It has been a while since I have written anything on here…

To be honest, I was tired of being Jeffrey, the guy with diabetes. I just wanted to be Jeffrey,  the father, husband, brother, son and teacher. With November being Diabetes Awareness Month, a new little fire was lit. I have been through a lot during my 26 years of disease. Some of it has been great, while other times have been terrible. There were a few times where I thought I was staring at death and welcomed it. Some of the things that have helped me to live a fulfilling life with a disease is to push myself physically, write, and help raise funds to find a cure. I enjoy pushing myself physically the best.

Training, exercise, lifting, competing, activity or whatever else you want to call it, I have always loved it. Training for sports as a child was my favorite thing to do growing up. Shooting baskets all day and night in the driveway, running hills, agility drills and lifting weights is what I wanted to do when I had any free time. I still love all of these things and try to fit some of it in with being a father, husband and working full time. The activity makes me feel alive and disease free. I truly forget about diabetes while I am training. It can be a variable that affects how I do, but for the most part I just go for it. I have learned to dial in my insulin and food, so my training adds benefits such as insulin sensitivity and a disease free feeling.

The process of training for strength sports is what I love. Actual competition isn’t that rewarding for me. I always want more or think I could have done better. If we take the deadlift for example. I wanted a 600 pound deadlift really badly a handful of years ago. Once I hit 600, I wanted more. When I lifted 633, I wanted more.  Now I am working towards a 650 pound deadlift. Will I be satisfied with 650? Probably not. The process is what keeps me going. Going into my garage, playing my music loud, playing air guitar and having my kids with me is all the reward I need. It is an hour of confidence and empowerment!

The process of training mirrors the process with diabetes at times. There are ups and downs. Sometimes I need help and I am not motivated. I have made plenty of mistakes and learned from them. I still continue to make mistakes and continue to learn. It is never ending. If I don’t continue to learn, I will continue to fail. Other times, I feel like I can run through walls. If I don’t stick to the process with training or diabetes, the results will not be what I desire. I want to be healthy, strong, lean, active, positive and loving.

Ultimately, I hope that people can learn from my mistakes. Over the years, I have made a bunch. In the future, I will be writing about how these mistakes have ultimately turned into positive learning experiences.

The land of confusion is all around us. There are so many outlets and so many experts. At times, all of the different ways of doing things and what is right is overwhelming. We must remember to be able to sift through information and find what works for the individual. I have had many influences to form who I think I am and what I believe in. This goes for a lot of things. Morals, values, religion, health, wellness, nutrition, exercise and how I deal with being a type 1 diabetic. In one way in another everything comes down to sticking to a some type of program that works. Having to answer the question of “who am I?” has been pretty eye opening for me on many levels. This question has forced some major reflection. In my head, the first answer was always “diabetic”. It has been such a huge thing in my life the last 26 plus years that separating from the disease has been quite difficult at times. The answer that I give now is “father, husband and teacher.” The disease I have is not who I am.

Caring for diabetes can be quite a daunting task. The key word is can. I probably have done everything under the sun to help me attempt to control the disease in my life. Some of the things have worked quite well and other things were a complete failure. Different styles of eating with gnarly restrictions to drinking Dr. Pepper and eating Cheetos almost everyday. Unfortunately, I allowed other people influence me to the point that I ran into some terrible outcomes. One of the restrictive diets I followed about 7 years ago put me through the ringer. It had never occurred to me to keep track of how much or in this case how little I was eating. Luckily a doctor that I met with asked me to track my calories and I was only eating around 1,200 calories. I thought I was doing everything right because I was leaning out. I ignored the fact that I was still trying to train hard and wanted nothing to do with much of anything because my energy was so low. After three liver biopsies and a muscle biopsy, I knew it was time to change. This is just one snap shot of one error with many others. I had let what others were doing at the gym, online and on social media. I was reaching for straws and hoping something would work.

