Managing Diabetes as a Fighter

A chronic condition, such as diabetes, will have long-lasting effects on your body. Our bodies break down food into glucose. When this sugar enters the bloodstream and circulates through the body, the pancreas releases insulin to help the body use the increased glucose for energy. With diabetes, there is an issue with insulin production or usage, which means the glucose levels stay high. This can lead to problems with vision, kidneys and the heart if left uncontrolled. When first diagnosed, this can be a significant life change but can be managed. Diabetes does not mean you have to stop fighting. As a fighter, you are highly in tune with your body. Here are some tips for remaining in the ring with diabetes.

Honesty

Dietary changes and tracking glucose levels may be necessary. You should see an endocrinologist regularly if you have diabetes while still keeping up with all of your preventative care appointments. An endocrinologist specializes in caring for patients with diabetes. It is vital to be honest during these appointments and establish a strong connection with your provider. Diabetes can impact multiple other organ systems, so you must be diligent in managing your condition. Do not be afraid to ask your health care team questions or for advice, such as tips for how to reverse prediabetes. You must be honest and open with your providers about any issues. They cannot help you if they do not have all the information.

Awareness

Fighters train and prepare. Managing diabetes is not much different. It will require attention to detail, listening to your body, a special diet and preparation. As a fighter, you are already used to nutrition and exercise, which may work to your advantage. Keep snacks with you in your gym bags, and make sure your training partner knows about your condition if you need help during a workout. If you begin to feel shaky or any of the other warning signs of low blood sugar during a workout, pause to allow your body some time to bounce back while you have a snack. Keep track of anything that makes your body feel off, foods that help you stay regulated for longer and any changes you notice. This will make it easier to communicate with your doctor at your next appointment. It will also help you track the best things that help you manage your diabetes.

Education

Over 37 million adults in the United States have diabetes, and over 96 million have prediabetes. Educational resources and support have grown over the last two decades because the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has doubled. Prediabetes can be reversed with proper exercise, diet and lifestyle changes. Whether you have prediabetes or diabetes, being educated on the chronic illness and how to manage it is very important. Consider this like how you would prep for an upcoming opponent. You watch their fights, note their style and formulate your strategy for defeating the opponent. Education will help you to be prepared to fight diabetes.

Strategies

Your training routines may have to be altered. You can still train as hard as you did, but you need to know signs of low blood sugar and learn to respond appropriately and quickly. Timing up your meals will help your body work harder in the gym and the ring. Aim to eat a carb-heavy meal one to three hours before training or a fight. Monitor your glucose levels before heading into the gym, and never start a workout with low glucose or extremely high glucose. Appropriate snacks should be kept in your gym bag. You will learn to take rests when your blood sugar dips low and snack during extended workouts. There are apps to help with logging glucose levels and diet.

Many athletes are living with diabetes. You are used to fighting hard in the ring. That same focus and dedication can help you keep your diabetes managed. Lifestyle changes may be needed but remember they will be well worth it if it helps keep your glucose levels in range. The key is knowing your body, becoming educated, creating strategies that work best for your body and forming a solid relationship with your providers.

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