LivingVertical.org http://livingvertical.org Own your story Thu, 22 Jun 2017 23:11:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 http://livingvertical.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/cropped-LV-Logo-No-Text-1-32x32.png LivingVertical.org http://livingvertical.org 32 32 26817838 Insulin access before incremental advancement http://livingvertical.org/2017/06/11/insulin-access/ http://livingvertical.org/2017/06/11/insulin-access/#comments Sun, 11 Jun 2017 19:07:34 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=6379 I’ve always wondered how a cure for diabetes might have any hope of actually being delivered broadly enough to make […]

The post Insulin access before incremental advancement appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I’ve always wondered how a cure for diabetes might have any hope of actually being delivered broadly enough to make an impact in the lives of those who need it most. Today there are thousands of people who are grappling with the untenable reality of insulin access while paying the ever-escalating prices attached to 22 year-old insulins like Humalog. The idea that developing the biggest ticket item ever put forth by the pharmaceutical industry would somehow lead to accessibility without a prohibitive price tag is unrealistic under the current model. Driving people to support incremental advancements that are increasingly hard to afford with no meaningful check and balance to the industry is at best misguided.

What’s a documentary project going to do to fix this? An absence of voices that express the position of the silent majority is largely why I’m discussing this issue and asking for support for the Banting’s Ghost documentary project. If you haven’t yet guessed, the majority of people with diabetes aren’t on twitter or blogging or making movies about their condition. They’re not invited to attend conferences that guide the future of research, technology or policy. They are not heard in those gatherings and it’s no surprise that their best interest is not represented. They are working multiple jobs, sacrificing good nutrition and leisure time that could be spent exercising or not sitting at a desk. They are worrying about how they will pay their rent AND buy their insulin. Homeless or sick? Homeless or sick? 

This is the silent majority and they don’t care about the fancy new insulins that are 5% better than the “old” insulins that they still can’t afford. They’ve never had a CGM and wonder what it would be like to know what their blood sugar is all the time so that they could relax a bit more. If this narrative sounds exaggerated or unfamiliar-that’s only due to the inherent difficulty of building a successful PR campaign around the access before advancement credo. I’m done waiting for a big “community” organization to act in a way that promotes the interest of all the community–and give a voice to those who are unheard.

I know that I’ve spent many years of my life as part of that silent majority. When I first peeked into the world of the vocal minority (read: Diabetes Online Community) I found it to be largely well intentioned but unmistakably tone-deaf and out of step with the reality faced by most people with diabetes. I don’t say this to be critical but rather to explain why I’m sticking my neck out to execute this documentary project. If it seems like I’m stirring the pot–I absolutely am. Telling these stories will raise issues to the surface that tend to be ignored–and that’s really all I’m after.

Better yet, the Banting’s Ghost documentary project is not about my story or perspective. Sure you’ll get some of my views when it’s my turn to talk but I only want to use my platform to shine a light on the stories of others who are always swept under the rug. Not just one story, but every last one of them–until the presence of the silent majority becomes too uncomfortable to ignore at the galas and the conventions–and eventually the board meetings.

Insulin access isn’t a problem that I can solve with my camera but media and stories are an important step along the path to a solution. I’d argue that we haven’t had a solution up till this point because those who really experience the biggest problem aren’t meaningfully included in the discussion. That’s something I think I can solve with my camera.

support livingvertical

If any part of this writing resonates with you, please support the Banting’s Ghost documentary project. I’m working to get it operationally funded by the end of June and we are just over half way to our goal. If we reach July and the funding isn’t there then I can accept “no” as the collective answer without feeling any sense of failure. This isn’t an easy thing to sell–if it was, I’d be competing with other artists for this job. Ranting is more cathartic, inspiration is more pleasant. Reality is utilitarian, plain–and in some cases, just plain ugly.

If no one names the problem and humanizes its impact–how can we ever expect to change it?

Stephen Richert is a photographer and filmmaker who happens to live with type 1 diabetes. You can see his professional portfolio here

To support this project and all the creative efforts of LivingVertical become a Patron and get prints, ebooks and early access to media as part of the group of insiders driving the creative efforts of LivingVertical also please know that non-monetary support is always greatly appreciated. If you can share our work or connect us with people who might want to share their story, it goes a long way!

The post Insulin access before incremental advancement appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2017/06/11/insulin-access/feed/ 2 6379
Banting’s Ghost: an insulin access documentary project http://livingvertical.org/2017/06/04/bantings-ghost-an-insulin-access-documentary-project/ http://livingvertical.org/2017/06/04/bantings-ghost-an-insulin-access-documentary-project/#respond Sun, 04 Jun 2017 21:16:23 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=6365 It might not work. These are some of the scariest words in the vocabulary of any creative and they are responsible […]

The post Banting’s Ghost: an insulin access documentary project appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
It might not work. These are some of the scariest words in the vocabulary of any creative and they are responsible for stifling the launch of countless projects that might have changed the world if they’d only gotten out of the front yard. As much as I’ve tried to turn my creative focus away from diabetes and towards the things that inspire, I feel like there is unfinished business. Inspiration means nothing without insulin when it’s literally keeping you alive. That’s why I’m using the platform and the talent that I have to try to make a ruckus about insulin access through a documentary project called Banting’s Ghost–that will amplify the humanity in this otherwise very data heavy issue.

Banting’s Ghost is the working title for this project and it will document the people who are struggling with access to insulin–not in a far off land but right here in the United States. I named this project for Frederick Banting, one of the lead researchers who discovered insulin in 1923 and promptly sold his share of the patent for $1. He was quoted as saying “Insulin does not belong to me–it belongs to the world”.

Our current situation has departed significantly from Banting’s altruistic vision. The system has run amok. The pharmaceutical industry has escalated prices that are untenable for insurers–who have responded by covering fewer and lesser quality options which is untenable for people living with diabetes who would like to survive. Community organizations cry, ‘research for a cure’ over the wailing of those people suffering because they can’t afford access to 20 year old drugs.

We are expected to believe that advancements will lead to access rather than the other way around.

support livingvertical

Who are these people suffering and struggling you might ask? Maybe you–like me and most of those who are vocal and have time and following to share our opinions online–are still able to bear the weight of the dysfunctional system and are struggling forward under the burden in hopes that the finish line is at hand. I’ve got news for you. It’s not. People who are struggling are not represented in diabetes advocacy–which is funded by the industry–directly and indirectly swaying those who might otherwise stand up and provide a check and balance.

I don’t have all the answers. I have the ability to tell stories. It’s a start. It’s a missing piece of the puzzle and I’d argue that it’s a really important one. I don’t think that homebrewing insulin is the answer or that the diabetes industry should be decimated. I think that productive conversations begin with some empathy–or at the very least the inability to ignore a public relations fecal hurricane of stories that amplify the value of people over the pursuit of the status quo. There are a lot of data, graphs and charts out there to show that this crisis is out of control. What’s missing is the living, breathing human element and that’s what I’d like to amplify through the Banting’s Ghost documentary project.

It might not work. How will it get funded?

True, it might not even get enough funding to leave the station, let alone gain the momentum it needs to create impact down the line. It’s a bigger task than I can execute on my own, I know that much. I’m asking that if you believe this project to be a worthy endeavor that you back it with a small financial contribution. That’s the only way it will fly. With a family to support and limited resources at hand–addressing a topic that is inherently unfriendly to the industry it’s not difficult to see that the “fly by the seat of my pants” approach won’t work this time around.

Still, I want to unfurl the Banting’s Ghost documentary project in stages, according to the financial support that is available as we progress rather than waiting until all the necessary funds are in place. The first stage is a photo documentary project (inspired by Humans of NY) which is the most time efficient manifestation. My goal is for that to lead into a series of mini documentaries in video format as well as podcast episodes.

It might not work. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try to contribute to the conversation in the diabetes community and the public and I am not afraid to fail–at least not so afraid that I won’t try. Will you help?

Stephen Richert is a photographer and filmmaker who happens to live with type 1 diabetes. You can see his professional portfolio here

To support this project and all the creative efforts of LivingVertical become a Patron and get prints, ebooks and early access to media as part of the group of insiders driving the creative efforts of LivingVertical also please know that non-monetary support is always greatly appreciated. If you can share our work or connect us with people who might want to share their story, it goes a long way!

 

The post Banting’s Ghost: an insulin access documentary project appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2017/06/04/bantings-ghost-an-insulin-access-documentary-project/feed/ 0 6365
Here’s why I’m thankful for film this Thanksgiving http://livingvertical.org/2016/11/20/heres-why-im-thankful-for-film-photography-this-thanksgiving/ Sun, 20 Nov 2016 21:37:38 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5935 I returned home to wade through plenty of my own personal baggage that I encountered during my time at Standing […]

The post Here’s why I’m thankful for film this Thanksgiving appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I returned home to wade through plenty of my own personal baggage that I encountered during my time at Standing Rock. It’s been heavy and not at all comfortable witnessing this unfolding of events. I went there with questions, seeking answers–and came back with more questions. I have a few more posts that I am working on which will extrapolate the details of the time I spent there and show you the images I made–but right now, I want to share something seemingly unrelated that has helped me find my center in the midst of all this tension: gratitude for film photography.

My emotional baggage wasn’t the only thing that was waiting for me when I arrived home. I had sent a years worth of film in to be developed before I left for North Dakota and just as I had done while shooting it–I let it slip from my mind. As I was in the process of unpacking my bags and cleaning up my camera gear I got an email with a link to the scanned negatives. Clicking through these “lost” moments from the preceding months was like a reprieve from the inexorable passage of time. It filled me with gratitude for everything I’ve been able to experience and share–and that feeling of gratitude lifted the burden of baggage. It’s enough of a privilege to live my life enjoying technology and travel–adventure and photography–it’s even more of a gift to have the opportunity to create little time capsules that distill the journey. It’s also a complete privilege to have you reading this because as I’ve said before, no one is entitled to an audience.

As I clicked through, I  found pictures of my friends Rob and Chris–just being themselves. I found pictures of Lilo from when she was much smaller. I found pictures of Stefanie from little moments that had held no great significance other than the fact that they’d never come again. I found the last photographs of my friend Pittman before he took his life. Looking at each image I was taken back to a moment in the past that I felt something worth capturing–usually a sense of tension and finality as I pushed the shutter button. I didn’t know what I’d make or how the photograph would turn out. Once you push that button it’s too late to edit or second guess. It’s done. I was afraid of trying to capture something intangible and just barely missing it–tasting the success just enough to make the failure that much more sour.

Click to view slideshow.

I know that people are afraid of a lot of things in these uncertain days. I am too, I guess. Regardless of your social or political views, things are pretty dark out there. That’s something we can all agree on. I don’t know that pointing a camera at things will make anything better objectively. I don’t even know what is better objectively. I do know that I have a lot to be thankful for and that fear and ignorance are not good enough reasons to stop creating and exploring. Diabetes taught me over the years that life is what we make it and that creation is the opposite of destruction. That is, and will always be the truth that drives me to keep creating even if I miss the mark by miles. It’s not the mark that matters in the end–goals, targets and objectives always change. It’s the willingness to take aim and try that I’m thankful for.

Film photography isn’t about perfection. It’s simply not the best way to make the most technically precise photographs. There is too much left to chance and variables that are difficult, if not impossible to predict with regularity. Still, the process of letting go and eventually getting a return is incredibly satisfying. Maybe it’s because there are no guarantees or do-overs. You get one chance to get it right and when you do, it feels that much better.

The post Here’s why I’m thankful for film this Thanksgiving appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
5935
Standing Rock: Examining my bias http://livingvertical.org/2016/11/13/standing-rock-examining-bias/ Sun, 13 Nov 2016 22:00:46 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5913 As a photographer it’s my job not just to re-create what I see in the world around me but to […]

The post Standing Rock: Examining my bias appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
As a photographer it’s my job not just to re-create what I see in the world around me but to take some responsibility for my interpretation of it. This fact made the task of remaining unbiased while photographing at Standing Rock–exceedingly difficult. The inherent tension between accuracy and interpretation is something that thrills and terrifies me. It’s a tenuous balance of being entrusted with a sensitive story–wanting to do it justice while avoiding being swept away by my own raw emotion gathered through the experience.

If you have no idea what is going on at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation or why I went there, I urge you to do a little digging to find sources who have reported on this conflict and its background context. The story is almost invisible in the mainstream media and I am not a reporter as such. My hope is that my sliver of shared experience and photographs from the Oceti Sakowin camp on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation this past week will help create enough tension that you may look into the facts and form your own opinions. It’s an historic moment in our history, with over 200 tribes from all over the United States represented–the largest such gathering in modern times, catalyzed in response to the Dakota Access oil pipeline (DAPL) which is slated to run through treaty land, just upstream from the reservation water supply. The pipeline also will run through sacred native burial sites. These are the facts–not my opinion about them.

img_8860

Speaking of opinions.

I hadn’t really encountered a situation in my photography where I was pointing my camera at something so socially charged without the security of knowing how and why I felt about it. My previous work in diabetes advocacy is something I live daily so my work was my opinion in that context. I knew where I fit in.

How could I form a valid opinion on the Standing Rock situation? It’s barely a hiccup in the mainstream media and furthermore it has deep racial implications. I’m on the outside. I’m white. I’ve never lived on a reservation. I don’t know what it’s like living in a community with 80% unemployment where the Dollar Store is literally the only grocery store for miles around. Growing up, colonization to me, simply meant the process through which we got here. To many indigenous people it means an ongoing process through which their culture was largely decimated and the lever by which they were displaced from their homeland.

There is an obvious chasm between my world, which is largely insulated from this struggle, and the perspectives I encountered at the Oceti Sakowin camp. I will be wrestling with this disparity for a long time to come–possibly without any clear resolution. Not looking away from difficult realities is where I can begin. I don’t make apologies for who I was born or where my ancestors originated. During my time at Standing Rock I didn’t feel as though I was expected to do that. I was accepted as a guest and often greeted kindly as a non-native relative. Receiving respect in the face of so many generations of sadness and injustice made me want to find a way to just make it all better. Staunch the bleeding. It also made me more determined to not let my feelings interfere with my photographs. Still, those feelings are what drove me to travel from Massachusetts to North Dakota over 3 days to make those photographs.

Clear as mud, yes?

I’ve had some people take offense at the fact that I’ve even been willing to look at this story in the first place–as if recognizing that the situation exists is tantamount to taking sides. There are certainly others who feel as if anything other than explicit activism for the NoDAPL cause is irresponsible or exploitative. I don’t share either of those views–but still, they aren’t wrong.

To whit:

The presentation of lethal force against peaceful, prayerful demonstrations that I experienced is not business as usual. I learned as a child that you never point a loaded weapon at something (or someone) unless you fully intended to pull the trigger. Yet, at one point, I stood at the police blockade with two other journalists and a Marine combat veteran–only four people armed with questions and cameras–who asked respectfully to speak with the commanding officer. We were met with mockery, a drone hovering overhead and more than 10 heavily armored men watching us through the scopes on their weapons. I still don’t know if they were police or military. No one would identify the agency under whose authority they were operating. I made their photograph as I am certain they made mine. I would have greatly appreciated a chance to tell the other side of the story, but all I saw of the other side was armored vehicles and the business end of a lot of big guns. I wouldn’t say I took sides in that moment–more like I was forcibly relegated to a side.

I was walking back into camp after this incident took place and I was confronted by a young woman with a camera of her own. She asked me who I was reporting for and I explained to her that I ran my own website and was out there on a self-directed project to document the situation. I shared that a lot of this was a learning experience for me because I felt strangely trapped between two worlds. It didn’t take her a long time to explain that unless I had plans to report on every oil pipeline on native lands–not just the one that was trending on Twitter that I was just a looky loo. Part of the problem. Another tourist out on a camping trip taking snapshots. Perpetuating genocide, she said.  Maybe she was just being overly sensitive towards a competing photographer.

I still worry that somehow I was actually taking more from the native community than I could give back despite my best efforts and she unwittingly put her finger on the truth.

Hello, uncomfortable tension.

I went to Standing Rock without a fully formed opinion, knowing that I would begin to assemble one through my experience–which would ultimately not even scratch the surface. I went there and saw things. I felt things that impacted my views. I’m human, flawed and willing to empathize with people I don’t agree with or understand. I don’t know if it’s possible to look at people suffering with dignity and feel nothing. My purpose in breaking up these posts on the blog is to compartmentalize some of these competing reactions that I had internally. I don’t intend for the sum of my opinions to be the ultimate takeaway so it’s important to give my feelings some outlet that is distinctly separate from the photographs themselves. Dealing with this tension through the creative process–that’s the takeaway.

If all this duality makes you uncomfortable–I assure you it only gets worse from here. Or better.

The post Standing Rock: Examining my bias appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
5913
I’m going to Standing Rock, ND–here’s why. http://livingvertical.org/2016/11/02/heres-why-im-going-to-standing-rock/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/11/02/heres-why-im-going-to-standing-rock/#comments Wed, 02 Nov 2016 19:38:02 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5842 I’m not political but I’ll give it a whirl for a moment. I don’t rant incessantly about who is ruining […]

The post I’m going to Standing Rock, ND–here’s why. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I’m not political but I’ll give it a whirl for a moment.

I don’t rant incessantly about who is ruining the country or who should fix it. I’m pretty sure that’s what voting is for–a place to contribute a meaningful impact (as opposed to berating people on social media who disagree with you for seeing the world differently). The truth is that your opinion doesn’t matter–only your actions do. This wildly unpopular view is the only hope have we have as a society of self-rescue–because the worst leadership wouldn’t be able to capsize a nation of people who were humble enough to link arms across various lines of race, ethnicity and politics.

Ok, now that’s out of my system:

A few days ago I felt like I should go to Standing Rock in North Dakota to do a photo-project documenting the protest about the Dakota Access Pipeline there. I don’t have an axe to grind. I’m not a protester. I’m a photographer who believes that pretty images aren’t necessarily the most important. For those of you joining me in the Ugly Camera Challenge I wrote about recently–I absolutely will be continuing to participate in that (and I hope you will too!) It feels as though something deep and significant is under way in the Standing Rock conflict right now and for the last few weeks we’ve heard almost nothing about it in the media. Nothing from our political leaders who are selectively concerned about the dire implications of climate change but refuse to even acknowledge this debacle that is unfolding on our own soil.

You may agree or disagree with my decision to go to Standing Rock, North Dakota and point my camera at something that no one seems to want to deal with. I’m writing this to articulate my purpose in going. I’m not attempting to shame others who can’t or won’t join in this journey. I have the privilege of time and opportunity to travel. I have the freedom (risk) of no allegiance to a commercial sponsor or assignment other than my own self direction and those of you who are supporting me on Patreon (thank you!!!). I have a supportive family who is making it possible for me to step out and do this. I’m thankful for those gifts and I don’t deserve them any more than anyone else does. I don’t believe we are given gifts in life to squirrel the benefits away away while turmoil engulfs others who have drawn a different card.

I have no idea what I will find out at Standing Rock. I’m not going with any opinion other than this: my opinion doesn’t matter. What matters is that there is not a public and transparent discussion of a militaristic-type of force being used on civilians who are peacefully protesting corporate development that directly impacts their land. I suspect that as with most conflicts in life there is a combination of people doing the right things for the wrong reasons–and people doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.

One of the cop-outs of the photographer is that the camera doesn’t have an opinion. It’s not biased. It accepts us as we are–the good and the bad. The humanity. I’d like to think that I will return with some images that may make us think about this conflict from a more personal standpoint. Because that’s all any of us are, after all. We’re just people. If we can only use our technology to start arguments rather than conversations then we have already failed, utterly. On some level that’s the hurdle that I now have to clear as I go out to photograph.

I feel a lot of creative tension around this.  I don’t know the outcome and I am fairly certain that this choice will alienate more than a few people who I consider important in my life. I feel real risk. Some fear. I don’t know that I can do this without making an ass of myself or getting in the way of a cause that isn’t my own. I know that this might not work.

I know that it still feels right to go and try.

I’m not sure what will come from this effort in terms of deliverables. My primary goal is still images. Interviews, stories, video assets and the like will be a bonus that I hope to capture as well. I’ll update via LivingVertical social media channels as I can. Cell and data service are reputed to be lacking within a 20 mile radius of the reservation so I may be quiet for (the first time in my life) a while. If you’d like to support this work I’m doing, you can contribute via my Patreon page. If you’d like to tell me to go _______ myself, sound off in the comments below–or better yet do it in person.

The post I’m going to Standing Rock, ND–here’s why. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/11/02/heres-why-im-going-to-standing-rock/feed/ 4 5842
The Ugly Camera Challenge: minimalism in photography http://livingvertical.org/2016/10/31/the-ugly-camera-challenge/ Mon, 31 Oct 2016 16:38:14 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5817 It’s nearly that time of year when all of our camera gear suddenly becomes too limited and obsolete–usually as a […]

The post The Ugly Camera Challenge: minimalism in photography appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>

It’s nearly that time of year when all of our camera gear suddenly becomes too limited and obsolete–usually as a result of proximity to Black Friday sales. I’ve watched the #OptOutside initiative grow over the last year or so–with the goal of encouraging people to redefine the day after Thanksgiving in a less materialistic light by scheduling outdoor adventures in place of shopping. Being a bit of a skeptic, I think that this is likely just clever marketing meant to snag sales in early December but despite that, I appreciate the idea of doing more with less.  The Ugly Camera Challenge is geared towards applying that same minimalism to our adventure and photography!

Full disclosure: I struggle with G.A.S. (gear acquisition syndrome) as much as anyone else and my goal here is not to bare my soul to the world and repent of my love of cameras. I’ve accepted that it’s part of who I am. Aesthetics of new gear entices and inspires new adventures. On the other hand, limitations are an absolute key to creativity. Thus, the Ugly Camera Challenge which can help us selectively limit ourselves while getting more mileage out of gear we might otherwise neglect.

The rules of the challenge are pretty simple:

  • Make 1 photo a day with YOUR “ugly” camera every day in November
  • Share your posts on social media using the #uglycamerachallenge tag
  • In early December we pick our favorite shots. You can email yours to me with any relevant notes, thoughts or lessons learned and I’ll post our favorite images here on the blog!
  • Have fun!

A few notes about the challenge:

  • I’ve intentionally left room for some creative interpretation. The goal isn’t to specify exactly what to shoot or how–but rather to try embracing limitation to see what creative growth comes from it.
  • I’m not calling your camera literally ugly–it’s a figure of speech. The idea is to shoot with something that is a little “off the beaten path”
  • Since I am going to be shooting film as my interpretation of this challenge, I am going to leave enough time to get film developed before sharing the results on here.
  • I’ve included some ideas for “bonus points” below. I’d love to hear your ideas too–drop a comment below and let’s make this fun!

Buy a used camera from a person (ebay, yardsale, craigslist, barter) that is deplorably cheap. Let’s say $50 or less. They are out there! Film or digital–let your mind wander a bit!

Give your ugly camera away to someone who doesn’t have one-this could be a young person who only knows cell phones and has never gotten to experience simply shooting photographs, someone who is interested in photography but can’t afford a “better” camera–you get the idea.

Get a friend, a child or a spouse involved–these kinds of things are more fun with group participation! This could easily create a pathway to mentorship. I’d love to see us getting more mileage out of gear that we would normally not even bother to pick out of a trash bin–and then passing it on to someone else along with whatever lessons taken from participating in this challenge!

This could easily be integrated with the OptOutside initiative–and I think it shares a lot of the same ideals of minimalism and prioritizing experience. Having a camera imposes the need to go somewhere, do something and shoot it. Plan adventures outside–small, local or whatever to document through this month!

Photography is a gift and the simpler we make the experience, the richer it becomes–to borrow the words of Steve House. I want to point out that this initiative was inspired by Ted Forbes from The Art of Photography–his video may help inspire you further!

The post The Ugly Camera Challenge: minimalism in photography appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
5817
Why I’m done dwelling on diabetes http://livingvertical.org/2016/10/17/why-im-done-dwelling-on-diabetes/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/10/17/why-im-done-dwelling-on-diabetes/#comments Mon, 17 Oct 2016 23:06:32 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5696 Our identity is the first to suffer the complications of diabetes. It changes how we see ourselves–normalcy and belonging grow distant. Limitations […]

The post Why I’m done dwelling on diabetes appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>

Our identity is the first to suffer the complications of diabetes. It changes how we see ourselves–normalcy and belonging grow distant. Limitations germinate quietly like mold beneath the occluded layers of personality we create every day in order to just survive. It’s the hairline fracture in the foundation of who we are. The deeper it goes the worse it gets.

I started LivingVertical to share Project365–my goal was to change the story of diabetes and show that we don’t have to accept the narrative of a predetermined outcome of victimhood. I still believe in that same message, but I don’t think the best way to communicate it involves creating content about diabetes anymore. I’ll always have diabetes and I’ll always be happy to answer questions about my experience with it–if I can help, I will do so gladly. Where it’s relevant, diabetes will still be visible but it’s not going to be the focus of what LivingVertical is creating. It will always be in the picture but it won’t be the focus. I believe it’s more important to demonstrate that life with diabetes is about LIFE. This is the most powerful advocacy I can offer. It’s also a choice I am making because I’m frankly tired of trying to pack my world into the topic of diabetes. I’d much prefer to make diabetes fit into the world I’m choosing to explore. 

dsc01819

I’ll explain.

I’ve always  had a hard time gaining a foothold in the diabetes online community. I suspect that’s because my approach has been to encourage people to detach their identity from their diagnosis–because that’s what worked for me. It’s a tough sell though. A diabetes-free mentality is why I never stopped to think that I couldn’t climb mountains as a teenager. It’s why I thought it was perfectly acceptable to spend a month hiking the Appalachian Trail and take on solo adventures without trepidation in college. It’s why I’ve driven across North America more than a dozen times (half of them solo) and I don’t fret about changing my lancets daily. I didn’t have olympic athletes and professional spokespersons with diabetes to assure me that I could do anything. I didn’t see myself as a diabetic who climbed or who hiked. I didn’t see myself as a person with diabetes. My identity had ZERO inclusion of diabetes–so why wouldn’t I be able to do anything I put my mind to?

I wasn’t in denial about my diabetes–no more than I’ve been in denial about brushing my teeth daily. I just never placed that task inside of my identity. Diabetes was a task–one that I realized was incredibly significant. I detached from it emotionally and executed it to the best of my ability so that I could have the freedom to pursue what I loved. Others might call this unhealthy, compartmentalization or repression. I call it freedom through discipline. I have staked my life on this philosophy repeatedly in the mountains and elsewhere. It’s not a perfect science but it’s been able to give me a winning average. I believe that it’s the greatest value I have been able to share here.

Why is this all written in the past tense?

Sometime in 2012 I found that I had to include diabetes in my identity in order to reach others living with diabetes. I had to create space for it where it none existed before. I became the “diabetic guy who climbs things”. I’d introduce myself to people that way. It changed the way I saw myself. It changed the subtext of the story I told myself about who I was. It wasn’t healthy–literally. I know that many people have found value and connection through an inclusion of diabetes as part of their identity–and I don’t begrudge them.

For all the value, impact and success that came with my diabetes advocacy, my own independence from diabetes atrophied. Spending 7-12 hours a day for the last 5 years writing, filming, posting, blogging, emailing, pitching, podcasting, publishing–all through the lens of diabetes–multiplied the weight of diabetes in my life. I wasn’t just living with it–I was living IN it.

 So what’s the point?

  • First, protect your identity. Be someone outside of your diagnosis. Maybe the “person with diabetes vs diabetic” debate is asking the wrong question altogether. The terminology isn’t the biggest concern–it’s the inclusion of a malevolent entity in our self image that should raise red flags. Execute the physical tasks necessary for your body to gain independence on behalf of your mind.
  • Second, I’m thankful I’ve had an opportunity to dig deeper into my diagnosis through my advocacy here. I’m not regretful about what it cost me. I’ve gained a different perspective on just about everything and that has enabled me to make some wonderful friends. That’s what I consider you.
  • Third, when you reach the last page in the chapter–start a new one. Don’t keep rewriting the last paragraph for years until you wither in frustration. Find what excites and motivates you and go unapologetically towards it even when it seems impossible.

Photography and adventure will be the focus of LivingVertical content moving forward. I believe this is the greatest value I have to give–unpacking the tools that have given me my life back. I think this is less a change of priorities and more of a return to them. There’s a reason LivingVertical doesn’t have “diabetes” in the name. It never occurred to me to put diabetes in the name of my endeavor when I arrived on the scene 5 years ago because it wasn’t meant to focus on the problem but rather the solution. Walk the walk–even if it interferes with talking the talk.

I’m grateful for your readership up till this point. I hope you’ll join me for this next chapter. I suspect that many of you who actually read my posts all the way to the end aren’t here because of factual information I share as much as my interpretation of what I see in the world around me. If that accurately describes you then it’s a good bet you’ll enjoy what comes next!

I want to thank specifically Blake McCord, Ashika Parsad, Sysy Morales, Maria Qadri, Fatima Shahzad, Ryan Little, Matt Spohn, Andres Arriaga, David DuChemin, Rob Muller, Tyler Smith, Joel Livesey, Mark Yaeger, Carter Clark, Christine Frost and Nate Duray for inspiring me to have the courage to return to a diabetes-free mentality. There are many others who have contributed to my liberation–knowing or otherwise. Far too many to list here–but these folks have listened and shared in the deliberative process over a long time and I want them to know how much I appreciate their example and wisdom.

The post Why I’m done dwelling on diabetes appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/10/17/why-im-done-dwelling-on-diabetes/feed/ 4 5696
Why I’m trying a modified Ketogenic diet http://livingvertical.org/2016/10/03/why-im-trying-a-modified-ketogenic-diet/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/10/03/why-im-trying-a-modified-ketogenic-diet/#comments Mon, 03 Oct 2016 23:21:51 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5608 A little over a year ago I was bored. I was working in an office environment and not able to […]

The post Why I’m trying a modified Ketogenic diet appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
A little over a year ago I was bored. I was working in an office environment and not able to get out climbing. I wanted to try something to shake up my routine despite the obvious constraints. I decided to do an experiment with a vegan diet, which ultimately led me to try the complete opposite–a ketogenic diet. This bit of skylarking wound up taking off and got this humble blog ranked #1 in Google for the search terms “type 1 diabetes and the ketogenic diet”. This happy accident has brought many of you here no doubt although it’s left me with a burden of continuing to write about a topic that I feel has been wrapped up (at least in my life). The notable exception is the modified Ketogenic diet which I am currently following.

There is one loose end, however–and that is the issue of high cholesterol. I also have the dubious honor of ranking very highly in Google searches for ketogenic diet and high cholesterol–a pleasure that I’d prefer to postpone indefinitely. I am still working on sorting out the details on my high cholesterol and what it means for my adherence to a low carb, high fat ketogenic diet. There is a dearth of information available that gives simple, clear insight into the topic of cholesterol–and much less still when you add type 1 diabetes into the mix. Half of the discussion resembles this: “Cholesterol is not a problem! Eat more butter and stop listening to the man!” The other half resembles this: “Cholesterol is a HUGE problem! Eating that butter is going to kill you!” I would like to believe that a modified ketogenic diet could win the middle ground between these two viewpoints.

The ketogenic diet stabilizes and controls my blood sugar without technology. This fact alone makes it an asset that could revolutionize the impact of diabetes if given the chance–especially significant for the millions of people who can’t afford higher tech solutions. It gives me the simplicity and freedom that allows me to live out from under the burden of diabetes about 90% of the time. Still, living with the cholesterol monkey on my back is a concern.

I feel as though I can choose to either optimize cholesterol or blood sugar–but not both.

I choose to optimize blood sugar because there is no lack of conclusive clinical evidence showing what uncontrolled blood sugar does. There is also no shortage of anecdotal evidence showing how much harder it is to be active, creative, happy and productive while riding the glucoaster. Without getting all morose, let me just say that I have chosen my priority. It’s not an easy choice and it gives me a lot of stress and grief–but it’s the best I know to do and I am prepared to live or die with the consequences.

Welcome to my life with diabetes and climbing. These types of decisions are par for the course.

What I have learned with the help of my doctor (he is an amazing endocrinologist who is supporting my blood sugar management despite its unorthodox approach) is that I am most likely a hyper-responder to saturated fat. This is a genetic anomaly that causes my body to produce exponentially more cholesterol in the presence of saturated fats. The detriment of that cholesterol is still undetermined–along with the possibility or being able to reduce it.

Thanks, genes! The diabetes was a sweet offer–but wait, there’s more…

In light of this hypothesis, I am not abandoning a low carb, high fat diet but I am following a modified ketogenic diet. I believe that most people have to modify whatever diet they follow in order to accommodate their specific needs. A modified ketogenic diet can, of course, mean many different things–it is not imply any one specific modification. I am trying to add more unsaturated fats in place of saturated fats. In simplest terms that means that I am eating more olive oil, macadamia nuts and fish. I am eating less red meat, eggs and coconut oil. In a lot of ways it’s closer to hybrid mediterranean diet. It’s really hard to sell this approach since it doesn’t fit with the self congratulatory memes of the vegan “path” nor the devil-may-care tropes of the ketogenic community. Oh well.

My cheese intake is still predictably unaltered. I will be buried with my block of Coastal Cheddar and a paring knife if need be. Nuff said there.

I recently started swapping out olive oil in my coffee rather than coconut oil. Before you gag and click away, I have to tell you that it’s actually delicious if you put it in a blender. I’m still putting heavy cream in my coffee with the olive oil. Additionally I am eating more leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables (red cabbage, brussel sprouts) as vehicles for more olive oil and more fiber. I’ve cut out a lot of red meat–not to complete exclusion but I’ll eat a steak or some lamb once a week rather than twice or three times weekly. Meat ends and deli meats which I love–have been largely replaced with macadamia and Brazil nuts. I am also increasing fiber intake through the vegetables and adding chia seeds to just about everything I can.

I’m not on statins currently–but I am taking fish oil, vitamin D and Berberine as part of my normal supplement routine of magnesium and potassium.

I don’t have any solid numbers yet to indicate the effectiveness of the modified ketogenic diet on my cholesterol. In terms of its impact on my blood sugar and energy, I feel like it takes a little more olive oil to get into ketosis. It’s lower caliber–but it still seems to be getting the job done. I’ve been taking more insulin recently–but I am not sure if this is because I am back living in Massachusetts or because of the dietary modifications. I have always found a dramatic decrease in my insulin dosage when I am out west (10-15% consistently). On the flip side, I have more time and space to focus on my diet and supplementation here than I did when we were living on the road.

The post Why I’m trying a modified Ketogenic diet appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/10/03/why-im-trying-a-modified-ketogenic-diet/feed/ 27 5608
You should carry a camera-here’s why http://livingvertical.org/2016/10/02/you-should-carry-a-camera-heres-why/ Sun, 02 Oct 2016 22:35:50 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5595 With smartphone technology constantly improving, it may seem odd to say that ‘you should carry a camera’. The camera, as […]

The post You should carry a camera-here’s why appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
With smartphone technology constantly improving, it may seem odd to say that ‘you should carry a camera’. The camera, as a standalone device may soon become a relic in the world of unprofessional photography. The iPhone 7 recently came into our household and while I don’t begrudge Stefanie’s enthusiasm for her new toy–I have felt less desire to upgrade for the “benefit” of a better camera. I explained to her that I feel the value of the iPhone has plateaued and is now offering minor tweaks to incentivize upgrading. I don’t need a better camera in my phone. I like having a separate device dedicated to creating.

lumix g7 street photography camera

Technology is a relationship. It has two sides. Inward facing and outward facing. What we see, hold, touch and lust after is almost entirely the outward facing side. It’s the new operating system that lets you draw handwritten messages, the new camera that lets you choose the focal point of your image after shooting it–we can all imagine sending more clever messages or taking better photographs and how that will somehow make our life better. We want that and will do whatever it takes to get it.

beginner photography and why you should carry a camera

Do we take an equal amount of time to consider how this technology changes us as we use it?

Conversely, do we stop to think about how the deliberate process of creating with a dedicated device may be preserving something special and rare? Simply put, I will always carry a camera not because I couldn’t get good photos without it–but because I value the change that it brings about in my thinking. It changes the story that I’m telling myself as soon as it’s in my hands.

lumix 15mm 1.7 lens test photos

The opposite of destruction is creation. I live every day with a body that is trying to destroy me. That’s my resting state with type 1 diabetes. Being able to shift into the creative mindset allows me to directly challenge this disease–whether it’s with a rope and harness or a camera. I’m particularly focused on using a camera these days because photography is much more available to me than climbing–and because the barrier of entry is so incredibly low. It’s incredible therapy that has almost no downside.

  • If you believe that you’re not artistic or creative–that’s all the more reason to carry a camera–to be free from the distractions of consumption long enough to let something new germinate. The benefit is not the images we produce–but the changes in our mindset in the pursuit of those images. A new mindset is where creativity can spawn.
  • You can see everything for the first time–every time when it’s through a camera lens–including your possibilities.
  • It creates a deliberate construct in which you have to make choices. Those choices lead to changes that either work or don’t. Penalty-free failure teaches us to try new things and make a habit of taking a creative approach to problems in our life.
  • Photographing creates a flow state similar to what I experience running or climbing. It’s immersive–moving meditation.
  • One of my favorite sayings by David DuChemin is that “You cannot photograph what you haven’t seen”. When you’re going out with a deliberate creative process in mind, you will see more of the world around you.

My ultimate goal in the work I do here is to change the story of diabetes through adventure. That means that I’m constantly examining the process of storytelling. I first picked up a camera because I wanted to tell a story–not necessarily take attractive photographs. I learned by doing–poorly at first. If you want to unleash some creativity and change your perspective there is no need to spend thousands of dollars or wait for someone to give you permission to be a photographer. Find your reason why and then go take photographs.

lumix panasonic micro 4/3 cameras like the g7 are excellent for street photography

The post You should carry a camera-here’s why appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
5595
Souvenirs from the road http://livingvertical.org/2016/09/27/souvenirs-from-the-road/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/09/27/souvenirs-from-the-road/#comments Tue, 27 Sep 2016 16:45:07 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5519 In case my most recent posts about life on the road have been too dark or self indulgent here is […]

The post Souvenirs from the road appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
In case my most recent posts about life on the road have been too dark or self indulgent here is something different. This post is a collection of photographs and frozen moments that I believe to be priceless. These are treasures that I was privileged to witness and collect along the way. I didn’t set out looking for them, which makes their occurrence along my path a much greater of a gift.

As we drove countless miles across North America, many hours were spent listening to podcasts and music. Lilo became incredibly fond of John Prine’s music–a fact that was a gift in itself–and this shared appreciation eased the tension of being strapped into a car seat on many a long day. One of his songs in particular really spoke to me as I’ve been thinking back on the incredible trove of experiential plunder that I gained from our year on the road. I’d love it if you’d let the music video below play while you look at the photos and read the captions in the remainder of this post. Incidentally, I have linked each photo with any blog posts or podcasts that give more detail about each moment–where relevant.

These photos are not the apex of my professional work, nor my personal work. They are flawed, imperfect and beautiful. If they develop holographic headstones in the future, I’d bet that you’d see some of these images as the ellipses punctuating the end of my days.

Memories, they can’t be boughten
They can’t be won at carnivals for free
Well it took me years to get those souvenirs…

John Prine, “Souvenirs”

 

 

 

rock climbing in Las Vegas, Nevada red rock conservation area
Climbing in Red Rock (Las Vegas, NV) with Rob. We shifted our approach to linking up long, moderate routes and immerse ourselves in the flow state of climbing. My enjoyment of climbing was reignited as well as my realization of what could be possible with enough mileage on the rock. This photo is from Crimson Chrysalis–a classic “easy” route that we got halfway up and had to bail off of due to weather. I struggled with a low blood sugar at the start and hit my stride–just in time to descend.

 

waterfall photography with sony rx100 m4 using the built in ND filter
I discovered that I really enjoy photographing waterfalls-on a hike with Stefanie and Lilo in North Carolina as our time on the road drew to a close. This was our last “hurrah” and I wanted to get the most out of it. I didn’t go looking for waterfalls in the Smokey Mountains but finding them and shooting them felt like a special gift.

 

sony rx100 m2 sample images
This was Stefanie’s birthday. I had just gotten the news that my main client was not going to continue the project that had been supplying our main income. We were in Canada–at the furthest reaches of our journey and we had to focus on enjoying the moment and not giving in to despair. We went out as a family and visited Kicking Horse Mountain Ranch taking the Gondola up to the top for some hiking. I typically shy away from tourist activities but I was convinced to try it. I’m thankful that we did. It lifted a lot of the psychological burden and it was wonderful being able to enjoy time in the mountains as an entire family. That doesn’t often happen in the context of my climbing.

 

adventure and travel photography using sony rx100 m4
This was my birthday. A chance to get away and spend time on the wall. A chance to climb with a fellow T1D. It wasn’t a Swiss Watch–we got turned around without finishing the route when fixed gear was missing–but it was the first step towards getting ready for El Capitan which is my next project. It was a great way to close out the climbing portion of our life on the road.

 

documentary photography from the sony rx100 m4
This is one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken. There’s a lot going on here and it tells a few stories. I saw Lilo really start to come out of her “shell” during the last year. She went from crying when someone would say hello to her–to lighting up and reaching out to anyone nearby. This photo was from our time in Cincinnati–and we were staying with my good friend Aaron who owns this coffee shop–Covington Coffee. His dad happened to be there doing some research on his iPad when Lilo decided to share her sticker collection with him. We wouldn’t have even gone through Cincinnati in the first place if our journey had gone to plan. Things changed and this happened.

 

Moraine lake in banff national park
Climbing the Tower of Babel in Banff National Park in Alberta was another game changing moment for me. I was looking forward to climbing in Canada for obvious reasons. It was a little intimidating looking up at this route from the ground and wondering if Martin and I hadn’t bitten off more than we could chew. Those moments of doubt are so important because they allow us to bet on ourselves. This remains one of my favorite climbs ever–it was big and somewhat intimidating–but it flowed and was never felt desperate. (Photo by Martin Fuhrer)

 

rock climbing in zion national park on cowboy ridge 5.7
Towards the beginning of our trip I got the urge to tick off a climb that had been on my list in the Zion area for years. It was called “Cowboy Ridge” and with a moderate rating of 5.7 I expected it to be casual. My friend Chris and I went out and gave it a go–and while it turned out to be much more involved than we expected–we did it. There was tricky route finding, loose rock, more loose rock and then disintegrating rock–much of which you can see behind us here on the summit of Mt Kinesava. The descent was a true nail-biter. We were chasing daylight down the steep gullies and hoping we were not going down the wrong path. It was like navigating a steep maze in fading light. I’m really thankful we got to have that experience together–although I don’t know if I plan to repeat this route any time soon!
rock climbing in joshua tree national park with diabetes and sony rx100 m2
I started our journey with the intent of organizing informal adventure meetups all along our route. I hoped to get more people with diabetes out in the real world to enjoy the AdventureRx that is available to us all. Time, money and opportunity ran short of my goal–but not before we got to have one really fantastic T1D meetup in Joshua Tree National Park. During that weekend I was spending a lot of time facilitating and trying to lead group activities. Towards the end of the weekend Chelsea suggested that we get on a route together. The weather was iffy and the guidebook was hard to read but we saw this one crack from the road that looked good. We climbed it without any difficulty but found that the descent was a bit sketchy. Problem solving, spotting, recon and support were the memories I’ll take from this climb with Chelsea–and our diabetes was just along for the ride.

 

portrait photography samples sony rx100
One of the few actual goals that we set for our time on the road was visiting our friends in Canada–Martin Fuhrer and his parents, Hans and Lilo. We named our daughter after Lilo and this was the first time they met. This moment was worth everything it took to get there–and back.

 

sony rx100 m2 sample images
I had high hopes for Lilos first attempt at roped climbing. I expected a gleeful family adventure that would make everyone on Instagram jealous. Instead I found that two-year olds have their own ideas of fun and adventure which often do not align with ours. This was an important (debacle) lesson for me and a memory that I’ll continue to laugh about for years to come.

 

fujifilm xt 10 sample images
This is from Mono Lake in California. If you Google search images of this landmark you’ll see striking photos of tufas in the moonlight. When I think of Mono Lake I’ll always see Stefanie and Lilo playing near the otherworldly-colored water.

 

fujifilm 16mm f1.4 wideangle lens
Shortly after Lilo tried (and hated) roped climbing, we discovered that she loved climbing without a rope. This is her going for it on a bite-sized slab in City of Rocks, Idaho while Stefanie spots her from below. I was impressed with her ability to do legitimate 5th class climbing moves and it was so thrilling to watch her discover her power in the (slightly less than) vertical world.

 

fuji xt 10 and the fujifilm 35mm f2 lens
This is Martin’s dad–Hans. During our time in Canada we got to have many long conversations about his years in the mountains, photographing and preserving the joy and hardship he found there. At one point he gave us a tour of his film cameras and climbing gear. It was like stepping back in time–to a rich history that is now fading. I’ll always be inspired by the strength of this mans spirit, which has only been honed with age. Being able to capture some of his thoughts and wisdom was an incredible gift–and that will be the topic of a short film that I’ll be working on this fall as I struggle to distill the meaning of all these moments.

 

fuji 35mm f2 WR lens
One morning in Canada we decided to head out to climb the Tower of Babel with Martin–and his dad Hans who accompanied us to take photos from below. He wound up hiking up our descent route and meeting us at the top of the climb–just a casual afternoon stroll at 80 years of age. We left very early in the morning, before first light and on the way as we drove through Kootenay National Park the sun was rising. I was following Hans and Martin in my car with Stefanie and Lilo–and when I saw the mist and the sunrise I immediately wanted to stop and photograph this perfect light. Hans reached the same conclusion completely on his own and he pulled over and hopped out with his own camera. I didn’t have the wide angle lens that would have been “ideal” for this shot–but I had some of the most beautiful light and smoky mist on the water–and best of all, I had a chance to be there and capture it.

 

travel photography with fuji x series camera
I don’t know what I could say about this image other than it makes me happy. Earlier that day I was sitting at the picnic table in our campsite trying to do work–with limited success. I couldn’t focus on writing for my client with bugs buzzing me and it occurred to me that our future looked bleak if this was to be my main source of income. I’m glad that I wrapped up early and went out to play with the girls. It was a great decision.

 

lumix g7 micro 4/3 still photography
When I started LivingVertical and embarked on Project365 I decided that no matter what happened–risk, reward, disappointment or loss–it would all be worth it if it changed one persons life. Andres was that person who made it all worthwhile. He was the first person to connect with me in the spring of 2012–when I was at a particularly low ebb–and thank me for changing his life. That changed my life. Andres has always been there to remind me that this work matters, even when it seems like no one is listening–because someone is always listening. This spring we met up in Zion and hiked out to Observation Point, diabetes and all.

 

observation point in zion national park hiking with diabetes
Zion has always been a special place for us. It’s like a big classroom where I’ve learned many lessons–some beautiful, others harsh. It is a landscape of extremes. Beauty and danger walk hand in hand and one need not venture far from any path to find either in spades. I’m glad we got spend time as a family there. I believe that we absorb the characteristics of the places we inhabit and if that red dirt works its way into the cracks between our lives, it won’t be such a bad thing.

 

gopro hero 4 photography and photo sample images
During our time with the Mahoney family in Spokane I got to enjoy parenting a little more. There were other little ones for Lilo to play with, toys galore and the area was baby friendly. Many of the big pitfalls were removed and we didn’t have to constantly be saying “no”. Getting to watch Lilo explore and gain confident in her surroundings was a rare gift. This photo came from an afternoon walk and a random shot. She loved that umbrella…

 

christopher pittman chris pittman pitty
I’ve written at length about my friend Chris Pittman. His birthday recently passed. I sure do miss him. I still struggle with his departure from this life but I am equally grateful that this moment happened–this smile and this memory that we have to carry forward. I still can’t believe that I won’t see him when I’m out in Vegas again. In a way though, I’ll always see him everywhere when I’m out in the desert.

 

lumix camera photography adventure and travel
There was that one time that Martin and I climbed this mountain together. We huddled together below the summit for warmth, scrambled under boulders to avoid wind and rain. We crossed our fingers to avoid lightning and worked together to get back down safely. I don’t think Martin has any idea of his impact on my life–as a climbing partner, a fellow T1D and a friend. I cherish every moment we’ve shared out on the edge or warm and safe in a restaurant eating chicken wings. He’s inspired me in so many ways through his commitment to simplicity and generosity. Kindness and humility are so undervalued in the modern age. Martin has made them into an art form.

 

how to you take waterfall photographs
One day driving through Gifford Pinchot National Forest–it was just me and Lilo–we had a sort of epic. Washed out roads and many other navigational hazards sprang up to block our path at every turn. Steep grades, sharp turns and a complete lack of access to fuel only complicated the matter. Through all of this Lilo was a very good sport and I realized that together we would be able to handle whatever the road threw at us. Once I relaxed and stopped worrying it was easier to pull off the road and grab a shot of one of the many waterfalls that can be found in the wilderness of Washington State.

 

full time RVing with sony rx100 mark 4 night shots
“Memories, they can’t be boughten They can’t be won at carnivals for free” is what the song says. Sitting back and waiting for a safe path through life won’t guarantee that it will ever show up. Failure comes to us all, whether we encounter it in pursuit of something or in flight from something else. The point of it all is not to succeed but to collect the most valuable souvenirs along the way. In this regard I believe that I’ve been wildly successful.

On to the next adventure. I’m thankful for those of you who follow, support and appreciate the work I do. The people who don’t actually read these posts fully won’t mind that I don’t really care if they like my work or not–because it’s not for them, it’s for us.

 

The post Souvenirs from the road appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/09/27/souvenirs-from-the-road/feed/ 4 5519
Chasing failure http://livingvertical.org/2016/09/26/chasing-failure/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/09/26/chasing-failure/#comments Mon, 26 Sep 2016 17:15:11 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5510 If the project I’m doing is guaranteed to work then it’s probably not worth doing. I appreciate the tolerance shown by my […]

The post Chasing failure appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
If the project I’m doing is guaranteed to work then it’s probably not worth doing.

I appreciate the tolerance shown by my readers over the last week as I have been unpacking the failure of the full time RVing experiment. I’m legitimately not discouraged by it. If anything I feel much better for having made a decision and being able to cross something off my list. This enables me to focus on the next project. It too, might fail. This fills me with excitement and yes, hope.

Risk and suffering are key ingredients in the process of creating art. I know that running and hiding from these inevitabilities is the fastest way to stop creating something that can change the world. Note my use of the word can in the preceding sentence. It might not work.

The important question is what is worth the risk, the likelihood of failure?

That is where my current struggle is taking place. I have things to say, things to share and show–but there is fear. Fear that a removal of the filter could destroy so much that I and many of you have labored to create through this community. Conversely, there is an intense curiosity about what change–what impact could be generated from no longer caring what people think? Better yet, what could come from challenging what people think with intention?

chasing failure in order to make a change in the world

I know deep down what is worth doing. Waiting for permission is not a characteristic of something worth doing.

I feel as though what I do here is a lot like spinach. If you give it to Popeye it gets things done. Leads to action. Stirs things up. Alternately, if it sits in the fridge just a little too long it gets watery, soggy and limp. There’s a really narrow edge I am walking between impact and drivel. The reality is that the world isn’t changed by climbing.

The onus is upon me to make sure I am saying something that needs to be heard or the climbing just becomes fluff instead of a vehicle for an important message of change. Visibility for it’s own sake is useless. What is on the billboard and is it worth reading?

This is a game of pursuing failure with intention. If I start playing my hardest, I just may win that game. That’s partly what I’m afraid of.

The post Chasing failure appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/09/26/chasing-failure/feed/ 6 5510
Love it for what it is http://livingvertical.org/2016/09/21/love-it-for-what-it-is/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/09/21/love-it-for-what-it-is/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2016 15:04:57 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5484 A little over a week ago I sat behind the wheel of my Toyota 4Runner watching the endless miles of […]

The post Love it for what it is appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
A little over a week ago I sat behind the wheel of my Toyota 4Runner watching the endless miles of red desert that border I-70 disappear behind our little 13 foot trailer. This our home–once our dream of freedom, now our albatross. Lightning flickered ahead in the distance and I braced for one last desert thunderstorm as we crossed from Utah into Colorado. I couldn’t begin to guess when I’d be back out west of the Rocky Mountains to witness another one like it.

I 70 in eastern utah near Moab and Arches National Park

Today I’m literally right back where I started a year ago–in Massachusetts. Fewer dollars in my pocket–and fewer options to explore. It would be more cathartic to say that we went big and failed big–crashed and burned–but fizzled out is really more honest. The logistics of life on the road are all about trade-offs. Being able to negotiate those exchanges is a delicate process that requires a certain independence that we don’t have. Financial independence was the main culprit, looking back. Also looking forward.

Making a living is nearly impossible without time, resources and focus to create something valuable. After struggling to make enough money to pay for the trailer, gas and pay for RV sites to park where some semblance of work could still happen–with power and wifi–I tired of the tail wagging the dog. We were running ourselves ragged trying to make the lifestyle work but it just wasn’t giving back.

Instead of climbing, shooting photographs and hosting meetups I was doing cubicle style work to pay the bills at hot, gritty picnic tables where I couldn’t even see my computer screen because of the suns glare. It took me twice as long (and was half as enjoyable) to do the same work. This struggle came to a crux at the realization that our sacrifices to live this way were not building LivingVertical into a more authentic message. Somewhere in southern Idaho I woke up one morning and realized that I suddenly wanted to have a home where I could print and hang my own photographs. I have a smartphone and computer filled with digital images that have never lived in the real world.  I wanted to have a desk where I could sit and edit and record. I wanted a place where I belong. A place to adventure from and return to.

Adventure is great medicine when it helps you return home as a better person. Trailer life became the child-proof cap on the medicine bottle and when I finally got it open I found it had been empty all along. I had been cramming all of the worst parts of a 9-5 job into the worst parts of living like a transient. Climbing had become an afterthought, a distraction wedged in between worrying about paying the next months credit card and deciding how to go down the road another piece. This, I realized, was not the plan we had set out to execute.

It wasn’t long after that that we decided to bail and start all over. Again.

Another cross-country retreat. Another series of blogs and Facebook posts trying to explain how and why failure set in again when I don’t even have answers for myself. I guess the simplest explanation for this repeated pattern is the fact that we tried–again. Failure is always the risk of trying and we knew this from the beginning.

Now I’m sitting in my mother-in-laws kitchen in the Boston suburbs which we are calling home for the foreseeable future. It’s a bit comical to be writing about potential next steps in my life at this point. I’ve become a millennial caricature. I’m 34 with a child, trying to set the world on fire from my smartphone–but I’m incrementally selling off my camera gear on eBay to keep that work (and my family) alive. I don’t know how to make ends meet and do the work that matters–the work that started all of this off in the first place.

Despite my choice not to sugarcoat the consequences of my situation I’m not despondent. The trailer has sold of course–and I’m playing hangman with the remnants of my future. I got some good advice about my situation from a good friend as we drove east: “Love it for what it is, don’t hate it for what it’s not”.

Click to view slideshow.

The choice to try something I’d dreamed about for years was still a good one. It’s a choice I’m thankful I had the opportunity to make. I still don’t know where it will lead me and what it has taught me–those are longer term investments that may take some time to mature. Being broke and out of options isn’t too far from being hungry and focused depending on how you look at it–and that’s how I’m choosing to look at it.

Full-time life on the road was an amazing experience. Seeing incredible places with my family–watching Lilo grow and adapt through that journey has been a wild ride. I’ve gotten more time with her than most parents get and that is worth all of the hassle and uncertainty that has come with it. I haven’t soured on adventure–I am learning to grow with it and live with the changes of life. There was a time in my life when living in the dirt was a great adventure that enabled me to do good work that mattered. Trying to go back down that road 5 years later is much different–and now it’s a vexing dead end. Adventure today isn’t adventure yesterday–and it wouldn’t be adventurous if it was.

 

The post Love it for what it is appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/09/21/love-it-for-what-it-is/feed/ 7 5484
We don’t need no inspiration http://livingvertical.org/2016/09/18/we-dont-need-no-inspiration/ Sun, 18 Sep 2016 21:29:24 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5472 One only needs to do a quick glance at social media to see that there is no shortage of people […]

The post We don’t need no inspiration appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
One only needs to do a quick glance at social media to see that there is no shortage of people creating inspiring work and sharing inspiring stories. So what’s missing? In the few years since I started LivingVertical the once sparsely populated landscape has grown a little crowded. Don’t believe me? Go on Instagram and look at the #type1diabetes hashtag. Sure, there’s still some okra water, cinnamon pills and some “woe” boaters floating about on that sea of virtual humanity–but my goal was never to eliminate those perspectives–merely to offer an alternative alongside them. Technology has allowed this community to grow to the point where I no longer feel like an outsider as an active and unrepentant type 1. I’m really thankful for that.

_dsc0060

The question that I keep coming back to is what still is missing from the equation–because inspiration abounds and the net reality of life with type 1 diabetes seems largely unchanged for it.

I’m not waving a white flag–but trying to look critically at the premise of most of my work: we need stories and inspiration to change the narrative surrounding life with a chronic illness. Maybe I’ve been looking at it all wrong. It’s only taken me 5 years to start figuring out what I’m doing here so it’s good to have a jump start on the whole process.

Inspiration doesn’t change lives. Initiative does. Action that overcomes the inertia–the paralysis of the static life. Climbing is how I connect to that. It’s North on my compass and from climbing has come many other levers that I’ve used to keep from slowing down. Photography. Writing. Creating. Noticing. The make and model of the compass are not nearly as important as having your own idea of North and taking steps to navigate on a journey. The goal is not to possess a perfect, flawless compass that can be listed on eBay at the end of its service as “new or like new condition“.

Inspiration is a by product of something that does change lives–and that’s the simple act of showing up and doing the work. It’s important not to confuse the two. Choosing to see the creative choice in our lives directly opposes destructive force in our lives. This is nothing short of transformational if we take the step to go beyond how we feel about doing the work and simply do the work. This means trying with no regard or concern for failure. Uncertainty is the space we need to occupy with pride. It’s not safe and certainly not neat.  Inspiration is not the foundation for change. It’s the antecedent. It comes after making the change and doing the hard part.

We don’t need inspiration to get started or show up consistently. We just need to get started and show up consistently.

The post We don’t need no inspiration appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
5472
Adjusting expectations http://livingvertical.org/2016/08/21/adjusting-expectations/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/08/21/adjusting-expectations/#comments Sun, 21 Aug 2016 23:11:00 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5395 The stories we tell ourselves determine what we create from our objective reality. For example: the fact that I have […]

The post Adjusting expectations appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
The stories we tell ourselves determine what we create from our objective reality. For example: the fact that I have diabetes is objective–not a matter of perception or interpretation. On the other hand, bringing diabetes into wild places and choosing to manage that risk on offense rather than defense–that’s very much about interpretation. That’s the result of a story. The narrative we feed ourselves daily sets our expectations. Adventure is embracing scenarios that force us to have our expectations challenged. Adventure isn’t climbing as such. That’s why I maintain that the AdventureRx isn’t just for people who climb or people with diabetes. It’s for people. I happen to have diabetes and that’s been a massive driver of my expectations and climbing has been an arena that has forced me to let go of those preconceptions.

Still, it’s all an exercise. It’s all transferrable. It’s not unique.

I’ve seen the same concepts play out in my pursuit of photography. In parenting. In traveling. In business.

Don’t let the wrapping fool you. It’s really pretty basic and woven into the most mundane facets of life. I’m not suggesting that adventure is boring or pedestrian–rather I believe that much of the entire world which we are told is mundane–contains vast amounts of fresh territory to explore for those who recognize that we all have expectations and that we all need to embrace discomfort on a regular basis to avoid stagnation.

