114: Nat Strand: the first female team to win The Amazing Race while dealing with being a Type 1 Diabetic. Heroic effort for someone who’s life is run by the up’s and downs of managing her daily sugar levels…
Nat Strand has some very wise and powerful words about diabetes: “It’s not a limitation. It’s a challenge that we can all rise to meet and overcome when faced with adversity.” How well has Nat fought back against having type one diabetes? She won the competitive reality show The Amazing Race back in 2010. This involves spending 30 days around the world and Nat Strand shares the story of getting on The Amazing Race, and how it all began, thanks to her close friend Kat: “It happened that they never had females win the show, a female-female team had never won the show in 19 seasons. So they were looking for a strong female-female team.”
What kind of pressure was involved in pushing hard to get on the show, even after Nat and Kat weren’t originally selected? Nat gives you her first-person perspective, “There are about 12 people sitting in a semi-circle in chairs, producers, the host, casting agents, field directors, and they ask you questions and you talk to them. The process is really grueling once we got into that week, the final stage. Everyday we are doing mock obstacles where they set up in a room and watch you work together and watch how you communicate.” She discusses the psychological evaluation, getting picked to be among 11 teams of two, competing for the massive grand prize of $1 million, and traveling to places like South Korea, Middle East, and the Arctic Circle…all with diabetes.
For those that never had this ailment or aren’t medically-savvy, what exactly is type one diabetes? Nat describes: “Type one diabetes is what a lot of people used to call ‘juvenile-onset diabetes.’ But, we are calling it type one, which is more accurate, because adults can get it too. It is an auto-immune disease. So, your body attacks the cells that make insulin. So, you don’t make any insulin.” What does insulin do? Insulin is a chemical that allows cells in the body to absorb glucose, which is a sugar, from the blood. Insulin also helps to break down proteins or fats to produce energy.
What You Will Learn:
Nat Stand lets you know just how important insulin is to everyone’s life, especially when diabetes prevents people from having it. Nat shares, “That is why your blood sugar is high when you have diabetes because it doesn’t get to where it needs to go to work–your brain, your muscles, those kinds of things. So, when you don’t have insulin, you either get insulin from an outside source, or you die. The outside source is via an insulin pump, shots, there is now inhalable insulin. But, we are dependent on insulin for life. I would not make it more than a few days without insult support.”
Nat goes into depth about wearing her insulin pump to give herself insulin continuously and needing to give herself extra insulin after every meal or if she has stress, feels sick, or has accidentally miscalculated her carbohydrates and feels high afterwards. When she is on insulin shots, she gives herself 12-13 shots a day and when she is on the pump she programs the controller on the pump to receive it continuously. Nat also has a glucose monitor that she wears on her back, she can wear it all the time, and her blood-sugar is monitored every five minutes and it is synched to her iPhone.
Have you ever wondered what it is like to compete on CBS television on The Amazing Race? Nat gives you the full scoop, explaining: “When you are getting ready for The Amazing Race, think about what you are going to pack when someone says, ‘you are going 32,000 miles.’ You are going to sub-Saharan Africa. You are going to the Arctic Circle. You are going to Russia. You are going to Milan. You are going to South Korea. Just what you would pack. All we can take is a backpack.” This is a competition where you can’t bring travel books, electronics, money…just your clothes. Nat had to figure out what to do to keep her insulin warm when the temperature is extremely cold and also what to do when the climate is very warm and she needs to keep her insulin cool.
Nat Strand explains the feeling of winning The Amazing Race, the good side and also how it totally knocked her off of her career track that she was on. Nat says. “I have been in four years of medical school, one year of internship, three years of residency, and a year of fellowship. I did The Amazing Race the last year of my fellowship. I was joining a private practice in Newport Beach and I was going to be a doctor. That’s what I was working on for the last 15 years.”
Before Nat Stand knew it, The Amazing Race transformed her into a diabetes advocate with major platforms to speak on. She began doing countless public speaking engagements almost every weekend and lots of media work because she was located in Los Angeles. Nat was doing expert witness duties in the Conrad Murray trial, was featured on HLN, and Dr. Drew Lifechangers. The Amazing Race put her in position to deal with multiple survival challenges that diabetics face, like temperature changes, lack of supplies, time zone changes, dehydration, and lack of control over her schedule.
Nat Strand: The Manifester
Nat talks about the importance of knowing the people that are going to support you the most. Nat shares a story about sharing her own story with a girl who was worried about boys not liking her because of her insulin pump. Thanks to Nat Strand’s determination, the girl decided she was going to start telling boys about her pump right away and educate them about why she needs it. This way, she could rule out the people that wouldn’t accept her right away, instead of having them find out accidentally.
Nat Strand: The Physician:
What type of medical practice is Nat involved in? She says: “I do interventional pain medicine. I have anesthesiology residency, although I don’t do any or anesthesia. I have a fellowship in pain medicine. So mainly interventional procedures, largely the spine, cervical spine, lumbar spine…”
Nat Strand’s physician work lands somewhere between someone who prescribes medicine and a spine surgeon. Learn more about what Nat Strand means by saying “Diabetes doesn’t take a day off, even when you are on vacation.”