Peloton instructor Robin Arzon was diagnosed with type 1 as an adult, when she was already an endurance athlete and marathon runner. After her diagnosis, she was determined to keep those incredible fitness feats coming. Arzon is now Peloton’s VP of fitness programming, an ultramarathoner, a best-selling author, a new mom, and more. If you’re looking for some new year fitness inspiration, she’s got you covered.
This podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider.
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Episode Transcription Below:
Stacey Simms 0:05
This is Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
This week, peloton, instructor Robin Arzon was diagnosed with type one as an adult when she was already an endurance athlete and marathon runner. after her diagnosis, she was determined to keep those incredible fitness feats coming.
Robin Arzon 0:24
I really have had to treat myself kind of like an experiment like get curious and just see and trust that even on the days that aren’t my best, I’m trying my best and my best is good enough
Stacey Simms 0:35
Arzon is peloton’s vice president of fitness programming an ultra marathoner, a best selling author, a mom, and more. If you’re looking for some new year’s fitness inspiration, she’s got you covered.
This podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider.
Welcome to another week of the show. I’m always so glad to have you here, you know, we aim to educate and inspire about diabetes with a focus on people who use insulin. this time of year I always seem to have a fitness interview, right? That makes sense. It’s the new year we’re making resolutions. We’re getting motivated. So you know, take a look back in years past I talked to Chris Rudan from the Titan games. I talked to Eric Tozer, who did seven marathons on seven continents in seven days, you know, stuff like that. But you don’t have to have these incredible achievements, these these incredible goals. You know, this to be fit to stay healthy. I mean, I’m certainly never doing an ultra marathon. It’s not one of my goals, especially as I get older, I want to stay moving. That’s really important to me. So well, somebody like this week’s guest Robin Arzon isn’t I’m sorry, Robin isn’t going to motivate me to ever run a marathon. She is going to inspire me to try a little more to do some different things. And I hope she inspires you in the same way as well. Whatever your fitness goals are for 2022
I have a story that I want to share about something that happened recently with me and Benny, it isn’t really about new year’s resolution. So I’m going to keep it till the end of the interview. I’ll come back and tell you he challenged me to do some things kind of an empathy exercise about type one, I failed miserably. That’s the spoiler. So we’ll get to that in a little bit.
This week’s interview is one of my shortest ever I had very limited time with Robin. So I decided to not ask her about her diagnosis story. I skipped a couple of questions that I would usually ask, but in case you’re not familiar with her, I wanted you to learn more. So here is a quick explainer that she gave beyond type one a few years ago, and we’re playing this with their permission.
Robin Arzon 2:32
I am a reformed lawyer turned ultra-marathoner. I’m head instructor at peloton cycle as well as vice president of fitness programming. I’m on the Leadership Council beyond type one. I was an endurance athlete Well, before I was diagnosed with type one diabetes, I was diagnosed in February of 2014. So only a few years ago, as an adult, I was in my 30s when I was diagnosed. And it’s been an interesting little dance I’m doing with my pancreas these days.
I had just returned from a trip to India. I was in India for about three to four weeks with my mom and my sister. And when I came home back to New York City, I thought I had jetlag or something like my body just felt really sluggish. And I had extreme thirst. That was the number of extreme thirst and frequent urination. And that was the number one thing that really was strange, because I know it wasn’t dehydrated. And as an athlete, I kind of could tell immediately that something was off with my body. I had an awareness of type 1 diabetes, but certainly not on any kind of medical or even practical level. And I definitely didn’t know how to how to live with it. That was actually my very first question after I was diagnosed was how am I gonna run 100 mile races? And that was a question pretty unfamiliar for my endocrinologist and so then I want an immediate search for all the technology that would allow me to train uninterrupted. I actually had a half marathon two weeks after my diagnosis and I and I ran it. And I think I was on a pump within a week that I had a Dexcom within 14 days.
Stacey Simms 4:27
Robin was diagnosed in 2012. She’s now peloton vice president of fitness programming. She and her husband had a baby in 2021 and January just a couple of days from this episode going live. She is publishing a children’s book and you will hear her talk about that. There is a video of this interview over on the Diabetes Connections YouTube channel if you want to watch I will link that up in the shownotes.
