(BPT) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one in 10 Americans is living with diabetes and one in three adults could have diabetes by 2050. While every case requires an individual treatment plan, with the right attitude and management, people living with diabetes have an opportunity to overcome the challenges they face.
Stephen Richert, a mountain climber and founder of LivingVertical, is an example of someone who embraced his diabetes diagnosis head-on to push himself beyond what most people thought was possible for a person living with diabetes. When he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 16, Richert made a conscious decision to learn all he could about diabetes so that he could continue to pursue his passions. He did not let his diagnosis stop him from achieving the extraordinary. Since then Richert has been sending a powerful message of inspiration through his organization and lifestyle to those living with diabetes.
“When I learned I had diabetes, I made a choice to not let it take control of me. My diagnosis inspired me to find a way to push my limits through climbing – which came into my life right around my diagnosis – since I was told that I may never be able to safely do that,” Richert says. “I wanted to rewrite the terms of what having diabetes means – what we can and can’t do.”
Recently, Richert accomplished his most ambitious challenge to date: Project 365. Through internal strength and motivation, he was able to climb every day for 365 consecutive days.
“My wife and I decided to do Project 365 because we felt that my experience of living with diabetes wasn’t really represented anywhere,” Richert explains. “We felt that the message of empowerment is one that is highly understated – and that needed to change. We saw a lot of people getting behind diabetes ‘cure’ research, but saw very little emphasis on living powerfully until that cure is found. We wanted to serve as that inspiration for others living with diabetes.”
Richert recognizes that it is critical to have the right devices and technology from brands you trust to manage a lifestyle with diabetes. When Richert is climbing, he uses the Duracell powered ACCU-CHEK Nano blood glucose meter to monitor his blood sugar levels – it offers the peace of mind that’s needed, especially during extreme conditions like mountain climbing. Trusting that your diabetes management tools will work when it matters most is a vital part of the equation.
Aside from having the essential technology, Richert advocates for educating yourself on your body and being in tune with its needs. “Eating a healthy diet, monitoring blood sugar levels and maintaining a healthy weight can help people better manage their diabetes,” Richert says. “Don’t be afraid to learn about your body. It is your own lab, your own experiment. Find out what works and what doesn’t. Do and eat what works for you. If you don’t like your body’s response, if your sugars are not good – then do something different!”
Along with partnering with a physician for a diabetes management plan that’s customized for individual needs, Richert’s extraordinary journey points to keeping a positive outlook as a key component. As Richert puts it, “If we put our goals as the focus and accept that there is a way to get from wherever we are to where we want to be, the subsequent steps will reveal themselves. Attitude is everything.”