Has anyone changed their lifestyle / activities since diagnosis other than diet and exercise?

Hello all! I am new here. I was diagnosed t1 about a year and a half ago at the age of 29. Since I really don’t know any other diabetics (t1 or t2) I have a ton of questions. Not so much about the disease itself as that can be researched. Just the lifestyle.

Besides the obvious things like having to check blood sugars, diet, exercise, is there anything you guys do differently? or don’t do?

I ask this question because I always get the shock and awed looks from people when they find out I’m diabetic. I scuba dive, sky dive, go rapelling, hiking, ride motorcycles, run 5 - 7K a night etc. I’m actually in the final stage (barring some medical tests) of being certified as the first type 1 diabetic commercial diver in Canada that will be approved by the National Certification Board. Commercial diving has been my profession for the last 12 yrs. I’ve been benched since diagnosis but still supervising. (I’ll tell the long saga another time if anyone is interested). Basically what I’m saying is that I haven’t changed anything really other than taking meds and very minor changes to diet.

So am I abnormal for doing these things? Am I pushing my luck? I mean as long as I have good control, I don’t see the issue. People saying that I can’t do something actually wants me to do it more.

Am I not taking this seriously enough?

Thanks all,


heh heh heh…i did all sorts of stuff, crazy wild party animal/ rock and roll stuff for a long time (15 years?) then I started studying tae kwon do, tenatively at first, twice a week at park district classes, then I considered “should I try to find another band or start doing this more seriously?” and chose the latter as I was sort of too old (37…) for a serious rock band thing;…Perhaps I was too old for TKD too but kept at it and it was a very interesting experience. Unfortunately, my office closed and I had to move…a month after I’d earned my black belt?

Part of that was to start walking first and then running a bit. Then, coming up on the black belt test, I ran 3 or 4 miles the first time I ran harder on the treadmill (about 1/2 hour?) and was pleased that I didn’t blow a gasket doing that, as I’d never run that far before. I was sad to leave the martial arts academy when I moved but have been able to keep at the running. I haven’t run a marathon yet (3x 1/2) but there’s a group Diabetics who run marathons that includes a bunch of people who haver run tons of them and I signed up to run Chicago this fall. Although the dude that died there yesterday, in a 1/2 marathon, certainly is food for thought? There’s a bunch of people who have done all sorts of thing though. I think hobbies and activities are useful diversions from diabetes and that it helps to have stuff to do, whether it’s debauchery (AR#1) or something more positive as I’ve been doing lately?

Good for you and again I say good for you! Diabetes should never hold us back! There will be some who will try to stop you doing things because they think that because you are diabetic that you should not! I have been banned from going to the local prison to help with courses in reparaition (spelling has gone out the window!) because I am diabetic. Nor am I allowed to go ot as a Street Pastor, for the same reason, even though I know what I am doing! Unfortunately I am unable to do anything about these two - I have a great deal to offer - but the powers that be are inflexible on this!

There are many people who take part in extreme sports and do all kinds of things despite their diabetes and if you want to get on with something I say go for it!

My life style changes are that I stopped drinking (my choice - all or nothing!), I check, I have to carry stuff around with me and eat breakfast - something I never did before!

I’ve changed a couple of things:

  1. No more barefootin’ outdoors (only indoors)
  2. Get people who stress me out of my life.

Diabetes threw a huge monkey wrench into plans when it disqualified me from military service. It took me a while to recover from that set back.

Other than that, I’ve tried really hard not to let it affect other aspects of my life. I’ve alays been active with outdoor activities and competitive athletics and I was able to continue with all of the things I enjoyed doing before being diagnosed in my early 20s. I never felt deprived throughout my college days but I do realize I was probably on the reckless side with my diabetes management through my early 20s. I think being young and having an extended honeymoon period helped me maintain excellent control through this phase of my life, but that doesn’t change the fact that having diabetes made many of the typical things colleges students do more reckless for me as a diabetic.

Now, here in my mid 40s, I’ve had to put diabetes management more on the front burner because it does seem a lot more to manage now that I have a lot of grown-up things to concern myself with. I do think a lot more about my diabetes now, but I think it’s completely normal as I look down the barrel of 50 with 30 years of living with D. A lot of things I did before just don’t have the same urgency as some of the things I feel I have to do now to compensate for being a bit older.


I went through a bit of set back with the commercial diving myself. Every doctor told me it wasn’t possible and diabetics were not allowed to dive commercially. When I started hearing all of the excuses from the diving physicians it just pissed me off. It basically came down to no one else would do it so neither would they. I heard the excuses that “We don’t know how blood sugar levels react under pressure.” So I performed numberous dives in a hyperbaric chamber, testing my glucose levels every 15 min while doing cardio. Then I compared these results to doing the same cardio routine on surface. Guess what? The same.

