Jay Cutler Inspires Children to Tackle Diabetes
Advocacy The Chicago Bears quarterback dramatically changed his diet and lifestyle after being diagnosed with diabetes in 2008.
Mediaplanet: How were you first diagnosed with diabetes?
Jay Cutler: Throughout the 2007 football season I lost 30 pounds. We weren't sure what the problem was, so I assumed it was just stress from the season. I felt like something else must have been wrong, but I was afraid to find out because I felt it might be something pretty bad. I continued to work out and go through the offseason. When we reported back for workouts in April, I discovered that my blood sugar was in the 700s at our physicals.
MP: What were your biggest concerns after receiving the news?
JC: I didn't know if I was going to continue playing football. "I knew very little about diabetes and even less about type 1 diabetes."
MP: Monitoring your levels on the field must be tough. How do you manage your blood glucose levels mid-game?
"Activity and working out helps keep your sugar levels down and keeps you feeling good about yourself. I attribute working out and diet to helping maintain my sugars just as much as insulin."
JC: My sugars don't move much once the game has started. I try to enter the game in the 80s knowing that when the game starts and adrenaline kicks in that I will jump up 20 to 30 points. Throughout the game I monitor and check my sugars periodically to make sure I'm still in a healthy range.
MP: Is it difficult to maintain an active lifestyle while managing your condition? How important is activity to staying healthy?
JC: I think it's vital to maintain an active lifestyle if you want to manage diabetes. Activity and working out helps keep your sugar levels down and keeps you feeling good about yourself. I attribute working out and diet to helping maintain my sugars just as much as insulin.
MP: Do you have any advice to athletes living with diabetes?
JC: You can do anything any other athlete without diabetes can do. Diabetes isn't a crutch or an anchor. It's just another obstacle to manage and work around. I would also tell anyone living with diabetes to really manage what you eat. Eating healthy and smarter can have a dramatic change on your sugar levels in a positive way.
MP: Tell us more about how you launched the Jay Cutler Foundation.
JC: When I got into the NFL I knew I wanted to help people, but was lost in what capacity that would be. We helped kids mainly for the first two years. When I was diagnosed with diabetes it was a no brainer decision to move forward in the diabetes world. Since then we have focused on children with diabetes.
MP: What are your long-term goals for the foundation?
JC: My main goal is to continue to try to improve as many children's live dealing with type 1 diabetes as possible. We also want to build awareness around the disease so that people can be diagnosed earlier.