The sky’s the limit for Marius Schutte

Last year Marius Schutte placed third in Virgin Active’s The Grid Games national event. He then came first, out of 687 athletes, in the sprint event of the first-ever Spartan Race held in South Africa. Recently, he took part in the Warrior Race and placed 11thoverall and second in his category. His aim is to show people that if he can achieve this as a person living with diabetes, so can anyone else.

Marius Schutte (32) lives in Krugersdorp, Gauteng. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 25.

When were you diagnosed?

I had a roller coaster experience when I was initially diagnosed as was first treated as a Type 2 diabetes patient.  Symptoms were something I never experienced, or rather I never noticed symptoms as I always drank a lot of water (because it’s healthy) and in turn had to go to the toilet a lot.

I got flu just before a big competition and went to the doctor to see if I could get better before the competition. Being very thorough, the doctor did a urine test and picked up that there was glucose in my urine. He explained it should not be like this and did a random glucose test. It was at 11mmol/L which is way too high. He then sent me for tests and diagnosed me with Type 2 diabetes and prescribed oral treatment.

I did not understand my diagnosis so I went to different doctors to get a better understanding of why I got diabetes. I had so many questions but I did not get many answers. That was until I went to another doctor who said I was on the wrong treatment as I do not produce enough insulin and the tablets will not work. I did not have Type 2 diabetes but Type 1 diabetes. In her opinion, the only way I managed without insulin was because of my strict diet and gym programme.

I was then diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in December 2012. Insulin was prescribed. I am currently using Lantus insulin and inject myself. I am also on Glucophage XR, Liaglucide MR and Adco Simvastatin. Though my doctor is currently reducing the doses of Glucophage XR and Liaglucide MR so soon I won’t be using them.

Tell us more about The Grid Games

The Grid Games started at my local gym, Virgin Active Little Falls. We had an in-house competition. The competition requires participants to perform eight exercises in four minutes in a 2m x 2m grid. The aim is to accumulate as many reps (calories in rowing) within 20 seconds, with only a 10 second rest in between exercises. The winners of the male and female category went on to represent the club at the regional competition.

I succeeded in winning the regional competition and was given the honour to represent Gauteng at the national event of The Grid Games. There were more than 14 000 athletes competing through all The Grid Games stages.

It was an extremely tough competition as we had to go through knock out stages. The winner of each round would progress to the next round. We had to go through three stages on the day. I found it very difficult to recover in the small time between the rounds.

My peers without diabetes could energise themselves with supplements and energy drinks whist I only had water to drink and ate chicken. I could not have any of the products on offer though I managed to finish in third position overall.

The organisers of The Grid Games insisted that I have a paramedic in my lane when I competed. This drew a lot of attention. The officials, competitors and the crowd could see that I was different. Many enquired afterwards as to the state of my health. This was a blessing in disguise and it gave me an opportunity to share my experience with diabetes and to make people aware of the condition. Most of all, I could show that diabetes is not a death sentence and you can still live life to the fullest.

How did you become involved in sports?

I’ve always had a love for the outdoors and being active. I never believed in sitting in front of the TV. I would rather go outside and do something in nature.

But after being diagnosed with diabetes, it became more of a lifestyle. I had to be active so I took it upon myself to set an example and help motivate other people to get off the couch and get active.

I want to show people living with diabetes that diabetes that you can still have a full active life. It takes a bit more planning, etc. but it is totally possible and totally worth it. We have to look after our bodies, we only have the one and there are no spares available.

What is your art of living with diabetes?

The first word that comes to mind is consistency. Dedication and commitment follow. You need to be committed to a healthy lifestyle and dedicated enough to carry you when motivation is low.

What does your exercise regime consist of?

I absolutely love sport and being active and this can be seen in my exercise routine. I train five days a week, twice a day. The morning sessions consist of cardio training and is mixed between running and cycling. The evening sessions consist of CrossFit and weight training. On weekends, I go for active rest. This will include swimming, rowing and hiking.

What does your diet consist of?

Like mentioned before consistency is key. I try not to be adventurous with food and rather stick to the basics.

I start my day with boiled eggs for breakfast. My morning snack will usually consist of berries or an apple and mixed tree nuts. I found that the fruit does not spike my sugar when eaten with a protein.

For lunch, I have a chicken salad in summer and in winter I prefer cooked chicken and veggies. My snack between lunch and dinner is biltong.

I have an avocado before I go to gym and eat dinner straight after gym. This consists of protein (chicken, fish or red meat) and veggies. I stay away from carbs as much as possible. The only carbs I have are the veggies. I don’t eat any pasta, rice, bread or potatoes.

Do you suffer with any other side effect related to diabetes?

Diabetes affects me immensely. I suffer from a range of side effects from both the condition itself as well as the medication. It affects my mental and physical well-being. Mental – because I suffer from severe insomnia. This alters my whole countenance when I am sleep deprived. Plus, I experience immense feelings of irritability when my blood glucose levels are high. Physical – because of the muscle spasms and the body aches I experience.

What helps motivate you?

I read all the time, anything and everything about diabetes. The more informed I am, the better I can manage my condition. I find reading stories of other people living with diabetes helps me. Sometimes it feels like you’re fighting alone but then reading about someone else struggles and how they got through them motivates and encourages me to keep on fighting.

What is the reality of diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong condition. It is the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think about when I go to bed. This is how it will be for the rest of my life. You don’t have any days-off. A day-off can mean a trade-off with my life. Thus, it is a condition that forces me to be extremely disciplined and strict.

People in general have a limited understanding of this condition and think that I can’t eat sweets or chocolates. That is not true. Diabetes is affected by everything, from the food I eat to the weather I experience and my emotional condition, etc. In short, it is a forced lifestyle change, that if not taken seriously can mean my life can be lost.

What is next?

I am a very adventures person and love living. I hope to inspire other people to do the same. Even people without diabetes. It is just so easy to say that something is difficult and to just give up. I want show that anything is possible. If I, with my diabetes, can do it, so can any other person.

I have two big dreams that I would like to achieve to bring more awareness to diabetes. Firstly, I would like to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and to complete an Ironman (I will start with Ironman 70.3).


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]