Spring Skiing and Snowboarding with Diabetes

All of a sudden blood started dripping from under his goggles. Woops. I guess this snowball fight got too real.

The small cut on my roommate's nose is the mark of a good time. Anyone who skis or snowboards knows how liberating the mountain air can feel on the soul and mind.

But this sport naturally poses a challenge for diabetics with the mix of cold weather, high elevation, calorie burning mogals, and adrenaline from...snowball fights.

 Mo takes his snowball fights very seriously.

Mo takes his snowball fights very seriously.

Today is a special day at Belleayre Ski resort. Not only is it the second day of Spring, it is also the day I became a snowboarder. 

Now I started the day out as a skier.

As the blaring iPhone alarm wakes me before the sun rises, I check my blood sugar and then press the black down arrow of the Omnipod a few times to set a temporary basal rate of 20% less than normal. 

Looking back, a 30% reduced basal would have kept a more stable blood sugar. 

 Setting a temporary basal rate is a good way to prevent lows during periods of exercise (like skiing or snowboarding).

Setting a temporary basal rate is a good way to prevent lows during periods of exercise (like skiing or snowboarding).

Food For The Mountain

Then on top of the gloves, gator, helmet, and vest, I ski with a camelback to hold some extra diabetic supplies. Abi & Mo do not complain about also having snacks on the lift:

  1. One pack of normal M&Ms. Two packs of peanut M&Ms. 

  2. Two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat bread
  3. box of blackberries
  4. chocolate covered blueberries

Skiing with a backpack takes a bit of getting used to. It’s also better if you do not fall on top of it. Especially since I carry my DSLR camera as well. 

Before hopping on the chairlift I slide the bag off my shoulder and put it in my lap. Mo, who snowboards, also has a bag and he keeps it on. Both seem to work well. 

There is definitely a lot of snackage. That is technical lingo for eating a few carbs in between runs.

How Often To Check Your Blood Sugar

Every 3 runs I pull out my blood sugar meter to see how I'm doing. For those on the continuous glucose monitor, you should consider bringing a small external battery charger and cable to keep your phone juiced up. The cold zaps battery life. Here is the one I use ($22 and can fully charge a smartphone 6x). 

Skier in the morning; Snowboarder in the afternoon

Sitting out on the patio during lunch, soaking up some major rays, Mo proposed a great idea, "Want to switch your skis for my snowboard."

"I'm in.” 

Now it has been about 10 years since I tried snowboarding. The last time was in 8th grade and I ended up breaking my wrist on day one. That fear lingered on the back of my mind.

Mo and I put our heads down on the picnic table and I asked him to visually guide me on how to snowboard. The way he describes riding the board makes sense since I have been long boarding for about six years.

 Mo getting used to skiing while I am somehow standing on the snowboard.

Mo getting used to skiing while I am somehow standing on the snowboard.

Shuffling to the start of the chairlift brings a sense of excitement and nerves. When was the last time you were nervous about getting onto the chairlift? I feel like a small kid.

We sit down and that challenge is out of the way. Now, time to try and not fall while getting off.

The first run I learn how to roll over onto my back to stand up on the board while strapped in. Wow. Standing up every 45 seconds is a serious ab workout.

Then things seemed to click - almost like getting plugged into the Matrix

The third run I went down a BLUE without falling. For ten years I had been imagining what it would be like to get back onto a snowboard. Would this moment ever happen?

I only had three hours of sleep the night before. Yet, I laid there back at home wide awake on my bed figuring out how to get back out onto the mountain. Snowboarding has me hooked.

Only You Can Overcome Fear

If I let the fear of diabetes or the risk of another injury take control than this moment would have never happened.

People ask me about fear quite often because of the places I travel and adventures that happen. There are two choices we have with fear: we can either let it cripple us, or we can acknowledge it and then boldly move forward.

Need some additional inspiration? Chris Hedfield is a NASA astronaut who went blind in space and discusses how to overcome any fear. Click here to watch the talk.

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