday to Friday trainer and part-time party animal to a serious physique competitor. Initially, I set 16 weeks of my life aside dieting, cutting out alcohol and working my back side off.

I stepped up my training: five weight training sessions a week, six hours of cardio a week and three to four abdominal sessions. With the intense workouts and change in nutrition, my weight dropped and I could see myself getting physically fit. I felt better too.

Even though I didn’t place in my show, it was an amazing experience. I loved showing that having diabetes doesn’t hold you back from anything. I also learned loads about myself and how to better control my diabetes.

You get so many different views on how to manage your diabetes, but I can tell you this first hand, I cycled carbohydrates from as high as 600 grams a day to as low as 100 grams. That’s right, some days I ate very little carbs. “Experts” and medical professionals gave me NHS (National Health Service of the United Kingdom) guidelines, but it’s the same as everything—find out what works for you.

We are all different as people with type 1 diabetes, but the most important thing is to have control of your diabetes with healthy eating habits and exercise. I’m now 6 kg heavier than my stage weight and have a slightly higher body fat. I roughly track my calories and still train consistently, but I can also still have a beer when I want. My control with my diabetes is 90 percent on the ball due to my change in lifestyle. Remember your health is your wealth. Diabetes doesn’t have to control you, your life is yours to live.

Have training questions? Ask Ally.

Read trainer Christel Oerum’s Start Working Out with T1D and check out our Drinking with Diabetes Chart.

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WRITTEN BY Ally Burdge, POSTED 06/07/16, UPDATED 09/28/22

Ally is a personal trainer, nutrition specialist and life coach. He enjoys helping others get in shape, feel better and most importantly, achieve their goals.