Hey there! I’m Hope.

And I’m just like you.

I’m a 20-something year old who wants to live the prime of my life (well really, let’s be honest…my whole life) having the best time ever. I live for making memories and adventures.

I’m married and we have a four-legged child named Molly who has the biggest heart and underbite inside the smallest body.

My favorite things to do when I’m stressed, overwhelmed, or simply want to improve my day is to exercise and eat the foods that I love. Shoot, I’d even say I’m a bit of an indulger with the sweets I make—cookies, ice cream, chocolate, fudge. 

I love my life and everything I do, but it’s all because I learned how to find balance in my life.

But, let me tell you something you may not expect.

I also have type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes is a part of me…it is not me. I am a Tarheel, an exercise enthusiast, a cook, an adventure junkie and a person living with diabetes. I am many other things, but I have figured out how to find balance in my life so I am not defined by just one characteristic….or label (someone diagnosed with diabetes).

I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2002 and my life quickly revolved around conversations with 3 words: can’t, won’t, and don’t. But meanwhile, I was told I could eat what everyone else eats and I could do what other people were doing. But what they forgot to emphasize was that the ideas they instilled in my head starting from day one made this disease feel all-consuming, life-sucking, and straight up exhausting. I couldn’t eat without numbers running around in my brain. I was told I will have lots of high and low blood sugars and I won’t be able to prevent them, but rather, I would have to give insulin or drink a juice box.

It was really awful when I wanted to celebrate a special occasion and eat cake and realize I had no idea how many carbs were in it.  I’d cross my fingers and pray that 6 units would be enough insulin to keep me at least below 250 mg/dL. Then, I’d check my sugar, it wouldn’t be under 250, so I’d give more insulin, only to then have a severe drop in blood sugar, needing that darn juice box when I did not want it. Oh, and don’t forget that I love to exercise. However, I never could figure out how to prevent dropping low during exercise. It was embedded in my brain that I could not leave home without glucose tabs, juice, or even candy. I finally had to draw the line somewhere. 

And that line appeared when on the 4th of July my day started with good blood sugars, I enjoyed a sweet treat that my friend made, and my night ended in tears. Because of what was instilled in my head, I thought that because of my diabetes,  I shouldn’t have eaten it…but I wanted it. Because of my diabetes, I knew I would over indulge and be a failure because I wouldn’t have those good blood sugars anymore. And I allowed these thoughts to prove true and I left that night feeling sick, alone, and like an outcast. After that, I decided I was tired of failing.

I really just wanted to live and I was confident that I could do what I wanted and be who I wanted to be despite having this diabetes label. From that point on, I refused to believe the story  that diabetes would be my limitation and that it was a disease that I could not acclimate to. So after having type 1 diabetes for over a decade, I was determined to figure out how to find the balance my life needed. I set out to learn the right steps to take and at what time and place I needed to take them to make diabetes feel like a thing of the past. Normality would be my future.

Can you relate?

After educating myself about how the body works, why it acts the way it does when I eat certain foods and how physical activity, and even more importantly, mentality, affects my body, I began to understand that the balance was way easier than any doctor has made me realize. And then I learned that even endocrinologists (the specialists many of us see), who do care about our well-being, haven’t been taught to tell us that it’s all about how we structure our lives and how we integrate diabetes into our lives so that we can feel normal. Diabetes is really no different than any other diagnosis out there. Shoot! Honestly, it’s no different than being born with crazy weird, frizzy, wavy hair and realizing that it’s just what you’ve been dealt, but you have the ability to easily go over your hair a few extra times with a hair straightener to get it to look like your best friend’s. A true life of freedom, normality, and balance is possible, no matter what label you’ve been given or hair you’ve been blessed with. I now have blood sugar levels in a “normal” range, a “normal” person A1C, I take minimal insulin (sometimes no rapid-acting insulin at all!), and I FINALLY have the ability to feel like everyone else when I’m eating or doing anything that I love.

I no longer believe that no matter what I do, what I eat, or what I think, I will fail.

I am FREE and I am full of life!

I am so overjoyed to be able to share my story about how I discovered I am more than my diabetes label and to show you that you are not your diagnosis. I look back and I can see why for the first decade of my diagnosis I felt defeated, out of control, isolated, and on a path that left me feeling like I would never be capable of living the life I always dreamt of. It was my lack of understanding how things that were considered “healthy” and “diabetes-friendly” were actually sending me down the road of complications at an accelerated rate. But, you know what the best thing about this whole journey has been? Despite that those years came with lots of pain, tears, confusion and frustration, I appreciate the life of freedom more than ever now…AND it has helped me realize that the steps to take to live a balanced life are easy, fun, and delicious (did I  mention I make some incredible low carb treats that make you feel SO GUILTY but they’re actually supporting your health?!). My life has been changed and I would be selfish if I didn’t share this life of freedom I now have with others in this world who have been labeled with a diagnosis. The education process took years and I faced so many roadblocks because healthy looks different for everyone, and determining what healthy looked like for me was a rollercoaster in every way possible. But now, now I know what it looks like for me, as well as what it looks like for every person who feels like they’re stuck, unhappy, and confused. No matter if you have been labeled by something many years ago, or you just received a diagnosis yesterday, your life is not over, and really, it is just beginning. And if you have not been labeled yet, perfect! Find balance now so you will not have a label placed on our that is not reflective of who you really are. My hope is that I can help you realize this label is not your reality and you can be confident about WHO YOU ARE.

Who you really are is a happy, healthy, person wanting to live your life to the fullest.