Exercise ideologies can be easily lost in the land of confusion as well. The next big thing is always coming out. Trying to figure out a routine or a program can be quite maddening.  To a certain extent, every program works and every program doesn’t work. Programs and routines work when they are followed. Things like being consistent, persistent and patient are factors that lead to success. To say that certain programs don’t work is wrong in my opinion. The best results I have had along with others I have worked with have come from trusting the process. Find something you enjoy and don’t worry about the so called experts and what you read online. Be the best version of you. Quit comparing yourself to others. Do what you want.

Learning from our mistakes is huge. We learn from our failures and become stronger for the better. Sometimes I wish I could go back and warn myself about my choices, but I wouldn’t be in the place I am in now. Through some of these mistakes, I have met some great people that I consider family. My management and more importantly outlook on life is so much greater. With training, I have come to a place that I know what works well for me. I say this, but I realize it is very easy to slip back into the land of confusion.

If you are lost or need help with finding a program that fits your fitness needs, I am here to help. If I don’t think I can help first hand, I will try to help point you in the right direction. As far as nutrition goes, I can only suggest the team at Relentless Dietetics. They are real and they are family.

Find what works for you! Break diabetes!

As I was driving to an appointment last week, Social Distortion’s song “Ball and Chain” came on the radio. The first thing I thought of was living with type 1 diabetes and a whole bunch of other things I wished I could blank from my brain. For so much of my diabetic life, I have thought of type 1 diabetes holding me back. At the same time I am very grateful for the added responsibility and self awareness.

Take away, take away
Take away this ball and chain
I’m lonely and I’m tired
And I can’t take any more pain
Take away, take away
Never to return again
Take away, take away
Take away this ball and chain

-Social Distortion

I would love for diabetes not be a major thought of mine, but it is always there in my head. I have found that in the last few years where my control is very tight and mu health markers look great, I think of my diabetes so much more and it has become a huge thing. I think to myself what things would be like without these thoughts. I just want the normal everyday insecurities and self defecating thoughts. The way I am wired and how I deal with things, something else would probably fill the void. When will we ever be good enough?

Being reflective stinks sometimes. More often than not, I dwell on the negative rather than the positives that have occurred. When I look back and reflect on some of the things I think of as major events, I realize that they are mostly negative. One of my earliest big memories is when I was 5 and had my feet burned with boiling water. This is something that I would love to forget. I remember my parents putting me in the kitchen sink and running cold water over my feet after the boiling water hit my feet and me screaming my head off. Each week as I was recovering from the burns, my mom would take me to the tub, clean the burns and cut off the dead skin. To regain strength in my feet, I would ride my younger brother’s pedaled toy tractor around the living room. I remember it hurting, but the desire to recover was huge. The highlight of this whole situation is that my dad was home for my birthday and picked me up for pin the tail on the donkey when it was my try. Due to my dad’s work, my birthday fell when he had his yearly industry show. He made it this year. This is the fact that I should remember. There are other things pop up when I think back, but I need to get this back on track.

We all have hurdles in our lives. We all have insecurities. This is something I repeatedly have to remind myself. With the world we live in these days, we need to be up and happy all the time with wonderful things constantly happening to us. There’s no room for negatives or being a bit down. Take a look at Facebook, Instagram or any other social media that’s out there. Very seldom do we see posts that we are putting ourselves in not so great situations. Everything has to be great and so positive. I know I have fallen for this as well and I think a certain way when I see something that plays into my insecurities. There will always be someone better looking, leaner, more successful, smarter, stronger, sexier, wealthier, happier…etc.

With type 1 diabetes, there are so many mental hurdles or opportunities on a daily basis to feel like a person is lost. I search for control. I question my choices. I become nervous and anxious at doctor appointments. Am I doing well enough? How do I compare to other diabetics? What great new autoimmune issue now? When I was younger, I thought all of these types of things would just have disappeared as I aged and learned more. Boy was I wrong. Ignorance is bliss. The more I learn, the more I realize, I have no clue. My health is pretty locked down, but the mental stress out weighs any kind of health concerns.

This has been a ramble…

My main point with this post is that we all have some kind of “ball and chain” that is adding some difficulty to our mental or physical well being. Even after thinking about what I wrote, I think that maybe this should be some kind of uplifting message.

