Nicholas Caracandas, a Type 1 diabetes patient, tells us how he is paying it forward with his Diabetic Athletic programme.
Nicholas Caracandas (32) lives in Pinelands, Cape Town with is partner, Deborah. They have one daughter.
Back in the early 2000s, at the age of 12, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was at my aunt’s house for the weekend. She had just opened a Greek restaurant and we decided to go as a family to celebrate. I remember spending the weekend with an unquenchable thirst. I had a dry mouth and a thirst that just wouldn’t go away. Anything I could find, I would drink and just seconds later be as thirsty as ever before.
My vision started to blur and I was urinating every five minutes. I put the frequent urination down to the fact that I was drinking a lot of liquid. The fact that I was drinking sugary drinks to quench my thirst wasn’t helping me in any way.
Mom also a diabetic patient
My mother had been a Type 1 diabetic patient for five years prior to this day (my diagnosis). She wasn’t with me on that weekend so when I told her in the week, she took me for tests immediately.
Due to circumstances, I was taken to a government hospital and tested for diabetes. It was confirmed, I also had Type 1 diabetes, just like my mom.
I remember staring out of the hospital window which overlooked the highway and thinking to myself how life was going to change. I didn’t understand diabetes very well, if at all. As a 12-year-old boy, I had seen my mother try and deal with the exact thing, with much difficulty. I knew I had to try and tackle this for the rest of my life.
Even at that age, I knew that my choices from then on would determine every outcome that would come my way.
Good foundation set
I was fortunate enough to have a good professor help me manage my diabetes initially. The lessons he taught me have stayed with me until this day.
After talking to him, I knew I stood at a crossroads but I also knew where I wanted it to go. He said to me that I needed to make a choice as to whether I was going to allow the diabetes to control my life, or if I could be brave enough to step up and choose to control it. I chose to control it.
Helping each other
My mom helped me with the basic things like finger pricks, bedtime meals and insulin. She also shared her daily experiences with diabetes; this was of great help.
Unfortunately, my mother struggled with managing her diabetes. I saw her in multiple diabetic comas as a child. Though, somehow it taught me more about the importance of management. Plus, our situation worked because we helped each other.
Getting into fitness
Going through school with an endocrine disorder that affected energy levels, overall moods, muscle gain, and just being a kid in general, I knew that whatever I chose to become after school would have to revolve around my diabetes.
I knew that I had to choose a career that would put myself and my diabetes first. My fitness journey started when I was 17 and I became a personal trainer at age 18, and have gone on to owned three successful fitness facilities over the past 10 years, learning many important lessons through victories and failures.
Early on in my career, it was clear I had the natural ability to take the specific industry jargon and explain them in ways my clients could understand, remember, and apply. This is a skill most don’t see as being very important.
With the years of experience, I have been able to share my knowledge of how fat loss works and help those needing to achieve it.
I decided to merge my two worlds: fitness, strength and conditioning and living with diabetes. I knew that one day I would turn it into a programme that could help people living with diabetes in the same, if not better, manner as it did for my clients needing to lose fat successfully and sustainably.
Diabetic Athletic is over 10 years old. Today it is a fully interactive, educational video course that arms people living with diabetes with all the tools they need to achieve and manage diabetes through nutrition, exercise, education and support.
The Diabetic Athletic video modules are aimed for people wanting to reverse pre-diabetes and overcome their struggles with diabetic overwhelm, diabetic management, obesity and fat loss.
I noticed most programmes address very few of the much-needed facets of diabetic and fat loss success.
Fat loss, diabetic control, education, nutritional guidance, general guidance and 24/7 support are the foundational needs to your success. As diabetics we need them all, not just one or two. The Diabetic Athletic programme provides them all
Us, diabetics, are faced with hundreds of decisions each day, all the while still trying to lose fat and regain our health.
The support and guidance provided by Diabetic Athletic allows people to not only educate themselves as to how fat loss works, what diabetes is, and how to manage it, but also how to use the tools they are given.
The triangle of control
You will hear me speak about the triangle of control at my academy as well as in my video series. The triangle of control is all about managing your weight and diabetes through exercise and nutrition before medication.
Now, where diabetes is concerned this means eating foods that keep glucose levels constant. Being active, to keep glucose levels controlled and using whatever medication needed to make up for the rest.
If you get the triangle of control mixed up, you eat bad foods which results in less than optimal activity and you will need to administer far more insulin than a non-diabetic would need.
Keep in mind insulin is a hormone. Every action has a reaction. More insulin leads to a heap of processes that lead to weight gain, energy lows, and overall issues.
Pre-diabetes and obesity
For those dealing with pre-diabetes or obesity, the triangle of control is still my holy grail.
For these individuals, the medication aspect is not insulin but rather the marketing gimmicks and magic pills people are sold every day. They are made to believe that the fat burners, meal replacement shakes, and all the other crazy things (that do not work) are the answer.
These big corporations need to make money and do so by playing on our needs and, at times, desperation to lose weight and regain our health.
Pay it forward
I have dedicated my life and profession to doing for others what that professor did for me 22 years ago.
You can be in control and you can lose weight, properly, sustainably and for good. You can take charge of your health and live your best life.
There are many that are standing at that very crossroads I once stood at. Diabetic Athletic is a support system and the final stop to life-long fat loss, management and success.
Managing my diabetes
Since I was diagnosed, I have been using a glucometer to test my glucose levels up until 2018. I now use a Dexcom G6 and have been using it for just over a year now.
I currently use Toujeo long-acting insulin pens and Humalog as my short-acting insulin.
My exercise regime consists of walking each day. I am a 10 000 steps-kinda-guy throughout the day. This is an accumulative 10k steps per day. Not a-get-it-all-done between 6am – 7am.
I lift weight three times per week and play as much sports as I possibly can. Fitness needs to be fun. We cannot and will not sustain anything if we don’t enjoy it.
Having a supportive partner goes a long way. She supports and encourages me in every way possible and enjoys that she can monitor my glucose levels as well. She uses the Dexcom Sharing App to do so, and is very clued up about diabetes and helps maintain healthy habits in the home.
I am proud to say my mom follows my programme and content and says she has learnt about glycaemic index, fibre, salt and carbs.
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Laurelle Williams is the Editor at Word for Word Media. She graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She has a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. Feel free to email Laurelle on [email protected]