Hometown: Delta, BC, Canada
There are no days off when you have diabetes — it’s a full-time commitment. “Diabetes doesn't take a vacation, and neither can we,” says John who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at 28 years old.
When John was diagnosed last year, he was classified as obese and had the beginning signs of diabetic retinopathy, neuropathy in his feet and high cholesterol. “Getting hit with this diagnosis took me to my own rock bottom. I felt lost, depressed, scared and confused all at once. I knew at that point this was my wake-up call and I was going to do something great and change my life. This was my time and I wasn't going to waste it.”
In order to gain control of his health, John created the 5 Pillars to Good Diabetes Control. With the combination of proper diet education, exercise, stress-management, self-management and an understanding and support of his body, he was able to find a balance and start gaining control over his disease.
As with most who are diagnosed with diabetes, making changes to his diet was a struggle. “I knew that I couldn’t continue eating the way I had been in the past, as it wasn’t doing me any good. When I was finally taught how to make healthy choices for optimal glucose control and weight loss it all made sense,” he says. “I found that learning about healthy eating from the ground up, and in a way that I was able to understand easily, made all the difference. It was like finally everything came together.”
Living with diabetes can be difficult, though after some time it’s possible to feel comfortable and in control of your health and glucose levels — but as John warns, it’s important to never get too complacent. “Your physical health, glucose levels, cholesterol, eye health, foot health and the like can change at a moment’s notice, so always be aware of what’s going on with your body,” he says. “Don’t take the good times for granted and remember that making good healthy choices every day will not only benefit you today, but also down the line by helping to delay any further complications and allowing you to live a longer fuller life.”
John believes that nothing is impossible as long as you set your mind to it. “My ability to be successful at anything is limitless. Having true personal strength is definitely a quality needed to properly manage diabetes. This has given me a newfound love for fitness, nutrition education and helping others impacted by type 2 diabetes,” he says.
John turned his life around and started a diabetes wellness blog, type2db.tumblr.com, and has enrolled in nutrition and health studies. “I’m planning on becoming a Zumba fitness instructor later this year and will be running my first 10K in Vancouver this year,” he notes. He has lost 60 pounds and has climbed the 48-story Sheraton Wall twice for the BC Lung Association. “These were things I never thought were even possible for a person like me, even 2 years ago. All are things I’ve had to work hard at to achieve,” he says.
“Support is the key tool for those with diabetes and it’s important to have a health care team in your corner,” he says. A support team can help you maneuver through the struggles and stress that come along with diabetes. “Try becoming an active part in an online diabetes community. Social media and online support groups can really make an impact by asking for advice from veterans and others who understand what you’re going through,” he says, “Start a blog, open a twitter handle and be active on message boards in the diabetic communities. We are all in this together, let’s help each other succeed.”
John wants to remind others that they are not alone, “I hope people know that there are others out there willing to support them through their diabetes journey. All someone needs to do is get in touch.”