Healthy Living
June 05, 2017 By Ashleigh Canaday
 Diabetes does not define me

I am a 30-year-old active wife and mother of a beautiful four-year-old daughter. I am also a type 1 diabetic and have been for a decade. Because fitness is my thing – personally and professionally – and because I usually make New Year’s resolutions, in 2016, I decided to challenge myself to complete a run or fitness event almost every month during the year.

I ran five km and 10 km events during which I experienced blood sugar spikes (that I was able to stabilize with the help of a local naturopath); adopted a lower glycemic index (GI) diet which improved my time; completed a beginner triathlon, even though I’d never swum competitively; and finished first in a few fun runs as well as a more challenging obstacle course race at the Spartan Sprint at Sun Peaks, B.C. The course requires mental toughness as you climb the mountain and complete the obstacles (sometimes in cold, wet and muddy conditions), so I focused on improving my cardio, strength and mental game. My daughter said I was going to win, and once we started to run, I got out in front and never stopped. I finished the 9.3 km race in one hour and 52 seconds, placing first out of 43 competitors in my age group (25 to 29 years old). I placed 19th out of 284 women total, and 66th out of 511 participants – to me, these placements are incredible!

I have participated in three five-km runs already this year, and plan to complete another six events, including two with my daughter.  In August, I will take a break to go camping and to celebrate my 30th birthday before completing my final two events in the fall. One of my other goals this year is to find that post-race snack/meal that helps my body cope with the stress of racing and prevents my blood glucose from rising, which is a recurring problem for me.

Why do I do these events? To prove to myself and others that nothing is impossible. Diabetes does control most of my life, but it does not define who I am. Being diabetic has taught me to pay attention to my body and listen to the cues it provides. My husband, daughter and I eat healthy meals, and I have instilled in her an understanding of the importance of nutrition and exercise. I make smarter, healthier choices, and push myself harder than I think I would if I wasn’t diabetic: to prove that despite having diabetes I can compete with seasoned athletes. For people with diabetes, it can be a constant uphill battle every single day. Some days you are great at climbing the mountain; other days you can barely put one foot in front of the other but you still manage to find a way to keep going. Personally, I try and just focus on one day at a time – not about the next 50-plus years of living with diabetes. I am determined to live an amazing life, and to be the best, happiest and healthiest version of myself for my family.

Ashleigh Canaday lives with her husband and daughter in Kamloops, B.C., where she manages a gym.  She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two weeks before her 19th birthday in her second year of university. She enjoys running, swimming, weight training, yoga, camping, hiking, fishing, cooking, and baking with her daughter.

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