Living a Great Life with Diabetes

"There comes a day when you realise turning the page is the best feeling in the world, because you realise there’s so much more to the book than the page you were stuck on.” — Zayn Malik

14th November is World Diabetes Day and to honour that fact, we’ve asked Yoga Mike, who hosts our yoga classes here at our Wynyard Park studios to give us an insight on living with diabetes:

This is me, Mike, Michael, Yoga Mike or however else you know me. I’m type 1 Diabetic and was diagnosed in 2009 after a month or two of unknown fatigue and tiredness despite my relatively fit and healthy lifestyle.

It has been a long road of changing medications, insulin pens but finally the OmniPod (pictured above), has become the day-to-day device that I can truly live with and have the life I want to live.

2018 has been a physically demanding year: Kayaking, Cliff Diving, Abseiling, Running, Snowboarding and travelling across Europe to name a few – I’ve certainly put this device to the test.

So, I write this article for two types of people: Those with Diabetes as a reminder to keep living an extraordinary life and to everyone else as an insight into my life and to those living with health conditions themselves.

#5 – I stopped enjoying the foods I once loved…

At first diagnosis, I first fell out of love with all the foods I once loved and took an almost robotic approach to my meals. Whilst I still to this day understand the importance of counting carbs to ensure I’m getting the right amount of insulin, I’ve finally got to the point where I really appreciate good food again. And yes, it can be difficult in a restaurant when you don’t know exactly how much to count, but you trial and error is an important part of this. Also, chocolate is yummy!

#4 – I started identifying as ‘a diabetic’ and not simply me…

Being diabetic has a number of stereotypes attached to it. Whilst I’m not attacking these stereotypes (heck, I used to believe most of them before diagnosis), it is really easy to fall into the trap of letting this part of my life, become my whole life. The worst part about it was that the label always seemed to attach itself to ‘I can’t do … because I’m diabetic’. Now, in my experience, rebelling against this idea was a double-edged sword at first because it initially back-fired when I said ‘I can still drink loads of alcohol on a weekend even though I’m diabetic’. It took a number of years to build up a relationship with the condition. I needed to learn to challenge the condition, whilst still respecting what my body was telling me. This is something to this day where I am still learning.

#3 – Sport and exercise has become even more important in my life…

Whilst sport and exercise has always a priority growing up in my 20s, it has become a necessity to my way of life now. At first diagnosis, I led myself to believe that I would have to be much more careful and hold back from my marathon runs, my snowboarding and other pursuits. As time has gone on, I have tried to turn the condition into a positive motivator. Whilst I still exercise purely for pleasure and personal gain, on those tough days when I can’t be bothered, I remind myself that there are much deeper reasons to drag myself out of the house and get my butt to the gym. Anything negative can be turned into a positive if you keep dig hard enough!

#2 – Change the things you can and accept what you cannot…

Don’t get me wrong, I love to keep up to date on the latest technologies and breakthroughs in Diabetic medicine and I am positive that the brilliant minds of the world will create a synthetic pancreas in the next 10-20 years. However (and I feel this is closely linked with yoga), there is a time to strive and there is a time to accept things. For at least the first 3 years of my diagnosis I decided that I was going to ‘cure’ myself somehow through extreme diets, extreme exercise and extreme lifestyles. None of it was sustainable and in the long run, none of it was healthy. I’m far from blasé about my condition these days, but I have a softer acceptance to it now and know what is the most consistent way to keep me at my best.

#1 – Treat your long-term health condition like you would a close friend or spouse…

Okay, bear with me on this one because I know it’s quite an unusual thing to say. When I was trying to encapsulate everything I have said above, I kept coming up with words like ‘respect, love through the good and the bad, communicate, don’t ignore warning signs and attend to the needs’ and they all seemed to link closely to the values I would have in a friendship or relationship. Diabetes is an interesting condition because it was something I did not choose, but something I knew I had to live with for the rest of my life. For the first few months, I convinced myself it wasn’t really there and I hid away from it. The thing is, Diabetes is a responsibility but it does not have to be a burden. I spent too long thinking that these two terms came as a package deal. This last one is for anyone with a long-term condition: Be transparent with yourself about what you have, gain a mutual respect, be attentive and remember like anything in life, be prepared to face the good, the bad and the ugly. Remember, not one single person in the world will ever want to see you suffer, so reach out when the times get tough.

If you’d like to come along to Mike’s yoga classes (or any of our other classes) then please feel free to join up using the link at the bottom right of our homepage.

And if you’re struggling with a diabetes or pre-diabetes diagnosis and would like support and advice to make some diet and lifestyle changes, feel free to call our resident Nutritional Therapist, Marie, to book an appointment!


Gift vouchers are now available to buy your loved one the Gift of Health for Christmas 2018!!!

Give us a call on 01642 680 680 or email us for more details!