I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 11. For my parents, it was devastating. For me, a kid who couldn’t sit still, it was a week in the hospital. I think the hospital staff was glad to get rid of me when I left.
From there, I went on to a life of insulin shots, a new diet, sugar testing and a whole load of complications to worry about. Diabetes became an inconvenient thing in a very busy life.
But I quickly figured something out: If I exercised a lot, my blood sugar went down. To a growing and active 11 year old, lower sugar meant I could eat more. Soon I was running a lot and completing push-ups and sit-ups. I did bicep curls with a bucket of dirt. At age 12, I used my lawn cutting money to buy a plastic weight set.
The day I totally fell in love with working out and fitness itself was the day I felt my arm and found a bicep. This was my version of the Hulk and I liked it. For the first time, gym teachers noticed me, kids that picked on me left me alone, and I felt awesome about being me. For once, I was proud of myself.
I went on to play sports in high school, became a collegiate discus and hammer thrower, taught scuba diving, sailed and pursued a host of other physical activities. In other words, I lived live to the fullest. For a teenager, having the discipline to take care of sugar testing, diet and insulin can be a challenge, to say the least. But when you like how your body is transforming and your confidence is skyrocketing, you feel like you are becoming the “big man on campus.” The byproduct is this crazy thing called good health.
Now I own a gym, and fitness, sports and youth development are my passions. Why this line of work? There is not a better goal in life than to be able to turn your passion into a lifelong career. The only road for was owning a gym. This dream started with the diagnosis of a lifelong medical condition. As odd as it may sound, it makes me grateful for how diabetes changed my life.
Rob Slade is the owner of S3 Training Center and works with youth athletes throughout the Baltimore area.