Hello again and thank you very much for reading this issue of my Diabetes Insight Blog. Lately I have been busy with running my business (Mind Matters Athlete Coaching), working (as a bicycle mechanic), racing my bicycle and have also enjoyed being at home with my wife and dog. I enjoy my life at the moment and am grateful that I am able to incorporate my passions into my daily life.
To be able to do this I have had to make a few key decisions in my life and have had to back these decisions. Have had to COMMIT to the decisions I make. This has been true for my personal life, my life with diabetes and my sporting life.
I wanted to share a story from my personal life that I believe enforces the value and importance of commitment.
I met my now wife in June 2013 we had an immediate spark/ connection on our meeting. I knew this person was very special, however we lived lives that were very very far apart geographically. I was an Australian professional cyclist and she (Morgan) was a busy health care industry worker in Chicago, USA. I knew I had to make the effort to stay in touch despite the long distances between us. I would keep in touch by the telephone and organised opportunities for us to meet up in the future. I used a lot of frequent flyer miles and excuses for time off work to go and visit Morgan. Each meeting indicated to me that there was a connection worth pursuing in our relationship. I made arrangements to move my residence close to her home in Chicago in 2014 where I could meet with her regularly. We established a happy boyfriend-girlfriend relationship for over 1 year whilst I was living there. However, my work visa and my cycling career in the USA was not going to last forever. By December 31, 2014 I had to leave the USA in order to not be an illegal immigrant. I had to move my life back to Australia to complete my university study. I had a few options that all required a lot of commitment in order to make our relationship continue.
In November 2014 the largest off road bicycle race in the USA ‘the Iceman’ was held in Morgan’s home town of Traverse City, Michigan. This is a very difficult race often held in FREEZING conditions and through snow, mud and ice. I saw this as my opportunity to bid farewell to professional cycling and more importantly seal the fate of my relationship with Morgan. I completed this 54km race with a ring in my back pocket and on crossing the finish line where my then girlfriend met me I dropped to one knee and asked “will you marry me?”. Very lucky for me, she said “yes”. I had to make a lifelong commitment and I am so glad I did. Once the commitment has been made the other decisions to make in life become a little bit easier because we knew one thing was for sure- we had to be together.
Before this point in my life I used to spend a lot of time procrastinating about decisions I had to make and would be reluctant to make important decisions. This state of indecision can restrict us from moving forward and restrict us from getting the most out of life. I can now appreciate the value in:
1. Backing yourself- having belief in your convictions.
2. Making that big decision from your heart.
3. Following through with the ramifications of your decision.
This realisation has brought me great joy, not just for my romantic life but also for my life with diabetes. In 2017 my wife made a decision to take on a vegan diet. I was considering to join here but worried about the effects on my diabetes. I thought about my decision making process; I made sure I could still be safe and healthy by consulting a health care professional. I then backed myself as being able to manage a change to my diet. I made the commitment to NO food from animals and I had to follow through with the adjustments required in my diabetes management. This was not easy but as with life in general, the things that are worthwhile in life were never meant to be easy. I lived off just foods from plants for over 2 months. It was possible, I have returned to normal diet now but I KNOW it was possible to change my diet and still manage my diabetes. I just had to consult and then back myself.
Backing yourself is VERY important for life as an athlete. Of all the most memorable and significant things I have achieved in cycling each of them required a firm and committed decision otherwise they would not have happened. In 2016 I suffered a broken pelvis in an accident whilst filming a mountain bike helmet advertising commercial. I was unable to walk or ride for 2 months. I was desperate to get better and whilst injured I had the time to research bike races that intrigued me.
The Simpson Desert Bike Challenge was a 600km race across the largest sand desert in Australia. It was planned 6 months after my accident. I knew that a goal that was ambitious and spectacular would help encourage the healing in my body and my mind. I made the decision to compete. Then I arranged the fundraising required to make it happen, then when I recovered I had to commit to HARD WORK training on the bike. I backed myself, I made the decision then I followed through. I started the Simpson Desert Bike Challenge in 2016 and 6days later I won the race. Being the first ever T1 diabetic to complete and to win this race!
I hope I can help you see the value of commitment in your life. Sitting on the fence is not comfortable and can hold us back from what we are really capable of. In relationships… In diabetes… In our passions..
After receiving a diagnosis of type1 diabetes at age ten, Justin’s dreams and goals in life were threatened. Turning to cycling to help him cope with type1 diabetes quickly proved to not only be beneficial but also the start to a successful pro cycling career. Justin spent five years as a professional in road cycling travelling the world racing his bike. Dealing with the challenges of sport and diabetes across five different continents has given Justin a wealth of stories and knowledge about dealing with challenges on and off the bike.
Having since transitioned from a pro cycling career to completing two university degrees in psychology and education from Macquarie University in 2015 and being awarded with a University Blues Award for excellence in sport and academics. Justin continues to fuel his competitive streak with multi day mountain bike racing for team SubarumarathonMTB.com, having achieved podium finishes at The Crocodile Trophy, The Simpson Desert BikeChallenge, The Pioneer in New Zealand and The Mongolia Bike Challenge.
Since 2011 Justin has complemented his cycling career with sharing a message of hope, empowerment and overcoming adversity to audiences internationally.