 

 

 

Diabetes care is and can be quite overwhelming in this day and age. With the internet and especially social media, everyone is an expert. People are easily able to fall into dogmatic thinking. I have fallen guilty of this as well. I would put down others that did things differently and I thought they had no idea what they were doing. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter how someone else chooses to do things. What works for me may not work for others and vice versa.

Reflecting back on my 26 plus years of living with type 1 diabetes, one major thing has always led to success and that has been being consistent. When I was first diagnosed at 12 years old, everything was the same for each meal and insulin dosage. For being newly diagnosed my numbers were pretty solid despite having hardly any idea what we were doing. Once I hit high school, I ignored the fact that I needed to do things a certain way. I kept this attitude into my early college years as well. My numbers were terrible, my health was terrible and my performance on the athletic field was not what it should have been. I was riding a roller coaster, guessing and hoping. Once I was starting to be consistent, things were very much improved. I was leaner, lighter and had more confidence in all that I did.

If we fast forward to about three years ago, we hit the most successful part of my type 1 life. Today, I have structure and I stay within my parameters for food. No restrictions. Not worried about labeling or identifying myself as a diabetic. The same goes for my training protocol.  No program jumping. Following the plan and sticking to it.

Being consistent is huge. People that are successful are consistent in their behaviors. Health should not be taken for granted. We only get one shot. Whatever is that you do to be a success, be consistent and see results!

I have created a Facebook group called “Breaking Diabetes” that will have 12 weeks of free programming with the goal of increasing strength and conditioning. Figuring out what to do in the gym can be a daunting task. With this program, all you need to do is be consistent and be willing to allow yourself to get stronger, leaner and more conditioned.

 

“It;s time, it’s time, time to align your body with your mind”, sings Henry Rollins in the Disconnect Myself. I have always loved this song. Depending on my mood, the song can mean so many different things. For the most part, it is primarily positive. I would like to say there are zero negative thoughts, but that would be a huge lie. When I lift, train, exercise or whatever else you want to call it, I reserve certain artists to listen to. Some days are reserved for Billy Joel while other days Slayer is a great fit. My time in my garage or at the gym is to clear the mind and leave the stress of work, life and disease behind me. This is what I mean by disconnect.

Being able to disconnect from diabetes is huge for me. There are so many reminders of it throughout the day. In the past, I was continually negative and filled with self hate because I never felt worthy of being happy because I couldn’t live a normal life. I am not sure what that is anyhow. Luckily, I have been coming to the point where things do make sense and I am worth being happy. Diabetes has always been a piece of motivation for me to succeed. As a kid, it fueled me on the athletic field. I never wanted my coaches to think differently of me because of my disease. Diabetes gave a chip on my shoulder. This led me to work endlessly on getting better, getting stronger, getting faster and studying the sports I played. The weight room was my home while in high school. It was my place to feel confident and successful. A place to disconnect.

After my football days were over due to too many concussions, I was lost. Right before my last year of college football, my control of my diabetes was fantastic. I kept great tabs on my nutrition and wrote everything down. Pretty much as soon as I was no longer allowed to be on the field I started to get a bunch of tattoos. The adrenaline from getting tattooed was a similar high I felt while playing football. It just didn’t fill the void though. This created a downward spiral of not caring about too much. The work I put in the previous year with preparing for the season went down the toilet quick. I quit checking my blood sugars and gave huge amounts of insulin and ate like crap. I didn’t care. I felt unloved and not worthy of being loved.

I broke out of this behavior by writing and moving. Writing down my thoughts was huge. It was a way to flush the negative and clear the mind. Disconnect myself. Moving was great because I had to refocus to a new school and figure out a real path at 22 years old. I didn’t want to be a college drop out with one year to go. My goal was to get into education. I loved school growing up. It was an escape for me as a child. Fast forward a bit and things evened out more. I started working out again and feeling good about myself. I still had the void of football and athletics, but I was in a better spot after a year of true struggle mentally.

