I’m Alan Sothern, a professional hockey player with Type 1 diabetes.
Q. How long have you had diabetes for?
Q. Roll back to your diagnosis, can you remember it? What told you to go to the doctor that day?
I do! I was 13 years old and in my first year of secondary school. We were coming up to Easter break and I remember how much I was struggling to get myself out of bed in the morning let alone function in school and in after school sports.
I was told later by my mum that she and my dad had started to recognize the signs and were starting to think diabetes was potentially a cause, but it wasn’t until I couldn’t get out of bed one morning that we realized exactly what was at play.
I remember waking that day and physically not being able to move from the bed. My legs felt locked and my body essentially shut down. The doctor came to the house and I did a swab test for him and he diagnosed me as Type 1 Diabetic.
Q. Pens or Pump?
Pens. It’s what I’ve grown up using and gives me great control while I am playing and training.
Q. How often do you check your blood glucose?
Depending on the day, anywhere between 5 and 10 times. The more active I am, the more I like to keep a really close eye on my levels, so on those days I will tend to test myself more.
Q. Recent A1C?
Q. What aspect of diabetes holds you back the most?
I found it difficult to answer this question and racked my brains to come up with an answer, and after a while I realised that that’s the answer in itself. I feel truly in control of my diabetes, for the majority of time, and never feel like it is holding me back.
Q. Top 3 Tips for managing your diabetes?
1. Consistency- consistency is crucial for dealing with diabetes – I find when I am inconsistent with my monitoring, food and overall level of attention I pay my diabetes, that’s when I struggle with it the most.
2. Education- read as much as you can about the condition and learn as much as you can about the ins and outs of it all. I cannot stress this enough. Once I had begun to teach myself a little more, I found it much easier to deal with and my understanding of the importance of good control motivated me even more.
3. Exercise and diet- this one is the most obvious but makes it no less important! Exercise is massive for managing diabetes and, coupled with a solid knowledge of the foods to fuel each day and keep your levels consistent, it can make your life as a diabetic so much easier and stress-free.
Q. Describe your training regime?
My week can differ, depending on how close we are to competition or a tournament, but currently off the back of Rio, we are mixing being back with our club teams and training hard there and also doing some prep work for the three international tournaments we have coming up in the new year.
With the club, we have two pitch sessions a week, on a Tuesday and a Thursday, with matches on a Saturday afternoon. With the national team, we have set gym sessions on a Monday and a Wednesday. Outside of that, we have two running session a week to be completed in our own time, which I would normally do on a Tuesday and Thursday morning, and the week finishes off with a national training day on a Sunday. I would then spend some time myself on mobility and prehab work three times a week outside of that.
Q. How does your diet look at present? Do you count macros and calories?
I am not a die hard macro and calorie counter at present but have at times before counted and tracked all of my food. This has given me a great knowledge of portions and I can keep a good eye on what I am eating on a daily basis this way. My biggest rule is to make sure I get enough protein in on a daily basis.
The rest of what goes on my plate will be dependent on my activity levels in the day. I place carbs around my training times so that I can get the maximum value from them, and then on rest days and lower activity days, I will higher my fats and lower my carb intake right down as I find this works best for me.
Q. What single piece of advice would you give someone looking to improve the quality of their life (doesn’t have to be diabetes related) ?
As cliche as it is, it is so important to control the controllable in your life. Focus on positively controlling the things you can have an effect on and the rest will take care of itself. Nothing good will come from worrying over things you cannot do anything about, it wastes time and energy that you could place into the things you can affect.
Check out International Hockey Superstar Alan Sothern with his copy of The Diabetic Muscle and Fitness Guide