Next problem the doctors had? “You can’t take glucose in the diving helmets.” Well myself and another person I work with adapted a baby bottle bag, running camel pack hose… and Voila! It fits behind the head and is available whenever I need it. Usually filled with gatorade.

Now I have a team of 5 doctors that are basically the committee to allow me to dive. Just a stress test and a couple blood test and I’ll be good to go and be approved.

The only problem I run across now is the need for such tight management. My hba1c needs to be between 6 and 8. Lower than 8 to fill the needs of my endo and satisfy the requirements for diving medical and above 6 to satisfy my occupational doctor who says anything lower than that means I keep by GL too low to be diving. It’s a fine line to tread.

I find I’m having the opposite sort of problem. I have worked with emotionally handicapped kids for the last 14 years and they can be pretty abusive. I’m not sure how much longer I want to continue. . . Truth be told though, it’s the adults who don’t want my students around a lot of the time who keep my stress levels and subsequently by bg levels up. I don’t know if it’s a good fit for me anymore. . .

Wow, the persistence sure paid off for you. Unfortunately for me, I think it would take an act of congress, literally, to allow diabetics to enlist in military service. I understand the requirements are different if you are already serving and subsequently develop diabetes.

As for your control issue, if you find yourself with lower A1cs than 6.0, can you maintain that level if you can show your BG log with normal readings?

The health profession typically worries that normal A1cs = too many hypoglycemic incidents. It’s a sore point among many posters here who do maintain those types of numbers and, ironically, it’s a battle to justify.

Gee, you’d think they could adapt for non combat position. Ah well. +1 for diabetics not being able to be drafted!

I probably could justify a lower A1c seeing as I have the new Bayer USB meter which makes life easy to do that. However, the occupational / hyperbaric doctor actually doesn’t want my Glucose Level below 6.0 (I’m Canadian and not sure how to convert to the US scale) when diving or supervising a dive site anyway. He said he’d rather have me slightly on the higher side of optimal than in a situation where things can go wrong. He said and I quote “I’m here to make sure that you are safe at work. It’s your endo’s job to make sure you live to be 90. We’re going to be slightly conflicting.”

I can live with his statement and understand both sides. It hasn’t happend yet and I doubt I could get it below 6 anyway. Before running or working out or diving, i have my GL at 11 - 12 (I think that’s about 200?) so it gives me about an hour workout or an hour of intense running. I would think those instances alone would keep me from breaking the 6.0 mark.

Wow, I’m impressed with the diving. I’m a certified but very inexperienced vacation diver, and have decided that that would be the one thing that has to go.

I am living mostly how I was before being dx’d in December. Obviously I test like a mofo now, and have changed my diet somewhat (though nothing like what some people do.) I have gotten back into running – after being waylaid by the D – and have toyed with getting back into running mrathonish distances like I did a few years ago. I’ve decided not to, but it has nothing to do with being type 1. (I’m trying to get pregnant.)

Soldier on, friend, and keep pushing the envelope. I think you ARE taking it seriously enough. Except an A1c at 8 is no good – I can see why they don’t want you below 6 for diving purposes, but any activity that requires you to be at an 8 ain’t worth it. (8 is not very good control.)

Cooter, having diabetes is definitely a game changer, but if one can learn to adapt and has the discipline to take the disease seriously, then the sky is the limit on what one can do. You seem the have the initiative, drive, and discipline to reach your goals. Diabetes should not stop you. You also seem to be enjoying an extended honeymoon, so ride that wave as long as you can. As long as you continue to monitor your BGLs and maintain good control, you should do just fine.

Diabetes is just another obstacle and challenge that life throws at us. We just have to control it instead of letting it control us. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, but it’s not impossible. Sure, there are some things I used to do that I no longer can do as easily. Chronic fatigue from underlying hypothyroidism is my biggest bugaboo right now. As someone who is used to living a very active lifestyle, it does get in the way. I have to plan more now, and diabetes management always has to be considered in the planning. I try to build that into my routine.

Glad to see that you are pressing ahead with your career choice. Well-meaning doctors have been pushing you, but you have been pushing back. Good for you! Our doctors often set seemingly arbitrary restrictions and requirements upon us diabetics. Again, they mean well, but sometimes they overreach. For example, I think the Hb1AC parameters set for you in order to dive commercially are absolutely ridiculous. If you can manage tighter control in a stable and responsible way and can demonstrate that history, who are they to set your limits? Their rationale in this situation is bogus. In the long run, stable, tighter control is better for your health.

Anyway, I think you’re doing just fine. Your story thus far is very encouraging. Here’s hoping you reach your goal and that you get your doctors to reconsider the limitations they have set in place. Good luck!

