Skip to main content
/ November 2020
Ari Hurst, Associate Manager, Reebok Partnerships

3 Ways Type 1 Diabetes Changed My Life – For the Better

In her own words, Reebok’s Ari Hurst explains how not allowing the disease to hold her back enabled her to find an allied community and healthier habits.

I won’t sugarcoat it, diabetes sucks. But gratefully amidst the highs and lows I’ve managed to find some silver linings. Like many challenges, a shift in perspective can make all the difference in the way you see your situation. For me, having Type 1 Diabetes created a life centered around exercise, nutrition, and positivity with the help of those around me.
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy by producing insulin, a hormone that regulates your blood sugar. People with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), like me, have lost the ability to produce insulin, whereas people with Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) initially become resistant to insulin and over time can also lose their ability to produce it.
While T2D is more common and is usually triggered by obesity and inactivity, it can be managed – and sometimes reversed – with lifestyle changes. T1D is an autoimmune disease typically onset at a young age with no known cause or cure.  T1D requires lifelong blood sugar management and insulin administration because our cells in the pancreas that make insulin have stopped working. Because T1D requires intense monitoring that I’ll need to do for the rest of my life, I’ve always had to take careful care of my body.
In honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month, I wanted to share my story to shed light on the condition and highlight how the disease has helped me grow in unexpected ways for the last 20 years. 


Maybe it was because social media wasn’t mainstream yet, but when I was diagnosed with T1D in 2000 I didn’t know anyone else like me. I was testing my blood sugar and injecting multiple insulin shots a day (which isn’t adversity an 8-year-old wants to take on), but I took it in stride. It can be especially hard to know if someone is diabetic because there are no outward signs unless they’re noticeably wearing a medical device, and I was eager to find people I could relate to. 
I realized there was a community of people just like me. In fact, more than 422 million people have diabetes worldwide. Over time, I became more comfortable in my own skin and outspoken about what I was going through. This confidence led me find a community of other people living with diabetes which has been essential for me.  Our shared experiences give me comfort that I am not alone and hope that a cure is on the horizon. I’ve found similar camaraderie with friends I’ve made through CrossFit and coworkers at Reebok. Connecting (and training) with like-minded people is what holds me accountable in being active, staying healthy and reaching my goals.


I want to debunk the myth that people with diabetes can’t have sugar; sometimes I need sugar when my blood sugar drops low. But, knowing how food affects my blood sugar is important, and I need to pay close attention to what goes in my body.  When my blood isn’t in range, it dramatically impacts how I feel, and in some cases, it can be really dangerous.
It wasn’t until I started CrossFit that I became more interested in my diet because I realized it has a direct correlation to my performance. While oat milk, cauliflower crust and keto haven’t always been trending, I try my best to eat foods with a lower glycemic index. I also wear a continuous glucose monitor to increase my chances of having target blood sugars (between 80-130 mg/dL). When my blood sugar is below target, I can feel shaky, hungry, and weak, but when my blood sugar is above target, I can feel irritable, tired, and thirsty. Netting out somewhere in the middle can be a hard balance to strike.
I’ve also seen a great impact on my health overall through working out, and I love how constantly varied CrossFit is; it keeps things interesting. However, I’ve learned that the type of workout I do can affect my blood sugar differently. For example, cardio tends to make my blood sugar drop while interval-based workouts have less of an impact (and can sometimes make my blood sugar rise). It’s different for everyone with T1D, but one study says it’s because there is a higher production and utilization of sugar by your body during interval training compared to cardio. 
It sounds strange that your body produces sugar during a workout, right? That’s because your muscles need the energy to fuel you through the workout, and typically high-intensity workouts are more intense than a steady run.


Life can be pretty hard but having diabetes has helped me think smarter and faster. There’s a study that found people with T1D make 180 health decisions a day between juggling blood sugars, meals, insulin & exercise.
At times it can be overwhelming but avoiding informed decisions about your health and having a fixed mindset won’t get you anywhere. Having a growth mindset means adapting to change, being resilient and learning from failure. These are the exact tools I use every day whether at work or in the gym, and this approach has led me to achieve more than I ever thought possible.
At times I wonder what life would be like without diabetes, but at the same time I wouldn’t be me without it.  Showing up for myself and finding a like-minded community has made all the difference in managing my T1D and living my best life.
Photo credit for main image Daisy Lu Photography
/ November 2020
Ari Hurst, Associate Manager, Reebok Partnerships