Devon Garrett: Healthy and Fit, a “Unicorn” Diabetic
It all started when some mysterious marks that looked like bug bites showed up on her body. When they didn’t go away for a number of months, Devon Garrett saw a dermatologist, who shrugged it off and sent her home.
Two years later, in 2017, the bug bites had grown into “one big mark on my leg,” said the 29-year-old who trains at CrossFit BNA in Juliet, TN. Considering Garrett was young and fit, ate well and wasn’t overweight, the dermatologist wasn’t particularly worried about diabetes, but was at a loss, so suggested Garrett have her A1C — average blood glucose levels — tested. Sure enough, Garrett’s A1C was 11.6, well into the diabetic range.
- “It was hard to even find a doctor willing to test me, because I didn’t really have any symptoms and they didn’t think I was a diabetic…but when I called about my test results, she came back and was like, you’re a diabetic and it doesn’t make sense,” Garrett said.
One big thing: Despite being young and fit, Devon Garrett was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. And, rather than giving up, the new CrossFit athlete turned to her community for education and support.
- “Everything in the system (shows you’re) Type 2, but you’re kind of a 1.5,” Garrett said of what doctors told her. Three years later, they’re still mystified by Garrett’s diagnosis. “I say I’m a type of unicorn,” she added.
Taking control: Devastated by the news of being a diabetic — “I just thought life is done,” Garrett said of how she felt — wasted no time educating herself about how to improve her A1C levels. New to CrossFit at the time, the gym quickly became a place to relieve her stress and a place where she could “continuously work on myself,” Garrett said. Even more valuable, however, was how the CrossFit community became a great source of education about nutrition.
- “Just the culture there (was helpful). We kept hearing people talk about macros,” Garrett explained, adding that she began learning more about more about the importance of protein, for example, and how to best fuel her body, from various people at the gym.
- It made a big difference. In the last year, through macro counting, consistently doing CrossFit workouts and monitoring herself daily via a Dexcom G6 — a tiny sensor on the body that measures her glucose levels every five minutes — Garrett has managed to bring her A1C down to 5.7, which is considered prediabetic. As a result, her insulin dosage has also been reduced.
- “I make sure I’m getting what I need so my body can perform at its best, and I wouldn’t have known all that without CrossFit,” she said.
Garrett’s message: Garrett said the experience in the last three years has reinforced the fact that so much of what happens in our lives is out of our control. Doctors still don’t know why she became a Type 2 diabetic, she explained. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to roll over and give up; it means it’s time to control what you can, she explained.
- “Anything can happen, so it’s a matter of how do you turn that into something good. CrossFit has helped me do that. (It helps me) put my energy into something else,” she said.