To bring it back here, allowing my disease to be ignored and letting it become an ugly monster that terrorized me was my downfall. I had to learn to accept the fact that I had to be responsible and be accountable for my actions both physically and mentally. I wish I could say I still don’t have dark days, but I do. Some days just feel like too much and I become overwhelmed. Going to the gym or my garage and throwing around some heavy weights seems to help me disconnect.

Over the last 8 years or so, I have tried training and competing in strength sports to bring happiness and a sense of accomplishment. I love the process of getting stronger, being challenged and see progress. Training and preparing for competitions have helped me keep great control of my disease.

Ultimately, proper management is a decision. Through all the ups and downs of this diabetes thing, the constant is me. I decide who wins. I decide when to disconnect from the negative or the positive. It’s not motivation, it’s not a death sentence, it’s not who I am, it’s just something I live with.

Be who you want to be. If you want to be healthy, take the appropriate steps. Questions, ask away. I am an open book.

 

There are many places a person with type 1 diabetes can be. Some are great while some can be flat defeating. I have been on both ends of the spectrum. Currently, diabetes is more of just a nuisance that I have to take care of on a daily basis. Do I still would like for me or my family not to have to deal with it? Of course. I would love to not have to prick my finger a bunch of times during the day or give myself shots. For over 26 years, that has been a daily thing. I honestly don”t remember too well my non diabetic years. Type 1 is not who I am, but it is a part of me that requires some major attention and responsibility. One of the best things I have done to help with my diabetes has been connecting with Dr. Trevor Kashey and the Relentless Dietetics team.

I was in contact with Dr. Kashey a little over two years ago. At first, I was focused on enhancing my performance with strongman and powerlifting. Nutrition was a struggle of mine. I had a negative outlook on food and had zero structure. I tried everything under the sun diet wise. I tried Paleo, keto, the Zone, Carb Nite, Carb Backloading, IIFYM,  and everything else it seems. The problem I ran into on my own were all the restrictions. I saw some foods as bad and others were good. I fell into the trap of thinking dogmatic about some of these ideals.

When I first started with Dr. Kashey my A1C was around 7.2. This wasn’t horrible, but definitely not the greatest. Working with Dr. Kashey has given me structure with my food and food choices. I know exactly how much to eat each meal and things are easy. My insulin usage is almost the same everyday. One cool thing is that when I see a blood sugar of 150 or so, I consider this to be high compared to a few years ago where it was normal. My most current A1C was 5.8 which is an average of 120. I am looking forward to see how this number can continue to improve.

Each day I have a plan with my food. I know how much insulin I will need and more importantly food is no longer a stress. There still are times when I just want to say the heck with it and restrict myself or binge. I have been there and have done that. It is amazing when you reflect back things and how things really went. Each week, I check in with Dr. Kashey through email with my nutrition numbers, body weight and photos. He will give me feedback, adjustments, advice, but most importantly he asks me some great questions that challenge me to levels that I would have never expected. The physical changes that my body have undertaken has been great, but the mental growth out weighs the physical here. Our emails have improved how I do everything on a daily basis. Parenting, being a husband, and how I teach are all positively affected beyond belief.

This April, the Relentless Dietetics team had a retreat for their members in Florida. It was a no brainer whether or not I should attend. I wanted the opportunity to talk with and thank the people that have made a huge difference in my life. The whole team has been very influential. The weekend was filled with some great conversations and very therapeutic. To talk with other people that have very different backgrounds, but yet have so much in common was life changing. The weekend helped me to realize that I am not Jeffrey Huet, type 1 diabetic. The question of “who am I?”  is what went through my mind during our conversations. I wrote around 20 plus pages of notes about my experiences and action steps for the future. The most important one was that it is okay for me to enjoy the person I am and let others love me. I wasn’t really sure where the conversations were going to go, but I am very thankful they did go the mindset route.

Diabetes is a part of me. It is not who I am. The structure and love that Dr. Kashey has shown me has brought a level of peace to my life. The weight of a disease is off of my shoulders and I can live. Will my diabetes ever go away? Probably not, but it is just one piece of the puzzle. Structure. Love.