Full disclosure. The reason I had limited time for this interview is because Robin is on a media tour courtesy of Gvoke Hypopen so you will hear a lot about that in this interview ended agreed To do this, I also agreed to post information about Gvoke in the show notes which I have done. If you’ve listened for a long time, you’re probably tired of hearing these disclosures. But if you’re new, it’s very important to me that I’m open and honest about what you hear on the show. And I really thought the tradeoff of hearing about Robin’s experiences and advice was worth it.
Robin, thank you so much for joining me and spending some time with me and my listener. So how are you doing today?
Robin Arzon 5:29
I’m great. So nice to speak with you. Stacey.
Stacey Simms 5:31
I know that you have a little bit that you want to talk about with Gvoke. They are a sponsor of my podcast as well. Let’s just dive in and talk about that because being prepared is just part of the reality when you live with diabetes, right
Robin Arzon 5:42
100% I mean, in the landscape of things that are uncontrollable of living with diabetes and diabetes management, we have to control what we can control and Gvoke Hypopen is the first auto injector of medicine if we have a severe low blood sugar event, and the looming prospect of that can be scary. And as an ultra marathoner as someone who lives as an athlete lives with movement, you know, and I know your listeners are very, very well versed in the diabetes landscape, and probably can relate to that to a certain extent. I needed to take agency back, which is why I partnered with Gvoke Hypopen because recently, for example, when I ran the New York City Marathon, I had the Gvoke Hypopen in my race kit. Thankfully, I didn’t need to use it. But it does give me peace of mind out there on the racecourse, you know, knowing that I have this medicine accessible to me, if I have a severe low,
Stacey Simms 6:31
I’m going to knock wood everywhere I can find some because yeah, I’ve had to use Gvoke or any kind of emergency glucagon in the 15 years since my son was diagnosed, have you ever had to use anything?
Robin Arzon 6:41
Thankfully, no, thankfully, I have not had to use it. And I’m very grateful for that. And I’m also grateful that I sought out the right care for myself. And I advocated for myself with my doctor. And I recommend folks do the same and of course, do their own, you know, investigation of safety and risks and allergies and all the things associated with with any medical prescription. But we have to advocate for ourselves and figure out what works for our lifestyles.
Stacey Simms 7:04
Alright, so you were diagnosed with type one as an adult, you were already an incredible athlete. And I think I heard you say somewhere that you ran a half marathon a week or two after your diagnosis.
Robin Arzon 7:14
Yes. So I had a half marathon, I think a week later. And then I had a 50 mile ultra marathon few weeks after that. So it was a blurry and really daunting time. And I had to figure out quickly, this new life, this new thing, I believe superheroes are real. And I know that folks living with diabetes, diabetes warriors are superheroes. And in my superhero toolkit, It now includes insulin, it includes glucose taps. It includes the you know, the Gvoke Hypopen and it’s I developed a mantra actually, during that time that forward is a pace. There are some days when the next step is the only step that you can focus on and that’s okay. But I figured it out because it was meaningful to me the first question I asked, when my endocrinologist said, you’re going to be living with insulin, your pancreas doesn’t produce enough or any, I thought, Oh, okay. And I said out loud, how am I going to cross the ultra marathon finish line I have in a few weeks. And we figured it out. And I made mistakes, and I figured it out. And I educated myself. And I want folks to feel that same empowerment of like, gosh, we’re gonna figure it out. We’re going to be ready. We’re going to be warriors, and we’re going to continue to be epic.
