Michael Aviad is co-founder of ASweetLife. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002. Michael was born in Santa Barbara and grew up in Jerusalem. He studied law and after passing his bar exam went on to get an MBA with a major in finance. Michael worked for many years as an economist. He and his wife Jess, also a type 1 diabetic, have three sons. Michael loves to run and is always training for the next marathon. Read full bio

New Basal Settings Not Working for Me

A couple of weeks ago my endo changed the basal settings on my pump, reducing my early morning (2:00 – 4:00 a.m.) and my morning to afternoon basal rates. She did this for two reasons: the first was that I had been waking up a little low for the previous two weeks, and the second, was that she did not like my basal to bolus ratio. She told me that only overweight type 2’s take 65% of their insulin as basal. I tried to tell her it was because I eat a low carb diet, but she did not seem to listen.

Although I didn’t think I needed a change in my basal settings I decided to listen to the doctor, or at least give her a chance. Since then I’ve been spending my mornings chasing down my blood sugar (bolusing without eating) and going low during the night and waking up high.

I can deal with these periods of out of control blood sugar as long as they don’t affect my running too much. I’ve been working hard training for the upcoming Tel Aviv Marathon and there are only 10 weeks of training left (7 if you don’t count the taper).

Friday morning I planned to a 20 mile run with a few friends I’m training with. The first few miles were supposed to be at an easy pace, but most of it was supposed to be at a pace equal to or faster than my marathon pace.

I woke up at 5:00, feeling very alert, but in a strange way. I checked my blood sugar and was shocked to see it was 275. I knew it was too high for running but I was also scared to take any insulin. I decided to delay setting a temporary basal rate until I started to run. I got ready to go, drank a cup of (black) coffee, and checked my blood sugar again, 253. Close enough, I thought to myself, thinking about the 250 blood glucose rule – you shouldn’t run if it’s higher than 250. 

I reduced my basal rate to 30% and headed out.

I ran a mile and a half to the meeting point and checked my blood sugar again. It was down, but still higher than I’m used to – 214. I met up with my friends and we headed off. I explained to them that my blood sugar was totally off and as usual they were understanding.

We ran a couple miles and stopped to stretch. I checked my blood sugar again. Usually this would be the point where I’d have my first gel of the day, but my blood sugar was still too high 187. We continued running, 5 miles later we stopped to again to drink, take gels, and allow me to check my blood sugar. Finally my blood sugar was low enough to take a gel – 114. We continued running increasing our pace. I felt weak, but hoped it would pass. We stopped again 7.5 miles later. Everyone took a second gel; I checked my blood sugar thinking it would be somewhere around 100. I was totally wrong. My blood sugar was 201. I needed to wait with my gel, although I really needed it. I felt totally empty. I ran another mile and a half with my friends and stopped again. I told them to continue without me.

I felt bad and hoped my blood sugar had dropped which would explain my weakness and allow me to take a gel, but my blood sugar was 186. I ran another mile and a half and checked again. I was desperate, hoping things would some how work out but my blood sugar was still too high, 163. I had run more than a half marathon on one gel, and was too high. I continued for another mile and a little but started feeling dizzy. I stopped running after only 16 and a half miles (out of my planned 20). I felt terrible, both physically and mentally. I walked home, cold and tired.

When I got home I checked my blood sugar again. It was 171.

“That’s it,” I said to myself, “I’m changing my setting back.”


My Diabetes New Year’s Resolution: Not to Give Up

This morning I realized I hadn’t made any New Year’s resolutions for 2013. I don’t know why, but it kind of just caught me by surprise. 

Well, it’s not too late, I thought to myself It’s still New Year’s and its not as if they don’t happen if made a day later. They don’t usually happen because I forget about them.

So I started thinking about what I should resolve to do this year. Naturally, my first thoughts were about my diabetes New Year’s resolutions. What am I going to shoot for this year? What should I try to improve? I thought about it for a few minutes. The first resolution should be a better A1c. I should resolve to get my A1c down to 6% or even 6.4%. But then I realized that that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last few years and it seems ridiculous to resolve to do something that you’ve been trying to do, unsuccessfully, for the last two years.

I also thought of making a New Year’s resolution regarding my weight, but realized that I’ve already been trying to lose a few pounds, the same few pounds for a long time.  So, another ridiculous resolution.

