Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with Kris Freeman. If you are not familiar with who he is, I hope I can help with introducing a great person in the diabetes community. Kris is a professional American cross-country skier. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at 19 years old.
(image credit: Lilly Diabetes)
Kris has been partnering with Eli Lilly since 2002 for advocacy. He wants to teach others “don’t let go of dreams because of diagnosis”. This year he will be the guest of honor at 10 diabetes camps across the country in conjunction with the Lilly Camp Care Package program. Kris feels that in a setting such as diabetes camps, people with diabetes can draw together for support and be more mentally equipped to handle the day to day challenges. I could not agree more with him. I have never attended diabetes camp but I have attended other events or just meet ups and have made so many friends along the way. My attitude or my outlook would not be where it is today without that support, that’s for sure.
I’ve been working out more than usual recently. By that I mean 4-5 times a week for 30-45 minutes. And I felt so accomplished for this. Until I spoke with Kris that is! A basic day for Kris would include about 4 hours of some sort of training. A 2 hour roller ski, an 8 mile run, 2 mile swim. Then when he is training for the Olympics (which are coming up in a few months!) that is taken to a whole other level. He does 100 mile bike rides, 5km road races. Six days a week with only one off day a week. Whoa. Now I’m not a professional athlete but that kind of workout schedule still impresses the hell out of me.
Kris is a fellow OmniPodder and Dexcom user. I could imagine that being an athlete like himself, wearing the pod vs. a conventional insulin pump would be much more practical and easy. I asked him what his favorite site was for the pods and believe it or not, it’s his pecs! Beside his triceps, that is where he most wears his pods. He never takes a Dexcom break and likes that he can be more discreet, able to check his BG with a glance at the Dexcom instead of having to do a fingerstick among his non diabetic peers. I think we can all appreciate that!
In addition to using modern technology and heavy duty sports training to manage his BG, he also is a big believer in a high glycemic diet. He is always thinking about his blood sugar. I sit on my butt all day for work and think about my BG constantly so I can only imagine that being as active as he is would make me think about it even more. A rhythmic diet full of fruits and vegetables, high in protein for breakfast and high in carbs for dinner is what he finds works best for him.
One thing Kris said resonated with me very much. He said that diabetes doesn’t go away but learning about it makes it easier. After living with T1D for 31 and a half years, I myself am still learning. And I have to agree that the more you know and understand, the easier it can be to deal with. After being told to forget about his Olympic goals after diagnosis and dealing with road bumps along the way, it never even occurred to Kris to give up. That is what makes him stand out. What makes him a true inspiration.
Thank you so much Kris for taking time to speak with me. It was a pleasure hearing from someone as inspiring as you. And best wishes for your upcoming endeavor in the winter Olympics!