Stacey Simms 8:24
One of the biggest questions I got when I told my Facebook group for the podcast that we were talking was, again, knowing everybody is different. But you know, just what do you do to avoid lows? Because exercise? I mean, let’s face it, some people with diabetes do not exercise because they are afraid of low blood sugar. How did you get past that? How do you avoid crazy highs, crazy lows, when
Robin Arzon 8:44
you’re exercising, it is a lot of trial and error. And just like anything else, it’s observing, just like observing how your body reacts to a certain food, you have to observe how your body reacts to a certain type of movement. For example, lifting weights, for me might make my blood sugar go up. Whereas of course, cardiovascular or aerobic things like the bike with running will make it go down. So I really encourage folks to get curious, start small, right? Well, you don’t have to go out and run an ultra marathon. But maybe you know, you start with the 10 minute walk around the block and see what happens. And then you bring you know the glucose tabs or the apple juice with you, I always have some type of rescue carbs, right. And this is really where the Gvoke Hypopen can come in as well. Because you know, you’ve got that in a severe and you know, in the situation where we’re really putting ourselves in a low blood sugar, severe low blood sugar circumstance, we have medicine that is on the spot that is going to react on the spot that gives me a lot of peace of mind. So it’s that two pronged approach of daily diabetes management. And then you know, having this in a circumstance where things get a little bit more severe, or a lot more severe.
Stacey Simms 9:48
Yeah, we have quite a few people who said I take her class I see her all the time. Have you ever had a low blood sugar during instruction like when you’re doing a class?
Robin Arzon 9:57
Thankfully, yes, I’ve gone low but It’s all been manageable, drink some juice, keep it moving. I’ve never had to stop a workout, thank goodness. And that’s literally 1000s of hours of practice of knowing my body and knowing the exact timing of like, okay, I’m going to drink a quarter of my smoothie. Eight minutes before this class, I really have had to treat myself kind of like an experiment, like, get curious and just see and trust that even on the days that aren’t my best, I’m trying my best and my best is good enough. That is also encouraging. So So I encourage folks to give themselves that same grace, but also that same dose of bravery. You mentioned that there are folks of your listeners who are so scared that they’re not moving, but they’re not working out. And that really saddens me, because they’re limiting their own potential. And why you’re letting diabetes when when you do that.
Stacey Simms 10:46
I don’t know if you’re familiar with Don Muchow, who ran or walked from Disney Land to Disney World that she I did I
Robin Arzon 10:53
read about this. He was told
Stacey Simms 10:55
when he was diagnosed a long time ago, right. I think it was the late 70s. He was told do not exercise because it was too dangerous. That was a real thing that people were told not all that long ago. And he had to wake up one day and say no, no, you know, so I give you so I mean, sounds silly to say, but I give you so much credit for getting your diagnosis and saying no, no, I’m, I’m getting right back into it. And I’ve had the privilege of talking to a lot of people in the public eye like yourself who have treated lows while they’re on camera. musicians who sneak a sip of orange juice or racecar drivers to kind of have it in their car. Can I ask you do you keep something sneaky? Is your water bottle is the other two maybe that people should look for?
Robin Arzon 11:32
One is water and one is juice. I always have some form of juice on me onset always, always, always. And yeah, no shame in that. If I need it. Take a sip, keep it and keep it moving. Thankfully, you know,
Stacey Simms 11:44
yeah, I think it’s lovely to find out those little things because it makes our kids and a lot of adults feel better to know they’re not alone. I mean, that’s half of this. Did you find a community when you were diagnosed with type one because it can be very isolating?
Robin Arzon 11:57
You know, I was, as I mentioned, I was running ultra marathons at the time and there is an amazing ultra marathoner, Steven Anglin, very accomplished he does hundreds and hundreds of miles at a time really epic guy. He was the first person I went to outside of my medical team. And I was like, What the heck, what do I do and you know, he kind of talked me down. And you know, I hope to be able to pay that forward, especially as being part of this be ready campaign, I want to be a visible example of the fact that we can continue moving, we can continue being heroic in big and small ways in our very own lives. Um, you know, as a new mom, I read fairy tales to my baby girl every night and I want to live a fairy tale that is is is even stronger than things that she’s going to read in books, and then pass the baton to hertz to one day live just as gravely, but it does require us to be prepared. And that is literally why I wanted to partner with the Gvoke Hypopen team. Because the reality is, the more prepared we are, the more peace of mind we’re going to have. You can’t control everything. And with any prescription medication, you have to speak to your medical provider to make sure that this is the appropriate avenue for you. But it does provide me peace of mind in the event that a severe blood sugar is looming.
