From start to finish

150km + with type 1 diabetes. The MS Bike Tour from London to Grand Bend wrap-up

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“Nice behind. Hey I can say that without getting into trouble!”

I heard that more than once with my fake and dimply plastic butt attached to well… my real butt.

Team name: Butt Ugly (get it?)

Event: MS Bike Tour from Grand Bend to London, Ontario, Canada  (in support of Multiple Sclerosis)

Distance: around 160 km total. 85 km on day 1, 75km on day 2.

Accentuating the positives

  • Learned more about MS, how it changes people’s lives and why it’s such a worthy cause to support.
  • Re-discovered that my parent’s friend lives with MS. Although I cannot remember what she looks like, I thought of her often during the ride and it pushed me through some tough spots.
  • Successfully completed the tour feeling happy & confident.
  • No lows (for me this is a big deal as I’ve been battling lows while training for a while).
  • Somehow I managed to stay in between 4-8ish (mmol) for the entire two days. This is in large part due to the well-spaced rest stops which provided ample food & drinks of all sorts. At almost every stop I filled up on Gatorade to sip slowly as I rode, ate PB & J sandwiches and wraps.
  • Hydration win. I drank ample water and other liquids. When the weather isn’t super sunny I find it easy to slip on continually rehydrating. This time around I really made it a priority and it helped.

Lessons learned & other notes

  • Train. This season has been severely disorganized and 100 per cent my fault. Next year I will be more prepared, and will do back to back training rides so I’ll be in better form. I did one 100km bike ride (my longest distance prior to event day) and that was about it. Definitely not enough.
  • Test often. Each day I tested about 15-20 times. I’m glad I poked as much as I did because my bg’s would have been very low had I not remedied the situation.
  • Near bedtime I was around 4mmol so I drank an entire can of pop (not recommended) and I ended up floating around 6 or 7. It was a really weird experience and it made me realize just how badly my bg’s dip when doing long distance.

And the most important victory…

I tested my bg’s while riding! Last year I kept trying and with no success. I would either fall, the test strip would fly somewhere or my meter would be on the road.

While riding with my friend I told her, “I’m going to try, I’m determined to do this.” With a little sweat I pulled it off and we celebrated together. It’s amazing to have such supportive friends.

After day 2 of the ride I still lowered my insulin levels by about 50% but by the day after that, I was back to normal.

Here’s what one of our teammates did to her bike. She arrived before us and we found her bike sound asleep by the time we got in.

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A big congrats to fellow t1d athlete Stephanie Brodie who also took part in the event! I had no idea she was there until after the fact. There’s also a great Connected in Motion indoor spin event that will be led by Stephanie, a certified RPM instructor.

It’s good to be back and if you have any other questions don’t hesitate to ask.

J

 

 

Seen on my run after my NTC class.

How do diabetics work in the diabetes field?

As many of you know, I am on a bit of a hiatus from this site and all social media outlets related to t1dactiveliving.

Firstly, thank you for all of your encouraging messages. They have been so wonderful to read and hear in person.

This time has been the most beneficial for me in terms of my sanity. Overwhelmed, stressed, over-worked. It was getting ugly.

I popped in from time to time to see what was happening but for the most part, I have been in my blissful world of relaxation.

Revelations from my time away

Most diabetics who do some type of work in the diabetes field (whether it be for a diabetes publication, dblog, drug or pump company) do need time apart and burn out.

I felt very alone and guilty for taking time away, but I was quickly greeted by others out there telling me that they’ve been there too. Maybe some of them can’t say how draining it can be to be immersed in diabetes for so much of the day (talking about it, reading about it etc.) but I can.

It’s so liberating to be able to write whatever I want on this blog, so I will say this: It is damn hard to be diabetic and work in the diabetes field.

My belief

If you don’t find it difficult at all, you are in denial or don’t really see how much of yourself that you sacrifice. Maybe it’s a job that pays well, a passion for advocacy in some way or something else. Either way, it takes something out of you.

No matter what your reason for working in the diabetes field, you give a part of yourself.

To all those that do what you do…thank you. It takes skill, will power and strength to keep going day after day, on top of everything else.