Physically, artistically, emotionally–comfort is where progress goes to die.

Practically speaking, this train of thought has grown from my recent approach to climbing being disrupted by my two year old daughter. It’s discomfort–in a very different package. I know some people can’t imagine what could be hard about only climbing a couple of 5.6 pitches and calling it a day. Ambition chafes a lot less when you indulge it. When that’s not an option it becomes a thorn in the flesh. I’m not used to being out climbing and having to be dad first.

rock climbing with kids

I finally decided to give in and adjust my expectations. I chose a different narrative for this time on our journey–one in which these days are not about being a climber–they are about being a dad. No more torturing myself about what I should be climbing. I’ll have days to be a climber and push myself again. It’s worth it to pause and see my two year old daughter summit a climb that for her is basically El Capitan. Changing my story altered my expectations and opened my eyes to see Lilo make massive leaps in her climbing–negotiating tricky and unfamiliar terrain with growing confidence. It’s been a valuable reminder of the fact that climbing isn’t always about the climbing. It’s about the ways in which discomfort is the lever that forces much needed change into our story.

family rock climbing adventures

Climbing is an exercise in eschewing the comfort our expectations–not strictly a quest for the glory of achievement. That’s the story I’ve chosen to tell myself.

The post Adjusting expectations appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/08/21/adjusting-expectations/feed/ 3 5395
Photos from the Northeast Ridge of Bugaboo Spire http://livingvertical.org/2016/08/16/northeast-ridge-of-bugaboo-spire/ Tue, 16 Aug 2016 23:43:47 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5362 I’m not going to try and post all of my photos from the Northeast Ridge of Bugaboo Spire here because […]

The post Photos from the Northeast Ridge of Bugaboo Spire appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I’m not going to try and post all of my photos from the Northeast Ridge of Bugaboo Spire here because that would leave us both with an improbable task; me of uploading and organizing everything and you of taking the time to go through them all! Nevertheless, the task of returning with images to share lies at the heart of adventure. It’s not about having “fun” as such–nor is it about some existential quest that takes place in a vacuum. Certainly those elements arise in the process, but the result of it all boils down to something we create. That’s our story and the photographs are an important part of it.

I am writing an eBook about this trip called “5 Minutes of Chaos that Changed my Life” and making a short film from it as well. Both will dig deeper in to the nitty and the gritty of that experience. I feel thankful to have had an experience so rich that I am left grappling to get my arms around it. If you would like to buy prints of these photos, please visit my print store. If you don’t see the image you want, please contact me and I will make sure that it’s available for you. Each photo print we sell supports the work we are doing to change the story of life with type 1 diabetes.

hiking in the bugaboos
Hauling our gear up the approach to the Bugaboos. Photo by Martin Fuhrer
hiking in british columbia in the Bugaboo Mountains
There is a lot of “climbing” before the climbing! Photo by Martin Fuhrer
camping in British Columbia at Applebee Camp
A quick dinner after setting up camp. Morning will come early. Photo by Martin Fuhrer
low light photo with sony rx100ii
2:30 AM in the mountains feels a lot like this.
Snowpatch Spire in the Bugaboo mountains
Morning light breaks over Snowpatch Spire.
Northeast Ridge of Bugaboo spire approach
Climbing a snowfield on the edge of a cliff–to gain access to the main headwall.
rock climbing in the bugaboos
Parties queued up ahead of us at the start of the headwall.
rock climbing photography
Climbing on the opening pitches of the Northeast ridge. Photo by Martin Fuhrer.
alpine rock climbing in Canada
A shot from the eventual summit ridge, late in the day.
night sky photographs with sony rx100ii
Night falls, as does the temperature. Martin and I cuddle on a ledge and wait for morning.
sunrise photography with sony rx100ii
Early morning descent–thankful for good weather and hoping it holds!
rappelling and descending the Northeast Ridge of Bugaboo Spire
It’s a long way down. Careful attention to detail is critical to avoiding reversing and repeating.
marmot limelite tent in the bugaboo mountains
After 36 hours on the go, we return to our tent. The weather breaks and it’s good to be cozy!
Martin Fuhrer is a climber with type 1 diabetes
A cool head and warm demeanor are worth so much in the mountains. Martin has both in spades. I am grateful for his partnership.

The post Photos from the Northeast Ridge of Bugaboo Spire appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
5362
5 Minutes of Chaos that Changed My Life http://livingvertical.org/2016/08/15/5-minutes-chaos-changed-my-life/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/08/15/5-minutes-chaos-changed-my-life/#comments Mon, 15 Aug 2016 12:29:51 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5355 I started writing a blog post and it turned into my next eBook AVAILABLE NOW  “5 Minutes of Chaos that Changed My […]

The post 5 Minutes of Chaos that Changed My Life appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I started writing a blog post and it turned into my next eBook AVAILABLE NOW  “5 Minutes of Chaos that Changed My Life”. There’s a lot more to this story than what I’ve discussed on recent YouTube videos and Podcasts but I don’t want to cram it into a blog post that won’t get fully read and besides…I hate rushing. That said, the real nugget of gold that changed my life is what I’d like to focus on. It’s not about climbing. It’s not even about risk management or diabetes. Simply put, it’s about the story that we all tell ourselves. Here’s an excerpt from the book:

As the dim pink glow of the infant sunrise bled across the horizon I felt  heart drop into my stomach. “Hey Martin, hold up?” I croaked at my partner. He was grinding up the still frozen snow slope towards the several hundreds of feet of unroped “approach climbing” that intervened between us and the start of the route we’d come to climb. The familiar feeling of low blood sugar stifled the words in my mouth as I attempted to explain to Martin that I had to take some food and rest.

The day prior–lugging a 45 lb pound pack up 5 hours of steep trail before making high camp at Applebee Dome in the Bugaboo mountains I had gotten by with eating almost nothing more than a few handfuls of Brazil nuts. We had a short weather window to approach and climb the massive Bugaboo Spire via it’s Northeast Ridge–a classic climb that is not technically hard but is deceptively big. Speed is safety in the mountains where the grade of the moves are of less importance than the fickle weather which turns on a dime and can transform idyllic summits into lightning rods.

“I hate rushing. That’s the only thing that makes a 2:30 AM start worthwhile” I thought as we trudged out of camp earlier that morning in the pitch black. Now I was looking at our time advantage evaporating as I checked my CGM like a nervous tic. I knew my blood sugar would come up but I also knew that the cold would slow my digestion. “We might be here a while. Are you sure this is a good idea to keep going?” I don’t like starting a big day in the mountains on a low. Martin just nodded back quietly as we sat watching the dawn break over the horizon. The little pinholes of light creeping through the darkness across the glacier dimmed in the twilight and revealed themselves to be other climbing parties who eventually passed us as we sat.

Sometimes you can do everything right and still lose out.

Objective reality is that I am a type 1 diabetic. I can’t change that. The story I tell myself about how type 1 diabetes impacts me, limits me or motivates me–that creates and shapes my reality. That is fully in my control. We tend to think of our story as a result of our reality or circumstances–not the other way around. We often see people getting irritated by the narrative that the public has about type 1 diabetes. It certainly can be frustrating but it’s a lot less of a concern when we have fully engaged with the power that we each have to tell our own story rather than live in the shadow of someone else’s. It doesn’t matter if other people believe it–we tell it to ourselves so that we believe it and then we live it out in reality.

This concept really hit home while climbing in Canada with Martin–and that’s what the eBook will really dig into–as well as the short film I am working on about our time in the Bugaboos. Remember that our Patreon supporters will have free access to this (and all future) eBooks I write as well as early access to the film as it goes through the various phases of production! Subscribing to our email list is a simple way to make sure you don’t miss anything and stay up to date with our publishing and production.

 

The post 5 Minutes of Chaos that Changed My Life appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/08/15/5-minutes-chaos-changed-my-life/feed/ 3 5355
Food for the mountains and photos from the Tower of Babel http://livingvertical.org/2016/08/02/photos-tower-babel/ Tue, 02 Aug 2016 22:36:33 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5299 I wanted to put together a few of my favorite photos from the Tower of Babel because with so much […]

The post Food for the mountains and photos from the Tower of Babel appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I wanted to put together a few of my favorite photos from the Tower of Babel because with so much media created it’s not hard to lose a lot in the shuffle of moving on to the next thing! This is a short post and by the time you’re reading it I’ll be on my way into the backcountry for another adventure in the mountains–this time the Bugaboos! Martin and I are going for a larger objective than the Tower of Babel–the Northeast Ridge of Bugaboo Spire–which is beautiful and quite a long day. It will surely test our ability to move efficiently and cover a lot of ground.

Today we are packing up and gathering food–laying plans and tactics for the coming days. It’s exciting to be returning  to the Bugaboos (which I haven’t visited since Project365 in 2012) but it’s also a little nerve wracking because once you’re out there–you’re out there and it’s too late to pick up that one last item you left back at the trailer!

  • My breakfasts: a few spoonfuls of my peanut butter-sunflower seed and hemp seeds concoction, along with bulletproof tea (coconut oil with tea) and some cheese.
  • Snacks/Lunch: cheese and salami, Brazil nuts, jerky.
  • Dinner: Boullion soup, coconut oil, greens, cheese and tuna fish.
  • Glucagon, Clif bars, shot bloks and dark chocolate for emergencies/low BGs

I hope to be back out of the wilderness and reconnected by early next week with lots more photos and video to share. In the meantime, I hope some of these photos inspire you to get out and find some adventure of your own. There’s a lot out there and it belongs to us all.

Click to view slideshow.

The post Food for the mountains and photos from the Tower of Babel appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
5299
Dance with the fear: Tower of Babel trip report http://livingvertical.org/2016/07/31/tower-of-babel/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/07/31/tower-of-babel/#comments Sun, 31 Jul 2016 22:35:16 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5218 I feel as though I’ve been given a gift that is so precious that I don’t deserve it. I almost […]

The post Dance with the fear: Tower of Babel trip report appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I feel as though I’ve been given a gift that is so precious that I don’t deserve it. I almost feel guilty being able to experience these moments on the edge of my comfort in some of the most spectacular places on the planet. It’s not just being there that is so meaningful it’s the price we pay to dance with the fear. The people that we encounter on this hard road to nowhere become friends and mentors. The price is high but fair.

outdoor activities in Banff national park

set out to climb Tower of Babel in Banff National Park (near Lake Louise in Alberta) with Martin Fuhrer–a good friend and Type 1 companion since Project365 serendipitously brought us together. His father, Hans, who is now 80 had climbed this same formation many years ago and he recommended it highly. As a lifelong climber and former head of SAR (search and rescue) for Parks Canada, his suggestions always carry significant merit because many of todays classics were pioneered by Hans and his friends in the 60s and 70s–and he has many unrepeated first ascents in the backcountry that are staggering feats of effort even by modern standards.

tower of babel in banff national park

Waking up at 4 AM is never something I enjoy. “It will be worth it” I keep telling myself as I stagger around trying to get some semblance of breakfast together that will be fast, easy and compatible with my Ketogenic diet. A quick blood sugar check and I can see that I’m already off to a sub-optimal start. I’m higher than I want to be on waking (150) so I trim the meal to the bare essentials and take one unit of rapid acting insulin which will hopefully have left my system before we start the uphill grind to the base of the tower. Peppermint tea with coconut oil, cheese, almond butter and hemp seeds are my rations. I pack some eggs and more cheese for later on the climb, along with some Brazil nuts–which will ultimately stay in my pack for the entire day without being eaten.

A two hour drive puts us in the heart of Banff and we begin the approach. My blood sugar is still high (178) but I don’t really care–it will come down soon enough and I’d prefer a little cushion with the steep hike ahead that will ultimately deposit us at the base of the 1,250 tower. Trying to describe a day of climbing is hard–and possibly not worth my time or yours beyond a certain point.

diabetes and climbing

It was hard at first and then it became easy. I think that’s the heart of the matter–which is worth literally ALL of my time. Doing hard things is how we make them normal. Normal becomes easy and our limits shift. I keep thinking about this on the wall as I look repeatedly at my CGM watching my blood sugar–concerned about a shift or a drop that ultimately never comes. I wonder what it would be like to live without that concern, that fear. It’s with me everywhere I go.

diabetic athlete steve richert

The illusion that I’ve transcended that fear because I choose to dance with it in the mountains sets my teeth on edge. I’ve read some misinformed bloggers who think that my climbing is about demonstrating conquest. In truth it’s about the ritual of confronting my weakest self and watching the myth of conquest evaporate like morning mist. Here on the side of a cliff my fear is nearer and more present than ever. I hear it on the wind and it whispers worst-case what-ifs in my ear. The day that I conquer my fear is the day I will have no more use for climbing. I have no concerns about such a day ever arriving.

From the dance with fear comes joy. The gift. This is real–as real as high blood sugar. As real as the fear.

type 1 diabetes inspiration

type 1 diabetes inspiration

We push through to the summit and find Hans waiting for us–he hiked up a grueling gully to meet and congratulate us. We share details and memories of the climb in the way climbers do. I feel so much joy at the completion of the ascent, our ability to bring type 1 diabetes into the vertical world and our escort down the mountain. I joke with Hans that it’s not often one gets escorted off a mountain by the (former) head of SAR under such pleasant circumstances. His laughter drifts back over his shoulder as he is already out and away down the trail, ahead of Martin and I.

Dance with the fear

Dance with the fear

I hope that I can find that much joy and strength in the mountains when I too am 80 years old.

The post Dance with the fear: Tower of Babel trip report appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/07/31/tower-of-babel/feed/ 2 5218
Crowdfunding: a frank discussion http://livingvertical.org/2016/07/18/crowdfunding-a-frank-discussion/ Mon, 18 Jul 2016 23:02:53 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5151 LivingVertical isn’t for everyone. It’s for YOU. That’s why I am asking you for the opportunity to make this mission, […]

The post Crowdfunding: a frank discussion appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
LivingVertical isn’t for everyone. It’s for YOU. That’s why I am asking you for the opportunity to make this mission, this message my full-time priority by pledging support for our work via our recently launched Patreon campaign. It’s loaded with exclusive rewards which you can see for yourself, including our first foray into print media–The AdventureRx Journal. 

Over the past few years you’ve watched me attempt to juggle the disparate goals of supporting a family and creating revolutionary adventure media that can overthrow the limitations of type 1 diabetes.

I’ve decided to stop juggling.

I’ve committed to LivingVertical full time. That means sink or swim–a test that I’ve been able to protect LivingVertical from for years. I’ve worked many different jobs to support this effort myself and I don’t regret keeping it on life support in order to get back to this point of giving it my full time focus. Now, the question is ‘How long can I afford to maintain this commitment while supporting my family?’.

When I first began working to create empowering adventure films, blogs and photos in 2011 I had a sort of luxury of being free to live in the dirt. Literally. I took great pride in doing more with less. It felt rebellious to start taking a stand without asking for “permission” from corporate sponsors. Having basically no overhead made us hard to squash–like post apocalyptic cockroaches. I never anticipated success. When Project365 was completed there was too much momentum to just walk away from LivingVertical–but no pathway for sustaining a living from it either. I assumed that if LivingVertical was good enough some company would sweep me off my feet and give us the financial support required to ride off into the sunset creating inspiration and empowerment for the world at no cost.

I often have been told that “It would be great if  (insert drug/device company name here) sponsored you! Seems like you would be a great fit. Have you ever looked into that?” I have had some great relationships with sponsors in the past–but we never rode off together into the sunset. Short term engagements left me searching for ways to attract the next short term engagements. My focus couldn’t be the work and the message. The message mattered to me and my audience–but it wasn’t what was supporting me financially.

The reason I am attempting to crowd-fund the backbone of our support is because I want to change that. I believe that my audience and the message come first. Having audience support is what allows that freedom to exist.

No one is entitled to having an audience, let alone support from that audience. The fact that you’re here with me means that I’ve been given a wonderful gift already. I have no intention of putting my work behind a wall and making it pay-to-play. I’m asking you for the opportunity to make the free, public work of LivingVertical bigger, better and more impactful.

The post Crowdfunding: a frank discussion appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
5151
Ketogenic diet and hypoglycemia http://livingvertical.org/2016/07/17/ketogenic-diet-hypoglycemia/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/07/17/ketogenic-diet-hypoglycemia/#comments Mon, 18 Jul 2016 01:55:30 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5140 I wanted to write a technical post about a question I keep getting regarding the ketogenic diet and hypoglycemia. Even […]

The post Ketogenic diet and hypoglycemia appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>

I wanted to write a technical post about a question I keep getting regarding the ketogenic diet and hypoglycemia. Even if you’re not into the keto diet, I think you may find some useful ideas to make low blood sugar less invasive in the short term. I recently shot a series of videos about the ketogenic diet and diabetes as part of my daily YouTube vlogging and you can check those out and subscribe here.

My general goal in my diabetes management is minimalism. Minimal intervention, treatment and daily impact. The most basic manifestation of this is to aim for the use of less insulin, which can create greater blood sugar stability. This strategy led me to a low carb diet. The need to have athletic performance in addition to the blood sugar stability led me one step further to the keto diet.

Using less insulin and eating fewer carbs means that lows do still happen but less frequently and they are easier to handle. Consider driving an empty truck down a hill. It’s going to be easier to stop than if it’s loaded down and has greater momentum. The same concept applies to insulin loads and slowing the “drop” of blood sugar. Simply lightening the load can simplify control of the vehicle.
When a low blood sugar occurs, the treatment ideally involves matching an increase in BG to the proportionate decrease in order to balance the two out. Therefore all hypo treatments are not created equal, or one treatment does not fit all lows– since different methods of raising blood sugar work differently.
One of the biggest obstacles to blood sugar stability is over correction of lows. Over correction can result from either the source of the treatment, the quantity of the treatment or a combination both factors. In other words, you don’t have to eat the entire pantry to overcorrect and spike. Sometimes following the 15×15 rule (eat 15g fast carbs, wait 15 minutes, test, repeat as necessary) can still yield the dreaded spike–which is now that much harder to bring down because you don’t want to overdo it and crash out–again.
The ideal treatment for a hypo is the smallest possible one. The hard part is figuring out how little you can get away with when you’re churning with adrenaline, in a cold sweat and panicking.
I’m suggesting that instead of always prioritizing the fastest treatment, prioritize the method of least intervention–when it’s possible to do so. There are certainly times when I’ll take glucose tabs or “fast sugar” of some kind, but those are typically emergency lows, not more benign lows. I classify my low blood sugars based on how fast I’m dropping because that correlates directly to the severity. Fast lows are treated as an emergency with emphasis on survival. Slow lows are treated with and emphasis on controlling the spike. In my 17 years I’ve used direct sugar sources (juice, glucose tabs, honey, candy, shot bloks etc)  about 10-12% of all my lows, probably fewer than 150 “fast-low” incidents.
I draw on that experience to inform me as to what methods I should use to treat lows. This allows me to still correct low blood sugars without having them bounce high. I should add that as I’ve been on the Keto diet in the last year I’ve had ONE low that required fast sugar. The rest were managed with slower treatments that better matched the insulin action, resulting in little or no rebound spike (over 180mg/dL)
My go to treatments are all ones that CDEs would reject for having too much protein or fat: cashews, peanut butter, dark chocolate, ice cream (if I need more sugar but with a slower release), beef jerky. Obviously these won’t work with large doses of insulin and their corresponding BG fluctuations. When you bring the doses down, fluctuations narrow down and you find that these types of foods will work better in parallel with the action profile of the insulin.
I’ve tried fast sugars in much smaller amounts but they always cause a spike and that rapid increase makes me feel like there’s a brick in my stomach.
The question of how various hypo treatments impact ketosis leaves room for simple sugars as well as my preference of slower sugar. The amount of sugar (fast or slow) that it takes to raise a low while eating keto is relatively small and should not do more than possibly diminish ketosis for a few hours. I can frequently use protein to treat a low on the keto diet. Remember, more than the minimum required intake of protein will get converted to glucose–this is a sneaky fact that often wreaks havoc on unsuspecting people with diabetes! Treating a low blood sugar suspends ketosis temporarily and doesn’t require you to go back through the arduous process of keto-adaptation. You can resume ketosis in 12 hours or less with no major adverse effects.
Treating diabetes is risk management. Tighter control creates its own risks as does loosening up and letting the numbers stray a little further from the ideal. Knowing when to shift gears is key and building the experience gradually and carefully is an important investment in long term health. This isn’t a magic wand that will fix your blood sugar. It’s self experimentation that will help you calculate your risk more effectively–but never eliminate it. I can’t overemphasize the importance of looking at this process as an experiment. I’m presenting my results to encourage your own experimentation, not to replace any portion of it.

The post Ketogenic diet and hypoglycemia appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/07/17/ketogenic-diet-hypoglycemia/feed/ 10 5140
You can call me diabetic http://livingvertical.org/2016/07/12/call-me-diabetic/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/07/12/call-me-diabetic/#comments Tue, 12 Jul 2016 16:29:21 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5133 You can call me diabetic if that’s what works for you. I won’t call the language police to shut down […]

The post You can call me diabetic appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
You can call me diabetic if that’s what works for you. I won’t call the language police to shut down communications. Silence doesn’t help those of us living with this condition and it doesn’t help the outside world deal more gracefully with admittedly difficult subject matter.

I’m not saying that words don’t matter. Words do matter–not because of an inherent value in the words themselves but because of the context. Words matter because of how we interact with them. Trying to protect ourselves from terms themselves is asking the wrong question. Leaning into the effort of influencing context and controlling the narrative is proactive. It’s something for which we can take responsibility. We can change what words mean through action. That starts with taking ownership in our own life. The point of this exercise is to change our perspective. The benefit to us is a better life, independent of the willfully ignorant.

Scrutinizing semantics shifts the focus outside of the things we control. Asking how we can break underlying ignorance seems closer to the mark. Person with diabetes, climber, diabetic, diabetic climber–are all accurate. None of those words makes me who I am. They don’t define me–I define them. Doing that work is something I own–it’s not something I’m willing to outsource. The heart of being successful with this disease involves questioning everything and being independent enough to formulate your own rules based on what works for you, not playing by rules handed down from internet authority figures or arcane medical tropes.

I’m aware that I’m asking you to freely reject my position as part of my platform. I’m no authority figure. I’m just one person. I’ll choose to define the value of diabetes for myself, thank you. That includes all the words and the nomenclature that comes with it. It’s my disease and I’ll paint it any color I want.

The post You can call me diabetic appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/07/12/call-me-diabetic/feed/ 5 5133
Measuring what matters: effort over outcome http://livingvertical.org/2016/07/08/measuring-matters-effort-outcome/ Fri, 08 Jul 2016 16:30:03 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5119 We do a lot of measuring in diabetes–but are we measuring what matters? As you may know, I’ve been on the […]

The post Measuring what matters: effort over outcome appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
We do a lot of measuring in diabetes–but are we measuring what matters? As you may know, I’ve been on the east coast for about a week or so and I’ve been doing a little “experiment” that I’d like you to participate in. I am sharing a video each day–on my YouTube channel. It’s been a great opportunity to work on my video story telling (starting with some lighter “cat videos” to get warmed up!) as I prepare for a big climbing project this fall and it’s the pathway I am following as I push the message of empowerment and redefining the limitations of life with type 1 diabetes. I’m still sharing blogs because those are good outlets for photographs, opinion pieces and technical discussion– but the play by play of my adventures–well, that’s moving to a different stadium with more seating. I truly hope you’ll subscribe to our channel and be part of a new frontier (new for LivingVertical) that we are navigating. These forays are always way better with friends.

During my time in New York City, I had a chance to meet up with a good friend and we did an informal interview for the vlog. It got me thinking about some of the common complaints and touch-points that I’ve been noticing a lot in the community. There’s a tension between a segment of the diabetes community who think diabetes isn’t that hard–and others who think it’s basically impossible. I have been looking for years for a way to bridge that gap and inspire those who are burnt out–and borrow from the success I have had in order to equip those willing to fight on.

I know that it’s cathartic to hear leaders in our community say that it’s impossible to control our blood sugar. While I don’t disagree with this assertion, I believe it’s an incomplete message without equal priority being given to the things we can control. Effort is the focus. Effort is good or bad. Effort should absolutely be judged–because effort is one of the things we can control. Clear black and white language must apply to our self-review or else we will create loopholes to escape our responsibility.

I write this as a flawed, lazy and impatient person who spends a good deal of creative energy trying to trick my “future-self” into doing the right thing from the comfort of what will soon be the past. I’m not advocating open season on judging each other–since that process is already working out beautifully on Facebook in this harmonious political climate–but I’m saying that it’s worth holding ourselves accountable. We are not delicate snowflakes that will wilt under the duress. We will grind our teeth at times and soldier on, better off for having done so.

I would ask you to stay the hands reaching for your pitchforks and torches–because the quality of the effort is not determined by the outcome. You can do everything right and get the wrong results. I’ve seen it happen in climbing, in losing friends to their own demons, in diabetes too, of course–and the only refuge we have is knowing that our best effort was given in the fight. Sometimes that must be enough.

I’ll give a quick example. When I started LivingVertical, I got some pretty hateful comments from people who were complete outsiders. They judged my desire to use climbing to empower and inspire as being a flimsy publicity stunt that would ultimately detract from getting funding for real, meaty solutions like a “cure”. My initial reaction was to say “What the hell?! I show up trying to give people this gift and I get kicked in the teeth?” It’s true that my critics were trolls and they were completely out of line. It’s also true that encountering that judgement gave me a moment to pause and examine what I could be doing or saying to increase the clarity of my purpose. It made me that much more committed to examining my own intentions. I avoided a lot of pitfalls because I did not want to do anything to validate the trolls.

Adjust expectations and emphasis to favor the effort and let go of the outcome. Then, choose your battle and fight like hell.

The post Measuring what matters: effort over outcome appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
5119
I was going to write about my switch to Toujeo… http://livingvertical.org/2016/07/05/going-write-switch-toujeo/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/07/05/going-write-switch-toujeo/#comments Tue, 05 Jul 2016 13:55:32 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5108 I had pretty high hopes for a recent switch in my basal insulin. I’ve discussed it a bunch in my […]

The post I was going to write about my switch to Toujeo… appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I had pretty high hopes for a recent switch in my basal insulin. I’ve discussed it a bunch in my Vlog on YouTube and I promised to write about it here and give a full report. So here is my experience of Toujeo: it’s Lantus in a different colored pen with an even sillier name. I didn’t experience weight gain or an increase in the dose like some detractors had warned me about online. I didn’t experience better or more stable blood sugars as some proponents had predicted. It was basically the same–same dose, same action, same stability. If there were any advantages gained in my switch they were imperceptible.

The one thing that this trial DID reinforce is the very perceptible benefit of splitting the dose of Lantus or Toujeo. I started off taking a full dose of Toujeo and found that it did exactly the same thing as Lantus in a single daily dose: lows up front then increasing blood glucose from hour 18-24. This left me chasing my numbers up and down the spectrum for more than half of the hours in a day. Once I returned to splitting my dose the stability in my numbers followed with it.

One needn’t look very far on social media and diabetes forums to find people who will tell you that “injections suck” and that using a pump is inherently superior. I find that many of those who hold to this view never experimented with the nuances of basal insulin and failed to dial in their dosing. I readily admit that’s why I didn’t have a great experience on the pump. I took the “starter” settings and didn’t get far beyond that point. Turns out that’s a pitfall that occurs when using injections too.

My purpose in writing this isn’t to compare shots vs pumps. I’ve already done that in this blog linked here. It’s to share that in my experience, many times over, splitting a basal insulin into two half-doses daily makes a massive difference in terms of blood sugar stability. I have noticed more and more pumpers taking “breaks” and going back to injections and this technique could be very useful–and it’s surprising to me how many doctors don’t recognize that. I’d love to see a day when insulin that is advertised as “24-hour” insulin actually lasts that long. Come to think of it, I’d love to see a day when medication isn’t wrapped up in marketing, period. In the interest of full disclosure, I am currently moving to trying Tresiba in hopes that it may at least be able to give me that full 24 hour duration. If there’s anything to report, I will.

Ready for my disclaimer? Here goes: this blog post isn’t paid content and all the opinions here are my own. I am 100% certain that the companies which manufacture and all of the drugs referenced here do not condone my blasphemy in the form of non-FDA approved usage of their products. They haven’t asked me to provide an opinion nor have they paid me for this service. They also haven’t paid me to shut up, so I’m still here ranting about how we can use older, cheaper therapies to get better results with a little ingenuity.

The post I was going to write about my switch to Toujeo… appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/07/05/going-write-switch-toujeo/feed/ 6 5108
Out the escape hatch http://livingvertical.org/2016/07/03/escape-hatch/ Sun, 03 Jul 2016 22:29:26 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5064 Creation is the opposite of destruction. If it were not for the destruction that type 1 diabetes threatened me with, […]

The post Out the escape hatch appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Click to view slideshow.

Creation is the opposite of destruction. If it were not for the destruction that type 1 diabetes threatened me with, I may never have seen the value in picking up a camera and creating something from the obstacles in my path. That’s a big part of why climbing has always appealed to me as well. It’s a process of creation, not just performance. It takes imagination and independence to solve physical problems.

You can’t photograph what you haven’t seen, a most poignant observation by one of my photographic mentors, David Duchemin– rings particularly true in a time when there are more photographs than ever. Perhaps the value is more in why we go to see these places rather than in the beauty of image alone. The meaning isn’t just aesthetic. My vision is to be able to communicate that value with fewer and fewer words to assist the images.

Photographs are like a bank account where we store feelings and experiences for rainy days or to loan to others. They are an escape hatch from the present reality–a reminder that there is more out there to see and do. These particular images are from our time in Mono Lake and Devil’s Postpile (California) as well as a few from Oregon and Washington. I look forward to opening this escape hatch wider in the future. It will be a long road to El Capitan and I expect to see many things along the way.

The post Out the escape hatch appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
5064
You can’t stop the suffering; you can only use it. http://livingvertical.org/2016/06/27/using-the-suffering-not-removing-it/ Mon, 27 Jun 2016 23:16:51 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5029 I was recently asked on Instagram: “How do you deal with the emotional burden and sadness of living with type […]

The post You can’t stop the suffering; you can only use it. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I was recently asked on Instagram: “How do you deal with the emotional burden and sadness of living with type 1 diabetes?” This question is almost always presented in terms of how can we stop the suffering. I want to look at this differently: how can we use the suffering to build something bigger than the pain. I’ve been thinking about that question in the context of my own recent loss. I think the answers are the same regardless of the specific source of the suffering.

Acceptance: This is the missing link. Trying to substitute avoidance in its place is just kicking the can down the road. If you wake up each day wondering why you have to struggle with diabetes it’s because it hasn’t become normal. Yet. Some part deep down is expecting or wishing that the struggle is a bad dream and that you will wake up one day and return to an easier normal. That fantasy is often cultivated on social media and it’s the surest path to misery and feeling every bump in this road that we are unable to exit. Once the battle is accepted type 1 diabetes stops being special. It stops standing alone, out of reach of all the solutions that seem to work for everything else. My diabetes isn’t it’s own thing. It’s a facet of my climbing. My travel. My photography.

You have to fully let it in so that you can let it out. Struggle needs an outlet. Accepting diabetes fully allows it to access and permeate the conduits that inspire us–and we are no longer left playing the good against the bad. The hardship adds value to what we create, if we can recognize the need to let our adversary out to play.

Influence: I know that the term “control” in relationship to diabetes is inelegant because it sets us up for an unrealistic outcome. I don’t intend to get into the technical aspects of managing blood sugar here. Still there is tremendous psychological value in exerting all possible influence over our health. Diet matters. Exercise matters. Lifestyle and happiness matter too. There is much we can’t control and that is much more bearable if we are making the best use of the variables that we can control. It won’t solve all your problems but you will certainly learn something and even if it improves one small facet of your life it’s a win. Small wins add up.

Investment: As I wrote in an earlier blog, the only thing that endures beyond us is the way we make people feel. The “good shit” we create in our lives and the lives of others that they can hang onto when times are tough. The truth is that sadness is inevitable. There’s no way to be happy all the time. There’s no way to have stable blood sugar all the time. I’m meticulous with my diet and exercise and lifestyle and I can tell you that the sadness and “burden” is always there. The trick is that I don’t expect it to be otherwise, so I make sure to set that burden aside at times so that I’m not buried beneath it. I fully feel the low points in order to move beyond them. I’ve given myself permission to be vulnerable but not to wallow.

This understanding of alternating periods can guide the way we invest the time we have. Between the waves of sadness we start to see opportunity and hope. We exploit those moments and expand them. The alternative is waiting for the undertow to return, cringing at the knowledge that we are powerless to stop its inexorable onslaught. We use that harsh truth as motivation to invest the moments between and put good things in the bank–because the inevitability of suffering will certainly make it worthwhile.

 

fuji 16mm f1.4 devils postpile national park

The whole world is trying to remove burdens. Remove suffering. We are told to think of that as a solution. I don’t believe that’s the case. Burdens are the foundations for the monuments we are building that will carry the legacy of what we stand for, long after we have fallen by the way. I don’t climb things because it keeps me from being sad. I climb things because I know that I can’t help but be sad at times–and when those times arrive, I need to look back at the photos of the joy and times spent in the mountains and they become windows beyond my current sadness. They are an outlet for my diabetes and an escape hatch for my soul; reminding me that there is a reason to go on because sadness is just a middle, not the end.

The post You can’t stop the suffering; you can only use it. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
5029
Life is short; we are fragile. http://livingvertical.org/2016/06/26/life-short-fragile/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/06/26/life-short-fragile/#comments Mon, 27 Jun 2016 03:45:30 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=5010 When friends pass we realize this reality; but it’s ever-present. We are just living in a bubble of perpetual unawareness. The […]

The post Life is short; we are fragile. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
When friends pass we realize this reality; but it’s ever-present. We are just living in a bubble of perpetual unawareness. The numbness at this truth is temporary–it must ultimately be replaced with some feeling. Some resolution. Nothing outlives us besides what we make people feel. In some ways there is nothing more important because that is ultimately our legacy, nothing more–and nothing less. I’ve been struggling with the loss of my friend who had taken me and my family in over the last few months when we were in Las Vegas, stranded, after my car was totaled in a hit and run accident. He’d give to others to the point that it was absurd. It didn’t seem possible that someone so generous could keep nothing left in the tank to sustain the joy that he gave to everyone else.

IMG_6994

Chris Pittman always managed to make everyone feel important. He’d take you seriously if you shared a big goal. He wasn’t the guy who’d ask  ‘Yeah, but are you sure that’s a good idea?’ or ‘How are you going to get funding for that?’ He had a special appreciation for the outrageous. His habit of living with life with no half measures was comforting in an odd sort of way. He’d always manage to catch his shoe laces on a Manzanita bush while hiking along the edge of a 500 foot cliff and somehow still walk away and be able to laugh about it. His approach was like that of a child on a playground. Always ready to share what he had and be your friend with no expectation of return or benefit.

Now he’s gone and suddenly everything seems more dire. The bubble has popped–for a time at least. His levity was able to shield some of us and lift others to great heights. Still it couldn’t pull him from the sinking sands. None of us could. The last time I spoke to him he said ‘It’s good to hear from you. I haven’t really been communicating with anyone.’ He had given up his seat on the lifeboat–not to be heroic. He said he just wanted to go for a swim. None of the outstretched arms could make him stay on board.

In the last few days I’ve had this feeling where I’m going along with my day, happy and then suddenly I’ll trip over that hole that he left. While comforting me, a friend told me that this type of thing never goes away. She said, ‘You can’t try to understand it all or make it stop. You have to accept the pain and be content with holding on to the good shit. That’s how you keep from falling in that hole’.

The loss of my car in Las Vegas and the delay that had me wracked with anxiety over the last few months–gave me the chance to spend my last times with Pittman. That’s a special anchor to hold onto. I got to tell him how I loved him and that he was important to me. We talked about trying to turn his struggle with depression into an adventure project that could reach other people and shine a light into their world.

Time that I had anxiously spent waiting to get back on the road became a gift in hindsight. Sheer boredom forced me to focus on creation while I passed the time. I didn’t have anything grand or adventurous to photograph so I took pictures of my friend. Those are the last photos of him. Even with the solace of knowing that I didn’t miss opportunities with him–he’s still gone and it still hurts. Some things are out of our hands and when that realization hits, we can only hang on to the good shit, because that’s all that’s left in the end. That’s all that’s worth investing in, every day.

Dr Christopher Pittman Fuji xt10 35 f2.0

Pick up that camera. Take that photo. Write that email. Climb that mountain. Your legacy doesn’t belong to you. It’s not the monolithic magnum opus of the driven competitor that is too easily romanticized and too quickly forgotten. It’s not the act of ambition–but the way you make people feel along your path to the top. Those are the ashes which remain to commemorate our fire long after it has gone cold; they filter down through the sheen of our bubble-walls in which our life is guaranteed and suffering is optional.

The post Life is short; we are fragile. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/06/26/life-short-fragile/feed/ 3 5010
Love your limitation: The Unfinished Project http://livingvertical.org/2016/06/12/unfinished-project/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/06/12/unfinished-project/#comments Mon, 13 Jun 2016 00:59:49 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=4979 I’ve had an unfinished project that’s been nagging at me for a long time and you can’t slay big walls just […]

The post Love your limitation: The Unfinished Project appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I’ve had an unfinished project that’s been nagging at me for a long time and you can’t slay big walls just by talking about it from an office chair. I’ve spent the last several years hating my limitations while doing very little to challenge their preeminence in my life. Some of that has been practically motivated–supporting a family does take time and money. A lot more of it though, was a fear of getting shut down. Failure. Now I’m back on a mission to do what scares me and share it in hopes of raising awareness and empowerment for type 1 diabetes.

It’s easy to talk about going beyond limitations but the truth is that before you can approach your limits you have to accept them. You have to love them, own them. Without them there would be no opportunity to transcend the challenge–which is how value is earned. We are not all special snowflakes. Value is earned, not given away like a consolation prize. I stopped earning and started coasting at some point in the last few years. I wondered why I found my well running dry.

I searched back through my past to try and tease out the point where I first started to coast–and I found it in Yosemite National Park, California, May 2012. I met my match on El Capitan. I came away from that climb defeated in a way that I have never really moved beyond since. That’s why I’m going back there this fall. I’m going to find my limits and dance with them. I expect a main course of humble pie and suffering. It’s not supposed to be easy–that’s not why I love my limitations. It’s an opportunity to struggle. It’s my genuine hope that this project will reach those who need it with a message of empowerment–and that it will reach the public at large with awareness of type 1 diabetes.

In the last couple of years I’ve enjoyed learning about optimizing my diet using ketosis. I’ve been so privileged to have access to a CGM. I’ve spent countless hours checking my graph to see that number, like a rat in a maze, running for the promise of the cheese at the end. I kind of got addicted to winning the diabetes game because I could keep my numbers really tightly controlled–within a really tightly controlled environment. I spent many years advocating for type 1 as a reason to get outside and challenge fear–while ultimately succumbing to the trap myself. Turns out that having great numbers while living your life in service to a numerical readout isn’t really winning anything. Winning boils down to investing success in the opportunity to fail.

I’m not beating myself up about the past–it’s important to confront failures. We are too often scared of words like “right” and “wrong”, “good” and “bad” because everyone wants to know that they’re not the sum of their failures. Ignoring failure is the greatest failure of all though. It prevents us from growing and putting that shortcoming under the boot on the way to a higher summit. This is how I know that there is still a need for empowerment. For awareness. For a reminder that just because we aren’t wearing an orange jumpsuit doesn’t mean we can’t be held prisoner. The tools we use to create a brighter future can become a hindrance if we are not vigilant to look beyond them.

I’m calling it The Unfinished Project. 

The post Love your limitation: The Unfinished Project appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/06/12/unfinished-project/feed/ 3 4979
Is full time RVing even worth it? http://livingvertical.org/2016/06/08/full-time-road-warrior-worth/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/06/08/full-time-road-warrior-worth/#comments Wed, 08 Jun 2016 20:36:43 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=4959 As we are concluding the hateful process of replacing the car and preparing to get back on the road after […]

The post Is full time RVing even worth it? appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
As we are concluding the hateful process of replacing the car and preparing to get back on the road after a MONTH of crazy pitfalls the question of “why” keeps coming up–as in ‘why are we bothering to do this?’ Is full time RVing really worth it? Is there a better way to enjoy travel and adventure–by balancing the spectacular with the mundane? These are tough questions because we knew from the beginning that there would be hard days–weeks even.These types of difficulties are the “stress-testing” of this type of lifestyle.

I don’t know what the right choice is going to be for our family in the long run. I fully intend to ride this out and make a solid year of it before considering plan “B” (pull the ripcord and bail). It’s totally possible that we just had a rough patch and will pull through it brilliantly and won’t ever want to consider quitting again. The question always comes down to quality of time spent together on adventures–which is not always congruent with quantity of time spent in pursuit of adventure! If there is anything I’ve learned from the last month it’s that being out on the road can actually slow you down and kill a lot of time when things go wrong. That’s not just inconvenient and costly, it slows down momentum of climbing and creative projects that I am working on to change the landscape of type 1 diabetes.

Like most difficult decisions I believe the answer will be some form of compromise–choosing the downside that allows for the greatest upside. The option for no downside at all doesn’t seem to exist. Accepting the realization that a sacrifice must be made under the best circumstances is the best way to make deliberate decisions rather than being victimized by mishaps. This is a major part of my view on life with type 1 diabetes. The time we have is an investment and death and discomfort will come to us all sooner or later no matter our choices or station in life. It’s better to figure out what is worth suffering for than trying not to suffer.

The post Is full time RVing even worth it? appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/06/08/full-time-road-warrior-worth/feed/ 1 4959
Yes I quit drinking coffee. Here’s why… http://livingvertical.org/2016/06/07/yes-i-quit-drinking-coffee-heres-why/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/06/07/yes-i-quit-drinking-coffee-heres-why/#comments Tue, 07 Jun 2016 06:15:52 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=4933 I recently announced on Facebook my decision to quit drinking coffee. This declaration was met with some disbelief and horror given […]

The post Yes I quit drinking coffee. Here’s why… appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I recently announced on Facebook my decision to quit drinking coffee. This declaration was met with some disbelief and horror given my erstwhile penchant for drinking coffee. I’m still a little bit surprised at how personally people take it when you announce that you’re choosing to do something differently with your diet. I promise, I didn’t quit coffee in order to disrupt social conventions and that there is a legitimate reason for my choice. That reason is a combination of two factors: type 1 diabetes and El Capitan in Yosemite.

I failed on El Capitan in 2012 during Project365 and I vowed to return, but conveniently avoided doing so for a number of reasons that all seemed legitimate at one time or another. No one wants to fail and it’s even less appealing when people are watching. It’s also a lot more difficult being marooned on a tiny island in a vertical sea of granite for days at a time when you know that your body could revolt against you at any point, potentially with dire consequences. It’s incredibly committing to feel medically vulnerable in a position that is so isolated.

Fear. It either becomes the reason to DO or to NOT DO.

Once I chose to let fear into the decision making process, I stopped making forward progress. Everything devolved into a circular holding pattern. It’s totally reasonable to be afraid of having a low blood sugar on the wall. It’s fine to be afraid of getting dehydrated and cramping up, or hauling too much extra or not enough extra. It’s not ok to let that fear paralyze you.

Fear is a useful ally if it’s not allowed to dominate the conversation. For that reason I am training. Preparing. Working out ways to mitigate situations that I am afraid of. That’s what the next several months will entail–and here is where the decision to quit coffee comes in. I have found that one of the biggest factors that hindered me on past bigwall climbs has been dehydration which leads to cramping. Dehydration has also gone hand in hand with my most erratic blood sugar swings–which is anecdotal, but it is a pattern that I’ve noticed.

It’s also worth noting that low carb diets definitely leave you more vulnerable to dehydration if you don’t take consistent and fairly aggressive action to mitigate the diuretic effects of carb restriction. This is definitely one of the downsides that significantly offsets the blood sugar stability and energy that I have enjoyed in the last year of following a ketogenic diet. There’s always a catch! It’s not a deal breaker for me–it’s a trade off. Coffee is part of what I’m choosing to sacrifice in order to be able to climb further and harder–and hopefully it will make it easier for me to stay adequately hydrated.

I will follow up on this in upcoming blogs because I am genuinely curious to see if this change will impact the way that I feel and my blood sugar as I am training. I have to say that so far I don’t miss the jittery nerves, anxiety and insulin resistance I used to experience every morning with my coffee.

The post Yes I quit drinking coffee. Here’s why… appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/06/07/yes-i-quit-drinking-coffee-heres-why/feed/ 4 4933
I’m back, and I’m sorry. http://livingvertical.org/2016/06/04/measuring-my-success/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/06/04/measuring-my-success/#comments Sat, 04 Jun 2016 19:15:31 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=4931 In the past few months I have been circling the wagons and getting the website rebuilt with the aid of […]

The post I’m back, and I’m sorry. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
In the past few months I have been circling the wagons and getting the website rebuilt with the aid of Splitter Designs. I was confronted with the disparity between what I wanted to create and the reality of what I have been producing . The last few years have felt pretty unfulfilling–hollow, as though something has been missing from my work. I looked back at the posts and pictures and kept thinking ‘Is this the vision? Is this the best you have to give? Where is the passion, the fire and the cutting edge?’

One of the things that has been skewing my vision over the last few years is a desire to be perceived as successful in order to attract sponsors. How else does and athlete/speaker/artist feed make a living? No one wants to sponsor failure. I needed to make a living doing what I do–creating adventure media that inspires people through my struggle with type 1 diabetes. As that reality grew, it stole my fire–my joy. I stopped speaking to the people who were supporting me and I moved on to the people who didn’t care, who needed to be convinced of the value of the LivingVertical mission. I wanted to convert new followers more than caring for my existing ones. By simply reaching more people, I hoped that I could develop LivingVertical into a  quazi-Team NovoNordisk, replete with corporate support and hundreds of thousands of followers–and a salary that could support my work and my family.

What I have found reflecting on all of this is that there is no shame in failure if you choose carefully the hill on which you are prepared to die. There is no honor in measuring success in terms of mass appeal or financial gains. I am returning to LivingVertical–full time until I cannot sustain it further. I  have returned to the reason I started blogging and filming in 2011–to shake things up. To challenge the perception of chronic illness as weakness and to inspire interaction with the natural world around us a the means to win the battle for our minds. I don’t think my work will ever be a “good fit” with selling drugs or devices. I am fine with that. I’m done measuring success based on distracting people who don’t care. This may be the hill on which LivingVertical goes to die and while it may never be trending on Twitter, it will be honorable and true to the vision that inspired its origin.

I am thankful to have every one of you here–because you do care (or you wouldn’t have read this far!)–and you are the audience that I should have been serving all along. I am sorry for failing to see that over the last few years. I am lucky to have finally put my finger on what was missing in LivingVertical. Now let’s go rattle some cages and challenge the conventional wisdom, the marketing drivel and the stereotypes. There’s still work to be done around here.

The post I’m back, and I’m sorry. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/06/04/measuring-my-success/feed/ 9 4931
Diabetes and driving: what I’ve learned about stereotypes http://livingvertical.org/2016/04/11/diabetes-and-driving-what-ive-learned-about-stereotypes-2/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/04/11/diabetes-and-driving-what-ive-learned-about-stereotypes-2/#comments Mon, 11 Apr 2016 12:18:59 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=4057 The ability to drive is a lot like your pancreas, it turns out. You don’t miss it until it’s gone […]

The post Diabetes and driving: what I’ve learned about stereotypes appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
The ability to drive is a lot like your pancreas, it turns out. You don’t miss it until it’s gone and then suddenly you’re lost without it. I recently discovered that having diabetes can put a major cramp on the ability to maintain a drivers license in some states–when my license was suspended for not mailing in a yearly doctors note certifying “compliance”. Here’s where it gets tricky. The state in which I have my license is Utah. The state where I get my healthcare is Massachusetts.

The choice to travel across the country to get better and more affordable healthcare was deliberate; if you think that it’s all the same from state to state, you need to get out more. I tried explaining this to the DMV when they told me that I needed to visit my doctor before I could get a valid license again. The fact that I couldn’t fly (or drive!) back across the country to accomplish this was, not surprisingly, lost on them.

 The bigger issue in my perspective was the fact that this entire loss of privilege was predicated on the states tenuous grasp of what diabetes is and how it affects those of us who live with it. For example, simply having diabetes and being on insulin was a red flag with a default association of “uncontrolled”. In other words, non-compliant until proven otherwise. I have never and I mean never gotten offended when people on the street look at me funny when I inject my insulin. I have lots of patience for questions that I get on social media about diabetes. When the government gets their facts wrong and suddenly I can’t fly, drive–or pick up a prescription at the drug store–that’s another issue. I’d expect a state regulatory body to know better. It’s their job.

I know that living with diabetes is a challenge and that there are risks involved, to myself as well as others. I don’t expect a free pass if I get in an accident or wreck my car. That’s why I take my responsibility to manage my blood sugar very seriously when I get behind the wheel of a car. Or when I tie into a rope when I’m climbing a mountain. Or when I pick up my daughter. The presumption of irresponsibility based on an arcane perception of diabetes undermines our ability to be honest about our condition. I’m looking for a chance to move my license to a new state and this time I will definitely think twice about checking the “diabetes” box on the application form. I can’t afford to be grounded and without medication.

I know that I’ll let this go eventually–I’m not even bitter about it. I promise. I just finally put my finger on what exactly makes the whole thing so frustrating. It’s bigger than an inconvenience it’s a prejudice based on stereotypes about diabetes and driving. I’ll be honest and admit that’s not something I’ve dealt with a frequently in my life and it really opened my eyes to what many people deal with in society today. It’s a lot easier to dismiss these situations until you find yourself smack in the middle of one.

Ok. So here’s where I’d like to hear from you. How do you think we can change this problem–or do we just “comply” and hope it goes away? Comment below and share your thoughts.

The post Diabetes and driving: what I’ve learned about stereotypes appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/04/11/diabetes-and-driving-what-ive-learned-about-stereotypes-2/feed/ 13 4713
AdventureRx Type 1 meetup in NY! http://livingvertical.org/2016/03/28/adventurerx-type-1-meetup-ny/ Mon, 28 Mar 2016 22:30:52 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=4039 Want to join us for an AdventureRx Type 1 meetup in the New York area? I’ll be upstate on April 23-24th […]

The post AdventureRx Type 1 meetup in NY! appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Want to join us for an AdventureRx Type 1 meetup in the New York area? I’ll be upstate on April 23-24th at the Mohonk Preserve which is about 90 minutes north of New York City. For the sake of simplicity, I am asking anyone interested to RSVP via this Facebook event so that we can keep all the communication and updates in one place! This is a really special place to me because it’s where I grew up–I learned to climb at the Mohonk Preserve as an adult–and years prior, I did my first hike there with my family when I was about 3 years old! There is a lot to enjoy here and I am excited to share this experience with you.

Here are the details of the meetup (copied from the event page):

This is a free meetup open to anyone interested in getting outside and adventuring with type 1 (family/friends are encouraged to join!). This is a casual meetup, not a guided or instructional event. All ages are welcome and there is a lot to see/do even if you’re not interested in climbing and would prefer less “adventurous” adventures!

Early arrival is HIGHLY recommended as parking is limited. Meeting place will be the Steel Bridge above the West Trapps Parking Lot at 8 AM. There is decent cell reception available for anyone running late.

Activities available: Hiking, Climbing, Running, Biking, Photography

Accommodations: NOT PROVIDED
Equipment and instruction: NOT PROVIDED
Food/snacks: Bring your own…

*There is an entrance fee to get into the Mohonk Preserve (pay at the gate)

 

If you’re able to make it out, we will be stoked to see you! If not, please feel free to share this with your friends and social networks so that we can get more people outside and pushing the limits of type 1 together. Also, let’s not forget that it’s fun to be out in nature and feel normal with a group of people who are in the trenches right there with you.

If you have questions please comment or email: steve@livingvertical.org

The post AdventureRx Type 1 meetup in NY! appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
4039
Hiking Observation Point in Zion http://livingvertical.org/2016/03/27/hiking-observation-point/ Sun, 27 Mar 2016 17:41:22 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=4022 I’ve been meaning to hike Observation Point in Zion for several years–but it was only this week that I followed through […]

The post Hiking Observation Point in Zion appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I’ve been meaning to hike Observation Point in Zion for several years–but it was only this week that I followed through when we were visited by a fellow type 1 climber, Andres and his friends from San Diego. They were visiting us in Utah for spring break and were looking to get some spectacular views of Zion National Park along with some hiking–and we initially thought of doing Angels Landing but opted against it because it’s insanely crowded and honestly, it’s far from the best view of the park.

Observation Point in Zion is the best hike that I’ve done in the park to date–probably because you have options about the level of physical output required to gain the rim of the canyon and the stunning overlook. The option exists to hike up to Observation Point from the floor of the canyon which is a great workout–if that’s what you’re in the mood for. You can also start from the east side of the canyon, high on the plateau and take a much gentler trail that is much less arduous–gaining and losing much less elevation.

I definitely want to do Observation Point from the bottom up at some point–but we weren’t looking for a workout as much as a casual hike to take some photos–and Stefanie wanted to bring Lilo so we headed up to the Zion Ponderosa trailhead around sunset, hoping to reach the overlook as the colors peaked and then hike back out to our vehicles in the dark, for 6.6 miles round trip.

I’m not a big hiker. There. I said it. I greatly prefer climbing and I typically view hiking as the suffering that guards the entrance to the vertical world rather than an end unto itself. Having Andres along really helped mitigate this lack of motivation because when I get to see Zion through the eyes of someone who hasn’t been here before, it serves as a powerful reminder of how beautiful this park is. Every now and then we need to get out of our own way and remember all of the amazing things that surround us. They don’t become less remarkable over time–but we do lose our “vision” and that is one of the principle benefits that I enjoy when I am able to meetup and hike or climb with other type 1s. It removes the haze from my sight.

This hike wasn’t an epic adventure. It was just good fun, feeling normal checking blood sugar and eating together–checking up on each other, counting carbs, comparing methods and remembering that these types of experiences belong to all of us. Type 1 diabetes is the reason to try a little harder and go a little further–and to take a partner along to share the journey.

hiking observation point in Zion National Park
Blood sugar check!
hiking observation point in Zion National Park
Andres and Kaila
hiking observation point in Zion National Park
The compulsory summit portrait of Andres.

I have been in a bit of a personal limbo over the last few weeks as our family is at a bit of a crossroads. It’s good to have to choose between good options–but it’s also a bit overwhelming too. I have been feeling like LivingVertical is reaching a point of maturity while other ventures, new goals and projects are peeking over the horizon. I’ll be writing about those things as they develop of course–but it was refreshing to spend time with Stefanie and Lilo in such a beautiful place.

We have a little more than a week before work will call us back to the east coast. It’s important to soak in the experience and the beauty–because that’s what we are investing in, after all. There is no sense to having it all around if you’re not going to fully dive in.

hiking observation point in Zion National Park hiking observation point in Zion National Park hiking observation point in Zion National Park hiking observation point in Zion National Park

 

Ok. So here’s where I’d like to hear from you. Have you ever been on an adventure with a fellow type1? How did that impact you? Drop a comment and let’s chat!

Or if you’d rather discuss in private: steve@livingvertical.org

 

The post Hiking Observation Point in Zion appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
4022
1000 feet of climbing before lunch! (video) http://livingvertical.org/2016/03/24/1000-feet-climbing-lunch/ Thu, 24 Mar 2016 06:15:07 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=4015 Red Rock Nevada was a great stop on our journey–because where else can you knock off 1000 feet of climbing […]

The post 1000 feet of climbing before lunch! (video) appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Red Rock Nevada was a great stop on our journey–because where else can you knock off 1000 feet of climbing before lunch on just about any given day? This was a short stop for us–three days or so–but that was enough for me to start off fighting a low blood sugar on the first day of climbing and dialing in my insulin and diet to match my energy output. By day 3 I felt like I hit a great stride and this really has improved my confidence about what I can do, despite having to deal with diabetes.

Stay tuned for more videos coming up about my journey with diet and tips about adapting type 1 diabetes to being more active. Being empowered to push our limits is an incredible tool to take back our health and the more I can do to encourage and facilitate that, the better!

If you enjoyed this video make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel as we keep on the move!

Ok. So here’s where I’d like to hear from you. Have you ever felt like some good has come from a challenging moment with your diabetes? Drop a comment and let’s chat!

Or if you’d rather discuss in private: steve@livingvertical.org

The post 1000 feet of climbing before lunch! (video) appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
4015
The best day ever http://livingvertical.org/2016/03/22/the-best-day-ever/ Tue, 22 Mar 2016 10:15:50 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3984 (Make sure to read part 1 of this post, “How a low blood sugar forced me to face my fear” […]

The post The best day ever appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
(Make sure to read part 1 of this post, “How a low blood sugar forced me to face my fear” before you read about the best day ever!)

As Rob and I spent the remainder of Day 1 hiking around Red Rock canyon and scouting possible climbs for the next two days I remarked to him that this occasion we shared was probably my proudest–and yet my most esoteric achievement ever. At the crossroads of a difficult diabetes moment and a committing climbing moment lies an instance of victory that only a handful of people in the world will fully understand. The result of it all–which I think many more people will understand–is empowerment. Feeling like I can. I can bring my diabetes there (wherever that is).

I’m not trying to plug the Keto diet but I can tell you that I’ve never felt this kind of freedom and possibility before eating this way–even across my 8 or so years of climbing and my 17+ years of diabetes and many experimental diets. The lows still happen (see part 1 of this post!) but with much less insulin on board they are much less disruptive.

As we returned to our trailer (parked at a friend’s place where Rob was staying with us) the wind that had chased us off the climb earlier in the day delivered its payload of rain onto the park. Wet sandstone means no climbing for 24 hours at least, because the porous rock absorbs the water and can break if you climb on it, so we had to change plans for the following day.

Please support diabetes empowerment!

Day 2: We spent the afternoon hiking in the park, about 6 miles total distance with a heavy pack. This was enough strenuous activity to remove the need for rapid insulin–and I cut back my basal insulin by an additional 2 units. I felt excited about climbing the next day–not scared or negative. This was where it really hit me–how much I had come to feel negatively about climbing. It had stopped being fun and exciting because I had reached my limits. Not my true limits but those which I had started to accept in relationship my diabetes and my climbing. It was an unhealthy relationship that I couldn’t bring myself to leave.

I can’t explain how amazing it felt to reconnect with climbing as I smashed through that plateau and found suddenly that this was no longer a relationship that I wanted to escape from.

best day ever climbing in red rock canyon nevada best day ever climbing in red rock canyon nevada hiking in red rock canyon nevada

Day 3: We decided to link up Cat in the Hat and Birdland, two moderate routes for about 1,000 feet or so of climbing. These are both busy routes and so we had to be on point technically–moving quickly up and down with an emphasis on efficiency. I maintained my lower basal dose and still took no rapid insulin with my standard breakfast. This time my numbers were on point. There was enough of a drop in my blood sugar for me to eat my low carb wrap with almond butter and espresso beans at the start of the climb, but it was gentle enough to balance out without any lows or highs as Rob and I climbed.

best day ever climbing in red rock canyon nevada
The upper pitches of Birdland

By mid morning we were finished with Cat in the Hat and back on the ground (I forgot to bring my camera because we were going so quickly at the start of the route!). We headed over to Birdland and I led the first three pitches, which I can only describe as pure joy. The climbing was straightforward but the protection was sparse (I took a variation to the first pitch) which made it that much more fun. We had logged about 800 feet that day when we looked at the amount of other parties on the route–above us and below and saw an impending traffic jam forming for our descent. Birdland is one of the most popular routes in Red Rock Canyon when multiple parties converge on anchors it can turn into a real clusterf#@k. That’s actually a technical term.