Stacey Simms 13:05
You’re coming to 8 years with type one, have you experienced burnout at all yet? You know, it’s I think,
Robin Arzon 13:12
yes, I mean, there are certainly days where just like really more of this tightrope walk. So it’s definitely exhausting. And we make to think like a pancreas requires a lot of mental energy. But I’ll tell you something, I’ve discovered more than burnout, that every single day we have the choice to turn why me and to try me. And the self pity is poison. I think that self pity is poisonous and much more harmful than burnout. For me, I choose to constantly flip the script, constantly turn pain into power, I have no other way. And it’s both being someone that lives with type diabetes, and also being an athlete, and also being a mom, and also being an executive and also being an author and also being an entrepreneur. And it’s like, let’s go.
Stacey Simms 13:56
I know we’re gonna run a time. Two more questions, if I could, you mentioned your daughter things beep with diabetes. How was she doing with that? I mean, she’s so tiny. But does she know what?
Robin Arzon 14:05
Oh, my goodness, you know, I mean, we’re just learning and she’s very curious about the gadgets and the beach and the stuff and I will explain to her, you know, in age appropriate ways of like, this is mommy’s medicine, and this is what Bobby needs to do. And now I explained to her what a pancreas is, and you know, things that I definitely didn’t learn at her age. But you know, I want her to know, I want her to be informed too. And I want her in order for her to be proud of me. She needs to be informed as to what I go through. And I want her to see me dealing with challenges and rising above it. The Diabetes community is incredibly supportive, and whether you know, the Gvoke Hypopen can be used for folks, age 2 and up. So that’s a wide swath of our community and Gvoke.com is a great place for more information. That’s where the total story is, including any side effects information and safety language.
Stacey Simms 14:51
And then the last question is just what are you looking forward to in 2022? You’ve already accomplished so much you listed all those things that keep you so busy.
Robin Arzon 14:58
I’m very excited. about the launch of my children’s book, it’s my first children’s book strong mama. It is a love letter to my baby girl. And it really puts the focus on a caregivers self care. So let’s remember that we have to prioritize our self care. It’s not selfish, whether your parents or not take the time for yourself. Because yes, that burnout is real. And we have to go inward sometimes in order to give
Stacey Simms 15:21
outwardly but like hope when it comes out, you’ll come back on and share.
Robin Arzon 15:24
Oh, that would be great. That would be great. Nice. Nice to see you today, Stacy.
Stacey Simms 15:28
Oh, my gosh, thank you so much, Robin, I appreciate your time. Have a great one.
You’re listening to Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
More information about Robin a full transcript and the links to Gvoke and to the video are all at the homepage at diabetes connections.com. I am going to follow up with her hopefully, she’ll come back on in a couple of weeks to talk about her children’s book and answer more of your questions.
I mentioned at the beginning of the show that Benny asked me to try something new. So let me just set kind of set the table about what’s been going on here, especially if you’re new to the show. So Benny was diagnosed in 2006. Right before he turned two, he is 17. Now, and so he’s had diabetes for really just over 15 years. For the last two years, I’ve really tried to slide into doing less and less and less to the point where in October of 2020, I turned off all of my Dexcom alarms except for urgent, low. And after a big trip he took the summer he went to Israel for a month with a non diabetes camp after he did well with that. I said to him, Well, what do I do now? Right? What do you want from me? How can I help you? Am I here just for customer service? Right? When you want me you contact me, not the other way around? And he said that that’s what he really wanted to do. Have I been 100% successful at that, of course not doing nag him here and there to bolus or if I see something wonky? Of course, is he doing? Well? Yeah, he’s doing really well, except I’ll be honest with you. He’s not as diligent. He’s not as on top of it. And he wouldn’t mind me saying this, as he was when I was diligent and on top of you know, and as you’re listening, if you’re laughing, if you’re an adult with type one, or if you’re a parent of an older child, or young adult with type one, you have gone through this, I’ve gotten a lot of reassurances from my friends, the diabetes community that as long as he’s not doing anything dangerous, and he certainly is far from that he’s doing great that the way I would do it is not gonna happen anymore. It’s up to him now, which is really, really, really hard.
