I was 15 years old sitting in English class after drinking my umpteenth bottle of water. I prayed for the bell to ring so I could use the restroom—again. During the following weeks, I lost nearly 15 pounds. My performance in the weight-room crashed. And I continued drinking more water than a camel. I knew something wasn’t right, but couldn’t bring myself to tell my parents to take me to the doctor.
The night before my required Annual Physical for high school baseball, I Googled my symptoms. It did not take long to self-diagnose myself. I could put a check mark next to every symptom that was listed on the computer screen. I had Type 1 Diabetes. So when my doctor told me my blood sugar was in the upper 400s (a normal range is somewhere around between 80-100) I knew my next stop was the hospital. The next several weeks consisted of doctor’s offices, specialists, nutritionists and a lot of web searching.
I was confused. I was 15 years old and in great shape. I played high-school sports, ate fairly healthy, and thought I was as immortal as any other teenager. I was embarrassed. Suddenly I was carrying around a fanny pack with all of my medical supplies and going to the nurse's station every day during lunch. I felt like everyone thought I was dying judging by how they tiptoed around me. I was scared. As with any illness or disease, if you search the side effects or complications you'll be left with nothing but fear and anxiety. Type 1 Diabetes was no different.
I share all of this because this is my why. This is the reason I am so passionate about health and fitness. I decided at an early age that I did not want to deal with the complications associated with Type 1 Diabetes: amputations, loss of eyesight, kidney failure. Nope—not for me. Over the course of the next years, my passion only grew.
While many factors influence my ability to be in control of T1 diabetes, I have found nutrition and consistent movement is the single most influential factor in determining the quality of that control.
I now believe that Type 1 Diabetes is more of a strength than a weakness for me. While most individuals take years to experience the negative consequences of poor nutrition and lack of exercise, I instant feedback from the negative effects of poor nutrition choices. Want to know what happens if I eat pizza? My blood sugar will be out of control for up to three or four days, which directly affects how I feel physically.
Yes, I succumb to the same desire to look good at the beach. However, when I dig beneath the surface to find my ultimate WHY, it comes down to the ability to live my life to its greatest capacity and minimize the complications that come with my chronic disease so that I can spend quality time on this earth with my friends and family.
So, what is your why? Maybe it isn't a chronic disease or a dramatic experience. Maybe you want to feel more confident at the pool. Or to stop making excuses why you can’t make it to a social gathering. Maybe you want to walk into your 15-year high school reunion at the same weight you were when you graduated. Maybe you just want to feel good, have more energy, and set yourself up for a lifetime of experiencing life to the fullest. Whatever it is, nutrition and fitness are the foundation to any health and wellness program.
Spend some time thinking about your why:
- Is it worth spending 1-hour a day at the gym to keep you doing the things you enjoy with the people you love for a long time to come?
- Is it worth choosing quality, real foods consistently day in and day out to stay out of the hospital and off any unnecessary medications?
Only you can decide for yourself!