The word “NO” is the one thing Mary Sawyler has heard the most all of her life. “You can’t do it”, “You can’t”, “Don’t waste your time”. Sawyler was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 13 years old in the middle of her development as a woman and track star at her high school. Mary learned how to turn negative into inspiration to excel in every aspect of her life.
“Hey, type 1 diabetes, two daughters, a husband, and I still manage to kick butts in local bike races” she says proudly minutes after finishing, like every Saturday, a 60 mile bike ride with the local cycling group in Weston, Florida where she resides. However, the training does not end there, it’s time to check sugar levels with a device that measures glucose in the blood, which she always brings in one of the pockets of her cycling shirt. “As soon as I wake up, just before start riding and as soon as we finish, I measure my blood sugar levels, it is necessary to know what and how much I need to eat and drink to recover after the ride. That’s the time where the body is weaker and asking for energy replacements, ergo, carbohydrates“.
For every person, especially athletes, power levels are the key to effectively perform their physical activities, even more so if it demands excessive caloric expenditure, for example, three hours on a bike. “The positive thing is that with nearly 50 years of life, I have learned to comprehend and understand what I need to do to perform all my daily activities”, says Mary.
The first and foremost fear of any human that gets diagnosed with diabetes, is asking themselves not only how they will perform their regular daily activities, but how are they going to survive, especially those that live an athletic lifestyle.
“When you are 13 years old, you don’t know too much about many things, you’re a girl that now has to deal with the precautions of an adult life. You’re in shock. You don’t know what to do”. Mary remembers that she never feared for his future, but her parents did”. “My mother forbade me to do sports, she immediately took me out of the track team, she was in a panic, however in the next months after multiple visits to different specialists, we learned that it is possible to lead a normal life, not perfect, but normal, and that it was possible to exercise. Mary won an athletic scholarship at the University of Florida and never let diabetes obstruct her goals and dreams. “I’ve achieved everything I wanted, I still enjoy competing and just exercise.
Obviously, no everything goes perfectly, there has been times that I had to literally get off the bike on the edge of fainting and feeling that the worlds is shutting down, but nonetheless I’ve always taken those moments as a learning experience, and they definitely make me appreciate being alive”.
Mary Sawyler is a wonderful example of what a person with information and dedication can do to not only control the disease but also to learn how to use it as motivation to push and crush any obstacle they may have.