Lots of love,

J

With permission from Team LivingVertical

Q&A with LivingVertical founder Stephen Richert

With permission from Team LivingVertical

LivingVertical founder Steve Richert climbing in Coopers Rock, VW. | With permission from Team LivingVertical |

Climb your way to the top.

Literally.

Steve with his wife Stephanie and their newborn baby. | With permission from Team LivingVertical |

Steve with his wife Stefanie and their newborn baby. | With permission from Team LivingVertical |

Steve Richert founded Living Vertical in August 2011. His website says LivingVertical was born, “to create and promote a ‘new normal’ of life with diabetes by showing PWD (People with diabetes) taking on extraordinary feats in the vertical world. We are committed to changing the perception of diabetes and its limitations through our Films and Climbing Projects.”

Steve is ready to break history and needs your support. Check out his video about what his latest project is all about.

Steve was nice enough to do a Q&A with me. As you’ll see below, Steve answers with honesty and heart.

His answers really blew me away and I hope you can appreciate the depth of his answers as I do.

How has physical activity helped you in your diabetes management?

Physical activity (in general) is one non-medical thing we can do to improve our health and combat diabetes. It is how we can take control and “reverse” the sickness by increasing health. I think simply the psychological element of that has been the most beneficial element. It also gives a positive incentive to all of the dietary micromanagement. My wife one day pointed out that my dietary regimen is akin to an olympic athlete and I realized that fine tuning our diet to yield higher performance is a gift that diabetes has given me. Fitness and physical activity is how we capitalize on that.
Climbing came along when I got burned out on fitness for fitness sake. Going to the gym and exercising to look better or feel better just stopped really motivating me after several years. I spent some time in the “hating exercise” boat. Turned out, I needed to have a reason to be exercising, a narrative that was more than just trying to outplay the diabetes. Getting outside and being free–getting exercise but not “exercising” led me to photography and filmmaking and it gave me a reason that, in plain speak, did not suck–to be pushing myself further–and finding ways to bring my diabetes with me.
Lows during exercise…I adjust my mealtimes such that my bolus is out of my system around the time that I start exercising. This makes highs gentle enough that they settle out of their own accord and lows “slow” enough that I am not scrambling to pack my face with sugar. I can usually get by eating what feels like normal snacks at regular intervals. Avoiding the rapid is the key.
With permission from Team LivingVertical

This is Blake McCord, drilling on the lead on a recent new route expedition on the Acopan Tepui in Venezuela. What might not be obvious is that Blake has had #diabetes since he was ten. There’s a lot that’s not obvious about diabetes, like the fact that it can make you stronger and more motivated to #gobeyond. | Caption & photo with permission from Team LivingVertical |

How do you create a healthy living environment when so much of what you do revolves around diabetes?

Staying positive has been my mission- to push back against both the “woe is me” and the somewhat carnivorous nature of diabetes advocacy- not by calling it out others, but simply by offering a clear alternative and letting those who can see the difference choose for themselves. Most people don’t understand the challenges of being truly grassroots unless they have experienced it themselves.
At times it feels like being stranded on this island where you write and write and post and publish and plan and work- only to have people seemingly not care.  Seeing the feeding frenzy for pharmaceutical industry dollars and not being the one getting flown to conferences all over the world and being hailed as a hero for creating newer, softer marketing for device and drug sales can get under your skin if you lose focus on why you’re there.
You have to find a way to make it fun. Care less and be free. Caring too much- or should I say, being too attached to an outcome- is not good. You have to follow your heart. Creating change and real advocacy isn’t just flowery nonsense- it’s gritty and raw in its execution. It’s rock and roll, not Justin Bieber. You have to abandon all of the modeling out there and let your advocacy come from the heart- where you hold onto the things worth fighting for. When you start to care or get weighed down by the struggle- step out of the ring and recharge.
I had a moment like that recently. My personal life was a wreck. I was about to become a parent. I was broke and pouring all my time and effort into making another climbing project that no one cared about. I was almost in tears on a daily basis- staying up till 4 am publishing blogs, getting no comments, meager amounts of likes on social media. It wasn’t good for me any more. So I stepped away. Took some time to cool off and stop feeling like I owed anyone anything to enjoyed my daughters arrival. I realized that none of this stuff really matters other than the good it does- so if it’s not doing any good, let it go!
Then I decided that I felt like getting my hands dirty again. So now I am back in the fight. But the difference is that now I am going at it for me. I’m not expecting anything from it so I am free to let it be organic.
I don’t think I have found balance. I only know that I am able to embrace what I do fully or step away from it fully- and feel good about it either way. Feeling that freedom is how I cope. Once you lose the freedom, the joy won’t last.
Awesome day out #bouldering with @laudahl who grabbed this photo--we beat the rain by enough time to get in a good session and some laps on this particular problem that I finally sent the other day after years of backing off the spicy moves up high. My hand is feeling good and my #diabetes is doing nothing. Just hanging out with me while I #climb. | Text & photo with permission from Team LivingVertical |

