In Episode 16 of the Gluconfidence Podcast, we interview Justin McQuerry from Austin, TX. Justin was Diagnosed with T1 Diabetes at age 2, and is now a Professional Cyclist racing across the USA and Internationally. In this episode, we hear about how Justin was able to excel in competitive cycling while managing his day to day blood glucose levels. Justin also shares his personal recommendations on taking on demanding physical exercise, and the importance of staying patient as you learn about what works best for you, as you balance exercise and Diabetes. I really enjoyed these insights, and our conversation!
At 2-years-old, nothing can prepare you for the shock of being diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes. Justin was only a child when he was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes, and he has not known a life without being a diabetic. Justin, a UCI professional cyclist, says he is glad he was diagnosed early in his life because it made him adjust to life as a Type-1 diabetic fast.
When Justin was diagnosed, he wasn’t overwhelmed as much as older people who are diagnosed will be. He was fine taking the necessary jabs of insulin and all the blood sugar checking. Yes, Justin admits, it was hard at first when you’re the weird one in class, the one a teacher follows around, the one who sits alone at the corner of the cafeteria, checking insulin levels and all, but he was able to deal with it.
Justin has always loved cycling. He never saw himself doing anything other than cycling. He was only 9 years old when he started riding bikes. His diagnosis didn’t stop him from engaging in all the activities he loved.
Justin says that being a Type-1 diabetic has helped him build discipline, which has made him a better cyclist.
“It’s not like I have won a bunch of titles or anything,” Justin adds, “but I have had a successful career so far.”
Justin believes strongly that people who have Type-1 diabetes, no matter how old, should be vocal about their situation. The symptoms and signs of Type-1 diabetes, although common amongst many diabetics, is hard for other people to spot.
Justin advises that people who suffer from Type-1 diabetes should not beat themselves up when things don’t go according to plan. He says that there will be days when you’ll do everything right: eat right, measure and regulate insulin levels, and exercise, but your blood sugar will still rise or fall. Justin advises that people be calm because sometimes Type-1 diabetes will just do its thing. While you have control over Type-1 diabetes most of the time, there are times when you just won’t and have to accept that. Don’t beat yourself up, and never give up.
Justin’s racing career has seen him travel across different countries advocating for athletes with Type-1 diabetes.
When he was asked about his eating regimen and management routine, Justin explained that every Type-1 diabetic should understand their bodies and use what works for them. He says most times getting the right management plan is trial and error. “Just be open to learn what your body is telling you.”
For Justin McQuerry, being a Type-1 diabetic didn’t make him feel any less human or smart or good enough. He encourages all Type-1 diabetic to always keep a positive mindset.
One thing that Justin would love to see is for every Type-1 diabetic to have CGMs for free, or at a more affordable price.