Normally, I try not to get up on my soapbox. I see my role as a personal trainer as a motivator and teacher, not a preacher.
However, I have one topic that presses my buttons and tends to launch me into “outrage mode” faster than anything. That topic would be diabetes, specifically type 2 diabetes.
Full disclosure, I am a type 1 diabetic and have been for just over 24 years. I am not perfect, but I work hard to do the best I can to take care of my disease. I test my blood sugar 4-5 times a day and work hard to manage that balance of food, exercise and insulin. I wasn’t always this focused, but part of my motivation to start this fitness journey was my diabetes and the fact that it was getting harder and harder to manage the fatter I became. Today, my doctors say I do a great job. I work at it every day because I know my life depends upon it.
What often pushes me over the edge is the growing epidemic of type 2 diabetes. For those of you not familiar with the disease let me give you a quick lesson. Type 1 diabetes, also still called by some juvenile diabetes, accounts for roughly 10% of diabetes cases. Typically the disease is diagnosed before the age of 30 and is caused because the immune system starts to attacks the body’s insulin producing cells. Eventually the body will no longer produce insulin and it must be given via some form of injection. The cause is still being debated, but it is not linked to obesity or other lifestyle factors.
Type 2 diabetes accounts for the other 90% of cases. With a type 2 diabetic the body is still making some insulin but not enough or the insulin receptors will no longer work so the insulin can’t be used effectively. It can often be managed with combination of diet, exercise, pills and, in some cases, insulin injections. Type 2 is caused by a combination of factors with the leading one being overweight.
So today when I saw a new study that said the number of people diagnosed with diabetes will double by 2034 with a cost of $113 to $336 billion annually to treat them, I flipped.
Here’s my issue. Type 2 diabetes is preventable and in some cases reversible. In fact it is one of the most preventable chronic illnesses. My diabetes is not. There is nothing I can do. They are working on various transplant type solutions and with stem cells, but at this time nothing will make my diabetes go away.
That is where I start to get a little irritated. People have a choice to do things that will prevent or reverse this disease and they do nothing. They don’t lose weight, they continue to eat poorly and refuse to exercise. I really want to know why. Why would you choose this disease? To me it is like someone choosing to get cancer. It does not make any sense! I know it’s easier to eat fast or convenience foods and watch TV instead of going to the gym, but this is your life we are talking about! What more motivation should a person need than the ability to save their own lives?
For me, diabetes is a motivator, something I look at as a mixed blessing. My need to better treat and control my diabetes was one of my motivators to start this journey. It is one of the things that keeps me motivated every day to continue. I am not asking for sympathy, instead I ask for everyone to share in my outrage just a little bit. Everyone should be pushed to do something to stop this epidemic. If you are at risk or have type 2 diabetes, take a good long look at yourself and make the right choices to remove this disease from your life. If you love someone at risk or with type 2 diabetes, tell them how lucky they are to have the choice to change their life and help them make it.
I will step off the soapbox now. If anyone has a success story about preventing type 2 diabetes or reversing it, I would love to hear from you! Your story can help motivate others to follow your lead.