There were three parties above us and one party below–going up would mean hours of hanging at crowded anchors with moments of climbing interspersed. We quickly decided to see how quickly we could rappel back down to the ground and used the opportunity to practice simul-rappelling. Less than 15 minutes later we had descended 300 feet and were reflecting on our oddly satisfying change of plans. Nothing that we set out to do went particularly smoothly or got fully completed–but diabetes was no longer clouding my joy in the problem solving process.

best day ever climbing in red rock canyon nevada best day ever climbing in red rock canyon nevada best day ever climbing in red rock canyon nevada

As Rob and I discussed how this newfound freedom could open up new climbing objectives for us to pursue together, another fast moving party descended and their names were Mark and Lizzie. We started talking with them and as is my way, I wound up telling them a slightly abridged version of my entire life story. The diabetes, the climbing, leaving my job, living on the road with my family–and the culmination of my most recent breakthrough.

It turned out that one of the climbers we were talking to, Mark Hudon, was (is) pretty well known. I’d heard of him before and bumped into him on climbing forums but never met him in person–his climbing achievements in Yosemite over the years are the stuff of legend but he spoke quietly and was very friendly. He smiled and told us how he had always tried to impress on his own daughter the value of making each day “the best day ever” because someday you won’t get any more days.

“Prepare for the future but don’t use it as an excuse to wait or to stay unhappy in the present. Every day should be your best day ever–that way when you die, people will be like, ‘I saw him just the other day and he was having the best day ever!’ 

mark hudon best day ever climbing in red rock canyon nevada
Mark Hudon
best day ever climbing in red rock canyon nevada
Lizzie Scully

After a short while, Rob and I said goodbye to Mark and his friend Lizzie. We hiked back to the car and I felt quite accomplished despite the setbacks we had encountered over our three days climbing together. We passed a group of tourists who noticed our packs and the ropes and asked us how our day had gone. Before I could get a word out Rob said “Great! Best day ever!” I smiled and nodded and we kept on hiking.

The best day ever isn’t “out there” somewhere. It’s right here, right now.

Ok. So here’s where I’d like to hear from you. Can we have our best days ever on a fairly regular basis–despite diabetes or am I high on ketones? Drop a comment and let’s chat!

Or if you’d rather discuss in private: steve@livingvertical.org

The post The best day ever appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3984
How a low blood sugar forced me to face my fear http://livingvertical.org/2016/03/20/how-a-low-low-blood-sugar-forced-me-to-face-my-fear/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/03/20/how-a-low-low-blood-sugar-forced-me-to-face-my-fear/#comments Sun, 20 Mar 2016 19:54:08 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3961 I had my best day ever  just a short while ago and I owe it all to a low blood […]

The post How a low blood sugar forced me to face my fear appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I had my best day ever  just a short while ago and I owe it all to a low blood sugar. It all started a few days ago, after our type 1 meetup in Joshua Tree as I spent several days climbing with Rob in Las Vegas (you may remember him from Project365 and our many adventures together). He asked me, “Dude, do you want to link up a bunch of moderate routes over the next few days? I only have a couple days off, so we would have to get up early every day and just crush ourselves and see how much we can climb in 3 days.”

I’ve come to regard Robs invitations with a bit of hesitancy because his idea of fun often involves a lot of what I would not consider fun at all. At the same time I had a keen awareness of my 2016 goal to climb 100,000 feet slipping away from me. One of the things I’ve come to appreciate about Rob is the fact that he always seems able to push me out of my comfort zone without making me feel unsafe or obligated. There is this overarching sense of normalization through our actions–in other words, we aren’t doing anything extraordinary, we are simply making extraordinary things normal by doing them.

I’ve been looking for bigger challenges through which to test the effectiveness of the Keto diet as it measures up to greater athletic output. Simply put, I want more freedom from my diabetes. So far, I haven’t found the end of my tether with the Keto diet in the mountains and to be honest, I’ve been a little afraid to keep pushing–because the further it enables me to go, the bigger the letdown (and the consequences) may be. I’m stuck between the terror of flying too close to the sun and staying on the ground looking up at the open sky with resentment.

With three days of climbing queued up before me, each day holding about 1,000 vertical feet and an early start, I shrugged and accepted my fate. ‘Sure. I’d be down for that. Exactly how early are we planning on getting out there?

low blood sugar while rock climbing in red rock canyon las vegas shot with sony rx 100low blood sugar while rock climbing in red rock canyon las vegas shot with sony rx 100 low blood sugar while rock climbing in red rock canyon las vegas shot with sony rx 100

Day 1: We geared up for an ascent of “Crimson Chrysalis” a classic moderate route that requires a pretty strenuous approach. I knew that it would entail at least 1.5 hours of hiking with a heavy pack so I skipped my breakfast bolus injection but kept my basal insulin at the “normal” level. Eggs, bacon, nuts and coconut oil “bulletproof” coffee kept my motor running all the way to the base of the cliff–at which point I decided that I should look at my CGM which showed a gradual but consistent slide from around 140 where I started–to 70.

I drew the short straw to lead the first pitch and I anticipated a continuing drop in my blood sugar so I ate a low carb tortilla wrap–loaded with almond butter and espresso beans. Yes, you heard right–it sounds odd but it’s amazing. I thought this mini-meal had enough firepower to get me over the hump of a low blood sugar–so I started up the first pitch, trusting my snack to do it’s job as I climbed. The climbing was exquisite–beautiful holds etched into the dark, desert patina–plentiful options for hands and feet but still thought provoking. The protection was not lacking but going 20 feet between pieces helped keep my attention focused.

Bzzzt! Bzzzt! Bzzt! Bzzzt! BEEP BEEP BEEP!

Oh balls‘ I thought as I heard the dreaded sound of my CGM screaming for attention. That was four buzzes and three beeps…that’s a definite “Oh shit” low blood sugar alarm for sure. I was about 70 feet off the deck at this point but Rob heard the sound of my doom and called up cheerfully to me to make sure I knew that I was still expected to finish off the pitch in good form.

I quickly assessed my situation–my last anchor was about 25 feet below me. If I fell I’d go more than twice that distance and likely smash my feet and ankles on the way down. I looked for an easy option to build an anchor close by and found nothing suitable. Stopping wasn’t an option and the consequences of falling were not insignificant. This was the moment that I’d never fully experienced before–the coalescence of all my fears and risk factors–being runout and unable to easily get up or down to treat my low blood sugar.

LivingVertical is 100% user supported-help us create a new normal! 

I looked inward for a moment and took inventory. Fear, check. Shame, check. Self doubt, check. Still, I felt like I had the energy to deal with this crisis and since there was no other option, I did my best to avoid overgripping the hold in my left hand while my right hand fished the package of Shot Bloks out of my pocket. If you’ve ever worn a climbing harness you will appreciate the dexterity that this took, blood sugar not withstanding. I squeezed out one Shot Blok into my mouth–I didn’t want to overtreat my low and wind up spiking my blood sugar.

That was it. I’d done everything I could and now I had to move on and deal with the climbing between me and the top of the first pitch. My blood sugar would have to fix itself independent of my worrying and moment to moment inspection. I ignored the clamor of my Dexcom and pulled down, stepped up and repeated. About 10 minutes later I found myself clipping the chains and anchoring in. Pitch 1 of 9 was complete.

The remainder of the day was pretty ordinary. My blood sugar came back up, sure enough. After about 500 more feet of climbing, the wind whipped up and Rob suggested that we finish the route another day rather than risk the wind “sticking” our rope when rappelled off of the summit. I felt totally content bailing–because I got through the crux of my diabetes. That felt like a big accomplishment.

We simul-rapped to the ground and when we touched down I felt a sort of elation–joy even. It was as though I had let go of a huge burden that I’d been carrying without even knowing it. I faced my diabetes, my fear, and I prevailed. For the first time in years I felt truly excited about climbing more on the following days. I no longer felt like I was heading unprepared into a critical test. I felt equipped to seize the freedom that I’d slowly given away to the fear of “what could happen if…

Stay tuned for the second two days of our climbing in Red Rock Nevada–coming up on the next blog post!

Ok. So here’s where I’d like to hear from you. Tell me about a time when you confronted your diabetes head on–or share a question you had when reading this article.

If you’d like to chat in private send me an email: steve@livingvertical.org

The post How a low blood sugar forced me to face my fear appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/03/20/how-a-low-low-blood-sugar-forced-me-to-face-my-fear/feed/ 2 3961
Here’s what you missed in Joshua Tree http://livingvertical.org/2016/03/13/heres-missed-joshua-tree/ Sun, 13 Mar 2016 22:45:00 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3944 Our time in Joshua Tree started with my trying to figure out how to scale down my basal insulin dose […]

The post Here’s what you missed in Joshua Tree appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Our time in Joshua Tree started with my trying to figure out how to scale down my basal insulin dose because I was going low all the time. In fact, I didn’t take any rapid insulin for the first three days we were in Joshua Tree–although I eventually acclimated and had to start up again. Still, it was a nice break and a great way to get back to being active after being back east. I love being able to take low carb meals without worrying about rapid insulin peaks–and that’s just one reason I am such a big proponent of being active outside. The sustained nature of hiking and climbing always seems to make my basal insulin work a lot better.

In line with my last post about attempting to do more of my photography with a small Sony RX 100 m2, I wanted to include a few more images that came about after the meetup because Stefanie and Lilo and I took some time to do our own climbing and unwind before hitting the road again. Every time we go to Joshua Tree we seem to dig a little deeper and find more to love about the area. A large part of this particular trip (aside from the meetup itself) was just to get used to life in the trailer while “out on the road”.

Setting up, breaking camp, cooking, eating and sleeping were a new combined hurdle to cross and by the time we left Joshua Tree to head back to Las Vegas (and eventually Zion in Utah) it all started to feel as though we are developing a routine.

If you remember my new years resolution blog post and podcast, I have been working on climbing towards 100k feet in 2016. I am hoping to knock off some longer routes in Las Vegas and get back on pace to reach that goal while further exploring the ketogenic diet as it applies to athletic pursuits! I will leave you with a few of the final images from Joshua Tree that we shot as we wound down with some bouldering and climbing.

bouldering in hidden valley joshua tree national park bouldering in hidden valley joshua tree national park bouldering in hidden valley joshua tree national park rock climbing in joshua tree national park bouldering in hidden valley joshua tree national park bouldering in hidden valley joshua tree national park joshua tree rock climbing

The post Here’s what you missed in Joshua Tree appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3944
Can a SONY RX100 M2 replace my DSLR? http://livingvertical.org/2016/03/08/3910/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/03/08/3910/#comments Tue, 08 Mar 2016 07:15:43 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3910 Everything in this post was shot with a SONY RX100 M2 which I got off of ebay (used) for under […]

The post Can a SONY RX100 M2 replace my DSLR? appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Everything in this post was shot with a SONY RX100 M2 which I got off of ebay (used) for under 300 dollars. It’s worth mentioning that most of my youtube videos of late have been shot with this camera as well. Less space and time to fiddle around with bulky camera setups and a greater need for functional diversity (video AND photo) drove me to get some smaller and lighter gear. I wouldn’t call this a review as such–many people online write much more technical pieces about how everything works. For me this is just an opportunity to share what I’ve been fortunate enough to create and hopefully reach others who are looking to create but may not have a huge budget to work with.

Some impressions of the SONY RX100 M2 performance:

  • Night Sky: surprisingly good for a camera with a sensor the size of a tic-tac. I really loved editing these shots and posting them to instagram. It was really easy to shoot, transfer to iphone, edit on the phone and post–plus the small size of the image on mobile doesn’t really reveal the high ISO noise that is more obvious at larger sizes. On my computer, using Lightroom I noticed that these images (shot at 3200 ISO) become pretty noisy. These were 15 second exposures–and I could have probably improved things by shooting 1600 ISO for 25 seconds. I may experiment further with this. This isn’t an astrophotography rig. It’s not going to capture a billboard photo–however for social media, blog and other light and fast needs, you can convey a good sense of the place you’re in with this camera. I got this camera specifically for long climbs where I’d need to go light but want to be able to get some shot in almost all circumstances.
  • Low light: I put the camera on auto-ISO and shot all of these handheld. I really was impressed with the sharpness and detail that came out of these shots. I didn’t run into any unseemly noise issues when I was tweaking the raw images in Lightroom.
  • Landscape: Once you stop the aperture down it gets quite sharp. My landscape shots were handheld at F8 and I was pleased with them. I think this is one category where this camera really excels. It’s useful to manual focus and use the focus-assist feature to make sure your shot is really on the money–the focus peaking is not really very precise if used on its own.
  • Portraits: It’s not the same as my Nikon 105 mm f2 prime but again, the strength to weight ratio is impressive in my opinion. It’s hard shooting people without it feeling awkward and forced. Having a smaller camera helps mitigate that and lets you get more shots. Good lighting is obviously key here!
  • Summary: This is an easy camera to bring with you anywhere. It’s cheaper than the newer generations and really an outstanding performer for the money it costs. It’s not going to replace a DSLR rig for specialized shooting situations but it’s looking like a great tool to easily increase the creative quality on blog and social media feeds where perfection is less useful than a quick turn around on a story. With careful attention to detail and if you play to the cameras strength I’d say that it can do work that will rival a setup costing more than 10x as much. I still won’t be getting rid of my full-frame Nikon system any time soon, but these days when I head out of the trailer to go and do some climbing or exploring–I’m reaching for my SONY RX100 M2 to bring along.

 

Ok. So here’s where I’d like to hear from you. I am always open to ideas, questions and comments about this post or any of the work we do!

Speak up, your voice matters! steve@livingvertical.org

The post Can a SONY RX100 M2 replace my DSLR? appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/03/08/3910/feed/ 2 3910
Type 1 diabetes meetup in Joshua Tree http://livingvertical.org/2016/03/07/type-1-diabetes-meetup-in-joshua-tree/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/03/07/type-1-diabetes-meetup-in-joshua-tree/#comments Mon, 07 Mar 2016 22:48:09 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3899 Our first type 1 diabetes meetup is in the books for 2016. It’s always a learning process trying to do […]

The post Type 1 diabetes meetup in Joshua Tree appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Our first type 1 diabetes meetup is in the books for 2016. It’s always a learning process trying to do something new–especially when it involves coordinating activities for a group of people. Part of this process has meant really distilling the purpose of these events and getting a clearer idea in my own mind of what I want these meetups to provide–the service that they can be to the diabetes community at large. There is a need for independence and freedom within the diabetes community. The outdoors are a place where we can tap into those ideals as a group and disengage from the narrative of disease, sickness and limitation that is so pervasive.

There is a lot of idealism invoked in outdoor writing–I am a willing participant in this trend and I own up to it–but there are also some stark realities that are part of the picture as well. Free meetups require more effort on the part of participants–more scheduling and planning in lives that are already quite busy. On the other hand, that same investment is what makes the experience more valuable. I realize that many people want things planned for them and arranged for them. I realize that schedules, structure and predictability are the markers of success–as it’s defined by our healthcare team and most of the internet.

Adventure is a chance to do things differently. To create our own normal. To go into a situation and say ‘I may not have all the answers, but I bet I’ve got all the tools I need to create solutions to whatever obstacles may arise along the way.’ That is the service that I want to give to the diabetes community. No frills, no bells and whistles. No free junk that you don’t need or schedules that tell you how your time should be spent. Adventure requires you to step outside of your comfort zone–and out beyond the normal is where the entire world of possibility opens up. That is where the opportunity to create your own normal–begins in earnest.

Not everyone who came out was a climber. Not everyone who came out knew quite what to expect. It’s not a convention or a conference or an event. There were no registrations or pharmaceutical vendors selling their wares. There was just a group of people who were stoked on getting outside and taking their diabetes a little further than the internet says that they should.

I hope that more people join us out here–even if only for a little while. Out beyond the limits and the rules. It’s not without risk and it’s not easy. No one will hold your hand or plan your meals. We will compare notes on the meals we choose and problem solve to get everyone what they need out of the experience. We will share snacks and ideas on taking our diabetes further. We are in this battle together.

Our type 1 diabetes meetups are for the scrappy and the independent. However old, young, experienced or capable you may (or may not) be–we simply want to create more opportunities to rewrite the narrative that we’ve heard since diagnosis that still overwhelmingly dominates the internet: Sick, weak, helpless, hopeless and doomed without a cure or the latest treatment option. 

This is our re-write. Healthy, strong, capable, hopeful and open to new medical options–but unwilling to live in fear of a future without them. 

Buy LivingVertical photos and support diabetes empowerment!


Ok. So here’s where I’d like to hear from you. I am always open to ideas, questions and comments about this post or any of the work we do!

Speak up, your voice matters! steve@livingvertical.org

The post Type 1 diabetes meetup in Joshua Tree appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/03/07/type-1-diabetes-meetup-in-joshua-tree/feed/ 2 3899
Our tiny home "commute" http://livingvertical.org/2016/03/03/our-tiny-home-commute/ Thu, 03 Mar 2016 22:00:43 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3891 It’s always harder to come back out west to our tiny home from the east coast–losing time in the air […]

The post Our tiny home "commute" appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
It’s always harder to come back out west to our tiny home from the east coast–losing time in the air and re-acclimating to a small space all contribute to the challenge. To some, the idea of flying back and forth across the country all the time and working on the fly may seem desirable. I wouldn’t call it unappealing–but it definitely comes with certain sacrifices and challenges. I am thankful to be working for myself though–check out my freelance media work if you have a small business and need help getting your name out there!

We are now leaving for Joshua Tree and our Type 1 meetup. Of course we will be reporting on the events that take place there and we are looking forward to meet all of you who are excited to get outside with our diabetes and create a new normal together.

We learned a lot the last time we towed the trailer–specifically that the cupboard doors are prone to spring open without a lot of provocation which can (and DID) create a massive mess inside. This time we will be securing all interior doors! As we head out to JTNP we will also be trying out the fridge (powering it while driving from 12 volt power and hooking up to 120 volts once we arrive at our destination. Up till this point we have been scamming power and fridge space off of friends where we are parked–now we are upping the stakes and trying out some perishables and getting a feel for the equipment.

More on that in future posts!

After Joshua Tree we are planning to spend some time in Las Vegas again and then back to Zion for some big wall climbing? No specific objectives are on my mind at this point but I would like to get on some bigger and steeper routes than previously in preparation for the spring when we will be all over the US!

Buy LivingVertical photos and support diabetes empowerment!


Ok. So here’s where I’d like to hear from you. I am always open to ideas, questions and comments about this post or any of the work we do!

Speak up, your voice matters! steve@livingvertical.org

The post Our tiny home "commute" appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3891
Ketogenic climbing | low carb athletes with T1D http://livingvertical.org/2016/03/01/ketogenic-climbing-low-carb-athletes-t1d/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/03/01/ketogenic-climbing-low-carb-athletes-t1d/#comments Tue, 01 Mar 2016 10:15:15 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3883 I am considering doing a video series in the near future for low carb athletes with T1D about my dietary […]

The post Ketogenic climbing | low carb athletes with T1D appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I am considering doing a video series in the near future for low carb athletes with T1D about my dietary approach, trial and error and adapting the ketogenic diet to give greater blood glucose stability and athletic performance. I still feel like this is all in the “test phase” because the results I have had are not extensive. That said, I will be sharing developments as they occur in hopes of pushing the limits of what we are able to do with our diabetes.

Today Stefanie and I are heading back out west after a week or so in Massachussetts. This will hopefully mean that we will be out and exploring more as we head out to Joshua Tree National Park and the meetup this weekend. I have a handful of climbing/bouldering projects there that I will be working on and hopefully you will get to see some of that develop.

Buy LivingVertical photos and support diabetes empowerment!


We will get back into the trailer and “downsample” our life in order to get on the move! I have been struggling a bit maintaining adequate fat intake without as much physical activity since I’ve been sitting and working on my freelance media business. It’s a frustrating bump in the road but I know that once I am back moving again it will make it easier to nail down my nutrition. My blood sugar has suffered a bit too which always makes me feel…less than stellar, physically and emotionally.

Learning how to adapt to changing environments will be a big hurdle for me with this diet since we are going to be “bi-coastal” for the foreseeable future. Some people think that the globetrotting lifestyle is super glamorous but it’s actually pretty taxing and it disrupts routines that promotes health. Then again, that’s part of the price to have the freedom to climb and adventure so I can’t complain; it’s what I signed up for!

The post Ketogenic climbing | low carb athletes with T1D appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/03/01/ketogenic-climbing-low-carb-athletes-t1d/feed/ 6 3883
Losing control, gaining influence http://livingvertical.org/2016/02/21/losing-control-gaining-influence/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/02/21/losing-control-gaining-influence/#comments Sun, 21 Feb 2016 22:05:31 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3812 Somewhere between pride and despair lies acceptance. I could only hear the sound of wind whistling past my ears as I […]

The post Losing control, gaining influence appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Somewhere between pride and despair lies acceptance. I could only hear the sound of wind whistling past my ears as I stepped delicately around the airy corner; about 1500 feet of nothingness separated me from the ground. The fact that I was actually able to stand on the sloping, sandy ledge beneath my feet seemed to defy what I’d come to learn about physics. ‘Here goes literally everything‘ I thought for the 1,336th time since starting to climb “Cowboy Ridge that morning. I shifted my weight forward to test the only viable handhold that would grant me access to the ledge above. I tried to weight the hold gradually because I didn’t want to ricochet off into the void if it popped. I pulled back a handful of sand as the rock disintegrated in my hand.

My stomach churned as I imagined what would have happened had I not tested that handhold before weighting it. The route description had listed this as a 5.7–that’s quite moderate by most standards, and I expected to be in control. Instead I was choking down a lot of humble pie and panic. I had to force the feelings of fear back down into the pit of my stomach and keep moving. Some variation of this process repeated itself multiple times that day.

My diabetes played a small role in my worries but it was hardly visible on my radar, relative to other concerns. There were bigger fish to fry. Part of my goal in climbing Cowboy Ridge was to put the Ketogenic Diet to the test in a situation where I would not have the “luxury” of worrying about wildly fluctuating blood sugar. To be fair I had pre-tested this method in the days preceding the climb and I had a good idea that I was not biting off significantly more than I could chew.

I’ll quickly give you the data from the dietary experiment:

  • Carbs eaten 45g all of which was eaten in response to blood sugar decreasing (Breakfast was the only meal of the day, taken pre climb. I had a sausage, two eggs, macadamia nuts, coffee with heavy cream and almond butter. My BG was approximately 140 at the start of the approach.)
  • Water 1.5 liters
  • Hours of effort (car to car) 11.5
  • Blood glucose high 165
  • Blood glucose low 98
  • Snack breaks 3 (I ate when my blood sugar demanded it–basically whenever I saw a diagonal arrow down–I stopped to eat at the start of the route, middle of the route and at the start of the descent, eating about 15g of carbs each time. I wasn’t hungry otherwise.)
  • Elevation gained (and lost) 3200′
  • Pack weight 30 lbs
  • Round trip 8.8 miles (according to iPhone)
  • If I left out metrics that you’re curious about, please drop a comment below and I will do my best to include it!

Let’s leave the raw data behind for a moment now–because numbers often lie. I’m not going to suggest that they have no value–but I want to take this discussion of control back into a context where a tenth of a point on your A1C doesn’t matter, because you’re focused on maintaining points of contact with the rock looming above you. The reality is that some experiences in our life defy our control. I’d argue that most do–and that type 1 diabetes is no exception. When that realization hits– that you’re no longer in control–it feels like being punched in the gut. Since diagnosis, everyone and everything around you tells you that to be a good diabetic or compliant you must be in control. Suddenly it feels like you’ve been lied to a LOT or you’ve been given an impossible task.

The character of the climb illuminated that epiphany somewhere around hour 7 last weekend–too high on the route to go back down and without spare time to indulge my fear. I endured the emotional pummeling and kept moving. Climbing is the mirror where I can clearly meet my diabetes face to face. It was as if a distant truth I’d known in one part of my life was beginning to bloom and grow across the entire tapestry of my experience. Still, it was uncomfortable. I lost control up there! That’s not ok. Is it?

Buy LivingVertical photos and support diabetes empowerment!


I oscillated back and forth between infatuation with the forced surrender I’d experienced and horror at the manipulation of my will by forces beyond my control. I should have known better. Seeking control in the mountains is a lost cause from the outset. When you step foot into that world you simply don’t matter–and that’s ok. That’s reality. I think I need more of that in my life. Perhaps we all do.

This realization got me thinking about the difference between control and influence. I have gotten very attached to the idea of controlling things in my life that impact my diabetes. I like to think that I can control my blood sugar very well. The truth is, I get angry and react emotionally to a “bad” number because that control is as illusory within my own body as it is high up on a kitty-litter desert alpine ridge. Control is a lie that sets us up for unrealistic expectations and delusions of grandeur. Nature isn’t a place where we go to be more bad-ass than people who work and play indoors. It’s a place where our frailty is sure to be exposed and it’s a lot safer to know that–and accept it from the outset.

We absolutely have choices and those choices create influence–but that’s not control. That’s how I survived the climb and that’s how I brought my diabetes along for that ride. The point of all this is to gain greater confidence  separate from the fabrication of control. If you’re thinking ‘Yeah but this is all in your head. This is all semantics–it’s just relative to your perspective’ then you’ve grasped the most important point I have to offer. The war is fought and won in our minds–despite losing battles on the outside.

The greatest leverage you have against type 1 diabetes is between your ears. Use it.

Ok. So here’s where I’d like to hear from you; what are your feelings about control vs influence? I am always open to ideas, questions and comments! Speak up, your voice matters!

Our first meetup will be March 4-6 in Joshua Tree National Park CA. No cost, no frills. Just action…maybe just a few tasteful hashtags though. RSVP via email: steve@livingvertical.org

The post Losing control, gaining influence appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/02/21/losing-control-gaining-influence/feed/ 2 3812
Climbing Cowboy Ridge in Zion National Park http://livingvertical.org/2016/02/15/climbing-cowboy-ridge-in-zion-national-park/ Tue, 16 Feb 2016 01:15:06 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3785 I’ve spent a lot of time in Zion National Park over the last few years and it’s no secret that […]

The post Climbing Cowboy Ridge in Zion National Park appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I’ve spent a lot of time in Zion National Park over the last few years and it’s no secret that the climbing here is outside my comfort zone. Maybe that’s why I keep coming back–because there are “easy” climbs like Cowboy Ridge that have mocked me from afar. It’s a 5.7 filled with route-finding, loose rock and lots of elevation gain. It’s a long day and it’s far from civilized comforts should poor planning or blood sugar fluctuations interfere. It’s not the dark side of the moon, but it’s more involved than lowering down off a single pitch climb and ‘calling it a day’. Maybe this is part of getting back into the swing of things, but I’ve been more intimidated by this “loose end” than I’d like to admit, so I decided to tie it off ASAP.

I happened to be thinking determined thoughts as I was joining my friend Chris for wings at Jacks (the BEST wings in Springdale) so I casually raised the topic of climbing Cowboy Ridge as we sat at the bar. Predictably, Chris decided to select the earliest possible date and that was that. So now, with the climb suddenly immanent, I have questions about my abilities–am I just lazy or am I scared of pushing myself further off the beaten path?

One of my biggest questions is how will this kind of full-day adventure impact my blood sugar? It’s one thing to do short routes but when you’re up on a mountain you’re more committed. I haven’t done anything more than casual climbing since 2014 and I want to see how my shiny new diet can change my approach to that.

So, we decided to go out for a relatively long day of hiking which would allow me to scope the Cowboy Ridge approach and descent–and prove to myself that the keto diet won’t crash and burn on a long day of sustained effort. I’d rather test that hypothesis on flat ground–which is how I typically have ramped up to vertical challenges: incrementally.

Buy LivingVertical photo prints and more!


We hiked from Coal Pits Wash outside of Rockville to the Chinle Trail exit in Springdale which we calculated to be around 10 miles. It was our first “official” family hike, because usually I will only hike in order to get to climbing–and Stefanie takes Lilo on “non-technical” adventures. This time, however, I was along for the duration and it was actually nice being out with the ladies and not having any cruxes to negotiate.

Here’s how it played out in terms of my diabetes and diet:

  • Breakfast: a couple handfuls of nuts, some almond butter, 2 eggs and bacon.
  • 60-90 minutes on the trail: BG ran steadily around 130-140 mg/dl.
  • 2 hour mark: A few water breaks  and sugar checks showed me to be around 120 mg/dl
  • For lunch: I ate a few more handfuls of nuts, a few pieces of jerky and one bite of a Builders protein bar.
  • From hour 3 to hour 6 on the trail: I slowly dropped from 115-88mg/dl. I dropped a little further on the way back to the car.
  • The aftermath: no noticeable dramatic increase in insulin sensitivity. Typically after this type of effort I’d be dropping my basal and splitting bolus doses in half for at least 12-24 hours. That did not happen this time. Also recovery was dramatically improved–I didn’t experience soreness that I expected considering that this hike basically occurred “off the couch” for me.

I can’t say that this is an iron clad guarantee of the keto diets viability for climbing pursuits, but it certainly gave me enough confidence to take the next step–and get on Cowboy Ridge with a little more focus. Not on my blood sugar but on the distance that will stand between me and the summit. You can expect a video in the next week detailing that second part of the adventure–and remember to subscribe on YouTube if you haven’t already!

Ok. So here’s where I’d like to hear from you; what are you interested in seeing or hearing about? I am always open to ideas, questions and comments to guide my efforts! Speak up!

Our first meetup will be March 4-6 in Joshua Tree National Park CA. No cost, no frills. Just action…maybe just a few tasteful hashtags though. RSVP via email: steve@livingvertical.org

The post Climbing Cowboy Ridge in Zion National Park appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3785
Can you Spare a Rose on Valentines Day? http://livingvertical.org/2016/02/14/can-you-spare-a-rose-on-valentines-day/ Sun, 14 Feb 2016 22:05:10 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3771 I make it a point not to publicly advocate for a lot of fundraising efforts–even on my own behalf–but the Spare […]

The post Can you Spare a Rose on Valentines Day? appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I make it a point not to publicly advocate for a lot of fundraising efforts–even on my own behalf–but the Spare a Rose campaign is worth an exception. I believe that it’s really important to empower people with diabetes and show a proactive approach to this condition–and more importantly, to show that we have a choice in the way we approach its daily challenges–because many of us do. The elephant in the room is the obvious fact that not everyone enjoys that type of access to care and medicine.

I’m not even talking about those of us who have to struggle to get enough strips each month or can’t get insurance to cover a CGM. Many people with diabetes in other countries go without the basic tools for diabetes management in place–insulin for starters. If you can’t get insulin, all the talk of diets and exercise–basal rates and CGMs are 100% meaningless. This is a post about disparity in diabetes care and a stop-gap measure that is helping those in need.

I often times feel helpless because of the fact that these disparities exist. I believe that part of the reason they exist is because it’s a lot easier to garner public support for advancing new technologies available to those with resources than it is to get people excited about getting everyone up to the most basic levels of care before pushing forward with new advancements. As a climbing and canyoneering guide I always adhered to the idea of letting the slowest in the group set the pace because it would always provide a better and safer outcome to move steadily as a group than having a fast leader and then stopping to wait for the end of the line to catch up.

The problem is that the front of our group doesn’t stop and the back of the group never catches up. I realize that this is a very complex issue and I’m not writing this to blame or call anyone out–but just to share my opinion and maybe start a conversation. Many people may not be aware of this problem and others may not be aware of initiatives like Spare a Rose which are working to help bring care and supplies to those who don’t have them.

international diabetes federation spare a rose life for a child campaign

The concept is pretty simple–donate the cost of a rose to this initiative and help people who don’t have access to insulin and strips.

I love climbing and I love being able to fine-tune my blood sugar through diet and exercise. I love being able to help other people find freedom from the oppressive burden of diabetes. I wish I could do more to help change the system that creates huge profits for corporations and hangs helpless people out to dry. It’s important to do what we can when we see the opportunity. This is simple, it’s effective and it’s right here and now.

I’d gladly live in a world where we put new innovation on hold for a decade in order to get everyone operating on the same level of access to care and medication. I don’t get weak in the knees when I hear about the new cure option that is “within sight” any more than I do over the possibility of a colony on the Moon or Mars. It’s great conceptually, but will any of those benefits reach the people who really need it: the people who get to check blood sugar once a week–if that–and waste away in the meantime because they can’t afford to buy insulin.

Research is important–but it struggles to exist in a vacuum safe from the ill-conceived and predatory business practices of the current industry. I’ll get excited about the next big innovation when profitability relies on increasing access across the board, rather than gouging those who have resources and effectively saying ‘f*&k off if you’re not rich’.

I didn’t intend for this to become a rant, but these sincerely are the reasons why the Spare a Rose  initiative is impactful to me. Agree or disagree, feel free to pile on in the comments below. I think more examination of tough issues in candid terms can help change the system.

Our first meetup will be March 4-6 in Joshua Tree National Park CA. No cost, no frills. Just action…maybe just a few tasteful hashtags though. RSVP via email: steve@livingvertical.org

The post Can you Spare a Rose on Valentines Day? appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3771
Zion climbing and hiking http://livingvertical.org/2016/02/08/zion-climbing-and-hiking/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/02/08/zion-climbing-and-hiking/#comments Mon, 08 Feb 2016 16:13:36 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3760 Zion climbing and hiking is always fun–even when it’s not. But let me clarify that statement because there are two types […]

The post Zion climbing and hiking appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Zion climbing and hiking is always fun–even when it’s not. But let me clarify that statement because there are two types of fun. That’s right, I wasn’t just making a pun about my type 1 diabetes. Type 1 fun is enjoyable in the moment. It feels fun. Type 2 fun on the other hand just doesn’t. One of my favorite quotes (I believe attributed to either John Long or Jim Bridwell) is “It doesn’t have to be fun to be fun“. Type 2 fun is more enjoyable when it’s over and you’ve survived. Or healed. Or cleaned your soiled underwear. The beauty is that there is a choice to have fun which circumstances can’t take away. Seems like this might apply to Type 1, too.

For the first week and a half or two weeks upon arriving back in Utah, it was like my diabetes forgot about me. I took my basal insulin only–I actually reduced my Lantus from 18 units daily to 14–and in that time period I never took more than 1 unit of rapid insulin. Sure, the keto diet is part of that–but even eating low carb requires more insulin than that. I was getting out, climbing for 6 or more hours a day on a handful of macadamia nuts and a cup of coffee.

Then suddenly, it’s back (diabetes) and for the last few days I am suddenly having to correct and correct for higher blood sugars that don’t want to drop. It’s too much protein and it’s wrecking my control, I’m almost certain. But here’s the thing; I am so excited because we have done so much in the last few weeks since being back–and we are still only dusting off the cobwebs. I’d love to have perfect control of my blood sugar all the time, but I am not going to let that dictate my choices to get outside and just try.

Buy LivingVertical photo prints and more!


Today we spent the day climbing (I didn’t bring the camera along) and my blood sugar was running near 190 all day. I managed to climb several great routes including one tricky one that has been eluding me for a few weeks! It’s very encouraging to know that our bodies don’t penalize us as harshly for errant highs and lows as we do psychologically.

I have been discovering the value in pushing through and just getting out and getting moving even when the numbers are discouraging and all seems in vain. It’s still counting towards something and it’s making a difference. You may remember that my New Years resolution was 100,000 feet of climbing in 2016–well, I am just below 2,000 feet so far and it doesn’t feel great writing that. It means I have my work cut out for me and talking about it won’t make it happen.

I am hoping to make more videos about Zion climbing and hiking in the coming weeks and months although we do have some travel lined up soon so we will be mixing in videos from other places. I just wanted to share the story from this weekend out climbing and this video from earlier in the week. It doesn’t have to be fun to be fun. It still counts towards the bigger picture.

Ok. So here’s where I’d like to hear from you; what are you interested in seeing or hearing about? I am always open to ideas, questions and comments to guide my media efforts! Speak up!

Our first meetup will be March 4-6 in Joshua Tree National Park CA. No cost, no frills. Just action…maybe just a few tasteful hashtags though. RSVP via email: steve@livingvertical.org

The post Zion climbing and hiking appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/02/08/zion-climbing-and-hiking/feed/ 3 3760
What’s it like in a tiny home? http://livingvertical.org/2016/02/03/whats-like-tiny-home/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/02/03/whats-like-tiny-home/#comments Wed, 03 Feb 2016 10:30:26 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3741 I’ve had more than a few people ask ‘what’s it like in a tiny home’–or more specifically for a virtual […]

The post What’s it like in a tiny home? appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I’ve had more than a few people ask ‘what’s it like in a tiny home’–or more specifically for a virtual tour of sorts. We moved into the trailer recently and the progress is slow but steady–and what better time to invite you in for a look. In this video I think you will get a sense (thanks to the ultra-wide angle GoPro lens) for how small the interior of the trailer is. Nevertheless I promised a tour and that’s what you’ll get!

So I can’t say that we’ve figured out a way to make things all neat and pinterest-y. Maybe that will be part of the process of evolution, or maybe that’s not really how most people live in tiny spaces. Stay tuned for more info on that. Initially, it seems like everything is a lot more delicate and more work. Things that ordinarily would be taken for granted as simple require coordinated effort. Making coffee for example. Sitting down, for another.

I am both irritated with the lack of space and excited by the challenge–because it is doable, with some effort. I am writing this several days after the video and I can say that things feel more normal in a tiny living space now. Even with the significant downsizing of stuff that took place before I left Massachusetts, I realize that I have WAY too much stuff. You convince yourself that you may wind up in a position to need that 4th pair of pants…but it never happens. Too many shirts, shoes, and even books. Oh, I’ll definitely be reading a ton! Nope. There’s stuff to do almost all the time–both work and play–and down time (at least so far, for me) has not been an issue.

living in tiny homes

What about diabetes supplies and medication? I see memes on social media frequently about extra suitcases being needed for extra gear. I used to wonder if I was doing something wrong because I didn’t get the joke. I traveled light, with minimal redundancy. I still do. I won’t say it’s the right way to travel lest I get taken to task by the Thou-Shalt Change Thy Lancets Daily contingency of my readership, but I’m not going to apologize for expecting my diabetes “stuff” to fit in with my life either. I have a couple extra insulin pens in a frio bag, a couple vials of test strips and a couple extra sensors for my CGM. All of it fits in the brain of my backpack. It is possible to avoid the need for redundancy in 99% of situations. It’s also smart to have a little margin for overages in usage–which is why I carry just a little more than I absolutely need.

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:


I should mention that I also have a Glucagon injection kit along for the ride too. The dramatic cutbacks in my insulin usage (more exercise, sunlight, increased contentment, keto diet etc) have made my meal time doses very small. Usually I won’t bolus for breakfast, then lunch and dinner require 1 unit (standard meal) or 2 units if it’s a big meal. I wont say I can explain all of these changes in my management but I can say that my CGM affirms these anecdotes and when I calibrate, it’s been right on the money. Given all of that, I sometimes wonder if it’s really necessary to bring a Glucagon kit along, but I always do. It’s very cheap insurance.

hiking and photography in zion national park

This week I got the transmission on our Honda CRV augmented with an aftermarket cooler–which will hopefully mitigate some of the strains of towing the trailer. I also officially registered the Scamp at the DMV and so we are approaching another launch point of sorts. Just living in it is the first phase but the biggest step will involve taking the trailer out, away from the respite of friends hospitality and daring the open road. I’m excited and a little anxious for that to happen because it’s pretty committing once the training wheels come off–finances are slim and babies are not understanding of extenuating circumstances. We will simply have to get it right or struggle through enough to make it work.

That will happen in March when we see you at the meetup in Joshua Tree!

Ok, your turn: tell me where we should head with our little trailer? Got some great spots for us to see? Nearby climbing is desirable but not entirely necessary!

Our first meetup will be March 4-6 in Joshua Tree National Park CA. No cost, no frills. Just action…maybe just a few tasteful hashtags though. RSVP via email: steve@livingvertical.org

The post What’s it like in a tiny home? appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/02/03/whats-like-tiny-home/feed/ 2 3741
Diabetes and depression http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/31/diabetes-and-depression-it-took-me-years-figure-this-out/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/31/diabetes-and-depression-it-took-me-years-figure-this-out/#comments Sun, 31 Jan 2016 21:25:29 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3713 Why would diabetes and depression possibly be an issue worth bringing up at this point? My blood sugar has been […]

The post Diabetes and depression appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Why would diabetes and depression possibly be an issue worth bringing up at this point? My blood sugar has been stellar of late, my climbing has been improving and I’m doing exactly what I set out to do in places that inspire me. It might seem that these positive factors would cancel out the possibility of feeling depressed–which is why Stefanie asked me, when I told her how I was feeling, ‘Ok, so what is it that you’re upset about?’ That’s a pretty natural question and I’d wonder the same thing if someone came to me feeling down–but the connection between diabetes and depression is less obvious (and I’d argue more difficult to explain, although I will give it a shot here!)

This is not a clinical explanation of anything and I’m not a psychologist. In fact I absolutely hated psychology when I took some classes in college. Everyone is different and has different experiences of the world–a lesson repeatedly demonstrated in diabetes. Everyone feels emotions differently and all I can do is explain my observations about my experiences. My biggest hope in writing this is just to create a little platform to hear from you who may relate to some of what I’m about to write.

  • Depression is not strictly about something being wrong (with the implication that it can be fixed)

  • Depression is not strictly about feeling overtly sad or being in difficult circumstances

  • Depression is not commonly discussed in diabetes because no one (clinically) wants to wade into the murkiness of the mind.

  • Depression is not the end. It just feels like it is.

Have you ever realized that you needed to close the apps that were running in the background on your phone (or computer) only to realize that it had been weeks since you had last done so–and there were programs running unbeknownst to you for days or even weeks? These miscreants had been stealing memory and power without you even realizing it–until that one moment that you stopped to look.

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:


A lot of life happens without us stopping and looking. Most of it, I’m convinced, at least until it’s well behind us and we rely on hindsight. Diabetes is a program that is always running in my brain. Always. I don’t always talk about it, because even though it eats up a lot of the CPU, I can usually handle it without being overloaded. When my friends or my wife complain that ‘everything you do takes forever–you’re just slow’. My first thought isn’t to respond with “Well, f#$k off, because you don’t know what it’s like to have your brain involuntarily doing incessant computations for your endocrine system that no one can see or appreciate”.  In fact, that realization only occurs hours after the exchange takes place.

  • Stopping and realizing what is happening usually is the first step I take that seems to work. It doesn’t make the depression vanish–but it names it. Defines it. Makes it a finite thing which can be worked against. Just like rebooting a slow computer, it takes time to turn things around–and that requires patience. If I can accept that I’m in pain and know that it’s going to get better if I wait, it usually does. If I get hyperfocused on some external variable that I can control and try to “solve” that problem, hoping it will release the depression–it usually gets worse. That can create a cycle that is akin to the computer “crashing” when you try to reboot–it literally can’t get out of its own way.
  • Looking at it like an illness that will pass is the second step I take. I don’t feel bad for experiencing it. I might warn people who are near me that I’m under the weather a bit, but I’m not embarrassed about it, any more than I might be if I blew my nose because I have a cold. I try not to focus on the “suck factor” because that only amplifies it and fuels the downside. I don’t feel obligated to explain it–I still don’t know why it shows up or leaves.
  • I normalize it–that’s what’s happening right now as I’m typing. Talking about it keeps it from festering. It’s a reminder that it’s supposed to happen. Having a computer freeze when it’s being constantly overloaded–doesn’t mean the computer is bad, it’s just a normal consequence of an abnormal strain being placed on it.
  • I take unrelated action–and this is where the adventure stuff ties in–you knew it had to at some point! Going climbing, going for a walk, taking out my camera and forcing myself to focus on something that involves action and externalizes my vision–that usually helps break up the logjam. Trying to help someone else who is struggling can be useful too. With Lilo being into literally everything, I don’t often have to look too far to find someone who needs assistance.

does adventure improve your health?

This is why I called the AdventureRx by its name. It’s not just a pie in the sky social media thing. It’s my ongoing coping mechanism for living with diabetes and depression. It has a tangible impact on my health–and I believe that encouraging this simple and low cost prescription can help anyone, even if they don’t feel particularly down or have diabetes. It took me years to figure out the steps for this process–a process no one told me I was going to be engaged in when I was diagnosed.

If you’ve made it this far in this blog and haven’t figured it out yet–I believe that depression (on some level) is normal and I’ll go as far as saying it’s a sidecar issue for anyone who has diabetes. It comes and goes in my life–usually without any tangible cause or warning. I have a great life that I am thankful for every day (due in large part to constant reminders from my diabetes that it’s not going to last forever). When depression comes around I try to weather the storm in the best way I know how. So far it’s been working pretty well.

That’s my story. Your turn.

Our first meetup will be March 4-6 in Joshua Tree National Park CA. No cost, no frills. Just action…maybe just a few tasteful hashtags though. RSVP via email: steve@livingvertical.org

The post Diabetes and depression appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/31/diabetes-and-depression-it-took-me-years-figure-this-out/feed/ 8 3713
Make time for adventure http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/27/w/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/27/w/#comments Wed, 27 Jan 2016 06:00:20 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3692 My 17th “diaversary” or anniversary of my type 1 diabetes diagnosis (January 16th, 1999) is an occasion that I enjoy […]

The post Make time for adventure appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
My 17th “diaversary” or anniversary of my type 1 diabetes diagnosis (January 16th, 1999) is an occasion that I enjoy recognizing. I like to think that I am “outliving” this condition because if it “gets me” in the end, I will be able to guarantee that I was, at the least, not easy prey. It’s been a constant reminder that I must make time for adventure –because time is limited. Morbid, perhaps, but that’s a thought that goes through my head literally every day at multiple points. That’s probably why in recent years my two biggest adventures have kicked off around this time in the winter when sane people are sipping coffee and planning summer vacations.

This year I was rolling across western Pennsylvania on a desolate stretch of highway and posting a few droll observations about my 17 years as a diabetic. I was preoccupied with not getting stuck in arctic cold and getting to pick up my trailer on time. Bigger fish to fry, as it were. A friend on Instagram asked what it felt like and what my emotions were as I took the opportunity to reflect. The question made me pause a bit because I realized that I didn’t feel any overwhelming emotion about my diabetes. All the feelings I had welling up in me were about the things that I am doing and have done because of my diabetes.

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:


Diabetes is the lens through which I have viewed the world for 17 years and change. It’s been the catalyst for my actually getting deeply involved with lenses to the point that I can really hammer this analogy home. There are some lenses that are a real pain in the ass to carry with you. They don’t fit neatly in any pack; they are heavy and irritating because despite their annoyance you know that you have to handle them gently. You curse that lens. You hate it. When you need it, it feels like it’s a little too slow or not focusing where you want. You’re sure you’ve missed the shot you came all that way lugging a heavy camera to capture.

And then at some point you give in. Acceptance.

You stop worrying about the lens or the things you can’t control–and lose yourself in the experience. When you finally get back to the computer to edit, there are a handful of shots you thought would be complete trash–which turn out to be gold. To be fair, 95% of the shots taken are going right in the trash, but you don’t think about them. You don’t kick yourself for the shot that might have been–you celebrate the moments that somehow came through better than you could have envisioned.

tiny home living and blogs

If you’re not following the analogy, I’m saying that diabetes is the lens through which we see the world. Once we stop hating that lens and focus in on the world on the other side of it–good things happen. Life is short. There are no do-overs. Someday we all will die. Even if you don’t have diabetes. Even if you’re a millionaire. The opportunity to live with that knowledge at the forefront of my decision making–that’s a heavy lens, but I wouldn’t trade it for the moments it’s captured. Not on your life.

Now I’d like to hear from you–is radical self acceptance a good thing or is this just a bit to glib for the internet? Leave your thoughts below!

Our first meetup will be March 4-6 in Joshua Tree National Park CA. No cost, no frills. Just action…maybe just a few tasteful hashtags though. RSVP via email: steve@livingvertical.org

The post Make time for adventure appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/27/w/feed/ 4 3692
Joshua Tree type 1 meetup: March 2016 http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/25/joshua-tree-type-1-meetup-march-2016/ Mon, 25 Jan 2016 10:39:47 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3676 By now I hope my mission to share the health benefits of adventure in the outdoors is resoundingly clear, but […]

The post Joshua Tree type 1 meetup: March 2016 appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
By now I hope my mission to share the health benefits of adventure in the outdoors is resoundingly clear, but in case it’s not, I’d like you to come to our Joshua Tree type 1 meetup. It will be happening March 4-6th in Joshua Tree National Park. It’s free to join and there’s plenty of fun outdoors to entertain people of all age groups–from the most adventure tolerant to the risk averse. If an unincorporated gathering of adventurous people with diabetes sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, read on!

It occurred to me recently that most of my life has been shaped by the opportunities I have had to explore outdoors as a youngster. Upon diagnosis with type 1 diabetes–an admittedly challenging condition–I found that medication was only part of the treatment that I needed. The benefit of independence, self reliance and empowerment that comes simply from being outside added  something to my diabetes management that all the technology, vials and syringes could not. I decided that I would live my life in the way that allows me to have the benefit of this free prescription for adventure–and now it is my mission to share this same opportunity with others!

type 1 diabetes outdoor adventure meetup

 

This meetup will take place over the weekend of March 4th and right now there are about 10 people who have expressed interest in attending–not including me and my family. There is hiking and camping and climbing available and the interest and motivation of the group in attendance will determine specific activities (or lack thereof if you just want to chill out and sight-see with some coffee!).

Support LivingVertical Meetups by purchasing our photographs:


This meetup is very much no-frills. We don’t charge fees and so we don’t provide equipment, lodging or food. If anyone wants to contribute to this meetup or sponsor it, we would be happy to reserve campsites so that everyone can camp together–otherwise everyone will fend for themselves in terms of lodging. Either way is OK by me because not everyone wants to camp and this way we all will have options. I would highly recommend getting accommodations early if you’d like to attend because Joshua Tree is going to be pretty busy in early March.

A few additional points to keep in mind:

  • This is a free meet-up.
  • Participation is 100% at your own risk.
  • This is not a guided or instructional event.
  • We will do our best to include everyone as much as possible, but please keep in mind that we are simply getting together here, and are in no way taking responsibility for your safety or enjoyment of the great outdoors. 
  • We have a few simple rules: don’t litter, minimize environmental impact (including noise) and be polite to other people. 

RSVP via email: steve@livingvertical.org if you’re coming–and I will keep everyone posted about meeting times and places once we are a little closer to the date. If it sounds really simple then you’re getting the picture! Show up, meet-up and get out with other adventurous people with type 1. You don’t need to be a climber or have any experience to enjoy this gathering with us all.  I am excited to see how this all develops!

The post Joshua Tree type 1 meetup: March 2016 appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3676
How does the keto diet work on the road? http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/24/how-does-the-keto-diet-work-on-the-road/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/24/how-does-the-keto-diet-work-on-the-road/#comments Sun, 24 Jan 2016 22:05:15 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3664 In the last few posts I’ve been focused on the challenges (read: chaos) of getting adapted to living in a […]

The post How does the keto diet work on the road? appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
In the last few posts I’ve been focused on the challenges (read: chaos) of getting adapted to living in a tiny home (trailer). That process is far from complete and while we are waiting I thought I would touch on a question I’ve been getting from a few people regarding the keto diet that I am using to control my type 1 diabetes and improve my climbing. Having to manage blood sugar can complicate even the simplest tasks and I can honestly say that dealing with the stress of this move would be impossible for me to tolerate if I had to devote more of my focus to erratic blood sugar swings. I’ve written a lot about how the keto diet has worked for me (including failures and challenges) but in this post I want to focus on how living on the road has impacted my ability to eat a low-carb high-fat diet.

In short, I have found it pretty easy to keep to the keto diet–at least the challenges to my adherence have not come out of necessity but rather out of my preference. It’s easy to eat low carb high fat foods while on the road–I don’t always follow through with those choices of course but that’s a separate discussion of will-power and priorities. The stress of my situation has made it worth the expenditure of will-power to stay with the keto diet because I simply can’t deal with inordinate blood sugar fluctuation. You could think of it as the opposite of stress-eating. I am stress-dieting because I don’t need another complicating factor driving me insane.

I should clarify that my blood sugar levels are not perfect and the keto diet isn’t a cure for anything. It’s a tool that works incredibly well for me and many others. I have the occasional excursions into the 180 range a couple times a week and I have “slow-lows” usually in the morning. These lows don’t bother me because they aren’t debilitating and they give me a “ramp” into my breakfast with some low carb snacks that raise my blood sugar gradually. For example, I will eat my breakfast with my blood sugar between 60-70 and let it gradually climb and take a unit or two of insulin to cover my meal after a couple of hours. When my blood sugar is low, it’s not falling, it’s just hovering there and I’m totally comfortable with it.

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:


It’s also worth noting that being out on the road has allowed me more time and opportunity to be active and exercise. I feel more engaged with my surroundings and I’m using less insulin. I have no medical explanation for this next statement I’m about to make but my blood sugar behaves radically differently when I am in a place that I love or feel is my home. I’ve noticed this when I return to my dads home (where I grew up) or returning to Utah which is my “adult home”, even though I don’t actually own property here. Living in Massachusetts felt pretty foreign to me and I think that underlying tension impacted my blood sugar.

I’m not saying that people need to live the way I live to keep themselves healthy–I am suggesting that being in an environment that nurtures who you are and that inspires you–has a measurable health benefit. It’s not just touchy-feely new-age crap. Even under stress here in rural Utah, I am finding a better glycemic response than living at ease in the suburbs of Boston.

horseback riding in zion national park in Utah

My diet on the road has been stripped down to low-carb, high-fat foods that travel well. I am not overly concerned with variety or aesthetics. I am looking for vehicles for fats–with preference given to unsaturated fats due to my elevated cholesterol. I have eased up a little bit on my complete avoidance of saturated fats in light of the fact that I am much more active now and it’s simpler to include a little cheese in my diet because it does travel well.

Here are the items anchoring my diet:

  • Olive oil (usually added to any of the items below)
  • Sardines
  • Spinach
  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Almond butter
  • peanut butter
  • sunflower seeds
  • string cheese
  • broth/soups

All of these are easy to transport and are readily available at most food sources. I get the nuts off Amazon and the rest is normal grocery shopping. I haven’t been as vigilant at maximizing fat over protein so I haven’t been wired with keto-energy, but in my return to climbing this first week back, I have had good numbers while climbing (see above) and outstanding insulin sensitivity. I set an audacious goal of 100,000 feet of climbing for 2016 (of which I have completed only 500 feet so far!) and I am making sure that I am getting out three times a week (to start) and keeping my intensity to a low-moderate level. It will take me a couple of weeks to get back in the routine again but I hope to start climbing harder and pushing for bigger days out once we head into the month of March.

I would love to hear what YOU eat when you’re on the go and need to keep your blood glucose from stealing the show. Feel free to drop a comment or question below and I will be happy to give more details about the keto diet and my use of it!

Our first meetup will be March 4-6 in Joshua Tree National Park CA. No cost, no frills. Just action…maybe just a few tasteful hashtags though. RSVP via email: steve@livingvertical.org

The post How does the keto diet work on the road? appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/24/how-does-the-keto-diet-work-on-the-road/feed/ 5 3664
Organizing our tiny home: a new challenge http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/22/organizing-tiny-home-new-challenge/ Fri, 22 Jan 2016 18:07:36 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3653 I know that posting a blog this near a weekend is a mortal sin in some circles but I have […]

The post Organizing our tiny home: a new challenge appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I know that posting a blog this near a weekend is a mortal sin in some circles but I have decided to take my chances because things are happening in a way that doesn’t necessarily conform to traditional publishing schedules. After arriving in Utah with plans to be here for about a month, our first order of business is organizing our tiny home. I have to be honest and say that it’s been punishing emotionally. It’s more than just having fewer things–but this part of the process is about completely reshaping the way we see space. A friend commented on an Instagram post recently: “I envy your lack of things, but I’m not sure if I feel the same way about your lack of space”.

That really sums up the challenge I’ve been experiencing, because I am used to having fewer things but always having lots more space to allow a comfortable organizational system. I totally forgot to budget in the time and patience for learning a new way to look at space. In the last week or so I have learned that I have spent my whole life taking space for granted and that being organized in a large space has very little relevance to accomplishing the same task in a much smaller space!

This isn’t the post where I’m going to share all of the solutions to these issues because frankly such solutions haven’t presented themselves–yet. If you check out the video above, you’ll see that this is a trial and error process. I look forward to someday sharing the “Top 10 tips for maximizing space in your tiny home”–but for now, let me just say that Pinterest shows some really cool things–that have been fully completed and optimized. The process for getting there–figuring out what materials to use, the tools you need vs the ones you have available, the cost of said items are another matter.

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:



For example, our trailer is mostly made of fiberglass–this makes screw-in fasteners more challenging to use–and because it’s finished with a non-porous coating on the interior, adhesives are also less sticky. Magnetic strips and wall hangings were our original hope but being able to attach such items in the first place is proving a challenge. Another element of this process is deciding which items need to be most handy–simply fitting it all in won’t necessarily help us access what we need in a timely fashion.

Despite the frustration of this chaotic immersion the story is not all grim; it’s good to learn and each tiny step forward we take feels very rewarding. Each day we try to take a moment or two to share the small victories we are having and it’s making us appreciate things we otherwise might have taken for granted. I’ve made more of an effort to get out climbing and not lose sight of why we are doing this in the first place; not for perfection but to be closer to the things that inspire us.

On the diabetes front, I don’t have a lot to report. Keeping my diet in hand has been a manageable challenge and I am more thankful than ever for the near “auto-pilot” effects of the keto diet, both in terms of needing to eat less and actual blood glucose stability. Once things settle down a little bit more I will write more about some of the more “mundane” aspects of this transition. For now, we are three sheets to the breeze and I am hanging on by the tiniest of margins, thanks mostly to the patience and efforts of Stefanie who has really been tolerating this upheaval much better than I have.

For more information be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Leave us some love in the comments below! Hearing your perspective makes this whole process seem much less solitary.

Our first meetup will be March 4-6 in Joshua Tree National Park CA. No cost, no frills. Just action…maybe just a few tasteful hashtags though. RSVP via email: steve@livingvertical.org

The post Organizing our tiny home: a new challenge appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3653
Meet our tiny home! http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/19/meet-our-tiny-home/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/19/meet-our-tiny-home/#comments Tue, 19 Jan 2016 11:40:57 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3640 After months of trepidation and wondering–talking and scheming, the day to pick up our new home has arrived. I’d be […]

The post Meet our tiny home! appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
After months of trepidation and wondering–talking and scheming, the day to pick up our new home has arrived. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a bit nervous. Almost all of this is new to me. Everything from setting up a living space the size of your bathroom to making sure that the strain of towing the trailer won’t blow up my engine–it all leaves me feeling like one of those dreams where you show up to work naked.

If you’ve been following the YouTube Vlog you’ll know that I’ve been concerned about the size of the trailer and the sustainability of the various routines that we will have to adapt to in order to make such a small space livable. Picking up the trailer did little to ameliorate those worries. I pulled out of the Scamp dealership and headed south on a 1500 or so mile journey to southwest Utah where our family is based out of–and it was a whole new ball game.

Since I was traveling alone for the pickup, I had to make it back down to Utah in time to pick up Stefanie and Lilo who were flying in to meet me. It made more sense to do it that way than to have them in and out of the single-digit temperatures–but it also put me on more of a deadline. Right out of the gate I was unable to go over 60 mph without really pushing the engine hard–and even when I settled for something resembling a “brisk walking pace” my gas mileage was cut in half.

