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Climbing the Stelvio as a prediabetic

20170908 Les Vosges

Jan Bonné is an ex-prediabetic, and encourages others to live a healthier life and exercise more.

“As a prediabetic, I was part of Team Stelvio 2014, a group of (pre) diabetics who climbed the Stelvio on bikes. And we were successful; I still look back on this once-in-a-lifetime experience with much pride.

At the end of 2013, I was told that I was in the prediabetes stage. This has had an impact on my life, because before then I had smoked, ate a lot and hardly moved. I was never concerned at all, and I thought nothing could happen to me. I ignored the advice of my doctor for years.

Suddenly, I ran out of time and I was on the brink of diabetes. Since then I have turned my life around completely; I quit smoking and started taking sports and nutrition seriously.

My doctor, a very sporty woman, told me about a project and the Stelvio event in Italy for (pre)diabetes patients. At first I thought she was crazy. I am not someone who gets excited about extreme challenges, especially not on a sporting level. In addition, my fitness was next to zero and I had never been on a road bike. After a long period of doubt, I decided to register myself.

I was screened and started training with ten other diabetic patients.

Thanks to the professional coaching and nutritional guidance I got from Energy Lab, I was able to successfully complete their detailed programme in a short time.

I evaluated my whole life in that six months. I realised that I had been a fool and that I should have started much earlier.

The rewards followed fairly quickly. I had my blood checked again four months later, and they had fully normalised. I was an ex-prediabetic. Under my own steam and without medication. This gave me a huge boost.

I continued cycling after my Stelvio experience. Not only through the South Limburg or Haspengouw hills, but also organised cycling trips throughout Belgium. Currently, I have ridden 332 rides for a total of 18,475 km. I have already climbed the Passo Dello Stelvio three times. Last year, I climbed two sides of Mont Ventoux in one day. This year, I did the Passo Mortirolo and Passo Gavia in one day.

Since then, I have been an ambassador for the Diabetes Liga every year, and I am also joining the new Climbing for Life Diabetes team. According to estimates, one in ten Belgians may suffer from diabetes by 2030. Diabetes can therefore happen to anyone. Exercise is one of the most important steps, both in terms of prevention and treatment of diabetes.

In retrospect, it is a pity that I started so late, because I still hope to do a lot more trips. But I am certainly not unique. If I can do this, anyone can.”

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