Diabetes & Exercise: Interview with Adam Dart

Today, we’re welcoming Adam Dart to the blog to talk about exercise and diabetes.   me2Kate & I are the rugged indoors type, so we’re really interested in hearing from Adam who is a personal trainer who  happens to have diabetes and is keen to encourage and provide us with the tools to be more active.  Adam is the author of the ebook “Exercise and Diabetes”, which is available  at http://dartfitness.com.au/exercise-health-fitness-ebook

Thanks for joining us today Adam, can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Adam Dart, I am 35 years young and I have been a diabetic since I was 20. I have lived on the Gold Coast my entire life, the weather and lifestyle can’t be beaten. I am a primary school teacher and love what I do. I am a fully qualified personal trainer with over fifteen years of evidence-based training and real-life experience as a diabetic, athlete and coach.  I am recently married, we have a 2 year old boy, another baby due in December and just bought our first family home.

Wow,  you must be busy teaching, training, writing books and juggling family life-do you sleep?  Exercise boosts energy levels, so I’m told.

What made you decide to be a personal trainer? What’s the best & worst thing about your job?

I decided to become a personal trainer because I have always loved sport, competing in a variety of sports, pushing my body to the limit, feeling great, the need to live a healthy active life as a diabetic and the satisfaction of helping others achieve their exercise and fitness goals.

The best things about my job is helping others succeed in their exercise and fitness journey and the worst thing would only be not having enough time in the day to make a difference with more people.

Tell us about you and diabetes. 

I have had diabetes for fifteen years and always used an insulin pen, fast acting before all meals and slow release at 8:30pm (give or take an hour) every night. I don’t let diabetes rule me, I try to eat a healthy balanced diet and exercise at least 5 times a week.

Most information out there tells you to check blood sugar levels half an hour before and an hour after exercise, but as a diabetic myself, I believe checking your blood sugar levels more often will educate you as to how your body works. On an average day, I will test my blood sugar levels anywhere between ten to fifteen times and on a day that I am exercising, fifteen to twenty times. On a day when I might be doing something totally new like house hunting I might choose to test an extra five times on top of my daily average. This is because such an activity requires getting in and out of the car, being in a house for an unknown time and produces excitement and different emotions. This extra testing may seem excessive to some people, but it gives me the knowledge and confidence to deal with my experiences in a positive manner and not let my diabetes affect what I am doing.

I think that’s a really good point,  unusual activities can cause fluctuations, you wouldn’t think house hunting would have much impact but it does let alone bidding on a house at auction is so stressful, it’d send me sky high.

It’s normal for us “diabetics” to encounter feelings of frustration and other emotions as we try and manage our condition. Ongoing stress and all of what life throws at you can be very challenging. It’s important to address these issues and realise that you certainly aren’t alone. Exercise is a great tool for managing my stress and diabetes and remain positive to achieve a better quality of life.

You may feel hopeless and overwhelmed or think that managing diabetes is impossible at times. The truth is that managing diabetes takes hard work and dedication, just as much as a non-diabetic lifestyle does. Regular exercise alone is the mood booster needed to remain positive and is an effective way of managing your diabetes. When you exercise you will find your emotional health improves as you adopt healthier lifestyle habits to manage your diabetes. The effort is well worth it.

Hmmm, you might tempt me up off the couch yet Adam,

What does a hypo feel like?

What does a hypo feel like? Great question. Sometimes a hypo doesn’t have any feeling while other times when really bad it can feel like you’re hung over. I can feel very lethargic, out of it and take some time to feel back to normal again.

Do you have a worst/most embarrassing/funniest diabetes story to share?

When I was about 23 I was on a bus heading to a New Year’s Eve venue in Sydney with my best mate. I had no idea where I was going or how long it would take. Without thinking I hadn’t brought any sugar or lollies with me to treat a hypo. Twenty minutes into the bus ride I start to feel low, I tested and of course I was. I was lucky my blood sugar levels were only dropping slowly but as I didn’t know how far it was to the venue I started to panic a bit. I started asking passengers on the bus if they had any lollies or sugar. There was a little old lady up the front of the bus and I thought she would definitely have something to help me out but she didn’t. Luckily enough we arrived at the venue a few minutes later, I raced off the bus and up to find some sort of hypo saviour. The only option was a drive though bottle shop so I went in and quickly grabbed a vodka cruiser drink knowing that it was full of sugar.

I paid for it and went outside with it in a brown paper bag and asked a security guard on duty “can I quickly drink this as I’m an alcoholic?”

By this point I must have been pretty low and my brain not functioning correctly. My mate laughed and corrected me by telling the security guard that I was in fact a diabetic and needed the sugar before I passed out. Ha ha.

LOL, I think that’s a first using a Vodka Cruiser as a hypo treatment-scary stuff!

What’s your favourite hypo fix?

It would have to be Aliens Party Mix lollies, not vodka cruisers. Ha ha.

Are you a diabetic or a person with diabetes? Does it matter?

I do refer to myself as I diabetic but I am a person with diabetes as I don’t let it rule me and it doesn’t matter at all. As a school teacher I would always refer to a student with a disability as a student with a disability as opposed to a disabled student. We are all people that suffer from something.

What would you like to tell the world about diabetes?

I would like to raise world awareness to educate everyone about diabetes and help people understand how serious the disease is.  Also to clear up the misconception in regards to the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Preach it 🙂 

In one sentence sum up your philosophy on life with diabetes?

I have it, deal with it to the best of my ability without the bad days getting to me and enjoy every second of my life as there are far worse problems.

ABrandCoverWhat are your top 3 tips for exercising safely with diabetes?

I strongly believe safe exercise can be achieved through “trial and error” combined with plenty of blood sugar testing. A person without diabetes has the luxury of their pancreas working correctly to regulate their blood sugar levels. Their body would be continually monitoring, adjusting and fine-tuning their insulin requirements. As a diabetic we don’t have that luxury, but we can test, test, test and monitor, adjust and fine-tune for greater blood sugar control. It’s a small sacrifice, but one with large rewards and a way to gain valuable knowledge of how our bodies respond to food intake and the activities we participate in.

Of course my biggest tip would be for all diabetics to get my “Diabetes & Exercise” eBook !

What are your top 3 motivational tips?

Can’t get motivated to train? Is it getting colder outside and you’re losing light – plenty of excuses which don’t help the motivation levels for training. If you’re tempted to hit the snooze button in the morning, remember this – staying motivated requires a change to only one thing, your mindset. My book has lots of  great ideas about motivation, here are 3 of my favourites:

  • Set short-term, SMART goals so you achieve success more often.
  • Be patient. Make a promise to yourself to stick with it for at least 3 or 4 months. Consistency is the key.
  • Post on social media – Telling your followers and friends you’re going to exercise keeps you accountable in a very public way. Support from family and friends is key to maintaining an exercise regimen.

Any other thoughts. comments or wisdom to share?

Keep in mind that everyone is different, we all have different body types, different strengths and weaknesses, and thus we each have different behaviours that we’re more likely to succeed with. Remember, the body is a complex entity and just when we think we have it all worked out, we will have a bad day with unexplainable blood sugar levels, even after all the analysing. When this happens you need to write those days off, forget it and move on.

Do you have experiences or questions about exercise with diabetes? Feel free to share in the comments or on our Facebook page.  Bye for now I’m off to dig out my sandshoes.

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