If you ever wondered if you could be an award-winning weightlifter
with type 1 diabetes, just look to Hawaii, where D-peep Jameson (Jamie) Dahl is showing us how it's done.
The thirty-something on Oahu (one of the most
northwest of Hawaii's eight-island chain and home to state capital Honolulu) has earned
achieved four state weightlifting titles and made several national-level appearances including in the
US Nationals and the American Open. He was recently featured on local
Hawaii News Now sharing his story.
But Dahl doesn't think of himself as anywhere close to Olympic, he tells us, and in fact he only started in this sport out of boredom and
a desire to stay healthy -- something that might be inspiring in itself to see how far he's come!
Diagnosed at age 24 in October 2008, Dahl was the first in his family to contract T1D. Cue the quick succession of common
symptoms – extreme weakness, bloodshot eyes, extreme thirst and urination, easy
bruising, weight loss of roughly 45 pounds in two weeks – and eventually an ER visit to
reach the diagnosis.
It was a surprise, he recalls, since he was the only one in
his family and had always been athletic growing up, participating in variety of
sports including basketball, baseball, hockey, water polo, football, and swimming.
Originally from San Jose, CA, and living there at the time, Dahl
didn’t move to the islands until 2013. He went to school in San Francisco studying
animation and worked in that industry a short time, doing rotoscoping and node-based compositing for motion picture production as well as VFX animation
Eventually, he wound up running ad campaigns for radio sales and
hosting a talk show program called Empire Broadcasting at KRTY/KLIV in San
Jose, and later transitioned to where he is now working in property management and
real estate development in Hawaii. Dahl says that state’s development is on the
upswing these days, with a construction boom that means many new housing and
commercial developments expected during over the next 10 years in Oahu.
How to Become a Weightlifter
Dahl had nothing to do with weightlifting until age 26, he says.
“I was bored and needed a physical outlet, so decided to
join a gym and enjoyed lifting something heavy and putting it right back where
it was,” he chuckles. “I’d really never weight-trained before, then
over a few years of hard work I became pretty good.”
“Weight training is a job in and of itself, and managing
diabetes is just like having a second job on top of it,” he says. “But high-caliber strength sports are not out of reach for type 1 diabetics.”
He tells us there aren’t really any specific tricks as to diabetes management while lifting, other than the typical advice such as keeping ample D-supplies and
glucose on hand – particularly when traveling. He currently
uses the Medtronic 530G system with Enlite CGM sensor, a device he says
helps a great deal in not having to worry about scar tissue that inhibits
insulin absorption during his lifting routine, problem he had previously with injections.
Dahl insists that he's by no means an Olympic athlete, as the highest ranking he’s achieved is #25 in the country for
his 85 and 94kg weight class – which is about 2,000 athletes! But there are also those four state titles, and national competitions including the
US Nationals and the American Open. Talk about modesty...
“I don't really have any magic words in terms of pushing
yourself to the limits,” he admits. “If I had to coin something, I would say
commitment is as close as you will get to a silver bullet. While commitment
does not guarantee you will be the best, it does guarantee that you will get
awfully good in whatever you pursue. You have to stick with it, separate
yourself emotionally from your endeavors so you can coach yourself and look at
issues and challenges objectively and rationally.”
Sounds like good advice, no?
And it mirrors what we've heard from other weightlifters and bodybuilders in the Diabetes Community, including powerlifter Ginger Vieira, former Mr. Universe Doug Burns (who had a well-publicized issue with hypoglycemia some years back), fitness bikini champion Christel Oerum, and Rodney
Miller in Texas who last year hosted the first "Bolus & Barbells" event to encourage a whole community of PWDS who enjoy weightlifting.
What we appreciate about all these folks is their humility, and how they showcase the real-life challenges of mastering both their sport and diabetes. Their stories -- especially Dahl's -- also illustrate how
people can sometimes find their way into a seemingly intimidating sport like weightlifting just by
happenstance, and can still thrive and succeed!
As always, we have to echo the whole You Can Do This! mantra for anyone who wonders what's possible... or might feel they can't lift themselves out a diabetes funk.
Here's to knowing that YOU CAN, and thank you today to Jamie Dahl for sharing your experience!