Lakota Phippen: Novo Nordisk Professional Cyclist

In this Gluconfidence Podcast, we interview Lakota Phippen and learn about his journey from being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 24, and setting his goal of becoming a professional cyclist on Team Novo Nordisk. 

When you have your life already figured out, getting diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes can do a lot to your mental health. There is a lot of adjusting that you need to do, a lot of dealing with your reality. And because the symptoms of Type-1 diabetes are not so hard to spot, it was incredibly hard for 24-year-old Lakota Phippen when, in 2016, he was diagnosed. His cycling dream, many would have thought, would be shattered when he was diagnosed with having too much blood glucose, but the Seattle-born bike racer knew better. Instead of giving up, Lakota was spurred to continue racing, drawing inspiration from his diagnosis.

For Lakota, being given a “different life” after being diagnosed was all the inspiration he needed to get his cycling career back on track. He has always been an active person, even as a child. When he was diagnosed, he figured that his life as he had known it was over. Although he was 24, he knew life would be different from how it used to be. He wondered how he would have survived Type-1 diabetes had he been diagnosed 100 years ago. He would have died, he reasoned, and this spurred him to live his life to the fullest.

Lakota, in this podcast, explains how it was hard for him to adjust to his new life of checking his blood sugar, being careful about how many carbs he was ingesting, and ensuring his insulin levels were stable like all Type-1 diabetics have to do.

Lakota was out of cycling when he was diagnosed because he had been injured and was recuperating when the classic symptoms of Type-1 diabetes showed up. He was spending a weekend with one of his mentors when he noticed his sharp weigh loss, frequent urination, high cravings for sweet things and many other symptoms of Type-1 diabetes.

When it was confirmed that he had Type-1 diabetes, Lakota decided to get back into racing. He wanted to live his life as best as he could. He had been doing meditation when he was diagnosed, so it was kind of easy for him to begin making a mental change in his life. His prior yoga and meditation classes helped him to understand what he was going through and to reconcile how his body was feeling and what ran through his mind.

Lakota’s first few months after his diagnosis were hard for him, but he was able to find and define a healthy eating routine that helped him feel better.

He also reached out to Team Novo Nordisk, the first racing team made up of Type-1 diabetic racers. He had applied earlier in his like to a mountain biker, but a few weeks after he sent in his resume, he got a reply asking him if he’d like to try road racing.

Lakota has been with the team for four years, and he plans to be with them for a long, long time.

The team at Novo Nordisk has helped to create scholarships for athletes living with Type-1 diabetes. Lakota believes that accepting the reality of his diagnosis and taking charge of his life gave him all the motivation he needed.

Lakota wishes that access to Type-1 diabetes drugs and technologies were easier to access and more affordable to help those with Type-1 diabetes to live even better lives.