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American Diabetes Wholesale recently had the opportunity to speak with former NFL player and Co-Host of ESPN’s ‘Mike & Mike In The Morning’ radio show. Golic was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 2005 and he is now working to spread the word about diabetes education and how to manage low Blood Sugar.
- You lead a busy lifestyle. Is it hard for you to find healthy options when traveling or having little time to sit down for a meal?
If you make your health a priority, there is always time for a healthy meal, no matter how busy you are. For example, there are always snacks around the radio station, and I realized a while back how often I was grabbing something on busy mornings without really thinking about what I was eating. So I started bringing healthy snacks with me to work, like a piece of fruit, so I’d be less likely to grab a donut when I got hungry during the show.The bottom line is, when your schedule is crazy or you’re on the road, planning ahead is incredibly important for maintaining a healthy diet, particularly if you have type 2 diabetes like me. I was diagnosed about five years ago, which was a big wake-up call and helped push me to live a healthier lifestyle.
- What major changes have you had to make to your diet once you were diagnosed with diabetes?
I would say the two biggest changes for me, as far as my diet is concerned, were adjusting to portion control and learning the importance of eating small meals throughout the day instead of a lot of food at once. Since being diagnosed with diabetes, I’ve learned that eating at irregular times can lead to low blood sugar levels. When I skip a meal, or don’t eat small snacks between meals, I can get dizzy and shaky, two of the most common symptoms of low blood sugar. That is why eating healthy and regularly throughout the day is so important. It’s not only better for my health, but it also helps me manage my blood sugar levels.
- While on the air for your radio show, what do you keep handy to help maintain your blood glucose levels?
As I mentioned earlier, I make sure that I always have a piece of fruit or a granola bar handy – I’ve learned how important it is to have a healthy snack around to keep my blood sugar levels steady. To help avoid low blood sugar, I also talk to my doctor regularly about other things that can affect my blood sugar levels. He told me that skipping meals, excessive exercise and certain diabetes medications are common causes of low blood sugar for people with type 2 diabetes.
- Being a former professional athlete, you were used to routines as it relates to practice, travel, and working out. Has that helped with your diabetes management? If so, how?
In football, I listened to my coach – at practice, in games – and now my doctor is my coach. We developed a game plan together for how I was going to manage my diabetes, and I follow his instructions just as I did as a professional athlete on the field. My diabetes management has become a routine in my life, in the same way that working out and practicing was in my professional athletic career, but it was a long road getting to this point and I had a lot to learn. That’s why I’ve become involved with the Blood Sugar Basics program. The program's website, www.BloodSugarBasics.com was created by the American College of Endocrinology (ACE) with support from Merck, provides easy-to-understand information, videos and tools to help people manage their diabetes and blood sugar levels. A good way to get started is to take the quiz on the website to find out how much you know about low and high blood sugar.
- Is there a difference between the kind of working out you do to stay in football shape versus that of trying to stay fit for your overall health?
There definitely is a difference, which is something I didn’t always realize. When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the athlete in me recognized that I needed to lose weight by eating less and working out harder. I didn’t eat enough before a tough workout and got shaky and sweaty – and I nearly passed out. This, I later learned from talking to my doctor, was an episode of low blood sugar. He told me that low blood sugar can be caused by not eating enough, working out too aggressively and even by certain types of diabetes medications.
- How often do you go to your doctor to specifically discuss your diabetes?
I try to get to my doctor every 3-6 months to make sure I am managing my diabetes in a way that is going to improve my health and my lifestyle. Staying on top of my blood sugar levels is part of my game plan for keeping my diabetes in check. When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I didn’t know what to ask my doctor when I went for checkups. The Fast Five Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Blood Sugar, which you can download on BloodSugarBasics.com, has helped me get the conversation started with my doctor, and now I get a lot more out of my visits.
- How helpful has it been to be working with someone that has made this process easier for you to handle?
It’s been extremely helpful. As I mentioned before, I had a low blood sugar experience after being diagnosed with diabetes, and my doctor helped me understand how and why this low blood sugar experience occurred, which has really helped me better understand how to manage my diabetes. He explained to me that shakiness, sweating, and nervousness are symptoms of low blood sugar that can happen from skipping meals, over-exercising or taking certain types of diabetes medications.
- How important is it for you and your family to have a doctor that takes the time to explain how your body is constantly changing?
As the father of three kids, two of which are college football players, it is extremely important to me that they are learning the things about diabetes that I wish I had learned when I was a young athlete. For example, my doctor makes sure that I’m managing my blood pressure and cholesterol levels in addition to my blood sugar levels, since those of us with type 2 diabetes are much more likely to develop heart disease than people without the disease. I want my kids to be aware of the risk factors and consequences of diabetes so they are able to develop and maintain healthy habits throughout their lives.
- Your father has diabetes. How much did you and your family know about the disease while he was getting treatment? And how does that compare to what you and your family are doing for your diabetes?
Honestly, I wasn’t very educated about diabetes until I was diagnosed myself. Even though my dad has it, my diagnosis still came as a shock to me. Everyone has the attitude “this isn’t going to happen to me” and that was exactly my problem – as a former professional athlete, I never thought type 2 diabetes would happen to me. I wish the Blood Sugar Basics program had been around when my dad was diagnosed, and when I was diagnosed, because it provides such great information about managing diabetes on a level that I can understand. At BloodSugarBasics.com, you can find resources like everyday tips for managing your diabetes and an interactive quiz to test how much you know about low and high blood sugar.
- Your ESPN radio show reaches millions of people every morning. How often do you have your listeners contact you with questions about diabetes?
Most of my listeners ask me about sports, but a lot of them know I have type 2 diabetes and are in the same boat as me. I want my listeners to feel comfortable asking me questions about my health so that I can share what I have learned from the Blood Sugar Basics program. I like to set a good example for others with the disease, and show them they can manage it effectively. I encourage all my listeners struggling with diabetes to visit www.BloodSugarBasics.com.
- What tips or recommendation would you tell someone who was just diagnosed with diabetes?
Honestly, what I would do first is direct them to www.BloodSugarBasics.com. It is an amazing resource developed by the American College of Endocrinology (ACE) with support from Merck –I wish I had had it when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes several years back. It teaches you the basics about managing your blood sugar, which is essential for people with type 2 diabetes. Most importantly, people who have been recently diagnosed need to have conversations with their doctors and ask them the correct questions, and BloodSugarBasics.com can help there, too – you can download the Fast Five Questions to Ask Your Doctor to help start the conversation.