Tim was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes at the age of 12. A truly shocking and life-changing situation for Tim and his Family.
As a kid I played a lot of football and tennis, but seemed to always drink a lot of water. I found I was getting tired quite easily.
Then at 12 yrs of age I started wetting the bed. Sometimes twice in one night which made me frustrated and angry. My parents took me to the doctors to get some tests done. I had a finger prick which showed a blood sugar reading over 30, a healthy average is 5-7. I was sent to hospital that same day. Suddenly I went from being a normal kid to being a Type 1 Diabetic...
I felt normal, looked normal, but now I had to inject myself twice a day and check my blood up to 10 times a day.
This continued for the next 3-4 years. As a teenager I slowly started excluding myself from certain activities, simply because it was easier than having to worry about my sugars going high or low. But it was my late teens to early 20s when things really started to get harder for me mentally. I was up to 4-5 injections a day, still 10 finger pricks, doctors/specialists saying I need to look after my blood sugar levels otherwise I will have problem in the future such as loss of sight, loss of feeling in limbs and possible amputations, or kidney failure.
In my case it wasn’t hereditary. It wasn’t caused by a bad diet and I wasn’t overweight. Thoughts were always running through my head like “why me?”.
When things got really bad, I had thoughts of “Maybe I will just keep eating until I go unconscious and maybe die.” These thoughts still come and go from time to time, but I have a lot more to live for now.
In my mid-twenties I had my buck’s party. I was ready for a big, fun night. My blood sugar got to 38 and I was vomiting and in and out of consciousness. My friends, family and workmates who I have known most of my life were thinking “he’s having a great time”, but I realised something wasn’t right, checked my blood and soon left. I had only been at my own buck’s party for 2 hours and only had 2 beers.
Finding my “why”
My weight started to become an issue after this. Not really caring about life in general, I was expected to die 10 years earlier because of the disease, so who cares… That was until I found my “why”. I didn’t know it was my why at the time, but my wife and I were trying for a baby. Not having much luck, I took up riding, not just to get fitter and lose weight, but also to clear my mind. We eventually were lucky enough to have 2 healthy children, who (fingers crossed) don’t have diabetes. If they do I know it’s not my fault, but this won’t stop me from feeling responsible.
My “why” became a lot stronger after my first child. I wanted to be a great father, and if I can’t run and play and have fun with him, how am I going to do this if I don’t look after myself? So I stopped doing injections and changed to an insulin pump which continuously drip-feeds me my drugs, and started counting carbs, which did help a little.
It was not long after this I started doing MP, which at the start was just for exercise and health. But after my first 12 weeks on the MP nutrition, I realised my sugar levels had dropped slightly and I was starting to get leaner and fitter. So I continued on this path with another 6 month challenge and a photo-shoot, something to work towards. This was easy as I love the MP way of food, 6 meals a day and fruit, I was never hungry. I love the gym and my BSL was now the lowest it had ever been.
The photo-shoot come and went, I looked the best and felt the best, both mentally and physically. Then I took the path to competing, which started off quite rocky because as I started getting leaner my body started absorbing the insulin more. This meant I was always going low, so tight monitoring of my BSL was now needed, as well as adjustments made through my pump. If my BSL is too high or too low, I might as well not train because my body will move the proteins, fats and carbs to where it thinks I need them, even if I don’t. This was good and bad in a way, with my levels heading down to an average of 6.8 (best I ever had), and less insulin means a longer life expectancy, whilst eating more and more food.
I finally reached the stage where I was feeling the best I ever had (albeit a little tired) because I had been eating the same foods every day for 12 weeks straight. That meant my BSL was now very stable and much easier to manage.
After my first competition, I found out my wife had been offered a 12 month contract for a job in Norway. That meant moving my whole family to the other side of the world, which is where we are now. Here it is can sometimes get down to -7 or colder and I am still trying to keep at 80-90% compliancy with my nutrition, which is a little hard when you can’t read what you’re buying. But as the stay-at-home parent looking after the children right now, I have to keep my mind and body healthy to support everyone, and if I eat healthy, so do they. My mind is also set on hitting the stage again in 18 months when I’m back in Australia.
Some people say taking my life-saving drugs is an advantage, but through my eyes it’s the only thing keeping me alive. I’m sure this story is not only for Diabetics, but if you have implemented healthy eating and structured training into your life, not only will you look and feel great, but you will also be setting an example for others around you, even if you don’t know it.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Type 1 Diabetics
1. Resistance training facilitates the uptake of glucose in muscle tissue and reduces the need for insulin. For this reason, FIRE training is essential for Type 1 Diabetics.
2. However, sugar levels may rise during weight-training due to elevated testosterone levels, so keep a close eye on BSL.
3. Type 1 Diabetics need to also test their blood 40 mins and 10 mins before training to see where sugar levels are at.
4. Diabetes needs 24/7 attention. There is no time off - we need to check our levels constantly.
5. Hyperglycaemia increases protein breakdown. For this reason, keeping blood sugar levels stable is vital.
6. Type 1 Diabetics should monitor their caffeine intake as caffeine can increase blood sugar levels.
7. If using a protein supplement, make sure your blood sugar levels don’t go too high because some amino acids such as the BCAAs in the protein can be converted to glucose easily.
8. Don’t train when ill - this can affect sugar levels and you might need some rest.
9. It’s important for Diabetics to always clean their fingers after training and before testing to stop infections.
10. Get your sleep and rest - remove stress as much as possible.