Alissa's Fitness Blog

Alissa's Diabetes and Fitness Blog


Discussion of Diet and Fitness as a tool to manage Diabetes

This is the second and final part of Alissa's interview with NASCAR racer Ryan Reed.  Please consider donating to Ryan's charity DriveToStopDiabetes

From Ryan’s website:

Ryan Reed began his first full NASCAR Xfinity Season at the start of 2014. He finished 9th in overall standings, with 1 top 5 finish and 14 top 15 finishes. His season best took place at Daytona Intentional Speedway, where he finished 4th. He will start his 2nd Season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with the No 16 team in 2015.

Reed's racing career began at a young age, capturing the Kid's Kart Track Championship at the age of four. The Bakersfield, California native followed that up by becoming the Junior 1 Comer and HPV Karting Track Champion at age eight.

You can read the rest of Ryan’s bio on his site DriveToStopDiabetes

Alissa:       What team of people do you work with who medically care and support you in your diabetes while you're racing?

Ryan:        I’m mostly managing it myself with the help of my doctor. At the racetrack, one of my pit crew is trained to give me an insulin injection at a pit stop if necessary.  NASCAR has a medical team at every race.

Alissa:       I have looked at some of your videos and I saw that you have some kind of bulls-eye that gives you insulin?

Ryan:        That's a patch on my suit that’s a little bit thinner than the rest of the material. It’s to indicate where to give me the insulin injection if I need it.

Alissa:       What do you do if you're racing and have low blood sugar? What do you do to prevent low blood sugar while you're racing?

Ryan:        I have a drink inside of my car that's timed glucose. It's like a sports drink base that we add dextrose to for more glucose.

Alissa:       What is that? Does your CGM tell you when your blood sugar's high or low? How do you get the drink into your body?

Ryan:        I have a tube that runs to the front of my helmet—it's a camelback system. I have a bite-valve that's right on the side of my helmet so I can actually drink while I'm racing.  I also have my CGM that I'm looking at throughout the race, so I know if my blood sugar is high or low.

Alissa:       Does the stress of racing affect your blood sugar?

Ryan:        Yes. More than the stress, the dehydration is probably the biggest factor. Adrenaline plays a factor as well.

Alissa:       That's interesting. So what do you do for dehydration?

Ryan:        I do the best I can leading into the race to stay as hydrated as possible because there's no way around it. On a hot day I will lose up to 4 or 5 pounds in a race. On the days that I feel I didn't do as good a job as I needed to in order to stay hydrated, I pay the price.

Alissa:       I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit more about your organization. It's “Drive to Stop Diabetes,” right?

Ryan:        Yes. My personal foundation is “Ryan's Mission” and then “Drive to Stop Diabetes” is an American Diabetes Association organization, which I also play a huge part in. “Drive to Stop Diabetes” came out in 2013 and was centered around our racing platform. For me the biggest part is working with younger kids and spreading the message that you can do whatever you want despite having diabetes—don’t let someone tell you that you can’t chase your dream.

                The American Diabetes Association does a lot of work to spread general information at the racetrack—whether its risk tests or awareness information. Lilly Diabetes got involved at the end of 2013, beginning of 2014, and became a title sponsor. They have played a huge part in helping it grow, reach more people and funding.

Alissa:       You mentioned “Ryan's Mission.” How did you come up with that idea and what exactly is it?

Ryan:        “Ryan's Mission” was my first way of getting involved. It was just a website we put up and it was a place to go to tell my story. There is a woman who works for “Ryan's Mission” who does a lot of the day-to-day work with ADA, Lilly Diabetes and “Drive to Stop Diabetes,” but we are more behind the scene. We don't have a lot of events or fundraisers, but we'll have charities donate to “Ryan’s Mission” and a lot of the funds go back to ADA or to help fund an auction or a fundraiser.

Alissa:       Have you raised a lot of money through your organization?

Ryan:        We do a little bit here and there to help stay afloat, but most of our efforts go into the Drive program. It’s hard managing two different programs and my focus is on the Drive program because they've done a lot for me to help me to continue to chase my dream.

Alissa:       What kind of advice do you give people who want to become athletes and compete? Do they need a team of people or is it doable to manage independently? I have interviewed my doctor, Dr. Blevins, and I did an interview with him on this topic and he actually said it is doable. So I'm curious to hear what you think and what your advice would be to people.

Ryan:        I feel it's different for everyone. Meeting and talking to people like you, everyone has a different situation. Each sport, or each person, has their own challenges—not only with their own diabetes, but with whatever their passion is. A lot of it I can listen to and understand, but there is also a lot of it I don't understand and so it’s hard for me to give too in-depth of advice. For me it’s just going through it and dealing with it. With others I just try and tell them, "Don't give up."

                I still struggle with my diabetes.  I have a great doctor and I understand it, but I still have my bad days—just like everyone else. I try and give a positive message of "Don't give up. Don't let the frustrations beat you. Just continue to overcome and give 100%." That's all you can do and, at the end of the day, it’s worth it being able to go out there and do whatever it is that you love to do.

Alissa:       That's so interesting, and that's why I wanted to interview you. Those are all my questions, so I really want to thank you so much!

Ryan:        No problem.


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