Surfing, marathon training, and solo travel with T1D: how to overcome your fears when trying new things

Lauren Rapaport
Featured Podcast Episode
June 19, 2023

At Risely, one of our core principles is “Whether you believe diabetes limits you or not, you’re right.” We know that people living with T1D can do whatever they set out to do AND, at the same time, we know that fears around navigating diabetes are real.

Coach Brooke is here to share what she’s learned about overcoming her T1D fears anytime she is embarking on something for the first time. From learning to surf, to training for a marathon, to traveling solo internationally, Brooke has had lots of experiences learning to work through her fears in order to tap into her limitless potential.

After all, we HAVE to think about details that most people don’t need to worry about. Want to learn to surf? It’s not just the usual fears of sharks or the water that we have to get over… it’s thoughts like “what on earth am I going to do out in the ocean without my CGM or insulin pump?”

Here are Brooke’s takeaways for what’s helped her moving through fears of trying new things with T1D.

1) Letting go of the belief that I need to get things right or perfectly the first time.
Being able to accept that mistakes are just a part of the learning process has been so liberating for me. And even recognizing that mistakes are important because those moments of imperfection or where things don't work out quite the way we wish they would have are golden opportunities for us to gain new insights about what we can do differently and what we need.

When I wanted to learn how to surf, I let go of the idea of being some sort of prodigy and leaned into the feeling of being a beginner. I acknowledged that it was hard in a lot of ways and uncertain, but I stayed committed to just giving it a shot and seeing what I could learn from it.

That was the fuel that I needed to get over the initial hump of just being able to try something that was really outside of my comfort zone.

2) Finding others who are already doing what I want to do or have done it before.
When I was training for my first marathon, I remember I was at a loss as to how on earth I'd be able to fuel and support my body over 26 miles.So I actually googled “people with type one diabetes who run marathons” and found Type One Run in my city. I joined the group and met a whole bunch of people with all different kinds of running experience and in particular, I met a fellow T1D who would actually go and do solo trucks. He would run 70 miles over the course of four days by himself through the woods, camp by himself, and carry all of his food and water.And so he became my role model for this because I could look at him and see that he had done things much harder than what I was trying to do, and I knew I would be able to learn from him.Finding those people who can serve as a reminder that it is very possible to do what I wanna do with type one diabetes, even if I haven't figured it all the details out yet. Knowing there are others who have found a way to make this activity or make this experience work well with their bodies and their blood sugars has been really helpful for me.

3.) Breaking bigger goals down into smaller actions or behaviors that I am confident I can accomplish.
When I was learning how to surf, the thought of actually going out on the water for two hours and catching a wave felt totally impossible.So instead, I broke it down into smaller steps.My first goal was to just to put on my wetsuit.My second goal was to get my surfboard strapped to my car.My third goal was to get to the beach on time, for my training session.And then by the time I was at the beach, I had already accomplished so much that I was like, ok, I don't know how the surfing is gonna go, but I'm willing to give it a shot because at least I'm confident I've made it this far. I can take the next step.

4.) Replacing the thought of “I'm bad at this” with “I'm learning.”
This was also a big one for me with managing my blood sugars while surfing. If things didn't go as I hoped they would go when I go out on the water, I tell myself, “I'm learning” instead of like, “oh, I'm so terrible at surfing. I'm so terrible at managing my blood sugars.”It's just like, nope, I'm learning. This reframe has given me so many more opportunities to experiment, explore, and LIVE my life rather than hold back out of fear of being bad.

5. Taking time after I endeavor to try something new to reflect on what went well and what I am curious to do differently moving forward.
When I was traveling solo in Mexico, I almost forgot my insulin in my hotel before leaving to the next city. We all know how bad that would have been…Before leaving my hotel next time I actually wrote on the notepads by my hotel desk, “Remember insulin.”I put one on my bedside table and then also to put one on top of my suitcase as a little reminder and self accountability so that I could avoid any unnecessary stress as I moved through my travels by myself.