Connecting the Dots: Bringing Nutrition, Exercise, and People with Diabetes TogetherFriday, March 08, 2013
Amanda Schadt was looking to seek out fellow people with diabetes (PWD) about their experiences and learn how she could better incorporate exercise and nutrition together. She found all these elements at Diabetes Training Camp last summer and discovered a kinship with like-minded people who quickly became her friends.
By: John Parkinson, Clinical Content Coordinator, DiabetesCare.net
Ever since Amanda Schadt (pictured, lower right) was a little girl she has been riding horses. As she grew, her love of horses stayed with her and she learned how to master riding English style and began showing horses. In showing horses, riders present themselves and their animals to judges. This can also include some performance elements like jumping or doing maneuvers that require skill and athleticism on the part of the rider.
She had already been riding for a few years when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Horseback riding became an important sanctuary after she was diagnosed as she was able to spend time away from thinking about her diabetes.
Through the years her overall disease management was good, but she also grew up feeling different. Living in a rural part of New York, Schadt didn’t know any other people who had diabetes. As she got older, she became more curious about what other PWD were experiencing and realized she wanted to talk with others who were like her.
It’s hard to think of it today, especially in the age of social media and diabetes support groups, that there are some PWD who feel isolated, but there are people like Schadt who still don’t know or communicate with any other PWD.
When she heard about Diabetes Training Camp (DTC), she liked the idea of being able to connect with others who might relate to what she was feeling, and as an equestrian, she wanted to be able to see if she could sharpen her athletic skills and learn more about nutrition too.
DTC is set up as a week-long camp for adults and teens with diabetes, and offers campers diabetes management instruction combined with athletic training.
Through a series of management classes and working with coaches, the training camp can help everyone meet their individual management and fitness goals—no matter what level of fitness the person is currently in. The camp is truly for everyone from the novice person interested in beginning to exercise to someone who is training for a specific event.
DTC is also intimate enough so that campers will get the individual instruction they need.
The camp`s founder, Matt Corcoran, MD, CDE, ACSM Exercise Specialist, runs the camp every summer. Corcoran (pictured, below on the left) also has a staff of medical and exercise professionals, including dietitians, coaches, mental skills trainers, and athletic trainers working with him. They are tireless in their efforts to tailor the program to each of the individual camper’s goals. DiabetesCare.net had an opportunity to talk with Corcoran last year. Interested readers can find that story here.
Schadt attended DTC last summer, and DiabetesCare.net spoke to her about her life with diabetes, her riding, and her experience at the camp.
DiabetesCare.net: Can you tell us about your diabetes experience including when you were diagnosed and what your management and control has been like?
Schadt: I was diagnosed on Halloween at the age of 10, and I am now 23. On the day I was diagnosed, I told my mom I wasn’t feeling well, and she and my dad took me to our doctor. When they tested my blood sugar I think I tested at 1,000, and I was on the cusp of a diabetic coma. At that point, they rushed me to the hospital. I was in the hospital for 3 weeks, and I had to learn how to give myself shots. It was difficult for me, because I was an athletic child. I rode and showed horses.
Even at the age of 10, I had great anxiety about whether I was going to be able to ride my horse, and if was I going to be able to do what my friends could do. My mom immediately took over my diabetes management, and I was on the pump within 6 months.
My control has been successful and I have put in a lot of hard work to keep my A1c below 7. I’m proud of that. You can’t live your life around numbers but you have to feel good too.
DiabetesCare.net: Tell us about your riding?
Schadt: I have been horseback riding since I could stand on my own two feet. It was something my mom did and she encouraged me. You can really put a lot of time and effort into the sport and you connect with these animals.
I ride English, mainly hunter horses, which entails jumping over about ten jumps in a row at a consistent pace and in stride. You are then judged at the end of the class and if you do a good job you get placed. There are ten placings per class.
Riding horses have been part of my saving grace because when you are 10 years old and you are wearing an insulin pump, you can’t always connect with people. Riding for me has always been important. I competed and we have a stable at my house. My parents built a facility for me which has both an indoor and outdoor arena for me to practice on. They built it partially because they wanted me to have the exercise and they wanted me to be happy.
I showed hunters and jumpers. (Editor`s note: The former term means horses are judged on their movement, manners, and jumping form; the latter is judged on their jumping abilities. To learn more about the different horses and how they are shown, go here.)
Schadt during a jumping competition.
DiabetesCare.net: Did your love of riding play a part in why you decided to go to Diabetes Training Camp?
Schadt: I think that the love of exercising drew me to the camp. I also needed education on how to eat properly prior to exercise and how I could set myself up for success. I also felt the need to relate to people with diabetes and see that I wasn`t the only one with the disease!
DiabetesCare.net: What were your goals in going?
Schadt: To be honest, I don’t think I had a goal. I had intentions of meeting other people with diabetes and just making connections and learning about diabetes from the other campers and how they handle diabetic situations. I learned a lot from the other campers and how they have lived their lives and how they manage things with diabetes.
I felt I connected with people from camp and I continue to be friends with the few I became close with. I connect with them on Facebook, and we text, and call each other. It is really nice to have other friends that know exactly what you are talking about.
Corcoran teaching a class at DiabetesTraining Camp.
DiabetesCare.net: What was your experience like?
Schadt: My experience was very exciting and rejuvenating. Dr. Matt Corcoran gave me so much confidence and provided me with education that I could not get anywhere else. I felt very comfortable asking him questions and getting his opinion on making changes with my pump and eating before and after exercise.
He would also personally check in with each camper and just talk with them and see if they were enjoying themselves and if they needed anything. He and the staff made camp very personal and comfortable and most of all educational. I think many friendships were made at camp and people at camp talked about how they can’t wait for the next one! The camp changed my outlook on diabetes and the education I gained is priceless.
DiabetesCare.net: Would you like to go back to the camp?
Schadt: I already told Dr. Matt I would be back to camp! That is a definite yes!
Diabetes Training Camp and DiabetesCare.net have launched their brand new contest, Win a Week at Diabetes Training Camp! One lucky person will be able to attend the camp for Free this summer! Go here to learn the contest details and sign up for it!