So here’s what the challenge came in. About a month ago, I pointed out to him that, you know, he was missing some boluses. And he wasn’t paying attention to things as well, you know, we had like a, it was a moment where I said, can I talk to you about this? And he agreed, and we had a really good conversation like we do every once in a while. And he said, You know what, Mom, I’d like you to try to remember every time you eat to do something, and I said, Yeah, but after 15 years, like how can you not know how can you not do this? Right? I mean, every parent has said that or thought that right? So he said to me, okay, every time you eat anything, I want you to text me. I said, Sure. No problem. I always have my phone with me. That’s gonna be easy. And you know, he rolled his eyes. And he said, we’ll say,
so the first day, I text him every time I eat three meals, you know, a billion snacks, whatever I’m eating, I text him every time. The next day. I text him. I’m not even really thinking. I text him at dinner. He was at work. He texts back “Is this the first time you’ve eaten today?” with assorted emojis. And I went, Oh, my God. I did not text him for breakfast. I did not text him for lunch. I hadn’t even thought about it. I completely forgot about our bet. And I said, Okay, not fair. That was just day two. It wasn’t that I forgot to quote bolus while I was eating. I just forgot that we had agreed to do that.
He said, Okay, I’ll give you another couple of days. Well, the next day, I remembered breakfast, I forgot lunch. So he wanted me to keep it up for two weeks, which was our original agreement, I felt that he had proved his point after a day and a half, really. But I kept it going. And I did better. But I really failed at it.
Was that a lesson with universal implications? Probably not. I bet you’d be a lot better at it than I was. I don’t know why I couldn’t remember. I don’t know what I was thinking. But between the two of us, it was a fantastic lesson. And it was such a great way for me to see how even after all this time, you know how difficult this is how tough it is to be perfect. And you know, as you listen, maybe your lesson is, well, that means that you need to set more reminders. And be on him more. I mean, everybody, I guess would take this a different way. The lesson to me was: have a little bit more empathy, and have a lot more respect for the way he is doing it. Well, I mean, we’re not talking about a kid who’s ignoring his diabetes, and you don’t like I don’t talk about numbers, but we’re talking about an A1C that’s, you know, maybe a couple of tenths, maybe a half a point higher than it was last time. And we’re already seeing numbers that I never thought we’d see when he was in the teenage years. If you’d asked me, you know, years ago, thank you control IQ. Thank you for a kid who is responsible.
So that’s a long way of telling this story that I really got a lot out of so as you listen, if you’re a parent, talk to your kid, maybe this is something you can do if you’re an adult nodding your head saying yes, Stacy, we could have told you that’s what would happen. You know, thank you for your patience. But I got a year and a half before Benny goes off to college. That’s it. He is beginning his second semester of junior year. And I think most of these lessons, frankly, are for me. So boy, I hope I’m learning.
All right, we do you have a newscast this week, that is Wednesday, live at 430, on Facebook, and YouTube, and then live on Instagram at 4:45 different times, until these services decide to play nicely together. And I can do them all at once. But right now, Instagram will not let you that’s why there are different times for that, but we turn it into an audio podcast that you can listen to on Fridays. And then going forward, we’re back to our regular schedule with the long format interview shows every Tuesday.
I am hoping that we’re gonna have a lot of technology to talk about this year. We do have some great episodes coming up with the folks at Tandem. We’ve got an update from Dexcom, as well as some interviews with newly approved products and products overseas that are going to be submitted for approval in the US this year. So a lot to work on a lot to come. I’m really excited about 2022 Not just for the show, but for what I really hope the community starts seeing when this logjam of COVID approvals or COVID, delays at the FDA starts loosening up and walking through so fingers crossed for that.
Thank you as always to my editor John Bukenas at audio editing solutions. Thanks so much for listening. I’m Stacey Simms. I’ll see you back here in a couple of days until then be kind to yourself.
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