Reaching the Unreachable: A Personal Approach to Diabetes

As published by Huffington Post 1/15/14;


By David Weingard
Shock — is how I felt when I was first diagnosed with diabetes.

I had been training for an eight stage survival race and was in great physical shape. Suddenly I felt weak and lethargic and knew a visit to my physician was necessary. Even getting to the doctor”s office was a physical challenge. It was here where I learned that my drastic weight loss was not a result of athletic training, but instead my body failing to produce insulin. My body was starving itself and I was unaware!

I was in disbelief and looked for resources to help me understand. While there is plenty of information online, I found that it was very basic and didn”t explain to me how to live my own life with the disease. I also couldn”t find the personalized support I needed to manage my health, engage with my family and meet professional demands while living with diabetes.

As I rebuilt my life collecting information and support from wherever I could find it. I made a commitment to find a way to help the diabetes community, so I began racing Ironman triathlons to raise money for diabetes charities. What happened after that was incredible. People started emailing and calling me for advice. I only know about my diabetes and really don”t have the knowledge to help someone else with theirs! This is when I realized that I can assist others by making this a personal journey. By leveraging many positive professional relationships along the way, I began to personalize diabetes management by engaging diabetes educators countrywide with diabetes patients via technology. The ultimate goal is to help people lead rich and fulfilling lives with diabetes.

We are in a state of crisis, people need help, there are almost 26 million people with diabetes in the U.S. and another 79 million adults in the U.S. with pre-diabetes. The financial impact was $245 billion to employers, government and the individual with diabetes in 2012

We”re in this predicament for many reasons and it continues to escalate because diabetes is so complex and difficult to manage. Over 40 percent of patients prescribed a new diabetes medication stop taking it within the first few months. While there are helpful resources online and within communities, it is often challenging to find the relevant information. Also, the people who look for this information and support are the ones motivated to take care of their diabetes. Solving to effectively engage the unmotivated patients is where the big problem lies.

People with diabetes have different experiences, contributing to the People who stopped using can still feel strong cravings for the drug, sometimes even years later. complexity of managing an already multidimensional disease. I saw these differences in real-time as I had the rare opportunity to participate in focus groups comprised of people with diabetes of varying socio-economic and cultural groups. Interestingly enough I found myself relating to them. We had the same emotion when diagnosed: shock! There were so many beautiful and human moments as people shared their individual challenges and successes living with diabetes. There was also pain and a sense of resignation that diabetes was not going away and that they would need to find ways of coping with it… forever.

Additionally, I had the opportunity to learn from thought leaders who added to this pool of valuable guidance. Each mentor had incomparable perspectives on how to improve our business model and presentation. I look forward to their continued mentorship and the relationships I”ve gained from this experience.

David is founder and CEO of Fit4D, a company whose mission is to improve the lives of people with diabetes and other chronic conditions, worldwide. In his journey as someone with diabetes, David has been fortunate to meet many incredible people with diabetes and their families. It is David”s personal passion to share his experiences, knowledge and positive energy with the diabetes community. With over 20 years of experience in the technology sector at startup and public companies, David decided to devote his energies to helping people with diabetes. David can be reached via e-mail at

Fit4D is one of five semi-finalists in The Merck | Heritage Provider Network Innovation Challenge. The sponsors have called on entrepreneurs, data scientists, designers, health care providers, and big thinkers to create the products or services that will support patients with diabetes and/or heart disease in adhering to their care plans and ultimately improving health. Semi-finalists will be presenting their solutions at Demo Day on January 23rd in NYC. Check out their progress, watch their Demo Day presentations, and find additional open innovation challenges by visiting Health Data Challenges.

This blog series is produced in partnership with Health Data Challenges, creators of The Health Data Challenge Series, a formal initiative of the Health Data Consortium, powered by Luminary Labs. The platform seeks to foster the use of data to drive innovation that will ultimately transform health and healthcare through high-stakes innovation challenges. Learn more at

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Diabetes Technology: Friend or Foe?

Today I finished the Philadelphia Marathon, proud at “toughing it out” and running the whole time – though slower than expected and with way more diabetes challenges than necessary.

In the last 14 years of my life with type 1 diabetes, and as a runner/triathlete, I have learned that “winging it” with diabetes usually doesn’t work.  To have a great race, it’s always better to be prepared for all the crazy moments diabetes can toss into the mix.

I’ve found that simulating the race day environment beforehand with the same clothes, food and insulin teaches me what will work best.  Diabetes doesn’t always work logically though these training efforts illustrate patterns that I can adjust and retest before race today.  This strategy has enabled me to successfully finish numerous marathons and Ironman triathlons – even getting faster despite aging.

Well, I’m a crazy busy person (like everyone, right?)… and this time I didn’t use the discipline to do what had served me so well in the past.  Additionally, I realized that I had become dependent on my Dexcom CGM.   Well, if it is moving in the wrong direction, I can fix it, can’t I????


Before today’s race, I took more carbs in than normal through an electrolyte drink and too little insulin.   I spiked to 365 by race start and it took me 7 miles to get it down into the low 200s.  By then, the damage was done.  I was out of it, dehydrated and started to slow down.  I stabilized my BG and the next 6 miles were OK.  Then I started going low and averaged a blood sugar of 60 for the last 9 miles of the race.  How could this happen with this great technology?  Here is what I learned today and humbly share with those of you athletes, or family members/friends of athletes with diabetes.

  1. Most athletic events, whether a marathon or after school soccer workouts need to be treated as a big deal, especially with diabetes.  To succeed requires focus, concentration and determination.  With all the things to think about during the event (clothing, weather, hydration, nutrition, logistics, pace, etc.), mental bandwidth is stretched.   There isn’t enough time to continually monitor every aspect of diabetes with all this other stuff going on.
  2. I forgot to turn on the alert feature of the CGM which may have helped me correct the problems I was having sooner (reference bandwidth problem in #1).
  3. We are responsible for ourselves.  I own my experience today based on what I did.
  4. A CGM, (while a great tool), shows trends.   It is not an accurate representation of what is happening at the actual moment.  By the time the extreme high or low has happened, chances are it has been that way for a while.
  5. While using diabetes technology like a CGM enabled me to not stop and “waste time” testing my blood sugar during a race, it also gave me a false sense of control and bravado about not being as prepared through simulations.
  6. Testing my BG during a race forced me to focus on diabetes completely for that moment rather than glance at a CGM screen and moving on.  In the end my high and low blood sugars cost me more time than stopping to test.
  7. If I want to race the best that I can, I need to take my diabetes planning as seriously as I do my training.  That means, simulations, recording notes in my logbook, fixing, repeat…over and over so I can control it…not let it control me in a race.
  8. And, despite all of these issues, today I finished a marathon while living with diabetes.     Something to be proud of and something to share.

In the spirit of us all being in this together, I hope that sharing my race experiences today will help you in successfully achieving yours.

Written By:

 David Weingard
CEO, Type 1