This week on Living Life to the Fullest with Type 1 Diabetes I am highlighting an amazing mother who became Type 1 after having gestational diabetes when pregnant with her son.
I met Holly via social media when I began following her journey towards competing in her first bikini competition. I was instantly inspired by her story and when I decided to do this series she was one of the first people I thought of to highlight.
Before I go into her interview I want to also share a really cool article that my friend Rachael Norfleet (@trialsoflifeandfitness) shared with me about a very fantastic project going on in the diabetes world.
A Quest: Insulin – Releasing Implant for Type -1 Diabetes
Ok, now onto the wonderful Holly Miller.
(Q): How long have you been living with Type 1?
(A): 5 years this past August
(Q) How were you diagnosed?
(A): When I was pregnant with my second son I had gestational diabetes, I had to give myself insulin shots and was told that after my son was born everything would return back to normal. This was not the case. At 6 weeks postpartum I was suppose to go back for a glucose test, but at 5 weeks is when I was misdiagnosed with type 2 and 2 days after that ended up in ICU with DKA. It was a rude awakening to say the least. I luckily had a great and supportive husband who took my diagnoses on as if it were his own and we changed our lives immediately to fit this new lifestyle we had been dealt.
(Q) What activities/sports/hobbies are you involved in?
(A) We are a very active family who are involved in many activities across the board from Tough Mudders to NPC body building competitions. We enjoy staying active with our kids and take them to ninja warrior courses, trampoline parks, and many other fun places were we can burn some energy off.
(Q) What is your favorite snack to bring your blood sugar up?
(A) If its an emergency low I will drink orange juice of POM juice. If it is to keep a blood sugar number stable or prior to a workout I will have a 1/2 of a banana with some almond butter. I found that the almond butter works differently for my body than regular peanut butter; my favorite brand is JIFF.
(Q) Do you use a pump or do manual injections?
(A) I have only ever used the Omnipod and I love it. I eat about 6 times a day and test when I have lows as well as prior to bed so I find that I test myself on average 6-8 times a day.
(Q) Do you have any glucose monitoring systems?
(A) Just recently I have started using the Dexcom CGM and have come to really rely on it. It allows me to constantly read my Blood Glucose on my apple watch and phone. This has helped me to get a tighter control on my numbers, so now when I see a 115 and rising or a 115 and dropping I know how to react.
(Q) What is the hardest part about managing Type 1 Diabetes?
(A) The lows during cardio or a heavy lifting session has to be the worst. I will eat my snack prior to working out and decrease my insulin delivery but can still sufffer from lows. My dexcom helps with this problem however sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between a low and just being tired from the workout. And forget about trying fasted cardio!
(Q) If you could tell someone who has just recently been diagnosed the one thing that was most helpful for yourself (or that you wish you were told) when you were diagnosed what would you tell them.
(A) It is better to just accept the diagnoses than to fight it. It will not always be easy and at times seem unfair, but this is your one life you’ve been given so take care of yourself today and your future will thank you for it!!
(Q) As an athlete how do you manage your blood sugars during your activities?
(A) I drink Gatorade or Intra-formance by 1st Phorm which is Branched Chain Amino Acids with carbs. I will also eat a protein bar for longer lasting carbs.
(Q) If you could tell someone who is hesitant to maintain an active lifestyle with T1D what would you tell them?
(A) This lifestyle is really one that everyone should follow I’ve just been forced to do it, so I don’t view it as a bad thing. I can raise my children in a way that I might not have if I didn’t have T1D, they know so much more about healthy food and living because of this diagnosis.
This is a long road and you won’t be perfect everyday, but just strive for consistency. You will feel better when your numbers are good and you will treat others better too, it won’t be easy but it will be worth it. This is something I had to be completely honest with myself about and maybe this is the hard truth you need to hear too so hear it is… Your life is worth it, your legs, and eyes, and family are worth it, so just do it!
(Q) What is the most important piece (diet, exercise, sleep, recovery, etc) about managing blood sugar levels while maintaining an active lifestyle?
(A) I take my vitamins and exercise 5-6 days a week. I make sure to drink a gallon of water a day and sleep 7-8 hours a night. All of these things along with a clean eating diet and staying consistent have help me manage T1D. There isn’t just one thing that helps me manage it appropriately and keep by HBA1C down it is all of the pieces put together that work best for to help do this .
(Q) What is your biggest fear with Type 1 Diabetes? How do you manage that fear to overcome it?
(A) My biggest fear is that one of my kids will become diabetic. The way I manage this fear is to teach them now the importance of healthy eating and exercise. If they learn these things early on in life than maybe it won’t be so much of a culture shock later on.
(Q) What activity affects your blood sugar the most?
(A) Cardio is the number one blood sugar dropper for me. If I keep at a steady state I am ok, it is when I begin to get my heart rate up that it drops quickly. I always have to plan ahead or be prepared to treat the lows if they hit.
(Q) Can you provide some insight as to how your diet helps you manage and control your blood sugar? Do you follow a specific diet to do so?
(A) I maintain a clean eating diet and keep my snack and meals at the same carbs amounts. So for a snack I will eat 15-25 grams of carbs and for a meal I will eat 35-45 grams, this keeps my numbers from roller coasting.
(Q) An interesting fun fact about you:
(A) When I was younger I was hypoglycemic, so as a family we joke that I used up all of my insulin and now that is why I am diabetic.
(Q) What is your favorite snack and/or meal?
(A) I love to eat Kodiac Pancakes with almond butter and sugar free syrup for breakfast. I also love muscle egg and turkey bacon; basically breakfast is my favorite! Both of these help me set up for a good start to my day and keep my numbers stable.
I hope you all enjoyed Holly’s story, I love how she took her diagnosis in stride and as a family they focused on turning something awful into a positive for everyone.