I haven’t always appreciated the diabetes community and the power of people with a connection to diabetes supporting one another. I never had anything against the diabetes community. I just I didn’t know what I was missing out on until recently.
I’ve always done my own thing when it comes to my life and my type 1 diabetes care. I was never that good at asking for help or input, even when I knew I needed it.
My journey into fitness changed this. I’ve always enjoyed working out, especially resistance training, and in 2014, I started getting really serious about fitness as a sport.
As a way of documenting my fitness journey, I started TheFitBlog, a small blog where I wrote about how I manage exercise and food with type 1 diabetes. It was mainly a blog for me, an online diary, but also something I started because I hadn’t been able to find good information online on blood glucose management and exercise.
Through TheFitBlog, I became part of the online diabetes community!
I found out that there are over 100 support groups for people with diabetes just on Facebook. There are groups only for women, for parents, for athletes, for foodies, you name it. I even started my own Facebook community for my readers and anyone else interested in health, exercise, and type 1 diabetes.
That Facebook group now has over 6000 members, and the amount of love and peer support I see from the group blows me away every single day. The interactions between people from across the world living with type 1, type 2, and less common forms of diabetes such as LADA, has opened my eyes to the power of peer support and the strength of the diabetes community.
What I’ve found is, although we’re all different and we tackle our diabetes management and challenges differently, there’s almost always somebody else who has been through similar experiences to whatever we’re facing. Just knowing that you are not alone in what you’re facing and others have been in your shoes (or similar shoes) can make a world of difference. Chatting with others who ‘get it’ can often change a crappy day into a better one.
I love the community I built through TheFitBlog and I really enjoy participating in other groups as well. I have also left some groups because I didn’t feel like they were a good fit for me. I think it’s important to know what helps you and gives you energy, and what does not.
But what has probably been the most impactful experience for me is the power of giving back. I realised some of the information I collected through my fitness experience was empowering others to start exercising. I’ve had people from our community tell me that what I do on TheFitBlog makes a difference in their lives. That kind of feedback means the world to me. It is one of the reasons why I continue to promote the diabetes community and the power of peer support.
If you’re reading this, you may already know that the online diabetes community exists and you might already be involved. But if not, I highly recommend you dive in. It doesn’t have to be full force. It’s OK to just observe. Simply search the tags #DOC (diabetes online community) or #diabetes on the different social media channels and watch a brand new world open up.
Christel is a Los Angeles based blogger, certified personal trainer, and diabetes advocate. She has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1997 and at an early stage decided that it wasn’t going to slow her down. Her motto is “There is Nothing You Can’t do With Diabetes”. She writes about Health, Fitness and how to be Fit With Diabetes on TheFitBlog.com. JDRF is not responsible for external content.