If you’ve spent any time in the diabetes online community (DOC), you’ve probably heard of Ginger Vieira. She’s a prolific writer and video blogger, editorial director at Diabetes Daily and active on Twitter. She is passionate about health, wellness and diabetes advocacy.
Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the seventh grade, Ginger was an active teenager throughout her high school years and took good care of her health. When she reached college; however, she did not make her health a priority. Her A1C slowly crept up during her junior year, and she embraced it as a wake-up call to start paying better attention to her health.
“For me to see an 8.3 A1C was startling,” she said. “I was really disappointed in myself for letting things slip. I decided it was time to get back in gear and told myself I deserve to be healthy, to like my body and to feel strong. That was what motivated me: deciding I’m worth this.”
During her senior year of college, she took up exercising again and found an interest in weight lifting. While finishing her degree in professional writing, she became a certified personal trainer, an Ashtanga yoga instructor and went on to become a certified cognitive coach.
Now she works with people from ages 15 to 70, many of whom live with diabetes. “For me, it’s about trying to help them feel confident in their diabetes care, so they understand what is going on and have the opportunity to feel empowered by how they’re taking care of themselves,” she said.
Ginger encourages her clients to begin with small attainable goals. “On our own, we tend to tackle huge goals all at once,” she said. “We might think, ‘I want to exercise more, so I must exercise every day, an hour at least.’ Then if we don’t do that, we think we’ve failed. I like to help people start with baby steps. Start with exercising two days a week for 20 minutes, if that’s what will help you feel more successful.”
Ginger also coaches her clients to have compassion for themselves. “None of us do it perfectly,” she said. “If you’re scolding yourself every day for not being the perfect diabetic, it’s time to learn how to dust your shoulders off, get back up and try again to change.”
Ginger has utilized her knowledge, training experience and passion for writing to author two books. In her first book, “Your Diabetes Science Experiment,” she discusses her powerlifting foray. “I wanted to understand exercise physiology on a deeper level, so I could train at a high intensity and still manage my blood sugar,” she explained. “I didn’t want diabetes to get in the way of my athletic pursuit.” The book presents her findings, addressing such topics as weight loss, changing insulin needs and monitoring blood sugar during strenuous exercise. Applying this research to her own workouts, Ginger was able to set seven world records in powerlifting.
In her most recent book, “Emotional Eating with Diabetes,” Ginger tackles unhealthy perceptions of food and eating. The book offers strategies to help untwist biased thoughts and habits people have created related to food.
“Many of us punish ourselves and feel guilty if we eat something like pizza,” she explained. “The goal of my book and in coaching is to help people enjoy food again and to feel empowered by making good choices. I believe it’s possible to enjoy many different kinds of food once you take away that stigma of, ‘This food is bad and I’m bad for eating this.’”
I’m beyond impressed by all the research Ginger has done to help her better understand her condition in an effort to obtain her goals. It was a sincere pleasure to speak with her and I’m grateful for her insights on many levels. Many thanks to Ginger for sharing her story and for all that she does to contribute to the DOC and others living with diabetes.
All the best,
Disclosure: Ginger Vieira received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.