 

The days of competing are over. There are a number of reasons why I did compete in strength sports. The number one reason was to fill some type of void in my life to prove that I was capable of doing something with a disease. That’s in fact how this Breaking Diabetes idea started. I have learned a lot of lessons through strength sports. Some good, some bad.

A few years ago, I was shooting for a 600 pound deadlift. Once I achieved deadlifting over 600, my eyes were set on 650. The hunger for more was and is still there. I was expecting some type of great feeling from accomplishing my goal. Instead, I went back to the drawing board and tried to figure out the best and quickest route for more weight on the bar. Being content and okay with results are things that I struggle with. Lifting makes me different than others. I own it. I put in the work and the results are there.

When I first started lifting, it was to become stronger and faster for sports in high school. I was bit by the iron bug. I loved it. My off season training put me into a great position and set me apart from my peers and opponents. I became more confident, physically stronger and saw how my efforts paid off on the field or court. Seeing how my strength and conditioning improved my play was huge. I wasn’t the most gifted with athletics, but I always tried to work my hardest. I was at home on the football field. Something about being in the pads and looking across the line of scrimmage at the opponent fueled me. I could take out all my frustrations and anger.

At 38, the body is starting to tell me that it no longer wants to push as it once did. I have struggled with this for the last few years. I decide to give it a run and then I change my mind. The inner conflict has overflowed. It is time to face the fact that I have nothing to prove physically. My kids don’t care and my wife is fed up with seeing me flip flopping. I can’t blame her and I agree with her.

To quote Dr. Kashey, “What does it matter what fat bald guys in a parking lot think?” He mentioned this to me as I mentioned how I was torn with what to do competition wise.  Some of the Relentless Dietetics team have had some great advice for me. I appreciate their advice and am very thankful for them calling me out. Being honest with myself with all of this has been an interesting ride. Without training, I am not really sure who I am. Training has been such a huge part of my life that on days off I am lost. The truth is, my strength numbers are nothing special and do not define me.

So what is the next step? What’s the goal?

This last summer, I trained to just train. I felt great. I didn’t care how strong I was and didn’t even think about competing. My goal is to get back to that feeling. It is time to train for aesthetics and overall health and wellness. I want to be mobile, conditioned and have my fitness enhance my life rather than take away from it. The biggest hurdle I see is that I will start to feel great and want to push the body again.

I have had a ton of ups and downs through my 26 years of type 1 diabetes. Some of my experiences have been very negative while others have been very positive. The amount I have learned about myself holds great value. The nights of thinking I was going to die because of DKA or being extremely low and not aware stick out big time. My doctor when I was a child and teen, was very supportive of my parents and I riding things out at home rather than going to the ER. When I think back, sometimes I wish the doctor would have told my parents to take me into the hospital when my blood sugars were super high. I think it would have been very beneficial to increase my level of respect and responsibility for my disease. My parents along with my doctor did not want to make me fearful of my disease. For this I am very thankful. No matter what I wanted to try to do, they were supportive.

I have allowed diabetes to make me anxious and nervous. The constant thinking, planning, preparation and health issues have driven me nuts at times. Diabetes is a disease that can’t be ignored without severe consequences. A huge part of my drive for lifting is from being a diabetic. The last thing I want people to do when they see me is to think of how I am diseased. Type 1 diabetes doesn’t have a look. Diabetics can be what ever they wish to be. With social media, there are so many great examples out there. No longer does a scared twelve year have to feel alone and think they are some kind of oddity.

Training and music are my go to tools to get me out of these holes that I dig for myself. I have also starting writing as well. One of my favorite bands was and still is the Rollins Band. I find the lyrics relate-able and motivating. I do understand if people get turned off by some of the songs and lyrics. One of my favorite songs is “Shine”. One of the lines is “its time to align your body with your mind.” It is a good reminder for me to stay strong both mentally and physically.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6OjJi-Z5j0

Training is my biggest escape. The time spent lifting strengthens my body and also strengthens my mind. Some of my greatest thinking and reflection occurs while under a barbell.