The key is you’re doing the obvious things like checking your blood sugar, etc. As for your activities, it’s great that having diabetes hasn’t stopped you. Having said that there are the precautionary things you want to do before participating in any endurance activities like the 5 to 7 K runs such as checking your blood sugar, carrying quick sources of sugar like glucose tablets, etc. There are folks with diabetes who participate in triatholons, marathons, play professional football and several of the athletes in the recent Olympic games have diabetes. So the short answer to your question is - ‘No diabetes shouldn’t stop you from participating in the activities you mentioned. Just take the necessary precautions to keep your blood sugars in check.’ Maintaining blood sugars in target range while you’re diving will require some planning on the part of you and your healthcare team, but it is possible!

The guidelines set forth are actual staying below 8 and not below 6 which is where I have been since diagnosis anyway. 6.5 - 7.0. Since I am still the “test subject”, I can see these changing or me having a bit of latitude to go lower now that I think of it. Same as FHS mentioned above. Within the last few months I started back running too? How are you finding it? I usually have to have my levels around 12 and that keeps me good for about 5 - 7K. I just run a 1K lap that’s close to my house and test after every 3 kms to make sure nothing is going sideways.

I’ve heard that I may be experiencing a prolonged honeymoon? Can you give me a heads up on what is going to happen? Or what to expect. I know this varies from person to person. I do notice that if there is a 1 week lapse in exercise (working 12 hr shifts or whatever), that my levels go out of whack. I increase the basal and the levels return to normal. Even though I resume exercising, the basal remains at the increased level. It’s happened 2x. I call it my laziness detector. Maybe I’m stepping out of the honeymoon phase gradually?

Thanks all for the responses. Again, not knowing many other people with the betes, I was starting to doubt myself. You hear things enough times, and you’ll probably end up believing them.

Cooter, acidrock23, FSH, and others can speak about what to expect over the honeymoon period better than I, so I will leave it to them to fill you in on the details. However, the following link provides a good explanation of the honeymoon period and what to expect:


Diabetes is a complex disease, so I’m oversimplifying it here, but basically as your pancreas slows down and eventually stops producing insulin altogether, you will become more dependent upon insulin to control your BGLs. For some T1s, exercise can actually cause their BGLs to rise, thus requiring more insulin to get the level back down.

Staying fit and maintaining tight control will help stave off getting the added double whammy of insulin resistance which requires more insulin (bolus and basal) to lower BGLs, but a fit person such as yourself probably doesn’t have to worry so much about that for now. There are plenty of fit T2s as well, so there are exceptions. As long as you keep monitoring the progression of your diabetes and making fine-tune adjustments when necessary, you should be fine. However, you will experience a lifetime of adjustments. That’s just the nature of the beast. Our bodies are each unique, and this disease can become a moving target at times. Looks like you have a solid handle on it for now. Your control and perseverance are both very impressive.

I haven’t changed much about my lifestyle except for cutting out regular soda and trying to eat more high fiber, low fat foods. I still enjoy candy from time to time and I do drink, but I always told myself that I could enjoy those sinful indulgences as long as I still check my sugar every few hours, every day and get good a1c numbers from the endo.

I marched in my university’s drumline for four years (no easy physical task), the first two of which I was not diagnosed, the second two I was. I’m glad that I was able to keep doing it despite diabetes, although there was somewhat of a learning curve in terms of keeping my sugar up through the long performance days. I also ride my bike everywhere which can drop my sugar levels, but just the same as a car, I test before I get on the bike, take a break for testing/water/snack, and make sure I’ve got candy with me in case of emergency.

No need to limit doing the things you love as long as you take the proper time to appease the D-beast, I say!

Can I just say, RESPECT!!!

I am so impressed by your courage, persistence and determination.

I think you make a fab role model and inspiration.

From the perspective of a failed diver in the days before diabetes - it was the ‘letting go of the breathing tube thingy’-exercise that proved my downfall.

Thanks Lila but I haven’t done anything that anyone else couldn’t do. I was just fortunate to have a supportive employer, access to expensive equipment for free and lucky enough to stumble upon the right doctors. I’m just glad I didn’t have to play the advocacy card. That would have been a mess. Now I just hope the last few tests don’t reveal any underlying conditions that will exempt me!

One aside on the gatorade is that I find it very helpful to have the powdered kind so, for a longer run, I can load the bottle w/ 45G (+? 45 is the most I’ve dumped in to date…) and use less for a shorter run? I skip the stuff for 3 miles but most runs longer than that, particularly in the recent heat wave, I like to have some “lo-test” that only has about 10G of gatorade powder in it, a little boost without blowing my BG out of the water, along with the “thicker” variety. The powdered stuff is also quite a bit cheaper than the bottles?