I kept thinking, trying to come up with a good diabetes New Year’s resolution. I mean there has to be something I can improve (not just should improve) in my diabetes management.

And then I realized what my diabetes New Year’s resolution was going to be. I’m going to keep on fighting. Not give up. Not let the lack of good past results (i.e. improved A1c), or the endlessness of this process break me. I’m just going to keep on trying, keep on doing my best and maybe, just maybe, I’ll actually see an improvement.



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Batman And Diabetes Devices – Am I The Only One Who’s Anxious?

Last weekend I rented the newest Batman movie, The Dark Night Rises, and watched it with my older kids. Having young sons allows me to watch superhero movies and play on the PlayStation, and I can call it parenting, not procrastinating or wasting time!  Anyway, while I enjoyed the Batman movie, I was disturbed by one of Batman’s new tricks. During some of the chase scenes, which take up most of the film, Batman managed to disable all of the electrical equipment around him using some kind of frequency.  Since in this movie, unlike most Bond films and previous Batman films there weren’t many explanations about the new gadgets being used, it’s hard to now how the gadget worked. The reason it disturbed me was because I kept thinking about my insulin pump.

What if someone with diabetes, a pumper, was nearby? Would his pump be disabled? Would it come back to life or would he need a replacement, the way I needed one after going through the x-ray machine at the airport?  For some reason this line of thought did not leave my mind for a few days.

This morning while running by myself, again I started to think about Batman’s gadget, realizing that there are people out there with much bigger problems than my pump. I mean, what would it do to a pacemaker? This very cool gadget that turned off city lights could kill innocent people.

I know it’s only a movie, and that Batman, even as the dark night, certainly wouldn’t risk innocent people’s lives. What I really want to know is do other people think this way? Do others have an ever present anxiety that the thing, the device, they count on for survival could be destroyed at the press of a button?

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My New Medication: An ACE Inhibitor

I just came back from a surprising visit to the diabetes clinic. I’ve been prescribed a new medication – new for me, that is. An ACE Inhibitor.

I went to my appointment thinking I was just going to renew my scripts and say hello to my endo. My periodic checkups at the diabetes clinic are usually uneventful, and include praise for my good control, especially the infrequency of hypoglycemia.  I had no reason to think this time would be any different especially since my last A1c result was identical to the one before – 6.8%. 

The appointment started out fine. I saw the nutritionist, not my usual one, who was nice and thought my diet is a little crazy and that I don’t eat enough. She had a hard time believing I’ve been eating this way for two and a half years, and asked if I’m moody and if I feel tired. I told her I’m not moody and that I’m tired, but having three kids, waking up to run most mornings around 4:30, and working pretty much non-stop until 10:00 p.m. would make anyone tired, right? I don’t think it was surprising. She looked at my numbers, which she downloaded from my pump and glucose meter, and said that if it works for me…

Next I went to the nurse, also new. She was really nice and thought I had very good control. She did however think I should lower my basal rate during the early mornings. This, a result of the fact that I have been waking up relatively low for the past two weeks. I don’t know why this is. I have been eating a little less lately and running a little more, but I’m not sure that’s what causes the lower numbers. In any case, she suggested I lower my basal rate which is 0.75 units per hour to 0.65 from 2:00 to 4:00 a.m. (then it goes to 0.45).

I wasn’t so sure she was right but waited to see what the doctor would say.

When I walked in to the doctor, she seemed very unhappy. Unhappy with my LDL, which went up to 140. Unhappy with my decision to stop taking statins,  and unhappy with my morning lows. (I woke up in the 60‘s twice this week, once 71 and once 91, which is a little low if you’re going running.) She was also a little unhappy (in a caring way) about my eyes. She told me to get a second opinion. My A1c, she said, is fine.

She was also unhappy about my insulin regimen. She told me that young athletic people (with diabetes) should not take 67% of their insulin as basal insulin. She decided that not only should I lower my basal rate during the early morning but I should also split the day into two, lowering my basal rate during the morning hours from 0.45 to 0.35.

Then she told me she was prescribing me a lower dose statin and that she wants me to take and another pill I’d never heard of – Ramipril. Ramipril, marketed by Sanofi as Tritace, is an ACE inhibitor used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.

