The current Olympic Games provide exciting and inspiring stories of hard work and perseverance. Preparing for an Olympic event can be similar to caring for any chronic disease. It involves continuous planning and evaluation of various aspects of activities and choices that can impact your performance. Education about diabetes, eating healthier, exercising at the proper time, testing blood glucose, maintaining a healthy stress level, keeping medical/lab appointments, and if appropriate, taking medications on a consistent basis can help you achieve the most important medal of all…..improved health! Olympian cross-country skier, Kris Freeman, is representing the USA, in Sochi, Russia. His story is featured in an article of the February, 2014 issue of Diabetes Forecast by Tracy Neithercott. Kris was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 19. By that time, he had competed in skiing, at the Junior World Championships for the third time.He is the current 50 kilometer national Champion of cross-country skiing. Kris’ training is about 900 hours per year, in aerobic exercise, including running, swimming, kayaking, and roller skiing. Aerobic exercise is sustained activity that utilizes oxygen to fuel the muscles, stimulating and strengthening the heart and lungs. Freeman tests his blood glucose 3 to 4 times a day, uses a patch-style insulin pump delivery system, and a continuous glucose monitor. His diligence helps him to adjust his insulin dosing to match his body’s requirements. Tracy notes that Kris’ views on nutrition are simple; he doesn’t take in more fuel than he burns/utilizes….a good lesson for all of us!
For me, the most striking sentence in the article is when Tracy reports that Freeman stated: ” The way to not be terrified was to learn as much as I could about [diabetes]”. As a Certified Diabetes Nurse Educator (CDE), I often hear how frightened people are with a first-time diagnosis of diabetes. Frequently, their fears are due to many misconceptions of the disease as a result of the media, the internet, various health care Providers (HCP), well-meaning friends, neighbors, and family members. While there is a lot about diabetes that pertains to most people with diabetes, there is information that is pertinent to your situation. There are several medical conditions, syndromes, and diseases that you can’t do much to change, there is a lot you can do to improve your diabetes health. Arm yourself with knowledge of the disease and your own body, develop confidence in your blood glucose control, and establish a good support team and hopefully, you can say “thank goodness, it’s just diabetes”! The Education Staff of St Anthony’s Diabetes and Nutrition Education Services is composed of Certified Diabetes Nurse Educators and Certified Dietitian Educators and additional clinical support Staff. With a Physician’s order, they are prepared to partner with you and your health care Team to provide you with the tools and tips needed to help you achieve your best level of diabetes health. Call 314-525-4508, option 2, or access stanthonysmedcenter.com/diabetes; for more information.