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:


Thanks to some consultation from a good friend, Darius, I was able to better grasp my limitations and some workarounds. I drove for a couple of days like this making steady progress and then–POW! An unexpected blizzard pops out of nowhere in the middle of Wyoming–which is a pretty desolate spot. The storm hit as I was rolling down a mountain pass just east of Laramie. Wind gusts north of 45 mph combined with black ice and whiteout conditions were not what I was expecting. I thought that since I had escaped the single-digits of Minnesota that I would be in good weather all the way back down to Utah!

I had no choice but to pull off for the night and wait out the storm–WYDOT closed the interstate and so the decision to proceed was taken out of my hands. Feeling very vulnerable and without a solid idea of when I’d be able to get back on the road, I called Stefanie with the news that I wouldn’t be able to meet them at the airport. I’d be there 12-15 hours late at the very least. That news went over about as well as you’d expect.

It would have been a major setback if it weren’t for our friend Chris who lives nearby the airport and offered to make the pickup–replete with a car seat for Lilo. When I got back on the road the next day it was with quite a bit less anxiety.

So as you’re probably guessing, we have the trailer and we are all together in Virgin, UT where we will be based for much of the winter. Now come the next set of challenges–setting up and settling in. Over the coming weeks I want to discuss the following:

  • Budgeting and travel
  • Selecting a good home base
  • The challenges of setting up from scratch
  • Health impacts (my diabetes and medications)
  • Your questions!
  • Our adventures!

I have gotten a ton of requests for videos of the inside of the trailer–and I promise an “MTV Cribs” episode once we have ourselves situated! I really enjoy doing Q&A from my audience so I look forward to that playing a bigger part in our content. While I am continuing to write blogs you will notice that the writing is following the lead of the video blogs or “Vlogs” so for more information be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Have questions or comments? Leave them below for us!

Our first meetup will be March 4-6 in Joshua Tree National Park CA. No cost, no frills. Just action…maybe just a few tasteful hashtags though. RSVP via email: steve@livingvertical.org

The post Meet our tiny home! appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/19/meet-our-tiny-home/feed/ 4 3640
The journey begins! http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/18/the-journey-begins/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/18/the-journey-begins/#comments Mon, 18 Jan 2016 07:03:19 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3626 The first leg of my journey begins with a stop in at my dad’s place where I ate some chicken soup […]

The post The journey begins! appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
The first leg of my journey begins with a stop in at my dad’s place where I ate some chicken soup to help ward off a cold that I’ve been battling for a few days now. I struggled with the desire to capture the trip out to Minnesota to get the trailer because after all, it’s not anything grand and not too adventurous. Right? As it turns out, learning how to shoot, edit and post from my phone in a pinch is good practice for what lies ahead. Besides, it’s important to capture the less polished moments of the adventure because that’s what we are all about!

My first challenge on the road was finding reliable internet to post videos–but I did at long last and managed to shoot a little bit of the drive across Pennsylvania on I-80. The weather looked clear but very cold and being all loaded down, slower and with no home base to come back to makes this venture seem a bit more committing yet.

I am trying to stay focused on what is motivating this change of lifestyle and not get too bogged down with the immediate challenges of getting started, posting videos and blogs–let alone the adaptation that will have to occur in the coming weeks. What do you think will be the biggest challenge of this transition? I think your guess is as good as mine right now because being hopeful and speculating is all we can do! Drop a comment and let us know–and stay tuned for the rest of the ride because soon we will have the trailer and all sort of adventures (mishaps?) are sure to follow!

Our first meetup will be March 4-6 in Joshua Tree National Park CA. No cost, no frills. Just action…maybe just a few tasteful hashtags though. RSVP via email: steve@livingvertical.org

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:


The post The journey begins! appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/18/the-journey-begins/feed/ 5 3626
One year down, lots to go http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/17/one-year-down-lots-to-go/ Sun, 17 Jan 2016 22:06:41 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3598 I love bringing you guest posts from others who are using adventure to take control of their lives and health. […]

The post One year down, lots to go appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I love bringing you guest posts from others who are using adventure to take control of their lives and health. I met Zach Buckmaster through Instagram a few months back and I believe that you will be reading and seeing more from him in the near future. This account is about his adaptation to year one of life with type 1 and I hope that you will find it as inspiring as I have.–Steve–

Diabetes and climbing. Most see no correlation between the two. But for me–and many others, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

My name is Zach Buckmaster. I live in Abbotsford, BC, Canada. I have a wonderful supporting wife, Kaitlyn, and we have been married since May 2014. I am professionally a carpenter and own a small construction business. I love to climb and I would spend every day climbing if I could. Well, maybe I’d take a few days to snowboard, but I’d climb most of the time

I have been living with type 1 diabetes for a year now as of Nov 20 2015–and wow, how much has changed! I am constantly trading punches with diabetes–everything from depression to constant highs. Diabetes is a challenge. A challenge I didn’t have a choice in. I certainly didn’t want to have to deal with that reality at all when I was diagnosed. I mean, c’mon, I have to give myself a needle to  eat toast!? What is this!? But although diabetes is a challenge, there are few challenges that can’t be overcome–except for maybe a perfect score in skee ball. I’m pretty sure that is unachievable.

When I was diagnosed, I thought it was over. I couldn’t eat what I wanted, I had to constantly give myself needles and prick my fingers, and I knew my active lifestyle would constantly run me low (that was one of the warning signs for me before my diagnosis). It sucked. It straight up sucked. Everything just piled on at once. Work was going badly and looked bad for the rest of the winter, we were living in a basement suite with an ant infestation and I had just spent 3 days in the hospital, getting a crash course on my new life. It was depressing.

hiking and type 1 diabetes in vancouver squamish British Columbia

Then, in January I saw that Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgenson had conquered The Dawn Wall. At this point my wife and I were looking for some type of activity that we could both do together and it was inspiring what they (Kevin and Tommy) did. So inspiring that I finally started seriously climbing. Yeah, I had climbed at the summer camp I went to, and I climbed with outdoor ed. in high school, and I lead a few easy 5.6 routes. But this was different. My wife and I bought gear and started climbing at our local crag. And it was not easy!

I needed to plan my moves. I had to think ahead. I had to be precise and careful. I had to be safe and controlled, and if I do fall, I need to know how to get back up.  The danger is always there in climbing, but it can be controlled. Yes, we have our falls and take a few whippers. But where would we be if we never fell?

adventure therapy type 1 diabetes rock climbing

For me, this just clicked in my mind. Diabetes is that route that’s a sandbagged 5.10 you get on. At first you think, “Yeah, I can do this no prob!” and then you take a nasty fall. You feel like you can never climb a 5.10 ever again. It’s just too hard. But then it wouldn’t be a challenge. So you work at it and work at it, repeating the crux a thousand times until finally you clip the chains. Only to find out that was just the first pitch and you have an endless amount of pitches in front of you.

That is just how diabetes is. Its not leaving. It never will. But that doesn’t mean that diabetes has won. You can keep climbing. You can kick it right square in the butt and not let it hold you back. You can use it to propel yourself forward and reach heights unimaginable. Because, being a diabetic isn’t what makes you. What you do with that challenge does.

rock climbing in squamish british columbia

And by no means is it that easy. It’s freaking hard. Just this past month alone I have been struggling with constant highs and the worry that comes along with them. In fact, this is all still new to me. I’m still not great at counting carbs or predicting what my body will do. It doesn’t always agree with me after all. But that’s ok. It’s how I learn, and how I’ll learn for the rest of my life. I’m Ok with that. I’ve come to terms with it. Diabetes is the devil on my shoulder saying “You can’t do it, you won’t do it and you never will do it”. But I’ve come to grow a little fond of that little devil on my shoulder.

It’s fun proving him wrong.

If you have questions or comments for Zach, drop a comment below! If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends so they can read it too! You can contact us if you’d like to share your story on the LivingVertical blog–we’d love to have you involved!

The post One year down, lots to go appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3598
Comfort optional http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/10/comfort-optional/ Sun, 10 Jan 2016 20:57:36 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3585 The hitch is on and the car is mostly loaded. It’s packed full of enough climbing gear to assault El […]

The post Comfort optional appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
The hitch is on and the car is mostly loaded. It’s packed full of enough climbing gear to assault El Capitan and enough media equipment to make a movie about the effort. Clothing has been pared down to one small tupperware apiece and I even manage to narrow down my library selections to the bleeding necessities because my love for paper books does not make them travel lighter. The Yakima roof box is been patched up with silicone sealant and loaded with outdoor gear. All that’s left are some housewares that are currently in use and my computer. Also my insulin, test strips and remaining sensors will be among the last items to be packed away. I’m ready to go home.


I start the weekend off with broken glasses–hopefully not a portent of trials to come–thanks to a rambunctious tot who decides it will be a good idea to stress-test my spectacles while I’m only starting to wake. Combine this with a upper respiratory infection, a pounding headache and rising blood sugars and it begins to feel like a proper train wreck. I have blogs to publish and I need to be shooting video of this process. Also I need to tape my melon to keep my brains from falling out of my ears as I make multiple trips back and forth to the car in the cold and rain.


It doesn’t matter. Somewhere deep inside a survival instinct kicks in–not in a grand sense but in the ‘f— that other stuff– here’s what actually needs to happen’ sort of way. It’s uncomfortable feeling weakness but it’s useful having that blade to separate out the vitally important from the fluff. Not everything that is uncomfortable is undesirable.

Attachment to comfort is arbitrary. Take that variable out of the equation and look at the expanded possibilities. If I had fat stacks of cash I’d feel more comfortable heading out on this adventure but there’s nothing that I can’t currently work towards without relying on that feeling. You have everything you need to try. 

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said that the fear of diabetes is much more limiting than diabetes, I’d have a lot of nickels. I’ve failed a few times in my life but I’ve failed to try many more times–usually out of fear. There is  a difference and it does matter. Having control doesn’t mean always getting the result you want–it means that even if you fail, at least you’re doing that on your own terms.

That’s the hope and the cure that I’m excited about–the cure for fear that stops us from trying. That’s the picture I’m going to paint with anyone interested in helping. It’ll probably be a mural so if you’re tired of the stale narrative of waiting in fear–you’re welcome join in the revolution.

Our first meetup will be March 4-6 in Joshua Tree National Park CA. No cost, no frills. Just action…maybe just a few tasteful hashtags though. RSVP via email: steve@livingvertical.org

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:


If you have questions or comments about any of this–leave them below! If you want to see how all of this plays out, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel–we’ll see you out there on the road!

The post Comfort optional appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3585
New tweaks to the keto diet and updates to the vlog http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/03/3551/ http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/03/3551/#comments Sun, 03 Jan 2016 22:05:04 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3551 In the last week or so I have been forced to reckon with the fact that my cholesterol is high […]

The post New tweaks to the keto diet and updates to the vlog appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
In the last week or so I have been forced to reckon with the fact that my cholesterol is high and the keto diet that has enabled me to dial in my blood sugar–may be the culprit that is creating chaos in a different area of my bloodwork. Since I ultimately may have to choose between the lesser of two evils, I have decided to tweak my ketogenic diet to see if my elevated cholesterol may be due to specific items within this diet rather than the entire way of eating. Here are the steps that I have taken:

  • No added saturated fat-I’ll still eat meat and cook with coconut oil but I haven’t been adding fat that’s not strictly necessary, and I’ve cut back on meat in general.
  • No dairy– I hate not having cream in my coffee but at least now I can taste the coffee since I’m drinking it black.
  • More olive oil– this translates into more vegetable and greens since I’m not doing shots of olive oil alone…
  • More nuts– I had been eating a lot of Macadamia nuts a few months ago but I got lazy and switched to meat and cheese. Now I’m eating them again as well as almonds and walnuts.
  • More fish– I am primarily eating sardines and smoked herring (simple tinned variety, nothing fancy)
  • More vitamin D– this is an important component for processing cholesterol so I’m on 5000 iu daily
  • More exercise and sleep– right now I’m not doing any really hard training but I am doing a minimum of 30 minutes daily dedicated exercise and going to bed and getting up earlier.

While it’s still early days, I wanted to share some preliminary results. In short, it seems to be just as good if not better in terms of my blood sugar control–which is a huge benefit. I am more sensitive to my insulin–which is particularly noticeable in the AM when I am taking 2 units to cover my entire breakfast (unlike 4 in the past) and seeing literally NO spike and no crash. I am still drinking my coffee (black) but no infusion of coconut oil and cream seems to make the insulin work better. My energy and clarity are still good although not quite as over the top as when I was adding lots of coconut oil. That stuff really helps crank up the energy!

I suspect that I am in a milder state of ketosis and thus the effects are less pronounced. I plan to increase the coconut oil again when I am in a position to take on a major athletic event and need the energy. It’s similar to the concept behind a TKD (Targeted Ketogenic Diet) only I am not splurging on extra carbs around workouts–but saturated fats. Not sure if that will work but I suspect that maintaining “low carb adaptation” will enable me to ramp up ketosis at need.

In other news, I am doing my best to achieve and maintain momentum in my creative work despite having what I would consider a limited pool to draw from as we are still biding time on the east coast waiting to leave (next week!) In addition to my climbing and video goals, I am doing a 365 photo project too–I figure that it only makes sense since I am going to be living through a camera lens anyhow! I’ll let you check out the first two episodes of the AdventureRx vlog below and if you like them make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel. I am really looking forward to having more to shoot and I am always open to questions and topics that you’re interested in.

I think we have a tentative meetup in Joshua Tree this spring too–I will keep you updated as we get more definitive dates in mind. Are you stoked? Last February we had a great turnout with climbing, bouldering, hiking and camping. I think we could have another awesome time together if anyone is interested in coming out for a weekend!

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:


If you have questions or comments about any of this–leave them below! If you want to see how all of this plays out, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel–we’ll see you out there on the road!

The post New tweaks to the keto diet and updates to the vlog appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2016/01/03/3551/feed/ 14 3551
Ketogenic diet and high cholesterol http://livingvertical.org/2015/12/29/ketogenic-diet-and-high-cholesterol/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/12/29/ketogenic-diet-and-high-cholesterol/#comments Tue, 29 Dec 2015 13:32:26 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3544 I recently got some blood work back and I wanted to share my results in hopes that it may offer […]

The post Ketogenic diet and high cholesterol appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I recently got some blood work back and I wanted to share my results in hopes that it may offer some insight to others who may find themselves at the crossroads of the ketogenic diet and high cholesterol. I have been following a low-carb high-fat diet since July and generally speaking I have been really happy with how it has impacted my body composition, athletic performance, energy and blood sugar control. I’ve written an ebook about it (specifically in relation to type 1 diabetes) and I want to be fair and share the challenges that I’m having as well. What I am presenting here is in no way advice or even a solution that I have found for myself–but rather a question that I am working through. I’ve always had elevated cholesterol (last 10 years) and I’ve always prioritized my blood sugar management over cholesterol. Simply put, there are more questions about the risks of cholesterol than the risks of elevated blood sugar, so I focus on the “devil I know”.

I got my bloodwork back and found that my total cholesterol is 383 with LDL at 292. My a1c was 6.5. Neither of these individually are what I am shooting for and both in combination are a bit more alarming. Being perfectly honest it feels like a massive failure to be back at this point of reevaluating everything again. It’s hard not to be governed by numbers but it’s not responsible to ignore them either. I declined statin medication and I was told to switch to a low fat diet high carb diet. My blood pressure was 104/84 and I typically have a resting pulse rate of about 60.

I immediately did an internet search on the keto diet correlating to elevated cholesterol and found a whole lot of conjecture. There haven’t been conclusive tests done to evaluate the risk of elevated LDL while on a ketogenic diet. It’s speculated that it’s not such a big deal if all the other markers are on–but that’s speculation and given the upward creep of my blood pressure, I am looking to make some targeted changes and see if it’s possible to resolve some of this issue.

One thing that I found in my searching was that some people experience elevated cholesterol on a ketogenic diet in response to saturated fat. This is yet another facet of the cholesterol-fat-sugar triangle that is poorly understood, but it seems like it’s a genetic factor that predetermines which people will be overly sensitive to saturated fat. Given the fact that I’ve always had pretty high cholesterol (over 200 total) regardless of my eating habits I suspect that I may be in this category.

Those of you who are reading and thinking, ‘Duh, you eat fat and your cholesterol goes up!’ should keep in mind that many people who take on a keto diet find that their cholesterol actually decreases along with cardiovascular risk–simply from increasing dietary fat while restricting carbohydrates. It seems that I don’t fit into that category though!

My next steps are roughly as follows, because I want to tweak my diet as it stands first without completely abandoning it. I have experienced enough benefits from the ketogenic diet that I don’t intend to jump ship without seeing if there is another round of adaptation that needs to take place in order to make it “fit”.

  • Increase Vitamin D- I have frequently tested low for Vitamin D which plays an important role in processing cholesterol. Sitting inside in the winter probably doesn’t help much either.
  • Shift away from saturated fats- To start with I am cutting out dairy and not adding massive amounts of coconut oil to everything. It’s ironic that this is going to drastically change my enjoyment of coffee! Instead, I will eat more nuts and seeds, olive oil and fish. Prior to this I was eating a LOT of cheese and heavy cream in my coffee–as well as going out of my way to add coconut oil without restraint.
  • Sleep, exercise and rest adequately- per my last post about “resolutions” for the 2016 year these variables have been suffering in the last few months–getting them dialed in can only help.
  • More salads- for use as an olive oil vehicle and some good low carb greens.
  • Targeted saturated fat consumption- rather than staying loaded on coconut oil (bulletproof coffee anyone?) on a daily basis, I am saving “deep” ketosis for situations where I am in need of elevated athletic performance. I hypothesize that if I maintain a low carb-moderate fat diet, I should be able to elevate ketones in short order by targeted saturated fat “doses” prior to an activity. Maintaining a carb deprived state should enable my utilization of those ketones for energy without missing a beat.

The bottom line here, is that no diet is as simple as tweaking some macronutrients and then standing back and letting the magic happen. Maybe for some people it’s like that but for me it’s a bit like playing whack-a-mole. It’s a lot of problem solving. In short, I am still sticking to a low carb-high fat diet, but I am modifying the types of fat I am consuming as a first step to see if my cholesterol changes in a few months. I’ll keep watching my blood sugar and my athletic performance in the meantime to see if there is a way to make my doctors happy and to climb harder while eating foods that I like.

I’m happy to get input from anyone who has experienced similar things–type 1 or otherwise. This is a Gordian Knot and it’s going to take a lot more than my paltry pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey experimentation to unravel it in a satisfactory manner!

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:


UPDATE: 

I am going to resume writing about this topic for a few posts at least! I have some new information and I’d like to update everyone about my experience over the last few years. This podcast episode (note mine) is VERY VERY enlightening in relationship to the topic of a ketogenic diet and high cholesterol so I strongly urge you to take a listen!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ep8-high-cholesterol-levels-on-keto-diet-experiments/id1228136261?i=1000386782883&mt=2

The post Ketogenic diet and high cholesterol appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/12/29/ketogenic-diet-and-high-cholesterol/feed/ 93 3544
Are New Years resolutions a good idea? http://livingvertical.org/2015/12/28/are-new-years-resolutions-a-good-idea/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/12/28/are-new-years-resolutions-a-good-idea/#comments Mon, 28 Dec 2015 04:56:57 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3522 I deliberately make new years resolutions that I know I can’t keep. I specifically set goals beyond my limits because […]

The post Are New Years resolutions a good idea? appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I deliberately make new years resolutions that I know I can’t keep. I specifically set goals beyond my limits because I don’t think the point of this yearly ritual is to check a box or accomplish a task. The point is to become a different person entirely. For example, if you want to be a high level athlete, you must first become the type of person who is capable of becoming a high level athlete. Then, meeting the specific goal of athletic performance becomes an extension of the normal that you’ve created for yourself. To quote Abraham Lincoln, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” These resolutions are how I sharpen the axe–and are not meant to be mistaken for the process of felling the tree.

No way out: I know that I am naturally lazy. If I don’t have some measure of accountability, I will sit on the couch watching The Simpsons all day and browsing Facebook. It’s my responsibility to know my own weaknesses and show them no mercy. I’ve often said that type 1 diabetes is one of my greatest resources for training. It forces me to be constantly aware that life and health are not guaranteed. Knowing that I have a thinner margin of error makes me pay closer attention. There’s no way out of this and that fact will force me to find a way.

how is the image quality of a sony rx100 mark ii

I’m under no misapprehension about the difficulty that lies ahead living on the road in a tiny trailer with diabetes, a baby and my wife, while working as a freelance media producer. I am heading into the crucible to hammer out the inconsistencies between who I am and who I want to become and while I may not accomplish every goal I set–I know that I will not be able to survive as the person I am right now.

  • Move every day: I can devote 30 minutes daily, at minimum to some sort of physical activity. Some days that will be a thousand feet of bigwall climbing (which will obviously take longer than a half hour). Other days that will be walking or running. Having undergone some radical lifestyle shifts in the last year, I learned how hard it can be to actually move when so much time is eaten up with commuting and computer work. I learned how to make time to sit all day and answer emails at 9pm. I can unlearn that and replace it with something better.
  • Drink more water: I’m going to be in the desert and I’ll get crushed if I don’t do better than I have been doing in 2015! Again, it’s a simple adjustment, but hydration is a huge part of managing my type 1, metabolism, energy, performance and mental clarity. I feel like it’s even more important when you’re on a low carb diet and your body naturally retains less water.
  • Earlier to bed and to rise: This is a big one–I feel like I really hit my stride creatively late at night, but a 3 AM bedtime leaves me feeling wrecked the next day even if I sleep for a full 8 or 9 hours, which rarely happens. Having an 18 month old has made me aware that if I want to get anything done, I have to beat her to the punch and get ahead. I think that this is one of the most common habits of people who are successful–it really made a difference for me when I tried it earlier this year. Having more time and more focus allowed me to act rather than react in my day. This has been something I’ve struggled with for my entire life. It’s a big part of “being someone different”. I’d love to climb like Ueli Steck for example. Then again, I can’t do that if I’m not ok with getting up at 3:45AM to train 5 days a week.
  • Mindfulness and meditation: Even 15 minutes in the morning and evening is enough to bookend a crazy day and tie all the chaos together. I spent some time doing this in 2015 and it really amazed me. I don’t use any guidance for meditation and it’s not a search for spiritual enlightenment as such–it’s just time to be present in the moment, not looking forward or back, not worrying or thinking really. I have found best results just in sitting quietly and just being thankful for anything that pops into my mind. It’s a lot like sharpening the knife, mentally. I also can’t help but recognize that my family and I are giving up a lot to live the way we are. I don’t want to waste that time being “elsewhere” mentally at any point in my day.
  • Launch a new business: I have been fortunate to find work as a freelance photographer/videographer and basic audio producer. It was a tough decision to invest in my ability and to rely on that for my families subsistence, because I haven’t exactly got a booming business at this point. I also haven’t ever really made the choice to organize my skills and offer them to the public like I mean it–largely because I haven’t felt like I’m good enough. I’ve decided to stop thinking that way because if I wait until I feel like I’m qualified it will never happen. It’s not about me or how I feel about my work as much as it is being able to create work that meets the needs of others–and that’s something I know I can do.
  • Climb harder and farther: This is an area that I want to focus on without pidgeon-holing myself. I’m living on the road because I need more climbing. Inspiration is a big part of how that plays out. I don’t have a specific climb that has my name on it–yet. I am excited for that to change though. I will say that some basic goals I have are to complete a climb that is harder than I’ve done yet (5.12a/b) and to accumulate more vertical elevation gain than I did during Project365. I obviously won’t be climbing every single day consecutively but with more rest I think that breaking 79,419 feet will be achievable. Let’s shoot for 100,000 vertical feet and 5.12c. It’s gotta be a little bit scary when this is what I’m up against!type 1 diabetic athlete managing diabetes with a ketogenic diet
  • 100 videos: I am committed to creating more this coming year. Creating is the one thing that motivates me, whether it is through climbing or with a camera. I have some big plans for the YouTube channel to push more in that direction and it starts with shooting and editing more. My goal is to shoot every single day and in addition to the 100 videos from the road, I want to create a compilation video of 1 second from each days shooting edited into a story. I believe that perfection is the enemy of productivity and that I’ve been waiting to get better instead of just doing more and making the mistakes necessary to improve.

Are New Years resolutions a good idea? I think like most things, they can be. I may not actually succeed at any of the tasks I put my mind to, but I’m certain that whatever I learn and accomplish in the meantime is a hell of a lot more valuable than preserving my own comfort.

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:


If you have questions or comments about any of this–leave them below! If you want to see how all of this plays out, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel–we’ll see you out there on the road!

The post Are New Years resolutions a good idea? appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/12/28/are-new-years-resolutions-a-good-idea/feed/ 1 3522
Extraordinarily normal http://livingvertical.org/2015/12/21/extraordinarily-normal/ Mon, 21 Dec 2015 22:05:02 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3475 In my most recent blog post I talked about my travel video setup and why I wound up going with […]

The post Extraordinarily normal appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
In my most recent blog post I talked about my travel video setup and why I wound up going with a smaller, lighter setup over the absolutely highest rated sensors and optics–which come at a cost logistically. Of course I’d love to encourage you to check out the evolution and function of this equipment by subscribing to our YouTube channel–because I’m going to be updating weekly with videos. Ideally I’ll be able to post 2 videos weekly–but either way it will be a different, more interactive experience of our journey. Before embarking though, I wanted to finish up a video project that I started back in 2014 and I recently posted a video which allowed me to use my new setup to complete this existing project!

The intro and outtro shots were acquired in 4k on the Lumix G7 and exported in 1080. It’s my first attempt with this stuff…so throw me a bone! It helps to select the HD option when you’re watching on YouTube to make sure you’re seeing the highest resolution (if you’re interested in the pixel peeping!)

A word about the title and intent of this video, if I may. Living with a chronic illness like type 1 diabetes seems like an extraordinary task at times. Sometimes it really is–when you’re calculating complex metabolic reactions, dealing with makeshift pharmacology and adapting medical technology to suit your needs. Climbing seems like an extraordinary pursuit as well, when you’re dangling hundreds of feet above the ground, engineering anchors and mechanical advantage systems that not only keep you alive, but actually help optimize your comfort in the vertical plane. When you see these things out of context they seem like some arcane wizardry.

That’s why I thought it would be interesting to put these things in context by hearing about the experience from normal people who do extraordinary things. Not surprisingly, they don’t accomplish this by living on the edge and being strung out on Monster Energy drinks–but rather by making these extraordinary pursuits a part of normal life.

This isn’t about diabetes, as such, even though all of us on that 2014 climbing trip live with type 1 diabetes. It’s about the choice that we have to normalize the obstacles that we face such that they no longer stop us from moving forward, but rather become stepping stones to new heights. If we try to do extraordinary things, we will always be overreaching our abilities. If we make the extraordinary a normal part of our lives, then our abilities expand as does our definition of normal.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” –Helen Keller

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:


If you have questions or comments about any of this–leave them below! If you want to see how all of this plays out, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel–we’ll see you out there on the road!

The post Extraordinarily normal appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3475
Light is right: my travel video setup http://livingvertical.org/2015/12/20/light-right-travel-video-setup/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/12/20/light-right-travel-video-setup/#comments Sun, 20 Dec 2015 22:05:13 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3465 I recently spent a lot of time fixated on the decisions facing me about putting together a travel video setup. Trying […]

The post Light is right: my travel video setup appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I recently spent a lot of time fixated on the decisions facing me about putting together a travel video setup. Trying to determine the “best” of anything is that much more difficult when you’re talking about the tools being used for a creative pursuit. Like Casey Neistat says, the gear doesn’t matter–which tends to validate every opinion. Clear as mud, right?! Everyone is right-everyone is wrong. The best camera is the one that you have with you. My decision ultimately came down to a setup that will allow me to have a camera with me almost anywhere–the best camera possible that won’t slow me down or interfere with the adventure! Make sure you subscribe to the LivingVertical YouTube channel to see where this goes!

In my case, budget played the governing role in the definition of the “best” camera. I turned the money from a lot of underutilized clothes and electronics (thanks eBay!) into a small production fund. This move also made a lot of space, so it was a win logistically speaking as well! My budget was about $1,500 and so with this in mind I had to make some determinations about what I’d be shooting and how I aim to do most of my editing and production.

In my mind, I’d love to do lots of really polished, cinematic shots–I kept envisioning drone footage when I really let my mind wander. Tripods. Sliders. Glidecams–you know, all the sexy stuff. Unlike Project365, I’m not going into this with the intent of shooting a longer feature film. Shooting a massive library of footage and then trying to tease a story out of that to create one finished product–well, let’s just say that I did that once and I honestly don’t want to do that on this excursion. I can clearly see in hindsight that at the time (2011) I bit off way more than I could chew. I’m proud of choking it down and still turning out that documentary, but I also spent a year of my life stuck in the editing process.

This time my creative goal is closer to “hybrid vlogging” with some cinematic shots and timelapses thrown in. I want to do at least a couple shorts each week that we have access to service and really bring you along with us in our daily life and the adventuring and climbing we will be doing. I want to really immerse myself in the creative process.

Here are the cameras that I landed on given my budget (for video work)

  • Lumix G7– This is my “A” camera, the “little brother” to the GH4. The G7 shoots 4k, 1080 up to 60fps, has wifi remote control and data transfer, touch screen menus that can be fully customized, focus peaking and focus assist (both useful for manually nailing focus on a shot). It does a lot more than that of course but the fact that it’s so small and light makes it really easy to use and carry along. The price was great too; I got the camera with a kit lens and a shotgun mic for under $600.
  • Lens Adapters- I have invested a lot of money over the years in Nikon lenses (my main stills rig is the Nikon D600 which is a full frame workhorse) which ordinarily don’t work on smaller (micro 4/3rds) cameras. I got two lens adapters–one for Nikon glass that I already own and one for older, manual Canon lenses that I got for a great deal (see below) to expand my options. ($90 x 2)
  • Rode SmartLav+ is a small clip on mic that records into a smartphone. The audio quality is outstanding and it’s super tiny. ($80)
  • Additional Lenses- I adapted a cheap Canon FD 50mm f1.8 lens ($50) and a Canon wide angle FD 24mm f2.8 ($100). Those two lenses with the kit lens (included with the camera) will allow me to shoot just about anything I need from wide shots to close-ups; and for low-light situations I will have my fast Nikon lenses to fall back on.
  • GoPro Hero 4 (black edition)– I actually bought this for work last winter and I tried to sell it recently on eBay. It wound up getting returned to me because it froze up (I think it’s a firmware issue but the buyer just wanted to be done with it) so I decided that I’d fix it and keep it for a “B” Camera. It actually shoots 4k too as well as slow motion although the footage takes a little more work to make it look good. ($0)
  • Sony RX 100 mkii– a pocket sized “B” camera packed with high end features like 1080 at 60fps, focus peaking, raw image capture and wifi. It’s something that I can climb with or just throw in a jacket pocket and still get decent quality from. It actually records video at a higher bitrate than my full-frame Nikon camera that cost 8 times as much. (used, $350)
  • Carrying case, lens filters, batteries, memory cards- Once I got my cameras I threw in some extra accessories to make everything work together and we are off to the races! ($200)

Sample images from Panasonic G7 with adapted Nikon lenses:

If you want to see sample video, check out this latest YouTube video–my self interview shots were from the G7 in marginal light at 4k down-sampled to 1080p.

I aim to produce the best content that I can at the greatest frequency while we are out on the road. I definitely made some sacrifices for the sake of cost and portability–and this is definitely a travel video setup–it probably will take some decent photos, but don’t expect night-time milky way shots out of this rig. One of the things I’ve learned from this process is that it’s basically impossible to get a perfect camera that does everything at a high level. I still have diversity with what my cameras can capture and I feel like this should give me a great deal of room to expand my abilities before I encounter limitations that are strictly technological in nature.

A word about 4k; no one needs it. The point of 4k capture is to have greater information and detail in the video that will translate into much greater editing flexibility for 1080 output. If I can get it within budget and have money left over to get a “B” camera, then it seems worth it for what I’m trying to do. Of course the proof is in the pudding. I could have spent 3 times a much and still be worthless in terms of what I can create. I’m excited to have room to challenge my skills and that’s really the point. Shooting more, editing more and sharing more. The polish will come with time.

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:


If you have questions or comments about any of this–leave them below! If you want o see how all of this plays out, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel–we’ll see you out there on the road!

The post Light is right: my travel video setup appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/12/20/light-right-travel-video-setup/feed/ 2 3465
10 questions that enabled me to start traveling full-time with my family http://livingvertical.org/2015/12/07/10-questions-that-enabled-me-to-start-traveling-full-time-with-my-family/ Mon, 07 Dec 2015 10:45:29 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3379 I’ve been told in the past, “enjoy your adventures before you have kids because once they arrive you certainly won’t […]

The post 10 questions that enabled me to start traveling full-time with my family appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I’ve been told in the past, “enjoy your adventures before you have kids because once they arrive you certainly won’t be traveling full-time ” and now that I’m a parent I’d be delusional to suggest that life hasn’t changed dramatically. That said, I believe in the the almighty workaround enough to try and defy the skeptics–most notably the one that lives between my own ears. In this post I want to share the 10 questions I asked myself that enabled me to commit to traveling full-time and climbing with my family. As you read this, please keep in mind the following:

  • There is no such thing as “living the dream” –only choices aligned with our priorities.
  • I’m not writing about my goals and obstacles because they’re uniquely worthy–everyone has their own.
  • My system of self inquiry isn’t better than yours but it’s better than no system at all.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while–and I’ve put it off because it’s hard to share this without feeling like I’m dangerously close to giving life advice. Perhaps that’s just my ruthless self-editor speaking. I recorded a couple of podcast episodes that deal with this subject matter and I decided that with the launch date of the LivingVertical roadshow looming, I’m going to speak my piece. I think that having a system to assess risk surrounding major decisions is more than a little useful. I’ve seen the micro-application of this within diabetes and it extends to basically everything else, including this next big move.

  1.  Can this actually work? It’s always been intimidating to take this first step. If you don’t have to actually implement an idea, it can live safely forever in the purgatory of “maybe”. Once you put your idea under the microscope with actual intent, it will either fail or succeed. Trying to spare our dreams from the harsh light of day has undoubtedly caused many of us to love our ideas beyond the hope of becoming reality. Once I knew that the answer was ‘yes’, and that it was actually possible for our family to live on the road full-time, it meant that I had no good reason not to try. The question now became how can this work, leaving me with the responsibility to unlock that puzzle.
  2. Will my wife leave me? Relationships are fragile. When taking on a big project like this you have to know that you’re exposing your relationships to risk. In my case, I have to prioritize a relationship with my daughter and my wife–but for others it may be friends or parents. The strain of living in a small space with less consistency and comfort for the foreseeable future is a decision that could make or break these relationships. Looking back, I feel like there is a decent body of evidence to suggest that we have enough durability to thrive on the road.  Stefanie and I eloped in 2008 at the end of a 6 month road trip. We had just driven down to San Diego from Alaska in my Honda Civic–which had doubled as our home–and I realized that the most important thing was being with someone who understood the life I wanted to live and who would hold me accountable to not give up on that dream. Having confidence in support from the people closest to you can be the difference between a dream and reality. Choosing who to keep closest to you based on their willingness to support is a long term approach to enabling achievements.traveling with your family full time rving
  3. Who cares? I am aware that this upcoming project is going to be a huge amount of work and not a vacation. There needs to be a good reason to take on this kind of hare-brained idea. It’s important to know if anyone will actually care about this–will we be able to impact someone through this venture? When Stefanie and I announced that we were buying camera gear, selling all our stuff and going to live on the road and start LivingVertical in 2011, an amazing thing happened. Friends, relatives and in some cases acquaintances mobilized to get behind our work. No one accomplishes anything great without someone, somewhere supporting them and caring. It’s incredibly important to know who actually cares and who will support your goals. On the other hand, it’s impossible to know who cares and who will be impacted without taking that first step–and committing. Even if we only have one (more) free meetup that helps one person, it will be worth the effort.camping in joshua tree national park
  4. Downward social mobility? People laughed at me when I used this term, but since I was in college I asked myself if I could actually do more with less. I joke about being like the post apocalyptic cockroach who can survive in the most austere conditions. Rather than seeking to climb a corporate ladder that leads to more financial wealth and and less free time, I chose to hone my “inner cockroach” and take my dividends in time. It’s not necessarily the right approach for everyone, but it’s my answer to how I can live this way: simply need less. camping in yosemite national park
  5. Do you really need that? It’s way easier to hone in on a priority if I am not occupied with competing tasks or possessions.  Turns out I can save a lot of money when I have fewer things to maintain and pay for. I’ve gotten rid of most everything that I don’t use frequently enough to consider it essential to my life and well being–and I keep checking in to see if “I need that” each time I make a purchase so that I don’t regress. I feared taking that step for so long–but the less I have the less I feel like I have to worry about. It’s basically impossible to recommend what is objectively necessary and what is not–but being willing to experiment can reveal opportunities to downsize where you may not have expected them. For example, I loved my iMac for editing–that big screen offered such wonderful real estate for photos and video projects. When I considered this move into a tiny trailer, I decided to replace my big computer with a laptop. It’s about 15-20% less fun to edit on, but it’s 100% more portable and it can perform all the same tasks. This is just one decision that has simplified my life a great deal.
  6. Can we afford this? Having a low overhead is all well and good, but I still have to provide for my family. That’s hard enough if you devote your life to work. My answer? Think less about developing a career (dependent on an employer) than developing skills which I control and can leverage to my advantage across a broad spectrum of the business world. Knowing my value gives me confidence that I can provide what I need for myself and my family. Skill development has everything to do with practice, not perfection. Want to see how I learned to shoot video or photos? Look at our Films and Projects. Want to hear how I learned to produce audio? Listen to the AdventureRx podcast. Having a low overhead allows me to invest time into my skill development. That’s why I felt free to leave a good job and take a 50% cut in pay and no health insurance. This arrangement gives me enough work to survive and enough time to develop my professional skills in media production.
  7. Is this a healthy decision? Diabetes motivates me to live fully while I can–for myself first of all and my family–but also for the sake of pushing back against the fear and the negativity that surrounds this condition in the public. I believe that the fear of diabetes is more damaging than the diabetes itself. Conversely, I have had to ask myself if my fear of leaving a good job was due more to insurance worries than financial concern. It may sound odd to hear those two concerns separated, but there is something really comforting about insurance that income alone can’t provide. I’d love to have that comfort, but I won’t put my life on hold for the sake of it. I need insulin and strips to survive–and I can get enough of that on my own if it comes to it. If health insurance costs more than buying insulin and strips on my own, then that eliminates my attachment to it. Of course this doesn’t change the fact that I have to make sure Stefanie and Lilo are covered–which is why we chose to base ourselves out of Massachusetts. Not all states have good (affordable and useful) health insurance options. Massachusetts actually has a great system that offers very good insurance options which are scaled according to income, so we are able to pay a reasonable price to have some coverage even without a massive income. I will go on record as saying that personally, I would be willing to go without any sort of insurance if not for my child.rock climbing with a gopro red rock nevada las vegas
  8. Can I become debt free while living this way? I believe that freedom from debt lies at the heart of self determinism. I also think that accepting debt is something my generation has unfortunately been made to embrace as normal. I was cheap from the time I was a little kid. My dad used to joke that I was as “tight as the skin on a hotdog”. I literally refused to spend the money I’d get for birthdays or Christmas. Maybe that’s why I believe that I can enjoy freedom with very little money. Having lots more money offset by lots of debt seems like a thinly veiled guise for servitude. Despite this approach to managing money, I still have some debt, which I am paying off aggressively.
  9. When do you bail? I decided that I’ll pull the rip cord when it’s financially impossible or when it stops being fun, whichever comes first. Financially impossible: taking on additional debt to live this lifestyle–I’m ok with investing in a skill or business opportunity, but if we are having to put bare essentials on credit, then it’s not viable. No longer fun: If I have to choose between my family and this lifestyle. If I have more than 14 consecutive days where I go to bed thinking ‘This is not worth it. Give me back my sofa and Netflix’. Having a good exit strategy and knowing when it’s time to deploy it can give you the ability to really focus in the moment, because there are clearly defined parameters for failure and until you cross those predetermined lines, you have no reason not to keep fighting to make it work.
  10. Is this the right risk to take?  It’s easy to view risk as “bad” or at least undesirable–something to be avoided. To me, risk signifies an opportunity for dividends of some kind. Risk requires mindful attention in order to determine if it’s an appropriate risk or an irresponsible one. Taking the time to thoroughly assess the risk of this proposition is how I know it’s the right risk to take. I like to borrow from Tim Ferriss on risk management. Roughly paraphrased, risk is an irreversible negative outcome. If the downside of your choice can be reversed in a year or so, then what’s the harm in trying? If I don’t make any creative progress or this journey is a total buzzkill, I bet that within a year of bailing, I can get back to approximately where I am right now.

One of the reasons that I insist that diabetes has played a positive role in my life is that it forced risk into my life–and I am a timid person by nature. Learning that I had to embrace risk to deal with it has opened my life up to so many amazing things that I literally would not trade for a million dollars. My system of self inquiry basically comes down to looking at risk from a variety of challenging angles and separating the risks that I can’t manage and the ones that I can mitigate–which leaves me with two “piles” to weigh against each other. I think that while this may not be relevant to everyone and every goal, it’s a general framework that allows normal people to take big dreams and whittle them down into achievable steps.

 

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:


Love this? Hate it? Let me know in the comments or via email! (steve@livingvertical.org)

LivingVertical thrives because of YOU. I (Steve) personally appreciate the fact that you are part of our growing community of active and adventurous people with diabetes.

The post 10 questions that enabled me to start traveling full-time with my family appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3379
Choosing a camera: decisions about sharing the next adventure and leaving room to grow http://livingvertical.org/2015/11/29/room-to-grow-making-decisions-sharing-the-next-adventure-choosing-a-camera/ Mon, 30 Nov 2015 00:26:39 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3361 For my last post of November, I want to say how stoked I am for what’s next! Blake and I […]

The post Choosing a camera: decisions about sharing the next adventure and leaving room to grow appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
For my last post of November, I want to say how stoked I am for what’s next! Blake and I just finished a rough cut of the Wind River Project film, which is being previewed by a select few–and I have approximately 6 weeks remaining before embarking on another adventure, this time with my family. The Wind River Project was the last “big” adventure I was on, and one of the things that I learned (the hard way) was that not having my family along just sucks the joy out of the experience for me. I’ve said many times that for me, the climbing isn’t just about the climbing and the diabetes isn’t just about the diabetes. Maybe I am just getting soft in my old age, but I have decided to stick to what works for me.

This doesn’t just apply to climbing–it’s also a part of what drives the creative decisions here at LivingVertical. I am downsizing more than half of all of the “things” I own to make this next adventure happen–and honestly, it’s liberating. Or, rather, it will be liberating. Right now it’s stress and chaos. All I know is that on the other side of this preparatory process will be greater simplicity and that’s something I look forward to. There’s still a bit of turmoil surrounding the simplicity though–from a technical standpoint–since I am hoping to document, film and photograph this journey and these are often disparate goals, especially with limited time, support and space!

Ever try getting a straight answer about which camera is the “best”? You’d have better luck asking your Facebook feed to tell you who to vote for in the next election! I’ve been downsizing a lot of my camera gear because I need smaller, lighter, faster–but with better specs and–oh, if I could get a discount on that? That would be just superb! It’s very enticing to pin the hopes of creativity on equipment, but I keep coming to the realization that no matter what I have or lack, the most important thing is how hard I am willing to work to make the most of what I have. It’s a great thing to realize but it doesnt necessarily help with choosing a camera. Every choice has consequences and even the high-end “bells and whistles” rigs come with a cost in terms of how useful they can be.

Over the years I’ve worked my way up to a pretty high end still image setup (Nikon D600). It’s not the apex of current technology but with a full frame sensor and several lenses that are unrivaled (Nikons own: 105mm f2, 50mm f1.4, 24mm f1.4) I feel like there isn’t much on dry land that I’m not equipped to shoot other than super long wildlife shots. Here’s where it gets tricky though. This setup is big. Heavy and yet delicate. The files take time and space to process on a computer before they make it onto Instagram or here on the blog. The timelapse reel below was shot on that setup, but getting all the equipment out into the field (16 miles over rough backcountry) was no small matter.

The flip side of this is that the video characteristics of a high level stills camera are typically far less impressive and video is the next frontier that I want to explore. Portability is going to play a big role if I am going to be documenting on the fly. I am thankful to have a workhorse for capturing high quality stills. Now my goal is to build a useful video setup that doesn’t go nuts with bells and whistles that will just weigh me down–but that will be able to shoot high quality footage.

Here are the cameras that I am considering (in descending order) with some of the drawbacks to each:

  • Panasonic Gh4-smaller sensor, not great in low light, stills are “meh”
  • Sony a6000-no mic input, “only” shoots 1080p
  • Samsung NX1-bigger body, slim selection of lenses

I know that many of you may be aghast to see not a single Nikon or Canon on this list…I’d be happy to hash that out in the comments, as well as the pros and cons of 4k, but each of these cameras has distinct advantages that make them viable options. I think that it comes down to versatility when choosing a camera–being able to do more. That’s the criteria I am looking at as I keep agonizing over the final decision (which I will be putting off until 2016–because I want time to do thorough research and possibly save more cash).

I have been using instagram and the blog to develop as a photographer. I have room to grow and equipment that will take me further. I have the podcast which has been a great place to learn about audio production. I don’t run a studio as such, but I am enjoying learning how to work in that medium to create passable work. YouTube is where I will be getting my feet wet again on the video front and I would love it if you’d subscribe and be part of that journey!

During project365 I was shooting for a documentary–so there was a lot more continuity and far-reaching concerns to keep me from really exploring how to work with video. This time, there is no “binding deliverable”. Just a big, wide open road that’s filled with adventure. That’s how I learn best–and I think that creating and learning have to go hand in hand. We’ll see how that turns out!

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:


Love this? Hate it? Let me know in the comments or via email! (steve@livingvertical.org)

LivingVertical thrives because of YOU. I (Steve) personally appreciate the fact that you are part of our growing community of active and adventurous people with diabetes.

The post Choosing a camera: decisions about sharing the next adventure and leaving room to grow appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3361
Measure twice, cut once: balancing move preparation, photography and family http://livingvertical.org/2015/11/22/measure-twice-cut-once-balancing-move-preparation-photography-and-family/ Sun, 22 Nov 2015 22:06:43 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3313 This is the first Diabetes Awareness month (since I realized that such a thing existed) in which I haven’t been […]

The post Measure twice, cut once: balancing move preparation, photography and family appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
This is the first Diabetes Awareness month (since I realized that such a thing existed) in which I haven’t been going out of my mind with worrying about keeping up with fundraising and awareness projects which kind dominate the airwaves. It may sound odd, but I feel like November is a great month to let my advocacy efforts “breathe”. Now don’t get me wrong–I’m not knocking the idea of awareness nor the opportunity for fundraising–I just don’t really see myself in that picture. I love documentaries for example, including the one I made in 2013, but I won’t be shooting another one any time soon, you know? At times in the past I’ve felt like I must be doing something wrong when November rolls around and I just don’t feel like playing. Now, I figure that I’ve got 11 other months out of the year to shake things up and so I am taking time to dig into my creative roots and gather vision and inspiration for the project ahead. Preparation for 2016 let’s call it. As my late uncle always told me, “measure twice, cut once”.

I’ve got bigger things in my life than diabetes currently–which is something I am really stoked about honestly. It’s the key to not letting diabetes encroach on your enjoyment of life. I’ve been focusing more on my family. On days when I am doing solo parenting I have just stepped away from the phone and computer to focus on Lilo. It’s such a privilege to have that time with her–and it’s something I don’t want to miss out on. Time with Lilo was a catalyst that forced me to reassess how much time I was spending at work, which of course led to the whole ‘Hey let’s move into a trailer! It will be healthier for us all and we can call it AdventureRx!’ thing. Taking the first step towards adventure is just that. One step. Without follow through that step becomes another time-suck.

I have also been taking more time to spend with my siblings. Last weekend we went to the beach together–a location where I typically wouldn’t elect to spend time as I’m not big on beach culture and it always seems crowded to me. I almost didn’t go because I felt like I should be blogging or posting photos–but then I realized that I’d be better off practicing what I preach (getting out of my comfort zone, traveling etc.) and taking advantage of the opportunity to see family before we transition to life on the road. All that analysis aside, it was wonderfully well-worth it–more so because I was so close to missing out.

One of the dangers of having a platform to create content for the world is that it’s all too easy to adopt an image of yourself and prop your feet up on it. You can get lost in the process of sharing and suddenly find that there is nothing to share. I know going to the beach seems like a vacation–but to me, it’s more daunting than a week of climbing rocks. I know, I’m an oddball. Nevertheless, I gained a lot by just saying ‘yes’ to something that I wouldn’t have chosen for myself.

I hate waiting for things. The time of departure from the east coast is coming quickly and there is a ton that I have to do in order to make that transition bearable. It’s not going to be smooth. The three of us crammed into a 13 foot fiberglass pod will be nothing short of traumatic–but I want that disruption to be such that we can adapt to it and grow out of it. As I think about the nuts and bolts of that process, I want to shoot and edit, create, share–all that good stuff. On the other hand, there’s not going to be a story to tell if I can’t get a LOT of stuff sold on electronic-bay–to make room and money. That’s what I’ve been doing for the most part since we got back from the beach–just downsizing and preparing.

I am going to write some blogs in the future dedicated to what I am “keeping” once the material reduction has been completed. I’m finding that clothing has accumulated more than anything else–I always wear the same few things anyhow so it’s only an emotional attachment to “more stuff” that is at risk. I am also using this time to take a hard look at the camera gear that will be most useful for this next part of the LivingVertical saga. Having less physical space definitely will necessitate fewer “bells and whistles” and it’s overwhelming trying to compare all the reviews and opinions out there on media capture gear. I suspect that less may be more.

Here are the categories that I am distilling my possessions into:

  • clothes (I have way more than I can use. Currently reducing this category.)
  • camera-photo and video (I have enough, but swapping out for better optimized models as my ability to use both has increased–and if I can have fewer pieces of kit that do more while breaking even financially, that’s a huge win.)
  • audio (all set here–although it is going to be interesting/challenging to record in such a small space as the trailer. Will the cardboard box studio make the cut?)
  • computer/media storage (a powerful laptop that can handle the edits and travel well–but media storage–it’s impossible to have too much of that!)
  • climbing gear (plenty)
  • diabetes supplies (this is a tricky topic because it’s a very personal choice of how light I typically go. I’ll be juggling between stockpiles of old/expired meds while I negotiate insurance minefields. Also I’ll be spending a good chunk of time in Canada where out of pocket insulin costs as much as my co-pay with insurance here did.)

To close, here are a few photos I made–I really think that having a camera with me at all times makes it easier to enjoy traveling. It’s also gotten me thinking about the ways in which I am going to be taking my photography and videos to the next level. These were all taken with my Fuji x100t which will likely be making way for something with better low light photography performance and faster focusing…but that’s for another blog!

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:


Love this? Hate it? Let me know in the comments or via email! (steve@livingvertical.org)

LivingVertical thrives because of YOU. I (Steve) personally appreciate the fact that you are part of our growing community of active and adventurous people with diabetes.

The post Measure twice, cut once: balancing move preparation, photography and family appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3313
What’s new on our YouTube channel? http://livingvertical.org/2015/11/17/whats-new-on-our-youtube-channel/ Tue, 17 Nov 2015 16:15:19 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3302 A lot, actually! In preparation for the upcoming launch of the AdventureRx tour in 2016 (otherwise known as my families […]

The post What’s new on our YouTube channel? appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
A lot, actually! In preparation for the upcoming launch of the AdventureRx tour in 2016 (otherwise known as my families life on the road) it seems to make sense to start building in a more visual component to what we have going on here. During Project365 we made short videos and took lots of photos which ultimately led up to the full documentary. The upcoming journey is a little less structured and has fewer specific goals at the start. It’s going to change moment to moment and the ways in which we share that process will have to be able to accommodate that. Thus, YouTube!

I am hoping to continue the podcast and blogs while adding in short videos that will tell the stories of our lives on the road, the places we bring diabetes, the people we meet and the adventures we have. It’s not unlikely that some climbing specific projects will crop up along the way too–and I’d much rather knock off a bunch of shorts than sit at a desk for 9 months to make a documentary. So if you’re into this idea, give our videos a watch, a share and subscribe to our channel! I will be cross-posting videos to the blog periodically too because I know that many people only read the blog and don’t want to seek out additional channels like YouTube.

Below: My Dexcom taping method–I know I have read about 100 different variations but I can never make sense of the directions so I figured a video could simplify it and help others secure their sensors for a longer time–I apologize that you have to see a bit of my exposed “hock” in this particular work–I guess it’s all part of being edgy…

Also, for World Diabetes Day, our creative director Blake McCord put together a new trailer for the Wind River Project which we have been working on for the last several months and it is nearing completion.

 

 

Type 1 diabetes is what we make of it and this is our take. That’s always been the point of making something…different. The fact that we CAN take that liberty of expression and self-actualization is in itself significant.

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:


Love this? Hate it? Let me know in the comments or via email! (steve@livingvertical.org)

LivingVertical thrives because of YOU. I (Steve) personally appreciate the fact that you are part of our growing community of active and adventurous people with diabetes.

The post What’s new on our YouTube channel? appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3302
Our first AdventureRx meetup: recap, video and a radical vision for the future http://livingvertical.org/2015/11/09/our-first-adventurerx-meetup-recap-video-and-a-radical-vision-for-the-future/ Mon, 09 Nov 2015 10:28:28 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3252   If you haven’t checked out our YouTube channel here’s a good chance to do so–because I shot and edited […]

The post Our first AdventureRx meetup: recap, video and a radical vision for the future appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
 

If you haven’t checked out our YouTube channel here’s a good chance to do so–because I shot and edited this video to share a little bit of the experience of the adventures had at our first official AdventureRx meetup! As we move forward with life on the road I anticipate a lot more of our experience being shared through a visual medium–and honestly I love making videos. It’s possible to really cover a lot more ground in a shorter period of time than with writing. My next video is going to detail the taping method that I used to consistently get 3+ weeks out of my CGM sensors that withstands all kinds of exercise including off-width climbing!

In the AdventureRx podcast (episode 35, coming up this week) I will be playing some tape from our last night at camp together as we all sat around the campfire and I got to hear firsthand perspectives of what this type of community means to those in attendance. While I sat in my car on the drive out and watched the many miles between Massachusetts and Kentucky tick past, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had overreached–maybe I’d be the only one there, or maybe it would be a total wash–worse yet, maybe people would show up with high expectations and be disappointed. That stood out as the worst option as I kept mulling it over.

I won’t attempt to speak for anyone who attended but I will say that it was a wonderful experience for me to connect with fellow type 1s in the outdoors. Everyone who came out really wanted to be there–and there was something for everyone. I think that some folks expected it to be more intimidating or “extreme” for lack of a better term–and were surprised to find that the whole weekend was really quite approachable and adaptable. Nevertheless, I was really happy to get some quality time on the rock and really devote time to just enjoying the time out climbing. That simplicity really scratched an itch that I’ve had with all of the competing tasks associated with constantly creating content for our various channels. It felt good to deliberately leave my phone and camera behind and devote my focus to the people and the climbing.

Of course I found my new friends able and willing to help out with capturing video, which is largely how the above work of fine art came into existence–team effort for sure! I know that I would have been at a significant disadvantage trying to capture all of those videos and photos on my own, so I want to offer my thanks to Andrew, Brian and Jessie (I hope I am not forgetting anyone). This of course got me thinking about a couple of things on the ride home.

I realized that, as I mentioned in the opening, I wanted to really start sharing my stories from life on the road through the YouTube channel. Project365 was a documentary film effort–and I learned a lot from that task. Namely that I don’t want to do that much editing in one stretch (9 months approximately) ever again unless there are many, many dollars coming my way. I also realized that I miss editing shorter videos and visual story telling–and that variety in my creative outlets is important to keep things fresh. What’s the point in having lots of channels if you can’t communicate through different mediums?

That last realization was a kind of an epiphany for me.

When Project365 came about as an idea, it was just about the project. It was about the content–the film. I just wanted to tell my story and move on, but when I looked for a platform to share my story and my admittedly somewhat contrarian views of life with diabetes I found that I didn’t seem to belong anywhere. Creating content is different than creating a platform. I wound up doing both, sort of by accident and now LivingVertical is this platform that has room for others whose ideas for adventurous projects and stories need a home. Could we grow to include multiple voices and create a home for type 1 diabetes adventure and media where those who march to the beat of their own drum are the norm?

It sure could.

I share this with you because it’s what’s been rattling around in my brain of late–it’s less of an announcement and more of a vision of the future. I think it’s a very actionable vision and I have already been reaching out to others who have stories, projects and have adventure (along with exogenous insulin!) in their blood–and there are many more of us out there than I ever would have guessed a few years back. I know that it’s a real need–it’s just going to take legwork to make it a real thing. The good news is that scrappiness will sustain legwork over the long haul, and that’s something we have in spades!

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:


Love this? Hate it? Let me know in the comments or via email! (steve@livingvertical.org)

LivingVertical thrives because of YOU. I (Steve) personally appreciate the fact that you are part of our growing community of active and adventurous people with diabetes.

The post Our first AdventureRx meetup: recap, video and a radical vision for the future appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3252
How climbing makes us insignificant http://livingvertical.org/2015/11/03/how-climbing-makes-us-insignificant/ Tue, 03 Nov 2015 11:05:23 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3189 This week if you’re subscribed to the Adventure Rx podcast you will be hearing an incredible story about my friend […]

The post How climbing makes us insignificant appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
This week if you’re subscribed to the Adventure Rx podcast you will be hearing an incredible story about my friend Antonio–a fellow type 1 and a climber. We met through instagram and after listening to the podcast he decided to reach out to me to discuss the ups and downs of his life. I don’t mean just blood sugar fluctuations but more specifically his time in the military, experience with gang life and growing up in Brooklyn in the hardcore music scene. I read his first email at 1 AM a few months back and I became emotional reading his story. It wasn’t the type of story I’d ever seen anywhere else. It was gritty. Raw. Honest. Not the kind of story that would appear in a sanitized publication. It was a powerful reminder of why we started this project and I think it will move you too if you listen.

My point in writing this isn’t to tell Antonio’s story–he does that on the podcast much better than I could. I actually wanted to share the photos of our day out climbing with his partner Bruno who is married to a type 1 making him a “type 3”. It was just really refreshing and fun to enjoy sun, stone and wind together. I feel like I’m supposed to say more than that about our meeting, but sometimes less is more.

We each have stories that, if told in great depth, have great significance. There are times and places for that. I’m proud of being able to share those stories here–but part of the reason I love photographs is because they cut through the “significance” and just let the moments we experience “breathe”. I get that it’s diabetes awareness month and in the past I’ve always tried to connect the dots for the people who read this blog and raise awareness and…then sometimes I just want to dangle my feet off a belay ledge and feel the sun and breeze on my face because that’s real.

When we tie in together and leave the ground, we also leave those qualifying titles behind and become normal people–just climbers. We dissolve into the experience with all of it’s focus, fears and joys. We relinquish the significance of being people with diabetes or people who have faced challenging circumstances in our lives–and even though that’s what I’m usually focused on in my work, I keep coming back to the real reason that we bother with any of this adventure stuff.

We climb because it’s how we simplify life and feel normal again.

