CrossFit Athlete Ari Hurst Talks Living with Type 1 Diabetes, Plan to Ride 100 Miles for a Cure
When Ari Hurst was younger, she sometimes felt embarrassed to tell people she was a diabetic.
She felt stigmatized, and sometimes frustrated, as many people didn’t realize the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Oftentimes, people were shocked to find out Hurst had Type 1 diabetes, as they didn’t understand that, unlike Type 2 diabetes, Type 1 is a genetic condition that often shows up earlier in life that attacks your insulin-producing cells in your pancreas, and cannot easily be controlled by diet and lifestyle.
- “No it isn’t just diet and exercise…No matter what I eat, I’m still going to have to take insulin, because my pancreas no longer functions,” she said.
Today Hurst, now 31, realizes that instead of feeling stigmatized, it’s more valuable for her to talk about diabetes, to educate people about the disease, and even to raise money to find a cure.
This is exactly what she will be doing this fall, when she embarks on a 100-mile bike race in Death Valley, CA.
The details: The 2023 JDRF Death Valley Ride to Cure Diabetes runs from October 12th to 15th. Through the years, the charitable ride has raised more than $60 million for Type 1 diabetes research.
- Hurst is the first to recognize what research and advancements in science can do, as for many years she had to prick her finger everyday. But thanks to technology, she now wears a non-invasive continuous glucose monitor called a Dexcom that tells her her blood sugar levels 24 hours a day via a bluetooth.
- Thus, Hurst has committed to raising $4,000 between now and then for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), an organization that helps implement new therapies, and provides support for diabetics.
She admits a 100-mile cycle is way out of her comfort zone.
- “I have never trained for a long bike ride like this, but I think it’s going to be a fun way to challenge myself,” said Hurst, a long-time CrossFit athlete and the Partnerships Manager at CrossFit LLC.
To prepare for the ride, Hurst bought her first bike last summer at the CrossFit Games and has been biking twice a week, all the while continuing to CrossFit, but she intends to increase this number to three days a week as she gets closer to the race.
- “This bike ride alone, without diabetes, is hard enough for a lot of people, and I think I’m adding another layer on top of it, which is managing my blood sugars, which is something I struggle with on a daily basis,” she added.
Hurst’s diabetes story: Hurst, a Level 2 CrossFit coach, was first diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was just 9 years old, and it immediately changed her life.
- ‘I went from (being) a kid who had no worries, to a kid who had just inherited a lot of responsibility,” Hurst began. “It impacted me in a really big way. I think it definitely expedited my awareness of the importance of health and fitness and within that, it made me really focused on my nutrition and my fitness and how it affects the body.”
- That being said, she soon became so consumed with nutrition and fitness that she developed an easy disorder that led her to be in and out of the hospital throughout High School.
Finding CrossFit in 2011 was eye-opening for her, as all of a sudden she was “surrounded by a community of people who made me look at my body in a different way,” she said. This allowed her to “get out of that stage of my life,” and embrace being fit and strong.
And although today, Hurst looks like an incredibly fit, strong CrossFit athlete now, she explained diabetes can be a bit of an “invisible disease.”
- “On the inside, I’m constantly planning my next step of thinking, ‘Ok, what do I need to eat? How much insulin do I need? What’s the workout today, and how is that going to impact blood sugar?’” Hurst explained.
- “It’s a constant balancing act to make sure your blood sugars are within a healthy range.”
On the other hand, dealing with Type 1 diabetes has also given Hurst a “grittiness that allows me to see challenges as an opportunity,” she said. This same grittiness is what allows her to excel at CrossFit, and commit to riding 100 miles on a bike this fall.
Hurst’s Message: Hurst’s message to others who find themselves diagnosed with an incurable disease like Type 1 diabetes is simple: Take everything in stride.
- “My (Dexcom) sends blood glucose readings to my phone every five minutes and not all of them are good, so it’s easy to feel like I’m letting myself down, at times, every five minutes,” she said.
- “However, if I let every blood sugar get to me, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the progress I’ve made over the years. Every blood sugar, every workout, and every conversation with someone dealing with something similar gives me the motivation to keep going.”
Donate to Hurst’s cause here.