Changeing the face of Type 1 Diabetes exercise education nationally and globally.

Allan BoltonFor quite some time people (Kieran Kelly and others) have been in the convenor’s ear about getting Allan Bolton to present to the Storytellers. Always on the lookout for a good story I asked around and discovered much about Allan and there is MUCH .. as contained in Peter Mac’s introduction:

  • BBC member for 20 years in September
  • Allan is a recognised authority in the areas of health and fitness, having co-authored several books and helped developed leading programs like the GutBusters, Weight Watchers for Men programs as well as, Fitness Trainer accreditation programs used on over 40 countries. He has made a career of communicating his complex scientific knowledge in engaging and entertaining ways.
  • Past Executive Board member for the Australian Association for Exercise and Sport Science (now Exercise & Sports Science Australia)
  • Allan has lived with Type 1 Diabetes for over 30 years. He has completed over 100 alpine, water and road-based endurance events around the world including 2 Ironman triathlons and a handful of multi-day, wilderness adventure races. He was the first person in the world with insulin dependent diabetes to complete an Ironman triathlon using multiple daily injections.
  • Past Australian Fitness Leader of the Year and nominated by Fitness Australia for the ‘ 2011 Outstanding Contribution to the Fitness Industry Award.’ An award recognising those who have made a significant contribution to the development and advancement of the fitness industry in Australia.
  • Creator of – an innovative, world first e-coaching website dedicated to helping people with Type 1 Diabetes exercise with confidence. Currently the subject of a Post-Doctoral PhD randomised control trial through Sydney University.
  • He is an enduring role model for successful Type 1 Diabetes self-management and leading a life without limits, he is living proof that regardless of life’s challenges, we can all win. He walks the talk!

After a warm welcome Allan then shared his story.

It was obvious Allan had presented many times previously and kept everyone enthralled with a very entertaining presentation. He told his own story about not just being content with accepting he had Type 1 Diabetes and wrapping himself in cotton wool, but wanting to learn more about his condition. His track record of endurance events no doubt provides a wonderful example to youngsters with Type 1. Allan fully appreciates the importance that sporting activity can provide to such youngsters in particular with its mix of challenges, team spirit, independence and friendships. He knows too that there is very little information ‘out there’ about the best way to manage the condition whilst participating in sporting activities.

Allan referred to his project website:
“There are literally thousands of websites, books and assorted publications telling people with type 1 diabetes about the ‘health benefits’ and why they ‘should’ exercise but few on ‘how to’. Much of the information available on ‘how to exercise’ is either too academic to be understood or, it simply scratches the surface avoiding the meaningful issues that can help make exercise and participation in sport part of everyday life.”

Allan had learnt plenty about exercise for the non-diabetic through his sport science degree, however, he undertook a one year university course in order to ‘tick the box’ for joining the ‘diabetes club’ with a view to hopefully getting an invite to present at the national diabetes science conference. In the one year university course all he basically learnt about exercise and Type 1 diabetes was:

  • Exercise is good for you
  • It’s likely you will need to eat extra carbohydrate
  • You might have to try adjusting your insulin dose

One can only imagine Allan’s frustration and since then he’s done all within his powers, time permitting and balancing his fulltime job, to amend this situation. He has managed to raise some significant research funding but alas, along the way has had a lot of polite “we can’t help at the moment”. His next objective is getting to the desktops of the diabetes educators FOC in hospital clinics etc. via the Diabetes Educators’ professional association membership benefits package. This requires a sponsorship of around $100k per year to be properly serviced. Not a small sum but it would provide a good marketing platform for the right people.

It was obvious to all present that Allan is committed and passionate about ‘how to’ exercise with Type 1 diabetes education, one person trying to make a BIG difference.
Whilst Allan’s presentation went a little longer than planned (everyone was fully absorbed) time allowed for some questions, and some well-meaning suggestions for fund raising.

A hearty applause and thanks were given to Allan for a most professional, interesting and educational presentation.

Thanks also to Jackie Bourn for capturing the presentation on video, for the BBC archives and perhaps for supporting Allan in teaching people via his web site on how to exercise with Type 1 diabetes.

The following article featured in the SMH and Age newspapers Spectrum section November 2013 is recommended reading:

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