 

The post How climbing makes us insignificant appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3189
Social media addiction: a slow death of the human spirit http://livingvertical.org/2015/11/01/social-media-addiction-a-slow-death-of-the-human-spirit/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/11/01/social-media-addiction-a-slow-death-of-the-human-spirit/#comments Sun, 01 Nov 2015 22:00:25 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3199 Do you know where I am right now? Neither do I. That’s because I am writing this to you from […]

The post Social media addiction: a slow death of the human spirit appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Do you know where I am right now? Neither do I. That’s because I am writing this to you from the past–or at least it’s the past where I am now and ostensibly that would leave you reading this in the future and I can’t predict precisely where I’ll be when this post goes live. I promise that I didn’t intend for this to be the lead off post for Diabetes Awareness Month. It’s just that I’m dealing with a problem that I legitimately need to examine. It may be a problem you’re familiar with too: my life is dominated by a social media addiction and it’s time to talk about it.

I’m not making light of the term addiction; I’m calling it like I see it. Similar to most people who have a problem like this, I never really saw it as a problem until recently. Quite the opposite, it’s been directing my life and the ways in which I invest my time. Given the fact that this approach has become normal for many people I know, it’s been difficult to come to a moment of realization. The tail is officially wagging the dog–and that’s where the difference between “useful” technology and “addictive and unhealthy” technology lies.

The technological world around us is filled with opiates meant to lull us into believing that we are experiencing life by staring at bits of glass, plastic and metal. I came to the conclusion that it will rob me of the life I have if I let it. If reading this blog and listening to my podcast doesn’t actively inspire you to get out and get your own piece of the adventure–then you should unsubscribe and stop reading. I’m not just saying that–I’m dead serious and I need to apply that principle to myself too. If my writing and creating is getting in the way of doing more with my life than just talking, I should stop publishing and get out and DO more.

In the week preceding the Red River Gorge meetup I was going out of my skull trying to get blog posts and podcasts queued up so that you, dear reader, would not have to experience any lapse in content as I am currently out on the road doing whatever it is we do here. I was stressed out. Fried. Anxious at the thought of being away from social media. Something went wrong. I have gotten so wrapped up with publishing and maintaining social media growth that I am finding it harder and harder to get time to climb and train. No one is forcing that on me–that’s my own lack of discipline.

I’ve never called myself a blogger because my purpose has never been writing to develop a social following. I am a climber. A type 1 diabetic. My mission is to share the action that can change the way people perceive their limits–the blog and the podcast and social media are tools to share it. Or at least that’s how it started! Sure it may all seem like semantics from the outside–but realizing that I have let my priorities slip has allowed me an opportunity to do something about it.

So–what is important? Is technology bad? Is social media a waste of time–is trying to be heard simply narcissism? Yes and no. When the aforementioned things help me DO more and DO better in my life, then they are good. When they only anesthetize the boredom that would otherwise inspire action–then they are bad.

LivingVertical started because Stefanie and I were doing something remarkable through Project365–and the overflow of that action was shared content–but the content came from action. I didn’t even realize that this had changed. I’m still psyched on LivingVertical and I know that the only way for me to modify the way I spend my time is to set an outrageous climbing goal that will force me to follow through on my priority. I like seeing my audience grow but I love seeing my efforts make a tangible difference in the lives of others and I still believe the key to that lies in commitment to action.

climbing with diabetes project 365 type 1 diabetic climber

Reading about trying isn’t trying. Writing about adventure isn’t adventuring. Talking about diabetes isn’t changing diabetes. It’s what we do with the reading and writing and talking–it’s the action we create. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a slow death of the human spirit if we are diligent to turn the addiction into action.

The post Social media addiction: a slow death of the human spirit appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/11/01/social-media-addiction-a-slow-death-of-the-human-spirit/feed/ 3 3199
Why I'm climbing harder after 10 months at a desk http://livingvertical.org/2015/10/25/why-im-climbing-harder-after-10-months-at-a-desk/ Sun, 25 Oct 2015 22:00:27 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3185 It’s been about 10 months since I’ve been roped up to do some climbing and with that kind of hiatus, […]

The post Why I'm climbing harder after 10 months at a desk appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
It’s been about 10 months since I’ve been roped up to do some climbing and with that kind of hiatus, it’s hard to know what to expect. Stefanie and I decided to take a short trip to the Gunks in upstate New York–which is unmatched for its autumn beauty and its ability to punish the overconfident climber. This is where I grew up and learned how to hike as a toddler and how to climb as an adult. The grades in the Gunks are notoriously sandbagged. Many climbers get their egos checked when they flounder on “moderate” routes and to be honest, that’s always been my experience. I’ve had my good days on sandstone or limestone but the yardstick by which I measure everything is how well I climb when I am back home.

I’ve climbed a few 5.11 routes in my day–even fewer 5.12s. Those were always red-letter days. I measure my abilities based on how I do when I am at my worst, not my best. I seek to raise my “floor” more than my ceiling. Combine that perspective with the fact that I’ve been riding a desk for the last year or so–and living in Massachusetts (which is not notable in terms of topography) it should come as no surprise that I decided to approach this trip with an expectation of absolutely nothing.

The result was surprising. In a good way.

Day 1

I warmed up on a 5.11 called “Into Thin Hair” despite my initial reservations about the difficulty. I’ve never been able to climb a route of that grade in the Gunks. Ever. My partner Peter Darmi, local climbing legend and audio production sage who actually put up the first ascent, assured me that I could do it–especially since it was on a top rope, so the risk of falling was mitigated. My rejoinder was that he was being taken in by my relative youth and would have make use of that top rope to haul me up the rock face!

I sent it on my second try, then ran several more laps on it.

The weather was beautiful and it was my turn to pick a climb to close out the day. I had a long-standing project called “Le Teton”, a thin and exposed 5.9 (Peter insists that it’s got legitimate 5.10 moves on it and I’m inclined to agree). I had attempted it unsuccessfully several times over the years and these repeated failures had created a mental block for me where I just couldn’t envision climbing through the crux without falling or hanging. It really had psyched me out.

I sent it first go, on lead and felt solid through the crux. The image below was shot once I was through the hard moves and prepared to turn and finish the route up the airy corner. What you can’t see below me is the complete exposure (nothing but air!) that makes the mental difficulty of this route so much greater. You feel like you are dangling in space all through the climb.

rock climbing in upstate new york called le teton

Day 2

Having scratched my “harder climbing” itch, I decided to spend the day with Stef and Lilo–just doing some active recovery–easy bouldering and hiking. Our friend Michael Kurek joined us and shot this photo of me running laps on a boulder problem called “Colorful Crack”

shawangunks in upstate new york hiking and rock climbing

Here’s the significance: I’ve done this climb probably 50 or 60 times. I love this photo because it captures how tall and committing it is. This is not a climb that you fall off of. Period. It’s a mental test piece even though the holds are quite good. In the past I’ve always hesitated at the start–climbing up a ways an sometimes reversing those moves a few times before summoning the will to go for it. This time there was no hesitation. I just went for it, and felt 100% in control.

This climb has always been a yardstick to gauge how prepared I am–and I surprised myself here again by being equal to the task before me. I had several more days of climbing with a new type 1 climbing friend that I made–and if you’ve subscribed to the AdventureRx podcast you’ll be hearing about that in due course!

So why did this trip, which, from a superficial survey should have been lackluster, wind up being so successful? I want to examine several factors that yielded these benefits despite far from ideal training circumstances over the past year.

  • Blood sugar control and diet I’d love to be able to discuss these two topics separately but I believe that they are inextricably linked. I’ve written a lot about how I’ve used the last year of diminished training to focus more closely on my diet, trying a Vegan and Ketogenic diet, ultimately landing on a low carb, high fat approach. I won’t suggest that I know what is best for you–but taking the time to decide which was better for me yielded more energy and more stable blood sugar. Each of my days out climbing on this trip did not require me to eat anything between breakfast and dinner. I could have eaten but I simply wasn’t hungry and my energy was not lacking–so I just kept climbing. No crashes, no burnouts.
  • General fitness- I have mentioned a few times on social media how I have learned to enjoy running and walking–seemingly unrelated to climbing and even counter to high level training for climbing. However, at the level which I am climbing, simply gaining general fitness and cardiovascular endurance holds some benefit. Additionally I have been working on oppositional muscles as a result of injuries in the spring. Obviously injuries are bad–but the motivation to work on muscular imbalance and opposition can be helpful!
  • Hangboarding I hung a So-ill board above my closet door and once or twice a week I make it a point to work out my hands and fingers. I have been doing dead-hangs (not pull ups) on both hands using the larger holds. My target has been getting a solid “pump” and riding the edge of that metabolic curve for 45 minutes or so, 2 times a week, not including warm up and cool down time.
  • Getting creative- Have you ever heard of a rice bucket? It’s just what it sounds like–fill a container with rice and stick your hand in there and work your fingers, wrist, etc and use the simple resistance to build endurance and help injury-proof your joints. I have been working a lot with thera-band flex bars and resistance bands too.
  • Weight loss- Over the last year, my focus on diet and basic fitness has helped me lose 10-12 pounds. I didn’t have that as a goal, but it was an added benefit that certainly improved my ability to hold on longer to smaller holds!
  • Unkinking the hose- Improving at any pursuit is not always about increasing the volume of the “flow”. Certainly it can be, but only after doing everything possible to remove impediments that are putting a “kink in the hose”. Focusing on peripheral factors that I could address without climbing, allowed me to actually improve my climbing a lot. Not being so focused on my climbing allowed me to go in expecting nothing which removed some mental blockage. Getting stronger is not always about getting stronger. It may be as simple as learning to better use the strength you already have.

All of this doesn’t suggest that the key to climbing harder lies in cubicle life. Adaptation, on the other hand may be the real takeaway from this climber in a flat, urban part of the world seeking to improve his abilities. If you’re a solid 5.11 or 5.12 climber than it’s less likely that this post will hold any unturned stones for you. Sorry.

If you’re like me and have had brief moments of 5.12 climbing punctuated by many failures on 5.10s, then it’s possible that we can benefit by stepping back and addressing the context in which we are building our climbing efforts. I look forward to the day that I am able to address the needs of the solid 5.11/5.12 climber in a future blog post!

Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:


Love this? Hate it? Let me know in the comments or via email! (steve@livingvertical.org)

LivingVertical thrives because of YOU. I (Steve) personally appreciate the fact that you are part of our growing community of active and adventurous people with diabetes.

The post Why I'm climbing harder after 10 months at a desk appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3185
When is a photograph more than 'just a picture'? http://livingvertical.org/2015/10/18/when-is-a-photograph-more-than-just-a-picture/ Sun, 18 Oct 2015 22:05:54 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2690 Photography has been a surprising pursuit for me in that I never really tried to get into it, studied it on its […]

The post When is a photograph more than 'just a picture'? appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Photography has been a surprising pursuit for me in that I never really tried to get into it, studied it on its own or sought to become a photographer–if anything it became an add-on to the travel and climbing that I began doing in my 20s. I didn’t (and still don’t) shoot for the sake of creating images. I shoot to become more integrated into my experience in a way that will better survive the ravages of time. I shoot to tell stories and to recreate feelings for myself and others that allow the joy, fear and perspective to be shared. This is one of the vestigial benefits of adventure; it encourages us to integrate and develop other skills whose need we would otherwise overlook in more mundane environments. Everything is connected.

Diabetes has become part of my climbing. It has become a difficult hobby that is worth the risk, cost and suffering. Integrating photography with my climbing and diabetes “habit” has added so much in terms of day to day motivation to pursue beauty in the wild and often times uncomfortable places of the world. Inspiration is only a small part of the picture however; in this post I want to discuss a chapter of a photography book written by a hero of mine which I would recommend to anyone who appreciates or aspires to better photography: Mountain Light by Galen Rowell.

From Chapter 3, Integrated Vision:

“All objects are colorless–black, that is–until they reflect or transmit light. This simple realization, which I should have recalled from my physics classes, completely turned around my photographic approach. Instead of looking at the natural world for objects to photograph in color, I began to look for light.”

Surely the practical application of this quote to photography is thought provoking and exceedingly useful. However, when I looked at this idea, the first thing that popped into my head was how this aligns with diabetes. Diabetes is “colorless” until we shape it with the light we transmit. It is a variable. It does not have to have a fixed, negative value. The light we shine on this challenge changes everything. That has been the dividing line between suffering and success in my own experience and it’s the common thread that I’ve teased out from all of the incredible people I’ve interviewed on the AdventureRx Podcast. Perspective matters.

Events in which my own actions had little to no effect upon the outcome invariably clashed with my efforts to photograph them. Even when I made a fine image, I did so as an outsider. Events in which I was a participant were just the opposite for me.”

A lot of people feel insulted when they hear someone say that diabetes is a gift. I would guess that this is true for lots of chronic illnesses and challenges. No one likes sugarcoating–especially when it feels inauthentic. I guess I won’t say that diabetes is a gift but it definitely comes with separate gifts. One of the most valuable things that I got from my diabetes is an awareness of how much my actions mattered. Every time we eat, we effectively take our life in our own hands.

Not surprisingly, that’s one of the things about adventure and climbing specifically that feels so beautiful to me. You can’t really be an outsider–you are forced to participated fully. You are consumed by it. Sure, that carries with it more commitment and at times you feel the bumps in the road more forcefully. That is the price of adventure that one has to pay in order to experience the beauty.

Looking at these photos it brings up a lot of feelings. These images are not ‘just pictures’ to me. They are windows, frozen time, escape hatches if you will–they transport me into a moment that I was part of. I have missed interpreting the world through moments of captured light. I have struggled to find inspiration in the places that I have been. It’s not that I haven’t been able to take some great photos, just that I haven’t felt engaged as though I was truly part of the action. I am looking forward to changing that soon.

Diabetes is not about diabetes. Climbing is not about climbing. Not surprisingly, photography is not about photography. These sometimes disparate pursuits are all elements of creativity–yes even the challenges and obstacles that drive us to see the beauty in the world that seems out to get us at times. I still never have an answer to the question: “what do you do“. If I had to take a stab at it, I would say that I create. My goal is to live a creative life–not just in the “things” I make but to have an additive affect on the world around me. I may be misusing mathematical terminology and for that I apologize, but I trust the intended meaning is not lost on you. I didn’t choose this way of living; it chose me. That’s why I have to seek inspiration in the world around me and go where it leads me. That’s the fuel for the fire inside.


LivingVertical thrives because of YOU. I (Steve) personally appreciate the fact that you are part of our growing community of active and adventurous people with diabetes. I will be offering diabetes coaching services beginning October 1st–and I have space for 5 people who are looking to improve their lifestyle, diabetes control, goal setting and adapt their management to unique, active pursuits. Email me for more info steve@livingvertical.org!


The post When is a photograph more than 'just a picture'? appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
2690
Here's why I'm excited by a mediocre day out climbing! http://livingvertical.org/2015/10/11/heres-why-im-excited-by-a-mediocre-day-out-climbing/ Sun, 11 Oct 2015 22:31:57 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3117 It’s been a while since I’ve actually done any climbing on “real” rock. This could be attributed to a variety […]

The post Here's why I'm excited by a mediocre day out climbing! appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
It’s been a while since I’ve actually done any climbing on “real” rock. This could be attributed to a variety of factors: distance from climbing, a nagging shoulder injury or a lack of time. The reality is that all of those played a role in keeping me grounded over the last several months and while it was hard for me be patient, it did give me the incentive to explore how I could leverage a more optimized diet and more accessible forms of outdoor exploration (read: running) to put me in a better place once I felt ready to get back after it.

This hiatus left a significant gap in my dietary analysis–knowing that my eating strategy works for running and hiking doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for climbing and if I can’t climb while on a diet, it’s a good bet that I won’t stick with it. I love the way the ketogenic diet worked for my blood sugar control but it felt like I might have my dreams shattered once I started putting it through its paces in the climbing arena.

Yesterday I took the risk went climbing. It wasn’t big or spectacular. I didn’t put up any groundbreaking numbers–but it still wasn’t a disappointment. Here’s why.

continuous glucose monitoring with dexcom

That’s what my blood sugar looked like over the last 24 hours, the leftmost portion of the graph hovering around the high alert (130 mg/dl) during the hour and change that I spent bouldering. If you’re rolling your eyes at the fact that I have my high alert set so low and think that this means that I am some kind of blood sugar fanatic, let me clarify: I believe that the purpose of these alerts are to identify problems before they are problems so we can treat proactively. Thus, I set my high alert at 130 mg/dl because I don’t want to wait until my blood sugar hits a level that is unacceptable to me before I start treating the rise. Once I see a rise happening, it’s likely going to go up 20-30 points in many cases. If I had my high alert set at 150 for example, I’d be topping out at 170-180 multiple times a day. It’s basically a strategy to keep me more proactive.

Good glycemic control is only half the battle though–so let’s take a look at the energy and recovery portion. I spent about an hour consistently working back and forth on a long traverse (not much fun to look at, but it crams a lot of mileage into a short rock formation!) that has a lot of solid 5.10 and low 5.11 moves. I was at about at 60% maximal effort most of the time with occasional 80% cruxes.

type 1 diabetes and exercise

I realize that this is all anecdotal but coming into this from a predominately untrained state I wasn’t expecting much. I felt like I had more sustained energy which put me above a trained average performance. Typically I would experience what’s called “flash-pump” after going through 80% max effort moves unless I warmed up very gradually. A flash pump is basically when your forearms get so fatigued that they are unable to recover, even between burns. It’s incredibly frustrating because once you cross that metabolic threshold it can really compromise an entire climbing session.

Secondly I would usually see a spike in my blood sugar once I expended over 60% of my max effort as muscles began to dump glycogen to fuel the increased workload. These two anticipated issues did not arise which meant that I spent more time climbing and less time falling off. My blood sugar was 126 as I began and topped out at 141, returning to the 120s on the ride home. There were several challenging sections that I thought about bailing off in order to work through the moves but instead I climbed through them and actually surprised myself. It wasn’t a spectacular performance as I mentioned earlier–but it was significantly better than average without specific training and my recovery in the following days has also been great. If there is any significance to this, it means I’ve found a good starting point. As I add more time, training and focus into my climbing again I am hopeful that bigger goals will be achievable.

adventure rx meetups for type 1 diabetics

I want to add some specifics to this; namely the lunch I ate that fueled my session. I had beef broth with MCT oil (I may write about that specifically at another time), macadamia nuts, kippered herrings with mustard and cold cuts. I try to add the specifics where I can, not because I think they are applicable to everyone, but because they may help illustrate what is possible. I know some people legitimately need more carbs in their diet. I may need more at some point too.

I also think that it’s a lesser known fact that these types of results are possible with type 1 diabetes and a ketogenic diet. Many people believe that cutting down (out?) carbs is tantamount to low energy and diminished athletic performance. This certainly can be the case for some people and I don’t dispute that–but it may still be worth a try if you’re working through developing a dietary approach. I’ve done the Low Carb thing improperly before and failed–more recently I’ve done it with greater success. This is just one step in an ongoing process and there are still no guarantees that this will adapt to every level of climbing that I am going to pursue. Time will tell!

Meanwhile, a better than average climbing performance on a below average quality route still equates to a really high quality investment of time that promises to yield significant dividends down the road. Thanks to Stefanie for sharing the photos and to Lilo for graciously permitting the use of her image and likeness to promote our work.


IMG_4538

 

The post Here's why I'm excited by a mediocre day out climbing! appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3117
Why I chose better health over better health insurance http://livingvertical.org/2015/10/04/why-i-chose-better-health-over-better-health-insurance/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/10/04/why-i-chose-better-health-over-better-health-insurance/#comments Sun, 04 Oct 2015 22:20:21 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3093 It was nearly a year ago that I made the decision to put LivingVertical on the back burner in order […]

The post Why I chose better health over better health insurance appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
It was nearly a year ago that I made the decision to put LivingVertical on the back burner in order to accept a position at the T1D Exchange in Boston as the Special Projects Manager of the Glu community. It was both exciting and emotional. I was pioneering into the exciting, new territory of the office-world, having proper health insurance and being part of a team. It felt great having the security of knowing that I’d be given direction, answers, support and a consistent means of income–something that I’d never truly had as an adult. It wasn’t without some sacrifice though–LivingVertical represented years of personal investment, struggle and triumph–and recognizing that it was necessary to turn the page and step away from so much of my identity was agonizing at the time.

I have always valued being understood more than being admired but the process of learning to understand myself has often been the greatest obstacle. That struggle has often required me to put my passion into the crucible of rebirth. I remember being a little boy and my mother explaining to me that the most powerful force in nature was the seed that fell down into a crack in the mountain and died–and only after completely surrendering to its own failure and insignificance could it sprout with the subtle insistence capable of cleaving the very stone that once entombed it.

Seasons change, and with them priorities and corresponding definitions of success. It was hard for me to let myself go through that change.

I learned so much from my colleagues at the T1D Exchange, not the least of which is that it’s ok for me to accept myself. A poorly reformed dirtbag climber in the financial district of Boston sticks out like a sore thumb. I’d answer the door at the office sometimes when we’d have guests arrive and I could see the questions flicker across the faces of the uninitiated: ‘Shouldn’t you be out on a rock somewhere?’ or ‘How did you get in here?’ I came into that space trying to live up to what I thought other people saw as my potential. I legitimately wanted to grow up and fit in. It was only after some time and a lot of patient listening on the part of my aforementioned colleagues that I realized that no one else was fooled by my attempt to fit in–and that no one but me was pressuring myself to keep up the effort.

When I was belaboring my struggle to fit in to a team environment the answer I got was both simple and profound; “Steve, not everyone is meant to work for someone else. Some people are ‘built’ to be their own boss and that’s not a bad thing.” It was as if I was drowning in knee deep water and he’d just come along and said “Hey, you know you can stand up, right?”

It seemed that my habitual self flagellation did not desert me even in a completely new context. Thank heavens for durable psychological landmarks. This “ruby slippers moment” highlighted the extent to which self sabotage is often the most difficult opponent to defeat. I had the freedom to make change, and the vision for what I could accomplish if I’d just “say uncle” but I felt like I had failed once with LivingVertical and I couldn’t go back into the vulnerable position of trying again to live life on the road, in search of adventure.

Or could I?

IMG_2510

What about money? What about insurance? What about security? What would everyone say–and what if I get back in the drivers seat and LivingVertical fizzles? Stakes are invariably higher when a child is part of the equation. Those are hard questions to answer–and that’s partly what the next several months will be about from my perspective. I guess it means that I will once again put my passion on the chopping block by pursuing it fully. Realizing your dreams means relinquishing them to the harsh light of day–and in the daylight your dreams inevitably become a reality which is not entirely of your making. This is a process that will happen over and over again–but I have to say that I am excited to be taking the risk by running towards what I envision LivingVertical becoming rather than shelving it from a desire to play it safe.

Choosing to avoid risk completely is never an option. The pursuit of security is always just that; pursuit. Despite having insurance and predictable income I felt the weight of living further from the mountains and the canyons that inspire me. The non-medical component of my diabetes began to loom larger in my mind and body. For the first time in my life I really felt confined by my diabetes–I felt limited by it. It’s hard to explain if you don’t get it–but the choice to pursue adventure over security was a clear step towards being healthy for me.

Why?

I don’t think that living in a trailer is better or more noble than a conventional life. In many ways the desire for adventure is a co-pathology that has come hand in hand with type 1 diabetes. It’s a struggle, not a vacation–but it’s made for me–and I am made for it as well. The battle has been to find the courage to make a choice. I don’t want people to feel as though I look down on others who commute to a 9-5 job and find fulfillment in a mortgage and security. If anything I am amazed at how hard that is–and impressed at the commitment that it takes to live within those constraints. I believe that it’s no less an achievement to live deliberately in one place than another.

In many ways my decision return to LivingVertical is less an act of rebellion and more an act of surrender to what feels right to me. I know that many people in the diabetes community view anything that is not drugs, devices or research as the “kids’ table” at the party. I am happy to go against the grain because I am more convinced than ever that life with diabetes must be about LIFE first. To that end I am proud to continue living an empowered, adventure focused life with diabetes. The tools we use are no more valuable than the life we can create with them, and that includes health insurance. I am grateful to my colleagues at the T1D Exchange for their patient insight along the way and for taking a chance on me that has brought about these moments of clarity.

The post Why I chose better health over better health insurance appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/10/04/why-i-chose-better-health-over-better-health-insurance/feed/ 3 3093
Why I chose a Ketogenic diet to manage my diabetes http://livingvertical.org/2015/09/22/why-i-chose-a-ketogenic-diet-to-manage-my-diabetes/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/09/22/why-i-chose-a-ketogenic-diet-to-manage-my-diabetes/#comments Tue, 22 Sep 2015 22:40:30 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2942 I feel like one thing that has been missing from my discussion of diets in the last few months of […]

The post Why I chose a Ketogenic diet to manage my diabetes appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I feel like one thing that has been missing from my discussion of diets in the last few months of experimentation is my personal story with food. In fact, you should subscribe to the AdventureRx Podcast because that is going to be the next story I am going to tell in episode 28! There is a reason that I arrived at a place with my diabetes where I feel comfortable going to “extremes” and it didn’t happen over night or because someone berated me into doing it. It all came from a desire to be able to climb more confidently. I don’t necessarily mean climb “harder” because I am not the best climber out there by a long way. I mean being able to place less focus on my blood sugar and more focus on my climbing.

The vertical world has always been a drop-test for my diabetes and it has taught me much of what I know. Conversely, when people ask ‘how do you treat lows on a climb?’ or ‘don’t you worry about going low?’ my response always goes back to what I have learned about eating. In short, when I need to focus on something beyond my diabetes, food is my first tool to implement that fix.

I have always eaten a diet that’s relatively low in carbs. To me that was just “eating food” until about two years ago when I started to hear terms like “Paleo” and “Keto” floating around. Honestly, when I was diagnosed with diabetes I realized early on that the greatest limitation I was facing came from blood glucose variability. I think that this is true for many others as well–eating the same things from one day to the next but not knowing how blood sugar will respond is frustrating and in some cases frightening. At 16 years old I decided that I would eat foods that required the least amount of insulin possible–because more insulin on board generally meant greater chaos in my experience.

I didn’t make that decision from reading a blog–or writing one. I didn’t get to that conclusion from a YouTube video. That was 1999 and there was barely email back then. I noticed what did and did not make me feel good and which foods always required correction after eating. Honestly it wasn’t hard for me to cut out the heavy carbs since I was able to fill up on proteins and fats and low carb vegetables. It was a dietary shift–but not a sacrifice from my standpoint. I can’t say that a dietary transition like what I am about to describe would be as easy for someone who had a sweet tooth or couldn’t live without pasta. I grew up on meat and cheese and fish and vegetables so it felt less traumatic to restrict carbs.

After living with type 1 for a few years I began accepting the label of “Low Carb”–I remember my college roomates commenting on the lack of nutritional balance on my food tray when I’d be at the dining hall. I got pretty decent control (mid-low 6s A1C but with at least one high over 200 and at least one low in the 60s each week) I figured, ‘That’s all there is–this is as good as it gets’. I basically stopped looking for new approaches until 2010 when I was working as a rock climbing and canyoneering guide in Utah. Being in a community of people who were very in tune with “clean eating” while working a job with significant daily energy demands made this a perfect time to try new strategies.

I decided to try a raw vegan diet which definitely had a lot of benefits in terms of energy but it required a lot more in terms of food volume. If I was out climbing or hiking, that was no problem because I could eat relatively low-carb vegan meals without additional insulin. The tricky part was breakfast–before I’d head out to adventure–my sugar would regularly be in the 200’s because I needed more carbs for energy but couldn’t afford to take too much insulin up front, knowing full-well that I would plummet once I started hiking.

Over all, I felt that the benefits outweighed the costs and that highs in the mornings would just have to be a price I paid. I hoped that my other efforts to be fit and healthy would somehow make up for any shortcomings in my blood sugar control. Once I stopped guiding, I was able to set my own schedule again and I found that smaller carbs over a longer period worked better on my blood sugar and that ultimately there was no substitute for feeling full after a meal. The foods that I could always safely fill up on? Meat, cheese, fish, eggs…and so I decided to go back to a generally low carb diet. This is how I ate until this past summer when I finally got fed up with the lack of energy that I felt on this type of diet.

I  had made the mistake of thinking that I was on a Ketogenic diet in this blog post and so I renounced that way of eating and decided to re-approach the vegan diet. You can read about how it worked and how I struggled with it and ultimately returned to the old reliable low carb diet.

Here’s the thing though; I had been on a low-carb diet for years but never on a Ketogenic diet. Our bodies basically have two options for fuel: fat or glucose. A low carb diet that cuts the glucose without actually shifting the energy source fails to address the bigger issue–and this is seen very clearly in the “failure” and lack of energy that I had felt when I really pushed my body. I was low-carb enough to help lower my blood sugar but there was nothing there to replace glucose as a fuel source.

I feel that it’s fair to point out that I am not a researcher or a scientist. I know there has been a lot of scholarly debate about what diet is best and which macronutrients are worst. If that invalidates my experience in your eyes, then that is perfectly reasonable–I only share to encourage other in experimenting for themselves. Having said that, I know that about 90% of the things my endocrinologist used to tell me–were right out of the textbook but I rejected them because I knew what worked for me based on performance, experience and blood sugar averages. In other words, I prefer to do what works based on my own experience–especially when that experience paints a very clear picture.

Recently my experience has shown that a Ketogenic diet suits my needs very well. I have energy in abundance, blood sugar stability that I have never before experienced (even during exercise) and I don’t feel hungry throughout the day. So what changed? How is this any different than before?

Fat. More fat. I started replacing the carbs in my diet with fat and moderate protein and you can read exactly what I eat here. Looking back, I had always thought that protein was the obvious to replace carbs. Once I began increasing coconut oil and macadamia nuts as part of my diet I began to feel the shift in energy levels that come with entering a state of ketosis–where your body effectively adapts to burning fat as its primary fuel source–not sugar. In order for that adaptation to occur, it can take up to two weeks of eating less than 50 (ideally under 30) grams of carbs in a day and replacing the majority of those calories with fat.

A Ketogenic dietary approach may be largely untested in the long term. It is certainly not as simple as a single blog post from an enthusiastic self-experimenter might make it seem. Here is what I do know. I know my body fat is down. I know my blood sugars are lower overall. I know my blood glucose is stable enough that I can go for a 3 mile run (starting at about 130 mg/dl) without having to eat anything to correct a low. I know that I feel energetic and my head feels clear. I also know that I’d be missing out on these benefits if I didn’t take the initiative to try a lot of different things and invest the time in figuring out how my body runs best through a lot of trial and error!

LivingVertical thrives because of YOU. I (Steve) personally appreciate the fact that you are part of our growing community of active and adventurous people with diabetes. I will be offering diabetes coaching services beginning October 1st–and I have space for 5 people who are looking to improve their lifestyle, diabetes control, goal setting and adapt their management to unique, active pursuits. Email me for more info steve@livingvertical.org!


The post Why I chose a Ketogenic diet to manage my diabetes appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/09/22/why-i-chose-a-ketogenic-diet-to-manage-my-diabetes/feed/ 8 2942
Outdoor adventure meetup in 2016–who's in? http://livingvertical.org/2015/09/20/outdoor-adventure-meetup-in-2016-whos-in/ Sun, 20 Sep 2015 23:00:42 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=3041 It’s no secret that community is a big part of living successfully with type 1 diabetes. Given that fact, it’s […]

The post Outdoor adventure meetup in 2016–who's in? appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>

It’s no secret that community is a big part of living successfully with type 1 diabetes. Given that fact, it’s kind of surprising that it can often be almost as hard to come by as good health insurance. In this day and age it’s hard to imagine that people don’t think to reach out online and lurk in the forums and groups that exist–but if I had a nickel for every time I met someone with type 1 who said, ‘Wow this is the first time I’ve ever actually hung out with another person with diabetes’ I would be able to pay my web hosting fees without asking you to buy one of my photographs! That’s part of the reason I started LivingVertical and that’s exactly the reason Blake and I created the LivingVertical forum (which you SHOULD join and participate in if you haven’t yet!

There is a lot of talk about technology and drugs in diabetes–and we certainly need those things but we need each other too! I know how big of an impact it has when someone emails me to share how LivingVertical has impacted them, or comments on a blog. It’s so powerful to feel that connection to other people who understand and share the same struggles that you have, even when that connection is virtual.

Now imagine that same feeling, but on steroids!

That’s what it’s like when you get to experience that in person. I have had that chance because I’ve been fortunate enough to travel and I have been able to identify groups of people with type 1 and meet up with them. Each time that happens, I think to myself, ‘This is really pretty simple to do–why couldn’t we create more of this‘? Maybe I am naive. In fact, I almost certainly am, but that won’t stop me from trying to use the time that I will have on the road in 2016 as an opportunity to rally the tribes in the outdoors for real-world connection. Meet-ups, if you will.

Now I know some of you are rolling your eyes thinking, ‘What, is he insane? We can’t all go out there and dangle from cliffs!’

Well, I respectfully disagree.

At least with the logic of that statement–but let’s pump the brakes for a minute and keep in mind that the outdoors have a lot of room for many different levels of activity and intensity. Think of it–we could have an outdoor adventure meetup where all we do is roast hotdogs around a campfire, walk around and take pictures and drink coffee! That would be amazing! I am stoked on getting people with diabetes into the outdoors to DO things together. I realize that’s a pretty broad statement and I am open to exploring it with your input.

I believe in simplicity. If we have a few people who are interested enough to take the time to get together, I believe we will literally change the world because these simple moments are where lives are changed. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

Take the survey at the top of this page and let me know your thoughts. Share this post and get others in your community stoked about this. Adventure is a prescription that only we can write for ourselves and I am excited to see what we can create as a community!

LivingVertical thrives because of YOU. I (Steve) personally appreciate the fact that you are part of our growing community of active and adventurous people with diabetes. I will be offering diabetes coaching services beginning October 1st–and I have space for 5 people who are looking to improve their lifestyle, diabetes control, goal setting and adapt their management to unique, active pursuits. Email me for more info steve@livingvertical.org!


The post Outdoor adventure meetup in 2016–who's in? appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
3041
5 mistakes to avoid on a Ketogenic diet http://livingvertical.org/2015/09/15/5-mistakes-to-avoid-on-a-ketogenic-diet/ Tue, 15 Sep 2015 21:50:31 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2948 I promise that this is the next to last blog post about dietary stuff for a while. I just wanted […]

The post 5 mistakes to avoid on a Ketogenic diet appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I promise that this is the next to last blog post about dietary stuff for a while. I just wanted to conclude this series with some pointers on things to avoid if you should find yourself curious about implementing a dietary shift, away from carbs and towards fat as an energy source. There is, of course, plenty of information available courtesy of my good friend Mr. Google, but I want to highlight the pitfalls I experienced in hopes that you can learn or be entertained by my failures–or possibly even both. I’d like to remind you that I am not a doctor or dietician. The following statements have not been approved by anyone other than myself, and likely reflect significant gaps in objective factuality!

I wrote an eBook compiling my experiments with the ketogenic diet and type 1 diabetes which you can check out here:

screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-12-35-35-pm

  • Low-carb and Ketogenic are not synonymous. A ketogenic diet is by definition “low-carb” but unless you are consistently bringing your carb intake below 50 grams (ideally below 30 grams) daily, your body will maintain glucose as a fuel source. This may still be useful for managing blood sugar, but athletic efforts will still require higher loads of carbs with corresponding higher doses of insulin. The benefit of ketosis requires commitment and some time to fully achieve.
  • Keto acidosis or DKA and Ketosis are not the same things. DKA is an extremely high level of ketones which lead to a shift in the pH level of the blood–it is not the ketones themselves as much as the acidic condition that is dangerous. Ketones are a natural byproduct of metabolizing fat and are no more a cause for alarm (in small quantities) than glucose in the blood. When any chemical in the blood accumulates too rapidly, bad things happen. Ketosis is not a drastic “dump” of ketones that causes the blood to become acidic (DKA). Nutritional Ketosis is very much controlled and regulated by insulin in the bloodstream. Elevated blood sugar levels need to be treated with caution (sickness, stress etc) but if blood glucose levels are in range then I learned not to fret about a moderate level of ketones.
  • Less protein, more fat. One thing that the Keto crowd and the Vegans can agree on (generally) is that we have been oversold the need for protein in our diets. I made this mistake for years–swapping carbs for protein and then wondering why I never seemed to go into ketosis and would always experience slow upward creeping of my blood sugar. Protein, beyond “maintenance doses” gets converted into glucose through gluconeogenesis which can ultimately sabotage Ketosis. If you’ve ever eaten a big steak with no carbs and seen your blood sugar inexplicably rise hours later, you probably have experienced this phenomenon. I never knew this and it wasn’t until I backed off the protein and increased the fat that I saw Ketosis occur–and when it did, the light went on in my head–my blood sugar levels stopped creeping up and my energy levels went through the roof!
  • Not enough electrolytes. Ditching the carbs makes you pee. This makes it a little more intuitive to hydrate (which actually helped me completely get rid of diet soda cravings!) but it also flushes out minerals and salts that your body needs. When I was transitioning into the Keto diet I failed to replenish these electrolytes and felt, quite predictably, like I had the flu. This is actually a pretty common occurrence (google “Keto flu”) that can be rectified with a concerted effort to get enough electrolytes. There are several powdered drinks that can help with this–as well as beef and vegetable broth and pickle juice. Once I restored my electrolytes levels to normal I felt much better and my energy returned–with dividends!
  • Exercising too hard, too quickly. Overall it took me about a month to adapt “fully” where I had a good sense for meals, insulin dosing and response, fluid and electrolyte balances and athletic performance. Exercise–or just staying moving–is really important to me. I tried to immediately return to the same level of intensity as I was starting the Keto diet and it was really difficult. I felt depleted and weak. This almost made me give up on the diet. In retrospect, taking it slow is advisable; if I were doing it again I would simply do the lowest intensity of exercise possible until at least week two or three–by which point the Keto-adaptation should be more or less complete and the corresponding surplus of energy would almost certainly necessitate more intense outlets.

IMG_4317

Self experimentation is as challenging as it is rewarding. It’s hard to know if you’re doing everything right. I am not a professional and so I can’t say that my way is right for everyone–but I can say that it has been beneficial for me. I know that the failures along the way were really discouraging and even scary at times–which is why I share them. “Extreme” diets are not trivial and should not be approached lightly–even without the challenges and complicating variables of type 1 diabetes in the mix. The more you know up front, the better equipped you can be to make decisions.

In closing, I want to thank you all for bearing with me on this summer’s diet-heavy focus in the blog. It is interesting in a way, but this isn’t a diet/food blog. I believe that I (personally) will benefit a lot from the lessons I have learned with all this experimentation. I believe this new information can help me take my climbing to the next level–which ultimately is what this is all about. Diets and blood sugar and devices and numbers–are only as good as the places they enable us to go. As I turn my attention back to more creative pursuits and the big move that my family is about to take on, please feel to reach out via email (steve@livingvertical.org) out if you have questions about my dietary experiments that aren’t covered in these blog posts.

LivingVertical thrives because of YOU. I (Steve) personally appreciate the fact that you are part of our growing community of active and adventurous people with diabetes. I will be offering diabetes coaching services beginning October 1st–and I have space for 5 people who are looking to improve their lifestyle, diabetes control, goal setting and adapt their management to unique, active pursuits. Email me for more info steve@livingvertical.org!


The post 5 mistakes to avoid on a Ketogenic diet appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
2948
Medicaid: no shame, no gravy train. Just gratitude. http://livingvertical.org/2015/09/13/medicaid-no-shame-no-gravy-train-just-gratitude/ Sun, 13 Sep 2015 22:32:53 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2995 One of the reasons I’ve gotten so into podcasts in the last 9 months (which have largely inspired this post) […]

The post Medicaid: no shame, no gravy train. Just gratitude. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
One of the reasons I’ve gotten so into podcasts in the last 9 months (which have largely inspired this post) has a lot to do with my diet. I’m serious. I consistently find myself with a surplus of energy in a suburban environment where the only socially accepted activities are watching TV and quiet conversation in small groups. Also smashing liquor bottles–that is apparently a thing here in Eastern Massachusetts, as the sidewalks are constantly glittering with fresh shards of glass–but I have energy and I need to invest it. So I walk around my neighborhood. Occasionally I run. When I am bored, I’ll walk some more. I feel like a caged animal, pacing in the cage, anxiously awaiting the escape to steep, wild places.

My shoulder (which was injured) is about 90% healed and the fall is here. That means it is time to climb and I am hungry for rock beneath my fingers and air beneath my feet. It’s coming, but not quite yet. While I wait, I am trying to engage my mind which is busy planning our upcoming move into the trailer, in a structured way. There is a story here. I must not lose the details and the thread. So I walk and I listen to others who have their own stories or structures that I can use to frame the chapters that are constantly scrolling through my mind.

I can’t sit still and think. If I sit still, I will wind up refreshing my instagram for the 1000th time or checking to see if we have hit 10,000 downloads of the Adventure RX podcast. I am too worried about who will listen if I take the time to really paint out the corners of the story that is unfolding in our lives. Diabetes. Travel. Insurance. Marriage. Family. These are tough choices that I know many others are facing as well. It requires the calming voices of those who have been there before me to refocus my priorities and commit with vigilance to the execution of my vision and not to succumb to the fear of opening up. This podcast is one of the most beneficial discussions of anything, anywhere. Definitely listen to it after you’ve finished reading this.

If my endorsement of this episode sounds overly general and you think that it can’t be accurate–I assure you that it is and that’s probably why Tim Ferriss has a billion listeners–of which I am one. So much of what I have always struggled with, publicly and privately, boils down to being vulnerable. As I have been edging away from the circle of professional life and prepare to dive back into a modern iteration of the hunter gatherer lifestyle it occurs to me that one of the reasons that I am not a business person and that I wither under the lights of professionalism–is because I run towards vulnerability. I am consistently searching for ways to implement more of it in my life. The entire concept of being a professional is built around eradication of vulnerability. That’s why you’re supposed to approach the business world without emotional investment–because after all, it’s just business, nothing personal.

Where has this gotten us?

For starters, not far. Everything is personal. Whether or not you believe it or like it, the concept of “it’s just business” (or “it’s just politics”) are lies that we have culturally bought into–a sort of spiritual chloroform that gently crushes the independence out of those who would otherwise have the will to resist and swim upstream in a downstream world.

Let’s look at the issue of health insurance and the cost of medical care. This post on the DiabeteSpeaks facebook page illustrated this point pretty effectively:

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 4.21.50 PM

I took that picture. I recorded that interview (for the upcoming DiabeteSpeaks Podcast launching this week), and I’ve heard versions of that story many times over–and indeed lived that story for many years of my own adult life. Why do we always whisper about being on medicaid? The system is broken when hard working, educated people can’t survive a commonplace illness on a commonplace income. How did it get so bad that needing medical insurance puts you in a realm that was formerly reserved for the truly destitute? I don’t think that it was through a bunch of malevolent people sitting in a room thinking of ways to abuse the public for their own financial gain. On the other hand, it’s not personal–no one is trying to red tape you into a proverbial corner–“it’s just business, nothing personal.” Yet when your life is confined by a financial moat that you didn’t dig and that you cannot cross on your own–it sure seems a lot more personal. The perspective changes dramatically once you’re on the ass end of the pyramid.

I’ve been on medicaid myself for years in the not-too-distant past. I make no apologies for that fact, as I also paid into it for years when I had less to offer and still gladly do now that I have somewhat more. It’s always been hard for me to talk about the fact that Medicaid is what kept me from going to the dogs in terms of my diabetes–it probably saved my life and it definitely preserved my life. In the past I’ve seen too many posts on my Facebook feed about “entitlements” and lazy people who just want a handout to speak openly about it. Recently, as I’ve been shooting for the DiabeteSpeaks program that Glu is presenting in order to give a greater voice to these issues that don’t often receive a lot of press–I feel a responsibility to be vulnerable by standing up personally to say my piece and help eliminate the stigma and the shame that surrounds many people who rely on some public assistance, like Medicaid, to live. I also want to say that I am thankful that Medicaid was there for me when I needed it and I am thankful that it can be there for others too.

I’m not blaming anyone for stories like these–for stories like mine. I don’t claim to have all the answers necessary to solve these problems but I know that an important starting place is to talk about them and stop feeling bad about doing what we must to survive. If you are reading this and feel the urge to comment below about anything related to “pulling oneself up by their own bootstraps”  and “getting off the government tit” you can be thankful that you’ve never had to choose between medicine and food.  The bottom line is that when people try to tell you that “it’s not personal–just business” don’t buy it. Everything in business is personal if you don’t pick and choose when to look away from the consequences.

Of course this blog is not the entirety of what I have to say about this issue–but you’ll have to wait until this week’s podcast episode is out, as I will be sharing more of my story and doing my best to take a swipe at the stigma that is out there.

LivingVertical thrives because of YOU. I (Steve) personally appreciate the fact that you are part of our growing community of active and adventurous people with diabetes. I will be offering diabetes coaching services beginning October 1st–and I have space for 5 people who are looking to improve their lifestyle, diabetes control, goal setting and adapt their management to unique, active pursuits. Email me for more info steve@livingvertical.org!


The post Medicaid: no shame, no gravy train. Just gratitude. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
2995
Type 1 diabetes screening: the aftermath http://livingvertical.org/2015/09/07/type-1-diabetes-screening/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/09/07/type-1-diabetes-screening/#comments Mon, 07 Sep 2015 22:31:05 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2719 A lot of things changed in my life when I became a parent. My own diabetes started to look a […]

The post Type 1 diabetes screening: the aftermath appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
A lot of things changed in my life when I became a parent. My own diabetes started to look a bit different now because it wasn’t just my well being at risk–and speaking of risk…the looming specter of an unexpected diagnosis for my daughter was another unwelcome visitor that would repeatedly drop in just to eat some food out of my fridge and mooch the “free” wi-fi. I wrestled with the decision of “whether or not to screen” a lot, as you may remember from this previous blog.

I felt immediately better once the test was completed even though the results were still unknown. Whatever the outcome was to be, at least we were closer to a solution that was reality-based and not imaginary. Remember when people used to use AIM (AOL Instant Messenger)? Back when I was in college I remember one friend who had an “away message” that said something to the effect of: ‘I’d rather just do what I’m thinking about and live with the consequences. This way I’ll have problems, but at least they will be real problems. This will help me cut down drastically on my imaginary problems.”

Out of the frying pan and into the fire, so to speak.

In the following weeks I forced myself to put the issue out of my mind because a watched pot never boils. It was only when Stefanie brought me an envelope to open that it all sort of hit me again. She was nervous about opening it and couldn’t do it herself. I summed all my rational willpower, knowing that the results would not change based on my ignorance. I tore it open in my characteristic slipshod fashion and fumbled around with the paper. The verdict read: not guilty.

I am not writing this to say ‘do or don’t’. That’s a really personal decision and I have spent time waffling between either view. Type 1 diabetes screening was the right choice for me though and I am thankful that it is offered free of charge thanks to Trialnet. I believe that it would have been the right choice regardless of the results of the test. I don’t believe that the risk and feeling of vulnerability really ever goes away. No test is 100% and we will have to get yearly (or so) tests done to keep tabs and stay aware of changes.

Stefanie and I talked a lot about what we would do if the results came back indicating that she was predisposed to get type 1. What really encouraged me was that so many of the things that I had to learn on my own, I would be able to share with her. Diabetes has given me many tools in life that I am thankful for and even now I can see that we have begun to try to pass those on in small ways. Diet is a huge issue for me and we all eat very similarly–something that would not be the case if I had not been diagnosed. I don’t think that Stefanie and Lilo are quite as carb restricted as I am but we all eat very clean and that’s a gift I am glad to give her moving forward, even if somewhere down the line type 1 diabetes is wrapped up in our genes.

Parenting is a crapshoot, that is for sure. I wonder some days if anything gets through that thick little skull (referring to my daughter!). Other days I am thankful for that stubbornness because I know that can be so valuable in the coming years, if a bit demanding in the present time. There is something to be said for being stubborn and knowing what you want. Some would say that is a family characteristic. I know my father still wishes that I’d take up canoeing and settle down at a real job and cut my hair.

As I prepare to take my family into a new adventure that will involve many ups and downs I am thankful for the support of my wife that has seen me through many ups and downs already. It is not because I think it’s so romantic and idealized that I am excited about moving our family into a little trailer and chasing adventure with everything we have; it’s precisely because I know how hard it is, but that we can do it. At the end of my days I would rather have lived a harder life because of the challenges that I tried to surmount and couldn’t than to endlessly fantasize about a perfect solution that lived only in my mind.

LivingVertical thrives because of YOU. I (Steve) personally appreciate the time you’ve taken to read this. The biggest support that we need is for you to share our posts on social media. If you’d like to contribute financially, that’s an option too–via PayPal in the right hand column (or scroll way down on mobile!) You can also buy one of our photo prints if you want to own stunning images from our expeditions!

The post Type 1 diabetes screening: the aftermath appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/09/07/type-1-diabetes-screening/feed/ 4 2719
The ketogenic diet and type 1 diabetes: what I eat http://livingvertical.org/2015/09/01/the-ketogenic-diet-and-type-1-diabetes-what-i-eat/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/09/01/the-ketogenic-diet-and-type-1-diabetes-what-i-eat/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:13:27 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2909 I recently began writing about the ketogenic diet and type 1 diabetes in an attempt to optimize my blood sugar in […]

The post The ketogenic diet and type 1 diabetes: what I eat appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I recently began writing about the ketogenic diet and type 1 diabetes in an attempt to optimize my blood sugar in relationship to athletic performance. This podcast episode can provide some additional perspective about how I arrived at the ketogenic diet for type 1 diabetes. It started with a low-fat plant-based diet and I have recently changed my approach (dramatically) to a Ketogenic diet (low-carb, high-fat). The results have been remarkable and I feel like this dietary approach is a worthwhile consideration for anyone who is in a position to optimize their diabetes management–or who just wants better energy with no “crashes” throughout the day.

In case my standpoint isn’t obvious, let me clarify, there is no should or shouldn’t implied in my writing about this or any other diet. Some people eat pizza. Some people drink diet soda. Some never consume either–or do but always feel guilty. Still others know the drawbacks and act in moderation and feel great about it. My goal is to inform those who are interested in trying something new or just knowing what else is out there–not to persuade those who are happy with an already satisfactory approach.

I wrote an eBook compiling my experiments with the ketogenic diet and type 1 diabetes which you can check out here:

The ketogenic diet and type 1 diabetes

In my last blog I focused on the comparative results between the two diets, and this blog will hopefully answer the one major question I got–‘what do you eat on a daily basis?’

 

Not all low-carb diets are Ketogenic, but the Ketogenic diet is low-carb. In the coming weeks I will be sharing more about how my transition to this diet came together as well as mistakes I made along the way. I will also probably put up a post along the lines of “What is a Ketogenic diet?” although that is lower priority for me to write about because the answer to that question is readily available through any google search.

I am including the following video from Dr Peter Attia because if you are interested in the science behind this diet or are of the impression that this is a “fad” diet, it’s useful to see that there is more driving this approach than internet marketing and expensive diet plans. In fact, if you read “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes who does extensive historical research on dietary trends, research and corresponding guidelines, you will be surprised (as I was!) to learn that various forms of carb restricted diets were known to be effective as far back as the 19th century.

But I digress…

The Ketogenic diet emphasizes replacing carbs with fat not protein. Some of the reasoning behind this is elucidated in the above video, but in order to switch the body to burning fat in stead of sugar, it is important to increase clean sources of dietary fat in the near absence of carbs. There is a lot of experimentation surrounding which sources of fat are the best and one doesn’t need to look far to see internet memes of bacon and butter which have risen to greater popularity in a diet that doesn’t inherently seek to restrict them. Personally I am hesitant to go out of my way to increase animal fat unless I know that it’s grass-fed and organic and minimally processed.

Initially the idea of eating fat with intent seemed like dietary blasphemy. I fully expected some unseen hand to smite me into dust and so I started out timidly. Once I embraced the fats however, I found the blood sugar stabilized, the energy went up and my portion size (and frequency–and hunger) went way down. In short I am eating less and feeling more full for longer. There has been a lot written about how the Ketogenic diet actually enhances mental clarity and while I can’t prove a direct correlation, I will say that I feel like my brain is supercharged and my thought process has much greater clarity when I am in Ketosis (not to be confused with DKA or Diabetic Ketoacidosis which is dangerous and not at all the same–I will include more on this in a later blog.)

My staple foods on the Ketogenic diet:

  • Coconut oil– I add to just about every dish where possible, even to tea and coffee
  • Coconut cream– I just started using this in coffee instead of dairy. More fat and it tastes amazing!
  • Macadamia nuts– I like these off of Amazon, they are the single food item I eat the most of on a daily basis.
  • Olive oil– due to the low heat tolerance I avoid frying hot things with Olive oil; I’ll add it to plated dishes and salads.
  • Almonds/Almond butter
  • Eggs- Usually 2-4 eggs per day, often hard boiled
  • Meat Salad/Antipasto- go to your grocery store. Ask for “meat and cheese ends” at the deli. They usually throw away these “scraps”. I dice them up with olive oil, salt and pepper, olives and a little bit of balsamic vinegar (and sometimes tomato and onion).
  • Olives
  • Dill pickles
  • Beef broth
  • *Cheese- I actually severely cut back on dairy after I noticed how much better my joints felt when I eliminated it. Your results may vary. I still eat a little because I LOVE CHEESE…but I have to be judicious.
  • Butter- usually a little bit in soups or on eggs.
  • Kale- in soups, salads and fried up with eggs in the morning.
  • Mushrooms- same as with Kale.
  • Onions- see above.
  • Bacon- I don’t OD on bacon. I like a couple strips if I am making eggs but that’s about it.
  • Sausage- Same as with bacon.
  • Chicken- since chicken is usually pretty lean, I will eat a bit for protein but not more than a couple times a week.
  • Fish- once or twice weekly
  • Steak- so far once a week or less.

I know that everyone may have different tastes or food preferences. Eating this way I am able to get enough fat to drop into Ketosis and stay there. One of the reasons that I haven’t eaten a lot of meat is because I have less interest in taking the time to prepare it and I am not usually hungry enough to eat more than a small portion. I have not intentionally tried to shift towards plant-based fat sources but those have proven to be the easiest to access and prepare–and the most cost-effective.

If you are wondering what my “macros” are–I will tell you that I have no idea. I eat when I am hungry and I stop when I feel full enough. I don’t count carbs because I eat no “dedicated carbs”–sure there are incidental carbs in Kale and Spinach and Almond butter and Macadamia nuts, but for one or two units of insulin I can eat as much as I want. There is probably some benefit to counting all of this stuff up, but that’s a time and energy commitment that I am not in a position to make right now.

Lastly, I wanted to include a recipe that I have been really stoked on because it’s super simple but it tastes great and helps me get greens, fats and electrolytes all in one shot!

  • Vegetable or beef broth
  • Mushrooms sliced up
  • Onions if you’d like
  • Meat (can be chopped ham, bacon or no meat if you prefer)
  • Kale and/or Spinach
  • Butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Shredded cheese (parmesan works well)

IMG_4242

Throw it in a small pot, let it come to a boil and simmer until everything looks pretty cooked up. Yeah, I know I’m not a chef. That’s the beauty of it–super simple but it’s really filling and you can add more “fixins” to it as you like. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare and it helps replace electrolytes which is super important on this diet because an absence of dietary carbohydrate acts as a diuretic and if you don’t take steps to replace fluids and minerals you could wind up feeling poorly–but that is a topic for next week when I write about 5 mistakes I made with the Keto diet–and how you can avoid them.

The post The ketogenic diet and type 1 diabetes: what I eat appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/09/01/the-ketogenic-diet-and-type-1-diabetes-what-i-eat/feed/ 74 2909
7 comparisons of Ketogenic vs Vegan (low carb vs low fat) with CGM data http://livingvertical.org/2015/08/24/ketogenic-vs-vegan/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/08/24/ketogenic-vs-vegan/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 23:54:55 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2701 If you remember how this dietary experimentation began a few months back, I was searching for better athletic performance without […]

The post 7 comparisons of Ketogenic vs Vegan (low carb vs low fat) with CGM data appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
If you remember how this dietary experimentation began a few months back, I was searching for better athletic performance without sacrificing blood sugar control. I had been following a low carb diet and it wasn’t really getting the job done for me. I decided to try a low-fat, plant-based approach to see if I had been missing something. It definitely had some benefits and it also had some limitations, further reinforcing the idea that there is no “quick fix” in terms of diet–nevertheless I’d like to re-approach the Ketogenic vs Vegan debate through 7 specific points of comparison and close with a comparison of CGM data.

I wrote an eBook compiling my experiments with the ketogenic diet and type 1 diabetes which you can check out here:

screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-12-35-35-pm

A little over a month ago, I made the decision to go away from the low-fat, plant-based approach and go in the opposite direction by revisiting the Ketogenic (low carb, high fat) diet again.I know people who thrive on a plant-based, low fat approach. I know people who thrive on a low carb, high fat ketogenic diet. I am still learning about where I belong. In upcoming posts I am going to go into greater detail about what I eat specifically, mistakes that I made trying to adopt a ketogenic diet as well as some important strategies to be aware of if you’re thinking about testing the Ketogenic approach with your diabetes. Technically I am writing this in reverse because I’m leading with the summary–I want to start by comparing a few of the following factors between a low-fat, plant-based diet and a Ketogenic diet–as I experienced it.

  1. blood sugar control
  2. insulin dosing requirements
  3. insulin sensitivity
  4. exercise and recovery
  5. portion volume
  6. relative cost of food
  7. body composition

I want to preface this comparison by making clear that I am not trying to get anyone to adopt my methods. Optimization of diet is not right for everyone with diabetes at every stage in the game. Parents particularly have to walk a tough line between the desire to optimize for their child and the reality that survival is often the larger priority.

I do strongly advocate for mindful experimentation and not simply accepting the idea that the war for generally stable blood sugar is one you have to lose just because you have had losses in the past. I absolutely believe that losing those battles is part of the process that we can’t avoid–and shouldn’t avoid. Living in fear of diabetes is the war and that’s the one that we can’t afford to lose. My purpose in writing this is to encourage others through my own trial and error.

Conventional wisdom about diet and diabetes is a starting point. It’s a life-raft, not the rescue. Researching, experimenting and challenging what you’ve been handed is where optimization starts to occur. I believe that time and patience are the only ways we can find out what is right for us–and our own experience is the best teacher. That’s why diet is such a fascinating topic for me–it’s research I can do on my own!