Awesome day out #bouldering with @laudahl who grabbed this photo–we beat the rain by enough time to get in a good session and some laps on this particular problem that I finally sent the other day after years of backing off the spicy moves up high. My hand is feeling good and my #diabetes is doing nothing. Just hanging out with me while I #climb.
| Text & photo with permission from Team LivingVertical |

What can we, as adults living with type 1 diabetes, do to become empowered? 

When we get diabetes, the add-on that we get which is never diagnosed is fear. Diabetes is simple enough to treat if you are disciplined and diligent. Certainly there are highs and lows, but not to the point of debilitation. Fear of those highs and lows are where we are held back. Overcome the fear and we overcome diabetes, for diabetes has no teeth for a disciplined, active person–aside from fear. There is no cure for diabetes, but there is a cure for fear.
Being empowered is about managing risk. Facing and defeating fear. Understanding that we have the ability to live life for the positives that motivate us and not be chasing our diabetes everywhere. Many people with diabetes spend their lives waging war on their diabetes like a parent might chase an unruly 2 year old on a bender–but diet and exercise if taken seriously can CHANGE that and put you back in control. It takes willingness to experiment gradually and always be learning.
Empowerment is rolling up your sleeves and finding a way.

 

With permission from Team LivingVertical

With permission from Team LivingVertical

What do you feel are the positives and negatives of being a diabetic in the world of social media? 

I dont know that there are special positives and negatives of social media that relate to diabetes aside from my tirade on question #2. I think the danger of all social media is that it promotes the idea that sitting on ass and talking about things is just as useful as actually getting out into the real world and doing something that makes a difference.

I have tapped into social media because I realized that that is where I would find the people who needed to hear what I had to say. Ironically my message is all about getting out and not staying on social media. There is a sacrifice that happens for me to spend as much time creating content for others when I could be playing.

Bullying and depression are huge problems. None of which have solutions on computers. Both of which are improved by simply getting outside into nature and moving. I suppose it’s good for people to have an outlet to vent about their diabetes which social media does provide, but it also can lead to an unhealthy focus on diabetes instead of the things that make diabetes worth managing. Honestly I am insulated from a lot of these issues with kids. I have heard some about them, but I don’t “get out much” in the diabetes world, being consumed with my own projects–asI’m sure you can imagine!
These are the people with diabetes I have heard of and want to reach. If they know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, then that makes everything worthwhile. Much of what I do is trying to get the parents to back off and let their child be empowered, because the road to hell is paved with good intentions and well meaning parents coddle and baby their kids so much that they fear everything and stand out socially. If parents believe you’re sick and fragile and raise you that way…it’s likely that you will see yourself that way and be easily discouraged. Having just become a parent though, I have recently learned that taking advice on how to raise your child is something that is not easily taken in stride…

Thank you again Steve for your time and sharing your insights. We can all achieve whatever we desire. You have reminded me of that.

 

With permission from Team LivingVertical

With permission from Team LivingVertical

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DSMA Blue Fridays: Summertime blues

Thrift store dress rack find. It’s blue stripes for summer lounging.

Every Friday we put on blue to support those affected by diabetes. Here’s this week’s dress.

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Use #BlueFridays to participate! It’s a fun hashtag to accompany your #ootd (outfit of the day).

Read more about the Blue Fridays initiative here.

Summer time sadness? (If you don’t get this reference I’m a little sad.)

J

 

DSMA Blue Friday: My Disney princess dress

All I need is a crown and a wand with this Blue Friday dress.