I asked the doctor why she was prescribing me another drug, but I didn’t receive much of an answer. She said something about my eyes and small blood vessel damage. Realizing I wouldn’t learn much from asking, I accepted her opinion, at least until I got home.

When I got home I looked it up and found out a little about it, including the fact that ACE inhibitors were originally made of snake venom. But didn’t see much about diabetes.

So, I called a friend, an endo, who told me it was the right thing to do. She also said I had to get my LDL cholesterol down.

“…take the statin, if you feel muscle pain try a different one but you can’t walk around with high cholesterol, it’s like not getting your blood sugar under control.”

So here I am again, with my list of medication growing, getting ridiculously long. I never thought I would be this way, definitely not at 43. On the other hand, I didn’t think I’d be a marathoner either. 


Medical Alert Bracelet, Should I Get One?

Last week I was in Boston for the first time in over 20 years and as I do everywhere I go, I woke up early and went for a run. It was cold and I dressed in a few layers, covering my pump and supplies.

I headed out at 6:00 a.m. for an 11 mile run excited to see some of one of America’s prettier cities. I was told to go down to the Charles River so I did. I thought it would be simple enough to get there but I took a wrong turn and needed to ask for directions (something guys hate to do). I saw someone coming out of a building dressed to run so I asked him for help.

“Follow me,” he said. “I’m heading down there”.

 I did, and after a few minutes I was on a great running path.

“How far down are you going?” he asked me once we crossed the bridge and reached the path. 

“I need to run 5 miles and then come back” I said.

“That sounds good,” he said.

But I told him I needed to stop for a few minutes to check my blood sugar.

“Go ahead. I’ll catch up,” I said. I checked my blood sugar and had a gel. Then I started to run alone. 

Being alone, in a strange place, I started to think about what would happen if something happened to me. I was in a place I don’t know and where no one knows me. What if my blood sugar dropped while I was running and I passed out? Would someone realize I’m diabetic? Would they see my pump and know what it is?

That wasn’t the first time these thoughts have come into my head. I remember how happy I was when I saw that there was a place on the back of the bib (number) to write medical info at the Rotterdam Marathon. I often think I should get a runner ID or a medial alert bracelet. But then, when I get home from a run and everything is fine, I don’t.

RoadID - Cool Medical Alert Bracelet

Then… yesterday I woke up to a new Glu question of the day:

Do you wear a medical alert bracelet or piece of identification? 


Seeing the question made me think about it in a serious way. What’s holding me back, why haven’t I ordered a runner ID that says “Type 1 Diabetes” on it? 

I know I have mixed feelings about the medical alert bracelets but a runner ID, that’s kind of cool.

To check myself out I asked Jess what she thought. 

“You should have one,” she said.

“Really?” I said quite surprised.

“Yes. It’s a good idea.”

So why do I have mixed feeling about medical alert bracelets?

Is it just because I don’t wear jewelry, except for my wedding ring?  Or is it more than that?

I remember as a kid, I would stare at medical alert bracelets, wondering what was wrong with the person wearing it. I remember seeing kids I knew had diabetes with medical alert bracelets and feeling bad for them.

The problem with the medical alert bracelets is that they do exactly what they’re supposed to do, announce to everyone that there is something wrong you, that you have diabetes.  

But I’m not ashamed of my diabetes. I don’t hide my pump, I check my blood sugar in public and I talk about it regularly and openly.

So maybe Jess is right. Maybe a medical alert bracelet is a good idea. Maybe it’s time to get over it and get myself some diabetic bling, or at least a runner ID.


Traveling With an Insulin Pump

As a person with diabetes, I’ve gotten used to the extra hassle I have to put up with when I travel. Taking all the extra stuff, making sure not to forget anything, announcing my pump when I go through security and refusing to go through the full body scanner (something I learned the hard way last summer), and being patted down.

But today I realized that the time has come to have a separate security line for people with diabetes or people with medical devices. I came to this realization while going through security at the Philadelphia airport on my way to Boston.

After standing in line for a few minutes we came to the area where you take off your shoes, take out your laptop and send everything through the x-ray machine.

“I’m not doing the scanner,” I told Jessica preparing myself for confrontation. But there was no scanner, only a metal dectector. Relieved, I took off my shoes, so did Jess, and unpacked our laptops from my roller bag.