  1. Blood sugar control: I feel as though my control was good on both diets with average BG readings around 120-130. The big difference that I noticed was the amount of attention or mental focus demanded by the low-fat, plant-based approach in order to keep a stable line on my CGM. I had to be aware of what direction my blood sugar was trending and the fact that it would rise and fall much more dramatically. Since adopting the Ketogenic diet I have not seen a single up or down arrow on my CGM. No exaggeration. Not one. Rises are slower and less significant (20-30 points)–and so are drops. In terms of my peace of mind, not seeing arrows up or down (which was a daily occurrence on the low-fat, plant-based diet) cuts out a lot of stress and simplifies my life.
  2. Insulin requirements: My insulin sensitivity increased when I was on the low fat diet. I knocked about 10 units off my total daily dose which was a really significant benefit. Prior to starting up these experiments in the spring I was taking just over 30 units total. Once I went low-fat, plant-based I dropped that to about 22 units. This was one marker I was watching carefully as I then switched to the Ketogenic diet–because I wanted to see if I would go back up to previous insulin levels. My current insulin total daily dose is still 22 units. I do split up my doses a bit more, so it means smaller injections taken with a little more frequency but the total amount of insulin is the same–and still a significant reduction from what I was using before I was adhering to either of these diets.
  3. Insulin sensitivity: How fast and how “hard” insulin works after you inject is as important as how much you need to take to get the desired effect. I felt like the low-fat, plant-based approach saw faster response times following injections. There really isn’t much debate for me on that one. The important consideration however, is that insulin which is working super fast (in the absence of fat) can also be more work in order to avoid lows. I currently am not missing the rapid insulin response because a “high” blood sugar for me currently is about 140-160 and if it takes an hour for that correction dose to really kick in, that’s ok because I am not feeling anxious about the damage being done to my body at those levels. The previous low-fat, plant-based approach would see spikes into the mid 200’s with consistency, even with a pre-bolus on board (especially in the AM) and so the rapid insulin action seemed much more desirable if not necessary at those levels.
  4. Exercise and recovery: This is another category where the low-fat, plant-based approach seemed to have a slight edge. If you are eating fruits and vegetables in high volume, you will be getting a lot of micronutrients that go a long way to aiding performance and recovery. While I still get several servings of low-carb leafy greens each day, I have had to work harder to balance my electrolytes on the Ketogenic diet. I have been dialing that process in and have achieved similar performance and recovery but it does not just come without effort. On the flip side, while I felt like I had an easier time recovering eating only fruits, roots and leaves (low fat, plant-based) I was dramatically hindered by the drastic increase in insulin action and sensitivity–I would have to start workouts at 180 mg/dl in order to “pad the landing” of my inevitable drop. Now I feel fine going for a run with a BG measurement of 120 or 110. I know I’ll probably creep up 10-20 points but that will subside afterwards and I don’t have to stuff my pockets (or my stomach) beforehand.
  5. Portion volume: I fill up a lot faster eating predominately fat for calories. The plant based approach requires frequent feeding–and with each feeding, insulin. I was making a trip to the grocery store literally every other day just trying to keep fruits and salads in stock–now I am able to be a lot more selective about when I eat and not feel hungry in between meals and the big benefit as far as I am concerned, is not having to feel obligated to eat–and take insulin as frequently–and then be on guard against dropping.
  6. Relative cost of foods: This one is highly variable. Greens and fruits are not cheap–especially when you are refilling your supply every other day. On the other hand, high quality nuts, seeds, oils, meats and eggs aren’t cheap either. The difference is that on a high fat Ketogenic diet I am able eat smaller portions of food and make those food items last longer because the volume of food required to feel full and have energy is lower. Ultimately who “wins” this category is about whether you’d rather buy a LOT of medium priced products frequently or some higher priced foods infrequently. I am a frugal person but my diet is not one area where my primary motivation is cost cutting–I have many other areas of my life where I can do that.
  7. Body composition: I lost about 10 lbs. on the low-fat, plant based diet. When I switched onto the high fat, Ketogenic diet I lost an additional 5 lbs. and then leveled out at my target weight (175 lbs.). I feel like this category was a draw for me. Either diet eliminates refined foods–flours, sugars and breads. I suspect that this similarity is one of the biggest health benefits to adopting one of these diets.

Lastly I want to compare a month of CGM data from my plant-based, low fat time against my most recent download having been on the Ketogenic diet for the last month:

Low fat

dexcom CGM for type1 diabetes

High fat

CGM data

 

To summarize, the Ketogenic diet dropped my BG average by 7 points without having significant lows and although it’s not reported on this readout, I had exactly ZERO “down arrow” drops in BG trends which speaks to peace of mind and ease of management for me. There is also significantly more “headroom” during daytime hours–it’s pretty clear that my BGs stayed more consistently steady during the day given the green that you can see in the middle of the readout on the second image–including days that I would work out. The point of sharing this is to explain that accurate response which mitigates significant and disruptive highs and lows becomes much more commonplace when my diet is working with me instead of against me.

This is a complex topic–and I mean to write a few more posts in the coming weeks about the optimization process and really get into some of the details that I alluded to in this post. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you steve@livingvertical.org–what did I miss and what would you like to know more about? I’m deliberately not asking you to tell me if you’d rather I shut up and go away–because this isn’t a “diet blog” and there is a lot more in the works that is “more fun” than rehashing diets. I want to give you benefit of my experience such as it is–if that means hanging from a wall in Zion or agonizing over carbs–it’s all LIFE with diabetes in pursuit of adventure.

LivingVertical thrives because of YOU. I (Steve) personally appreciate the time you’ve taken to read this. The biggest support that we need is for you to share our posts on social media. If you’d like to contribute financially, that’s an option too–via PayPal in the right hand column (or scroll way down on mobile!) You can also buy one of our photo prints if you want to own stunning images from our expeditions!

The post 7 comparisons of Ketogenic vs Vegan (low carb vs low fat) with CGM data appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/08/24/ketogenic-vs-vegan/feed/ 8 2701
Take the survey! http://livingvertical.org/2015/08/23/take-the-survey/ Sun, 23 Aug 2015 22:30:22 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2859 I know that your time is precious. You might think that taking a survey is a waste of time–but I’d like to […]

The post Take the survey! appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I know that your time is precious. You might think that taking a survey is a waste of time–but I’d like to put a different perspective on this: what if taking 5 minutes now to take this survey could help you get more of what you want out of LivingVertical? Wouldn’t that be a reasonable trade-off if it helps you get out from ‘behind the herd’?

I have several months to transition into living in a trailer with my family and that means lots of new avenues to explore and share. Unfortunately, I can’t prioritize every possibility equally, even though I’d like to. So tell me, what jumps out at YOU when reading through the items below? Take the survey and let me know!

Here are some themes and topics I want to explore more:

  • Adventure and Chronic illness (not just type 1)
  • Climbing
  • RV/Trailer life
  • Minimalist living
  • Thriving through dietary experimentation
  • Stories

Here are some methods we could use to explore the above themes and topics:

  • Meetups (hiking, climbing, photo with a little diabetes thrown in)
  • Books
  • Films
  • Video blogging from the road
  • Podcasts
  • Photography
  • The LivingVertical forum
  • Diabetes coaching

Create your own user feedback survey

Here’s the thing. LivingVertical started off as my place to share my perspectives–and it’s grown up a bit. We have thousands of people who come through this site each month (not to mention our social media feeds) and of necessity it’s gotten to be bigger than just whatever random thing I feel like writing about. LivingVertical has tapped into a larger idea that you clearly value too–or you wouldn’t be here. It takes some effort to visit a website. It’s not like a social feed where you just happen upon something. You chose to give me some of your time–and that’s not something I take lightly.

I don’t consider what I create here “content”. I know that technically it is, just like technically I am a diabetes “patient”. But just as I see myself as a climber and an athlete and set my goals and expectations accordingly–thus, I also try to aim higher than just churning out clickbait to sell ad-space on this website. We have a meaningful opportunity to offer the world something that is not common–inspiration and information all in one place that puts the power in our hands by focusing on what we have, in a system that thrives on reminding us of what we lack.

I want to invite you to think of this not as a website but as a movement. A community of people who refuse to be boxed in by medicine–and that includes you. This is only going to be as good as we make it–just like the rest of life. I know some of you reading this may be newcomers and others of you have been supporting and sharing this message since I first crawled out from under that rock in 2011 and started stirring the pot. I want you to know that I appreciate the time you have chosen to give me and I value you as a part of this community and I am always looking for ways to give more.

The post Take the survey! appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
2859
Sex, religion, politics and diet http://livingvertical.org/2015/08/18/sex-religion-politics-and-diet/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/08/18/sex-religion-politics-and-diet/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 22:00:30 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2692 What are four things that you don’t discuss in polite company? Over the last several weeks I have continued to experiment […]

The post Sex, religion, politics and diet appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
What are four things that you don’t discuss in polite company?

Over the last several weeks I have continued to experiment with my own diet, in a public way. My goal in all of this has not been to sell a product or a dietary approach, but rather to see how I can use the food I eat to improve my athletic performance and energy–without compromising my blood sugar control. Such are the challenges of being a Type1 diabetic athlete–there are often seemingly disparate goals that must be organized in order of priority–which is easier said than done! I discussed in a recent blog how I had to overcome some guilt and feelings of failure when I decided to put aside my “plant-based” low-fat diet and go back to a high-fat ketogenic approach, and I will follow up on that in a blog next week, but I wanted to take a moment to frame the discussion of diet in type 1 diabetes. It’s a loaded discussion, especially for parents.

The purpose of this article is not so much to delve into my own dietary experimentation and evolution in detail but rather to explore a specific aversion to dietary discussion that I have encountered (and written about). In some recent work with the Glu team, we began creating some content based around nutrition. Part of this involved a panel discussion of different foods that we commonly eat and how those meals align with our goals. In the discussion it became pretty clear that the perspective of a person living with Type1 was often very different than that of a parent of a child with Type1. Parenthetically, I’d like to add that my recent podcast interview with my Doctor (who is also a diabetes parent) sheds some light on this issue).

Having seen a lot of dust-ups on Facebook between parents and PWD (on many issues, not just diet) it occurs to me that there may be an answer to all of this–and it goes back to setting goals. This can inform the use of diet to get us closer to our goals and can also help moderate the discussion of diet such that there is less feeling of judgement associated with it. One thing I hear a lot from parents of kids with diabetes (regarding diet) is an oscillation between anger at feeling judged by adult T1s and guilt over the feeling that they are stuck with a choice between depriving their child of enjoyment in the moment vs depriving their long-term health.

The more I look at the topic of diet, the more complex I realize it is. It may be relatively simple from a biochemical standpoint, but socially speaking there are a lot more intervening factors that complicate things. I rarely apologize for stating my position clearly and with conviction. In terms of diet, I do believe it is important to eat mindfully–and that holds true for diabetes parents as well as PWD. I don’t know that I have settled on a specific cut-and-dried dietary approach that I think will permanently work for me (let alone one that I could recommend to others).

type 1 diabetes and sports
An adult with type 1 has different needs and dietary goals than a child or a teen with type 1.

Progress is the most important goal that should guide our decisions and being aware of what we are eating and staying tuned in–is how we are able to determine if the goal of progress is being met. I know that is a general statement but my picture of progress as an adult T1 athlete is likely going to look very different than a young child with T1. Our goals are going to be very different–our bodies and A1c readings are also very different. It seems to me that it could be useful to recognize that survival and optimization are two major dietary goals in Type1 diabetes–but they are very different from each other and lumping them together in discussions is, in my opinion, the source of a lot of the anger, guilt and judgement.

type 1 diabetes and sports
Initiative to adapt and optimize diet for sports and better diabetes management needs to come from the child supported by the parent. Parents can safeguard and run damage control but there is no substitute for self-motivation.

There is a progression in diabetes that begins with survival–and this is typically the training and “rules” we receive from our medical teams. Over time, many people who are reading this will have graduated from using “rules” of survival to making adjustments towards individual optimization. That is an exciting and demanding journey, with many ups and downs and dead ends. I believe that that even the most conscientious diabetes parent is going to encounter limitations in terms of how far beyond survival they can venture into optimization on behalf of their child. That is a very individual, personal process that must be motivated from within or it will wither under the lights of experimentation and failure.

I write this to absolve the feelings of guilt that many parents harbor deep down for failing to optimize. The truth as I see it, is that there is no failure there, because the process of optimization belongs to each person individually and can’t be ingrained by a parent. The same holds true for issues of sex, religion and politics! The best a parent can do is recognize that the time will invariably come when their child is going to begin the journey to optimize and prepare them for that independence–without assuming the burden of guilt for a task that isn’t theirs to begin with.

The question of balance during the “survival years” is a tough one. I believe that progress is more important than perfection because progress is a sustainable pursuit–and sustainability is very important both physically and mentally. Perfection is generally not sustainable and therefore isn’t the goal although it is a motivation to achieve the goal of sustainable progress, much like the mechanical rabbit which keeps the dogs running around the racetrack. Do you let them eat the cupcake at the birthday party or not? Because you can just cover more sugar with more insulinshould you? The answers to those questions are variable–but they do deserve mindful consideration.

parenting and a healthy diet for children

My closing purpose in writing this is to empower parents to know their goals in the short term and to reject guilt over the things they can’t control in the long term. It is also my intent to encourage parents not to give up in their struggle for progress just because optimization may not be in the picture. Keep trying, keep taking those small steps because you are setting the tone for the years to come.

If you’d like to support the work LivingVertical is doing by making a small monthly donation via Paypal, you can do so in the right hand column on desktop or scroll down on mobile. 1 dollar a month from each of our readers would cover the costs of maintaining this website.

You can also buy one of our diabetes empowerment photo prints if you want to own stunning images from our expeditions!

The post Sex, religion, politics and diet appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/08/18/sex-religion-politics-and-diet/feed/ 3 2692
Fear just stopped being a good enough reason not to try http://livingvertical.org/2015/08/16/fear-just-stopped-being-a-good-enough-reason-not-to-try/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/08/16/fear-just-stopped-being-a-good-enough-reason-not-to-try/#comments Sun, 16 Aug 2015 23:54:08 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2808 This is Mark and he lives with type1 diabetes. We met randomly through social media when someone tagged me in […]

The post Fear just stopped being a good enough reason not to try appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
This is Mark and he lives with type1 diabetes. We met randomly through social media when someone tagged me in a photo of him–because he is hiking from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail. What follows is my account of our meeting a week ago, at least in part. The full interview will be in the next two podcast episodes.

Last Saturday I got up (early for a Saturday morning) and packed up as much of my photo and audio gear as I could and typed in “North Adams, MA” into my phone and started driving. I was going to meet Mark and interview him for my podcast. As I drove I questioned the potential outcomes of my time investment. I haven’t felt too motivated to get out much lately–nursing a hurt shoulder and waiting for lower humidity and temperatures leaves little recourse for a climber.

What if he has nothing to say?’ I wondered. ‘What if we don’t really hit it off and it’s just a bunch of one word answers and awkward question repositioning? What if there is no place to do an interview and the edit of the audio becomes a nightmare?

Nothing can have real significance to us if we don’t accept some risk in order to realize it. Maybe this is why every time I have put more time and effort into going to meet someone for an interview or photo shoot it winds up exceeding my expectations. Our view of the situation colors the reality of it in a tangible fashion. In this way we are not victims of circumstances but influencers of them.

If you subscribe to the LivingVertical podcast (you’ll notice it’s been re-renamed as Adventure Rx) you will hear the conversation that went on between Mark and I–and you will also hear about why I chose to rename the podcast to better align it with the changes that are happening in my life. Ah yes, change…the one consistant mile marker along my path.

This interview was very special to me. Not only for the reasons I allude to above, but also because the Appalachian Trail was where I discovered that I didn’t have to see myself through the lens of what people with diabetes were supposed to be or do–ten years ago as a fresh college graduate. It was my first experience leaving behind the conventional expectations of people around me and forging my own path, just like all the thousands of people that have hiked it before me. It’s not a point of pride to have experienced that, it’s a humbling gift.

Through the bitterness of deprivation and discomfort I transcended the talismans of security that I had been taught were essential for survival. I learned that there is only truth in experience and that without action I was standing on the brink of a lifetime spent placating my fears. I learned to choose.

I also learned to pull the ripcord when it stopped being fun past a certain point and to weigh the costs of choosing the road less traveled. I learned that doing awesome things may not always be worth it when they come at the expense of relationships that you forgot to add into your calculations. These memories of cost and benefit; of loss and gain replayed through my mind as I drove to meet Mark feeling a strange familiarity given the fact that I had, only days before, put in my notice at Glu, formally declaring my intention to move despite having a great job working for a cause I believe in, alongside people I like and in some cases admire. Yeah, I’m throwing that caveat in there to see who actually reads these blogs of mine. If you’re reading, you made the cut. I should put a smiley face in here but I have to draw the line somewhere.

I know I have talked about it on here and even to my colleagues at work–but the formality of having made the choice on paper to forego the security that came with full time employment put a bit of a lump in my throat. The fact that moving means living back on the road in a tiny trailer is something I am self-conscious about. I feel like half of the people who hear that think I’m an irresponsible derelict for choosing such a path. The other half think I’m riding off into the sunset to begin an early retirement. I shouldn’t care, I know.

Fending for myself in terms of insurance and diabetes supplies will be challenging. Living on the road with a baby will be challenging. Being an independent contractor will be challenging. Not panicking and taking it out on loved ones will be challenging.

It won’t be easy. But it will be worth it, because that’s what happens when you commit to something fully, even if it’s a failure. I want to close this blog with a quote from Mark–which you can hear in full context in his two-part interview on the podcast. He said this a couple of times–and it is one of the most profound and timely statements I needed to hear. I think you need to hear it too.

“After ten years of living with diabetes, fear just stopped being a good enough reason not to try

 

You can reach out to Mark via email to support him in his journey and ask him questions at markyaeger78@hotmail.com. Please be patient with his response as he is, you know…out in the middle of the woods and not always in range of cell service! Andrew has a blog you may wish to read as well: To Wander North.

If you’d like to support the work LivingVertical is doing by making a small monthly donation via Paypal, you can do so in the right hand column on desktop or scroll down on mobile. 1 dollar a month from each of our readers would cover the costs of maintaining this website.

You can also buy one of our diabetes empowerment photo prints if you want to own stunning images from our expeditions!

The post Fear just stopped being a good enough reason not to try appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/08/16/fear-just-stopped-being-a-good-enough-reason-not-to-try/feed/ 2 2808
Eating meat, feeling guilt and moving on http://livingvertical.org/2015/08/11/what-i-learned-in-spain/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/08/11/what-i-learned-in-spain/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 09:30:50 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2666 Do you remember the whole “fruits roots and leaves” experiment I did? Well it’s been a couple months and I […]

The post Eating meat, feeling guilt and moving on appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Do you remember the whole “fruits roots and leaves” experiment I did? Well it’s been a couple months and I wanted to follow up and discuss how adopting a plant-based-low-fat-high-carb diet stood up to international travel. My initial results were not without benefit and I intended to proceed with it, but I travel a lot and rushing through airports, jostling around on planes and sitting in cars is a big part of my life. “Drop-testing” a diet is important for me–because it’s one thing for it to work well for me in a relative bubble of sitting at a computer, but for it to truly win me over it has to make my life simpler when it matters.

Stefanie and I were heading out to Spain on the first vacation we have ever taken together–late for every bus and flight–delayed by weather and squeezed into the last remaining seats available. If you’re wondering how I felt about seeing spikes and valleys on my CGM, resulting from not having time and space to pre-bolus or predict when I’d have to sprint while carrying 4 bags, I’ll summarize by saying: decidedly unpsyched. I began to feel like my dietary experiment was like a beautiful car that breaks down if you can’t be constantly maintaining it.

One of the things I’ve noticed about Europe is that there is a decided lack of enthusiasm with regard to dieting or restricting various macronutrients. People smoke if they want to, eat later than they’re supposed to and generally disregard all of the tips and tricks that we are constantly bombarded with–and yet every time I’ve been in Europe, I am amazed by how many old people are still healthy, active and generally unconcerned with what Dr Oz and a host of internet doctors have decreed as the keys to long life and good health. Meals are events there, not molecules. Stefanie and I took a week to visit her father who has a place in Malaga, Spain and thanks to the benefits of her reduced fare air travel we were able enjoy our first vacation for an incredibly diminutive sum. The fact that we were guests there made me a little less excited about walking into one of the many “Chiringuitos” (outdoor grills) that line the Mediterranean coast and order a banana and some low fat yogurt with chia seeds.

Malaga Spain travel near the Mediterranean ocean

It’s just not done there–and the truth is that I love meat. You can understand how that would diminish my enthusiasm for trying to explain in hand gestures and broken Spanish to local grill masters that I just couldn’t partake in their work. These people take a lot of pride in their work and it shows. It’s not like ordering a salad in McDonalds. I suddenly found myself faced with a choice; to cling to my diet despite the fact that it would seem rude and be far from enjoyable or just write myself a permission to shelf the diet for the duration of my vacation. I remember feeling so guilty for choosing the second option. I felt like I had become my diet or it had somehow become an identity that I had adopted. It no longer was serving me–I was serving it, and my departure seemed to be more of a transgression than a decision.

The enjoyment of eating meat again combined with the Spanish culinary flair helped me come to the a peace with the trade off. ‘I will just get back in the swing of things once I am back in the states and deal with the short term hell that will undoubtedly break loose on my blood sugars’ I thought. I was surprised when my insulin dosing stayed consistent and didn’t go back up to my “pre-vegan” status. I was even more surprised when I noticed that I lost an additional 6lbs.

travel in Spain Malaga on the coast

I began to start thinking that perhaps my declaration of “failure” upon the ketogenic diet was due to an imperfect application after all. So I began looking at some of the writing that I could find on the topic and I realized that I had been making some significant errors–namely eating a lot more protein than I needed and not enough fat. I quickly adjusted my fat intake accordingly and in the last few weeks, I have felt a consistently high energy level, my blood sugars are great–and I don’t feel like I’m on a diet because I am generally eating food that I am naturally drawn to.

This blog post isn’t the place to unpack all of the details of my latest dietary shift, but I want to point out a couple things: I am not an expert in any dietary approach. I take a transient survey of the cost/benefit of any approach and then take what I like from it. I am not in a position to say that a low fat or vegan diet is bad or ineffective. I do feel like I learned a lot of important things from the time I was on such a diet because the value of getting micronutrients found in plants is of utmost importance regardless whether you are adapted to burn fat or glucose for fuel.

I also don’t think that there are easy answers in any sort of optimized diet. Our goals have to be constantly examined and reassessed–we will always have to take inventory and be mindful of how our approach is working and what could be improved. I also want to take a second to point out the glaring error that I made in failing to completely research the LCHF diet–instead I just ran with the “Low Carb” part and didn’t do the homework about how I was replacing those carbs. Our diet is a complex part of an even greater and more complex system in which we live. Oversight of details can be significant. In line with that, there are also non-dietary elements that often go unexamined–such as sleep, stress and hydration to name a few. These are outliers that I have been making a greater effort to shore up with (so far) good results.

dining out in Malaga Spain

 

It’s also important to recognize that a diet isn’t just molecules. Sure, it is on some level, but for most of us, that is not the level on which we live moment to moment. How well a diet integrates into our life matters a lot–and in some cases can add undue stress that works to disrupt our health. I really think that the Europeans are on to something with their making meals actually mean something on a personal level. That’s something I haven’t found in many places in the United States–it’s not just food quality, it’s the food value. Finding the right balance is important, and I guess the upshot of all this is that I found out that there is a lot that I still don’t know. I don’t look at that as a bad thing–in some ways it’s like “leveling up” in a video game. The challenges get greater but it’s exciting because there is that much more to discover.

The challenges of trying to figure out the best way to eat should not dissuade us from embracing the polar shifts in our dietary consciousness because that is how we learn to adapt and grow. In some ways I feel like an ass for doing a 180 with regard to my diet–but in another way I think it’s healthy to be free of the diet-militance that made me feel like I had to join one team or the other and not question authority. I literally felt guilty when we’d sit down to eat and my food would show up. I enjoyed the food and my blood sugars were beautiful. Literally NO up or down arrows on my CGM. Just gentle rolling curves–I felt energetic yet relaxed–but still I felt like I had to defend my choice or answer for some heresy. ‘Is this what I do to other people when I write about diets and nutrition?’ I wondered to myself.

I sure hope I don’t.

I find this stuff really interesting because eating is something that we all have to do–and if there is a way to fine tune that act such that it simplifies everything else in our body, that would seem a worthwhile experiment to undertake. In my coming posts I am going to share a bit more of the specifics of what I have been doing of late on the LCHF diet and how that compares with the pros and cons of the Low Fat High Carb diet that I adopted in the early summer.

If you’re tired of hearing about dietary blathering and you wish I’d just make up my mind already, I can empathize. You don’t have to sit here writing all of this–trust me, I know it’s tedious, but I will be on to new topics soon!

Please support the work LivingVertical is doing by making a small monthly donation to the blog via paypal (right hand column on desktop or scroll down on mobile. 1 dollar a month from each of our readers would cover the costs of maintaining this website. You can also buy one of our diabetes empowerment photo prints!

The post Eating meat, feeling guilt and moving on appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/08/11/what-i-learned-in-spain/feed/ 2 2666
Go Beyond Diabetes 08.10.15 http://livingvertical.org/2015/08/10/go-beyond-diabetes-08-10-15/ Mon, 10 Aug 2015 12:35:43 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2754 This weeks GoBeyond post is a little bit different from normal. Usually I get photographs with a very short snippet […]

The post Go Beyond Diabetes 08.10.15 appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
This weeks GoBeyond post is a little bit different from normal. Usually I get photographs with a very short snippet of text–sometimes just a name, age and date of diagnosis. Being somewhat of a storyteller, there is part of me that is always left wanting just a little bit more. I acknowledge that’s just me being a bit selfish though–because these stories and photos are just little windows that we are given into the lives and ambitions of our fellow T1Ds. Even the smallest glimpse is a privilege.

This week, however, I received a couple of photos that opened that “window” a little wider and so I wanted to share that view with you in hopes that it inspires you (as it did me) to not be compliant with the “mold” into which we are constantly told to fit. You are not your diabetes:

My going beyond diabetes story for today (the long version):
Some friends, my husband and I went for a new climbing adventure on Mokuleia on Oahu. We knew the approach was steep, but it was STEEP. 2/3 was scrambling through fields of volcanic boulders. We had to climb most of the mountain to get to the one climbable section of rock on the island. And we were determined to make it work. My blood sugar dropped, I couldn’t stop shaking, and I was losing the ability to think through what I needed to do. Dexcom and my meter couldn’t agree on what was happening. We hadn’t even finished the approach and I felt defeated and betrayed by my body. I knew I’d I finished the hike i’d have very little strength left to climb, but I knew I needed to try. I’ve been in a slump for a long time, not wanting to take the time to go climbing or to deal with the disease. Sometimes the 2 don’t want to play nice with each other. I treated and pushed on. Having never climbed on basalt, I set a low goal which I did not meet. I was mad at myself, mad at diabetes, and mad at basalt for being so deceiving looking. It was yet another “make it work or give up let the beast win” moment. I opted for some scrambling, something I actually really enjoy and feel safe doing even on bad BG days. The result was I felt more motivated to try again, and was gentle with myself – I didn’t finish the route, but I threw down some technical moves that felt good. I fought to make today a win, but I did win!

Thanks for all the work you put into LV. It makes such a difference knowing I’m not the only one fighting through the challenges of being a climber with T1D.

Best,
Brit R.

IMG_20150803_140638

 

Hi Steve, glad you’re back 🙂 Wanted to submit a photo for one of your posts… I posted it to my facebook world on 7/23/15 which is my dx anniversary. My caption:
 
“Today is Thursday, July 23rd. It’s the anniversary of the day my life changed–I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes–on THURSDAY July 23, 1992. Today marks 23 years. Strange, no? Not a happy anniversary, but certainly a major one. Death’s door literally opened, but I came baaaa-aack! In your face, DKA. And you too, BG of over 1200. Despite my resentment for this full time job, T1d has made me a …stronger person, no doubt about that. Here’s to being badass despite chronic illness! In honor of my anniversary, I’m throwing it back to last week, and one heck of a bike crash. ‘Cause she won’t hold me back; ’cause I’m fun like that!
Gina C.
Roadrash
We are not simply a product of the challenges we can’t avoid–we are the sum of the challenges we choose to face. It’s not just catchy wordplay; the way we see ourselves determines if we keep pressing forward even when there are setbacks. Even when there is fear. Especially when there is fear. Life is a challenge–and a gift. Each day, it feels like I am seeing tragic losses cropping up in my social media feed. Each time it startles me–because there are no guarantees that life will go on or that it will get easier. We can despair or we can find a way to take pride in our battle scars and steal precious lessons from the jaws of defeat.
This is diabetes. This is a battle for survival–and while medicine and technology are necessary to overcome our adversary–they are not sufficient alone.

If you want to share your story in an upcoming Go Beyond blog post just submit your photo and a write-up to steve@livingvertical.org

Please support the work LivingVertical is doing by making a small monthly donation to the blog via paypal (right hand column on desktop or scroll down on mobile. 1 dollar a month from each of our readers would cover the costs of maintaining this website. You can also buy one of our diabetes empowerment photo prints!

The post Go Beyond Diabetes 08.10.15 appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
2754
Go Beyond Diabetes 08.03.15 http://livingvertical.org/2015/08/03/go-beyond-diabetes-08-03-15/ Mon, 03 Aug 2015 11:05:34 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2725 I am excited to be back and finally able to continue sharing the photos and inspiration from the active Type1 […]

The post Go Beyond Diabetes 08.03.15 appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I am excited to be back and finally able to continue sharing the photos and inspiration from the active Type1 community. Since my email didn’t crash along with my computer, all the photos you sent in over the previous months were safe and sound! It may sound strange but it’s still a little disorienting posting photos on a new computer.

I feel a bit out of the loop still. Moving to a new computer is a lot like moving to a new home. Sometimes you have to just pile up the boxes and flop down on the couch for a while and then unpack sporadically when you need a hidden item. Not like I know anything about that kind of procrastination personally. I’m just guessing from what I’ve heard

Some of these photos have no caption…and some of them really don’t need a caption. That’s kind of the point of these posts. We are accomplishing great things every day–in the ways that we work and play–and it’s clear to see that we go beyond diabetes.

If you want to be featured in an upcoming Go Beyond blog post just submit your photo and a description to steve@livingvertical.org

Please support the work LivingVertical is doing by making a small monthly donation to the blog via paypal (right hand column on desktop or scroll down on mobile. 1 dollar a month from each of our readers would cover the costs of maintaining this website. You can also buy one of our diabetes empowerment photo prints!

The post Go Beyond Diabetes 08.03.15 appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
2725
Saying happy birthday, the hard way http://livingvertical.org/2015/08/02/saying-happy-birthday-the-hard-way/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/08/02/saying-happy-birthday-the-hard-way/#comments Sun, 02 Aug 2015 16:00:23 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2694 It’s kind of funny that my first post back on LivingVertical after recovering a working computer setup is about the […]

The post Saying happy birthday, the hard way appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
It’s kind of funny that my first post back on LivingVertical after recovering a working computer setup is about the one person who has had the biggest role to play in this website and the activist spirit that gave birth to it. Really, it’s not a stretch to say that my wife Stefanie has shaped my life in more ways than I am consciously aware of on a daily basis, so today I want to slow down and reflect on that–and express gratitude.

I am, above all, a realist–particularly on the topic of relationships. I have known from a young age that my partner in life would have to be a person who gave me space to be myself and would allow me to pursue adventure. Having diabetes means being selfish at times, and our spouses and partners must bear that burden. Being a climber and adventurer–that sounds great when you see it on the pages of an Eddie Bauer catalog or read the calligraphy stenciled onto a Tumblr meme showing lovestruck hipsters cuddling with steaming cups of coffee in the back of a newly restored 1970s VW Westfalia. Try living that dream and you will soon learn that nightmares are also dreams.

This may seem like an odd preamble to my expression of gratitude for all that Stefanie has contributed to my life over the years, given that I have just established a position that seems incompatible with romance and fluff. It is that very fact that makes my appreciation all the more steadfast however. To look at a relationship and be able to factor in all of the moments of difficulty and despair–and still come up with a balance sheet so overwhelmingly positive is the highest praise I can give another human being. That is partnership–and that is incredibly rare and precious.

Since I met Stefanie in 2007, I have never had much worldly value to offer her. You may think that is hyperbole, but when we met there was no LivingVertical, no Project365–there was only “24-and-still-living-with-dad”. Somehow I convinced her that this was a good enough position from which to begin a life together. We got engaged in 2008 and promptly left on a 6 month climbing road trip to see the USA and Canada–living out of a Honda Civic. South Dakota. Wyoming. Montana. Idaho. Alaska and the Yukon. Then back down through the Pacific Northwest and California (where we decided to get married at the San Diego County Courthouse). Then we drove back to New York to scrape together jobs and pay off the cost of our 6 months on the road: a little over $6,000 combined.

How many times in the intervening years have I reminded myself in moments of frustration that this is a woman who agreed to be married in a courthouse with no ceremony, who was willing to poop in a hole in the woods when it was necessary and could make desolate back roads feel like home with her adept preparation of Ramen noodles. She could have had a house and a fancy car and a proper future but instead she chose me, a person whose dream of success is living out of a less-than-fancy car. She chose a life where her needs would always come second to a relentless medical condition and where fun and freedom were born from sacrifice rather than excess.

In 2010, after being married for a couple of years and in between one of our many roadtrips, I decided to enter the workforce. Sort of. We had once again wound up in San Diego and there I decided that I was going to be a climbing guide and a writer. This sort declaration is nearly enough to make the homeless offer you some spare change–and instead of chiding me for an unwillingness to accept “reality” Stefanie bought me a new laptop and said,”If you’re serious about doing this, you should have a good machine.”

Guiding and writing opened my eyes to how adventure and the wilderness had changed my life. When that desire germinated into the rumblings of diabetes activism in 2011, Stefanie suggested that I follow through with a plan to combine climbing with diabetes. She came up with the idea for LivingVertical and our flagship, Project365. She built the first website we had and created the LivingVertical Instagram account–which I initially wanted nothing to do with, but has since flourished and fueled my photographic passion.

Stefanie opted to sell everything and live out of an unreliable station wagon in order to help me be free to change a small corner of the world. When we were running out of money about 3 months into Project365 and I was considering taking a break to get a job and put some money in the bank she pushed me to stay the course. Stefanie got a job with Jetblue to keep LivingVertical afloat–which was serendipitous and has been incredibly rewarding since, but always involves sacrifice, logistically speaking. We have worked to create those moments of photographic magic and serenity through choosing to get by with less, and accept the choice of adventure at the cost of comfort.

A little over a year ago Stefanie gave me the greatest gift I could ever know; a beautiful daughter. Where most people see a child as a reason to circle the wagons and dig in to conventional life, Stefanie has made it her mission to help raise our daughter with the same love of adventure and the outdoors that we have always shared. We still don’t have the home with the white picket fence–but it makes me feel incredibly lucky to have a wife who is ok with that. Stefanie would rather have alpenglow and the open road–and I couldn’t agree more. Whenever I get the urge to do something big and “crazy” she doesn’t say ‘no’ or roll her eyes. She asks me to make a plan and put it into action so we can do it together.

This fall, our family will be moving into some semblance of a camper van and living on the road. I don’t mean a road trip or a vacation. I mean creating a nomadic normalcy–exercising our choice to accept the risk and sacrifice of this lifestyle together because it’s worth it to us. It’s all very strange and new–but also kind of familiar; here I am again, typing on yet another new computer with a tremendous unknown looming before us. This may give rise to another LivingVertical project. It may not. Our decision to live on the road is a personal one first and foremost–not public advocacy. On the other hand, it’s difficult to say that any advocacy for type1 diabetes in which I participate in will be completely estranged from the fact that we have chosen, yet again, to do things the “hard way”. The one thing that I know to be true is that whatever results from this choice, it will not be of my making alone. There would be no LivingVertical and no projects without a wife who sees the value in struggle.

This is my verbose expression of thankfulness for Stefanie on the occasion of her 29th birthday. Saying happy birthday, the hard way. I love you and I am proud of you. I am a better person with wider and clearer horizons because of your impact in my life. For all of the difficult times that have passed and for those that lie ahead, there is no one in whom I have greater confidence as a true partner.

 

The post Saying happy birthday, the hard way appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/08/02/saying-happy-birthday-the-hard-way/feed/ 5 2694
Type 1 diabetes screening: facing fear, taking action http://livingvertical.org/2015/07/14/type-1-diabetes-screening-facing-fear-taking-action/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/07/14/type-1-diabetes-screening-facing-fear-taking-action/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 08:00:33 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2639 No one should be talking about a child whose life was lost to undiagnosed Type1 diabetes. Yet when it happens, everyone should […]

The post Type 1 diabetes screening: facing fear, taking action appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
No one should be talking about a child whose life was lost to undiagnosed Type1 diabetes. Yet when it happens, everyone should be talking about it. This is another of the sad, infuriating diabetes dichotomies. This past weekend I heard about two young children who lost their respective battles with Type1 as a result of a delayed diagnosis. It’s easy to think that diabetes isn’t a big deal–I’ve tried to cultivate a balance in my work because I promote empowerment and highlight people with diabetes on my podcast and blog who are pushing limits and climbing mountains. I’ve also integrated that message with my work in type 1 diabetes research through Glu–precisely because I know that empowerment is a big tent–and knowledge and shared information is a key part of that.

exercise and diabetes outdoor adventure
Photo: Jeffrey Lash

I take these criticisms to heart because it’s the fact that diabetes is so serious in the first place that these adventurous and athletic achievements are so meaningful. Going to the gym, hitting a mountain bike or paddling run–climbing a mountain–those take on a whole new level of challenge when you’re taking your life in your hands before you ever tie into the rope. I understand that the person who has been living with Type1 for years is in a different place and has different needs than a toddler and their family who have just had their world turned on end. I don’t always feel like I have a lot to offer families in that position because those are uncharted waters for me.

I have a little girl who I love more than anything. Literally. She just turned one and she has been walking for months, getting into everything and making life at home more challenging than it was before. I am consciously choosing not to exaggerate that specific point with more colorful verbiage because I know that objectively speaking, raising one child with a supportive family is the “bunny slope” of parenting. But we don’t live life objectively and there are many times when I still feel overwhelmed just with the day to day.

type1 diabetes  screening through trialnet
Photo: Stefanie Richert

And then think about the “what if” that Type1 diabetes brings into the picture and my will just breaks. Even in the hypothetical scenario, I feel pulsating anger and frustration and the overwhelming desire to give in to despair. My diabetes is something that I manage with routine and experience. It doesn’t mean that I am always winning but I know my opponents moves. I’ve gotten caught with all the tricks in the books and I’ve survived. Just knowing the abuse I can withstand has oddly made me more effective.

That fact gives me no comfort on behalf of my daughter as I imagine her stepping into this ring. Here I can’t fight for her–all I can do is shout advice and encouragement and hope that she can hear bits and pieces over her own pulsating anger and frustration. As I keep reminding myself that this is still hypothetical–imaginary–I know that there is an answer out there. I can get her screened at no cost by TrialNet and find out if she has the autoantibodies that predict a Type1 diabetes diagnosis.

I was talking to a dear friend about Type 1 diabetes screening–he also has Type1–and he was kind of surprised that I was considering it.

‘You really sure you want to know?’

That was the exact question that I’d been wrestling with since the day my daughter was born. TrialNet won’t test until the child is a minimum of 1 year old so I had some time built-in to dither around in suspension. That year went awfully quickly. Knowing is half the battle they say–but knowing also means that half of the battle might not go in your favor. As I thought about the dilemma I realized that this decision came down to who I wanted to protect most. Not knowing would only serve to protect me and my psyche. It wouldn’t change the outcome and it wouldn’t help her. Even “bad” information is useful. Diabetes has taught me that lesson every single time I’ve had to correct a high or low blood sugar.

Stefanie scheduled the appointment with TrialNet at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston and despite my kicking the can down the road with a few postponements the day finally came. Once the decision was made, the actual process was easy. Parking was the biggest challenge–and we were in and out in minutes. Of course she cried–but that happened before the needle even went in and I gained a new appreciation for the deftness of the seasoned phlebotomist on staff. It was still incredibly difficult for me and I felt like I wanted to choke. The knowledge that this was the best thing we could do for our daughter in the long run didn’t comfort me but it kept me from pulling the ripcord and running.

Its been a few weeks and we still haven’t gotten the results. I still struggle with what we might learn. I don’t have answers–only exponentially multiplying questions. For now.

Why am I writing this? Well it’s certainly not to brag about my parenting or to pressure anyone into screening. I’ll share with you that I constantly feel like I am a sub-par parent. I know that Stefanie does all the hard work and when I try to help–I make it harder still. I hope that if nothing else, this writing will help others like me who are wrestling with this decision about screening. It is anything but trivial, and the answer I settled upon may not be the one you choose. The decision to know is a hard one–but knowing that it exists in the first place is a powerful weapon.

Please support the work LivingVertical is doing by making a small monthly donation to the blog via paypal (right hand column on desktop or scroll down on mobile. 1 dollar a month from each of our readers would cover the costs of maintaining this website. You can also buy one of our diabetes empowerment photo prints!

The post Type 1 diabetes screening: facing fear, taking action appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/07/14/type-1-diabetes-screening-facing-fear-taking-action/feed/ 2 2639
Kisses for Kycie: know the signs http://livingvertical.org/2015/07/12/kisses-for-kycie-know-the-signs/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/07/12/kisses-for-kycie-know-the-signs/#comments Sun, 12 Jul 2015 22:00:11 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2597 In light of the tragic passing of Kycie Terry  (of the Kisses for Kycie facebook community) I want to dedicate some time and space […]

The post Kisses for Kycie: know the signs appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
In light of the tragic passing of Kycie Terry  (of the Kisses for Kycie facebook community) I want to dedicate some time and space to information that may be only a memory for those of us who have lived with Type1 for years but that is still of critical importance: diagnosis with Type1 diabetes and the precursors to it.

If you’re thinking ‘That’s great for you, but I don’t have diabetes’ the only guarantee is that you don’t have it yet. Beyond that it’s basically Russian Roulette. Hopefully you and your loved ones will never have to get closer to it than reading the rambling accounts of it that I usually provide here but take a moment to commit these signs and symptoms of Type1 Diabetes to memory because it could save a life:

  • Increased thirst and hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Feeling very tired
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Persistent infections and trouble healing
  • Failure to fully recover after Flu like symptoms
  • Yeast infection

Maybe I am getting soft in my old age; maybe I am hypersensitive to the fear of losing a child now that I have one and the specter of diabetes constantly lurks in the public square of my nightmares. Fear makes no attempt to hide any more in light of the possibility that I know exists. Perhaps we can never fully vanquish fear–because as we drive it out of our own territory it slithers into the nearby lands of those more vulnerable for whom no sacrifice would seem too great.

safe_image

I am not in a position to eulogize Kycie Terry so I won’t. I am a bystander, a detached entity with no right to speak to this tragedy directly. It is not without a bit of trepidation that I write this post because I do not want to overstep or disrespect the Terry family by invoking their loss. Yet, even at this literal and figurative distance, I feel shaken by the tremors of their loss through the diabetes community and I want to express solidarity with their cause of raising awareness to prevent misdiagnosis of type1 diabetes in the future. Being open about diabetes can put it on the radar of those around us and those in the public. That blip on the radar can be the difference between catching diabetes in time or not.

Diabetes came into my own life in early 1999 and deleted 16 years of a story that I had been writing for myself. Sure the plot has still been “great” since then–and maybe this “unwelcome editor” over my shoulder has improved the quality of my work in the long run, but we will never know the conclusion of an alternate arc. That story is gone.

I was lucky though; I only lost a few pages. My book took a different turn but it continues on. Not everyone gets that chance. I can often forget that the things I manage with ease may cause someone else to sink into deep depression or that access to care and information I take for granted lies beyond the grasp of someone who may live only a few miles away. So if you’re still reading this post and thinking, ‘Yeah, yeah, everyone knows about the symptoms of diabetes, big deal’ that means that you’re like me and were fortunate.

I was undiagnosed for over a month. I was 16 years old and I was living away from my family in Alaska but that’s a whole other story. I came down with what felt like a stomach bug–nothing alarming–but after the usual two or three days, I didn’t bounce back the way I expected to. I had stopped throwing up though so I thought that meant that I was out of the woods. ‘Maybe I’m dehydrated’ I thought. Gatorade to the rescue. While I’m at it, why not top that off with some ice cream…

Repeat some version of that daily routine for about a month and despite the rabid consumption of ice cream and other high calorie foods, I kept dropping weight. I kind of got used to feeling completely wasted and I learned to function decently in spite of  it. I’d lose my balance walking up stairs and have to lie down in the dark during the day. No one knew what was wrong–I sort of self diagnosed it as migraines because I kept having visual hallucinations and since I was certainly not doing peyote and was highly photosensitive, that seemed a logical enough conclusion. I wanted an explanation for the way I was feeling and that was the shortest way to alleviate the fear that it was something really bad like cancer or a tumor.

The details of the winter of 1998-1999 are still hazy to me. I do remember going to school one day and telling a friend that I had decided to cut off all my hair because my head hurt. I remember that he kind of laughed but seemed concerned. I was almost outside of myself after weeks of being in exhausted agony, watching from a third-person vantage point. Even this transient state was not enough to obscure how odd I was sounding.

Later that morning I took my first ambulance ride: Delta Junction, AK to Fairbanks, where I was admitted to the ICU following the intervening two hour drive. I lost two days of my life in that hospital bed. I don’t remember a lick of them. It was only after the fact, in the hospital, that I learned from second hand accounts about how I had been admitted with blood glucose readings over 1000 and a severely depleted white blood cell count of 900 (normal is 4,000-10,000).  My parents told me what it was like when the doctors tried to prepare them over the phone for the possibility that I wouldn’t make it. I had missed all the action, but still I saw it written on their faces and heard it in their voices.

I was lucky. I made it. I woke up after two days feeling like King Theoden in Lord of the Rings. I literally felt like I had awoken from death itself. I was weak but I was back, thanks to a massive, intravenous antibiotic cocktail that knocked out the Encephalitis (brain infection) that had accompanied Type1 into my life. My parents and friends who had been standing by me were less lucky in the sense that they had to encounter the gravity of the situation–and perhaps it’s the fact that I skipped out on that burden during my own diagnosis that I feel suddenly unprepared for the weight of knowing a little girl that I’ve never met was lost–to type1 diabetes, 2000 miles away.

How many of us had similar close calls because of misdiagnosis or late diagnosis? We assume that because we made it that everyone does. Surely, most do. Still ‘most’ is an unacceptable survival rate. This is one of the applications of diabetes awareness–putting these facts, these stories out there–that can really do something useful. I have said many times that beyond my personal enjoyment (and some possible aesthetic value) climbing is just a vehicle for diabetes awareness. It’s a way to cut through what we are so used to seeing and hearing and deliver information and inspiration: To the diabetes community. To the public. To anyone who stops to look and listen. Take a moment to speak up today.

‘Most’ is an unacceptable survival rate.

The post Kisses for Kycie: know the signs appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/07/12/kisses-for-kycie-know-the-signs/feed/ 4 2597
Dear diabetes community: @Crossfit doesn't matter http://livingvertical.org/2015/07/07/dear-diabetes-community-crossfit-doesnt-matter/ Tue, 07 Jul 2015 08:00:30 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2485 #Crossfitgate has swept the nation thrusting diabetes and those of us who live with it along with advocates and activists […]

The post Dear diabetes community: @Crossfit doesn't matter appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
#Crossfitgate has swept the nation thrusting diabetes and those of us who live with it along with advocates and activists into the public eye. This rollercoaster of emotion and reaction, while not a new phenomena, has been very enlightening and really presented us with an opportunity. I was pretty quick to fire off an open letter to Crossfit which quickly became THE most viewed post I have ever created. More than the story of Project365. More than the Project365 documentary. More than the Wind River Project. More than all the empowering, positive initiatives that have showcased the fact that life with diabetes isn’t a pleasure cruise but that we still are pushing limits in every area of our lives.

It got me thinking. This thing with Greg Glassman isn’t the problem. It’s a symptom of the problem. While that doesn’t mean that the symptom should be ignored, the underlying issue is much bigger and should be dealt with as a priority–because treating the root cause (ignorance, lack of education etc) will ultimately resolve the symptoms. I took an unpopular position on the Crossfitgate aftermath on the podcast too–and I took some heat for it. I don’t claim to be right about everything–I just claim to be open and honest about what I think.

I feel like we as a community are either really hurt by this–or totally indifferent to it. Half of us are rolling our eyes and just want to be left the hell alone. The other half are retweeting takedown petitions and demanding apologies. I am not asking anyone to do (or not to do) anything. Personally, I don’t need Greg Glassman to ask his social media team to take down the tweet seen round the world. Here’s why. At the end of the day, Crossfit’s social media pipeline doesn’t matter. They actually gave us a gift–a more visible example of the stigma that always manages to play the chameleon in our daily lives and blend and fade without an opportunity for effective response. This situation gave us a chance to speak to the stigma and confront it with our experiences. With who we are as people. We displayed the reality of our character to show that diabetes is not just a burden, it’s a struggle that makes us strong.

We don’t have to change Greg’s mind. We can’t. We DO need to work on changing public perceptions of diabetes and that is something we absolutely can do. That is what we are doing. That is the reason I started LivingVertical and on our homepage you’ll see that value explicitly stated. Changing perceptions (positively) doesn’t happen by winning arguments–even if you’re right. An argument with an idiot only creates more idiocy beyond a certain point.

That is, of course, the $64,000 question–what is that point?

I am not going to go nuts on social media telling people not to follow their conscience about petitions and apologies. That’s not my game–I will however use my website to explain why I am done ripping on Crossfits social media. Their PR department isn’t representative of everyone in the organization, I am sure, and it doesn’t speak for all people who are involved in Crossfit any more than I speak for people with diabetes just because I have diabetes and a twitter account.

(TL; dr) :

  1. You can always tell an @-hole but you can’t tell them much
  2. One companies PR deparment isn’t representative of their constituents and followers
  3. The diabetes community was seen and heard positively (win!)
  4. Changing the perception of diabetes is the solution we need to focus on
  5. Changing Greg Glassman’s mind is not a solution to the greater problem
  6. In light of the above, see point 4
  7. What if positive representations of diabetes got as much press as outrage?

Please support the work LivingVertical is doing by making a small monthly donation to the blog via paypal (right hand column on desktop or scroll down on mobile. 1 dollar a month from each of our readers would cover the costs of maintaining this website. You can also buy one of our diabetes empowerment photo prints!

The post Dear diabetes community: @Crossfit doesn't matter appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
2485
Go beyond diabetes 07.06.15 http://livingvertical.org/2015/07/05/go-beyond-diabetes-07-06-15/ Mon, 06 Jul 2015 03:00:33 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2487 I am so grateful to all of you for making this monument to achievement in the face of struggle and […]

The post Go beyond diabetes 07.06.15 appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I am so grateful to all of you for making this monument to achievement in the face of struggle and stigma–because as we (the diabetes community) have been dealing with a lot of emotions of late about how we are seen in the public eye–as a result of our condition. It’s hard to be positive with diabetes. It’s hard even if you’re surrounded by people who love you and are cheering even the smallest accomplishments. It’s that much harder when you feel judged unfairly.

This week we have a lot of young folks leading the charge to challenge stereotypes, pushing themselves and accomplishing great things. We also have world-class hiking in Hawaii, a T1D on the Appalachian Trail (that’s a 2100 mile hike!), powerlifting, skydiving, and T1D on a glacier in Alaska and of course…more.

The response to this weeks call for participation in the Go Beyond diabetes blog post was massive. That was all you. I am inspired at how many people dug deep enough to find a positive response to the negative emotions swirling around. This is hard to do and harder to understand if you’re not living it–but I’m living it with you all and I am filled with hope knowing that we are changing the way diabetes is seen in the public–just by being who we are and not letting the ignorance around us put out the fire inside.

Because so many awesome pictures were submitted, I want to make clear that I am not posting all of what I received in this single post. If you don’t see your submission here, that doesn’t mean you won’t. Having lots of photos is great but I don’t want to post them all in one shot. Please keep the photos coming–to steve@livingvertical.org. If you have questions or comments for each other, feel free to leave them below.

Please support the work LivingVertical is doing by making a small monthly donation to the blog via paypal (right hand column on desktop or scroll down on mobile. 1 dollar a month from each of our readers would cover the costs of maintaining this website. You can also buy one of our diabetes empowerment photo prints!

The post Go beyond diabetes 07.06.15 appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
2487
Dear @Crossfit: sugar doesn’t cause diabetes. http://livingvertical.org/2015/06/30/dear-crossfit-sugar-doesnt-cause-diabetes/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/06/30/dear-crossfit-sugar-doesnt-cause-diabetes/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 11:30:34 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2464 To whom it may concern: This article is a missive for ALL those who use their public position, power and […]

The post Dear @Crossfit: sugar doesn’t cause diabetes. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
To whom it may concern:

This article is a missive for ALL those who use their public position, power and audience in public and the media to use words like “diabetes” and “diabetic” as pejoratives–while spreading catchy memes, rife with misinformation that ultimately make it harder for us actually LIVING with diabetes to be healthy. Feeding the stereotype that we are in some way to blame–whether through diet or laziness–is not only insulting and wrong, it’s dangerous. It bolsters barriers to healthcare that are built on the idea that ‘they can just exercise more and not need the medication’.

I wish I could have written this open letter earlier when all the noise was going around on Twitter. Instead I’ve been grinding my teeth all day at my job–and so anyone who is sensitive to a few expletives, please take note before reading further that I chose not to sensor my thoughts too heavily in this post. You see, I write on nights and weekends when I’m not working my real job–a job that I am lucky to have because it provides me with health insurance that I need to stay alive because I live with diabetes. I can’t just run more–or eat better. I actually lived an entire year where I climbed every single day consecutively to test this theory–but that is another story.

I am writing to you as someone who has worked their whole adult life in fitness and health education and once I am done with this exercise in futility, I am going to step away from my desk and spend my remaining minutes of daylight running. It’s hard to pay for the medications that I need to live life as an athlete with diabetes–and misinformation about my condition is, in part, responsible for that problem. So let’s start with this: sugar doesn’t cause diabetes. I’m not defending sugar in this piece, mind you, I am defending the character of millions of people like myself who live with BOTH types of diabetes.

You see, part of the difficulty of being healthy is overcoming the stereotypes about people with diabetes–that’s a big part of why insurance is a pain in the ass to get and why there is a lack of urgency for supporting diabetes research in the public. It’s because people and companies like yours use the challenge of our medical condition as marketing–as a catch all dirty word that sends the message loud and clear that “We got diabetes and it’s our own damn fault”. That is the misinformation that I struggle to correct every f-ing day of my life. I have about 1800 followers on Twitter, and that’s including the bots and spam accounts, but I use every bit of my digital reach to make sure there is support and awareness of the reality of life with diabetes and that we can still live a good life and be healthy.

Then I see people like you, blasting out the exact opposite message to the world, to your 250 some thousand followers who will further carry the “It’s your own damn fault” message out, far and wide, reinforcing the terms  ‘diabetes’ as dirty, guilty, shameful words. I am including this image which I recognize is not from Crossfit but it’s recent and relevant and helps illustrate the attitude that is so unhealthy. Granted the guy who posted it is named “Avocado”, but it got over 50k “likes” on Facebook, so I think it’s worth noting, at least in passing.

david avocado wolfe diabetes and heart disease

You want to know something? I UNDERSTAND the point of your little meme(s) was to say that sugar sucks and is bad for us. It’s bad for me with diabetes and it’s bad for you without diabetes. I agree with that! I eat 100% plant based whole foods only because I refuse to accept that strength and good health are not mutually exclusive to life with diabetes. That’s ZERO refined sugars. Can’t you send the message of eating healthy and being fit without slagging off millions of people who have had the misfortune of shitty genetics? I don’t have a billion twitter followers like you, but I manage to balance this approach working off hours. Maybe that’s why I don’t have the audience on social media. What I say and do is pretty niche–which is ok, I can live with that because I am not interested in just making 140 character generalizations about groups of people. I am trying to help create better resources for people like me who won’t give up their right to good health because our parents (God love them) had a few bad genes.

I want the world to be healthy. I want everyone to be fit and eat better. I do NOT want that to happen at the expense of public education about diabetes because that undermines our ability to get medication and drive research forward. When the public is misinformed, innocent people are marginalized and suffer. Innocent people face a harder and harder battle to gain the tools they need to care for their disease and actually come into the fold of health conscious athletes that you claim to represent.

I am an athlete. I am a climber. I live with diabetes. I didn’t ask for this condition and I didn’t eat too much sugar. If having a big audience requires you to feed stereotypes instead of challenging them, I guess I will have to accept that as the difference between us and take my contentment from knowing that I am making an impact on my remote and minuscule tip of the tip of the iceberg.

 

These statements are 100% my own opinion and in no way reflect the position of my employers. Just so we are all clear…

The post Dear @Crossfit: sugar doesn’t cause diabetes. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/06/30/dear-crossfit-sugar-doesnt-cause-diabetes/feed/ 29 2464
Eating high carb by the numbers http://livingvertical.org/2015/06/30/eating-high-carb-by-the-numbers/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/06/30/eating-high-carb-by-the-numbers/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 08:06:25 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2403 I wanted to add some images from my Dexcom CGM to help illustrate the process I have been going through […]

The post Eating high carb by the numbers appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I wanted to add some images from my Dexcom CGM to help illustrate the process I have been going through as I have been shifting my diet to one that is a high-percentage carbohydrate (not necessarily in the total quantity consumed). To recap, I have been eating about 30-50 grams of carb per meal, with an emphasis on drastically minimizing fats and animal products of any kind–as well as processed foods of any kind. Fruits, roots and leaves have been my focus–when I say “carbs” understand that I am referring to whole foods and not cupcakes and Fritos– and although my adherence has not been 100 percent, it has overall been pretty good with minimal cheating! You can read about my first impressions here.

Above is a graph of my blood sugar data (1 month) going in to this experiment, on the first or second day that I started shifting my diet. The preceding numbers had been quite good from a blood sugar control perspective, however that alone was not enough to be satisfactory, given the lack of energy I had on a ketogenic, low carb diet which you can read about here. The goal for me has been to maintain reasonably equivalent BG control with a greater carb intake and energy output in hopes that these will fuel my ability to climb some major walls in the next several years.

In the images below you will see some of the successes and failures I had while on this diet. Overall, I believe it to be worth continuing with for me because the energy and recovery I have experienced make it worth sacrificing some of the foods I like to eat. With diligence, I believe it is possible to get equivalent levels of control (for me, maybe not for others?) as with a strictly low carb diet and for whatever my experience is worth to the community at large, I feel like it is a safer bet to start lower carb and work up to greater quantities than the other way around. There are few stances that I hold a hard line on in regard to diet but I believe that a diet of whole foods will always beat a diet of processed foods, regardless the distribution of macronutrients.

This is, of course just a snapshot of my experiences. I am totally happy to answer further questions–and I don’t claim to know that this will work for anyone. I don’t even claim to know that it will keep working for me! I suspect it might, which is why I have come this far and am continuing further. I do think that it requires a heads-up management approach because the highs come up sharper and the insulin sensitivity increases are remarkable. The one thing that I really like is that now I can “correct” a high/rising blood sugar by going out and exercising–usually just walking or running. That is something that was unheard of for me on a LCHF diet–insulin was the only method.

high carb plant based diet type1 diabetes

In closing, I want to share my month of June ( high carb ) graph. It’s not perfect but it shows that I have not sacrificed adequate blood sugar control by shifting to a high carb plant based diet. However I believe it also shows that adaptation is both possible and worthwhile in the long run given all of the benefits I have experienced. It’s good learning process in my view and I will keep pressing forward with the diet to see if these results are consistent and reproducible.

If you got anything out of this blog series about my nutritional experiments, I’d like to encourage you to check out the LivingVertical Podcast because I am going to discuss in greater depth the entire process AND bring on a special guest– Cyrus from MangoManNutrition who can really get granular around the science behind this approach–and is an athlete–and has type1. I hope to be able to really take this diet and explore it in some useful depth. If you have questions for me–or about the science behind this diet (for me to ask Cyrus on the podcast) LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW!

Please support the work LivingVertical is doing by making a small monthly donation to the blog via paypal (right hand column on desktop or scroll down on mobile. 1 dollar a month from each of our readers would cover the costs of maintaining this website. You can also buy one of our diabetes empowerment photo prints!

The post Eating high carb by the numbers appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/06/30/eating-high-carb-by-the-numbers/feed/ 3 2403
Go Beyond Diabetes 6.29.15 http://livingvertical.org/2015/06/28/go-beyond-diabetes-6-29-15/ Sun, 28 Jun 2015 22:05:51 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2440 What is the active diabetes community getting into this week? Our goal is to motivate and support through this initiative. […]

The post Go Beyond Diabetes 6.29.15 appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
What is the active diabetes community getting into this week? Our goal is to motivate and support through this initiative. Keep the awesome photos and stories coming–I look forward to seeing these photos from our community as they go beyond diabetes every single week.

