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10 Things I Love About Diabetes

When I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I honestly hated everything about it. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve never had a problem with it. But over time, it has taught me so many invaluable lessons and has helped me become the person I am today: a happy and healthy guy thriving with diabetes. I’ve not only accepted living with diabetes, I’ve learned to love it and manage it so that it doesn’t manage me. So, I decided to put together a list of all the things that diabetes has given me. Here it is…

1. Diabetes Taught Me How to Turn Adversity Into Opportunity

Adversity is inevitable. We are all going to experience varying degrees of it throughout our lifetime. How you respond to adversity is ultimately what defines you. You can either let it destroy you or you can use it to fuel growth. Overcoming adversity is one of the greatest achievements in a person’s life. Adversity comes in all shapes and sizes: Disease, physical challenges, financial, relationships, etc. It doesn’t discriminate. Adversity is a powerful tool that should be embraced. Do not fear it. Respect it. Realize that it can take you to wonderful places once you conquer it. When obstacles become a part of the plan, you will always be able to thrive in the face of adversity. “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”

2. Diabetes Improved My Fitness

It’s no secret that a huge part of my diabetes management (and one of my five pillars) is exercise. I move my body in a different way every day as part of my management strategy. As a result of the sheer volume of training that I do, I’m in the best physical shape of my life. I’m the most athletic (and as a nice byproduct the most aesthetic) that I’ve ever been thanks to diabetes.

3. Diabetes Strengthened My Mind

To me, nothing is more impressive and attractive than mental fortitude. A strong mind, when accompanied by a strong body, is a lethal combination. Diabetes can give you both of those things if you let it. The mental strength required to not only deal with being diagnosed with diabetes, but to manage, control and thrive with diabetes on a daily basis is something I am very proud of.

4. Diabetes Improved My Understanding of Nutrition

After being diagnosed with diabetes, I made it my responsibility to learn as much as I possibly could about nutrition. I bought a food scale, downloaded a food app, and started weighing all my food and storing it in my memory bank. Now, I can eye-off a meal and calculate the individual macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat) within seconds. My understanding of nutritional medicine has improved beyond belief. I know how certain foods affect my blood sugar levels just by looking at them.

5. Diabetes Gave Me Passion, Purpose, and Direction

I can honestly say diabetes has given me more than it has taken from me. Without diabetes I wouldn’t have founded Drew’s Daily Dose, a home that inspires people with and without diabetes to lead a happy and healthy life. I know exactly what I’m here for and what I want to achieve in my lifetime. I know it sounds weird, but I was lost before diabetes came along. Without diabetes, I have no idea what I would be doing with my career. I truly don’t.

6. Diabetes Taught Me What it Really Means to be Healthy and Happy

I know it sounds crazy, but I can honestly say that I’m happier and healthier today with diabetes than I was before my diagnosis. Health is not merely the absence of disease. It has to be holistic. It’s about feeling good in your skin, having endless energy, being fit, having a healthy gut, sleeping well, being injury-free and free from other physiological complications. I’ve learned things about biochemistry that I would never have known otherwise. I’ve learned how to build muscle and burn fat effectively. I’ve discovered which food groups affect my blood sugar levels. I’ve discovered ways to improve my insulin sensitivity and ultimately reduce my overall insulin requirements. The list goes on. Most importantly, I’m doing my best to prevent other diseases from manifesting down the track.

To be happy doesn’t mean to take the easy road, free from pain, struggle and difficulties. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Happiness is a byproduct of conquering obstacles. When you’re faced with something difficult and you conquer it, you come away with a sense of empowerment and fulfillment which can never be taken away from you. You’ll be able to take that sense of accomplishment with you forever as another weapon to add to your arsenal which you can rely on when the time calls for it.

7. Diabetes Taught Me How to Accept Imperfections

I used to be obsessed with doing everything possible to be the healthiest version of myself. Well, I still am. But the difference is, I no longer beat myself up if I fall short. For example, some days my blood sugar levels are higher than desired but it doesn’t get me down anymore. I accept it and take responsibility for my next actions to ultimately solve the problem. If I miss a workout or eat something that I shouldn’t have, I bounce back without any guilt or self-hate. I’m OK with being imperfect.

8. Diabetes Taught Me That Exercise Is Medicine

On the day I was diagnosed with diabetes, I learned the most valuable lesson that I will probably ever take away from this whole ordeal: Exercise. Is. Medicine. If you want to hear about my experience with exercise as a form of medicine that we can freely and happily administer to ourselves, read this post! It’s also the reason why I didn’t end up in hospital at diagnosis. It’s also the reason I was able to reduce my insulin requirements by nearly 70 percent. Exercise is the single most important tool I use, and one that I use the most frequently to maintain such tight blood sugar control. Without it — I’d be lost.

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9. Diabetes Inspired Me to Write a Song

Before I was diagnosed with diabetes I wanted to have a career as a singer-songwriter. Diabetes was certainly a setback that halted my dreams of becoming a performing artist, but later on it turned out to be the thing that inspired me to write and record one of the best pieces of music I have ever produced. I put all of the emotions that I was feeling around the time of my diagnosis into song-form: sadness, grief, despair, heartbreak, strength, courage, and resilience all feature in the song’s mood. It has become the soundtrack to my life.

10. Diabetes Motivates Me to Make The Most Out of Every Moment

When your health gets taken away from you and it feels like your life is over, that’s when you get a reality check about what really matters. Diabetes was certainly my wake-up call that life is more fragile than I thought and that I am far from invincible. It let me know very quickly that I need to take control and responsibility for my health going forward. It really put life into perspective. Nowadays, I take nothing for granted. Be it a morning swim, a meal, a coffee, or a workout — 
l enjoy it with every fiber of my being.

On that note, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes of all time and one that really resonates with me:

“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”

This story originally appeared on Drew’s Daily Dose. You can also follow this journey on Instagram at drews.daily.dose.

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