“Go ahead. I’ll be there in a minute,” I said.

 I flashed my pump at the security guard and said “I have an insulin pump”.

“PUMP!” the security man called, as if it were a code for some well-known drill  I was led into a glass room. Jessica looked at me while she collected our things. We waved at each other with half smiles and the knowing, “here we go again” look.

I waited a few minutes and a nice security man arrived, a large somewhat overweight man in his fifties.

“I just need you to handle your pump and I’ll take some swabs,” he said.

“No problem,” I said as I fondled my pump with both my hands.

“I’m on shots,” the security man told me.“

I was, too” I said “but I was injecting too often so I went on the pump.”

“I inject 5 times a day,” he told me.

Then, while we waited for the results of my test he told me he had a guy today who has had diabetes since childhood and uses a pump and a machine that tells him his BG all the time.

“A CGM,” I said “My insurance won’t cover it”.

The testing machine signaled.

“You can go,” he said.

I put my shoes on and walked out to Jessica.

“I think it’s time they just had a separate line for us,” I said. “Maybe for all people using medical devices.”  I mean, they just shout pump and someone shows up for the pat down and all, why make us go through the other stuff first? 

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A Good A1c Just Got Harder to Get

For the last few weeks I’ve been putting off getting my quarterly blood work done. The reason, as ridiculous as this may sound, was that I didn’t want the effect of my post surgery high blood sugar to show up in the test.  I had my surgery four months ago and my blood sugar was really affected for a couple of weeks.  But since Jess was going in for a blood test last week, I decided to join her.


So, this morning I sat in front of my computer nervously checking to see if my results were in (i.e. How bad is my A1c?).  I sat there, waiting to hit the Enter key and feeling the kind of pressure I used to feel when checking final exam results back in school.  Why does diabetes make me feel like I’m being graded?  Maybe because, like many people with diabetes, I view my A1c as a test or a periodic review of how well I’m keeping my diabetes under control. I know that there are other parameters, like how often you go low, but since I hardly go low (and this has been consistently true for a while) my A1c does reflect how high my blood sugar is most of the time.


I have worked hard to keep my A1c under 7%, the diabetics benchmark, but I really strive for a “normal” A1c of under 6%. I haven’t been there for a long time but I always hope that I’ll do better and I always hope I’ll see my result in blue – the color of the normal range – and not in red.


Jess saw her test results first.


“You won’t believe what they did?” she said, calling me over to her laptop.  “They changed the A1c range. They made it harder to be normal.”


“What?” I said, not sure what she was talking about.  


The “normal” A1c range used to be 4.7%-6.4%, but n 2005 it was changed (I don’t know who did it or why) to 4%-6%. Now it seems it has been changed again, lowering the “normal” or healthy A1c range to 4%-5.7%.


The truth is that these changes don’t have very much effect on me, since I’m not in the “normal range” under any of the criteria, and every A1c result correlates to an average blood sugar number which in my case is always higher than normal.


But as I sat in front of my computer, about to hit the enter key, it did matter for some reason. Being “healthy” just got harder.


I looked at my result – 6.8% again, the same result I had last time. I guess that’s okay, I thought to myself. I was afraid it would be over 7%.


But I felt a little sad.  Even though I’ve been told a million times that I don’t need to strive for an A1c below 7%, I don’t ascribe to that school of thought.  I believe my A1c should be “normal” and the chance of being normal is now very far away. 


A Rollercoaster of a Race

A few weeks ago, before running the Nike Night Run, I decided to sign up for a 15K race, the same one I ran last year. I didn’t think I would be running very well but after the good time I had last year, I decided it would be fun to do it again and that it would keep me motivated. I also really liked the race jerseys they were giving out.

For the last few weeks I’ve been running well and regaining my speed. What I haven’t regained is my stamina. I’ve been running 40-45 miles a week but have felt very depleted during my few longer runs (13 miles).

On Thursday I talked to my coach and told him I didn’t know if I should try to set a new personal record or just run for fun. He told me I should go for it.

I had it all planned out. Most of the race is flat but the first two miles, which are also the last two, are hilly with the second mile being a long down hill run on the way out and a (much longer) mile-long climb on the way back. So unlike most races where you start slow and speed up at the end (negative split) here most runners have a positive split, running the first half faster than the second.