We have climbing in the Sierras from Chelsea who was just diagnosed, and from many other PWD who are getting after it: backpacking in Canada and Colorado for the first time with type1, ultra-marathon running in California and horseback riding in Singapore–just to name a few. So then where will YOU take your diabetes? We all have something that we use as an adjunct to our T1 management. Diabetes can’t exist in a vacuum. That’s why we are bringing these little snapshots of adventure and activity–thriving to you each week. This is normal. It’s not easy and it doesn’t mean there is no struggle involved but it’s just what we do.

Keep the shots coming!

Please support the work LivingVertical is doing by making a small monthly donation to the blog via paypal (right hand column on desktop or scroll down on mobile. 1 dollar a month from each of our readers would cover the costs of maintaining this website. You can also buy one of our diabetes empowerment photo prints!

The post Go Beyond Diabetes 6.29.15 appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
2440
High carb diet: first impressions http://livingvertical.org/2015/06/23/high-carb-diet-first-impressions/ Tue, 23 Jun 2015 08:00:58 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2143 Today I went running. On purpose. The end. Ok, just kidding–about that being the end. However for my use, the […]

The post High carb diet: first impressions appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Today I went running. On purpose.

The end.

Ok, just kidding–about that being the end. However for my use, the fact that my implementation of a new high carb diet that minimizes fat and all but eliminates processed foods and animal products has given me energy to the point that I can type the preceding intro (without lying!) is pretty massive! Don’t let that fool you though–this first exploration of how my shiny new dietary guidelines are working out is far from a “Swiss Watch”.Guidelines imply that this is the target I am shooting for. Most of the time I put forth the necessary time and effort to hit those nutritional targets–but when I am craving meat or cheese or (good) fats, I listen to my body. I bend the rules where it makes sense so as not to fly off the rails psychologically.

A few things to keep in mind when reading this. This post is about my first impressions. This isn’t research with any specific conclusion and it sure as hell isn’t medical or dietary advice. When I say “High Carb” diet, I mean that I am eating 30-40 grams per meal–still keeping the injections small. I do not eat bread or processed food. I have not been 100% perfect in the application of this way of eating; I do have a little cheese on occasion and I refuse to give up half and half in my coffee.

In my last post I laid out guidelines for how I would measure the success of my diet and now I will assess my  progress and process through that lens, with some commentary along the way.

Energy levels (working out and during normal daily activity)

  • Sleep (quality/quantity): I have not really increased the quantity of my sleep according to my Fitbit; I am right around 6 hours of sleep per night. The quality of that sleep or the way I feel upon waking however, has been significantly impacted. Rather than feeling lethargic and foggy, as I did eating low carb, I feel well rested and clear, mentally.
  • Strength/power during climbing: Working a “normal” job and trying to fit exercise into my life has been a struggle, since climbing isn’t as readily available as just going to Planet Fitness or the like. However, I have been sticking to a consistent plan where I am climbing hard twice weekly with sufficient time for recovery because this level of training is hard on the connective tissue and requires diligent caution. Nevertheless, I have been regularly climbing V4 and V5 boulder problems–I even sent a V6 which is the hardest grade I have ever climbed in my life. V4 had previously been my high water mark, even when I was getting out a lot more.
  • Body composition: I started this experiment knowing that I needed to lose a little fat to be at my optimal climbing weight. Strength to weight ratio is a huge factor in climbing hard–or not. I started at 190lbs and over about 3 weeks am down to 179lbs. I have not noticed a loss of power or muscle mass, and it’s not been a result of starvation or malnourishment so I feel pretty good about it. I am not promoting this as a way to lose weight–just reporting my experience.
  • Blood glucose: This is less black and white. I am learning how to balance and match my insulin to this new way of eating. There have been some impressive successes and failures. I have definitely seen sharper ups and downs which may speak to insulin sensitivity and the lack of fat to “pad” the rise and fall of blood sugar. I have noticed that I do not get the “post bolus upward creep” that I used to have to correct for.
  • Insulin sensitivity: On a low carb diet my insulin to carb ratio was 1:8 in the morning and 1:10 in the evening. I was taking 16 units of basal insulin (Lantus) and 12-15 units of rapid insulin (Humalog) 2-3 per meal plus 1.5-2 of “post bolus upward creep” correction/suppression per meal. To start with I have cut my basal to 12 units and knocked off the “post bolus upward creep” correction/suppression doses putting my rapid insulin at around 10 units daily. Thats 22 units Total Daily Dose (TDD) from 31 units (TDD) previously. I have also noticed that my insulin works faster–for reference I would get up in the morning and pre-bolus previously. Usually I would take several units for my breakfast meal and then wait a half hour or sometimes upwards of 45 minutes before I’d notice my CGM starting to gently trend downward. I am currently seeing downward trends within 15 minutes of injection.
  • Post-workout recovery: This has been the most dramatic change I have seen. I know I referenced it above but it really needs its own category. I worried initially about protein and if I would be able to recover as well. Recently I have been bouldering, which involves powerful moves off of small holds. It’s a full workout that taxes connective tissues as well–in other words it’s not just “walking up a hill” type of climbing. Ordinarily I would take two days to recover and still feel soreness in my muscles and joints. Since starting this experiment I will wake up the day immediately following a hard workout and feel barely any pain or soreness and fully recovered by the second day. I have been eating a lot of chia seeds, hemp seeds, greek yogurt, protein powder and clifbar Builder Bars (in moderation) to keep protein coming in. I can’t advise others but I am of the mindset that marketing has done a lot of good for the fitness-supplement industry. Then again, I’m not a powerlifter or a bodybuilder so individual needs are, of course, variable.

Miscellaneous observations:

I have noticed that when I backslide and eat meat/cheese that the following day my insulin sensitivity goes back down and I will experience higher blood glucose readings. The fact that my insulin behaves differently means that I am learning from the beginning and so I’m not throwing 100mg/dl readings all the time. Usually breakfast is hardest to nail down. When I can get the pre-bolus in, my breakfast (usually a banana and some yogurt with chia seeds) will keep me perfectly stable, so I know it can be done–but the pre-bolus has been key for me.

When I exercise, my blood sugar drops. Prior to this dietary switch, I would be taking insulin before and after climbing. Without changing major elements of my climbing workout on this diet I have been eating a half a banana before and after. It seems like when I start working hard my body is able to draw glucose out of my bloodstream so I am feeling stronger for longer.

In conclusion:

type1 diabetes and exercise

In the fall, I was climbing with the folks from Rock Type1 in New Hampshire. We were climbing multi-pitch routes and I had been thinking that this was the type of climbing I wanted to focus my next round of efforts on. We stopped for lunch and I broke out my cheese and beef jerky. I drank my water and got lots of protein and fat–and in the following hours I had to fight just to stay awake, even while on lead–that’s how little energy I had. My first impressions are that this way of eating is worthwhile for me to keep exploring because I feel and work better. In my next blog I will work in some Dexcom graphs to illustrate these points.

I know that this is pretty complex and I may not have covered all the variables–if you have a question, leave a comment below! This blog is not a substitute for medical or dietary advice. Any changes you want to make to your diabetes management should be taken on with the supervision of someone who is a doctor. 

Please support the work LivingVertical is doing by making a small monthly donation to the blog via paypal (right hand column on desktop or scroll down on mobile. 1 dollar a month from each of our readers would cover the costs of maintaining this website. You can also buy one of our diabetes empowerment photo prints!

The post High carb diet: first impressions appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
2143
Go Beyond Diabetes 6.22.15 http://livingvertical.org/2015/06/21/go-beyond-diabetes-6-22-15/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/06/21/go-beyond-diabetes-6-22-15/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 00:00:41 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2360 A couple of weeks ago I got an idea. Andres (listen to his podcast interview here!) suggested that I ask […]

The post Go Beyond Diabetes 6.22.15 appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
A couple of weeks ago I got an idea. Andres (listen to his podcast interview here!) suggested that I ask the LivingVertical community to share photos of their weekend adventures with goal of sharing back a couple of photos on Instagram each monday morning. If our goal is to inform and inspire others to go beyond diabetes then this seemed like a good idea. But would it work?

I was initially skeptical. I told Andres that it would be worth a try but I secretly expected to just hear crickets in reply when I put out the ask. Week one had about 6 or 7 submissions. Week 2 had more than 10. Week three more than 15. So I decided that rather than choose 2 or 3 photos to share and just sit on the rest–why not put out a weekly gallery with ALL the shots right here on our blog!

This is somewhat of an experiment–can we help support eachother as we move forward with goals in the real world through sharing our experiences in the virtual world? It’s a tricky balance but one that can be achieved, I think. Do you want to get involved? It’s really simple–just share the activities that allow you to Go Beyond diabetes by emailing your photo submission to steve@livingvertical.org. Share as much or as little information about what you are doing and why.

Each week, I’ll post the submissions I receive and readers can comment with questions, thoughts or support. Or all of those. I keep returning to the idea that the value in anything we do is how much we can give away. I’d love to be guiding people with diabetes through canyons or up cliffs again–but that’s not on the table right now. If I can use this as a platform to inspire and inform our community about ways that they can get after it on their own terms, that could be a help to some.

Like the idea? Leave a comment with ideas and subscribe to blog/email updates to stay connected with this initiative (side bar on computers, scroll down on mobile).

Please support the work LivingVertical is doing by making a small monthly donation to the blog via paypal (right hand column on desktop or scroll down on mobile. 1 dollar a month from each of our readers would cover the costs of maintaining this website. You can also buy one of our diabetes empowerment photo prints!

The post Go Beyond Diabetes 6.22.15 appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/06/21/go-beyond-diabetes-6-22-15/feed/ 6 2360
Carbs are not the enemy. http://livingvertical.org/2015/06/15/carbs-are-not-the-enemy-2/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/06/15/carbs-are-not-the-enemy-2/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 02:52:51 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/carbs-are-not-the-enemy-2/ There was a time when I would never have toyed with the idea of actually embracing carbs as the foundation […]

The post Carbs are not the enemy. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
There was a time when I would never have toyed with the idea of actually embracing carbs as the foundation of my diet. Everyone says, ‘carbs and sugar make you fat–eat more fat if you want to be lean’. I said that a lot, although my focus wasn’t usually on weight gain–but more on blood sugar. Having to negotiate with insulin in order to take in more carbs made it easy to default to a ketogenic diet which, as I’ve stated is not completely without it’s value,  but simply put, did NOT work for me once I mixed in greater athletic output. I am not on a mission to convert anyone to any type of diet–just to present my findings in hopes that it will add value as you are seeking to tackle new goals–in diabetes management and the places you bring that diabetes. Once I give these dietary guidelines below a few weeks of implementation I will discuss the experiment in a podcast episode.

So I recently shifted my diet from a low carb/high fat approach to one that can be simply described as high carb/low fat. Now before the outcry over low fat diets of the 90s giving rise to over-processed “low fat” foods that were deconstructed, zapped to reduce the fat content and then reimagined with greater sugar and foisted back over on the public as “heart-healthy”, let me make clear that this is not what I am referring to. Let me phrase it another way; “fruits, roots and leaves.”

Here is a snapshot of how I conceive the staples of this diet, which I have rigorously linked to nutritional profiles:

With sparing application of:

I’ll be predominately eating vegan as it turns out. Notably absent are meat, cheese and processed foods. Oh, did I mention I haven’t had any diet soda in a month? As I’ve started training and begun following these new dietary guidelines the cravings for Coke Zero have subsided and I just don’t really care about it any more. I tried drinking some the other week and it just was unusually gross (typically that first sip of a Coke Zero was akin to the use of substances far more illicit–in a highly addictive and pleasing way).

I have said that there are no universal truths in diet–but I may have to backpedal on that a tiny bit. I should have said that there are no “bad” macro nutrients if they are used appropriately. Carbs, fat and protein all have value. The arrangement of those components is up for debate–but universally speaking, the only position I hold to firmly is the value of eliminating processed foods from our diets wherever possible. So if you think all my ideas are horse hockey and you want to eat fat and meat in spades–great. That might be better for you. I’m not selling meal plans, so be my guest to experiment and find what works best for you. I’d just advise that you get the grass fed steak–over the regurgitated-reconstituted-beef-matter that I used to inhale in college in the name of “getting enough protein”. Quality matters. You probably pay attention to the fuel you put in your car–and wouldn’t put diesel in a regular tank just because (if it is?) it’s a few cents cheaper because it’s not good for the longevity. Same with your body and the fuel it needs.

I know that people are very sensitive to discussions of diet–because there is often judgment attached to it. For example, when I wrote last weeks blog about how the Ketogenic diet failed me in terms of athletic performance, I had a guy on Reddit tell me “you’re doing it wrong”. That’s not what I am trying to do here–I don’t want to judge YOUR diet. I want to show you how I judge my own. Save the criticism of each other and be harsh with your own habits and lots can happen. It is always important to question our methods–including the things we think are infallible. Questioning them will expose weaknesses–or it will expose greater integrity. Either way, you win!

With that general principle in mind, what you see above is how I have changed my diet. I will be honest, it has been challenging because it is uncomfortable. It feels like a diet. But even in the first few days of trying this on for size I have noticed some benefit so I am pressing forward. I am not a researcher per se, although I am proud to say that as a participant on the Glu website that what I experience and share here is going into a bigger picture of real time research, and that’s something we all can (and should, in my opinion) do. Right? I mean the micro research that I am doing and that you are doing can be macro research if you just plug it in.

Nevertheless, here are the criteria by which I am going to assess my “experiment”:

  • Energy levels (working out and during normal daily activity)
  • Sleep (quality/quantity)
  • Strength/power during climbing
  • Body composition
  • blood glucose
  • insulin sensitivity

My method is less stringent than what would be accepted by the New England Journal of Medicine; I admit that a lot of what I am presenting may seem (be?) anecdotal. Some variables could be present that I will inevitably miss and so I can’t tell anyone how they should or should not eat–other than processed foods being less desirable than whole foods, generally speaking. Do you have any suggestions for how to better assess the results of my experiment? Sound off in the comments below or email me steve@livingvertical.org!

Please support the work LivingVertical is doing by making a small monthly donation to the blog via paypal (right hand column on desktop or scroll down on mobile. 1 dollar a month from each of our readers would cover the costs of maintaining this website. You can also buy one of our diabetes empowerment photo prints!

The post Carbs are not the enemy. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/06/15/carbs-are-not-the-enemy-2/feed/ 11 2301
My falling-out with the ketogenic diet http://livingvertical.org/2015/06/07/my-falling-out-with-the-ketogenic-diet/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/06/07/my-falling-out-with-the-ketogenic-diet/#comments Sun, 07 Jun 2015 21:30:16 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2122 If you read my last blog about my new goals of climbing three major North American bigwall routes in the […]

The post My falling-out with the ketogenic diet appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
If you read my last blog about my new goals of climbing three major North American bigwall routes in the next five years–and you know anything about me, you already probably realized that I may have bitten off a lot to chew given where I am currently and where I will need to go in my training and climbing to have any chance of success. It’s not uncommon and honestly it seems to be the only way I can force myself to make progress. You have to force yourself out of the comfort zone of challenges that you know you can complete and move into areas where things are really up in the air.

Training for me always starts from the simplest things I can control–the “widest parts of the funnel” in order to benefit the more nuanced components down the line. Another way to think of it is a less gentle quote I’ve heard: ‘You can’t out-train a crappy diet’. That seems simple enough. Just give me the best diet and I’ll stick to it, right? Well, given that we live with type 1 diabetes, that is not so simple. Some of the richest sources of fuel for our bodies are also the hardest to integrate into good blood sugar management–which is also in the “wide part of the funnel”.

ketogenic diet low carb type 1 diabetes

I always looked at carbs as the enemy. Carbs make my blood sugar go high and low blood sugar is the goal. I slept with Dr Bernsteins book under my pillow at night and I’d gently prod friends to cut back on their carbs because the ketogenic diet is the truth. Everyone in crossfit and on the internet can’t be wrong can they? Maybe. Maybe not. That’s not the point–they can all be right in their own diet, with their own body but that overlooks three main issues I’ve noticed that I have to address as I am training:

  1. Blood sugar is only one health outcome, not the end all be all measurement of good health.
  2. There are no universal truths in diet
  3. There has to be room for flexibility and adaptation.

I have had A1Cs that are not shabby. usually in the 6’s, lets just say that. I have found that level of control by cutting my carbohydrates and relying on predominately fats and protein for energy. My problem was that the zip, the fire, the power–was simply missing. I usually felt tired and I had a hard time getting solid training sessions in and I would feel like I’d gone 10 rounds with 1990’s Mike Tyson for days following a workout (my recovery was dismally slow). I was taking a lot of insulin relative to the carbs I’d take in–my ratio went from 1:10-12 to 1:6-8. I felt like I had to constantly be correcting my blood sugar because it would always want to creep steadily upward, even hours after eating–and working out would often make it go higher rather than turning the trend around and bringing me back down.

Here is a snapshot of my previous ketogenic diet:

  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Occasionally Steak
  • Eggs in staggering quantities
  • Raw unsalted nuts
  • Cheese
  • Green salad
  • Sugar snap peas
  • green beans

Point being, my diet wasn’t crappy–the ketogenic diet just wasn’t a good fit for me. It was meeting the criteria of blood sugar management but it was still failing to make me feel energetic and active. So I decided to try and up my carb intake for more energy a few months back–which did show some promise. Using my new CGM, I’d see measurable increases in my ability to train when I’d eat more carbs–but I wasn’t hungry enough to hit my targets and my blood sugar was always sluggish in responding to my insulin so I drifted away from really getting the fuel I needed.

type 1 diabetes climbing adventure sports

I had been sticking to the Ketogenic plan, and I want to stress that it definitely did do well in terms of helping me hit my blood sugar targets with enough insulin. It was only when I threw in the athletic goals with their training demands that this measurement of “good diet” started to look less complete. I also want to say that I don’t mean this as a slight to anyone who is way into the Bernstein method; I get it. It works to keep blood sugar down–and perhaps my adherence to and application of the ketogenic diet methods were imperfect, but it’s these impasses that force us to examine our methods–to learn and grow.

So I have completely overhauled my diet, plugged it into my training and that is going to be the focus of my next blog or two; going through the process I am using to better adapt a new diet to greater physical demands. Because there are no universal truths or quick fixes in diets it’s certainly going to have some trial and error that I hope you and I both can learn from!

Please support the work LivingVertical is doing by making a small monthly donation to the blog via paypal (right hand column on desktop or scroll down on mobile. 1 dollar a month from each of our readers would cover the costs of maintaining this website. You can also buy one of our diabetes empowerment photo prints!

The post My falling-out with the ketogenic diet appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/06/07/my-falling-out-with-the-ketogenic-diet/feed/ 4 2122
Setting goals in Type1 diabetes http://livingvertical.org/2015/05/31/setting-goals-in-type1-diabetes/ Sun, 31 May 2015 21:00:05 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2095 When we think about setting goals with type1 diabetes, what comes to mind? A1C targets? Difficult discussions with your doctor? […]

The post Setting goals in Type1 diabetes appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
When we think about setting goals with type1 diabetes, what comes to mind? A1C targets? Difficult discussions with your doctor? Eliminating that pesky “post breakfast spike” or upgrading your devices to the latest technology? I’d like to offer a different perspective on setting diabetes goals and share some of what I am going to be tackling in the coming months (and years?). Let’s take a step back from blood sugar and numbers and ratios for a moment. I’ve never found a way to do unpleasant tasks without motivation–without a reason. Fear of long term complications and far-off consequences just don’t cut it. I’ll worry about it when it becomes a problem. I need something more immediate and something that offers positive incentive.

So I climb.

Less now than I did before I had a job and a 1 year old, but I think about climbing a lot and I’ve managed to actually get stronger through finding new ways to train and tweak my diet. You may be thinking that it’s odd that my motivation for taking care of myself isn’t the ‘I want to make sure I’m here to dance at her wedding’ trope that has appeared in many insufferable television commercials. Here’s my logic; I don’t want to dance at anyone’s wedding. Ever. For any reason. The thought of even my daughter dating is the last thing I want to envision. The idea of motivation being connected to something that actually benefits from physical performance is key for diabetes goals–because that is the “other” way to interact with diabetes that isn’t just numbers and data.

type1 diabetes sports and camping
Set goals and share what you’re doing with the LivingVertical community

When we hear the words “performance” we are conditioned to think that this is reserved for people pushing their limits at a very high athletic level. You don’t have to be an athlete to push your limits. You just have to have a goal–something you want your body to do better than it does currently–or some place you want your body to be better adapted to play or survive.

My life has changed over the last year–a lot. But in that process my goals have actually become more crystalized. The steps I’ll need to take to reach those goals may vary wildly with work and family responsibilities but at the end of the day, taking those steps are how I will measure my progress.

My goals (in the next five years):

  • Free climb Moonlight Buttress 5.12+, Zion National Park 1100 feet–a route that I’ve climbed in the past but it punished me and I didn’t climb it free.
  • Free climb Regular Northwest Face on Half dome 5.12, Yosemite National Park 2000 feet–this route has always inspired me and I have not tried it yet. I may save this for last because it would be really awesome to get it on my first attempt once I am thoroughly prepared.
  • Ascend the Nose of El Capitan  5.11 C1, in a day 2900 feet–I didn’t triumph on El Capitan during Project 365 and so I have some unfinished business there. This would be a lifetime achievement for me.

Our goals (simply put: what we want out of life) are the lens that diabetes must be seen through in order to be managed. I believe that training and diet fine-tuning necessary to pursue these goals will ultimately benefit my blood sugar in the big picture despite inevitable pitfalls along the way. My goals aren’t numbers–my goals are my experience. I will share as much of the process as is reasonable to facilitate a discussion. If my blood sugar runs high while I’m on the walls (which has happened) the benefit is still there in the long term–especially if that’s what it takes to get the climbs done safely. If that elevates my A1C a bit, is that really the worst thing?

Will this be a “project“? Will anyone care? I’m not sure. Maybe. Maybe not. I realized recently that awareness projects come organically from people pursuing goals–and some goals wind up being great to share and reach others–and some goals are more personal and not viable for a big audience. I think that getting our bodies to feel better while going farther is something that we all can appreciate on some level even if climbing isn’t part of the picture. That’s why I will be sharing my ups and downs–and asking to hear YOUR ups and downs, because the point of all this is not about climbing but about seeing others set goals, fit diabetes into that framework and then make it happen!

livingvertical facebook
Click, shoot and share! Get involved with empowering others!

I’m stoked to see what will come of all this. I believe that the process of trying–is really important. That’s what climbing is all about. That’s what diabetes is all about. Coming back with greater knowledge and linking the pieces of the puzzle together. This isn’t something we should be quiet about–we should take pride in it. I’ll start. Will you join me?

 

If you like what we are doing and you want to get involved there’s a lot you can do: subscribe to the blog,  buy a photo print, follow and promote our work on social media and share your goals and experience going beyond type 1 diabetes. 

The post Setting goals in Type1 diabetes appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
2095
Non-compliant http://livingvertical.org/2015/05/03/non-compliant/ http://livingvertical.org/2015/05/03/non-compliant/#comments Sun, 03 May 2015 20:22:25 +0000 http://livingvertical.org/?p=2068 Words carry with them a lot of power, especially in their delivery. This week I spent several days at a […]

The post Non-compliant appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Words carry with them a lot of power, especially in their delivery. This week I spent several days at a diabetes conference, the T1D Exchange Annual Meeting; there were many people in attendance representing the diabetes industry, research, clinicians and patient advocates. Everyone came for their own reasons–mostly to see what we are working on as an organization and to get a sense of what lies just beyond the bleeding edge. My own reasons for getting up at 4:30 AM each day and putting on a suit (I do in fact own a suit!) may have been more simple initially; it’s a non-negotiable part of my job and the food (and coffee) was free, plentiful and of a really outstanding quality.

One of the things that made a huge impact on me was the fact that this meeting was not just a bunch of “industry suits” dictating what they want to sell the community; in fact it was a surprising marriage of honest perspectives that really shocked me. A patient panel began the whole event–and very “normal” people with diabetes spoke their truth; doubts, fears, challenges and yes, blatant skepticism. Sitting in the audience, hearing the struggles I’ve faced for years articulated while watching heads of the diabetes industry squirm in their seats as the people on stage pulled no punches admittedly made me a little uncomfortable. It made everyone uncomfortable. It was a level of frank communication that just hasn’t really happened elsewhere in diabetes as an actual exchange.

These things need to make more people uncomfortable–change can’t happen if you’re too busy patting yourself on the back and though it was only a start–it was brilliant.

The impact of the conversation was far beyond the cathartic, virtual “tar and feathering” of the pharmaceutical industry that happens in various segments of the tin foil hat communities in the dark corners of Facebook and Twitter. Not because the language was softer or the sentiment of the diabetes community was blunted, but because this conversation was an actual exchange, not just a faceless social media account screaming into the virtual wind like captain Ahab in the crows nest of the Pequod. Perhaps this surprised me because so often we see the meetings between the diabetes community, industry and research placed on eggshells. The awareness of who exactly is holding the pillow cases stamped with dollar signs all too frequently silences the voices that have the power to create change.

That would be your voice, and mine–diabetes advocacy as a whole.

There is a gargantuan disconnect between our voices and those who need to hear them. I saw the dim, but powerful flicker of hope as this gap narrowed for several days and real conversations happened. During one particularly poignant panel which featured heads of the insurance industry–basically discussing the calculations by which they decide who, what and how to pay out–my ire was sorely provoked. The reality of health insurance is that it is an industry which profits from the misfortunes of others–whose misfortunes would become catastrophic without their involvement, creating a catch 22 of the highest order. Hearing the term “non-compliant” thrown around like singles in a strip club–in reference to people with type1 diabetes–was like a slap in the face every…single…time.

Over and over.

Several leading Endocrinologists and leading medical experts took the microphone during the Q and A which followed this panel and dropped some truth on the panel about just how detached their perspective is–that they see the type1 diabetes community in terms of compliance when the reality is a systemic lack of care and resources.

“No person with diabetes gets up each day and says ‘to hell with my health, limbs and quality of life‘ yet to frame the entire conversation as though this is why we as part of the system have failed our patients is inexcusable. We are blaming the victims.”

Hearing medical experts repeatedly go to bat for us and admit the failure of the system was powerful. The majority of people with type 1 diabetes aren’t hitting the recommended A1C targets and it’s not for a lack of trying, they said. It’s proof that the message is getting through on some level and that we as people with diabetes are at the heart of it and if we are not yet, we must be. 

The issue of civil disobedience arose in some of the panel discussions and it hit me that we as a community have stopped our evolution at advocacy which can be bought and sold. Advocacy is great in a working system but it’s powerless to change a broken one. Activism is the next level.

By the end of the annual meeting, I had more reason to show up beyond the food and the coffee. I was there to draw plans and inspiration; to stoke the fires that were fed with the dead-wood language of compliance. I know that this is just the beginning of something big. Something that hinges on action, not hashtags. I don’t know exactly what comes next, but I feel inspired to elevate the conversation about diabetes to a place where it can’t be ignored. This happens through a lot of different channels. Some of it is boots on the ground, some of it is virtual, some of it intellectual, research. None of it is about being compliant. We do not have a system that has earned my compliance.

I am non-compliant. My blood sugar is just fine, thank you, but I am looking beyond my diabetes and towards the future. Change can’t happen if no one shows up–you may think no one is listening–and that may be true at times but it’s no reason to pack up and go home. If you’re too jaded to even get involved–that’s about as compliant as you can get.

In the end it may be all for nothing. The system may get worse and all the nightmares about complications and costs may go unchecked for all of our efforts. Maybe no one will care or listen, so why bother? Thats a question we all have to answer for ourselves. For me the answer is that it is always better to try–and to try hard, like you mean it–and yes, it’s probably going to involve some climbing.

climbing diabetes type 1 steve richert

Special thanks to Stefanie Richert and Jeffrey Lash for the photos in this blog post. The obvious climbing portrait was shot just below the summit of Seneca Rocks in West Virgina as part of an “all type1 ascent”. Please support the work LivingVertical is doing by making a small monthly donation to the blog via paypal (right hand column on desktop or scroll down on mobile. 1 dollar a month from each of our readers would cover the costs of maintaining this website. You can also buy one of our diabetes empowerment photo prints!

The post Non-compliant appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2015/05/03/non-compliant/feed/ 3 2068
CGM: my diabetes quantum leap http://livingvertical.org/2015/04/07/my-diabetes-quantum-leap/ Tue, 07 Apr 2015 15:49:48 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1989 In the last month since I’ve updated the site here, a LOT has changed with my diabetes. I’ve been working […]

The post CGM: my diabetes quantum leap appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
In the last month since I’ve updated the site here, a LOT has changed with my diabetes. I’ve been working on an ongoing project with Glu (as yet unnamed) which has had me traveling about in the Southwest–and I am working on a handful of new things for LivingVertical as well, including a new L.E.A.D. project which will likely be an ongoing effort. I know it may seem like nothing is happening here from the outside–which is often the way it goes when you are working on a handful of creative projects, trying to make ends meet and traveling–but things are coming together!

As you may know, I have long been a proponent of a low carb, whole food based diet–because I think that the benefits of eating that way outweigh the costs regardless if you have diabetes or not. It was only recently, when climbing in Zion National Park this February that I really began to question the benefits of strictly eating to my blood sugar rather than eating to my performance goals. This has always been a struggle for me, because having an A1c in the 6 range is a really important goal–as is climbing hard!

Adjusting to a job, a family and a temporary move to the east coast has pushed me to work harder to find time and opportunity to climb and build my fitness–and the obstacle I kept running into was that I was always dog-tired. It hit me in Zion as I flailed on the crux pitch of Touchstone–by the time I made the challenging moved, I was simply out of gas. I decided, sort of by accident to try eating more carbs when I picked up a huge rack of Croissants from Costco. If I’d had the option of buying fewer, I would have gone that route, but they only had a dozen or more so off I went. In the following days, I was left with the obvious responsibility of eating those delicious, buttery carbs–because it’d be irresponsible to let them go to waste!

I noticed a few things–I was sleeping better and when I’d wake up, I didn’t feel like a zombie. I wanted to get out and climb. So I did. And during the last few days of my time in Zion, I felt a significant boost in my energy that I had not felt in years. I wasn’t climbing super hard–but I was able to sustain significant effort and recover enough to keep on climbing. A few croissants were the breakthrough for me. Feeling energized while climbing was something I’d forgotten about–and being tired and sluggish all the time really had robbed me of the joy of being outside. Suddenly, it felt like there was a whole world of possibility to discover–again!

Having returned from Utah, I tried to transition my newfound openness to carbs into my training here in Massachusetts. It worked, but there was a critical link missing–my blood sugar. See, I had been able to increase my carbs in Utah without too much impact on my blood sugar because I was way more active. No long periods at the office or on a train. Now I needed to figure out how to tailor my insulin dosing appropriately to make up for that fact and still keep the elusive balance between performance, energy and blood sugar.

Enter my new CGM, the Dexcom Share. So for my entire life with diabetes, I have been behind the curve technologically. All the white noise about new gadgets has always been lost on me. When I’d read reviews of new diabetes kit, I’d dismiss it out of hand because after all, who the hell can afford that stuff? For the first time in my life, I found myself in a position to get a CGM–not just any old CGM–the Share that everyone was buzzing about. This was the first major advancement in diabetes that I have been able to own and appreciate since Lantus came on the market. I wasn’t super interested in the fact that I could literally share my blood sugar readings with others–honestly I just wanted to own my very own CGM and see about really dialing in my carbs.

In short, this thing has blown my mind and given me control that is a gargantuan leap forward. I changed the way I dose my insulin–less so the quantity and more so the frequency. In a 24 hour period I will routinely not go above 160 and not have significant lows. I am eating an appropriate amount of carbs (still not loading up on rice or pasta though!) by adding 30-50 grams per day–for a total of around 120-150g–and working out everyday. I am taking injections much more frequently–up to 15 per day in some cases. It’s more work on some level but the results are SO worth it. I have also been really surprised at how much more I like interacting with my CGM via my iPhone rather than the receiver itself. The range of the receiver exceeded my expectations as well. I can walk all around the house or office without having an extra device on my person and still be able to quickly see what my sugar is doing.

I feel like this has been a monumental leap forward for me. I didn’t like the pump and I’m fine with saying that. I can also happily tell you that on MDI I am keeping an average BG of–well let’s see. I’m installing the desktop app to give you an actual answer rather than speculating about what my average has been. Average BG has been 113, 1% high 6% low. I had decent control before, but this is definitely a new level.

Now the question I have to answer is what am I going to do with this newfound ability to dial in my diabetes, and where should I take it? I feel like this is pretty obvious but I want to be sure you note that Dexcom has no interest in me that I know of, and they didn’t ask me to write this. They aren’t paying my costs for the Share nor are they giving me free supplies. If they wanted to sponsor LivingVertical in an upcoming climbing project that’d be stellar but I’m not holding my breath. That’s as good a job as I can do with disclaimer language before I become downright cheeky. I liked this device way more than I expected to–and it’s WAY more accurate compared to the old Seven that I used during Project365.

Please support the work LivingVertical is doing by making a small monthly donation to the blog via paypal (right hand column on desktop or scroll down on mobile. 1 dollar a month from each of our readers would cover the costs of maintaining this website. You can also buy one of our diabetes empowerment photo prints!

The post CGM: my diabetes quantum leap appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
1989
LivingVertical: year in review http://livingvertical.org/2014/12/28/livingvertical-year-review/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/12/28/livingvertical-year-review/#comments Sun, 28 Dec 2014 23:14:21 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1523 It’s time for the obligatory year end wrap up–which this year doesn’t feel so obligatory since it’s been a really […]

The post LivingVertical: year in review appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
It’s time for the obligatory year end wrap up–which this year doesn’t feel so obligatory since it’s been a really pivotal year that has seen a lot of turbulence coupled with some really positive changes for me personally which I think translate to LivingVertical as a project.

I started this year in Utah with a baby on the way–lots of question marks about what that would mean and no real clear vision for how I would be able to make ends meet. So I decided that I’d have to put LivingVertical on the back burner and head back east to try and help establish my family and prioritize their needs over living my dream. It felt like the end or some kind of crossroads where everything I had envisioned and worked to create had suddenly lost relevance in the face of unworkable logistical challenges.

Stefanie was in Massachussets for the delivery and as I was reminded on more than a few occasions, the east coast is not exactly the climbing mecca of North America. My attitude wasn’t great going into this–I didn’t have any sense of equilibrium. I had put LivingVertical ahead of much of my personal life–which was a decent band aid until it became pretty obvious that I couldn’t make the band-aid stick any longer. With grim resolve I made up my mind to just suffer–even if that meant getting a job bagging groceries. Last summers expedition was admittedly esoteric; I knew that it wouldn’t really “sell”.

At the time that I had conceptualized the Wind River Project (over a year prior) it seemed rebellious and edgy to do something that thumbed its nose at corporate sponsorship and took a deliberately obscure path just to prove a point. By the time it came down to brass tacks, I had a baby on the way and suddenly those Everest type big-box expeditions with their funding and PR teams started to sound pretty good.

wind river project climber matt spohn
PHOTO: www.blakemccordphoto.com

I wrung my hands up until Lilo was born–and then she came along and all the dreams and visions seemed to fade away. I just kind of didn’t care any more. It was liberating. Funding or no funding. Bagging groceries, guiding or office work. It all seemed a bit meaningless so long as it gave me the time to spend with this little girl who crashed into my life and refocused everything I thought I knew. I stopped wringing my hands; deep down, I just wanted to skip the expedition and play with Lilo.

diabetes and climbing adventure Steve Richert

Fortunately my sense of duty prevented me from doing this; but as I headed out to Wyoming I was only half there. I did my best to stay positive through the weeks that followed but I’ve never been great a pretending and I am pretty sure that I was a lousy climbing partner, creating an emotional drain on the people around me and pretty much embodying some Puddle of Mudd songs from back in the day. I appreciate Matt, Blake, Jeffrey and Martin putting up with me and understanding and encouraging me despite my less than stellar behavior. We had many long conversations about “what comes next” for me personally and for LivingVertical. The upshot seemed to be that I would get a job in Massachusetts doing “whatever” and that LivingVertical would go away, more or less.

Fast forward to 2015.

LivingVertical hasn’t gone away–and while I do have a job that’s based in Boston, it’s not “doing whatever”–I’m helping empower people through grassroots research driven by people with diabetes. LivingVertical is actually thriving as my parallel work at the T1D Exchange/Glu moves forward simultaneously in a kind of symbiotic relationship. I had kind of run out of things to say earlier this year–or at least it felt like everything I said was getting less and less cohesive. Entering a new compartment of the diabetes world has definitely helped change that!

So here is a sneak preview of some of what I am working on for 2015: Project365 streaming online–the FULL feature as well as the Wind River Project film and the Team LivingVertical film which are both in production now–as well as new episodes of the “Diabeticast“. Additionally I am working on plans for a diabetes story-telling project which is unlike anything I’ve created yet, another big expedition and film (not 100% sure on the destination yet!) and more climbing coupled with life on the road.

landscape photography sunset in Idaho

I am pretty sure that all of the ideas on that list won’t work out exactly how I thought–but I am also pretty sure that there are some great things in store that will wind up on the list as a result, so I am ready to trust the process, find new adventures and bring my diabetes along for the ride. I believe now more than ever that diabetes is what we make of it and I am going to do my best to carve out my part of the tale while the knife is still sharp!

diabetic climber Steve Richert project365 Zion Utah

The post LivingVertical: year in review appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2014/12/28/livingvertical-year-review/feed/ 2 1523
Diabetes research: from skeptic to fanatic http://livingvertical.org/2014/12/14/diabetes-research-from-skeptic-to-fanatic/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/12/14/diabetes-research-from-skeptic-to-fanatic/#comments Sun, 14 Dec 2014 21:14:09 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1522 Download this episode (right click and save) What does a mediocre climber know about diabetes research? Well, compared to some, […]

The post Diabetes research: from skeptic to fanatic appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>

Download this episode (right click and save)

What does a mediocre climber know about diabetes research? Well, compared to some, I suppose the answer is ‘not much’. However, I do know a whole lot about the way someone who has been successful managing their diabetes for 16 or so years feels about research–how the research landscape looks from the outside. The reality is that I have always felt disconnected from diabetes research. I haven’t been “against” it but I always felt like it was very detached from the day to day needs of people like me, who lived with diabetes. It stole the spotlight when the public thought about “helping out”. I’ve always believed that research that promises a cure but very little else in the interim is going to miss the mark for a lot of us, because after years of hearing these promises we get tired of the same old hash–and we get better at living with our diabetes, so we check out–and are no longer motivated by thin promises of a cure.

No, I haven’t forgotten that I now work for a diabetes research non-profit organization, the T1D Exchange and its community called Glu. In fact, I feel like this Seinfeld clip is not far off the mark from my own situation because I have always been very candid about how research has made me feel and why. I didn’t make any attempt to avoid being forthright as I went about interviewing–and I felt like my candidness was appreciated. That’s the first thing that made me feel differently about the Glu research community.

Here’s where it gets interesting though…being part of an organization where everyone is truly open to understanding how the diabetes community feels in order to CHANGE the business as usual approach has really given me new hope for the process by which research happens. Not because I am desperate to never have to take another injection and have bought into the idea that a cure is around the corner–but because I see at work a process that has integrity and empowerment at its heart, not distant promises and big “asks”.

Here’s what I mean: if you ask for money for research and then I don’t know where my money went or to whom or for what, I am going to be expecting some amazing final product (a cure) and if it doesn’t turn up at my doorstep, I am going to bail. I am going to feel like the system doesn’t work and I am unable to do anything other than give more money. But why should I do that–since I already tried it once and it didn’t get me anywhere? I certainly think that’s a very reasonable, if oversimplified way to feel about the process.

Alternately, if you say, “you have the power to BE research. To influence and guide it. Your diabetes contains data that is critical, so become a member at MyGlu.org and you will be able to contribute meaningful pieces of information that will collectively keep moving us closer to a cure as a community–which will be there for you between this point and that. Take action–on a simple, immediate level–you don’t have to even leave your computer. You don’t have to write a check and hope for results. Do something different,today.” That makes me feel entirely different. I don’t expect the world to fall in my lap, but I know that I don’t have to leave research to someone out there in some lab somewhere. I can be empowered and get involved right here.

That’s the “ah-ha” moment I had of recently. That’s where I realized that it’s amazing to see an organization take head on the disconnect that so many of us feel–and not be threatened by it but turn it into a solution that gives us the power. I’ve been skeptical not of the research itself, but of the system that seems unwilling to face these uncomfortable realities. So if you don’t think research matters because your diabetes is something you’ve already got sufficiently dialed–don’t bail. If you think it won’t ever happen because it’s not profitable to the industry–don’t be too jaded to take another look. If you already fund another research org–know that you can double your impact just by logging in and taking a few surveys right at your computer.

If you’re wondering where LivingVertical went and think it’s been turned into a different type of space–fear not. I want you to know how to be empowered–and I want you to know when I feel empowered too. I have some mighty big climbing plans in the works for the coming year and the Glu community is going to be part of that journey, sharing in the creative process. I’m stoked because I’ve found a home for my efforts and plans including LivingVertical–and I have been able to do that without selling out or turning this site into an advertorial for the diabetes industry.

steve richert livingvertical diabetic climber
I may not know a lot about research science, but I know a lot about living with diabetes–and that’s enough to make a difference .

Be on the lookout for more video releases from us–I’m working on a short timelapse reel and of course the Wind River Project and…more. If you want to support LivingVertical which has no monetary sponsors, buy a photo print for christmas. The photos are pretty great (sure, I’m biased) and they help defray the costs of operating this website. Nothing you read, hear or watch here is representative of or condoned by my employer, the T1D Exchange. It’s all my own opinion, love it or hate it.

The post Diabetes research: from skeptic to fanatic appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2014/12/14/diabetes-research-from-skeptic-to-fanatic/feed/ 1 1522
Wind River Project update: new photos, video and a podcast! http://livingvertical.org/2014/11/30/wind-river-project-update/ Sun, 30 Nov 2014 22:00:54 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1521 Some new and exciting updates taking place as we move out of Diabetes Awareness Month–and with it I have completed […]

The post Wind River Project update: new photos, video and a podcast! appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Some new and exciting updates taking place as we move out of Diabetes Awareness Month–and with it I have completed a trailer for the Wind River Project where that tale will continue to evolve and unfold. I strongly encourage you to check it out–because I wrote up the story of our time and events over there–and in the meantime, here is the latest and greatest episode number 6 of the Diabeticast with none other than Matt Spohn–it’s good to finally start telling the story of our expedition–I really think this is one you will enjoy!

I know this is a short post but it’s really more of an update to point you to the trailer and the project page for the Wind River Project because that has been my biggest focus of late. I started to work on the trailer and listening to the interview footage made me think that this would be a good intermediate step for getting you psyched for the film while it is in production. Being completely honest, that is a process that may take any length of time due to my change of schedule with a new job–so I am happy to take advantage of this time and put a dent in the project.

wind river project climber matt spohn

 

I am excited to start getting some of this cranked out–enjoy the write up and the new photography that I have posted as well. Much more to come…but not without a lot of work!

The post Wind River Project update: new photos, video and a podcast! appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
1521
So this just happened… http://livingvertical.org/2014/11/17/just-happened/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/11/17/just-happened/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 16:56:07 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1520 On Friday, which happened to be World Diabetes Day, something pretty significant in my life just happened. I got a […]

The post So this just happened… appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
On Friday, which happened to be World Diabetes Day, something pretty significant in my life just happened. I got a job. I have long struggled with walking the line between passion and employment and it hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been easy to walk away from LivingVertical in favor of conventional employment and it hasn’t been easy to try and make LivingVertical appealing to sponsors who only want to do short term contracts with me. For several years I have gone back and forth between attempting to translate my passion into a sustainable program and letting it go in favor of gainful employment, not really seeing a better alternative.


Now, I found a fit that doesn’t force me to choose between those two less-than-stellar fates. In my work with Project365 and the Wind River Project I realized that the power of what we have been creating is not just about climbing or specific adventurous pursuits, but making diabetes about us as people and telling the stories of how this condition integrates with and shapes our realities. Beyond that, I have wanted to connect this story telling to a purpose, to an organization and a bigger impact.

I am not downplaying the impact that LivingVertical has had, but I have also witnessed the very real limitations of operating by myself and not having an organization to plug into. Sure I’ve had unlimited time and freedom but the flip side of that is that wearing all the hats and having few if any resources to get wheels turning on projects significantly limits what can be accomplished. Now I have found somewhere to call home that allows me to continue to engage and tell the stories and spark the project ideas that I had to put on the shelf for the last couple of years.

Over the last several months I have taken a lot of time considering this position that I accepted on Friday–and I said repeatedly and maintain–that it would need to be “right”. It needed to flow as part of my progression rather than being a deviation from it. I have gone through a lot of changes lately (parenthood, relocation etc.) and they have all brought with them some trepidation–as all adventure should. Does it sound odd that climbing things and being alone in the wilderness is less scary in many ways than making a change in my life? I have always wanted to climb in Patagonia. Baffin Island. Greenland Fjords. Mostly because I never have and I want to see what it’s like–and someday I will.

In the same vein, I have always wanted to have a job that would give me health insurance and the stability to support a family, allowing me to flex my creative muscle around engaging the greater diabetes community–without having to sell out the message of LivingVertical. Mostly because I never have had that before and I want to see what that’s like and now I will.I don’t know what the future holds for me and LivingVertical–I know that I feel a lot more freedom to let go of the pressure to find funding and sponsorship for climbing projects.

I feel more freedom to just go climbing and live my life. To take back the moments that I’ve stressed out about capturing and sharing–take them back and hold them for myself and my family. LivingVertical isn’t going away–but I am pushing the reset button in a way. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone–and that’s a good thing. If my work with LivingVertical has meant anything to you, I hope that you will continue to support my efforts in this new venture–because the best is yet to come!

DSC_10441

Oh. The most important part and the actual reason I am writing this blog in the first place–I am now the Special Projects Manager for T1Dexchange and their online community, Glu. Make sure you like/follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you all for all the support and encouragement and love over the last several years. I would never be in this position to take this next step had it not been for you all.

The post So this just happened… appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2014/11/17/just-happened/feed/ 3 1520
My love-hate relationship with Diabetes Awareness Month http://livingvertical.org/2014/11/02/love-hate-relationship-diabetes-awareness-month/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/11/02/love-hate-relationship-diabetes-awareness-month/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 01:06:22 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1519 I just recorded episode 5 of the LivingVertical Diabeticast and it may shock you to hear that I sort of […]

The post My love-hate relationship with Diabetes Awareness Month appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I just recorded episode 5 of the LivingVertical Diabeticast and it may shock you to hear that I sort of cringe in late October knowing that November is “all about diabetes”. So rather than just keep my feelings to myself, I decided to share 5 reasons that the month of November and the inundation of all things diabetes are difficult for me. See, I don’t hate diabetes–or diabetes awareness. Quite the opposite, as I have dedicated much of my life to sharing and promoting awareness. It’s just hard to live with diabetes and spend your life streamlining diabetes as a condition so it doesn’t require constant attention being drawn to it–and then turn around and have a month where you have to undo all of that in order to get people to notice all the effort of the previous 11 months!

Download this episode (right click and save)

1 My life isn’t all about diabetes in reality. It’s a tiny part of my focus each day. It’s taken me years to get it dialed in to this point.

2 Awareness means different things to different people–the awareness that I seek to raise among others with diabetes is different from the awareness needed for the general public. Different audiences, different messages. It’s grueling keeping two scripts up to date.

3 Advocacy burnout is a real thing. People get burned out from doing the same thing day in and day out with their medical care–and the same thing happens with advocacy such that it almost becomes like having diabetes twice over. It’s hard to talk about because all the effort of advocacy is about creating a positive change, but we all get burned the hell out. The fact that it feels “wrong” to vent about it–makes it even harder.

4 I don’t always have much to say about diabetes. It’s like when I see my endo–“Yup, I still have diabetes. Yup, I still take the same insulin. Still have highs and lows. What’s new with you?”. All month long people are full of energy and advocacy and clever things to say or do and I just hear crickets chirping in my head. How can I not have anything to say about diabetes?

5 Awareness is abstract. It means a multitude of things and its value is impossible to quantify across the board. It’s not a hard science–yet it changes peoples lives, so I can’t walk away from it. I love it and I hate it all at once.

At the end of the day, these are 5 reasons that I hate this month–because it’s really hard for me. These are not 5 reasons why this month is “bad”. On the flip side, once I take the focus off myself to look around and see how this month impacts the community (not just me as an individual dealing with my efforts) that’s where it starts to track back towards the other end of the spectrum. People are all revved up and doing stuff amazing stuff. Smash Diabetes totally rocks and so does the BigBlueTest and the 100 Campaign. These are efforts that get momentum during this month and give others a chance to get involved who may not get to live in the hot zone like those of us who are full time advocates do. That’s a pretty special thing and it’s worth a little extra effort to be part of it.

I’d like to think that people read all the way through my blog/podcast and don’t run off to find a nice sharp pitchfork without hearing the full spectrum of my feelings. Not everything about diabetes and awareness advocacy is warm and fuzzy–and I’m ok with that, I’m just not ok with keeping that to myself.

blake mccord photography diabetic climbers wind river project
Because this is what Diabetes means to me. Thanks to www.blakemccordphoto.com for this image.

LivingVertical is 100% grassroots. We rely on the support of people who appreciate our message for funding. If you’re one of these people, check out our STORE and throw us a few bones!

The post My love-hate relationship with Diabetes Awareness Month appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2014/11/02/love-hate-relationship-diabetes-awareness-month/feed/ 4 1519
The Diabetes Partnership http://livingvertical.org/2014/10/21/diabetes-partnership/ Tue, 21 Oct 2014 20:38:21 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1518   Last weekend when I was at the Gunks in NY shooting the SmashDiabetes video and climbing with Jeffrey Lash […]

The post The Diabetes Partnership appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
 

Last weekend when I was at the Gunks in NY shooting the SmashDiabetes video and climbing with Jeffrey Lash who has been a blog guest a few times and a big part of Team LivingVertical–we wound up encountering some less than ideal weather and had to take a day away from climbing. As Jeffrey and I sat around in my dads house chatting about coffee, parenthood, diabetes and climbing–I realized that this was a podcast waiting to happen!

IMG_0828

Download this episode (right click and save)

I quickly set up some audio capture and presto! Jeffrey Lash is officially the first guest on the LivingVertical Diabeticast! I don’t want to give away all the goodies of what we discussed–because it took me about 4 hours of editing and recording to do produce the podcast and I am not looking to transcribe it word for word.

However, one thing that really hit home to me was how diabetes–which can be isolating–has also created partnership and community in our life. Climbing and diabetes share the element of challenge and both foster connection and bonds as people face these challenges together. Jeffrey and I explore the partnership that diabetes creates as we take on serious adventures together as well as a lot more–and a few of the stories of our Type 1 Climbing trip this past summer with Team LivingVertical.

 

Of course this got me thinking about the hard drive full of photos, video and stories that still need to be edited and processed. So aside from a sweet podcast, this time with Jeffrey was good motivation to get our team video cut together. I’m pretty exciting to show you the footage and share more of these awesome T1 climbers who have changed MY outlook on life with diabetes.

As always, I hop you enjoy the podcast–if you have guests to suggest or topics you’d like covered, let me know! Meanwhile, hit up our store and buy photo prints so we can afford the webhosting costs necessary to make the podcast–also leave us a review of the podcast on iTunes!

The post The Diabetes Partnership appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
1518
Smash Diabetes! http://livingvertical.org/2014/10/19/smash-diabetes/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/10/19/smash-diabetes/#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 17:43:43 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1517 Over the last couple of weeks I have been working on some video production for a diabetes initiative that I […]

The post Smash Diabetes! appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Over the last couple of weeks I have been working on some video production for a diabetes initiative that I think is pretty stellar called “#SmashDiabetes“. Sure I am a little biased because this is my video…written, directed, shot, edited…

So what about you? Give it a whirl if you’ve got something to say about diabetes. If you’re tired of being told how to feel. If you’re tired of the misconceptions about what you can and can’t eat. If you don’t get a chance to talk about the condition you live with every day. If you don’t feel represented by what a Google search of “diabetes” turns up.

We all have reasons. Even if you’ve had diabetes for years and just gotten comfortable not talking about it because you’ve taken it in stride. I know all about that. Sometimes that’s the hardest place from which to reach out because we have grown comfortable and it seems like there is nothing to say. As I have learned through starting LivingVertical after 13 years of living with diabetes and almost never talking about it–the things we have made “normal” in our life managing this condition should not be taken for granted.

Who can see? Who will care? Maybe no one. Maybe just one person. Maybe a whole bunch of people. I am almost always caught off guard when someone tells me that they appreciate LivingVertical–because almost everything I am doing is talking about what is normal to me and just a part of my operating system that I’d rather leave running quietly in the background. If you’ve followed this blog and listened to my podcasts you’ll know that this process is taxing if you make it a full time gig. It’s also rewarding.

Now you can get the reward of advocacy without having to quit your job and live out of a car. Smash diabetes because you can!

LivingVertical is 100% grassroots. Support our efforts by visiting our store and buying some photo prints from our recent climbing expeditions.

The post Smash Diabetes! appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2014/10/19/smash-diabetes/feed/ 2 1517
Fear and failure http://livingvertical.org/2014/10/05/fear-and-failure/ Sun, 05 Oct 2014 17:53:16 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1516 Episode 3 of the Diabeticast is up! I am pretty excited to be sharing some of my recent musings and […]

The post Fear and failure appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Episode 3 of the Diabeticast is up! I am pretty excited to be sharing some of my recent musings and stories about fear and failure with you–and to announce that we finally are able to sell photographs that we have captured throughout the last several years of climbing! Since LivingVertical has no corporate support and I have been asked many times over ‘why don’t you sell your prints?’ I figured now would be a great time. I am starting to edit my way out of the hole I have been in since this summer and the photos from the Wind River Project are worth the effort, time and money it cost to capture them.

So. Visit our store and buy some prints. They start at $28 with all kinds of matting and framing options. If you have visited my photography gallery previously and you see something there that you’d like to be made available for printing–email me: steve@livingvertical.org and I can most likely arrange that. Not all of the photos in the gallery were actually taken by me–so I would have to make special arrangements–which I am happy to do!

Now–on to “Fear and Failure” Ep 3 of the Diabeticast. If it helps tie the preceding pitch together at all, I am afraid of failing at selling my photos and not being able to keep LivingVertical afloat any longer so now I need to listen to my podcast along with you! Sort of kidding, also sort of not. It’s been a bit stressful trying to make ends meet here and recording a podcast about fear and failure is hard to do when you feel like you’re failing and afraid. It took me a few attempts to actually make any progress and say what I had in mind because it’s tough to make sense of it all when you feel like you’re still in the middle of it.


Download this episode (right click and save)

I struggle with depression a lot and it doesn’t happen for a reason. It just shows up like an uninvited dinner guest who eats all the low carb food options despite having a working pancreas. That sounds kind of specific…but let’s not get sidetracked! Sometimes I sit down to record and literally everything I say feels like a lie or like I am kidding myself when I say it, given the way I feel. I haven’t found a way to deal with that better than just saying ‘hey, this is how I feel. I don’t need help or pats on the back–I just want it to be recognized that things are not right at the moment’. That act doesn’t ever change anything tangibly but it still somehow helps.

This episode cut pretty deeply for me because this is less a “how-to” on overcoming and more a “well, this could work, let’s try this since we’ve got nothing else to lose”. Initially what got all of this started was Riva Greenbergs article and it occurred to me that there really is a difference between managing and controlling. We need to have room to fail without beating ourselves up so that we can actually see the learning component in failure–which on some level leads to more success.

Of course expanding our comfort zone always requires more trial and error, so re-failing and re-learning will always re-turn and the process goes on. I love pushing my limits. I love challenging myself. I also hate the discomfort of falling short–but I know deep down that it’s good for me so I drag myself along. In fact the times when real emptiness takes hold (for me anyhow) is when I stop pushing myself and just languish in my comfort zone. No matter how hard I fought to establish that comfort–once it’s there, it’s time to move on again.

And sometimes it works the opposite way; the comfort can just vanish and what once was easy is all kinds of difficult again. This is where the reminder that failure is part of success really comes in to play. When I first started climbing I could talk myself into having a hard time on a 5.8 climb because after all, I was just a beginner. When I moved “past” that level of difficulty I never considered that I could regress back–that the progress I’d made wasn’t a free pass for the rest of my life. I know that we are only ever one choice away from a breakthrough or a breakdown, so I haven’t given up. My goals remain large and seemingly impossible. Of course it’s too early to announce upcoming projects, but I will say that I have my eye on some international destinations which could accommodate the family while still allowing big climbs. Time will tell.

I seem to remember saying a lot of clever things about this in the podcast and it’s 11:35 on Friday as I am writing this. Then again I have diabetes so I can’t remember things too well. Our best bet is for you to just have a listen to the episode which I recorded when I was more coherent. Enjoy!

LivingVertical is supported by YOU. Buy a photo, make a donation or just share our mission on social media. It all helps!

The post Fear and failure appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
1516
Adaptation in diabetes, climbing and fitness http://livingvertical.org/2014/09/25/adaptation-diabetes-climbing-fitness/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/09/25/adaptation-diabetes-climbing-fitness/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 18:22:05 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1515 Welcome to episode 2 of the Diabeticast–where we are exploring diabetes, climbing and fitness as an adventure; because life with diabetes […]

The post Adaptation in diabetes, climbing and fitness appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Welcome to episode 2 of the Diabeticast–where we are exploring diabetes, climbing and fitness as an adventure; because life with diabetes is still about LIFE! Adaptation is important for diabetes–and climbing. Recently I have had to adjust to a lot of new changes and in this second episode of the LivingVertical Diabeticast I take on the value of being able to change up routines without getting thrown off the wagon.

I recently moved the LivingVertical HQ to the east coast for an uncertain length of time and this presents a very different reality in terms of climbing accessibility and the logistics that go into finding adventure. But is there more to adventure than just access?


Download this episode (right click and save)

climbing workout at home, hangboard indoor climbing
When you can’t go out climbing on a whim–try training. The hope is that with better time management and hard work, more progress will get made than simply climbing a lot with no specific direction.
Osprey child pack carrier
Working on cardio–with a partner. Killing two birds with one stone and adapting to the new way of life.

In this episode we discuss the strategies I used upon my diagnosis (15 years ago) to start becoming more active and to challenge the fear of the unexpected highs and lows of blood sugar. This is less of a how-to guide and more of an opportunity to share experience. I am not a medical professional; this podcast isn’t medical advice. It’s one mans experience and opinion, amalgamated into a long winded rant that some of you may enjoy and identify with.

quincy quarries in boston
Beggars can’t be choosers. But beggars can still find a good chance to hone technique and climb even if the setting is less pristine. (Quincy Quarries in Boston)
rock climbing in Boston MA
It’s not El Cap–but it’s also not a gimme. 5.8 at Quincy packs a punch!

If you enjoy this podcast or my disclaimer, please subscribe to the podcast, share it with your friends and let me know what you’d like to hear more about in the future! I have lots of ideas of my own but I’d like to be able to address questions and issues from YOU. I always appreciate your support. This whole organization is run on a shoestring and continues with no corporate support. Your support matters!

Special thanks to Montes Rook for the use of their music in the Diabeticast! Check out their page for FREE downloads of their albums!