 

Technology is a huge piece for care of diabetes. We are pretty lucky to have things like meters, pumps, CGMs, apps…etc. I resisted using anything more than my meter, syringes and insulin to care for my diabetes. About 11 years ago I gave an insulin pump a try and wore it until June of 2016. I wore a Dexcom CGM off and on from 2013-the fall of 2015. The pump and CGM worked pretty well for me with my control.

Unfortunately having two devices in my abdomen all the time drove me nuts. It was a constant reminder of having a disease and held me back from doing things. For me the positives don’t outweigh the negatives with these devices. For a ton of diabetics, they swear by the use of pumps and CGMs. For me, it is no longer the case. I don’t mind pricking my finger multiple times a day and giving myself shots. Being without the technology, I have been more planned and scheduled with everyday activities. I find that the more structured my days are the better. I am also saving money because the out of pocket expenses for test strips and syringes is way less than pump and CGM supplies. The financial burden was hard to handle when it was time to order new supplies.

The major benefit of not being attached is mental freedom. I am more confident. I feel as though I can train harder and push myself harder in all that I do. I am also more comfortable with having my shirt off. Part of my work with Dr. Trevor Kashey includes sending him weekly pictures without a shirt on. The other day I looked at some of the old pictures from when I first started working with him. I have changed in so many ways over the almost two years. I used to dread the weekly pictures and I still do to a certain point. Being comfortable in my own skin is tricky for me. Training hard and pushing myself allows me to feel strong and confident. I am proud of the progress I have made in the last two years.

I used to use the term “Part Animal Part Machine” when I would refer to myself as a diabetic. It still holds true but without devices attached to me. It is now more of a mindset than something physical.

 

Here’s the picture from nearly two years ago compared to March 3, 2017. I still need to learn how to flex and have a long way to go to seek my full potential.

If you are looking for advice with diet and nutrition, use the link below. I could not recommend a better team to help you fulfill your goals.

http://www.relentlessdietetics.com/breakingdiabetes

For 26 years of diabetes, body image has been a constant thing for me. I read too much about how insulin will put weight on you and how certain foods are terrible for diabetics. There are 8 million ways to eat and there are followers and believers in every way out there. With diabetics, people can become very dogmatic and almost religious about how they eat. I have fallen into this trap in the past as well. In the grand scheme of things, people need to do what works for them.

When I was following restrictive guidelines I thought I was winning with my disease and in control. There was something deeper going on. The problem with these restrictions for me are that once I mess up a bit, everything goes out the window and I binge. I had eating disorders in the past. I wouldn’t eat enough. It is hard to type that out because I have always been a bigger athletic looking guy who trained hard. I was scared to eat because having to take more insulin or possibly put on weight. I didn’t want to go birthday parties and work events scared me to death because I had to think of some reason why I couldn’t partake in some cake. Cake is something I used to live for on birthdays. I didn’t know how to make the cake or certain foods fit into how I was eating. This made me seem like some food snob. I had no problem killing a big old bacon cheeseburger no bun of course, but couldn’t fit a slice of cake into what I ate. What I thought was control was killing me.

I have written about this previously, but a huge eye opener is when my wife and I started dating and she pointed out that she ate more than me. I currently outweigh her by more than 100 pounds. It was crazy what and how I let my poor self image do to me. I think that no matter what I will still have some level of body image hang ups. Never being good enough is the thought that is behind my hang ups with diabetes and these insecurities.

How have things changed over the years? One thing that has been very effective is accepting the fact that I am a bigger guy. Looking at old pictures of my father’s father and realizing that we almost are the same guy physically even down to the red hair. He weighed around 200 or so until his last few years. One other huge one is that I have been training with weights for over 20 years. seeing my strength numbers increase has made the weight gain okay. Noticing my body composition rather than the number on the scale helps hugely as well.

Here’s what I want you to realize from my experiences:

Your self-worth is not determined by a number on the scale.

Restrictions will lead to guilt and burnout.

Get stronger and you will gain confidence.

Be you!