But on Friday evening when I should have been getting ready to eat dinner, I received a call to report to my army reserve unit. It has been a while since I’ve been called up and I didn’t think it would happen again. Jessica cried as I packed my things. I decided to disconnect from my pump and go back to shots until I returned.  I left for my base an hour after receiving the call.

Many of the guys on my base were surprised to see me, thinking I had been discharged for good (Jessica had thought this, too). I went to work loading equipment onto Armed Personnel Carriers (APC). I checked my blood sugar a few times while there. It was high. I wasn’t surprised because I had no basal insulin. I took a unit or two and went back to work. At around 10:00 p.m. I finally decided to take 10 units of Lantus. We finished loading the APCs and most of the guys started to organize their personal gear. I waited around wondering what I should do.

At around 1:00 a.m. I caught my company commander and asked him why I’d been called up. He told me it was my decision whether to stay or go. I decided to go home.

I arrived at home at 2:00 a.m. and hooked myself back up to my pump. I hadn’t had any food all day so I decided to eat an apple before going to sleep. I was aware of the extra insulin in my body so when I checked my blood sugar (121), I took less than half the required bolus for the apple.

I set my alarm for 6:00 a.m. planning to make it to the race.

I woke up at 4:00 a.m. with a cold sweat, feeling numb and dazed. I checked my blood sugar. I was low – 44. I got up and raided the refrigerator. I’m not sure what I ate exactly but I know I ate a lot of fruit. Then I went back to sleep.

My alarm failed to wake me and I woke up at 6:45 panicked because I had overslept. I was also totally exhausted.  My blood sugar was 212. I got up to go to the bathroom thinking I would return to bed. I actually set a 9:00 a.m. alarm.

But once I was out of bed I felt I would regret not running the race, even if I wasn’t in shape to run well. I had coffee got dressed and rushed out to meet my friends (those who had not been called up by the army). 

I arrived at the race area at 7:45 a.m. and checked my blood sugar it was 205. I met up with my friends and went for a mile and a half warm up. I checked my blood sugar again thinking it would be down to the 150’s, but it wasn’t it was 198. We headed for the starting line. Suddenly I realized I hadn’t reduced my basal rate. I did and then checked my blood sugar again.  It was back up to 209.

I quickly decided I would take some GU Chomps at the 5K water stop which I hoped was enough time to get my blood sugar down to run well, but not too far to plummet. 

I started the race much faster than I planned but, as always, had a hard time slowing down, especially when going down hill. After 5K I started feeling a little tired but decided to try and keep myself at 7:15 minute/mile. I had a hard time but did so up to around the 10th kilometer. Then I started to slow down.

When I reached the mile-long hill I really slowed down. I tried to speed up but I had nothing to give. At one point I looked at my watch and saw my pace was around 8:15. Sh*t I thought to myself, just give it a little more. I made it up the hill and started to run downhill, gaining speed. I tried to make up for lost time but couldn’t run as fast as I would have liked.  

Making a T1 at the Finish line

I crossed the finish line at 1:08:17. My blood sugar was 238.

I was happy to finish but was unhappy with the way I ran the race. I tried to tell myself that the after the events of the night before, it was lucky I finished at all. But that didn’t work (it never does).

When I got home I saw that my official time was 1:08:08, 46 seconds better than my previous time.  This made me feel a little better, but not for long.  The race seemed to have had a delayed effect on my blood sugar. After my blood sugar refused to come down all morning, I spent the rest the rest of the day chasing lows.


Stashing Diabetes Supplies and Other Glu Questions of the Day

This week there were some very good Glu Questions and the one I liked the most was the user submitted question on Nov. 9th: What minimum quantity of diabetes supplies do you usually keep in your supply stash?

As always, I answered all of the questions briefly and wrote a little more about stashing diabetes supplies.  


What minimum quantity of diabetes supplies do you usually keep in your supply stash?

Like many people with diabetes, I have a nice stash of diabetes supplies. In fact, I don’t feel comfortable unless I have a large stash of diabetes supplies. When I started taking metformin I asked the doctor to start me off with a double prescription so I wouldn’t feel I was running out.