Every Friday we wear blue to support those affected by diabetes. Today’s outfit is inspired by the magical. It’s part of my weekly fashion photo shoot at local thrift stores around Toronto.

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The Blue Fridays initiative was created by Cherise Shockley in November 2010. Read more about it here.

If you’re wearing blue, snap a photo and hashtag it #BlueFriday on your social media outlets.

Dressed like a princess and pretty happy about it,

Jess

Is t1dactiveliving over? What happened and what needs to happen.

Start of t1dactiveliving: October 2013

Intention: blog about my own type 1 diabetes and fitness journey.

t1dactiveliving was meant to be a place where I could document my thoughts and share my struggles.

Mindset: blogging=therapeutic.

After a few months of blogging I wanted to talk to other t1d athletes and fitness lovers so I started approaching a few. I told them I would be putting something on my site, which I always did, but that really, it came back to me. I wanted to know the answers to the questions I was asking.

I have tried to make my intentions very clear with interviewees and I’ve even mentioned it in posts altogether. 

I would then turn these conversations into article-like posts so I could share them with you, the Diabetes Online Community. People seemed to like them, so I kept pressing on.

After doing this the site began to grow in viewership. More e-mails and comments came in (some private, some not) and there it was…the monumental impact of the DOC right in my face.

As I read more online content, I got a sneak peek into a world I had never imagined. Some things people wrote to me or I read were downright scary. It is undeniable that there are diabetics out there who are suffering immensely. Little hope fused with a lot of anger and resentment. 

Then I got to meet others who were thriving. I’m so grateful that I have had the opportunity to speak to such inspirational leaders. They have all tremendously helped me in my own acceptance of t1d.

And some of you have taken the time to tell me how much t1dactiveliving has motivated you and I am so honoured you feel that way. There have been some messages that have reduced me to a blubbering mess of tears.

All observations were eye-opening and taken to heart.

Then the clouds rolled in (P.S It was very difficult to write this)

Soon came pressure. Pressure I put on myself. I felt this growing responsibility to the DOC. I had to produce content, I had to answer every comment in the same day. My daily goal had to be promoting fitness amongst t1d’s in Canada. Any diabetes related event in the city? I had to be there and live tweet, take photos and write about it. Anything diabetes was now on the table as something I felt I needed to write about. All photos had to continue to be my own and they all had to be edited to my liking. I started to Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr.

Hello type A personality. Welcome to your sometimes not-so-healthy behaviour. All or nothing? Yeah that’s me.

In all my waking hours, I was focused on the site. It ate up the majority of my day. Things were expanding quickly. The more nice things people had to say, the more it fuelled my own pressure.

The site that was meant to be therapeutic is not anymore. I’ve denied it for some time but I do not have the time or resources to run t1dactiveliving as I have. This site is run by my lonesome and I cannot sustain t1dactiveliving at this pace. Like many of you, I have a number of responsibilities in a number of areas. I simply can’t upkeep and that’s a hard pill to swallow.

Let’s get things straight

I am not abandoning t1dactiveliving. However I am taking a step back, trying to balance (for my own health and wellness) and answer these questions:

How can I best serve the diabetes community?

How can I not only talk about fitness motivation and inspiration within the DOC, but also myself be a living example of health?

A recent Instagram post: It exists. You can live without hating your body, a disease you might have, or circumstances beyond your control.  There's so much happiness and life to live. Every moment is a gift. So stop and really take notice of your thoughts. Take stock of how much time you spend doing things that never help you achieve your goals.  Calculate all the time you spend worrying about nothing, reading about people you don't know and will never be part of your life and choose to focus on the better.  Health is not the absence of disease. Health means choosing a life worth living.

A recent Instagram post: It exists. You can live without hating your body, a disease you might have, or circumstances beyond your control.There’s so much happiness and life to live. Every moment is a gift. So stop and really take notice of your thoughts. Take stock of how much time you spend doing things that never help you achieve your goals. Calculate all the time you spend worrying about nothing, reading about people you don’t know and will never be part of your life and choose to focus on the better. Health is not the absence of disease. Health means choosing a life worth living.

 

Love you DOC

I thank you for your continuous support and hope you will stay on this journey with me as I figure out how to move forward.

J