The post Adaptation in diabetes, climbing and fitness appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2014/09/25/adaptation-diabetes-climbing-fitness/feed/ 1 1515
Welcome to my diabetes podcast (episode 1) http://livingvertical.org/2014/09/10/welcome-to-my-diabetes-podcast-episode-1/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/09/10/welcome-to-my-diabetes-podcast-episode-1/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 14:22:19 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1514 I’ve decided to try my hand at creating a diabetes podcast. I have been looking forward to this for a […]

The post Welcome to my diabetes podcast (episode 1) appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I’ve decided to try my hand at creating a diabetes podcast. I have been looking forward to this for a while, as it will afford a different type of content than I have been able to provide through blogging. Storytelling is harder when you’re trying to keep it to 350-500 words. Podcasting gives me some elbow room and a chance to use my “NPR voice” as it’s been called…

If you subscribe, I’d be pretty stoked. Search “LivingVertical” on iTunes and subscribe or if you’re using a different App our direct feed URL can be found HERE I know that not everyone avidly follows podcasts, so if you’re not looking to subscribe to a podcast and just want to stay tuned in to the blog, never fear, each episode of the Diabeticast will be broadcast right here on the blog as well!

In addition to telling stories, I hope that this diabetes podcast will provide a resource; a platform to inform and inspire the active type1 community. Exercise is such a huge part of good health and diabetes management that it seemed to me like we could use a podcast that showcases athletes with diabetes who make it a habit to push their limits. What they do may be only half the story–how and why they do it is the information I will be bringing to you!

Special thanks to Montes Rook for the use of their music–check them out for free downloads of their albums!

The post Welcome to my diabetes podcast (episode 1) appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2014/09/10/welcome-to-my-diabetes-podcast-episode-1/feed/ 1 1514
The ice bucket blog http://livingvertical.org/2014/09/07/ice-bucket-blog/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/09/07/ice-bucket-blog/#comments Sun, 07 Sep 2014 19:52:14 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1513 Before you make the sweeping assumption that I am late to the party (again) because I am FINALLY getting around […]

The post The ice bucket blog appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Before you make the sweeping assumption that I am late to the party (again) because I am FINALLY getting around to writing about the ALS icebucket challenge…when it’s already become a pop culture meme and millions of words and thousands of blogs have been written, shared, tweeted and retweeted–both to laud and decry it, you’re probably right to an extent–but there are some really important points regarding diabetes advocacy that I am going to make despite a thoroughly tired starting point. What I am going to discuss here is important but it may also make you uncomfortable–and I am totally ok with that.

What I learned from reading everyone (and their third cousins sisters boyfriend) opine about the merits of the ice bucket challenge was this: half of all people care about advocating for causes and the other half care so much that they hate on whatever form of advocacy is popular as a matter of principal because they want to do something that REALLY helps the less fortunate. The takeaway is that generally, people do care, even if that care manifests itself as silly social media games or silly social media criticism and rants.

In the diabetes world, I have seen numerous commentators extolling the need for a parallel ice bucket challenge to raise money for diabetes research. This made me wonder why the idea of “making a difference” is almost always universally equated with fundraising for research to the exclusion of all other needs in the global diabetes community. I want to challenge you as members of this community to look deeper and see the greater depth of need the world over, uncomfortable as it is to do so.

The diabetes community isn’t just YOU and ME here in the developed world. At the risk of being a judgmental (fill in the blank with your choice of epithet) I am going to assume that if you are reading this manifesto, it’s on a computer or mobile device (if it is on a mobile device then please accept my apologies for the length!) and that you, like I do, enjoy a modern lifestyle with access to the “basics” of diabetes care. To whit: I recently “downgraded” to syringes and vials. I announced this change on the LivingVertical facebook page and twitter and people were shocked and asked why I would voluntarily relinquish years of advancement for no apparent reason. The simple answer is because I like needles and vials and I don’t feel like a pump is the best delivery system for me. Even as a transient climber/artist with no conventional job at the moment, I have options in my diabetes care.

diabetes medication insulin developing world
Being empowered and making true progress requires at minimum the basic tools to do so.

I take for granted the fact that I can get up every morning and take my insulin and go on with my day. I often try not to think of what my options would be with diabetes if I were in Africa, for example, or parts of central and southeast Asia. It’s really uncomfortable to think that over there I’d be thanking my lucky stars to have even the simplest forms of insulin therapy–and that many people don’t have that luxury and die as a result. The leading cause of death for children with type 1 diabetes globally is a lack of insulin.

I try not to think about that over my morning coffee. It makes me feel really guilty when I do. Guilty for what I take for granted and guilty for not doing more to help.

So what’s the point? Am I just trying to make you feel bad? No–I think we all have these feelings from time to time, and we all feel bad enough already. I’m just asking you not to look away without saying something.

The leading cause of death for children with type 1 diabetes globally is a lack of access to insulin. This is not ok.

The diabetes community isn’t just people you know on facebook. It’s not just the people who comment on your blog or retweet your blood glucose updates. The diabetes community includes those people in the developing world who can’t get on social media or write a blog about their situation while kicking it at their neighborhood Starbucks. I see hundreds of people posting on behalf of funding research every week on social media–and I’m not trying to rain on that parade (or walk-a-thon)–I am just asking you to join me in painting in the corners of the big picture to include the silent, unpopular problem in the diabetes community. Here’s where we can start:

Have you heard of the 100 Campaign? I challenge YOU to take a look and if you support the idea of greater access to insulin around the world then you can get involved there. I will be doing that and I highly recommend reading the statistics and breakdown of the issues that they have researched there. You don’t have to get wet or give money. Just give a little time and take a few steps off the beaten path to tell the world that no person with diabetes should die because they can’t afford to buy insulin.

I don’t have all the answers and I know the folks at the 100 Campaign don’t either, but public opinion matters a lot and it’s time to redefine what it means to advocate for our community. Join us.

100 campaign access2insulin
Help us create awareness of this issue by posting about it! Blogs. Photos. And yes, HASHTAGS. #access2insulin. PHOTO: Jeffrey Lash

the opinions in this blog absolutely reflect the views and values of LivingVertical and we stand resolutely behind them, however unsexy they may be.

The post The ice bucket blog appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2014/09/07/ice-bucket-blog/feed/ 2 1513
Project365 film nominated for festival awards! http://livingvertical.org/2014/08/20/project365-film-up-for-awards/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/08/20/project365-film-up-for-awards/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 15:19:44 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1512 When we started out on Project365 in 2012 we almost didn’t film it. I didn’t know anything about filmmaking or […]

The post Project365 film nominated for festival awards! appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
When we started out on Project365 in 2012 we almost didn’t film it. I didn’t know anything about filmmaking or editing. Stefanie thought it might turn into a complicated sh-tshow, trying to learn to film, edit and write while climbing every day, updating social media and…living out of a car.

She was totally right. It was one of the most difficult things we have ever done but also one of the most rewarding experiences because all of the trial, error, failure and occasional learning all belonged to us. I don’t know if I would do it all the same way again if it were 2011 and I knew then what I know now. Correction. I definitely wouldn’t do it the same way. But that’s life, right?

However, after the fact, the project is over and we are moving on to new things–but we now have a finished work that is making strides long after the climbing is done.

Project365 (which now has it’s own Facebook page which you should LIKE AND SHARE) has been accepted into the Burbank International Film Festival AND…has been nominated for “best short documentary”! I honestly can’t believe that a shoestring production like the Project365 film has been able to get this kind of reception and appreciation!

It looks like the future is bright and just beginning for this work and as always we have YOU to thank for supporting and encouraging this effort! Help us promote the Project365 Facebook Page to empower people with diabetes!

The post Project365 film nominated for festival awards! appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2014/08/20/project365-film-up-for-awards/feed/ 2 1512
Forward, not straightforward with type1 diabetes. http://livingvertical.org/2014/08/16/forward-not-straightforward-with-type1-diabetes/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/08/16/forward-not-straightforward-with-type1-diabetes/#comments Sat, 16 Aug 2014 14:04:50 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1511 I am sitting on a couple months of raw photos and video and an incredible couple of stories and blogs […]

The post Forward, not straightforward with type1 diabetes. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I am sitting on a couple months of raw photos and video and an incredible couple of stories and blogs from this summers foray into the Wind River Range and then City of Rocks in Idaho.

The only problem is, my life is a series of plane flights and frantic back and forths–fragmented into cardboard boxes, backpacks and bags. That doesn’t lend itself to processing and rolling out media. Hell, just managing my blood sugar day to day on the road–stressed out from being so disorganized–is a monumental task.

This dichotomy has been fueled by the fact that I am still embedded in Utah while Stefanie and the baby are still embedded in Boston.

IMG_0873.JPG

Trying to split time has been too much effort and it’s not good for us personally, nor is it good for LivingVertical. So we are refocusing and rolling with the punches in order to keep moving forward, not straightforward with type1 diabetes–because we have a lot of exciting developments, media, projects and events that are in the hopper for the upcoming year.

Long story short, I am heading back to the east coast to consolidate the family and take the next steps with LV from that point. As we refocus, here are some of the next steps under consideration: Maximizing the exposure of the Project365 documentary, making
team LivingVertical more of an adventure based diabetes community than a distinct “team”, diabetic climbing events/trips, SweetestSummit programs, publishing a book, selling photo prints and tutorial/educational blogs and YouTube releases–as well as the creation of an awesome short film of the Wind River Project and lots of blogs and photos! These times of transition are important because they help us figure out what’s working and what’s not–and where our heart really is moving forward.

See something you like in this list? Tell us about it! Don’t see what you’d like here? Tell us!

The post Forward, not straightforward with type1 diabetes. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2014/08/16/forward-not-straightforward-with-type1-diabetes/feed/ 2 1511
Diabetes: our choice http://livingvertical.org/2014/08/05/diabetes-our-choice/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/08/05/diabetes-our-choice/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 15:37:15 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1510 Writing blogs from an iPhone is a chore, hence why I have been avoiding it in the midst of all […]

The post Diabetes: our choice appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Writing blogs from an iPhone is a chore, hence why I have been avoiding it in the midst of all the other chores that are part of climbing and living out on the road for extended stretches. Today it’s rainy and some free time is just begging to be spent…on the blog!

20140805-124339-45819195.jpg

After wrapping the Wind River Project which was a tremendous effort–and a historic success (we became the first all diabetic climbing team to establish first ascents and to free existing aid lines–up to 5.13) we are now in Idaho, climbing at City of Rocks.

20140805-124452-45892083.jpg

The Wind River Project was a concentrated short film effort that will hopefully be complete this fall/winter with corresponding blog/photo/social media content–with a powerful message of empowerment.

20140805-124709-46029170.jpg

20140805-124709-46029802.jpg

20140805-124709-46029534.jpg

I still have a LOT of editing and writing to do since I’m still on the road and won’t be home for a few weeks–and I am also kind of in the process of moving…but it struck me this morning that the whole point of empowerment isn’t about making diabetes fun or “cool”. Diabetes is a lot of different things at different times. Empowerment that we promote through climbing is about giving everyone the right to make diabetes what we choose.

20140805-124821-46101955.jpg

I look around on social media and I see a lot of fixed values attributed to diabetes–usually negative. I’ve been struggling with my blood sugar on this trip and that hasn’t been fun. I’ve been away from my family too and that’s been harder than anything.

20140805-125142-46302442.jpg

At the end of the day though there is no good or bad, just things that happen to us. It’s hard seeing so much support for a predetermined negative mindset about diabetes–even though that’s a pretty understandable approach because it’s difficult.

20140805-124822-46102719.jpg

We don’t have to accept the popular negative narratives–we can write our own chapters. So that’s what we did in the Wind River Project through our climbing. That’s what we are continuing with right now–as we are shooting for some additional L.E.A.D. YouTube shorts about the nuts and bolts of diabetes management as it relates to adventure and climbing…we want to help create resources to give everyone the tools and motivation to push themselves out of their comfort zone and beyond the limits of diabetes.

20140805-124822-46102162.jpg

20140805-124822-46102396.jpg

The post Diabetes: our choice appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2014/08/05/diabetes-our-choice/feed/ 1 1510
My worst (and best?) low blood sugar ever. http://livingvertical.org/2014/07/27/my-worst-and-best-low-blood-sugar-ever/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/07/27/my-worst-and-best-low-blood-sugar-ever/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 23:30:02 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1509 It’s been a big couple of weeks in the mountains. We have just wrapped shooting and climbing for the Wind […]

The post My worst (and best?) low blood sugar ever. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
It’s been a big couple of weeks in the mountains. We have just wrapped shooting and climbing for the Wind River Project and it’s time to shuttle loads of our gear to the point where the horses can access it to carry it the 15 miles out to the trailhead.

This means two days of 4 mile round trip gear ferrying–loads over 100lbs. Up hills. Through mud. Crossing streams. Hopping rocks. Stopping for food–more food than I’d eat in two days in the front country gets burned off in just one trip–then repeat.

20140724-082826-30506815.jpg

Once the last load has been carried, all that remains is the 15 mile slog out to the trailhead with a 35 lb pack. It’s 3:15 in the afternoon and Blake and I decided to go for it. We can cover the distance and be out before dark if we keep a good pace. And we did.

20140724-083411-30851883.jpg

Mile after mile ticked by, and we stopped to eat and drink as normal. As it neared 9 PM we could feel the trailhead getting closer. We discussed going out to get a burger if we could make it out before closing time. It seemed like the end to our death march should be right around every corner–so we quickened our pace. Mosquitos floated in vicious clouds–so we quickened our pace more.

We could stop and eat and drink once we reached the end to our 20+ mile day. We reached the parking lot just as the sun set–and we threw our gear in our cars. I sat down in the drivers seat, and suddenly I knew something was wrong.

I felt sick to my stomach and weak. I tested my blood glucose and my meter said 106. I hadn’t washed my hands in weeks so this reading did little to comfort me. I immediately ate a shot blok–and as I chewed I felt my breath coming in shorter gasps and my vision closing in around me. I knew that I was moments from blacking out. I pushed too hard, thinking that I would be home free now that we were out of the backcountry.

I fumbled with the glucagon, drawing it up mixing it, forgetting that I’d mixed it and remixing and redrawing it. I frantically motioned to Blake to come help. He encouraged me to keep eating shot bloks, which I did. I prepped him to inject me with the glucagon if I lost consciousness.

I cursed my lack of attention to my own state during the last couple of miles. A rookie mistake and this could be it for me. My mouth was dry and I could barely see as I choked down shot blok after shot blok. Blake got me some water and by this point the tunnel around my head began to relinquish it’s grip and I could see better.

I felt the sweat and wave of heat hit me and I knew that I was coming around. “Eat more shot bloks dude” said Blake. I tried standing up but my feet and legs were useless and cramped. I felt like I was completely drunk–but I ate more.

That night I skipped my basal insulin, letting my BGs run high. I woke up at 235–pretty reasonable having eaten an apple and 60 grams of shot bloks the night before–on 0 basal insulin.

Facing this situation was horrifying in the moment–but looking back, it was preventable. My judgement lapsed–for all the right reasons–and the consequences were swift and severe. I didn’t feel any of the normal warning signs–or maybe I did but I just pushed them aside. My takeaway is that we can never afford to let our guard down–and that when things go completely pear-shaped, we can fix it still.

Pushing our bodies is a delicate process and mistakes are part of that. Now I know a little bit more about myself having gone too far and that’s why I call this my worst (and best?) low blood sugar ever. Keep your guard up and don’t go it alone, especially when you are going the extra mile(s).

support diabetes empowerment–help keep us climbing and shooting!

The post My worst (and best?) low blood sugar ever. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2014/07/27/my-worst-and-best-low-blood-sugar-ever/feed/ 5 1509
Why "grassroots" matter http://livingvertical.org/2014/06/30/grassroots-matter/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/06/30/grassroots-matter/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 04:38:43 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1502 The term “grassroots” gets thrown around a lot–and I feel like the final 24 hours of our funding push is […]

The post Why "grassroots" matter appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>

The term “grassroots” gets thrown around a lot–and I feel like the final 24 hours of our funding push is an appropriate time to consider it.

Since I started pushing towards this summers expedition (about 6 months ago) way before any talk of fundraising, I got more friendly suggestions as to which company I should approach for funding than I could count. After all, what we are doing could be spectacular marketing. The first ever all-diabetic new-route expedition–unsupported (no medical staff, no guides, cooks or the like). Over 4,000 people have stood on Everest, many paying over 60,000+ a head. We are seeking out routes that have had 0 ascents before us.

We are doing all the legwork ourselves–and we are damn proud of that fact. The climbing, the exploring, the filming–and the suffering, when necessary–it’s ours. I have been excited about this expedition for some time and did my due diligence seeking corporate support. Months of emailing proposals and hearing ‘no’ or ‘wow, that’s amazing–but we don’t have the money for it’.

Nevertheless, we decided as a team to move forward, because we know that we can do this the easy way or the hard way, but we will find a way one way or the other. Industry support can be a really sweet opportunity, but it is not the lifeblood of diabetes advocacy–or at least it shouldn’t be. Grassroots means people coming together to support something because it matters to them and not leaving it up to marketing departments.

In the final 24 hours, I can’t say if we are going to reach our funding goal or not. I can say that simply taking matters into our own hands makes a statement. Thank you for giving us that gift. It’s just like in climbing–it’s not the summit alone that matters. To dare to attempt the climb in the first place is the biggest bite of the apple.

matt spohn rock climbing las vegas nevada red rock canyon

The post Why "grassroots" matter appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]> http://livingvertical.org/2014/06/30/grassroots-matter/feed/ 1 1502 The reason we climb (video) http://livingvertical.org/2014/06/22/reason-climb-video/ Mon, 23 Jun 2014 04:55:17 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1501 I have often (in my head) made excuses or wondered really how much I am limited by my diabetes and […]

The post The reason we climb (video) appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I have often (in my head) made excuses or wondered really how much I am limited by my diabetes and what is “possible”. Seeing this video created by Matt Spohn from Team LivingVertical, I am forced to step away from what challenges me and think, ‘Ok, maybe I have gotten this all wrong. Maybe I am capable of a lot more.

That message is important for everyone–every day, especially when you are living with diabetes.

To give this film a little context, Matt is climbing a route here called “Desert Shield” which is rated 5.13b. I don’t want to go into too much of the details of how rock climbs are rated, but this is harder than nails. That means it’s a steep climb on tiny holds–requiring incredible power and finesse. Climbing at this level is beyond badass for any climber and Matt makes it look like he is just out for a stroll. With diabetes. Because he is.

As a climber, as a person with diabetes and as Matt’s teammate this is so inspiring because you don’t get to this level of skill without serious discipline and training–and over 15 years of diabetes too! Shouldn’t this be what diabetes looks like? You won’t see Matt jet-setting off to conferences on behalf of his corporate partners though. He runs a climbing gym and coaches a kids climbing team to pay the bills and climb as much as possible, which he does–with his wife Michelle–while living out of a van. Sound familiar?

These are the stories and people we want to bring to the forefront through our expedition film series. Because ‘grassroots’ is not just a vestigial term to be tacked on ad nauseum–it’s how the stories get told that don’t necessarily serve to sell stuff. We think that matters.

matt spohn climbing with diabetes

By now you’ve heard about the expedition film series we are trying to make, yes?

This a revolution in the way we interact with diabetes. We are not asking for a handout–we are simply asking for help making a real difference through grassroots stories from the edge of what constitutes “normalcy”. We have a little over a week to get this project funded–we are not professionally sponsored athletes. You won’t see us in magazines, because we are normal people. The reason we climb–to escape diabetes and be free–is something we can ALL share, even those of us who don’t climb 5.13s like it’s a walk to the mailbox…

We shoot our own footage, on our own cameras that we carry with our ropes and harnesses and insulin; we edit it, and we work hard to afford time off to go on expeditions that can be shared–expeditions that make history. Help us build on this. We have great things in store beyond anything you have seen from us yet and we need YOU to help us make that into a finished product.

The post The reason we climb (video) appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]> 1501 Making history with diabetes http://livingvertical.org/2014/06/17/making-history-diabetes/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/06/17/making-history-diabetes/#comments Tue, 17 Jun 2014 21:15:18 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1500 ‘Making’ history always sounds a bit contrived. After all, history will happen all on its own even if no one […]

The post Making history with diabetes appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
‘Making’ history always sounds a bit contrived. After all, history will happen all on its own even if no one ‘makes’ it. If we just go about our business, things will happen and the story will go on. If we want to change the story and our role in it then we have to take action. We have to seek out the corners of what is deemed possible and push those boundaries out a little further.

team livingvertical climbing with diabetes

If we don’t, life will go on and history will happen. But life will only go on in the predetermined center, the comfort zone of what is normal. Getting burdened with an unexpected diagnosis of diabetes automatically shoves us outside the “normal”. It turns our comfort zone on its proverbial ear–what in our society is more associated with comfort and leisure than the ability to enjoy good food and drink? Throw a monkey-wrench in that and everything changes.

So here we are, exiled outside of comfort and predictability. How do we respond? Do we commit ourselves to kicking against the locked doors, throwing ourselves against the wall, hoping that it will break before we do–or do we shoulder our burden with resolve and carry it to new heights. Push out those corners and CREATE our own normal where we have been marooned.

Before Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile, no one had. Within one year of his making history, 24 more people did. Leading the way and pioneering any achievement is always much harder than following behind. Following is how we learn to lead–and I have climbed many routes that others have climbed and established. This summer we are going to establish routes as a team, bound by diabetes–unified by diabetes.

This has never been done before. There are some very talented individuals with diabetes (several of whom are on this team!) who have established new routes with other non-diabetic partners–but an entire team, unsupported, in the wilderness, relying on eachother to put up new routes–that hasn’t been done.

It’s not like climbing Everest, a cynic might say. That would be truly significant.

I won’t pretend that climbing the tallest peak on the planet is a small feat–but it has been done, established, and the doors have been opened. People can pay (or their sponsors can) to buy the highest summits in the world–meaning that the burden of success or failure is mitigated by guides and porters and cooks and bottles of oxygen. To make history–to unlock new pathways–we have to venture off the beaten path, away from the “scene” and into the wilderness where there is no one to rescue you, cook your food, set up your tent or lead those hard pitches of climbing for you.

There is only us and our diabetes–and many questions that we will have to answer on our own. Will the route go all the way to the summit? Can we climb it–are the holds all there? Can we protect it or will we have fewer anchors and longer falls? Can we get to the top before the storms move in–and if we can’t, will we be able to endure the hardship and still press on?

This is real climbing. Not glamorous, just gritty. Not the most sought after summits, just the wildest ones. This is how history is made. Not by following the lights, cameras and sponsors banners, but by looking where no one else is looking. This is where we are bringing diabetes. Not because it’s easy or because we know it’s a “win”. We could get out there and get shut down. There are no guarantees–that’s what makes this real. It could completely fail.

It’s a lot like life with diabetes.

We are changing what that looks like–not from the center, but from the outer limits. Thats where history is made. That’s where we take control of the story and open new doors for others to walk through.

adventure climbing with diabetes in venezuela

The post Making history with diabetes appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]> http://livingvertical.org/2014/06/17/making-history-diabetes/feed/ 1 1500 Reciprocity: giving back http://livingvertical.org/2014/06/15/reciprocity/ Mon, 16 Jun 2014 05:31:15 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1499 We have been given a lot through the last couple of years since LivingVertical was created. During Project365 we were […]

The post Reciprocity: giving back appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
We have been given a lot through the last couple of years since LivingVertical was created. During Project365 we were given couches to sleep on, ropes to dangle from, hard drives to store data, food to keep the efforts going, shoes to get up the rock, clothes to keep the elements off us, partnership that took my climbing personally to new heights, climbing protection, and a huge amount of support and faith that goes well beyond the material support.

Sounds like a lot right? It is. This is the short-list of what Rob contributed during Project365. I never had to ask. I didn’t even know I needed half of those things until he informed me that I did and gave me what I needed. He’s never taken no for an answer.

You remember Rob from Project365, right?
climbing moonlight buttress zion national park

We lived off his couch in Zion for weeks.
springdale utah rock climbing vacation

Climbed with him for many days.
rock climbing in zion national park

And gave back to the community with him at our SweetestSummit camp a year later.
sweetestsummit diabetes camp

And the other day, we finally had a chance to reciprocate, even if it was just a little token; it was great having Rob in town (Boston) and on OUR couch for a change!
this is couch surfing

It feels good to give back. I always feel like I haven’t done enough though. I’m not fishing for pats on the back and “atta boys”. I have gotten my share of emails and messages that are similar to this one. I know that there are people out there who need to hear that their life with Diabetes doesn’t have to be about Diabetes–it can be about LIFE. I just feel like we have only begun scratching the surface.

But how do you advocate for people with Diabetes when your message isn’t ABOUT Diabetes. Its about seeing and going BEYOND Diabetes. It’s crazy right? Look how many times I just typed Diabetes there! So what do we have to give back (I ask myself this a lot)? I love to write and speak–but honestly, it’s much bigger than words. It’s action. It’s vision. Now do you see why we are using adventure filmmaking and imagery to empower people with Diabetes?

People with diabetes need to see our/themselves portrayed in the public eye as something other than commercial actors or sick people misrepresented by sitcom writers–whose only knowledge of diabetes is the drug commercials that run during the break. That shapes how people see themselves and how others see them. I’ve seen a lot of outrage when people see someone on TV say “Oh eating all that (insert sugary food here) is going to give you diabetes”. Asking for apologies after the fact won’t change that ignorance. SHOWING people the real deal in a way that is exciting and can reach OUTSIDE the diabetes community is.

Normal people with diabetes doing extraordinary things in extreme places. Making history. Yeah, it’s true–but I’m going to detail that claim in another blog. This project is going to be a big step up visually from what you have seen so far from the LivingVertical creative side. I’d like to point out that prior to my founding LivingVertical in 2011, I had not shot and edited images or video at all, let alone created a documentary. Project365 was a practice run in many ways—creatively speaking.

Now we have better equipment and most importantly, a much greater understanding of visual story telling. I have a vision. Shots I want to get, a story that I know I want to tell about inspiring and truly badass people with diabetes. I also know that there are stories in there that I haven’t even discovered yet and when you combine all of that–it is going to make you proud to have had a hand in creating it.

Because without you, without your vision, it will remain a dream in my head, whispered about in this blog and those stories won’t reach the people who need to know that their life doesn’t end with a diabetes diagnosis.

Ideals aside, it’s going to involve a LOT of bitchin’ timelapse footage that will BLOW this stuff away and that’s no exaggeration.

The post Reciprocity: giving back appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]> 1499 Climbing doesn't matter http://livingvertical.org/2014/06/09/climbing-doesnt-matter/ Mon, 09 Jun 2014 15:52:41 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1498 After years of tailoring my life, my jobs, my relationships, my health and diabetes management in relation to my ability […]

The post Climbing doesn't matter appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
After years of tailoring my life, my jobs, my relationships, my health and diabetes management in relation to my ability to climb, I’m finally coming out and saying it. Climbing doesn’t matter. It’s frivolous–when it’s separated from the reasons we climb–the reasons we go to such great lengths to push into the unknown.

Trying to fundraise for a climbing film series is a challenge for me–because I don’t think that the climbing (which is what people SEE) is what really matters. What matters is a little further beneath the surface.

Challenge is not something we voluntarily choose in life. Our society is based around ease and convenience, which often works to our detriment. I include myself in this assessment–I have said many times that I work hard so that I can be lazy. I wasn’t born an overachieving athlete. I feel like it goes without saying, but I am still not an overachieving athlete.

Diabetes is a challenge–one that we didn’t get to choose. It’s inconvenient, difficult…you know the drill. There are many monuments out there to the difficulty of diabetes and how hard it is. Do a google search and it’s pretty clear what the conventional wisdom is.

I lay awake at night sometimes freaking out as I watch Lilo sleep–imagining how I would react if she inherited my diabetes. Would I recognize the symptoms? Would I be able to help her–or would I limit her because I’d be so afraid of her encountering a challenge she couldn’t handle?

baby climbing picture

What would I want to see on the business end of a google search if I were staring down the barrel of a diagnosis of my baby? I know that I’d rather feel isolated with my own hope for a normal life than be bombarded by a bunch of marketing telling me that I’m lost without the latest account-emptying gadget, or that I’m decades away from a practical cure so in the meantime I have to “suffer from” diabetes.

That’s how I saw my options when I was diagnosed, and I knew that I didn’t want to buy into the victim mentality. I felt alone because I didn’t feel like there was an empowering way to publicly identify with my diabetes, but I sucked it up.
That’s what we are changing by making diabetes visible through empowerment. That matters.

The climbing doesn’t matter. Why we climb, and why we come back from those climbs–that sure as hell does matter. As a team of diabetic climbers we have diverse backgrounds, diverse treatment methods that mix and match all technological options, budgets and lifestyles.

matt n blake

We are creating and reinforcing a message that diabetes is a surmountable challenge. We are living that message. Diabetes is training for bigger challenges that we can CHOOSE–and that our success is within our grasp. Diet. Exercise. Attitude. Those are the focal points of our message, and those are points that don’t sell “stuff”. That’s why we are asking for your support. That’s why climbing does matter, because there is a need for stories and messages to be represented that don’t sell “stuff” and cut through the fluff.

Pledge to back our film series. It matters. Share this project with your friends and make them understand why this matters. This story won’t get told without your support and everyone can find a way to get behind this effort.

The post Climbing doesn't matter appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]> 1498 Team LivingVertical video http://livingvertical.org/2014/06/04/team-livingvertical-video/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/06/04/team-livingvertical-video/#comments Wed, 04 Jun 2014 22:53:12 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1497 Here is a short promo edit that I put together to help stoke the fires for our Team LivingVertical expedition […]

The post Team LivingVertical video appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>

Here is a short promo edit that I put together to help stoke the fires for our Team LivingVertical expedition film series. We have till June 1st to meet our funding goal and raise funds for Insulin For Life USA. We can go and climb without a budget–that part is simple. Sharing it and producing a finished work that will live beyond this summer and continue to inspire and change lives…that needs YOU.

This is an all or nothing fund raiser–if we don’t meet our goal, we get nothing. More eyes on this project means everything!

Enjoy the video–this is what life with diabetes looks like!

The post Team LivingVertical video appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]> http://livingvertical.org/2014/06/04/team-livingvertical-video/feed/ 2 1497 Insulin pump vs MDI (multiple daily injections) http://livingvertical.org/2014/06/02/insulin-pump-vs-mdi-multiple-daily-injections/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/06/02/insulin-pump-vs-mdi-multiple-daily-injections/#comments Tue, 03 Jun 2014 05:48:27 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1496 One of the most frequent questions I have gotten at diabetes events that I have spoken at–and in private messages–and […]

The post Insulin pump vs MDI (multiple daily injections) appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
One of the most frequent questions I have gotten at diabetes events that I have spoken at–and in private messages–and even public comments on social media–has been ‘why aren’t you on the pump’ as though this fact was tantamount to my announcing a Tour de France bid on a unicycle. So recently, after a decade and a half of diabetes, I decided to crawl out of the primordial ooze and evolve into a “pumper”. I am very happy I decided to try it and I hope that my experience contains some useful elements.

I believe that everyone with diabetes has to have the confidence to manage their condition in the best way for them. Pumps are amazing tools, but one amazing tool may not be appropriate for every situation. I’ve always felt like the conventional wisdom is that if you’re not pumping you’re not doing the best job you can to manage your diabetes–so I am sharing my experience as an alternative to such technological absolutisms. Injections aren’t just for lazy people who are behind-the-curve-luddites who go about using flip phones and Internet Explorer on dial-up internet connections.

Over the years, this aforementioned stigma created an impression that if I had the pump, everything would change and be easier, despite the fact that my control was already very good overall. When I got lazy counting carbs or slacking off workouts, in my mind there was always the lingering hope that “if I just get on the pump, my A1c will be better and my control will improve”.

The reality is that I liked the pump. A lot. I got a loaner t:slim from Tandem. I know several people who work for Tandem, I’ve visited their HQ, and their pump is a slick article. Its user friendly and yet it’s a very powerful and precise tool. Here comes the “but”…

A pump isn’t right for me.

That’s right. I’ve said it. While we’re baring souls let me add that I also think beer tastes like piss and I don’t enjoy watching organized sports on TV. But lets stick with one heretical admission at a time. I spent days agonizing over this reality even after I knew in my heart that a pump wasn’t a good fit for me. The pump had been my last refuge and everyone on the Facebook Page raved about how much better it was and how I would love it and never go back to injections. I felt like a complete failure–my numbers were out of whack, highs were higher and lows were lower. My energy was depleted and I was afraid to exercise because I didn’t know how I would respond.

All the landmarks that helped me navigate blood sugar management, were suddenly gone. Years of research and “presets” went out the window and I was a rookie again. The final straw was when I woke up in the middle of the night to my baby screaming. I was low. She needed me and I was entirely useless. I staggered away into the kitchen and began gorging, shaking like a leaf. In 15 years, I didn’t have a nighttime low that incapacitated me like that. I’ve woken up with my meter reading as low a number, but not all “lows” are created equal. Lantus lows feel different to me and leave me much more functional and in control.
baby blog with diabetes
I was so torn. I wanted the pump to be right for me–it just felt wrong though and I couldn’t deny it. I felt guilty for putting up the white flag–which was made worse when I felt like I was being judged for not taking long enough to get used to it, as though there is a “right” answer and I obviously missed it. It upset me a lot. It still eats at me a little bit because I hate being challenged when I know what works for me and someone tries to backseat drive.

I did not choose to discontinue the pump trial because there were bumps in the road (high numbers, basal tuning etc). I knew that it would involve trial and error over months–but even when I got the numbers right it still just felt wrong. It’s like when you meet someone, you know within the first 5 minutes if you would sleep with them or not. You don’t have to know every intimate detail of who they are to make that call–and it’s not always about how attractive they are. It doesn’t always make sense from the outside–but you know.

Another way to look at it–I got to test drive a Corvette, but deep down I knew that the speed, looks and handling wouldn’t make up for the fact that I needed a minivan with my baby and budget crunch. Of course that won’t stop the asshat in the ‘Vette next to me from revving his engine at me when we are stopped at the red light, but deep down, I know what I should be basing my choices on: what works for ME.

So here are the reasons/factors that I can identify that impacted my verdict. I want to be clear that the t:slim pump itself is awesome based on my experience–and the same can be said of Tandem as a company. They really go out of their way to help you make the right decision for YOU, not for them, so I have felt free to be objective about this whole experiment–because that’s what diabetes is, after all.

  1. having another “thing” attached to me: I’ve struggled with a CGM which is lower profile and even after a few years I’ve never gotten used to it despite loving its impact on my management.
  2. insulin waste: filling the cartridge and tubing and changing them out every several days means that you are going through a lot more insulin that isn’t making its way into you.
  3. bad sites: if you have a bad site, you have high numbers that can take hours to come down. Or if its hitting a blood vessel, precipitous lows. Either requires a bit of work to change tubing, and testing more after to ensure the problem is remedied.
  4. more “stuff”: a big part of my plan for trying the pump was to improve performance for the upcoming expedition. When I saw how much extra stuff (tubing, cartridges, tape, syringes) was required just for a week (let alone a month) in the backcountry, it threw me for a loop.
  5. less wiggle room: with 24 hour insulin on board you can get stuck in an emergency situation (nighted on a route, pinned down by weather etc) and simply take one injection and forget it–and it has more residual effect. Rapid insulin stops working after a shorter time and if you can’t get more, your sugar can go dangerously high pretty fast.
  6. lows feel different: when you’re on the mark with a pump, you’re ON. When you’re off, it feels like Dr Rubos wild ride. Lows on Lantus feel less debilitating to me unless they’re really catastrophic. I’ve not heard anyone else ever say that–but it’s definitely the case for me.
  7. user error/environmental variables: I didn’t come to my decision because “my blood sugar sucks and it’s this pumps fault”. I know that management skill comes with time, data and repetition. I know it’s a shoddy carpenter who blames his tools and I think I’ve been clear that I did not come close to mastering the pump. Having a newborn and training for an exploratory climbing expedition are also wildly impactful variables. Having said that, this reality does little to mitigate the preceding the factors.

The bottom line: insulin, insulin delivery devices and diagnostic tools are all just that. Tools. No tool will be better than their user, and no tool is without its drawbacks and benefits. I don’t deny the obvious benefits that are widely cited in relation to insulin pumps, I just don’t feel like they match up well with my requirements. Simplicity counts for A LOT, and while the precision a pump offers is awesome, it is offset by greater complexity.

 

The post Insulin pump vs MDI (multiple daily injections) appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2014/06/02/insulin-pump-vs-mdi-multiple-daily-injections/feed/ 23 1496
Team LivingVertical: Expedition Film Series http://livingvertical.org/2014/06/01/team-livingvertical-expedition-film-series/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/06/01/team-livingvertical-expedition-film-series/#comments Mon, 02 Jun 2014 00:24:20 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1495 In the last week since becoming a parent, I have been reveling in the love and thoughtful comments on the […]

The post Team LivingVertical: Expedition Film Series appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
In the last week since becoming a parent, I have been reveling in the love and thoughtful comments on the blog, facebook and instagram regarding Lilo. The remaining time has been spent putting out fires while preparing for Team LivingVerticals fund raiser. We are attempting to take on an expedition film project to promote empowerment and visibility of diabetes–as a team.

We are fund raising for the budget to make a 5 film series of our expedition to become the first all diabetic climbing team to establish a new technical climbing route this summer. We are contributing any funds raised over budget to Insulin For Life USA, to promote their life saving work–and they have a matching guarantee from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, so we can potentially have a huge impact, both figurative and literal.Project365 sort of came out of left field–and it worked. This is what seems like the next step to me–a similar message, only spread across a team of us who each represent different communities across North America and Europe.

So what’s different about this? Well for starters, I’m not going into this blind. I know that in order to make a film (or 5) it costs money because there are some things I can’t do and can’t ask someone else to do for free. I also know that all of us on the team have been climbing and will keep climbing regardless of the film budget. I also know that if I am going to go and leave my baby for a considerable chunk of time to take on a film/climbing project, I need to know it’s 100% viable (read: funded). So this campaign is all or nothing. If we meet or exceed our goal, game on. If we fall short, then no money changes hands and we figure something else out.

I’ve said before that this is “your” project–and I think it’s especially true here. I believe that a team of diabetic climbers going into the backcountry unsupported, unsponsored, taking time away from their day jobs to explore wilderness first ascents…which is something that has not happened in recorded climbing history…I believe that’s a pretty powerful story.

Do you want to make sure it gets told? Like I’ve said to the team, we don’t have to get one person to give us $25,000 to make these films. We have to get 1000 people to give us $25 apiece–and that’s doable. In fact, in 30 days I think we can exceed that amount by a good piece and make a big contribution to IFL-USA at the same time. Each one of you who reads this–you have people. Share what we are doing. Ask your friends to share it. We are trying to make diabetes visible–through an empowering message. Let’s do it.

The post Team LivingVertical: Expedition Film Series appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]> http://livingvertical.org/2014/06/01/team-livingvertical-expedition-film-series/feed/ 2 1495 The baby blog http://livingvertical.org/2014/05/27/baby-blog/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/05/27/baby-blog/#comments Wed, 28 May 2014 04:56:23 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1494 Ever since I was a kid I’ve felt like there was something wrong with me. I don’t know that it […]

The post The baby blog appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Ever since I was a kid I’ve felt like there was something wrong with me. I don’t know that it was BECAUSE of my diabetes diagnosis, but it was around that time in my life that I became aware of it more acutely. I’ve struggled a lot with depression–which is difficult to discuss because people closest to you always want to help–and problem solve. ‘Try doing this’ or ‘maybe you need more of this in your life–or less of that’. But circumstances don’t dictate depression–they can enhance it, but they can’t take it away.

People less close to you just figure you’re full of shit and don’t want to be bothered. Eventually it’s tough on the people close to you when they see there’s a hole in your life that they can’t help you fill, no matter what they give you–and they walk away. Sometimes I’ve walked away in anticipation of that happening because I can see it coming from a way off and I don’t want to deal with it.

I’d rather deal with it on my own. I figure if I can patch the hole, I can become “seaworthy” again. But it’s not always easy to find it, let alone resolve it. For many years I have tried to fill that hole with relationships, climbing, Project365, writing and other creative endeavors. Trying to run from my demons has been motivating and has yielded some wonderful things in my life, but those distractions never buy a solution, they only rent it.

Even when I can’t pinpoint a “thing” in my life that is creating problems, the depression is still there–because it’s not “about” things that are wrong. It’s some facet of ones mind that creates something wrong no matter how good or bad the reality of the situation. It’s the conspiracy of your mind against you.

Over the last two years, I have been in a particularly dark place, made worse by the fact that I have been trying to spearhead a “positive” diabetes movement. I felt like I was living a lie because while I tried to empower others to be positive, I felt like I was trapped in a bottomless pit, sinking deeper and deeper. My personal life was mostly in wreckage and of recently I was trying to prepare for a baby arriving into all of that.

The night before Lilo arrived, I was in the hospital with Stefanie. She was dealing with the unpleasantness of labor and I was trying to help, knowing everything I did would be wrong. “Good preparation for the rest of my life” I thought. I hated myself, for no reason I could pinpoint, but it seemed natural to me that if I felt this poorly about myself, my daughter would pick up on it and feel the same. I tried to think what my first words to her should be–and all I could come up with were “I’m sorry”.

I felt scared, depressed, useless and even resentful. The self-loathing welled up in me at the realization that I was resentful of a baby, my own daughter. I wasn’t happy–I wasn’t put back together–my heart was in pieces and I just wanted it to all go away until I had a grip, some sense of self that wasn’t so dark–upon which to build.

I’ve spent a lot of time searching and running and agonizing and torturing myself. I’ve tried “sucking it up” and facing the problems head on–denial and the like. I’ve tried all the tricks I know to manipulate my surroundings and feelings and fix myself. I reached utter exhaustion because nothing I could do seemed to work. So I gave up on fixing myself and just let go.

IMG_0050

I’ll skip the gory details of childbirth, but it’s not something I’d downplay in terms of significant life accomplishments. That’s not my story to tell but it’s one of the more impressive things I’ve ever witnessed firsthand. When it culminated and Lilo emerged, it was like the volume on my world suddenly was turned down to zero. I think I acknowledged comments from the other people in the room but that was just an unconscious tic. I can only remember thinking “act normal so they’ll leave you alone”. I knew that I was expected to feel certain things a certain way–and I just wanted space to feel what I actually felt with no projections from anyone else. I wanted to feel the magic for myself.

IMG_0049

In all the days leading up to the birth, it had been difficult for me to deal with people predicting what this would feel like or what it would mean. People get excited and pencil in their own details into your experience and what they hand back to you is a beautiful picture that you don’t recognize. On the other hand, as I tried to be independent and sketch out my own vision, it was far from ideal.

Then someone handed Lilo to me for the first time. I think it was Stefanie who did. I just remember the way she looked at me. There were no visions of my own, no projections from other people. No good intentions, no resentment, no self loathing, no voices in my head, no confusion, no doubt. There was just love. Lots of love. So much so that I couldn’t fit anything else into the experience. My circumstances hadn’t visibly changed–I was still vaguely aware of being confused, unprepared and upset about other things. But suddenly none of that mattered anymore. I just couldn’t care about anything but her–and as I tried poking around inside my mind, trying to find that gaping hole that I’ve tried for years to fill with good things and bad–the emptiness was just gone. My baby turned my world right side up, just like that.

IMG_0038

I’ve never been happy like this before. Its also hard–waking up constantly in the middle of the night,not knowing what to do when Lilo is screaming, knowing that all the things I need to do are going to take me away from her. I’m acutely aware as I plan this summers expedition to Wyoming that is going to be a month long. Training is a lot harder too. I’ve decided that in the next month as we begin raising funds to support the creative side of this expedition, I am not willing to nickel and dime, raising a little money here and a little there, hoping to get enough to make the films and justify the work down the road. It’s got to be a done deal, up front and it has to be clear that it’s supported.

But in the end, it’s good to have a reason to do–whatever it is that needs to be done with regard to upcoming climbing film projects. I have a good reason to climb harder and faster if the omens are good, and I have a good reason to bail if things look dicey. I have a good reason to make a series of films that will blow away Project365–and a good reason to let it go if it’s not in the cards. I have never felt this happy before, never before felt whole. I thought this would be the end for me and it’s the best beginning I couldn’t even have imagined on my own.

Please support the work LivingVertical is doing by making a small monthly donation to the blog via paypal (right hand column on desktop or scroll down on mobile. 1 dollar a month from each of our readers would cover the costs of maintaining this website. You can also buy one of our diabetes empowerment photo prints!

The post The baby blog appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
http://livingvertical.org/2014/05/27/baby-blog/feed/ 9 1494
And (climb) like no one is watching http://livingvertical.org/2014/05/25/climb-like-one-watching/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/05/25/climb-like-one-watching/#comments Sun, 25 May 2014 21:55:52 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1493 There’s a highly overposted meme floating around the corners of social media like a decomposing rodent in the brackish backwaters […]

The post And (climb) like no one is watching appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
There’s a highly overposted meme floating around the corners of social media like a decomposing rodent in the brackish backwaters of a flooded slot canyon that consists a list of quazi-inspirational directives culminating with the phrase “…and dance like no one is watching”. I’ve always scrolled past in disgust when that meme pops up in my feeds–but I’ve recently realized that there’s some truth to that which I may have overlooked. It’s easy to be true to your vision when no one is watching. That’s a task that becomes considerably harder when you realize that people ARE watching.

DSC_8208

That in turn becomes harder yet when some of those people who are watching hold the ability to help give you a career based off of your work. It’s been difficult to ignore that, having just become a parent–and the concept of providing has grown beyond figuring out how to live out of my car and stay afloat for a year. Instead of saying what I’ve wanted to say, what few others seem willing to say, I’ve tried to keep my head down and my mouth shut and behave. Fit in. Play the game. Chase the funding and hope to avoid burn out in the meantime.

While in the doldrums over the last few weeks I watched an amazing documentary about the band Rush (whose original drummer actually had type 1 diabetes) on Netflix. I HIGHLY recommend it–they have a reputation for being true to their vision and not changing or tempering their sound to appease record companies and make money. Two quotes in particular stood out to me as I grappled with the issues of marketability in my own world:

Alex Lifeson (guitar) said “We decided that we’d rather play OUR music OUR way for OUR fans and go back to working at the farm equipment store (that his father ran) than accept orders from the record companies.”

Neil Peart, now in his 60s and recognized as one of the best percussionists in the world had this to say: “People have a fantasy, and I don’t want to trample on it–but I also don’t want to live it…

DSC_7317

I’m writing this blog from the hospital where I have just welcomed my daughter Lilo Richert into the world in the early afternoon of May 24th and you might say that it’s helping me crystalize a lot of things. It’s a shift in perspective; a further development in the changes I’ve been going through of late–and things are starting to come into focus.

I just realized that I have been worrying about what everyone else in the diabetes community and the diabetes industry thinks of LivingVertical and I forgot about how I feel about LivingVertical as though my perspective needs to be validated by some outside source. The hell with that. No wonder I was feeling uninspired–chasing the approval of others is a fast track to burning out.

IMG_0026

So here’s how I feel about LivingVertical: really, really stoked. We have an amazing team–passionate, talented and poised to do something that’s never been done before. We are attempting to be the first all diabetic expedition to establish a new technical route in the wilderness. The significance of this may be lost on many people–but it is super inspiring if you take the time to unpack it, which I intend to do through a short film series documenting this expedition.

It’s something that involves significant risk management and exposure; it’s not a guided trek up a tourist peak. As a TEAM we can come together with our diabetes and all, and use that as a means to push FURTHER. Big, exploratory adventures aren’t just for other people that we should sit back and read about. They are out there, for US TOO, diabetes and all!

Oh, and if you’re wondering how I’m going to support a child–I think that working a “real” job (or creating my own) AND pursuing my passion is as valid as simply getting paid for living my dream and turning it into work. I’m open to either possibility though–it’s just that letting go of expectations has finally given me the freedom to get back to basics–and that is where the magic happens.

No excuses, no waiting for a cure. Crushing fear and stereotypes in the vertical world, one climb at a time. Game on!

subscribe to our youtube channel! new videos coming soon!

The post And (climb) like no one is watching appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]> http://livingvertical.org/2014/05/25/climb-like-one-watching/feed/ 6 1493 A sigh for help http://livingvertical.org/2014/04/27/sigh-help/ http://livingvertical.org/2014/04/27/sigh-help/#comments Sun, 27 Apr 2014 12:30:05 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1492 I don’t know a nice way to ease into what I’ve got to say, so I’m just going to go […]

The post A sigh for help appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
I don’t know a nice way to ease into what I’ve got to say, so I’m just going to go for it. The fire’s gone out. Something’s gotta change.

rock climbing with diabetes oklahoma

Truncated version: I am going to start focusing my energy elsewhere. Working for a few likes on Facebook here and there won’t feed a family.

cats of instagram

Over the last several years I have put everything I have and am into LivingVertical–because I wanted to send a message. Make a movie. Complete a project. Start a movement. I wanted to offer an alternative to all the fear and commercialization of this condition we live with. I wanted to show people that attitude, diet and discipline are the keys that can unlock a world of adventure and wonder–that you need not wait for a cure or technological breakthroughs to go beyond the limits.

New York rock climbing

In the meantime I put my relationships, my life, my dwelling, my marriage, my stuff, my comfort, my security and my future on the line as collateral. A lot of those aspects of who I am were gutted; eaten alive to feed the effort of the message. I made those choices and I don’t ask anyone to feel sorry for me–nor do I feel sorry for myself. I don’t even expect people to grasp the impact this has all had on my life, since the whole things is a bit esoteric. Nevertheless, the message now feels like an empty shell and so I am forced to deal with that.

appalachian mountains Virginia photography

I’m tired of making everything in my life about diabetes because I want to be an “advocate”. I’m tired of trying to make people care. I’m tired of ignoring basic, obvious truths because I want to prosper from treading the perilous line between the diabetes industry and diabetes advocacy. I started LivingVertical with Stefanie in 2011 because when I looked around online, so much of what I saw was just industry and so little seemed authentic–it felt like marketing and not empowerment. It was business. LivingVertical wasn’t intended to be business; it was raw and real. Then somewhere in there, that all changed and with it, my relationship to the whole endeavor. On the other hand, without that shift, Project365 would not have been able to have come to completion, so I can’t say I’d do it differently.

My life isn’t about diabetes. It’s about a lot of things. Imagery. Mountains. Motion. Cartoons. Satire. Depression. Boredom. Self doubt. Diabetes is just something I do so that I can live my life and I have been looking through the wrong end of the telescope and I can’t keep doing that. I want to be who I am: a neurotic self loathing climber who hangdogs and pulls on gear and comes up short and comes back for more because the people and the time in the mountains make life worth living despite who I am. Because the vertical world exposes my fears and flaws and forces me to recognize the utter absurdity of life while giving me a meaningful way to interact with it.

rock climber with diabetes

Where does diabetes fit into that? Well if I’m not high or low (blood sugar-wise), it doesn’t. Diabetes is best managed when it stays where it belongs, until it doesn’t. Then you fix it and move on. Keep it simple and move past it. Repeat as necessary. Live life, don’t sit around talking about it.

So what’s the point of all of this ranting?

It’s a new season in my life. Things are changing. I don’t know what will happen with LivingVertical. It’s here already, so it’s not going to go away. I climbed for years before it began and I will climb for years to come. If people think that’s inspiring, then good. If not, also fine. I don’t want to play “the diabetes game” any more. I’m not hanging up my uniform, I’m just walking off this particular field, taking my game somewhere else where I won’t be sitting on the bench with the “diabetes banner” draped over me, hoping and praying that I “get to play”.

I’m not sure what this means in terms of practical changes. Maybe more blogging. Maybe less. Probably less filtration and censorship in any case. There’s still work to be done here –action is still at the core of this and if that’s something that still has support in the community, there will be enough to go around.

I didn’t sign up to be a posterchild or a hero. I signed up to prove that we all have the power to go beyond. I did that. Now it’s your turn. Go do something that scares you because you CAN. Meanwhile, I’m going to be working to provide for my daughter in a way that makes me feel complete, not compromised.

Get in on the conversation–share your comment below–and shop while you wait if you’d like to see LivingVertical keep on going~

The post A sigh for help appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]> http://livingvertical.org/2014/04/27/sigh-help/feed/ 10 1492 No failure, just change. http://livingvertical.org/2014/04/06/no-failure-just-change/ Mon, 07 Apr 2014 03:16:59 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1491 From the beginning I had to earn to climb: my harness, my belay, the rock. It wasn’t until the tent […]

The post No failure, just change. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
From the beginning I had to earn to climb: my harness, my belay, the
rock. It wasn’t until the tent sat staked to the ground, our therma-rests were left to
expand, and the delicious scent of burning logs wrapped through the tall trees that
my dad would grab an old alpine rope he’d strapped to an already bursting
backpack, a figure eight and some water-knotted webbing, and we’d hike the
narrow path to some mesmerizing piece of rock late in the afternoon. We’d pass
small ponds that pockmarked alpine meadows and see the small tadpoles, their
shadows tattooed upon the tan depths, and let our exhaustion pass into excitement
as we searched a new cliff that skirted one pristine lake or another. Jefferson Park,
Beacon Rock, Hurricane Ridge, I explored these areas of the Pacific Northwest with
my dad guiding the way. Slowly, with countless creek crossings and endless
bushwhacking, the realization bloomed that weary legs and sweat stained backs
were an undeniable part of the prize. That hardship is directly connected to success
and climbing is inherently linked to nature.

Team LivingVertical climbers with diabetes going beyond the limits of diagnosis

Long hikes were the norm, along with biting flies and mosquitoes and food
stealing marmots. These things permeated the infancy of my climbing and became
the images I grew to expect as I approached from one crag to the next, the crystal
streams splashing through strewn talus and gigantic trees and wild vistas. At an
early age I learned that the rewards and lifestyle of climbing are not just upon
the rock, but also in the experiences—climbing being inextricably linked to the
sweet scent of mountain blueberries and the sting of nettle and the spirit-soothing
gusts tumbling through canyons. Wonderfully, with each new season the defining
characteristics of the mountains and cliffs changed, even the ways my dad and I
climbed them changed, and this created an awareness that there were endless ways
in which to experience life.

Sunset photo of Tuolumne in Yosemite National Park in California

As I drifted through the natural world I found I could be choked by dust or
exhilarated with lung-gripping clean air. Certain streams would be swollen on one
backpacking trip and on the next I would see nothing but beautifully rounded grey
stones. Nature’s relentless transformation captivated my thoughts; lone trees in
the midst of ancient lava flows and at the edge of giant, water-carved precipices, or
ancient root systems up-heaved in the mildest of winds. Without a doubt the 5,000-
year-old twisting riddles of the Bristlecone tell stories filled with change, witness to
the trials of those living millennia before, everything and everyone eternally in flux.
Yet, this does not mean instability or unrest; the act of changing entwines with the
act of growing and learning and ultimately living. The beautifully knotted limbs of
the Bristlecone twist through the present while holding onto the knowledge of the past.

African safari nature photography in Namibia

In my early teens I read zealously about climbers like Peter Croft and Lynn
Hill and Alex Lowe and Todd Skinner. What was synonymous with them all was
their wild hair and fierce eyes. In the pictures I cut out and tacked to my wall I could
feel their uncertainty and imagined their fading energy, in awe at how they could
seemingly continue to expend it forever. Immense granite towers erupted out of
Pakistan’s Karakoram, 3,000 feet of never before free-climbed rock ascended in a
day, miles of exposed ridgelines traversed solo, the ropes tossed aside and left to
play with the wind in the ultimate display of freedom and acceptance that what we
do as individuals is okay and worthwhile, that climbing is something to be
passionate about.

Adventure photography of a climber on a solo ridge traverse

Of course, numbers and grades were published, but these arbitrary
allotments were secondary aspects to the articles I ripped from the magazines. It
was the depiction of exploration, of individuals utterly exposed and yet smiling, of
human feet standing for the first time on top that captivated my thoughts. An
immense rock climbed is inspiring. Unbelievable. Free. A climber’s dream is to
stand on top. And when this is done a transformation takes place. When you climb
a change is taking place. You grow. You learn. You adapt.

Mountain climbing to empower people with diabetes and go beyond the limits of a challenging diagnosis

I was diagnosed with diabetes among climbing magazines. I threw up beside
my harness and climbing shoes, my blood sugar at some inconceivable number.
700? 800? 1000? It was late in the night and a blackness curdled with the already
dark world. I had hid my sickness as long as I could, as long as a 14 year old knew
how, and suddenly it erupted. It was like the wind snagging the rope on a rappel,
a cold chill fast approaching with ten more pitches to the ground and the trees still
look like scattered poppy seeds. What else can you do but keep going? What else
can you do but learn along the way and know that afterwards, if you try, your eyes
will tell of something special—something achieved. Success comes with every climb
through the act of learning and evolving with this new education.

Team LivingVertical is exploring the wind river range in Wyoming to empower people with diabetes

I’ve been thinking about the Wind River trip for a few months now. Thinking
about new summits and first ascents, of ways to keep going and pushing. I visited
twice, years ago, with my dad. It’s definitely a sacred place. The exposed vertebrae
of the Continental Divide S’s for more than a hundred miles through the range,
mountains rise like giant stegosaurus plates, the rich scent of piñon pine and wild
flowers stir with each soft breeze. Towering above the alpine meadows that are
audibly defined by gravity, water rumbling between boulders and rushing through
lush pads of green, are the Goliaths, waiting to be climbed, waiting for the soft sand
or gravel on their summits to receive our footprints.

The mountains and rocks, diabetes, it’s all a trial, all a learning process.
There are Goliaths everywhere. There are the insurance companies and doctors and
the public that try to define diabetes; it’s a money maker and an oracle for ailments
to come and it’s easily misunderstood…just go for a jog and watch what you eat. But
really it’s only me, only me on the rock, only me testing and injecting. It’s always
in flux. I’m always learning. I don’t think about diabetes when I’m in the midst of
climbing or under a mountain’s shadow. I think about adapting. How many units
for a 24-hour push? How many carbs should I pack for ten pitches? Twenty pitches?
It’s interesting; the dichotomy that’s exists between the great ones and the
Regular Joes disappears when you look back at your own pictures. There are images
of my dad and I standing alone on rugged summits and half way up long multi-pitch
routes. Our looks are intense and exhausted, but we’re smiling with nowhere to go
but up. Or back down. In either instance it was the journey, the freedom to choose,
which made us happy.

Diabetes is a reason to do more and try harder

I could turn my back on a blank wall and say, impossible, or I can forge
upwards like those in the images I cut from the magazines. A Bristlecone strives
for thousands of years, a Redwood for several hundreds, and humans for eighty or
so. Climbing like life, like diabetes, revolves around our ability to accept change and
adapt. I can turn my back on the world because I have diabetes and shelter myself,
saying, too dangerous, too unsafe, or I can take diabetes, and everything it scares me
with, and use it as a step to push into the ground and propel myself forward. At the
end, the rewards will appear: Nature’s endlessly vibrant backdrop and the smiles
of success, of just going for it, and the overwhelming idea that failure doesn’t really
exist, just change. And that’s why I go for it. That’s why I climb.

Change? Failure? Diabetes? Climbing? Add your thoughts to the conversation below and SUBSCRIBE TO LV ON YOUTUBE!!

The post No failure, just change. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]> 1491 Independence. http://livingvertical.org/2014/04/03/independence/ Thu, 03 Apr 2014 18:32:46 +0000 http://test.livingvertical.org/?p=1490 Change comes slowly. But with progress, it DOES occur. I’ll cut to the chase because this isn’t another rambling post […]

The post Independence. appeared first on LivingVertical.org.

]]>
Change comes slowly. But wi