 Diabetes Supplies - My Stashes

I don’t have a set amount I like to have but I can say that the minimum amount is one month’s worth of supplies. So if I use two vials of insulin a month I like to have at least 3 vials in the refrigerator, and if I use 5 boxes of test strips a month than 10 boxes in the cabinet make me feel secure.

I do find, however, that some times there is no correlation between the amount of supplies prescribed and covered by insurance and those needed. For example, I get a ridiculous amount of infusion sets every month. I get 2 boxes of 10 sets, although I put a new infusion set in every 3 days. One box of 10 sets would not be enough and15 sets would be plenty, but because they come in boxes of 10 sets, I get 20.

On the other hand, accumulating test strips is a problem because it means that I need to limit the amount of testing I do, which means being less informed about my blood sugar level. I also test more frequently than most people (I think) because of my running. On some days I’ll test five or six times before 7:00 a.m. My insurance allows me up to five boxes of test strips (I used to get three until someone decided that people using insulin could get more). So strips are a very important part of a stash.


Nov. 12th: Are you or a loved one currently active in military service or a veteran?

Yes. I served in the IDF. Not the International Diabetes Federation but in the Israeli Defense Forces. I served as a Paratrooper and an Infantry Officer. But this was before I had diabetes.


Nov. 11th: Do you feel embarrassed about checking your blood sugar in public?

No. I’m not a drug addict. I have diabetes there and is nothing to be ashamed of.  Anyway, who has time and energy to be embarrassed. Diabetes is hard enough as it is.


Nov. 10th: Are you a coffee drinker? If so, how many cups a day?

Yes. Yes. Yes. I love coffee. I don’t view it as a vice (and there are plenty of studies showing it is good for you) but I have been trying to cut down and limit myself to 3-4 cups a day. (I drink my coffee black – no milk or sweetener).


Nov. 8th: Do you feel that you know what your rights are as a person with diabetes?

No. I have never really looked into my rights as a person with diabetes.


Nov. 7th: Did you participate in the Big Blue Test this year? (Big Blue Test ends Nov. 14)

Yes, of course.


Nov. 6th: Does diabetes influence your political views?

This question sent on Election Day and is somewhat political and therefore I will say this. My political views are not influenced by my own health. I have always believed that the State should provide universal healthcare to its citizens just as it provides education (public schooling) and security (police and military). 

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Answering The “Glu Question of the Day” – Oct. 30th – Nov. 5th

This week the Glu questions of the day were right up my ally. There was one Halloween related question, which was an unavoidable topic, but many of the questions were about exercise in one way or another. 


Nov. 4th: Have you ever participated in a political advocacy campaign for diabetes?


No I haven’t, unless you consider signing an IDF card a participating in a political advocacy campaign. 


Nov. 3rd: Have you participated in a diabetes walk/ride/etc. this season?


No. The truth is I have never taken part in a “diabetes” walk, ride or run, but I feel like every time I participate in a race – 10K, half or marathon – I’m running for diabetes (I also like flashing my pump). I mostly run for myself, proving that I can do it, regardless of diabetes. But there is a part of me that likes to let people know that a person with type 1 diabetes can do it and do it well.


Nov. 2nd: User submitted question: Have you ever competed in an endurance sport?


Yes. I have run 6 marathons, 11 half marathons, a 30K race and a few 10K and 15K races, all in the last four years. I am going to start training for my next marathon soon and maybe one day will get it together and do a triathlon (need a bike and a few swimming lessons).


Nov. 1st: Do you consider yourself a diabetes advocate?


Yes I do.


Oct. 31st: What do you do with Halloween candy?


Living outside the United States makes Halloween a non-issue in our life. But since we do celebrate a few “candy related holidays” (like Purim) I have learned to deal with the candy issue.

Our children do not have diabetes, but we are very aware of what they eat and try to limit the amount of garbage they put in their bodies. What we usually do is let them eat a few small pieces of candy and put the rest away. After a few days it gets forgotten and then at some point thrown out.



Oct. 30th: Do you feel that diabetes has motivated you to exercise more?


Yes. I may have gotten into serious running even if I hadn’t been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, but there’s no doubt that it keeps me motivated when I feel burnout or fatigue.

Running and exercise have become part of my diabetes control and without them my blood sugar seems goes a little crazy. 

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