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Running with Diabetes isn’t Impressive, it’s Normal.

November 30, 2010

My diabetes clinic offered me a free personal trainer, and ever a lover of all things free, I said yes. So I’ve been spending slightly less time pounding pavement, and more time pressing weights. The routine of alternating long outdoor runs with indoor circuit-weight-training has been rather fun! Having not done any weight training for a good five years, I’d forgotten that the gym can actually be a pleasant, even meditative place!

Part of exercising for me means glucose testing every 20 minutes or so, and so I do my fair share of squeezing blood from my finger in front of fellow bench-pressers and rowing-machiners. I can’t say I don’t kinda dig the discreet glances or stares my little medical procedures attract.

While I generally maintain a righteous-babe-esque attitude about my right to public displays of diabetes (is it bad that sometimes I WANT the librarian at the public library to tell me to put away my food, just so I can tell her I HAVE to eat for medical reasons?), I feel glucose testing at the gym has a whole other function. I can just read people’s thoughts: “wow, that little firecracker doing the 1000 meter sprint on the rower is a diabetic? But she looks so fit!”

Damn straight, yo! It’s funny the comments I’ve gotten about being a runner and generally an active person. “Impressive that you’re a diabetic and running 10k a day,” was a recent one. (Update: I’m no longer running 10k a day. Maybe every other day.) While I’m never one to turn away a compliment, part of me wants to say “newsflash! Not all diabetics are fat and lazy!” In other words, break your damn stereotype. While sedentary lifestyles are known to gradually cause insulin resistance in people who are already genetically predisposed to it, both type 1 and type 2 are non-discriminating diseases that can affect anyone with the right (or wrong) biology.

I remember someone making a comment once about the term “organic” in food. “Why do we have to call this apple organic?” He argued. “An organic apple just means that it’s a real apple. Shouldn’t we give the special name to the fake foods?”

I feel the same way about the “diabetic lifestyle.” The way I see it, there is really no such thing. Diabetics are supposed to eat healthy, heart-friendly foods, keeping refined carbs and saturated fats to a minimum, and eating regular balanced meals (skipping meals is a no-no). Diabetics are supposed to get regular exercise, stay active and emotionally stable, and keep stress to a minimum. That doesn’t sound like a “diabetic lifestyle” to me. That just sounds like living well.

My being physically active should be no more impressive than the next person. Just as no one should eat cake for breakfast, everyone should, in their own way, run the proverbial 10k a day.

So I’ll keep breaking down them ol’ stereotypes. One sweaty, bloody glucose test at a time.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2010 1:47 pm

    Maybe not impressive, but it definitely takes more work than for a non-diabetic person. As with the rest of the population, most don’t dare to try and are missing out on huge mental and physical benefits. I led a wellness program at work, and was amazed at how out of shape so many of our young employees were. Just walking a mile was a major ordeal for many of them. I didn’t make a huge deal out of my diabetes, but did use it on occasion to let people know that most of their excuses for not exercising could be similarly overcome.

    Keep up the good work, and enjoy!

  2. November 30, 2010 4:47 pm

    I run and work out a lot too, and get all sorts of unwelcome comments on the fact that I do it with diabetes. Mostly I feel like you do — that it ought to be “normal” — but sometimes I feel angry and beyond frustrated that it’s all so easy for the “real normal” (non-D) people. I have days when lows wreck my workout and my mood, or when highs and pump problems really screw things up! So yeah, working out really hard and managing all that could be called “impressive,” I suppose…

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