Nancy Eastman, in my opinion, is a Powerhouse. A diabetes Powerhouse. A female Powerhouse. A triathlete Powerhouse. A hashimotos Powerhouse! All of the above.
Nancy and I became friends through Twitter (how can you NOT notice a username like “T1TriGirl”?). While Nancy was diagnosed with Hashimotos disease in 1994, she was diagnosed considerably “late in life” with Type 1 diabetes. At first, because she was in her late twenties, they assumed she had Type 2 and put her on oral medicines. By the time she was diagnosed properly, she was begging the doctors to give her insulin. In fact, it took 3 years and 3 endocrinologists to figure out that she indeed had Type 1, and not Type 2.
Instead of being upset or resentful, Nancy was genuinely grateful for a real diagnosis and the correct medication so she could keep living her life. Since then, Nancy “The Powerhouse” Eastman has…
- Ran her first 5K at age 32
- Ran the “Disney Marathon” with Team Diabetes in 2002
- Ran the “New Orleans 1/2 Marathon” with Team Diabetes
- Biked for 7 days with friends in the San Juan Mountains, from Telluride, CO to Moab, UT
- Competed in her first triathlon in 2004 (swimming, running and biking)
- Competed in her first half-Ironman in 2008
- Participated in the Diabetes Training Camp (DTC), eventually becoming part of the staff
TODAY, she is a personal trainer and triathlon coach with Team Wild! (We Inspire Life with Diabetes). Team Wild, originally intended for women with diabetes and founded by Mari Michelle Ruddy, is for folks of all genders, inspiring and educating people on how to be active and live life with diabetes. Mari is also a fellow Type 1 diabetic Powerhouse and two-time breast-cancer survivor. (Obviously, Mari and Nancy ought to be friends.)
Ginger: What kinds of daily or regular habits do you have to help keep your emotional well-being in check while balancing life around diabetes and Hashimotos disease?
Nancy: Exercise…and lots of it! It was going to be my new vice in the attack against diabetes. Everything I had read said daily exercise and diet was key. And what a great stress reliever! I was a tomboy as a kid, and a casual exerciser as an adult, so I had some athletic ability. But I wasn’t sure how much. So I figured I would just start walking and then that progressed into running.
When I officially got the running bug, I went to an informational meeting with our local Team Diabetes (which has now ended here). I joined up, on the spot, without really realizing what that distance would actually look like. I did my first marathon in 2002 at Disney World…not a better place to have your first marathon!
Fast-forward a few years to the swim/bike/run bug. The triathlon is now my official vice in the fight against the Big D! I’ve now completed numerous triathlons, bike events, and a couple of marathons, with hopes of a full Ironman soon.
I always have a goal!
You must have goals to keep momentum going. Waking up in the morning and getting to the gym, or getting out on my bike, or getting to the pool are all part of my goal list. I have big goals and small goals, too! If I don’t get out there and do something my blood sugars feel it, my mind feels it, and my soul feels it.
Ginger: What are the biggest challenges for you in terms of balancing your diabetes around your athletic training and events?
Nancy: The training is key. Practicing with fuel and practicing insulin dosing. It’s a ton of note-taking, and logging. Finding that sweet spot for optimum performance, and stable blood sugars takes a lot of work, dedication and energy. It’s a BIG challenge!! But it’s so worth it.
Ginger: Any tips or tricks for the average diabetic exerciser who struggles to balance their BG around exercise?
Nancy: Note taking is critical for finding trends during exercise. A CGM is great for that, but different types of exercise routines will have different effects on your blood sugars, so logging workouts is just as important. It can be very frustrating, but don’t stop trying! Keep at it! Oh, and I ALWAYS have fast acting glucose with me. It’s not worth the risk, and it’s not hard to carry. My motto? Train smart!
Ginger: How do you think and feel and “cope” with your diabetes? What’s your D-philosophy?
Nancy: I have always lived with my diabetes out in the open, so I figure maybe I can educate people, and show them that diabetes IS NOT a death sentence. Maybe that’s a strong word, but the truth is that some people live their lives as such. I choose to surround myself with possessiveness, and hope that I can influence or inspire someone that you CAN live the life you want with this stupid disease. Your life comes first, and diabetes is just a part of it.
To borrow your line…I live out loud with diabetes. I wear it on my sleeve hoping people ask me about it. I educate them, show them what you can do with it! That’s the passion…that’s what I love. Bringing up a kicked down person. I had always wished there would have been someone to teach me how to manage the diabetes through exercise, and now I’m finally getting to the point now where I can only hope to influence and inspire. Makes my heart smile!
I don’t thank diabetes for coming into my life, but it has changed me for the better! I’m healthier then I was before. My life would not have gone in this direction without it. My closest friends wouldn’t be here had I not been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.