Whitesburg KY




For Karl Amber, now 37, the hardest part of learning at age 12
that he had diabetes was the inability to “comprehend the long-term
effects of my decisions and what I had to do in the short term to make
the right choices…particularly about what I should eat.” A web server
engineer for Fidelity Investments who lives in Berkley, Mass., Karl
was remained active throughout his life. However, three years ago,
Karl realized that he was beginning to put on weight. So, he started
running and mountain biking. Karl soon became attracted to the idea
of participating in a triathlon.

Support Goes A Long Way

“With the encouragement of some of my friends, who were active

triathletes, I began having the notion of doing my first triathlon,”
says Karl. “Through my years as a —person living with diabetes — I
knew that I could do anything that I wanted. I knew there were other
people who had done the Ironman triathlon with diabetes so I felt that
I could do that as well.” With the help of a friend who also helped him
train, Karl began corresponding with Ironman triathlete Andy Holder,
also known as “Iron Andy,” the official spokesperson for the Diabetes
Shoppe┬« Managing Diabetes: Living Without Limits campaign. “Andy
was very encouraging, and…realizing that he had the same challenges
that I did and that he found solutions to them, made it easier for me
to believe that I could find a solution as well.”

Overcoming Training Obstacles

The biggest challenge that karl says he faced in training for and
completing a triathlon was “managing my blood sugar levels, especially

in an Iron distance event. I finished my first Ironman in just under
13 hours, but that was the first time in my life that I ever exercised for
13 straight hours.” Checking his blood sugar levels frequently, Karl was
able to manage his levels over the entire span of his first Ironman. If
the test showed he needed to adjust his levels, especially during the
running portion of the event, Karl would drink just enough Gatorade
to balance his blood sugar.

Exercising…for Fun!

Of course not all people with diabetes aspire to compete in an
Ironman event, but Karl strongly suggests that everyone with diabetes
participate in exercises that are pleasurable to them. “ Exercise,” he
says, “makes the body use insulin more efficiently, and it also helps in
providing freedom in terms of eating the types of foods that you want
to eat.” “Some training days I burn 5,000 calories, and that makes it
much easier to eat and stay healthy.” Karl jokes that if he was not
exercising and “limited to a 1,800-calorie diet, I’d never be able to
maintain my weight, have a fit body and still have the freedom to eat
all the foods I want to eat. And doing an Ironman event is fun. I most
certainly had fun.”

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